Sunday, 30 April 2017

Chuckles 2017 Series Read Challenge: Ist Quarter Results

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! 

I have been busy on the series front in January-April and this is my review of the year so far. I'm quite pleased to have finished a few zombie series that were short and make a dent in two big series. I hope to finish the Morganville Vampires next month.

These are the series that I MUST get caught up with this year!

1) Rachel Caine-The Morganville Vampires
status-read 6/15 and part of Midnight Bites anthology
2) Michael Stephen Fuchs-Arisen
status-read 1-11 and two prequel novels. One to read plus final book released later this year.

3) Darrell Maloney-Countdown to Armageddon
status-read book 1 but will reread it and the other 8.

4) Jennifer Estep-Elemental Assassin series
status-read book 1 and I'm terrified by how many books are coming out in this series!

5) Carrie Vaughn-Kitty Norville
status-read book 1, re-read this and finish series. 14? Something like that.

6) Rob Thurman-Cal Leandros series
status-need to read all 10 out so far and short stories.

Every other series I have comes under 'want to catch up with'. Just looking at them all is depressing! I need to put much more effort into catching up!

7) Cherie Priest-Cheshire Red Reports (done)
status-read both books, series completed.

8) Steven Jenkins-Burn the Dead (done)
status-read all three books, series completed.

9) Eric S Brown-Bigfoot War (done)
status-read all available books in the series.

10) Bonnie Dee-After the End (done)
status-read both books, series completed.

11) Jason Kristopher-The Dying of the Light (done)
status-read the three novels and short story anthology, series completed.

12) JT Sawyer-Fist Wave (done)
status-read the trilogy, series completed.

13) Craig Jones-Zombie Apocalypse (done)
status-read both books, series completed.

14) Robert Brown-The Last Blade of Grass (done)
status-read both books, series completed.

15) Micah Gurley-Macon Saga (done)
status-read both books, series completed (I think!) 

16) Nicholas Sansbury Smith-Extinction Horizon
status-read 6 books and novella, final book published in November.

April Horror Month: The Verdict

Welcome to Horror Month at The Book Cave! I'll be reading a whole mixture of books and short stories this month all with a horror theme. There may be monsters. There will be gore! There will be death! There will be scares and excitement! *screams*

I honestly thought the month was an epic fail as I stopped with Horror Month about 10 days ago to deal with non fiction clogging up my shelves, but looking at the books and short stories I did read, it was actually pretty successful. I got six books and a ton of short stories read for my Morganville Vampires catch up, I read the whole Bigfoot War series and tackled a few other things. I'm happy enough! How did your month go?

1) Jack Kilborn-Trapped
2) Jack Kilborn-Endurance
3) Jack Kilborn-Haunted House
4) Eric S Brown-Redneck Apocalypse (read)
5) Eric S Brown-Zombie Apocalypse (read)
6) Eric S Brown-After the Fall (read)
7) Eric S Brown-Outbreak (read)
8) Eric S Brown-Frontier (read)
9) Eric S Brown-Tales of the Sasquatch Apocalypse (read)
10) Eric S Brown-The End (read)
11) Rachel Caine-Myrnin's Tale (read)
12) Rachel Caine-Nothing like an angel (read)
13) Rachel Caine-Sam's Story (read)
14) Rachel Caine-Grudge (read)
15) Rachel Caine-New Blood (read)
16) Rachel Caine-The First Day of the Rest of Your Life (read)
17) Rachel Caine-Glass Houses (read)
18) Rachel Caine-Eve's Diary (read)
19) Rachel Caine-Amelie's Story (read)
20) Rachel Caine-Dead Girls Dance (read)
21) Rachel Caine-Midnight Alley (read)
22) Rachel Caine-Wrong Place Wrong Time (read)
23) Rachel Caine-Feast of Fools (read)
24) Rachel Caine-Dead Man Stalking (read)
25) Keith RA DeCandido-Resident Evil Extinction
26) John Shirley-Resident Evil Retribution
27) SD Perry-Resident Evil The Umbrella Conspiracy
28) Thomas E. Sniegoski-The Demonists
29) Sonya Bateman-Wrong Side of Hell
30) Sonya Bateman-Master And Apprentice
31) John Ringo-Under a Graveyard Sky
32) Joseph Nassise-Eyes to See 
33) Cherie Priest-Hellbent (read)
34) Patricia Briggs-Fire Touched 
35) Daniel Parsons-Necroville (read)
36) EW Osborne-Stasis Beta (read)
37) Eric S Brown-Planet Sasquatch (read)
38) Eric S Brown-Planet Sasquatch Retaliation (read)
39) Eric S Brown-The Mech Age (read)
40) Rachel Caine-Lord of Misrule (read) 
41) Rachel Caine-Carpe Corpus (read)
42) Rachel Caine-Lunch Date (read)
43) Rachel Caine-All Hallows (read)
44) Rachel Caine-Murdered Out (read)

Book Review: World's End by John Reece

The virus decimated over 90 percent of the worlds population in under a month. The few who survived are left to fend for themselves. But the dead aren't staying dead. Zombies are walking the earth. And there's hints of things even more terrifying than the walking dead. What will the survivors do in the aftermath of a global apocalypse. For one group the answer is simple. Do whatever it takes to survive. They may have been strangers before the apocalypse but they're going to have to learn to work together if they're going to survive another day. 

My Review: 
Matt has been ignoring all the news in the media about the pandemic for days and is unaware of how bad things are getting beyond his farm. It is only when he goes into town for lunch that he comes face to face with the zombie apocalypse. Jack is a cop in NYC but the spreading infection is out of control and he leaves the city for a dangerous journey. The stories of the two men are going to collide when they are both in the middle of a zombie attack and they decide to work together with other survivors to escape the zombies.

This is not just a straightforward zombie novel. We have the ordinary zombies who can be evaded if you are careful when you go about town but when it gets dark the beasts come out to hunt. They are a fearsome animal like zombie with superior senses for hunting and more intelligence than the shambling mobs. When these things get your scent, you are in big trouble. It added a new twist to the zombie story knowing that you had to hide indoors at night and hope that they didn't find you. I liked this for a change.

Matt is not the smartest guy in the world. When he goes into the town it takes him an age to realise that he is dealing with zombies. He looks at the deserted and abandoned cars, blood everywhere and signs of a battle at the police station and keeps wandering around. I would've been out of there and tuned into local radio or TV or internet to find out what happened. He sees the zombies in a big pack headed their way and wonders why everyone is drunk, looting and covered in blood. Even when they moan and come towards him he is clueless! I was yelling at the book by this stage! It's only when he sees that they have missing limbs that it dawns on him what is happening. However he is still a character you can like.

Jack is the capable police officer who gets out of the city just before control is totally lost. He is travelling when he meets Dina on the road and they stick together for safety. They have an encounter with the beasts and see exactly what the things are capable of. Carl and Winnie are Matt's neighbours who open their home to the survivors while they consider getting out of the area because of the beasts. We also meet Brad and Ashley, the nasty popular kids from school. What I liked is that we were told how bad they were at school before leaving town and reinventing themselves and starting over, so both of them were actually ok. The group are completed by Claire and the oorphan kid that she found as she travelled. Overall, a good set of characters.

I liked much of the plot too. We get action with the zombies and the scarier action with the beasts which increases as the book goes on. I always like the supply run or escape parts of the zombie plot and this book was no different. My one niggle was the insertion of the romance plot which I felt was unnecessary to the story when the zombies were enjoyable. But as I liked all the characters so it didn't annoy me greatly.

Would I read on? If I saw the next book at a reasonable price, yes I would. However this book came out in 2014 and there is no sign of a book two, three years later.  

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

Chuckles Cover Love #23

If there is one thing that makes a great book even better, it is when it has a cover that we love! The cover design is what catches the eye as we browse through a bookstore shelf or check out the Amazon or Goodreads recommendations. The right cover makes me look closer at a book, to read the blurb and maybe make a purchase. A poor cover might mean I never look at the blurb at all. 

This week I'm looking at a Plantagenet series that caught my eye when I was book browsing. The covers had something about them that set them apart from the others and I was keen to read more about the War of the Roses so I just had to grab them!



Saturday, 29 April 2017

Chuckles Weekend Roundup

Welcome to my new feature Chuckles Weekend Roundup where I will be looking at what books I've received, anything interesting I've done or bought or watched and other random stuff. I'll be taking a look back at what happened in my blogging world too, sort of like The Sunday Post that some of you do! 

Please note that I'll be visiting your STS/SP as normal, but I don't follow or leave comments on blogs run by Google Plus or DISQUS as I refuse to join something just to leave comments, and I won't allow DISQUS to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I am the only one who does that on my blog! Sometimes, I have problems leaving messages on blogs hosted by Wordpress-they try to block me because I deleted my account with them but I will persevere as it only happens the odd time!
Well another week goes by and it is almost May...can you believe it? This year is flying by! When we were kids, the summer seemed to last forever but now years just fly by. Gah, it's disturbing! Anyway I finally got back on track with my reading which is great news as I had been struggling to get anywhere recently. This week I got a few books read and things are back to normal. Yea! Need to get started on my reading list for next month and get through some more books-probably continue with my series read challenge for The Morganville Vampires and my shelf clearout with the non fiction books being targeted again. That sounds like a plan!
Being inspired by the upcoming General Election, I've been picking up some books about previous elections and the Brexit campaigns which should all be fun reads. I think I'll be reading a few political books before June 8th! I have a few more on order but they are slow in coming. Also picked up a few prepper topics to scare myself with! I've always been a bit twisted that way...

Chuckles Blogging World:
 Another decent week in the world of blogging, getting the posts done that I wanted. I don't feel as though I did great in getting out to visit other blogs. For some reason I felt a bit rushed all week and short of time to get everything done. Must do better! However I am now totally finished catching up with all my reviews of my January reads! Now I can concentrate on the reviews for books I read in February. Getting really close on being up to date which is nice!  Click on the link provided to go to each blog post if you missed it during the week and feel free to stop by and leave a comment!

Book Reviews:
It was a real mixture of reviewed books this week-urban fantasy, monster mayhem, humour, thriller and of course apocalypses and zombies! Hopefully, you might want to grab a couple of these books for your own reading pleasure!

Douglas Moore-Playing God

Timothy W Long-Z Risen: Outbreak

J Walker-The Fortress (ELE #2)

JD McKenna-The Dead Familiar (Winterhaven #1)

Matt Wallace-Envy of Angels (Sin De Jour #1)

Rick Chesler-Jurassic Dead

Sarah Dalton-My Daylight Monsters (Mary Hades #0.5)

Matthew D Mark-Dark Days Rough Roads

Regular Features:
Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Things that turn you off a book
Chuckles Cover Love-Jeff DeGordick

Mythology With Chuckles-Kushtaka

Chuckles Guide to the UK Election

Discussion Posts:
 Chuckles Chat-Changing Book Tastes

Game of Thrones Gossip-King's Landing

Book Challenge Updates:
My challenge to start reading the non fiction books breeding on my shelves has been tough but this was a better week. I expect to finish four books which isn't bad compared to previous weeks. It's a work in progress that I'll continue with through the year.

My Goodreads Challenge total currently stands at 101/250 which is good and I need to stay motivated to keep that up.

TBR total of books I own but haven't read yet stands at 811. Not doing much to help myself get below 800. Stop buying books!!!

That's all for this week! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog and leave comments. You guys are great! 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Review: Dark Days Rough Roads by Matthew D Mark

A normal day at work turns into a man’s worst nightmare when the country is plunged into dark and dangerous times within a matter of minutes. He needs unconventional skills and resources to mount a daring and deceptive plan to retrieve his daughter who is away at college. He’s hundreds of miles away and it seems like thousands. It’s a trip he planned for, but a trip resulting in some unexpected and deadly events as chaos grips the country.

Encountering friends and enemies along the way, the journey becomes a fight for their lives. With the help of both family and friends, they all hope to work their way towards a safe haven. A rogue militia group has a different idea in mind however. Teetering on the brink of a small civil war, drastic measures must be taken. Without technology, society begins to collapse. Without the basics to survive, people change. Without rule of law, it’s every person for their self. They have Dark Days and Rough Roads ahead of them.

This book is not only loaded with action and adventure, but suspense and drama as well. If you're a prepper or survivalist you'll love the military style guerrilla warfare, the tips, tricks and gadgets. If you're just an apocalypse reader, you'll love the insight into human behavior after the SHTF.

My Review: 
Roger is a prepper and is working at his local hospital when he recognises the effects of an EMP hitting the area. After quickly telling his co-workers what this means, he leaves, secures his property and goes to collect his daughter from college and check on his parents. Roger has a detailed plan that each of his family have agreed to follow in the opening days of the apocalypse to keep them safe and slowly bring them together. The final plan is to go to his summer property in a rural area but unknown to Roger, a brutal militia have taken over that town...

This is really a two part story. The first part is about the immediate aftermath of the EMP where everyone tries to get to survive and link up for safety. We follow Roger as he ensures his parents are safe, which is where his siblings and their family will head for over the coming hours while he focuses on getting to his daughter. He disguises his car as a federal vehicle in the hope of getting through any roadblocks and keeping people away from him but it proves to be a bad decision. He finds more danger as he closes in on his ex-wife's house as local thugs try to take control of the streets and bring terror to local residents.

We follow his parents Bev and Rich at their home as they anxiously wait for the rest of the family to gradually arrive, starting with daughter Elizabeth who is worried about her missing husband. Waiting for updates from Roger and for everyone to arrive is an anxious time. We also follow the fortunes of Roger's co-worker and newby prepper Dawn who leaves the hospital to link up with her sister Diana and mum Karen. They face immediate danger when a man decides he wants to steal a bike from them. What happens next will have implications for the women.

The book then moves on to the journey, which has plenty excitement of its own as the group encounter thieves who are happy to shoot Roger's group. This puts into perspective how dangerous the world has become. Their next encounter is with trigger-happy men on motorbikes who belong to a local militia. This militia are led by those with power in the town who want control of all the food supplies and are based at the airport. Anyone who does not cooperate with them becomes targets. Roger is about to start causing trouble with them as he has no intention of giving up any of his supplies and will fight rather than give in. Roger hopes to start a rebellion amongst the people to take back their town. It is going to be a long and bloody battle which they may not win.

I liked the first part which has the traditional prepper road trip to the safe place plot. It had good tension and plenty action to keep me happy, while developing the characters nicely on the journey. But the book kicks into high gear when they arrive in the town and Roger discovers that the militia are stealing from the local people and making life miserable. He is not the kind of guy who is going to put up with that kind of thing and he starts to explore the area to see what he can do about it. I liked the plot of making contact with like minded people and gradually coming up with a plan. It is all leading to an all out battle for the town which is pretty exciting to read. I really enjoyed the plot development in this book which kept me guessing what would happen next.

Really looking forward to reading book 2!  

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Book Review: My Daylight Monsters by Sarah Dalton (Mary Hades #0.5)

I always thought my demons came out in the day, rather than at night. I’ve never been scared of the dark. I’ve only ever been scared of real things: getting ill, having injections, physical pain… death. Those are my monsters, not ghosts or vampires or whatever else can hide under your bed at night. I was wrong. The dark makes everything worse.

When Mary’s psychiatrist advises a short stay at a psychiatric unit, her worst nightmares are confirmed. How can she get better in a place that fills her with dread? When she meets the other patients, she begins to gather some hope, until she realises that the death toll in the hospital is rising without explanation. Something sinister stalks the corridors and maybe she is the only one who can stop it…

Mary has to confront the Things that she sees if they are to stand a chance. But will she survive a confrontation with death itself?

My Review: 
Mary has always been able to see and communicate with ghosts, has strange visions and can see things that are wrong with people. When she tries to do something with this information to stop bad things happening, she ends up involved in a fatal fire and her parents want her to go into a psychiatric unit to get help as they don't believe in her visions. Mary struggles to fit in with the other teenagers on the ward and becomes curious about the high death toll on the ward beside hers. Is someone murdering the terminally ill patients?

This was a really good novella. Mary is a normal girl who is tormented with weird visions that her parents believe are a mental illness. She agrees to their request to voluntarily go into the hospital for evaluation and treatment, and you can't help but feel sympathy for what is happening to her. It takes her a little time to adjust to being on the ward and becoming friends with the other teenagers. Mary is intelligent and becomes curious about the unusually high death toll on the ward for the terminally ill beside her ward. Feeling a bad vibe in the air, Mary wants to know what is happening.

I'm never a fan of setting a book on the psychiatric ward but this book does it very well. The teenagers on the ward have a range of issues including eating disorders, anger management and addiction but they are written as ordinary kids who are dealing with various mental illness issues. I didn't find them cliched in any way and I liked all of them, which I wasn't expecting. The kids are trying to make the best of being there, bonding with each other and making Mary feel welcome. I particularly liked her lively roommate Lacey and Mo. Frankie is really the only kid who has a severe mental illness but I feel that it is done sympathetically. I think the author does an excellent job of putting us in the world of these teenagers and making us care about what happens to them.

Things take a sinister turn for Mary and her friends when there is an unexpected death on her ward and she starts to fear that one of their doctors could be responsible for what is happening on both wards. The question is, how is she going to do anything about it on a locked ward where nobody will believe anything she says, without becoming a target for the killer?

As you would expect, this is not an all action novella but the characters are great and I was quite gripped by their story. I very much enjoyed meeting Mary and I plan to read on in the series to see if the standard is maintained. I would say that it is important to read this novella before you read book one in the series. There is also another short story which covers the plot of the fire and it is called 'Spirals' which I haven't read yet.
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Chuckles Guide to the UK Election #1

Welcome to my UK General Election 2017 posts where I'll be taking a lighthearted look at the funny, entertaining and embarrassing side of the campaigning so far. I won't be lecturing or spouting political views of my own or telling people how to vote, just having some fun with politics and poking a bit of fun at all the parties involved! 
The funniest part of the week for me was Jeremy Corbyn showing a more fun side to himself by reading some children a story about a bear hunt. I laughed at the photos of Corbyn telling the children 'It's a BEAR!' Sky News wondered if the scariest thing here was actually a massive Tory majority after the election...

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, follows on from his 'pigs at the trough' photo shoot success in the last election and decides to go and wrestle a sheep. As you do. Kissing babies is obviously for wimps! 

There is no funnier politician on the campaign trail than Boris Johnson. Remember his zip line antics, his 'wiff waff/ping pongs coming home' speech, his determination not to let children stop him in rugby games? Boris was unleashed today by the Tories to bash Jeremy Corbyn. He described the Labour leader as a 'mutton headed old mugwump' and indicated that his policies on defence and terrorism made him dangerous and not the 'benign Islingtonian herbivore' that people see him as. Boris is entertaining in a buffoon kind of way so here are his greatest hits.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has had a tough few days. Unwilling to answer questions on the terribly tough question of 'are you planning to stand in the General Election?', Nuttall was said to have locked himself in a room to escape. Then he described himself as being like Gandhi and saying he is ten years ahead of his time, politically speaking. Um, yes. 

You might have the bald head and glasses but I still look at you and see Ade Edmondson's Eddie Hitler character from the hit UK comedy series 'Bottom'...

Nicola Sturgeon has had a less fun week with polls indicating a possible loss of seats to the Scottish Tories. Some SNP MPs are trying to save their seats by distancing themselves from being in the EU as fishermen in their areas voted for Brexit-which goes against official SNP policy of leaving the UK to rejoin the EU. There is also the spectre of former leader Alex Salmond to worry about. Sturgeon is worried about Scottish voters being sick of hearing her talk about independence and tried to not make that her main thing in the campaign...but Salmond today was linking the SNP performance in this election to the right to demand another referendum. Keep an eye on these two in the coming weeks! 

Then there is being called a Ginger Dwarf from the North by toxic Brexit fan Katie Hopkins. 

Still, Nicola did find the time to kiss a baby...!

Book Review: Jurassic Dead by Rick Chesler

An Antarctic research team hoping to study microbial organisms in an underground lake discovers something far more amazing: perfectly preserved dinosaur corpses. After one thaws and wakes ravenously hungry, it becomes apparent that death, like life, will find a way. Environmental activist Alex Ramirez, son of the expedition’s paleontologist, came to Antarctica to defend the organisms from extinction, but soon learns that it is the human race that needs protecting.

My Review: 
I loved the cover and anything with rampaging dinosaurs always gets my attention but I found this book surprisingly disappointing. There were plot holes that you could drive a truck through and it did affect my thoughts on the book.

The book gets off to a strange start with environmental activists Alex and Tony going to where the US and Russian teams are racing each other to drill on their dig sites in Antarctica. They want to protect the lake of biological organisms that the teams are drilling blowing up both operations. Yes we want to protect this fragile area of importance by blowing the whole area to hell. Where exactly does that make sense??? Of course it goes wrong and Tony is attacked by Russian men infected with something deadly. Alex flees to the US side of the lake where his furious dad is leading that team.

His father Marcus has discovered what is believed to be dead preserved dinosaurs from the frozen water but Alex gets a close up view as he crosses the lake and is sure that the T Rex is actually alive. The dinosaurs are to be transported to an island owned by rich expedition leader De Kirk. However as the dinosaur thaws out it is going to cause chaos on the ship, biting people and infecting them with the zombie reptile type virus that has decimated the Russian party.

The next part of the book that I found totally unbelievable. The CIA are monitoring what De Kirk is doing and have placed an agent on his ship, posing as the ship's new doctor. The only problem is, Veronica has no medical training and when faced with the T Rex bites and injuries, she has no clue what to do. She even has to be told by Marcus that she needs to give the victims antibiotics in case of infection. WTF kind of plot is that??? There is no way that the CIA are putting someone without medical training to pose as a doctor! She also isn't very good with a gun as Xander seems able to disarm her at will several times in the book. She is quite pathetic.  Xander, the biological weapon expert brought on board by De Kirk is much more convincing that our heroes Alex and Veronica. He at least seems to be capable. 

The action switches to the private island where things are starting to unravel. The thawed dinosaurs are loose on the island and everyone who is bitten is turning into a zombie. Even the main compound on the island is not a safe place to be, and Xander, Veronica and Alex realise that if they want to escape alive, they are going to have to work together in an uneasy alliance. While this part of the book has more action, everything becomes stupidly easy for our team. The next paragraph contains spoilers.

Spoiler alert! This is how the escape goes. Run to roof where there is a helicopter. Oh no, we've crashed the helo but right near the crash site is a jeep. Oh no the jeep has now run out of gas but there is a secret shelter just ahead hidden inside the nearby volcano. Lets wire it to explode and kill the they are stuck inside after setting the explosives but a handy fork lift truck is right there to force open the back exit along with a nice motorbike to use! *sigh* Every place they get to, there is a nice quick escape option which lets them avoid most of the zombies. Too convenient and not convincing for me.

Safe to look again! I know you have to suspend disbelief to a certain extent when you are reading books about dinosaurs and zombies but there has to be a realism of sorts where you can invest in the story and I did not find it in this book. I found the characters to be unappealing with the cliche rich psycho being like a James Bond villian and the heroes were unconvincing cardboard cut outs. The plot holes were silly, and then it throws in the dumb attraction between Alex and Veronica which as well as being an silly added afterthought, has no chemistry or interest to it at all. It is almost as if the authors though 'darn, we forgot the obligatory romance. Throw it in here!'

Disappointing and I know that Rich Chesler is a much better author than is shown in this book. 
Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Book Review: Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace (Sin du Jour #1)

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings? Welcome to Sin du Jour - where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

My Review: 
Darren and Lena share an apartment and have both been blackballed from working in any New York eating establishment which is a problem when you have bills to pay. It is a relief to get a call from Byron Luck, owner of the shortstaffed Sin De Jour...until they discover that the clients of SDJ are actually demons, the food ingrediants have their own dangers and you really don't want to go into the pantry...

Byron has solved his temporary staffing issue but he has an important event to cater when rival groups of demons are coming together for a summit. The problem is that they have provided something for the menu-a live Angel to be sacrificed and eaten by the guests. Some of the staff have issues with the prospect of doing this and want to provide something else that tastes like Angel instead but if the demons find out they've been duped, the event will turn into a bloodbath. Now his best team are being dispatched to steal a recipe that might allow them to get away with the deception.

This is a funny book with a few good sniggers along the way. I was particularly amused by the team doing the guided tour of the Henley's factory as they plan their theft of the chicken nuggies recipe, to be confronted by a photo on the wall of company mascots Postman Potatohead and Monsieur Udders, the beret wearing cow! For some reason the name Monsieur Udders just cracked me up and I kept getting the giggles! This whole part of the story kept me entertained.

I was amused by what happens to Moon in the opening sequence and his tendency to die several times in one day because of it. In fact the opening scene was pure slapstick as they try to resusitate him and fight a praying mantis at the same time. It was smart of the author to start with something fun like that to give the book a good start, and it lets the reader know that the content is not to be taken seriously. The dumb behaviour of some of the characters had me thinking that this book is like Hell's Kitchen meets an adult version of The Goonies!

I also liked the wide range of characters in the minute they are fighting with each other and the next they are working together to make the demon dinner a success. I very much look forward to what these characters are going to get up to. I very much liked Byron who is a very harrassed man at the start of the story and I liked him from the start. I loved the team he sends out to solve his problems...Ritter and Cindy are competant but Moon is totally crazy and a dumbass so I look forward to seeing a lot more of them. I didn't really form an opinion of Darren and Lena in the beginning but I think my thoughts will develop as the series continues.

Overall I thought this was a fun read and an entertaining start to the season. The book really hits its stride in the second half with a mixture of the heist story and the frantic preperation for the demon event working well together. It was different from my usual reads and I liked the chance of genre. I will certainly be reading on to see what happens in the next book.  

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Game of Throne Gossip #13 King's Landing

Welcome to my Game of Thrones Gossip, where all of us fanatics get the chance to discuss everything we love about this amazing TV series. I did a few spoiler free posts about the series last year but I found that there were other bloggers out there who were also itching to talk more freely about favourite characters and events without spoiling things for those visiting the blog. So I decided to do a whole series of these discussion posts that let us say everything we want and enjoy every second of it! The topics may talk about a death, an event, a character or be season reviews and so on. Please feel free to comment fully and without restriction!

I have to warn you that it is important that you have seen all six seasons before reading any of these posts because these posts and blogger comments will be oozing and exploding spoilers all over the place. If you haven't watched the series and plan to, be warned that it's a bad idea to be here right now! I take no responsibility if you read on and things are spoiled for you nor do I take responsibility for any mistakes on the pages I link you to.

After my three part look at The Night's Watch I figured I should also look at the major players at King's Landing in season one to set the scene for future posts about them. 

Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, was one of those characters I had mixed feelings about in season one but he goes on to become a favourite for me later in the series. We meet him in Robert's enterage arriving at Winterfell where he is bodyguard to Prince Joffrey. His murder of the butcher's boy Mycah after the boy is bullied by Joffrey will set The Hound on a collision course with Arya later in the series. While he seems to care little for those he kills, his defence might be that he is following orders. 

His behaviour towards Sansa is more complex. He seems to enjoy scaring her as seen when he introduces her to the frightening  Ilyn Payne and knows that she finds his burned face repulsive. But he steps in when he realises that Sansa is about to throw her life away by trying to throw Joffrey from the battlements after his execution of Ned Stark. This would have been a death sentence for Sansa whether she failed or not. It could be argued that he was doing this to rescue Joffrey from death but at the time I believed he was stepping in as much to save Sansa as Joffrey. When in season two, Tyrion rescues Sansa from a public beating by Meryn Trant, it is Clegane who covers the girl with his cloak. It is clear that The Hound finds the behaviour of Meryn Trant revolting. He also offers Sansa the chance to escape King's landing with him during the Battle of The Blackwater and rescues her from a group of rapists when Joffrey abandons her to the mob and Tyrion wants her located. 

I see The Hound as a complex man who does not like a lot of what he is doing or who he is serving, someone who has an image to maintain and does not like to be seen as kind in any way. Yet I believe that he does have honour and decency in him which comes to the fore in later seasons with the Stark girls. Can't help thinking that there could be a showdown between the brothers before the series ends and I'd be cheering on The Hound...

Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain, is frankly a monster. As a child he held his brother's face in a fire for the crime of playing with his discarded toy and he is no better as he gets older. His unpunished rape and murder of Rhaegar Targaryen's wife and murder of their children during Robert's Rebellion causes a rift between The Lannisters and House Martell which comes to a head in series four after Tyrion's arrest for murder. Clegane loses a joust to Loras Tyrell and tries to murder him, leading to his brother Sandor intervening to fight him instead. Ned Stark is one of the few who sees The Mountain for what he is and orders him stripped of his titles and sentenced to death for the murder of civilians in the Riverlands on Lannister orders. Ned's arrest for treason prevents action being taken against The Mountain. He continues to work for the Lannisters as their attack dog.

Oberyn Martell agrees to fight for Tyrion in his trial by combat to give him a chance to avenge his sister by killing The Mountain. Despite having the upper hand Oberyn's desire to make Gregor confess before he dies leads to a fatal error and The Mountain uses his last strength to kill Oberyn before submitting to his own wounds. However what he becomes next at the hands of Qyburn turns him physically into the monster he was inside but is totally devoted to the will of Cersei Lannister.

Having had his tongue ripped out by the Mad King, in the Baratheon/Lannister reign, Ilyn Payne serves as the Royal Executioner. He is ordered to kill Sansa's dire wolf Lady but Ned Stark insists on doing the deed himself. His next duty is to behead Ned Stark himself on the orders of Joffrey and to inflict 'justice' on sujects who the new King dislikes. In season twoat The Battle of the Blackwater, Cersei tells Sansa that Ilyn is with the women in the chamber not to protect them, but to kill them should Stannis Baratheon take King's Landing. We may not have seen the last of him.

Meryn Trant is a knight in the Kingsguard for Robert Baratheon but his first actions are on behalf of the Lannisters when we meet him. He is seen leading his men to capture Arya Stark after her father's arrest but is thwarted by her sword teacher Syrio, who it is presumed died during the encounter. (I'm hoping he is in the King's Landing dungeons...)We also see him inflicting pain on Sansa at Joffrey's instruction on several occasions. He refuses to do his duty to protect by telling Tyrion that he answers to only Joffrey and will not take his men out to look for the missing Sansa, a task that The Hound steps up to do alone. Trant is a coward and a bully who is happy to inflict misery on other people and has no honour as a Knight. He meets a deserving end at the hands of Arya Stark in a brothel in Braavos, as she takes her revenge on him for Syrio.

Polliver is one of the men who accompanies Lorch in the attack on the Night's Watch convoy which kills Yoren. During the fight, Polliver takes Arya's sword from her and kills fellow recruit Lommy. Arya convinces him that Lommy is Gendry and the attack ceases, with the prisoners being taken to Harrenhal, where Arya witnesses his cruelty. When she is travelling with The Hound, she encounters Polliver attempting to rob an inkeeper and rape his daughter. She and The Hound dispatch his men and Arya gets the chance to reenact Lommy's death by using Needle to kill Polliver.

Amory Lorch is loyal to the Lannisters and leads a group of men to search the Night's Watch recruits for Gendry. He is the man who murders Yoren and delivers the prisoners to Harrenhal where Gregor Clegane is torturing them. After Arya begins working for Tywin Lannister, Lorch catches her with a stolen letter and goes to inform on her but he is killed by Jaqen H'ghar just in time.

Janos Slynt is Commander of the City Guard at King's Landing when we meet him and is loyal to the Lannisters, gaining the title Lord of Harrenhal from King Joffrey. He oversees the murder of King Robert's bastards and sens his men to hunt Gendry down after hearing he has joined the Night's Watch. As acting Hand of the King, Tyrion takes the opportunity to replace Slynt with Bronn and sends the forner to join the Night's Watch. There he becomes friendly with Alliser Thorne and shows outright contempt for Jon Snow. Slynt counsels Thorne to let Jon take his men to deal with the mutiny that killed Lord Commander Mormont in the hope that Jon will be killed and Thorne will be the next Lord Commander. During the Battle of Castle Black, Gilly finds Slynt hiding in the kitchen in fear instead of fighting the wildlings. When Jon becomes Lord Commander, Slynt refuses to follow his orders and Jon beheads him. It was a fitting end to a coward and a bully!

What are your thoughts on these season one characters?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Book Review: The Dead Familiar by JD McKenna (Winterhaven #1)

In the twilight hours of a failing world, one man seeks to bring his loved ones to safety. Jack Hightower: Marine, barkeep, and doomsday prepper. He knows of the coming calamity, and on the final night of an old world he seeks a new beginning. This is the story of that night, the tale of how Jack and his survivor's colony in the north came to be.

My Review: 
War has come to the world and a deal was done with a rampant China to leave Japan neutral and the US and Canada untouched. But when China unleashes the Reaper Virus on Japan, the US is ready to retaliate and Jack puts his disaster plan into effect, sending details to his loved ones about collecting them from pick up points and taking them to the safety of his friend Gary's compound of Winterhaven where they will be safer than in the city. Can he persuade them to trust him and can they all get to Winterhaven?

Jack has not trusted in the peace agreement and prepared for the worst and now it is time to put it into action. With his trusty wolf Fenrir, Jack starts out on the journey out of Minnesota, collecting his friends. He is an organised take-charge kind of guy who knows what he wants to do and you want someone like him on your side when disaster happens. I liked him as an MC. I totally love his gorgeous wolf Fenrir who is seriously hard assed! I just wish that Fenrir was on the book cover! We follow Jack's progress as he starts by rescuing neighbour Nicole and her daughter May, before going to his friends, his brother's girlfriend and his ex wife and her family.

We also follow the progress of people who are not with the main group. Rey and his Uncle Jose are friends of Gary and are travelling from Mexico, trying not to attract any attention and avoiding population centres until they have an interesting encounter in Utah with a group of Civil War reenactors. I really enjoyed this part of the story as they are all interesting characters. John and Olivia are in Memphis and have to make a dangerous stop in a bad part area to stop to pick up vital supplies that Jack has hidden, on their way out of the city.

John's parents are arriving on the doorstep of Jack's ex wife Liz, her new boyfriend Duke, a friend of Jack, and her family, who are less than convinced by Jack's message of doom as they never approved of him as a partner for Liz. However they are now watching their neighbourhood burn and uninvited people are about to gatecrash their home, making escape vital. Jack's brother Sam is at college and persuades his friends to join him on a camping trip, putting off telling them why he is leading them towards Gary's compound until the very last minute. Bear is away on a rugby trip but is in the vicinity of St Cloud, which is locked down. Bear is determined to help other people escape from the area and join the convoy to Winterhaven.

Every book needs a bad guy of course and in this one we have George Lucas, a fanatical despot and racist who is determined to take over and rule Mississippi, removing the 'tainted' from his state. He is recruiting a private army and demanding their loyalty. It is going to be interesting to see how his actions impact on our survivors further north.

There is plenty tension and excitement through the book as you would imagine. At each stage of the journey, Jack's main convoy has to stop to add new people, and some of the stops are more dangerous than others. The apartment block that Meghan and Elizabeth live in is under attack and Jack needs to sneak in to help them. The stop at the armory turns into real danger when an angry mob are determined to stop them taking the weapons. Liz and her family and friends are facing attack and need to escape and get word to Jack that they need help. There are also the stories of all the others travelling towards Winterhaven to enjoy. And if all that wasn't enough, there is a group of escaped criminals very close to Winterhaven who are determined to take it over...

There is one little niggle and that is editing. All through the story, Jack's friend is referred to sometimes as Gary and sometimes as Greg which is somewhat confusing in the beginning. However I can overlook that when I like the characters and the plot. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the rest of this series at some point this year.  

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week we have Ten Things That Turn You Off A Book. I'm not being critical of anyone who likes these things in books. This is just what I personally dislike.

1) The Undesirable Heroes 
This is when you get a hero/heroine you just can't stand. The rapist/domestic violence thug. The whiny pathetic female. The criminal/junkie who gleefully robs innocent people. The sexist, racist or bigot. The MCs who are drunk and drugged up most of the book. Characters that are just horrible and obnoxious that you want to headbutt...if I hate the MC I rarely finish the book as I just don't engage with that character.

2) The Half Naked Cover and Sex Overdose
I hate it when I go to look at new urban fantasy books and see the half naked so called hunky men on the cover. You just KNOW that this is going to end up as sex filled paranormal romance instead of the ass kicking action that you wanted to read. If I see this kind of cover I totally ignore it and look for something else, whatever the blurb might say. Even if the book sounds good, I won't risk being overdosed by sex scenes.

3) Love Triangles
I hate this more than any other trope in the world EVER! As soon as I see any mention of two hot guys on the MCs radar, I bodyswerve the book. I don't want my UF or dystopia being dominated by relationship angst...if I wanted that, I would read romance! Too many UF authors seem obsessed with this and don't get that a lot of us don't want that in every book we read! I will not pick up any book that even hints at a love triangle. Dealbreaker for me.

4) Instaluv
I hate this trope. The starry eyed fourteen year old who sees the boy at school and he is her soulmate. One shared look and the adult female knows this is forever. Yes I get it is fiction but I still get bugged by this in my books. I have no issue with attraction but I hate the exchange of 'I love you' two pages after they meet. If romance is there I want to see a gradual shift in their status not the starry eyed claptrap!

5) You Smell! 
I'm seeing a lot of this in UF and it winds me up. The characters hate each other so much but have to work together. She bitches at him every page, he's a sexist pig to her but it all turns lovey dovey by the end. Gag! I get tired of the juvenile squabbling and I've seen a lot of good UF stories being ruined by the constant bitching which overshadows everything. It's the 'you smell!' childish playground behaviour. I quite often DNF this kind of book.

6) Cliche Story 
How often do you see YA books where MC is bullied by bitchy cheerleaders or falls for Queen Bitch's hot jock boyfriend? MC pursued by every hot guy on the planet? The same old angst storylines? Wanted for a crime they didn't commit? I like to see an author using their imagination and delivering a story that isn't full of tropes or copying a thousand other books. I'm excited when I see something different from an author not just the same tired story plots.

7) Retellings
I'm seeing a ton of these books, retellings of everything from The Wizard of Oz to Dracula. I'm just not a fan of reading an author who is telling a version of a story that someone else wrote. It is only if I really love the subject that I will even consider picking it up but for the most part I give them a miss. I prefer authors with new ideas.

8) Steampunk and Epic History plot
I just don't like this genre at all. I've tried reading it because the idea of it intrigues me and there are great covers out there but I really don't like the Victorian setting with society tea dances and sexism. By epic history I mean like a vampire story that covers all 200 years of it's vampire life before getting to the real story or descriptions of every generation of the family history. That bores me as I find it too slow.

9) Angels and Religion
I avoid books with Angels in them for the most part. I don't know what it is about them that I just don't like in books but often the books go way too far into religious themes which I hate seeing a lot of in book. The idea of mortals breeding with Angels is a particular turn off as is a book that constantly tries to preach and convert. I hate having characters written to just push the religious views of the author onto the reader.

10) Animal Cruelty and Dead Dogs
I cannot bring myself to read sad non fiction books where dogs die or any book that gives out a warning about themes of animal abuse in the blurb or in Goodreads reviews. If a fiction book has a character abusing his dog (take a bow Patrick Ness) then I will likely DNF it at that point. I want entertainment but I just don't find animal abuse something that I ever want to read.