Friday, 31 March 2017

Chuckles Chat #10: The Library

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

This week I'm looking at our relationship with our local library.

As a kid I spent most of my summer holidays at the library, or reading the books I got at the library. I would trot round, trying to find something I hadn't tried yet and go home with my three books which I would binge read, and I'd be back a few days later. The staff all knew me by name and had recommendations for me. I would read Enid Blyton's child detectives, anything with a horse in it and any story I just liked the sound of. My best day was when I turned twelve and with my dad's permission, I was presented with my adult library card and off to the horror shelves I went to try some Stephen King! Never did I go back to the kids library after that!

Now I never go go the library. The service lags way behind what I would want and to be honest the staff are not very good nor is the book choice. The last time I used the library regularly was when I first discovered Goodreads and the phrase 'urban fantasy'. I had been looking for books about vampires and werewolves and this Goodreads link kept coming up so I investigated and took note of popular authors on the list. Armed with this I went to the library and found Kelley Armstrong (WOTO #2 Stolen) and Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire #2 Living Dead in Dallas). It wasn't ideal not getting book ones but I had to take what they had and loved book books. But they were all I could get in up to date horror and UF. The rest of the shelves just had Stephen King, Dean Koontz etc. Last time I checked, the horror section had the same 30 books plus Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box and that was THE newest one. That was three years ago.

Anyway, the day I was UF hunting, the women working there indicated that they hadn't got anything in beyond book #2 for each despite them being popular and if I wanted to order them from another library it would be £1.50 per book minimum and a 2 month wait. Considering that they also had nothing of the other 15 authors I wanted to try, I kind of gave up and hit Waterstones the next day, treating myself to the two book ones, Jeaniene Frost, Carrie Vaughn, Jennifer Estep and Rob Thurman from my list. After that I started snapping up more in each series and finding ones I hadn't heard of like Christina Henry, DD Barant, Kelly Meding and lots of others. UF became my new obsession and when I opened an Amazon account, the books just flowed.

I'd meander into the library occasionally after that to browse and maybe grab a new Joe Hill or Stephen King or something, which they did get in. But after reading them and handing them back in, I was getting letters saying the books were overdue and fining me for it. Irate, I headed round to the library and told the women I had left them on the part of the counter you were asked to leave them-the 'checking in' bit, ready for the women to y'know, do their job and check them in. I had handed them in three months earlier. Tutting, the head librarian who obviously didn't believe me, went off to check the shelves and came back red faced admitting the books were sitting there and that someone shelved them without checking them in. I couldn't resist telling her 'so I haven't stolen them then'. Then came the grovelling apology. But what if those books had been stolen by someone who saw them waiting to be checked in? I was noted as being the last borrower so I was getting blamed!  The next twice I borrowed books the same thing happened-I was accused of keeping overdue books, threatened with fines and the women found the books on the shelves and had to say sorry. That isn't good enough people! Your main job in a library is checking books in and out! Do your dang job already!

I did use the library for their computers on occasion and they were so slow. We had to pay for each computer session and most of the time I was sitting waiting for pages to load. And of course they had content blockers to stop you looking up porn but every second thing you looked at froze up the screen with flashing yellow banners screaming ILLEGAL!!! and you had to get the librarian to unlock it and fill in a paper report of who you are and what site you tried to view. I felt like a criminal. People would stare at me from their computer as if I was a pervert! After having this happen ten times in twenty minutes, I gave up and started saving up for my own computer again!

You can understand why I get so jealous when I hear people in the US talk about their great two storey libraries and how they just walk in and come out with 15 brand new releases to take home. *sulks* Our local libraries just don't measure up to that and with all these new budget cuts I can't see things getting any better. I think these libraries will be closed in ten years time if they cannot attract customers back. When I think back to those happy summer days as a kid, I find it kind of sad that I no longer use the place.

Is your library good or poor? What services do they offer and which do you pay for? Are you a regular user? Are the newest books usually available? Are the staff good? Do you have any library horror stories? 

Chuckles 2017 Series Read Challenge-March Update


Every year I promise to catch up on the book series that have been sitting on my shelves brooding for years. Last year I did actually manage to deal with a few which is better than I've done in the last four years combined! Now it is time to look forward with excitement to getting more series completed!

MARCH PLAN:
I have some books on my reading list for this month that will allow me to catch up with or complete a few series I've started.

Steven Jenkins-Burn the dead
1) Quarantine (previously read)
2) Purge (read)
3) Riot (read)

JT Sawyer-First Wave
1) First Wave (previously read)
2) The Longest Day (read)
3) No place to hide (read)

Bonnie Dee
1) After the End (previously read)
2) Dead Country (read)

Jason Kristopher-The Dying of the Light
1) End (previously read)
2) Interval (read)
3) Beginning (read)
-Walker chronicles short stories (read)

Robert Brown-The Last Blade of Grass
1) The Last Blade of Grass (previously read)
2) Barren Fields (read)

Cherie Priest-Cheshire Red Reports
1) Bloodshot (previously read)
2) Hellbent

Patricia Briggs-Mercy Thompson
1-8 (previously read)
9) Fire Touched 

Micah Gurley-Macon Saga
1) The Road to Macon (previously read)
2) The Rise of Macon (read)

Craig Jones
1) Outbreak (previously read)
2) Breakout (read)

Not bad! I caught up with all but two series this month so I'm happy with that as each of them only has one more book to let me complete the series. Overall I'm pleased with progress!

The Monster Month of March-update

It's March and it seems like a good excuse to select some books related to monsters of all kinds to read this month. Welcome to the Monster Month of March at The Book Cave! I'll be reading a mixture of ebooks and paperbacks, each featuring various monsters-zombies, vampires, shifters, dinosaurs, sharks...the possibilities are endless and I'm very excited! Here was my starting list:

1) Steve Alten-Meg
2) Brennan Beard-Devil of the Forest (DNF)
3) Ezekiel Boone-The Hatching
4) Eric S Brown-Bigfoot War (read)
5) Jonah Buck-Carrion Safari (read)
6) Rick Chesler-Hotel Megalodon (read)
7) Catt Dahman-Extinction Island 2 (read)
8) Catt Dahman-Louisiana Saturday Night (read)
9) Ray Garton-'Nids (read)
10) Dane Hatchell-The Lost World of Patagonia (read)
11) Hunter Shea-Swamp Monster Massacre (read)
12) Cherie Priest-Hellbent
13) Chris Fox-No such thing as werewolves (DNF)
14) Judith Post-Magicks Uncaged
15) Patricia Briggs-Fire Touched
16) Robert Brown-Barren Fields (read)
17) Keith RA DeCandido-Resident Evil Apocalypse (read)
18) Bonnie Dee-Dead Country (read)
19) Micah Gurley-The Rise of Macon (read)
20) Dave Jefferey-Necropolis Rising (read)
21) Steven Jenkins-Purge (read)
22) Steven Jenkins-Riot (read)
23) Craig Jones-Breakout (read)
24) Jason Kristopher-Interval (read)
25) Jason Kristopher-Walker Chronicles (read)
26) Jason Kristopher-Beginning (read)
27) JT Sawyer-The Longest Day (read)
28) JT Sawyer-No place to hide (read)
29) JT Sawyer-Until Morning Comes (read)
30) Timothy Long-Z Risen (read)
31) Rashad Freeman-Dust to Dust (read)

It's the end of the month and I read 26/31 which I'm pleased with overall. I didn't get to 5 of the books as I ran of steam and needed a reading rest to renew me for April. I discovered a few new authors that I liked-Ray Garton and Hunter Shea, had a brilliant read in Bigfoot War and completed a few series as well so yes, happy with progress!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Book Review: Spinosaurus by Hugo Navikov


Brett Russell is a hunter of the rarest game. His targets are cryptids, animals denied by science. But they are well known by those living on the edges of civilization, where monsters attack and devour their animals and children and lay ruin to their shantytowns. 

When a shadowy organization sends Brett to the Congo in search of the legendary dinosaur cryptid Kasai Rex, he will face much more than a terrifying monster from the past.
 

Spinosaurus is a dinosaur thriller packed with intrigue, action and giant prehistoric predators. 

My Review: 
A diamond mining operation in Congo is being disruped by a giant dinosaur who keeps attacking the worker camp and a survivor calls the US TV show Cryptoids Alive! to ask for help. The show decide to send a team to investigate but the shadowy Organisation add their own member posing as an expert.

Brett works for the Organisation, leading rich hunters on expeditions to hunt endangered animals, then sees to it that they are arrested by local authorities. Now he is being sent on this mission to Congo to assess the situation and check for endangered animals while pretending to be a cryptoid expert. I found the Organisation interesting and certainly liked the hunters get arrested for their sins. I liked Brett's no nonsense boss who has a trophy room of his own where he displays the heads of poachers he has hunted down!

The book itself is a bit slow to get into the story. It starts with the trip being prepared, the team arriving in Congo and getting into a dispute with the local law enforcement and setting up their camp. It is 40% into the book before things really get going action-wise with a fight between a mutant crocodile and snake, which was certainly quite interesting. We don't see the Spinosaurus in the early parts of the book, with Brett only hearing the sounds of attack and arriving in the aftermath of it. There are a few bits of action involving mutant monsters and a dinosaur chase scene but nowhere near what I'd hoped for.

The story goes on to focus on the mining company and the fact that someone is stealing eggs from a Spinosaurus over the river to lure it into attacking the mining camp as it searches for the missing eggs. It was obvious to me from the start which of the people at the camp were involved in this scheme and the person is a gruntled employee of the Organisation. We never find out if all the claims made by the bad guy are true or made up, we never find out if the Organisation is involved in betraying Brett or if the traitor made it up while pretending to be his boss. Has he been blacklisted by the company and stranded there or will the Organisation help him? We just don't get the answers on a lot of the questions thrown up which means to me that the book feels unfinished.

I was a little disappointed in the book. It felt more like a social environmental conspiracy thriller than a dinosaur gorefest. We don't really see much of the Spinosaurus and it isn't killing people for fun, just defending her nest, so it wasn't really the kind of story that the blurb hints at. It was ok to read but not what I was looking for.


Read January 2017.
2.5 stars. 

Guest Post: Welcome to Booker T!



WHY DOGS ARE BETTER THAN CATS



Hello everybody!  Nope, you don’t have the wrong blog.  Auntie Chuckles has graciously invited me to her blog today and said I could talk about ANYTHING I want.  Since I know both she and Mom like to read a lot, I’d thought I’d share with you why dogs are better than cats and then show you the books that prove it.  Please note no cats were harmed in the making of his post.

        When you go out in the car, dogs are more than happy to accompany you.  If cats go, you have to contain them somehow.  I mean really, have you ever seen a cat riding with its head hanging out the window and said to yourself “What a cute cat, hope it doesn’t jump out.”  Wait, maybe only Mom says the hope you don’t jump out part – and mainly to my brother Cassius.   Case in point, Jake from the Repo Man series.  Now Jake is not your most active dog, he is a Basset Hound of course, but he loves to ride places with Ruddy as he goes around solving mysteries and generally trying to keep himself out of trouble. Mom loves this adult mystery series and is anxiously awaiting the next one.






















     Dogs can help you meet new people and make new friends.  Come on guys, how many cities are trying to get extra funding to build “cat parks.”  Dog parks are great places for both dogs and their owners to meet new friends and dogs are even awesome wingmen.  Mom is reading this non-fiction book right now by a famous author who shares all of the things he’s learned from his first dog.  There is a whole chapter on how when he started walking his new girlfriend’s dog, he suddenly became a chick-magnet.  Now Dad wouldn’t do that to Mom but all you single people out there take note.  On the flip side of that though, there are plenty of non-pet people out there and if you happen to meet up with some, you should probably read “Step Dog” so you know how to handle it.






















        Dogs can help you stay physically active.  Have you seen our sad puppy eyes in action?  I’m able to convince Mom and Dad to walk me even when they think they can’t take a step more.  Plus, when it’s cold outside, they have to come up with creative ways to keep me entertained inside which usually boils down to a good game of keep-away.  Smooshie always keeps her mom Lily on the move in one of Mom’s favorite new series.  Whether she is wanting to go for walks in the snow or rain, having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, or digging bones out of the walls of her Mom’s new home, there is definitely little rest for Lily.  Plus, she is my brother Cassius’ new “book girlfriend” so I think she deserves a mention.

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     Dogs will often tilt their heads with a cute look of amazement and listen to every word their owner says while cats tend to walk off and ignore their owners.  That’s probably why we much such great sidekicks in books.   Mom is rapidly collecting the books in something called “The Iron Druid Chronicles” which center around an ancient wizard in modern times and his best pal, Oberon.  Oberon is my kind of dog – he’s smart, he loves sausages and he has his own Twitter account (come on Mom, take a hint!) Auntie Chuckles assures us we’ll love this series and we are sure she is right.  And don’t even get me started on cozy mysteries.  Mom searches far and wide for cozy mysteries which feature dogs but there are cats EVERYWHERE in that genre!  Where is the love people??? I know Mom reads some with cats in them.  She thinks she’s hiding it from me but I see the blog posts and her “Don’t tell Booker T and Cassius” comments.  Here’s one of her favorite new discoveries which just happen to feature pups.

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     Finally, the saying goes “Dogs are man’s best friend” and doesn’t mention cats for a reason.  Dogs are loyal and great companionship.  And not only do people rescue dogs (well, at least the good people), dogs rescue people.  It happens all the time in Lucy Dillon’s books.  There really are no such things as bad dogs, only bad owners.  Case in point, he-who-remains-unnamed (and I’m not talking Voldemort, I mean Michael Vick).  Mom can’t stand the guy and proudly displays this book in our home to show everyone how dogs sometimes get a bad rap.





















     
So there you have it -  some of my ideas on why dogs are much better than cats.  Now I feel it’s important to note that Mom reads a lot of different genres and horror is one of her favorite but Cujo gives me nightmares so I left it out.  You can find more of her reviews and thoughts over at Booker T’s Farm.  Maybe next time, Dad will help me with a guest post (I do have trouble typing without human assistance you know) and we can do one about how I’m prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse.  Many people don’t know it but my blog, Booker T’s Farm, is a nod to Hershel’s farm on The Walking Dead.
  
Thanks again Auntie Chuckles for letting me stop by.  I’m sending lots of doggy hugs and kisses your way.  And Cass says to tell you if you need to keep cats out of your garden this summer, he’ll grab a plane ticket and be on his way! I’m retired and focusing on my blogging full-time now.

Thank you for joining us Booker T...! There is no doubt in my mind that dogs beat cats any day and twice on Sundays! And I might just take your brother up on his offer. I think the local cats deserve The Cassius Treatment!

    Catch up with Booker T and his brother Cassius along with his mom over at: http://bookertsfarm.blogspot.co.uk