Thursday, 30 January 2014

Surival Day By Day


J.L Bourne delivers a great example of Zombie survival. The story is told in the format of a diary and works extremely well in the telling of this tale. From the first page you are engaged and soon lose yourself in the struggle to survive. What I really liked about this book is the minimal amount of time trying to explain the dead rising. There was a virus it spread and dead people started walking. Well that's good enough for me.

Like all good Zombie survival stories the plot is more about the people alive then the shambling rotting dead. They play a vital part in the story but they are not the story. Day by Day Armageddon delivers a fast and action filled story that hits the ball out of the park.

4 Stars 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cold War Skulduggery


This book is a great look into the world of espionage during the peak of the Cold War. It introduces us to many of the main players as well as the politics of the day. This is all delivered by telling the story of a daring operation that is straight out of a screenplay. A joint initiative from the British and Americans dig a tunnel right up to where one day the Berlin wall will stand. From this tunnel they tap the phone lines and start recording all they hear. Then one day this tunnel is discovered by some “workers” looking for a leak. The KGB pounces on this opportunity and has a field day using it for anti-American propaganda.

I enjoyed the author’s style and found this book a very easy and engaging read. It has all you expect from a novel about espionage from the double agents to the clandestine meetings. But this is not a novel it is a true story and that just added to my interest in this book. It has kindled the fire in me to learn more about the Cold War the quite battle of intel gathering.

3.5 Stars

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Zombies But Not As You Know Them


This is my second Peter Clines book and like the first this one has not disappointed. What we have is a Zombie vs. Superheroes storyline dressed up for a wider audience. I loved how the author chops and changes the narrative to keep the tempo up. I especially loved the chapter that was told from only one side of a conversation.  I would love an entire book wrote in this manner (Mr Clines that was a hint).
The story is simple and easy to follow and even though this book is full of zombies it does not feel like a zombie book. The book is far from original, yes there is a virus and the "ex's" need a shot to the head to truly die, but what it delivers is a cracking story. Chuck into the mix Superheroes each with their own unique powers and we have a geek nirvana. Oh did I also mention that when a Superhero dies they become a Super-Ex. I probably should mention that as it whacks up the geek squeal factor a couple of notches. This is a series is one I can see myself quickly devouring.
 
4.5 Stars

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Origins of Slush Fund

Meaning

Money put aside to be used to bribe or influence, especially in a political context.

Origin

The word 'slush' was coined in 17th century England as the name for half-melted snow and is first referred to in print with that meaning in Henry Best's Rural Economy in Yorkshire, 1641. Of course, that's where the name Slushies, the part-frozen flavoured drinks, came from.
 
A century later, there was an alternative meaning of 'slush', or 'slosh', which was the fat or grease obtained from meat boiled on board ship. That invaluable guide The Gentleman's Magazine, 1756, referred to it like this:
 
He used much slush (the rancid fat of pork) among his victuals.
William Thompson made it sound even less appetising in The Royal Navy-men's Advocate, 1757:
Tars whose Stomachs are not very squeamish, can bear to paddle their Fingers in stinking Slush.
Despite it not being the apex of culinary delight it was considered a perk for ships' cooks and crew and they sold the fat that they gathered from cooking meat whenever they reached port. This perquisite became known as a 'slush fund' and the term joins the numerous English phrases that first saw the light of day at sea.
The author William McNally didn't think much of the practice and included a description of it in Evils & Abuses in Naval & Merchant Service, 1839:
The sailors in the navy are allowed salt beef. From this provision, when cooked nearly all the fat boils off; this is carefully skimmed and put into empty beef or pork barrels, and sold, and the money so received is called the slush fund.

In the same year, The Army and Navy Chronicle suggested that a ship's slush fund would be a suitable source of money to buy books for the crew:
To give men the use of such books as would best suit their taste, would be to appropriate what is their own, (viz.) the slush fund for the purchase of such works.
This is the beginning of the meaning we now have for 'slush fund', that is, money put aside to make use of when required. The use of such savings for improper uses like bribes or the purchase of influence began in the USA not long afterwards. The Congressional Record for January 1894 printed this:
[Cleveland] was not elected in 1888 because of pious John Wanamaker and his $400,000 of campaign slush funds.
Into the 20th century and we head straight for one of The Simpsons' many cultural references and back to the original meaning of 'slush fund'. In the 1998 episode Lard of the Dance, Homer and Bart instigate a scheme to make money by collecting and selling grease. They try to siphon Groundskeeper Willie's stashed vat of rancid fat from the school kitchen. A fight breaks out over what is clearly Willie's slush fund or, in 20th century cartoon parlance, his 'retirement grease
 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

This Is Why Lovecraft Is One Of The Best



I am ashamed to say that this was my first foray into the world of Mr Lovecraft. Was I impressed? The answer is very much so. There is something about books from this era I love and At the Mountain of Madness is shining example of this. The English language as an art form is here for all to see. Lovecraft paints a vivid and frightening picture that sill gets ones heart pumping. In today’s modern world where language is changing to fit our fast and busy lifestyle it is good to hear words long out of favour and use.


This book has opened up Lovecraft's world to me and I intend to visit it again soon and often. So take some time out from the rat race and delve into this classic.

5 Stars


About the Author:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fictions featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Christianity. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades. He is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th Century, exerting widespread and indirect influence, and frequently compared to Edgar Allan Poe.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Well That Sucked


I went into this book expecting great things. What I got instead was a train wreck of a book. The plot and character development lazily wander their way through the pages. This ended up with me never really caring that much about either.
As for the ending of the book it was one of the worst ones I have read. The sense of disappointment and frustration as I read the last page was huge. After investing so much time in this book it felt like I was being forced to read the next book in the series just to get closure and some clarification of the first book.  I mean the author sent so much time building up to what promised to be an exciting conclusion only for it to end up people basically walking off into the setting sun.

This is the first time I have read a Hugo award winning novel that did not deliver. Let’s hope it is the last one. I for one will not be finding out what happens next as I really don’t care.

2 Stars


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The First Zombie Novel Of The Year


 
Undead L.A is a great compilation of short stories relating to a zombie outbreak in L.A. I started reading this book with some trepidation. I mean the zombies in L.A bookshelf is a well-stocked one. All my concerns were swept aside by some damn fine writing and great character development.

This is the first novel I have read from Devan Sagliani and I will be back for some more. Each of the stories in this compilation is worthy of its own novel. For me the stand out story amongst them all was No One is Watching. This was great example of what can be achieved in a short story. Over the last couple of years I have come to embrace the short story be it either as a stand alone or in compilation form. It is a true art to be able to engage the reader and deliver a full story in this short form. Devan Saglini has mastered this form of writing.

4.5 Stars

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Origins Of Pop Goes The Weasel

The Nursery Rhyme, 'Pop goes the weasel' sounds quite incomprehensible in this day an age! The origins of the rhyme are believed to date back to the 1700's. Now a days Pop Goes the Wasel is assaciated with classic Jack in the Box style toys.
 
Pop and Weasel?These words are derived from Cockney Rhyming slang which originated in London. Cockneys were a close community and had a suspicion of strangers and a dislike of the Police (they still do!) Cockneys developed a language of their own based roughly on a rhyming slang - it was difficult for strangers to understand as invariably the second noun would always be dropped. Apples and Pears (meaning stairs) would be abbreviated to just 'apples', for instance, "watch your step on the apples". To "Pop" is the slang word for "Pawn". Weasel is derived from "weasel and stoat" meaning coat. It was traditional for even poor people to own a suit, which they wore as their 'Sunday Best'. When times were hard they would pawn their suit, or coat, on a Monday and claim it back before Sunday. Hence the term " Pop goes the Weasel"

In and out the Eagle?
The words to the Rhyme are "Up and down the City road, in and out the Eagle -
That’s the way the money goes - Pop! goes the weasel". The Eagle refers to 'The Eagle Tavern' a pub which is located on the corner of City Road and Shepherdess Walk in Hackney, North London. The Eagle was an old pub which was re-built as a music hall in 1825. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was known to frequent the Music Hall. It was purchased by the Salvation Army in 1883 (they were totally opposed to drinking and Music Halls). The hall was later demolished and was rebuilt as a public house in 1901.


The Eagle as the Music Hall
 
Sorced at www.rythmes.org.uk

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Year Kicks Off With Some Great Exclusives

I have been lucky enough to be given early access by some great authors to their books that have me salivating at the prospect of reading them. I have to admit I get a tad nervous when I receive advanced copies of books. I see it as a great honour to be able to reviews books before they hit the shelves or in the case of e-books the screens. My review has the potential to help either kick start the books sales or have the reader look elsewhere for a good read.

So over the next 2 months I will be posting advanced reviews for:

Synopsis


In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed, and T. J. English's Savage City comes this shocking true story of the biggest police corruption scandal in Philadelphia history, a tale of drugs, power, and abuse involving a rogue narcotics squad, a confidential informant, and two veteran journalists whose reporting drove a full-scale FBI probe, rocked the City of Brotherly Love, and earned a Pulitzer Prize.



Synopsis


Beirut, 2023: When undercover intelligence officer Warren Linder agrees to lure an exiled opponent of the President-for-Life back to an impoverished post-Civil War II America, Linder is unaware that the target is his childhood sweetheart’s father. On learning this, he ignores his inner alarms and plunges ahead. But a surprise encounter with the woman who rejected him long ago triggers a change in Linder that dooms the operation. His superiors, suspecting treachery, capture everyone present, including Linder, and spirit them back to the U.S. aboard a secret rendition flight. Linder’s ensuing journey takes him from a Virginia interrogation center to an Arctic labor camp; then, after a nearly impossible winter escape, on a 2000 mile trek to the Utah Security Zone, where his onetime love was last held. Though he finds her, their respective ordeals have changed them. The story reaches a climax in war-torn Cleveland, where Linder aims to recover his former target’s last cache of rebel funds and use it to take his loved ones beyond the regime’s reach. EXILE HUNTER is a tragic yet life-affirming saga of a man who risks everything to set right past wrongs, regain lost love and resist the tyranny he once served.


Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Humble Bread Clip

The humble bread clip we use them everyday with out giving them a second thought. But who invented this marvel of the modern world? Keep reading and discover the history of the humble bead clip.

The bread clip was invented by Floyd G. Paxton and manufactured by the Kwik Lok Corporation, based in Yakima, Washington with manufacturing plants in Yakima and New Haven, Indiana. Kwik Lok Corporation's clips are eponymously called "Kwik Lok closures".
 
Floyd Paxton was known for repeatedly telling the story about how he came up with the idea of the bread clip. As he told it, he was flying home on an airliner in 1952 and opened a bag of peanuts, whereupon he realized he had no way to reclose it. He rummaged through his wallet and found an expired credit card and hand-carved his first bag clip with his small pen knife. When a fruit packer, Pacific Fruit, wanted to replace rubber bands with a better bag closure for its new plastic bags, Paxton remembered his bag of peanuts. He hand-whittled another clip from a small sheet of Plexiglas. With an order in hand for a million clips, Paxton designed a die-cut machine to produce the clips at high speed. Despite repeated attempts, Paxton never won a United States patent for his clips. He did win numerous patents for the high-speed "bag closing apparatus" that made the clips, inserted bread into bags and applied the clips for the finished product.


The bread clip was developed in the early 1950s, because there was a growing need to close plastic bags on the packagingline very efficiently. Manufacturers, using more and more automation in the manufacture and packaging of food, needed methods to allow them to raise production volumes and reduce costs. At the same time a hurried population of consumers wanted a fast and easy way to open and effectively seal food bags—originally bread hence the name. The simple bread clip allowed for that. In addition, re-closability became a selling point as smaller families and higher costs slowed consumption, leading to a potential for higher rates of spoilage.

Friday, 3 January 2014

2014 Starts With A Classic

Welcome to 2104 and another year of the Lazy Book Reviewer. To kick things off we are going back to 1977 and a classic that has struck fear in many that have read this book.



This book is getting a tad long in the tooth, being first published in 1977. But age has not removed the shine from this classic apocalyptic novel. If anything I feel that the age of the book adds to the story and in places makes for some hilarious reading.

All this aside Lucifer's Hammer delivers a story of a world that is in the path of a comet. Mankind knows it is coming close, just not how close. The start of the book is used well in informing the reader about comets and the science of predicting their paths. Our main characters are well grounded and we get a good feel for them.

Then the world comes to an end and Armageddon is let loose upon the earth. We watch the survivors struggle to come to terms with their new reality. It is fascinating to see how they change. Some rise to the challenge and some lapse into depravity. The plot is not a new one nor does it comes as surprise. But what makes it a truly great read is how well the author tells his tale. Also the thought is always in the back of your mind that what you are reading may one day be your reality, which in itself is truly scary stuff. The book did leave me with one question. Why the hell was it not called Hammer Fall?

4 Stars