Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up

I review everything I read, on my blog and on Goodreads. Most reviews are of a decent length but sometimes you don't have much to say about the book because of its length or you DNFed it or various other reasons. In cases like that it makes sense to write a few mini reviews in one post and clear them out your way! So lets catch up with reviews from earlier this year.

Boyd Craven-Agony of the World (The World Burns #9)
John and Caitlin seek to take down the enemy in fast moving ambushes while the new government threaten Blake to stop him leaving his FEMA job, showing that lessons haven't been learned. He makes it clear that he will quit before Sandra gives birth. Michael and King are going after the bad guys and discover that DHS are working with the IS troops. With reports of cannibalism in the area, things are getting dangerous for the good guys.

I loved this series over the first seven books but after the Boss Hogg story, the series has turned in a new direction that I don't feel is as compelling and had the books not been short, I would have quit by now. I'm just not enjoying the storyline or finding it as tense and enjoyable as I did in the beginning.

Read January 2017.
2.5 star.

Matthew Gilman-After the Day
Following a steep economic downturn Washington DC is bombed, a few days later the power goes out leaving the nation with no communication and limited resources. This is the story of the individuals who are left with only their wits and skills to help them survive.

In the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Washington DC, ordinary people try to deal with the new situation. Chuck wishes he had taken time to prepare more and Tom decides to stay at the hospital with other staff and patients and is ready to defend the building from looters.

I didn't greatly enjoy the format of the book. We follow Chuck and Tom in the immediate aftermath, which I did enjoy reading about but then we skip ahead to catch up with them surviving months later. Then we jump forward in time to meet new people three years on who were not in the aftermath stories. Next we catch up with the woman Tom tried to help in his first moments after the disaster but it is three full years since we last heard her mentioned. For me this style is too choppy and we fail to capture the real day to day tension of the apocalypse by only getting snapshots of each character's journey. It is harder to care for the characters when you only see them briefly before jumping on months or years.

The book itself is well written so I think the author does have talent. I just think the story lacks tension and development throughout due to the chosen format and as I reader I don't feel involved or invested in the story. 

Read January 2017.   
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Devon Vondarin-The Crash 
A diplomatic standoff with China over workers rights has triggered financial meltdown. Mike the alcoholic violent homeless ex Vet is drunk enough to miss the entire start of the apocalypse. Derik
is a drug dealing, drug addicted violent thug and all around asshat, who is a career criminal who squandered every chance given to him in life, and  sees the chance to get payback on everyone who has wronged him over the years with society starting to break down. I didn't greatly like either of our 'heroes'. 

We get the details of Mike's drunken stupors and the fact that he has no clue what is happening and we get every detail of every crime Derik has ever done and every jail sentence he has ever received, which I found really dull. Following these two guys in the SHTF scenario was not keeping me interested. There was no emotion in the collapse because Mike slept through it all and the reader doesn't get to see society breaking down which is one of the things I love best about this genre. It just lacked interest for me. I also wasn't convinced by the main plot-would the US really risk a financial meltdown by trying to fight for workers rights in China? I would seriously doubt it. It just didn't feel realistic to me. And the book really needs an editor because the mistakes in it were everywhere.
Read January 2017.
 star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Stephen Birch-New World
This was one of those books where I pretty much hated every character within seconds of seeing them on the page which dooms any book for me. Beth is ok but her daughters are 14 and 16 and all they do is whine, complain and fight with each other. They are more like childish six year olds and drove me nuts. Nick is the loner who is determined to be alone and avoid people, giving him no personality at all. Dan is a moronic boy with no common sense. The two thug brothers were like pantomime bad guys that you cannot take seriously and toddlers could outwit them.

Nick has a policy of avoiding trouble. So he for some insane reason intervenes when Dan is being attacked then has no interest in helping him further, and just heads back to his camp in the woods. For a survivor, he is dumb and does not check to see Dan following him and is unhappy about Dan wanting to stay with him. Well if you don't want company, you should have walked on by instead of half helping him and leading him to your camp! Dan has the common sense of a wet sponge and on seeing Beth, jumps up yelling 'GIRLS!' and alerts the whole world to their location. Idiot.

I wanted a book about the aftermath of the flu pandemic in the UK but instead with these character's got Idiot Hour which I wasn't impressed with. It was definitely not for me.

Read January 2017.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Owen Baillie-Aftermath 
Australia has fallen to a zombie apocalypse and a group of friends camping together are just coming back to discover that the world has changed forever. It is books like this that remind me why I try to avoid YA dystopia as much as possible because of the dumb tropes getting in the way of the story, and boy did this have tropes. Teen angst, non stop fighting, love triangles and a determination not to believe what has happened.

Sherry the complete bitch has cheated on Callan, our druggie hero, with his friend Johnny who pulls out of the trip so of course Callan's old enemy Dylan is invited to replace him by Callan's sister Kristy who fancies him. Callan's best friend, alcoholic Greg fancies Kristy and Callan wants them to get together. Is everyone still following me? It takes ages for us to get to the zombies because of the angst, fighting and tropes which bored me senseless. We then get the zombie denial which frustrates me while they continue their petty fighting. I hate it when the characters can't work out that it's a zombie or insist on shooting them somewhere other than in the head as in the modern world zombie culture is popular and mainstream...if it is trying to eat you and looks like that IT'S A ZOMBIE!!! And I could have walked home quicker than they seemed to be doing on this endless journey to nowhere. I really ate books with dumb characters who think their petty crap is more important than a zombie apocalypse.
Read January 2017.
 star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Andrew J Morgan-Noah's Ark 
When Alex Latham and Michael Beecham are brought together by a series of explosions around the world, little do they know that things are about to go from bad to worse. Tasked with saving mankind from extinction, they battle a powerful evil, but soon they discover that what they're fighting is far beyond anything they ever thought it could be...

I found this book so confusing that I couldn't follow the plot. Alex escapes the city somehow and is rescued by a stranger. Michael is quizzed by a psychiatrist over killing a work colleague but Michael is sure he was being attacked by a creature, not a co-worker that day but nobody else saw what he saw. Alex has a dream. Alex is kidnapped by aliens for three days. Michael is in a prison complex. Alex is left by his wife months later because he is acting weird.

Um, what is going on? Did the apocalypse happen or not? Was Alex kidnapped by aliens or is he having a breakdown? What is real and what is delusion? It jumps so suddenly between different people, places and timelines without anything being explained that it was like brain overload. It is so fragmented and confusing that I don't even know what it was about. I'm not the kind of reader who is going to wait half the book to find out what the hell is actually happening. I've seen reviews of the book saying it is like the Matrix...well for me that says it all. 
Read January 2017.
 star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

Belinda Frisch-Cure
A hospital is doing illegal medical experiments on the dead and dying and kidnapping women from the town to use in these tests. Using sperm from a zombie and a new cancer drug, women are being impregnated to deliver a baby immune to zombie virus and capable of providing cancer cure cells. But people connected to the missing are starting to ask questions about the hospital.

This is not a traditional zombie novel in spite of the series name, which is what I hoped for when I got it. The only zombies we see are captive ones used for the experiments. This is a thriller about an evil doctor willing to do anything to get his cancer cure and the families of the missing trying to track down the missing women. Not a great deal happens and I just found it too slow and lacking in zombies for me.
Read January 2017.
 star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

Game of Thrones Gossip #8: Tyrion Lannister

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.

This week I'm continuing with my season one theme by looking at Tyrion Lannister. He is without doubt my favourite character and I loved his journey. But lets look back at Tyrion in season one.

Tyrion grew up in a household where his father and sister blamed him for his mother's death in childbirth, and in a later emotional episode, Tywin admits to almost murdering his son as a baby. Only his brother Jaime ever seemed to care about him. The family neglect leads to us meeting Tyrion as a drunken lech who spends his money on whores and trying to live up to his father's image of him as useless. He is rude and snide to pretty much everyone which leads to some very funny moments but he is also very intelligent and knows exactly how to play the game at Court. He could have been a real asset to his family had his father showed any real interest in him but instead, he is mocked for being an imp.

"All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes."

The first person we see Tyrion connect with is Jon Snow, after insulting him of course. Here is someone else who is looked after financially by his family but remains on the outside looking in, just like Tyrion. They bond on their trip to Castle Black where Tyrion is eager to piss from the top of The Wall, which amused me but probably horrified Tywin! It is also the advice he gives Jon that helps him to find friends at Castle Black. On his way back to King's Landing, Tyrion stops in at Winterfell to visit Bran and helps the boy find some meaning in his life. Again Tyrion recognises that Bran is going to be viewed with pity or have people ignoring him, and want to try to help him. 

"A Lannister always pays his debts."

While at Castle Black, Tyrion meets with Maester Aemon and Joer Mormont who ask for more help at Castle Black, which would indicate that Tywin isn't listening. It seems to me that most Houses are happy to send their criminals to The Wall but aren't interested when calls for help go out. In fact when Castle Black is attacked later, letters begging for help are sent out and Stannis Baratheon is the only one who drops everything to go to their aid. Tyrion meets a problem on the road home when he is arrested by a furious Catelyn Stark, accused of trying to kill Bran. He is taken for trial at the Eyrie where he is also accused of killing Jon Arryn.

"When I was ten, I stuffed my uncle's boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. Poor boy was flogged..."

The highlight of season one for me is definitely Tyrion's trial. I was laughing my ass off at his confessions, which horrified all the watching ladies. It reminded me of Chunk confessing his sins in The Goonies which I found equally funny. Tyrion also uses his wit to demand trial by combat, knowing it is the only way to get a fair trial and Bronn comes to his aid to win his freedom. The relationship between Bronn and Tyrion is a lot of fun. I enjoy the banter between them and when they team up with Shagga, it just gets funnier. The look on Tywin's face when he sees Tyrion and his misfits arriving to get paid for helping him is priceless! As was the  moment Tyrion is knocked out leading the way to battle...Lots of funny moments with the character. I also enjoy when he slaps Joffrey...

We also get that poignant moment when Tyrion is talking to Bronn and Shae in the tent and starts to describes his first love, who he quickly married and was happy with. But it turned out to be a prostitute that Jaime provided to make his brother happy and losing her broke his heart. It certainly explains why Tyrion behaves the way he does, preferring brief nights with prostitutes to having a relationship. He sees something different in Shae and she seems to like him too and he decides to take a chance on her. 

We end the season with Tyrion finally getting some kind of approval from his father when he is told that he is to go to King's Landing to sort out Joffrey and be the acting Hand of the King. This as we know turns out to be more of a curse than a is the fateful decision to take Shae against his father's orders.

What is your favourite Tyrion moment in season one? What are your thoughts on the character and his relationships in season one? I will do further posts on Tyrion and other main characters as their stories progress through the seasons.  

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase

In the second novel from Ella March Chase, we meet sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, a quiet and obedient young lady destined to become the shortest reigning English monarch. Her beautiful middle sister Katherine Grey charms all the right people--until loyalties shift. And finally Lady Mary Grey, a dwarf with a twisted spine whose goal is simply to protect people she loves--but at a terrible cost.

In an age in which begetting sons was all that mattered and queens rose and fell on the sex of their child, these three girls with royal Tudor blood lived under the dangerous whims of parents with a passion for gambling. The stakes they would wager: their daughters' lives against rampant ambition.

My Review: 
This was an excellent Tudor novel, telling the story of the three Grey sisters-Jane, Kat and Mary, covering the reign of Edward, Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. The book has also been published unter the title 'The Nine Day Queen' by the same author. I know that because I bought BOTH thinking they were different novels(totally different covers and blurbs!) and wasn't very happy when I found out.

This book was fascinating and intriguing. The book is written from the changing POVs of the three sisters. I don't usually like this as a plot device but because the sisters are so different in personality, the switching POV works perfectly to tell their stories.

The story starts with the double wedding. Jane is the quiet, studious girl who wants to be left to her studies and her fanatical protestant views. She despises the man that has been chosen for her husband, son of the scheming Duke who plots them to become King and Queen after Edward's death. Kat is the flighty, vain girl who is in love with her rich and handsome young husband-to-be and is worried that Jane's tantrums will ruin the joint wedding. Mary struggles to be accepted by a family and society who are uncomfortable with her deformity, and she forms a friendship with Mary Tudor who knows exactly what it means to be an outsider. Mary is also very good at hiding and spying to find out what her father and the Duke are plotting.

The book tells the story of the power struggle between The Duke's forces proclaiming Jane to be the Queen chosen by Edward on his deathbed, and the rightful heir Mary Tudor as stated in the will of Henry VIII, supported by the common people. Having the views of the three sisters as Jane was overthrown and imprisoned by Queen Mary was quite exciting to read. There was a lot about the plotting of the Duke, and a very interesting sub-plot where Mary discovers the plot to have Mary Tudor arrested and sends her a warning to flee to safety, unaware that this will lead to Jane being deposed and arrested. The guilt that both Mary's carry forward from what happens to Jane puts Queen Mary in a whole new light. I felt sorry for her character in this book-forced to kill Jane or lose her final chance to be happy with her Spanish husband, forced to break her promise to the Grey sisters that Jane would be spared. It was quite sad in places.

Naturally, the plot focuses on Kat and Mary after their sister is executed. Both are given places at Court by Queen Mary, but all three fear the plots surrounding Elizabeth Tudor which could put them all in grave danger. We see the decline of Mary's health and her husband's infidelity against the backdrop of Wyatt's rebellion and up heaval in the Grey family. Queen Mary wants to name Kat as her heir which fills Mary with fear for her sister if Elizabeth has to fight for her rightful throne.

On the death of Queen Mary, Elizabeth takes the throne and wastes no time in gaining her revenge on the Grey family for the plots against the Tudor sisters. Kat and Mary both find love at Court but as Elizabeth cannot marry her love Robert Dudley, she refuses to let other women in her service find a man and children to make them happy. Queen Elizabeth is a scary and nasty woman in this book, and the atmosphere at Court must have been horrible as everyone tried to stay on the right side of the vain woman with the bad temper! Kat and Mary choose to defy their Queen and marry in secret but there are terrible consequences for them.

The book is exciting with lots of Tudor intrigue, tension, scary and sad parts. I liked this different version of the reign of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth doing a role reversal to show Mary as the misunderstood woman and Elizabeth as the tyrant. She darn well scared me and I was safe in my room!!! My favourite of the sisters was Mary-she was smart, witty and resourceful and had a lot to put up with in her life, most of which was unhappy. I really wept for her as she finally finds a good man only for the evil Queen to spoil it for her.

I recommend this book to Tudor fans as it has everything you could want-drama, plotting, death, forbidden romance and great characters.
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 it is Top Ten Authors I'm dying to meet. To be honest I couldn't care less about meeting authors, and overseas authors rarely venture north of London, never mind up to my part of Scotland! I'll be doing a follow up to last week where I did ten short stories I recommended. This week is Top Ten Short Stories & Novellas!

1) Sarah Dalton-My Daylight Monsters (Mary Hades #0.5) 124 pages
Mary sees things...ghosts and scary things but nobody believes her and she is now in a secure unit with troubled kids. But the kids on the ward know that the high death toll in the ward next door is not normal and that something bad is killing patients but who would believe them even if they found out who was doing it?  Excellent thriller, great characters, series prequel. 

2) Joseph D'Lacey-The Kill Crew 80 pages
Sheri is part of The Kill Crew, survivors chosen by lottery each night to go beyond their fortified walls to kill the zombie like creatures that threaten their survival. But when the latest mission goes badly wrong, Sheri is starting to wonder if life outside might be worth taking a chance on. Great stand alone short novella. I'd like to see more of this world. 

3) Keith C Blackmore-The Hospital (Mountain Man #0.5) 25 pages
Gus survived the zombie outbreak by retreating to a house in the mountains. Today he is seeking supplies and toilet paper in the local hospital. But there are strange noises and a new horror lurking in the dark. Excellent prequel to a four book zombie series and the perfect introduction to the anti-hero that is Gus!  

4) TW Piperbrook-Outage (Outage #1) 158 pages 
Abby and Rob face their first winter in their new home but a massive blizzard and their own poor planning leave them stranded as neighbours flee. They might need to risk leaving in a car not built for snow travel but lurking amongst the houses is a beast who is hungry and snow will be the least of their worries. First in a novella series. 

5) RJ Spears-Forget the Alamo (Forget the Alamo #1) 84 pages 
Grant is stuck in San Antonio when the zombie outbreak begins and along with a group of tourists, seeks refuge at The Alamo. But refuge soon becomes a prison when the zombies surround them and the city is about to be bombed so they need a way to escape. First in a novella series. 

6) JK Walker-Frat House of the Dead (Salt Lake after Dark) 68 pages 
Rachel is a witch with paranormal and human friends and they will need all those skills when a frat house party leads to the guests turning into zombies. For those looking for diversity urban fantasy, this could be for you. I think it is meant to be a prequel to the series but it isn't numbered. 

7) Linda Zimmermann-HVZA Apocalypse Sale (HVZA #0.5)  
Retailers are worried that the recent plague is affecting sales so to tempt shoppers they produce a Black Death Sale at the local shopping mall. Greedy shoppers looking for bargains are about to discover that zombies love sales too... Leads on to a two book series.

8) Boyd Craven-The World Burns (The World Burns) 98 pages
Blake is a hermit and prepper living on a homestead when the apocalypse comes. With his only friends beside him, they prepare to repel anyone who means them harm and they are about to see the worst of human nature. Start of an 11 book novella series/serial novel. Liked the first 7 books but felt the series lost direction in the new storyline after that. 

9) Kevin Hearne-The Grimoire of the Lamb (Iron Druid #0.4) 64 pages
Atticus and faithful hound Oberon head to Egypt looking for someone who stole a book. However the goddess Bast hasn't forviven Atticus for stealing her books and sets her tribe of cats onto them. All this and a booby trapped home of a crocodile priest to break into...this was a great prequel for the Iron Druid series. 

10) Mark Matthews-Zombie Dash 23 pages 
A charity fundraising zombie dash starts with the fun of fake screams and laughing runners evading the zombie volunteers. Nobody thinks anything of it when the zombie clown drags a screaming girl into the woods for real. Fun zombie short story. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Authors Behaving Badly

I just love reading about Authors Behaving Badly! I spent all day today just looking at authors becoming unhinged over a one star review online and doing themselves no favours at all. This is Indie author Devon Saccoccio and his fight with a reviewer. This could keep you entertained for a while. And this is why only friends get to comment on my Goodreads reviews...

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

At the core of this tale is a love story that spans a lifetime, wrapped in a gritty, epic, real man's fantasy that anyone can sink his or her teeth into. It is a beacon of truth in an enslaved world suffering from moral relativism and willful ignorance in the presence of Knowledge.

For the mature fans of Harry Potter, A Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Elder Scrolls, Legend of Zelda, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Fable, and Dragon Age, The Tale of Onora follows the journey of a young orphan after his village is destroyed and he is forced to grow up in a dangerous world. As he navigates through different walks of life, he begins to uncover a conspiracy as to why his village was destroyed. Before he can put the pieces together, his fate is sealed by a terrible war. In the storm of chaos that follows, his actions turn him into a legendary hero. The more renowned he gets, the closer the source of evil is drawn to him. The more he fights for the truth, the more of an outlaw he becomes. In Book One, a boy at the brink of adulthood travels beyond the ruins of an ancient elven city, to The Crown of The World in the far north. It is there where he meets his father for the first time, in search of the answers and reasons his mother refuses to discuss. At the risk of his life, he learns that finding the truth requires knowing The Tale of Onora.

I found this at where you can read the whole message exchange, his fights on other reviews and his offer of signed books in exchange for five star reviews. I loved reading this whole story and hope you do too!

Chuckles Cover Love #18

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 series where the cover of the first book enticed me to pick it up off the shelf to check out the story-and then I bought it! THAT is what cover love is all about, seducing you into that next purchase! I plan to reread the first book to get a review written then read on to complete the trilogy. And did I mention that she has a talking ferret called Pan as her familiar?!!

Chuckles Retro Reads: Matt Archer Monster Hunter by Kendra C Highley

Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that's not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle's bag has a secret, one that will change Matt's life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it's chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt's part of a world he didn't know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?

My Review:
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Matt is on a camping trip with his Uncle when a Yeti like creature attacks them. Using a knife from the tent, Matt kills it and saves his Uncle, forever changing his destiny. The knife is no longer Uncle Mike's-it it Matt's and he has just been recruited as a monster hunter for the US Government.

This book gets off to a very good start, straight into the monster attack and Matt's new destiny. No waffle, no boring crap, no long rambling introduction or history lesson. I liked that. When the scene switches to Matt obsessing over Ella at school I thought 'oh no, here we go with the YA cliche story' but it didn't go like that. It is a brief interlude from the monsters to introduce Ella. No love triangles, no mass teenage angst or other YA tropes thankfully, just three mature kids and a monster story. I think it is because Matt, Will and Ella are so likeable and you can relate to them that it works. Will is the rich boy with a talent for sport but his family never spend time with him and Matt's dad abandoned him and his family at birth, leaving Mike as the substitute father. Having him deployed to Afghanistan is a blow to Matt, and the reader because I love Mike! You can't help feeling sympathy for both boys. Matt's sister comes into the book more as it goes on and she is really good fun to read about. The characters really make this book such an engrossing read. It is the same when you start to meet all the army guys-I liked all of them! It's unusual to care so much for all the people in a book with such a large cast! Except for Ella's idiot boyfriend of course. He needs a damn good slap...

"I'm sending you out into the woods with a knife to kill eight foot tall Wookiees!"

The book is a great mixture of monster hunting tension and excitement, and stupid funny humour, which is exactly what I love in my books. Add in the different monsters, the magic knife and shamans and you have a really good plot. The teenage monster hunters aren't always smart and they do mess up a lot, which keeps it realistic in a sense, and it makes the action scenes quite gripping. The story rolls along at a good pace without any boring bits to slow it down, and there are no massive information dumps to confuse. The author does a good job in describing what teenage boys would think, talk and act like in these situations, which makes it easy to bond with Matt and Will, yet they never appear immature or moronic, which makes a nice change.

"Parker's team is in China...dealing with the mutant pandas."

I also enjoyed the chance to see a book with the Green Berets featuring heavily in a supernatural setting. One minute we are chasing Yeti things in Montana, then we are at an army camp and then the jungles of Peru with mutant crocodile things. The change of settings keeps the monster hunting fresh and interesting. There are plenty monsters and battles to keep the reader interested and you never really know what is going to happen next..

Overall there are no complaints or niggles about this book which I enjoyed enough to buy for my paperback collection this week. I'm not a huge fan of YA but the characters in this book are mature and fun, and it is a book aimed at older YA and adult readers so adults will enjoy this just as much as the YA audience. If you like monsters, action, horror elements and humour in your YA then give Matt Archer a try!
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Slow Burn-Zero Day by Bobby Adair (Slow Burn #1)

A new flu strain has been spreading across Africa, Europe, and Asia. Disturbing news footage is flooding the cable news channels. People are worried. People are frightened. But Zed Zane is oblivious.

Zed needs to borrow rent money from his parents. He gets up Sunday morning, drinks enough tequila to stifle his pride and heads to his mom’s house for a lunch of begging, again.

But something is wrong. There’s blood in the foyer. His mother’s corpse is on the living room floor. Zed’s stepdad, Dan is wild with crazy-eyed violence and attacks Zed when he comes into the house. They struggle into the kitchen. Dan’s yellow teeth tear at Zed’s arm but Zed grabs a knife and stabs Dan, thirty-seven times, or so the police later say.

With infection burning in his blood, Zed is arrested for murder but the world is falling apart and he soon finds himself back on the street, fighting for his life among the infected who would kill him and the normal people, who fear him.

My Review: 
Going to eat at his mother's house and beg her for rent money is not high on Zed's list of fun days out-neither is finding her mauled and his zombie stepdad biting him. After passing out from the fever of the infected bite and ending up arrested for murder, Zed is in jail when all hell breaks loose in town. Even if he can escape, is there anywhere safe?

I liked Zed. He is the original anti-hero, a guy who is a bit of a waster and scrounges money from his parents, and knows pretty much nothing about surviving prison or zombie apocalypses. He has no clue how to identify a brand of weapon never mind use a gun, which is refreshing, or how to hot wire cars. He relies on Murphy to help him escape. Murphy is a great character and I get the image of Michael Clarke Duncan(The Green Mile, Armageddon)when I think of him. Zed and Murphy are well developed characters who aren't superheroes, who get things wrong and who get into trouble. They are believable and real, and this is part of why I liked the book. You are certainly rooting for them, which is a must in a zombie book!

It's not easy to find a different kind of zombie plot without it going too far away from traditional zombies, but this book has something different. There are those who are infected and die straight away, coming back as zombies. Then there are those like Zed who survive the initial infection-'slow burners' who aren't zombies but they aren't fully human now either and nobody knows when they will turn so nobody trusts them. Slow burners can evade the zombies in some cases but not in others which was intriguing. We get a small bit of back story on the outbreak in Africa without info dumps or lots of scientific stuff-for the most part Zed and the reader are both guessing about what else is happening with government and infection rates.

The plot itself is good. This is a zombie book that is FULL of zombie attacks and dangerous situations, sneaking around looking for supplies, rescues, crazy plans...all the things you want in your book. The action sequences are well written and explosive and there is a good mixture of gore and tension throughout. I'm hoping to get a look at the second part depending on price but I recommend this to traditional zombie and horror fans. 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

Chuckles Retro Reads: Dead Trees by Eli Constant

Undergrounders have risen from the belly of the planet to wreak havoc on humanity. They hunt in darkness, dragging bodies into tunnels teeming with primitive life. Elise is a widowed mother trying to keep her daughters alive, but bloody battles with beasties define survival road. Even when Elise finds Jason – a strong, capable man – she feels no safer, no more confident that her babies will see a tomorrow. Barely staying alive becomes the norm. Against all odds, Elise and her group reach a sanctuary. Yet there is no rest for the weary.

Doctors O’Toole and Peters have been experimenting on the humanoid monsters… but they aren’t interested in saving humanity. Elise assists them reluctantly, all the while working secretly with Nick and Jamie to return the world to what it once was—

Before the undergrounders came out to play on the surface. 

(Dead Trees is a classic dystopian, post-apocalyptic, Sci-Fi novel. It contains scenes of graphic violence, mild romantic elements, and some foul language).

My Review:
Elise is on the run with her young daughters, trying to survive the invasion of the planet by underground humanoid cannibals who are adapting to life above ground and killing everyone they can. She is following broadcasts of safe havens where survivors gather and there is safety in numbers, as she heads north towards Canada, and hopefully safety.

I really loved this book. It was great to have a different kind of monster instead of the traditional zombie, though this story has everything good that you'd expect to find in a zombie tale. Every time Elise stops for gas, medicine, food, change of car, or sleep, she risks being attacked by the beasties. She also has to look after the needs of two very young girls which adds a different element to the story. We see Elise as a fighter when she is attacked, and a mother trying to look after her girls in a world gone mad. I mean, what other book do you have a woman trying to drive as much as she can in daylight with one daughter not toilet trained and the other with the weakest bladder in America? I loved touches like that!

The beasties are brilliant and scary. They might not infect you like zombies but their claws and teeth will rip you to pieces. The beastie attacks really are tension filled as you hope that everyone will survive, and for the first half of the book the beastie attacks come thick and fast. Hotels, gas stations and shopping malls with dark corners all become danger zones even in the relative safety of daylight so every time they stop the car, I was on edge wondering what was going to happen. But I also liked the fact that the beasties begin to adapt to sunlight, grow smarter and start operating in groups. As the book progresses this enemy becomes more dangerous, more chilling, so the author is continually taking the plot forward and evolving her bad guys. That is the mark of great writing. Keep your readers guessing!

The second half of the book switches to life in the safe zone which gave the book an intriguing turn. Thankfully the people in the complex were all good characters and we now see a new side of Elise as she has to let her girls have space, deal with her feelings for Jason and become a scientist again.

I'm not generally a fan of people having relationships during an apocalypse based on my own opinion that I'd have enough to deal with without worrying about men! However, I did like the relationship between Elise and Jason. It evolves slowly, based on shared danger but it is complex and never perfect, giving it more realism. I liked the way the girls characters developed through the book with both having to grow up damn quick is such hostile surroundings but there were a lot of really sweet 'family' moments in there to balance the danger and horror. I also liked other characters like Benson and the scary chef! Meg was an interesting twist. I'll say no more about that!

Niggles? Just one. The few science bits flew right over my head! I got the general plan-engineer a virus that will eradicate the inhuman bits of the beasties which will turn them 'human' or kill them. But when Elise starts explaining HOW the virus is made and works, my eyes began to glaze over. Phrases like vector behavior, oxygen bonded nanotechs, il vivo principle, pulsed field gel electrophoresis, Percoli gradient and isolating chromosomes were too much for me to take in and I didn't understand a word of it. For those like me who don't get science, do what I did-don't try to understand, just remember that the virus is to turn them human or kill them! That will keep you right! Seriously, not getting the science did not in any way spoil the book as you'll see from my star rating, so don't be put off by those bits if you don't get it as there isn't much of it to read.

I found out about this book when I was looking at the blog of another author and took a chance on buying the paperback. I'm really glad that I did and I'll be passing it on to my dad to read. I'm sure he'll love it too! I'm very much looking forward to reading book two!
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Saturday, 25 March 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!
Another weekend roundup! I haven't got as much reading done this week as I would have liked. I've been tired all week and spent a lot of time curled up in front of the TV watching my Gold Rush dvds. Over the last two weeks I've binge watched seasons 1-3 and enjoyed seeing them again. I do need to put a lot of effort in for the last week of the month to get a few more books read and up the total a bit. I don't think I'll get all 31 targeted books read as a few are over 300 pages and I doubt I'll have time but I plan to get close.

On the book buying front, I had a bit of a field day! I had a few issues with companies online this week and got stressed out so that was the excuse needed to treat myself to a few books to cheer myself up. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy eh? I read Bigfoot War and loved it so just HAD to buy the rest of the books. As you do. I grabbed the newest zombie book by Nicholas Sansbury Smith and another apocalypse series. I did also grab a few downloads. Am I going to get my book target down to 800 by the end of the month? Hmm, looking doubtful at the moment. Oh well, at least I have more shiny books to enjoy! Now I need to focus on what I'm planning to read next month...



Chuckles Blogging World:

On the blogging side of things I had a productive week overall with plenty of posts uploaded and some good discussion posts. I had a few things to do around the house so I fell a little behind on blog visits so I'm sorry if I didn't appear too often at your blogs this week. Hope to do better next week and be a little less stressed! Anyway this is what was going on at The Book Cave last week with links to each post in case you missed it.

Book Reviews: 

This week I featured four more books in the brilliant Arisen zombie series which I read back in February. If you like fast paced zombie action then you really need to check it out. Book #1 Fortress Britain is quite often free on Amazon. I also reviewed a monster book about a megalodon shark which was enjoyable, and did the latest in my Mini Reviews Catch Up where I review several books on one post.

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Three Parts Dead (Arisen #3)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Genesis (Arisen #3.5)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Maximum Violence (Arisen #4)

Michael Stephen Fuchs-Exodus (Arisen #5)

Chuckles Mini Reviews Catch Up: Apocalypse and UF roundup

Regular Features: 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Short Stories 

Chuckles Cover Love: G Michael Hopf

Discussion Posts: 

Chuckles Chat: Blog Content. What attracts you to follow a blog?

Terror Hits London: A look at the terrorist attack.

Game of Thrones Gossip #7: The Stark Children

Book Challenge Updates: 

My Goodreads Challenge total currently stands at 76/250 which is pleasing. 

I'm progressing well with my Monster Month of March, getting lots of sharks, Bigfoots and zombies etc read. Not sure I will get all 31 books read as time is running out and there are big books still to tackle. As long as I get close I'm happy. 

TBR total of books I own but haven't read yet stands at 826. I had hoped to get down to 800 tbr books left by the end of March but a huge book splurge this week seems to have put paid to that! Still, I hope to hit that goal in the first week or two in April so it isn't a disaster!

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, 24 March 2017

Book Review: Exodus by Michael Stephen Fuchs (Arisen #5)

The world's last floating nuclear supercarrier looks into the face of oblivion – as her thinned, exhausted, and beleaguered crew face the largest herd of dead ever recorded. Soon, the ship's five-acre flight deck will become the scene of a furious and desperate set-piece battle – like no combat any modern army has seen since Stalingrad. The ranks of the dead are infinite, and those of the living tiny, depleted, and running out of time... and of hope.

Surrounded, cut off, and left for dead, Wesley's band of sailors and survivors race ahead of the city-devouring swarm, desperate for a way off the land. Air strikes and shore bombardment threaten to vaporize them at any instant, the inlet onto which they flee is surrounded on all sides and filling up fast, and the least hesitation will get them all killed, infected, devoured – or all three at once.

Having already dodged a hundred deaths by inches, the operators of Alpha team and MARSOC now fly into two converging storms of unspeakable violence, and must parachute in and reinforce the Alamo – the hopeless and doomed defense of the carrier. A thousand things must go right for them to have a prayer of survival. But it's the job of the operators to succeed even when a million things go wrong...

My Review:
On the USS John F Kennedy, Drake knows the zombie horde is just an hour away from them and he is coming up short on fighters and ammo, and prepares the best he can. Wesley's group are being chased around the docks by the forerunners of the horde and need to get from the road onto a boat to stand any chance of escape. Martin has a risky plan to refloat the JFK but must wait until the zombies arrive to put it into action. Alpha and Fick's team are flying back to the ship just as battle commences below them. Is anyone going to survive the Battle of the JFK?

If there is a better zombie book in the world EVER then I have yet to find it. For the entire book my heart was pounding and my tension levels were through the roof. This is where the zombies reach the beached JFK and everyone is in a fight for their lives. It was non stop drama and panic over all the characters I like! Again we are following different groups and individuals as the Battle of the JFK begins!

The people on the JFK are going through final preparations as the zombies are only an hour away. Last minute weapons training, ammo collection and battle plans are sorted out and everyone takes up their positions. The fighter jets are in the air trying to take out as many zombie targets in their range as they can before they reach the ship. The Murphy are in position to fire the big guns as the horde race forward. Martin has been looking over all his data and has a radical plan that might just refloat the ship but it can only be done when the tide is in the right position and the zombies arrive. Can they live long enough to even try the plan?

Wesley's group are hauling ass in their vehicle with the first wave of zombies right behind them and their only chance is to make it to a boat on the nearby docks. But blocked streets and zombies coming from everywhere are making it a suicide run until they are spotted from above by jet pilot Hailey Wells. Having been recalled to the JFK she is faced with a terrible choice. Obey orders and return safe to join the battle, or use the last of her weapons to give the group on the ground a chance and run out of fuel?

On The Murphy, Abrams knows he has two vital possible roles in the battle. First, to do everything in his power to save the JFK even if it means sacrificing The Murphy. Second, being ready to leave with Simon on board if the JFK should fall to the zombies. If he has to sacrifice his ship, how is Simon going to be transported to London if Alpha delivers him alive? But can he just sit there and watch the JFK go down without trying to help?

The B17 is coming in over the JFK and it is decided that there are too many zombies to make an attempt at landing on the JFK and everyone is to try for The Murphy instead. But at the last minute, the B17 needs to take evasive action which puts it in the path of fire from down below and everyone has to just jump and hope for the best as their transport starts to break apart. The raging storm reduces visibility and with fires, big guns shooting and zombies below, it will be a miracle if they make it to the sea alive...

We are following the main people that we have through the book like Alpha Team, Fick, Wesley, Martin and Drake on the ship but we also get viewpoints of military men on the ship and those like Hailey in the F35. As the B17 starts to crash we get views from each of the escaping team members as the storm splits them up over the battle scene. It really gave you the sense of chaos that you would get in a big battle like this and it kept the tension up high enough to worry me over my blood pressure. I liked seeing lesser characters and it was great to see the actual Captain wake from his two year depression to take a role in the battle. I loved his scenes so much! Having the extra views really added to the plot and it kept it very fast paced as we switched between each group or person.

I run out of words to describe this series and how much I love it. The book is the best of the whole series, of which I have now read up to and including book eleven. And it does get more insane as it goes! 

Read February 2017. 
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