Monday, 31 October 2016

TV Review: Game of Thrones series 1

I've had these box sets for a while and never watched a single episode. Part of me was scared it wasn't going to live up to the hype but finally I bit the bullet and watched series one-and very much enjoyed it! That was a relief! This review of season one will be free of big plot spoilers and will only contain vague descriptions and general thoughts about who I like and dislike so it will be safe to look at if you haven't watched the series yet.

My first thought was to construct the list of my favourite characters in the series so far:
Eddard Stark
Khal Drogo
Tyrion Lannister
Daenerys Targaryen
Jon Snow
Jorah Mormont
Jeor Mormont
Samwell Tarly
Syrio Forel

Next are the ones I wanted to see die a horrible death:
Cersei Lannister
Jaime Lannister
Joffrey Lannister
Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
Viserys Targaryen
Lysa Arryn 

You can see based on my list what a mixed season I had! The first thing I loved when watching the first couple of episodes were the Starks with their gorgeous direwolves. I've always been a fan of wolves so you can imagine what happened with me in episode two. I'm a huge fan of Sean Bean so Eddard was always going to be a favourite especially being a man of honour and integrity, and who loves his entire family including his bastard Jon Snow. I very much liked their family dynamic and the simple life they had in the North. My one issue with them was Eddard's loyalty to the King which caused plenty of trouble for the family.

On to the Lannisters. For those who have seen season one, I need not explain why I hate almost all of them! I despise Cersei and Jaime, but as the series went on there were brief moments where I had slight sympathy for them. Loved the acting from them and the brilliant Charles Dance as their cold hearted father. However, I hate Joffrey with every beat of my heart, the little shit!!! Moving on, my favourite character without doubt is Tyrion Lannister. I loved the way he uses his intelligence to out-think others, and his wit and rudeness is very funny! Played brilliantly by the excellent Peter Dinklage.

The court intrigue at King's Landing is like the Tudor Court! King Robert I could seriously slap at times and I felt he should have had more respect for his oldest friend Eddard in the face of the Lannisters. Grrr. I hated the slimy Little finger from the second I saw him and that didn't change. Loved the character of Varys...not quite sure what to make of him yet but I found him and The Hound intriguing. Also loved the dancing master Syrio and his friendship with Arya Stark.

Over the water to the Dothraki. I loved the warlord Drogo even though his people are famous for really evil acts. That says a lot about the way he was portrayed by Jason Mamoa with barely a word in English, and the wonderful relationship with his Queen, Daenerys. She is such a great character in this series and I love dragons! I liked their faithful servant Jorah.

I love the visits to Castle Black and The Wall. I love James Cosmo as an actor and he was perfectly cast as the Lord Commander of the Night Watch. I enjoyed watching the recruits including Jon Snow and the very funny Samwell going through their training. The two of them remind me a bit of Frodo and Sam from LOTR with Samwell being a bit more towards Neville Longbottom when we first meet him! Those White Walkers are pretty damn scary and I wonder what else is lurking out there...

So those are a few of my thoughts and I'll be interested to see which characters change positions on my list depending on what is to come. Season one is certainly gory, which I loved, made me laugh and cry in equal measures, has great cinematography especially in the North, but above all, it is about a complete mix of characters that you feel different emotions for. If that keeps up, I expect to enjoy the coming seasons!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Chuckles October Review

So, it is the end of October and time to review my progress. On the plus side, having goals kickstarted me out of a reading slump and motivated me to get something done and I'm pleased to have achieved some of it! Here are my October goals and how well and I did with them:

Viktor Zarkov-Jurassic Island (read-4 star)
CM Wright-Dying to Live (read-2 star)
Catt Dahman-Extinction Island (read-3 star)
JE Gurley-Intulo (read-2 star)
Steven Bird-Last Layover (read-3 star)
Nicholas S Smith-Extinction Horizon (read-5 star)

Remy Chandler series by Thomas E Sniegoski 
#2 Dancing on the head of a pin (read-3 star) 
#3 Where Angels Fear to Tread (read-2.5 star)
#4 A Hundred Words for Hate (read-3 star)  
*three are better than none but I didn't manage to do the seven*

Everest (watched-excellent!)
The Program (watched-excellent!)
The Imitation Game (watched-excellent!)
The Special Relationship (watched-excellent!)

The Great British Bake Off series 1 (finished)
The Great British Bake Off series 2 (finished)
Game of Thrones series 1 (finished)

The Great British Bake Off series 3 (finished)
The Great British Bake Off series 4 (finished) 
The Great British Bake Off series 5 (finished)

How did you get on with your October goals?

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Stacking the Shelves #153

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! Click on the link under the book to find its page on Goodreads or Smashwords. 

Please note that I always leave a message on your STS/SP if you visit me, but if you use DISQUS or a similar third party I will not be able to leave a comment on your page. I don't allow any company access to my social media accounts and I certainly don't allow them to edit and take over my accounts the way DISQUS does. So if you use DISQUS, I can't leave comments on your page so I can't really follow you back, sorry! I'm noticing that some blogs set with Google Plus are trying to force you to open a Google Plus or Facebook account before you can leave a comment. Well, I have no interest in rejoining Google Plus or joining Facebook so if your blog uses this set up, I won't be following it or commenting! And sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me so there might not be a message from me some weeks or you might get a double message sometimes! Blame them, not me!

It's been another good reading week, getting more of my October goals read-I'll be posting my October review in a couple of days and then getting started on my November goals. I'm pleased to have finally found a balance to read, watch films AND catch up with a TV series. I feel as if October was successful even though I lost over a week to that virus. So, pretty happy with how things are going at the moment!

I made sure I grabbed a few things in the current Amazon sales-books and box sets. Now to let the bank balance recover a little as Black Friday gets closer! I'm hoping a few series I've bought will have the nweer series reduced in price to be grabbed!  



Friday, 28 October 2016

Book Review: RV Park Terror by Robert Boren (Bug Out #8)

Kansas is sealed off, but our friends get through. It's safe, but will that last? Why was the RV Park abandoned? What blood-curdling secrets will be found there?

More new characters appear. They are dangerous, but to whom?  If the authorities and the press find out about the dark secrets of the RV Park, the enemy will find out where our group is. Will they have to get into their Motorhomes and flee again? 

My Review:
The group are fleeing from the RV park and anxiously watching out for any chips moving in their direction as they head for Kansas where General Hogan has made sure that they will be permitted to enter. For the first time it looks as if they might be safe, taking refuge at an abandoned RV park that they can set up and defend. At first they are delighted with the modifications to the property that they find, believing it to be the retreat of a survivalist...until they find the lair of a serial killer underneath it. Is this serial killer still active? Will he be coming back to claim his property or is he already watching...?

Denver has been subjected to a nerve gas attack which leaves many people dead, and the group are wondering why so many chips seem to be inactive at the air base. With Frank keeping watch on the chips they should have good notice of any enemy moving in their direction. Frank has his own worries as he can see chips within Robbie's unit but can't alert him without tipping his hand to the enemy, and Sarah is now pregnant. Having his children out of reach where he can't protect them is causing him a lot of stress. With Jasmine also being pregnant, Jerry has plenty to worry about as well. General Hogan continues to lead the fight against the enemy but is unsure who to trust so when the group can't reach him, they fear for his safety.

I admit that I was a bit unsure about a whole new story thread being added, especially a complete deviation from what we've seen in the plot, but it was actually a great addition as I got into it. As Jane starts researching the former owners of the park, Chet and son Scott, former friends of Charlie and Hilda, the internet search alerts George and Malcolm, former CIA men and current bounty hunters who were involved in killing some of the worst serial killers in the country. Now they want to come to the park to speak to the group about why they are researching people connected to their past. Could they be new allies or people that could be dangerous to them?

There are exciting elements to this book. The discovery of human remains and trophies from a serial killer are a real shock, especially when the torture videos found feature Chet, an old friend of Charlie, Gabe and Hilda and his son Scott who abandoned the park recently. George and Malcolm are told by their contacts that Frank's group are important and need protection, while the group wonder if having former special forces on their side might be a good idea, especially with someone tracking Frank's computer. The group are split over doing the right thing and alerting the authorities to get justice for the victims, or keeping quiet and remaining safe for the moment.

There is the question of how to rescue General Hogan without alerting IS to Frank's discovery but they cannot abandon him. How can they find out more about what is happening and find a way to help him without revealing too much?

There is less action in this book than the others but it makes up for it with some of the new storylines that are being introduced. The author keeps surprising the reader with new things while still developing the plot that sucked you in to start with. There is not a single character in the group that I don't like and that is very unusual. I am intrigued by the new characters and I see that their story is featured in a spinoff series which could be interesting. Roll on book nine!
Read April 2016.
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Book Review: Mile High Motorhomes by Robert Boren (Bug Out #7)

The enemy is relentless, attacking them over and over, as they are moving a large force through Colorado to attack Denver. Frank makes progress on a secret way to exploit an enemy weakness. Everything hinges on this.  

New characters arrive on the scene, and become trusted members of the group.

The Colorado RV Park fortifications, while strong, cannot stand up against a large enemy force. It's only a matter of time before this attack comes. Will the Motorhomes have to flee to the east, before Frank can finish his work? The Nation is in peril. The Army is in over it's head. The Government can't be trusted. Can American Citizens save the day?

My Review:
Gabe contacts his cousin Dobie who comes to stay at the park with his four trained security dogs, hoping that this will help to protect them as Frank works out how to crack the code. Dobie is concerned that bad things are happening in town with women being abducted and Denver itself is coming under attack, scaring the group. They decide to relocate Jake and Trish from town to the RV park just as the town is attacked. How much longer can they stay in Colorado? Should they risk moving to a safer place in the sealed off Kansas or could the journey be the death of them?

I swear I didn't think that the tension could be ramped up any further but yes, it is happening! Frank knows how to crack the code but needs electronic equipment to do it, so Jake's shop is the place to go to in town. Jake tells Gabe and Dobie that he is worried about the safety of daughter Trish with all the abductions and they agree to move to the park with all of Jake's electronic treasures. Their timing is good as the local men start to battle with the bad guys. Frank needs to risk field testing his work which means an RV leaving the safety of the RV park with several members of the group as backup. However, IS have found the location of the park and are determined to destroy it this time.

In the outside world, Eagle breaks out in violence while Denver is under a full assault by the enemy. With trouble brewing around them and the enemy knowing where they are, Mary and Hilda are so concerned about the safety of the park that they start to ready the vehicles for a quick exit and a meeting confirms that it is time to leave, now that Frank has cracked the code and has a location on all the enemy chips, including some inside the Pentagon. But an invasion force is closing in on them and there are enemies all along their route to Kansas. Will they be able to escape in time?

This book has several new characters who I liked. Gabe's cousin Dobie and his four wonderful guard dogs provide added security to the group and a warning about trouble coming that they can't see. I enjoyed the interaction between the dogs and people in the group. Jake is a great fun character and can do anything electrical which makes him an asset to the group in several ways. His daughter Trish and Terry are interested in each other, which is a source of amusement to the older men in the group who enjoy teasing the youngsters! Jasmine and Jerry have decided that life must go on in spite of the war, and start trying for a baby, a decision I find a bit bloody bizarre considering their situation. Jeb is also ready to declare his love for Rosie.

Eek! There are quite a few battles to be fought in this book and a lot of danger and injury to our group as their situation starts to grow desperate. Deflecting small attacks had become commonplace but security became tighter after the hostage situation with IS in the previous book. The attacks are increasing in intensity and it is just a matter of time before the park is overrun or destroyed so trying to escape Colorado is now top of the list. Sources indicate that Kansas is under guard to keep the militia and IS out, but the army may be able to get Frank's group in-if they can evade their enemies and get there. There is tension leaking out of every page in this book and I am still loving the series. I'm so excited to see what Frank is going to do with his new information...
Read April 2016.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Book Review: Motorhome Mayhem in the Rockies by Robert Boren (Bug Out #6)

They take refuge at Motorhome Park in Colorado, but the enemy finds them. It's one battle after another. The group becomes a battle hardened force to be reckoned with. 

A new General comes on the scene, and tells them a secret about the enemy. Frank becomes the most important person in the war, because only he can exploit the new knowledge. The Colorado RV Park is fortified, and has better defences than any other place they've been, but will it be enough? Will they have to get into their Motorhomes and flee to safety, while Frank works to exploit the enemy secret?

New characters join the team, and provide better capability. The group is committed to preserving liberty in the USA. Will they prevail?

My Review: 
Gabe welcomes them to his park which is isolated and protected by geography. It is a place that can be adapted for defence more easily than any other place they have stayed at. Have they finally found their ideal home base? The unexpected arrival of a helo with a new Major and his team proves that they can still be easily found...but have they been found by a new ally or new enemy and who else knows their location? The group have learned harsh lessons about trust and are very twitchy about the latest developments. Can these army people be trusted?

I don't know about the group but since the death of the General Walker at Hilda's park, I haven't trusted anybody other than those in an RV! I shall continue in that mode through the series I suspect! I liked the addition of Gabe and I liked the way the team started acting more like a prepared military unit, taking their defence seriously. I like this RV park as a base for them but Frank has concerns about there only being one exit if they face trouble. That could be an issue in future books for sure with the luck that this group seems to have.

There are quite a few more action scenes in this book as the new RV base is constantly put to the test by militia and IS attackers. It is a thriller pretty much from start to finish as they battle to take down their enemies and protect the park. However it's not just the same plot this time. The author has introduced new information supplied by the new General to Frank's group that will not only assist them in avoiding future attacks but will help the group go on the offensive against them. If you don't want to know what it is, skip the next paragraph because I must talk about this!

Last chance to look away! OK the IS and militia fighters are all implanted with a tracking device and each device is individually coded with name, rank and importance. If the code can be cracked, Frank would be able to use his tech knowledge to track the movements of every fighter, work out where the leaders are and see attacks before they happen. And if this information was made public, armed citizens could see traitors and take action against them, giving the good guys the chance to win this war. I loved this idea as a plot twist! It also explains how their locations are so easily found as every fighter they killed was trackable. Liking this!

Back in the outside world, there is a fight between the puppet government and the good guys but with betrayals around every corner, the army men cannot trust their own people or know who is loyal. This was why General Walker was arming and assisting many groups like Frank's to take up the fight as they could be trusted. Frank is still watching who is coming to Hilda's park and can identify some of the main players that they need to watch out for. Finding out that his group are on the most wanted list for the terrorists gives them a real shock and again they wonder if they should try to run again.

There is a lot going on in this book that I would love to talk about but it's very hard to do so without giving away all the good bits. There are attacks on the RV park. There is an assault on the enemy by a group from the park. There is a hostage crisis to deal with. There is the new twist to give Frank and Jerry something to work on. There is an excellent romance between Rosie and Jeb which I had been for as they make such a great couple. There is the continued struggle to survive and be on alert for trouble.

I can't wait to see what is coming next...
Read April 2016.
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Book Review: RV Flight From Terror by Robert Boren (Bug Out #5)

The Motorhome Park in Utah is no longer safe. Our friends have to flee, but where can they go? Where is it safe for them? The Army has their hands full. They can't protect them. Our friends are on their own!
The RV Park has become an armed camp, but will it be enough? Will our friends have to get back into their Motorhomes and flee for their lives? Maybe they should stand and fight. If the enemies aren't defeated, what future do they have?

My Review:
Be advised that in each review I will be talking about things that happened in the previous book so be aware of possible spoilers if you plan to read the series.

The wedding of Charlie and Hilda is bittersweet after the recent tragic events. After the memorial service for Chester, the group leaders are getting ready for an uncertain future in a new state, still unsure if they are doing the right thing. Jerry and Frank are seriously worried about getting on the helicopter and fear for their safety if they do. The decision is taken from them when the General says he has been informed that a huge attack force is heading to the park and everyone needs to flee in their RVs NOW. In panic, everyone bugs out of the park in a convoy again, heading north with no real plan. But a flat tyre and gas issues derails Earl and Jackson at Boulder and the Sheriff and Terry have only just got out of the town as it falls to the enemy. Will they all make it to the next RV park alive? And what will become of the General and his men staying to defend the park?

I was surprised by just how exciting this journey turned out to be, as I had wanted them to stay at the park. The author of course was smarter than I am and kept the story fresh by putting the convoy on the road and having them strung out, worrying about each other and out of contact. I was worried sick about the Sheriff who is one of my favourite characters and I couldn't bear the thought of losing him so soon after poor Chester. I didn't want anything bad to happen to the army guys at the camp either as I liked them all. Frank takes a moment to check the security cameras back at the park from his computer and is shocked to see that the heads of the General, Major and Doctor are on spikes near the front gate and the LT and a few soldiers have escaped and plan to join up with them. IS have taken Hilda's park and their friends are dead in the worst way possible. Noooo! I liked the dead men but I was happy that the LT and Jenkins escaped as I really like their characters.

Robbie is able to update his dad on what has been happening in California. Restrictions are being placed on the people regarding distance you can travel and every vehicle is being tagged so that each citizen can be watched. Protesters are being arrested and it is illegal to quit your job. Frank is concerned to hear that the army have not been involved in any of these actions and understands that Robbie felt his only escape was to join up. Sarah reports that beheadings are occuring in Boise and that she and her new husband are thinking about whether to leave. Trying to work out where might be safe is becoming a real problem for all the survivors.

The group are at the RV park of Kurt and Mary when they receive news about their friends on the road behind, as well as the army men coming to join them. News of what happened at the park spreads and everyone keeps their RVs ready to move in case of unexpected trouble, while Kurt and Mary prepare their spare vehicles just in case they are required. The fear of the group is increasing as each moment passes, waiting for their friends to arrive. You just know that trouble is about to find our group as the tension ramps up again and they have to flee the unprotected park but when it happens, I was pretty shocked by the manner of it. Seriously WTF!!! I'm a bit speechless! How could that just have happened??? I was not expecting this major plot twist and it threw a spanner into the whole plot for me (in a good way though!). You really do not know what is going to come next in this book which is one of the many reasons why I'm enjoying the series so much.

Every time I wonder if the books can keep up their standard, new things are thrown at me to shock and surprise. I love a plot with twists I was not expecting and this book has them in spades. The group are now moving to the Colorado RV park owned by Gabe, up in the mountains and hoping it will be a safe haven. With eight books left in this action packed series, I seriously doubt they will ever be safe!

Read April 2016.
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Book Review: Mortars and Motorhomes by Robert Boren (Bug Out #4)

The Motorhome Park in Utah is under increasing attack, as the enemies attempt to destroy our motley band of RVers. Is it time to get out of Dodge?
The enemy has targeted our group, at first for their supplies and vehicles, but now it's worse. Now they are after them for revenge! The fortifications they've built at the RV Park have been good enough to hold off small attacks, but will the attacks continue to be small? Motorhomes aren't a hard target. 

Will the group survive? Can they make a home in Utah, or will they have to Bug Out again?

My Review:

Arrgghh! The ending of book three had some real shockers that I wasn't expecting but the arrival of the CIA man was right up there! I think I was just as shocked as Frank to see Simmons stroll into the park! Now you KNOW there is no way that this guy can be trusted, right? Right? Simmons tells the group that he was a double agent causing trouble inside the militia and that he thought Frank's group were militia trying to escape, leading to the confusion and gun fight, but Frank is very nervous about Simmons being there and nobody else seems to trust him. Jackson and Earl fear for their own safety when Simmons makes it clear that he wants to arrest them and repay Frank for shooting him. It is a relief when the military arrest him as a spy and send a chopper to remove him...a chopper which then suddenly goes missing. Did it crash or were Simmons friends in the chopper to aid his escape?

Frank has other things to worry about as well as Simmons coming after him as his son Robbie enlists to join the fight so he can escape the worsening situation in California and daughter Sarah is too close to the IS northern front. Seattle is swarming with IS, nuclear devices are going off in Canada and Chicago, attacks occur in India and Singapore and bombs now hit Washington DC at the Capitol Building where a meeting was being held. The park is about to come under attack again and now the group and the army men must defend the park against the enemy and hope for victory, still wondering who amongst the troops can be trusted. And when Simmons pops up again it is the Sheriff's town that is about to take the full brunt of his fury...

Can I say what a total b*****d Simmons is? I hate that guy so much and this was where the true impact of this war hits home to our group. The Sheriff and his deputy are being held hostage by the psycho cop and he demands that certain members of the group meet him for discussions. It's one thing to know that it is a trap but another to find a way out of it without abandoning their law enforcement friends. The tragic events in town during the showdown are to have a longlasting effect on the group. General Walker has become certain that the park is not safe and wants to relocate the group leadership to a safer place, a decision which splits the park. Can they really leave everything they own and risk being transported by chopper to a safe state? Can they actually trust the army?

I shed tears reading this book. So many of my favourites were in mortal danger and at one point I feared that several of them were going to die. The author writes these emotional scenes so well and I was caught up in the story as it flowed along. I did like that a couple of my favourites got to be heroic and that the men finally realise that the women are more than capable of holding their own in battle. Usually in a book with a large cast, you have a couple of favourites but in this book, everyone has been well developed and you don't want anything bad happening to any of them! That says a lot for the writing ability of the author and that more than compensates for the poor editing that remains an issue in the copies I had. I love the story so I overlook it.

I'm at a personal crossroads here as I love the scenes at the park and all the attacks and don't really want to see them leave for an army base, but the way this story twists, who knows what is coming next? The second I put this book down I was already grabbing the next one.

Please release these in paperback omnibus!
Read April 2016.
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Book Review: Motorhome Madness by Robert Boren (Bug Out #3)

A Motorhome Park in Utah has become their refuge.

Enemy fighters and scavengers are attacking, trying to take their supplies, weapons, vehicles, and lives. Our friends fight for their survival against the ruthless attackers!

The group fortifies the RV Park to make their stand. Will they prevail, or will the RV Park become their own Alamo?

Should they stay and fight, or Bug Out again in their Motorhomes?

My Review:
For me, this was one of my favourite books in the series. The tension of the last two books really explodes in book three.

The group thought they have found somewhere safe for the moment at Hilda's park in Utah. But internal suspicions over Arthur's death combine with the fear of what is going on in the outside world. The group start thinking about defending the property with whatever they can find including old hunting hides at the rear and armed men volunteering for guard duty. The Sheriff conducts his murder investigation while Jerry decides to repair the damaged radio. And then the shooting starts...

The book opens with the question of who murdered Arthur, and Frank and Jerry review the most likely suspects: Charlie, Jackson, Earl and Jeb. Did Charlie leave the bar during Happy Hour to kill Arthur? Is it possible that Simmons had something to do with it? Who wants the radio out of action enough to kill an innocent man? Whoever did it, it is clear that they have an enemy within the park, who is probably a militia plant, something the Sheriff agrees with. Jerry decides not to mention to the group that he can probably fix the radio in case he becomes the next target. The Sheriff alerts Hilda to the murder as owner of the park and now defence is going to be vital.

The sudden start of shooting from Jeb in the hunting hide is a wake up call to the real danger that they are in and Frank, Jerry and Sheriff run to his aid. The park is now under attack by militia and terrorists who are working together, a frightening development. The Sheriff has decided that they are going to need army help as he expects more than just a scouting party next time round, and as the army send people to investigate the mess the militia mole decides to make their move with a couple of attacks that throw the park into total chaos...

There is a lot of action and tension in the book with Charlie under suspicion as a murder suspect, and he is hurt to find himself being excluded from the meetings with the Sheriff. I had started to suspect one of the group by now, working it out from the things the others were saying about the night in question. While I was proved right, there was another piece of interesting information about militia plants that I hadn't been expecting, so that was a nice surprise. As well as the reveal of the murderer, we have a couple of action scenes where the park and the people are under attack from the enemy. Their hiding place has been revealed and they are now targets. These scenes shattered my nerves as I love the characters and was scared that one of my favourites would get hurt! And people do get hurt...

In the outside world, the Major reveals that the IS troops coming through Mexico were a diversion to the main force coming through Canada which is now in Civil War. The implications of being stuck between IS groups moving north and south towards them start to scare the group. IS men who arrived in the US as migrants were fasttracked into the military and are now revealing themselves by murdering the troops they have been working with, meaning the army cannot even trust it's own people. It is a worrying development for the group, especially when they suddenly see it impact right in front of their gate. When the phone lines go down, the group realise that an all out assault is coming...

I liked the addition of the Sheriff to the book. As the others observe, he is not the smartest man in the world but he seems hardworking and honest and I liked him from the start. I am very much enjoying the comic relief of husband hunting hard drinking Rosie, Jerry's mother-in-law. She is very funny and always makes me laugh the way she quizzes the men about their relationship status. I am also a fan of Jasmine and Jerry becoming MCs along with Frank and Jane. In fact it is the overall group dynamic that makes the book work so well, with all the different personalities and abilities helping the group develop.

The plot has developed to indicate that the militia that the convoy escaped are working with the IS forces, something the original militia leader would not have approved of. The group are now greatly concerned for their safety and all petty squabbles are put to rest as they plan what they are going to do next. Do they secure the park and hope that the army can assist in their defence? Or do they pack up and bug out, hoping to avoid danger on the road and find a new park to hide in? Or is it going to be too late for a chance at escape with the enemy moving in on them? Who is going to survive the coming battle?

I can't describe how nervous I was through this book. The murder plot mixes in perfectly with the continued action as danger finally catches up to the group. The characters are well developed through the tense investigation and the scary action scenes, making the reader care about what happens to everyone. The reveal of the mole was not a surprise to me but I got quite a shock at what happened in the last chapters of the book. A shocking death and a final reveal that had my jaw dropping!

Love this series! Wish it was in paperback!

Read April 2016
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Book Review: Civilization in Peril by Robert Boren (Bug Out #2)

The Civilized World is under attack.
The world outside continues to go sideways in Bug Out! Part 2. We are in a nuclear war. B
ombs are floated into American, European, and Russian ports. Militia leaders attempt to become warlords. Islamic Fighters flood into the USA and take over territory. Mexico collapses. Martial Law is declared in California - will it spread to other states?

The group stops at a place that appears to be safe, but they find themselves fighting off local scavengers and enemy scouting parties. They look for a safe haven, but it's always just a little further away. 

My Review:

I loved the first book in this series of 13 books and I went straight on to read book two, especially with the cliffhanger ending to the last one!

The cops have arrived at the trailer park to talk to Frank about the armed fight with the militia men and the crooked cop, confirming who survived and that Jane was right. The militia group were rounding up civilians and herding them to a place where they were to be robbed of their RVs, weapons, food and possibly murdered. Frank's relief that they attacked bad people is overshadowed by the news that Simmons is alive and may well come after Frank as he is known to be unhinged. News comes that the IS forces are coming their way and everyone prepares to leave, including the park owner Charlie. It is as they flee that reports hit the news of nuclear devices going off along the US coast putting Robbie and Sarah at risk along with attacks on Russia, and Mexican troops trying to fight more IS forces.

The action is really hotting up as the whole convoy has to flee from where they thought they were safe, heading to the RV park owned by Hilda, friend of Jeb, Charlie and Chester. The fear of being caught by IS terrorists causes tension and panic, and there is still the threat from Simmons and the remains of the militia they escaped from who are searching the surrounding area for Frank. IS attacks are hitting Europe with a blast killing a million people in Paris, and China is on the brink of invading North Korea as they are blamed for passing nuclear devices to the terrorists. Pakistan is being attacked by several countries, Turkey is kicked out of NATO and moderate countries in Africa and the Middle East seek alliances for their security. The global picture is shaky which adds a whole new set of fears for the RV convoy as they wonder what disaster is going to happen next. It certainly keeps things exciting! Muslims are coming under attack by angry citizens when they start protesting in the street and unrest is everywhere.

For me, the great thing about this book is the characters. Frank and Jane are just a normal couple who want to live a quiet life and are suddenly caught up in war, anarchy and violence. Having MCs who are in their 60's and 70's was so great as it brings a whole new dimension to an apocalypse plot. These are people who are perhaps former military or law enforcement but have issues with hips, backs and other ailments, adding realism to the story. They need to use their brain and experience in tricky situations and are not super human. I liked that diversity and it shows you can have older characters taking on hero roles in exciting plots. I'm already a fan of Jeb, Chester and Jerry!

The other interesting plot line is the suddent death of a character which took me greatly by surprise. As it becomes clear that this could be a murder, everyone starts to get suspicious of the others in the group. I was trying to evaluate the actions of each character, deciding who I thought might have been involved and who I really wanted to trust. It also appears that some group members may have other agendas to pursue that could compromise their collective safety. Seriously, there is never a dull minute in this series! Having fractures in the group starting to appear was an interesting side plot which I hope to see developed in the next book.

The excitement and tension from book one has just been ramped up again in this latest installment. I'm hooked!
Read April 2016.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Book Review: Escape in a Motorhome by Robert Boren (Bug Out #1)

When society unravels, sometimes the best move is simply to Bug Out.

Bug Out! is the story of Frank and Jane, who are living in Southern California. The State Government is on the verge of collapse. State Pensions are gone. Banking is disrupted. State jobs are eliminated, and it washes through the economy like a tidal wave. Violence Looting. Wholesale destruction of property. Frank and Jane know they must escape. They have a Motorhome. They can Bug Out!

Follow Frank and Jane as they fight their way out of California. What dangers are waiting for them outside? Why are military convoys and tanks moving south
and west on the roads? Why are checkpoints being set up everywhere? Is Martial Law coming? Are the preppers right? What is going on across the southern border? Scary people are coming across. Soldiers from Venezuela. Islamic Fighters. US Army and Private Militia forces are waiting to take them on, and Frank and Jane must thread their way through the battles. They have the perfect Bug Out Vehicle. Will they survive?

My Review:
I stumbled across this series by accident and became hooked on it straight away. It is a 13 part saga following a group of people through civil unrest, invasion and martial law, civil war and frequent attacks by ISIS style terrorists and anarchist militias. It is set in modern day America though it has a dystopian feel and there are two things that make it unique. It is set in RV parks and RVs, featuring people from all kinds of backgrounds staying together for safety. The second thing is that most of the characters are over the age of 50 and some are in their 70's which was a very refreshing change!

Our MC couple are Frank and Jane, with dog Lucy and cat Mr Wonderful. Concerned about disorder and rioting in California getting close to their home, they decide to collect their RV and get out of the state before things get too dangerous. They notice the military heading south as they flee north and news reports indicate that airliners are being shot down as ISIS style terrorists battle government forces along the Mexican border, and that California is being sealed off. They want to find a quiet and safe RV park in Arizona to wait out the trouble before looking to return home but with the situation around them deteriorating, where is it safe to go?

At a RV park, Frank and Jane befriend Hank and Linda. Hank believes that federal forces are fighting foreign invaders to give an excuse to impose martial law and take guns away from citizens, and Frank agrees. They know that Texas are fighting back and refusing to be dictated to, determined to keep their guns and their rights. The theory is fuelled by deserting cops who indicate that they refused to follow these orders and are mounting a resistance to the government, wanting civilians to join with them. Rumours are coming to them about the government allowing the terrorists in to provoke a fight with the civilians, with the US forces fighting alongside the terrorists. Jane has her doubts about what the others believe and decides to reach out to her son to find out what he is hearing in California.

I don't want to go any further on plot with this review as it would spoil all the drama and twists that are present throughout. Frank belives his government has conspired with terrorists so they can impose martial law but underestimated the strength of the foreign army who not look too strong to stop. Jane cannot believe that her government would do that and wants to get more information from someone she trusts-her son Robbie who can tell her what he is seeing in California. So who is right about what is happening? I'm not going to say, obviously, but I loved the conspiracy plotline and having our MCs having different political visions, allowing them to debate what is happening to their country in a sensible manner, instead of the ranting anti-government or anti-prepper characters you see in this kind of book.

This book just appealed to me on so many levels. There is the instant danger of the initial escape from California with the dangerous situations that it puts the RV into. There is the chaos of the IS invasion and terror attacks, martial law, militia rebellions and frequent battles being reported. The characters are struggling to contact loved ones or get a news report that is accurate which causes tension and fear. The characters are people that you care about and the addition of the pets adds a touch of realism as their day to day needs must be met in the middle of war. I found myself worrying about Frank and Jane several times in the book as they faced a host of scary situations and I just found it gripping!

I would warn of two things that might annoy the reader. It can be slightly repetitive in nature over the functions of the RV, as at every stop it is explained how they get everything set up, then put things away ready to leave. I found this to be quite minor though. There is also a lack of editing and formatting in the book which other reviewers have pointed out. It was quite obvious but I was able to overlook that because I enjoyed the book so much.

It was an action packed rollercoaster ride that put our MCs from one bad situation to another, with constant plot twists. I read the whole series back to back in a couple of weeks and I'm ready to devour the various spin off series! 
Read March 2016.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Book Review: Ground Zero by Nicholas Ryan

Aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore harbor, an Iranian terrorist prepares to unleash an unimaginable horror upon the United States. The ‘Wrath’ is an undead plague – an infection that consumes its victims with a maddening rage and turns them into mindless blood-thirsty killers.

Jack Cutter is just an ordinary guy dealing with a dreadful guilt when the virus tears through his home town. Before it’s too late, Cutter will have to find a way to survive, and find a reason fight: HIS REDEMPTION.

My Review: 
A zombie outbreak begins in Baltimore when a terrorist unleashes a deadly virus in himself, and it swiftly spreads to the streets. The CDC loses control and the virus starts to sweep the country. Jack Cutter is one of the many running for his life and he is helped to sanctuary in a book store secure basement. But with food, water and electricity about to run out, should they stay and hope for rescue or try to find a way past the zombies and out of the city?

Jack is already dealing with the trauma of losing his wife and son recently, the guilt of it all screwing him up and in the apocalypse he sees a chance to redeem himself by trying to help others to survive. I like him as a character for the most part although sympathy wanes when this distraught grieving man starts eyeing up Sam during the crisis. Jeez man, you claim you are heartbroken but can't resist thinking how hot Sam was. Concentrate on the damn zombies FFS!

I have definite issues with the women in this story. Jillian offers herself to Hos in the hope that he will like her enough to take her with him when he makes a break for his prepper home outside the city. Glenda attempts the same move on Jack which disgusts him, and me. Why are these women so useless that their only aim in the book is to offer sex to the big brave men? Jillian does the same when she meets the soldiers. Why can't these women prove their worth by handling a gun or showing brains instead of being useless pointless slags? It really pisses me off.

The male characters are much more interesting. Hos who works in the bookstore is a prepper who has been preparing a safe house outside the city in case of disaster and now plans to make his way to it. He is portayed as somewhat selfish for refusing to take any of the others with him but I don't agree with that. He set up his safe house with his own time and money, collecting supplies and weapons just in case, and his work colleagues looked at him as a bit of a paranoid nut. Now that things have gone to hell, they beg Hos to look after them? Why should he suddenly have to take care of a whole group of people who only want to be his friend AFTER disaster strikes? I feel that Jack's attitude to Hos was a bit unfair. I would have liked a bit more on the other characters in the book store which would have been nice but being a novella, there was not enough time to explore them. I also very much liked Father Bob and his sub plot.

OK so the book has a few sexist and anti-prepper moments but those are the plot niggles. The actual story was well written by the author and it kept me reading it the whole time. I wanted to see what was going to happen to the characters and if there was a way to get to the safehouse of Hos. There was plenty of tense and exciting zombie action which of course is required in any good zombie novel. I liked the pacing of the book and the way it didn't lose itself in lots of pointless description, just getting right to the story. There were good action scenes with danger from both zombies and humans to enjoy.

It was a good zombie novella, with everything you would expect from a zombie plot. I will certainly be looking at other books by the author.
Read June 2015 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Book Review: Black Wings by Christina Henry (Black Wings #1)

She's an Agent of Death who really needs to get a life.

As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.

Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell..

My Review: 
Eek! I read this years ago and now I'm just getting round to writing my review of it due to a massive backlog of review notes to turn into finished reviews! Still, better late than never I guess!

Maddy is the person who turns up when someone is scheduled to die to help the confused soul find their way onwards, a job handed down through each woman in a family. So she has no choice but to do her duty, just as her mother did until her death. Things seem to be looking up with the arrival of a new tenant Gabriel at the building she owns but it turns out that he is a bodyguard sent to protect Maddy from a demon that is eating souls before they can be moved on-the demon that killed her mother and best friend Patrick. Finding out that a demon is hunting you down is bad enough without being told your dad is Lord Azazel, one of Lucifer's fallen angels and that he wants you to marry a useless berk at his court called Nathaniel, when you really love your bodyguard.

The first thing I liked about the book was Maddy. She doesn't really have a social life, is irritated frequently by her boss, doesn't really want to do the job that she has and overall is finding things pretty dull. A lot of people could relate to that part of her life. Her only friends are co-worker Patrick and her popcorn addicted gargoyle Beezle, who is snarky, rude and funny! I would have liked to have seen more of Patrick in the story but with him dying early in it, it didn't really seem likely. Beezle, however, was just brilliant and I loved him! I want a Beezle of my own!!! I liked the characters that appear in the book like the boss JB and I personally want to slap slimy Nathaniel. Ugh! Who'd want to be engaged to that prat!

I am not a fan of any kind of romance in my urban fantasy as those who follow my reviews know. It takes well written stories by authors like Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs and Jeaniene Frost for me to actually enjoy romance plots and root for the couples involved. I mean who doesn't love Clay and Elena, Mercy and Adam, Cat and Bones? This was one of the books where I actually liked the romance between Maddy and Gabriel and hoped that there could be a way for them to be together. For me it was an example of a love story adding to, instead of overshadowing the book plot so in this case I was ok with it.

I also am not a great fan of Courts in my urban fantasy-I avoid books with Fae Courts like the plague as I just find that kind of thing a bit dull. In this book Maddy does visit the Court of her father but it is a short plotline and didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. I just hope that the rest of the series doesn't revolve too much around the Court side of things.

There was enough action to keep me happy with lots of battles against various demons and civilians being under attack. There was the snark and humour which came from Beezle and JB. There was a bit of sadness about the somewhat doomed love affair between Maddy and Gabriel. There is the desire to punch Nathaniel. I think the book had a lot of interesting things to offer the urban fantasy fan. I found that I was quite engrossed in the plot and read it with few interruptions which is a sign that I'm enjoying it.

Overall I thought this was a good urban fantasy read with interesting characters. I look forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series. 

Read November 2012.
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Book Review: 100 Days in Deadland by Rachel Aukes (Deadland #1)

The world ended on a Thursday.

In one day, the world succumbed to a pestilence that decimated the living. In its place rose a new species: vicious, gruesome, wandering monsters with an insatiable hunger for the living. There is no government, no shelter.

Still in her twenties, Cash has watched her friends die, only to walk again. An office worker with few survival skills, she joins up with Clutch, a grizzled Army veteran with PTSD. Together, they flee the city and struggle through the nine circles of hell, with nothing but Clutch’s military experience and Cash’s determination to live. As they fight to survive in the zombie inferno, they quickly discover that nowhere is safe from the undead… or the living.

This is the beginning after the end.

(100 Days in Deadland is a modern remake of Dante's Inferno, the classic tale on the horrors of hell... zombie apocalypse style!)

My Review: 
Closing the border to Mexico has failed to stop the zombies from entering the United States and Cash has to flee from her workplace as her world goes to hell around her. Reluctantly rescued by truck driver Clutch, Cash has to prove that she can pull her weight and help this prepper or be turned out on the street to fend for herself in a world of zombies, rapists and armed militia, all ready to take what you have fought so hard to find. As Clutch makes local enemies, the zombies become the least of their worries.

I had worries about the female MC in this book. She begins as Mia, who persuades a passing lorry driver to give her a lift away from town as zombies appear on the streets. She has a moment of wondering if this guy is a potential rapist but figures escaping the zombies is a more pressing issue. She then gets instantly annoyed when Clutch seems to have no physical interest in her. That really bugs me with female MCs. She fears he's a rapist and then gets offended when he doesn't want to attack her??? How messed up is that???!!! Thankfully, Mia decides to rename herself Cash and concentrates on learning new skills and taking care of herself in the hope that she will be allowed to stay at her refuge. I started to warm to her which was a relief.

Clutch is a prepper and a loner who can take care of himself and doesn't really want to have someone else staying with him and using his supplies. He does gradually start to see the bright side of having an extra pair of hands around the place and someone to assist him on dangerous supply runs into town. I liked him because he was straightforward, capable and not much of a people person which I can certainly relate to! He has been ready to look after himself in any scenario and I liked the way he had his farm set up. I always find the preppers in these books fascinating and enjoy reading about what they do to protect their property.

Trouble really begins when the army nearby sets up local militias to protect their own areas and stockpile anything they find of use for future distribution. Clutch has had dealings with some of these locals before and refuses to accept that these people have the right to take everything in town for themselves. Doyle, their leader is issuing demands for survivors like Clutch to hand over their own supplies or be attacked. When it is clear that even the army men cannot control Doyle, Clutch and Cash have to find ways to defend themselves and start thinking of a way to stop Doyle from taking everything.

This is what I term a typical zombie novel and I mean that in a good way. It has the zombie action, the tense supply runs, psycho armed men, the daily struggle to survive...all of the elements I love in a zombie book. It also has a different storyline for a zombie prepper book in that the army are trying to help the civilians, moving them into well equipped and safe army camps instead of the horrific FEMA camps you read about in other books in the genre! The army men are decent, law abiding and want to work with people like Clutch. They set up militias as added defence and so that these people could keep the camps supplied. Doyle of course is keeping most of the good stuff for himself and is now viewing the army as a threat to his empire. So there are several interesting plotlines woven together, meaning lots of action.

The book blurb indicates that it is based on Dante's Inferno but not having read the book, I can't tell you if this is an accurate description or not. For me, I can only say it was a good zombie novel. I thought the book was well written and I've already bought the rest of the series to read in paperback. It will be fun to see what happens next! 
Read February 2015.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing #1)


Every year, the United Commonwealth invites top graduates from each colony to participate in The Testing. Successful candidates will go on to the University and help the government work to rebuild our war-stricken world. This process is not optional.

Disclaimer: The United Commonwealth is not responsible for candidates' psychological or physical heath during The Testing.

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

My Review: 
I hate it when a book publisher declares that fans of a classic book or series will love this, as usually I'm left feeling disappointed after reading it. The blurb indicates that this book might interest fans of The Hunger Games and for once, the publisher was right! There were elements to this book that had a Hunger Games vibe but at the same time, it was different enough to enjoy as a book in its own right-and I really enjoyed it!

Cia is a great heroine. She is hard working, smart, kind and the kind of girl that you would want as a best friend. She has wanted to be chosen for the Trials for so long, as successful candidates then get University places, the best jobs and a happy life. After being chosen, Cia is alarmed when her father tells her that his memory of the Trials were wiped but that he suffers frequent frightening nightmares about the deaths of fellow students he was with and fears for his daughter's safety. He warns her to look out for herself and trust nobody, keep his advice secret and never accept food or drink from other competitors in case they try to poison her.

Cia, however, is not great on common sense. She recognises another student on her transport-the very hot Tomas and instantly she tells him everything her dad said which could have put her entire family in danger had Tomas decided to tell those in authority! Stupid girl! As well as the danger, she has given away any advantage she had over the others by putting Tomas on alert for spy cameras and suspicious behaviour. She manages to break every rule her dad told her because she believed that Tomas was someone she could trust. For Cia's sake, lets hope she was right to trust the guy!

When they arrive, the tests get underway and I loved this part of the story. First come the written tests which seperates the good from the poorer students and some students find the pressure too much. But then comes the terror of the practical. Everyone is told not to guess during this testing stage and the students who get it wrong get eliminated, badly hurt or die, which is a massive shock to Cia. She starts to realise why her dad's mind was wiped after he passed his tests and that his nightmares are probably flashbacks to what happened to him. This becomes more than a game to is about survival and she wonders if everyone eliminated at various stages get to go home at all or if they are murdered.

The testing gets more intense when it comes to the group stage. Each group needs to work together and trust each other for all of them to get through...but some of the students want to eliminate others and will betray everyone to get through themselves. Cia has to persuade the whole of her group to be honest and work together. I loved the puzzles, the intrigue and the sheer tension of this part of the book. I was wondering who could be trusted and what Cia could do to get through as she was doubting that those ahead of her were doing what they agreed to do. I know that sounds quite cryptic but I don't want to say what all the tests are and spoil the book for anyone still to read it. It was fascinating to read this section.

The final task is where we see a similarity to the Hunger Games. The students who are left have to travel 700 miles across an apocalyptic wasteland in a sort of Running Man style game zone. The idea is to protect yourself, avoid others, take items with you to help you survive...and get across the finishing line alive. Of course there are some students who still want to kill the others in a Hunger Games scenario so everyone is very much on edge during this final stage. Who can be trusted? Who will survive to get over the line and claim the University places? This section of the book became a very exciting and tense plot as unknown nutters are trying to kill Cia throughout.

It was personally satisfying to me that during the testing stages I became suspicious of the actions of one person and that person turned out to be a total monster in the final game. It was nice to be right for once! However it was the last part of the book that delivered a couple of very interesting plot twists that set up the second book beautifully and make me very keen to find out what happens next!

This was an excellent YA dystopian thriller, one of the best I've read in the genre.
Read February 2015.  
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Monday, 24 October 2016

Chuckles Childhood Book Loves

I'm sticking with the theme of talking about my primary school reads. In my last post I talked about the Ladybird books that I enjoyed so much, featuring classic tales from around the world. Today it is time to talk about my all-time favourite children's book and the only one that I ever kept. 

I loved this book from the first time I saw it. It tells of a group of bear cubs who hear a strange noise outside and go to investigate it. The bears are very cute and I love their expressions as they venture out in the dark! 

I still look at and enjoy this book. I also have a whole pile of books featuring a family of bears by the same author, focusing on Brother and Sister Bear as they learn life lessons. But this one is still my favourite. I do recommend The Berenstain Bears books and these are a few of my favourites.