A little knowledge about Sharks

The Little Book of Knowledge: Sharks
by Bernard Seret,  Julien Solé (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Very informative graphic novel about sharks. Not sure what age range this is aimed at, my guess is middle-grade, although some of the vocabulary might be a little challenging for kids. The art is good and all salient points are covered.

According to the Internet Bernard Séret is a retired French marine biologist, more specifically an ichthyologist specializing in sharks and rays, of which he has discovered several species. I am pretty sure that he is the grey haired narrator of this.

First Line Friday, currently reading…

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


I am currently reading:

A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
by Arkady Martine

Finally, the sequel to Memory Called Empire

TO think—not language. To not think language. To think, we, and not have a tongue-sound or cry for its crystalline depths. To have discarded tongue-sounds where they are unsuitable.

first lines, Prelude

Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4)
by James S.A. Corey

My ongoing Expanse re-read, before the last book of the series, Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9),  comes out in October — fingers crossed!

A thousand worlds, Bobbie thought as the tube doors closed. And not just a thousand worlds. A thousand systems. Suns. Gas giants. Asteroid belts. Everything that humanity had spread to, a thousand times over.

first lines, Prologue

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (Kindle Edition)
by Sy Montgomery

Using my current, free Kindle Unlimited trial to read more about octopuses. Octopi? Whatever.

On a rare, warm day in mid-March, when the snow was melting into mud in New Hampshire, I traveled to Boston, where everyone was strolling along the harbor or sitting on benches licking ice cream cones. But I quit the blessed sunlight for the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium. I had a date with a giant Pacific octopus.

first lines, Chapter 1

TopTenTuesday – Top Ten Books Published Before I was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This Week’s Topic: Books Written Before I Was Born

Oh boy. That will be some seriously old tomes! Let‘s see… As usual, I‘ll skip those books I posted here before.

Der kleine Wassermann (The Little Water Sprite), published in 1956
by Otfried Preußler,  Winnie Gayler (Illustrator) 

My favourite Otfried Preußler book as a child, loved it even more than „The Little Witch“. Loved it, loved, loved it! My fascination with books set under water obviously started early. Maybe this book is why? Huh, never thought of that before!

Die kleine Hexe (The Little Witch), published in 1957
by Otfried Preußler

How I loved this book as a child! I read it over and over and over again! Great stuff.

Now to some grown-up stuff… no particular order!

Orlando, published in 1928
by Virginia Woolf

I read this twice, first as a teenager and then again in 2008, as a gropwn-up. It’s a strange book. I fluctuated between being in love with the writing and being bored. Great idea. I liked the movie adaptation with Tilda Swinton, it captures the feel of the book pretty well. And I definitely understood the book much better the second time around. As a teenager I was mostly confused by the mysterious sex change.

King Rat (Asia Saga, #4), published in 1962
by James Clavell

I read this a very long time ago, so my memory is very, very faint. I remember one scene, where the protagonist is hunting rats underneath his prison hut. The rest is pretty much gone. Maybe it’s time for a re-read. I can‘t remember if I read Tai-Pan, but I most definitely read Shogun, several times…

Dracula, published in 1897
by Bram Stoker

I read this For the first time in my late teens, probably. That is when my lifelong obsession with vampires started. This should be required reading for any vampire fan. Followed by mandatory watching of all of Christoper Lee’s Dracula impersonations, rounded off by Gary Oldman as the famous count.

The creepiness of this book has stayed with me through the years. The description of Dracula’s look—his hairy palms where always especially off-putting—the weirdness of his brides, the atmospheric setting….

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, published 1901
by Thomas Mann

A trip down memory lane. When I started German Lit in highschool, our teacher gave us this scary list of books we had to read or else. This was on it and the size of it made it scarier still. I read this in the late 80s, so memories are very dim. But to this day I remember how great this book was, how I loved to read about the lives of some of these characters. I never touched this book again and I don’t think I ever will. I am too scared I wouldn’t like it anymore and I don’t want to destroy my feel-good-vibe.

Der Tod in Venedig, published in 1911
by Thomas Mann

This novella is not an easy text for casual reading. I had to slow down my usual speed a lot to understand what I was reading. And to give justice to the beautiful language. Ultimately, this novel was a mixture of beautiful language and boredom. Since this novella is one of Mann’s most important works, I would say that the issue is mine! The subject of the novella was also way outside of my comfort zone. Aschenbach’s obsessive fascination with the boy Tazio was of no value to me. I was uncomfortable with the sexual undertones. From now on I will always see Thomas Mann as a tragic person. I didn’t really like this one.

Der Untertan, published in 1918
by Heinrich Mann

“Man of Straw” is a sharp indictment of the Wilhelmine regime and a chilling warning against the joint elevation of militarism and commercial values.

From the English book blurb

This is Thomas Mann‘s older brother. I fully expected to be bored silly, but I ended up liking it. Very good writing — in German. Can‘t say anything about the translation.

Brave New World, published in 1932
by Aldous Huxley

I read this about 30 years ago, give or take. I struggled with understanding it and remember that I found it hard to get into it. But I liked the concept of the story and ultimately liked the book quite a bit. I think it should be recommended reading for anybody interested in SF that predicts how our society could develop in the not to far away future. Especially nowadays, with the advances being made in cloning, I think this book gains even more importance.

Nackt unter Wölfen, published in 1958
by Bruno Apitz

I read this as a teenager, working my way through my parent’s bookshelf. A pretty gruesome read, when you are that age. Apitz was a prisoner in Buchenwald himself and the story is inspired by a child that was hidden there by the prisoners, so I would assume it has a fair bit of authenticity.

So, that‘s it for this Top Ten Tuesday. I am surprised that I found this many books that I liked (Mostly).

Hit or miss with Frank Schätzing

Limit
by Frank Schätzing

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I give up on Limit—my first cleaning act of 2021. I will toss the book into the flea market flap of my local library. I struggled (and skimmed) to page 73 and feel no interest in trying any further. I know that many readers will find it unfair that I am giving a rating after reading so little of this doorstopper, but what I read really annoyed me. I understand that very long books require a certain set-up of people and storylines, but I really couldn’t warm up to anything in these first 73 pages and had to constantly look up the eight-page register of people to be able to follow the red thread. The characters were all completely interchangeable.

Sorry, but I’d rather read three books of average length that I enjoy more. Pity, really. Because I liked this one well enough, when I read it in 2005 (or thereabouts):

Der Schwarm / The Swarm
by Frank Schätzing

A fisherman disappears near the coast of Peru. Without a trace. Norwegian oil drilling experts discover strange organisms, covering hundreds of square kilometers of sea floor. Whales along the coasts of British Columbia change their behaviour. None of this seems to be connected. But biologist Sigur Johanson does not believe in coincidences. And wale expert Leon Anawak draws disturbing conclusions. A catastrophy seems unavoidable. The search for the cause of all this becomes their worst nightmare.

Very long, very good – I liked the first part with the build-up of all the action better than the latter part, but won’t tell you why. I don’t want to give any of the storyline away. Would make a great blockbuster, a bit like “The Day After Tomorrow”, but this time animals strike instead of the weather… Creepy. Suspenseful.

I am currently also reading through this:

Nachrichten aus einem unbekannten Universum: Eine Zeitreise durch die Meere (Hardcover) / News from an Unknown Universe
by Frank Schätzing

I am not reading every word, but rather browse through the chapters, dipping in deeper here or there where something catches my interest.

I am not a fan of Schätzing‘s flippant tone and his habit of antropomorphizing everything. I understand that he wants to make this entertaining and fun for the reader. However, I am only 70 pages in and already rolling my eyes every time Miss Evolution shows up. WTF? 

November Wrap-up

Here is my November. Sorry for the long break since my last post. Slow book and not a lot of reading mojo at the moment…

BR novels finished:
– The White Dragon, paper, featured BR, ★★★★¾, the runt of the litter saves the day. 
– The Doors of Eden, audio, featured BR, carry-over from October, ★★★¾☆
– Conventionally Yours, netgalley, romance readers, ★★¾☆☆, new adult, enemies-to-lovers, M/M romance, card gaming à la Magic The Gathering, meh.

BR novels started, carry-over into December:
– To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, audio, group read, at 48%
– Phoenix Extravagant, netgalley, at 40%

Solo reads / comics:
– Fathom Vol. 1 #0, ★★★☆☆, Surfer Barbie plans to go on an adventure.
– Fathom Vol. 2 #0, ★★½☆☆, where is Aquaman, when you need him?
– Fathom Vol. 2: Beginnings, ★★★½☆, backstory, only eight pages. The Artwork seems to be better.
– BLAME! Vol. 5, ★★★½☆
– BLAME! Vol. 6, ★★☆☆☆, not happy how this all played out. Seriously missing some decent plot.

Solo read / Fanfiction:
Performance in a Leading Role, online, ★★★★☆, Johnlock, rom-com with the boys as leading Hollywood actors. 156,714 Words.

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky The White Dragon (Pern, #3) by Anne McCaffrey Fathom Vol. 1 #0 by Michael Layne Turner Fathom Vol. 2 #0 by J.T. Krul Fathom Vol. 2 Beginnings by J.T. Krul Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1) by Annabeth Albert BLAME! Vol. 5 by Tsutomu Nihei BLAME! Vol. 6 by Tsutomu Nihei 

Where is Aquaman, when you need him?

Fathom Vol. 1 #0
by Michael Layne Turner,  Joe Weems (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This teaser is not uninteresting. Aspen, the main character, has a very weird body though. Barbie with a surfboard. Nobody stands like that on a beach… plus she doesn’t seem too bright, considering her first scuba lesson. Regardless, the artwork is not bad, the story has potential. 

Fathom Vol. 2 #0
by J.T. Krul (Goodreads Author),  Koi Turnbull (Illustrator),  Jason Gorder (Illustrator) 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I am reading these out of order, so I am missing a lot of information. Spoilers from here…

The Blue are the good underwater guys and the baddies are the Black, that one is easy enough. Aspen from the first issue I read did not make an appearance, but some flyboy, that seems to be her love interest. And he seems to serve on an aircraft carrier that is led by the human general, who seems to be committed to exterminating the underwater people. Ok then.

The artwork is just ok. The anatomical details are a little wonky. There is a lot of text in really ugly text boxes. I‘ll give this another few issues…

Fathom Vol. 2: Beginnings
by J.T. Krul (Goodreads Author),  Michael Layne Turner,  Koi Turnbull (Illustrator),  Jason Gorder (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Very short look at where Aspen came from and a brief recount why she ended up on that cruise ship. 

The artwork was good in this one.

August Wrap-up

Here is my August 2020:

Buddy reads:
– Limit, TBR challenge, carry-over, not terribly keen to continue. Put it back on my bookshelf for now. Sorry!
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Zombie, ebook, ★★★★☆, fantasy, betrayal, scheming, revenge, politics.
– Hell’s Aquarium, ebook, ★★★¼☆, Shark Week, Lost World at the bottom of the sea. Very bloody, pulp fiction at its best. The writing is not quite as great, but ok-ish.
– Sharkantula: Shark. Tarantula. Sharkantula., ebook, ★☆☆☆☆, Shark Week. Oh boy, not good. Don‘t bother. DNF at 48%.

Solo reads:
– A Stone Sat Still, ebook, ★★★★★, cute picture book for ages 3-5.
– The Furthest Station, audio, ★★★★☆, in-between novella with Peter and the crew. Goodness with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.
– 50 Klassiker: Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass, paper, library, ★★★☆☆, essays about 50 important male (eye-roll), German authors.
– Leberkäsjunkie, audio, library, ★½ ☆☆☆, cosy mystery, DNF around 40%, mildly funny, caricature of Bavarian smalltown life.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Secret Invasion, ebook, ★★★★★, alien invasion in the Marvelverse. Colourful fun.
– BLAME! Vol. 3, ebook, ★★★☆☆, more fighting and silicone life.
– Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction, ebook, ★★☆☆☆, blocky and flat artwork, too much narration, unexciting plot. Not for me. 

Limit by Frank Schätzing Leberkäsjunkie (Franz Eberhofer, #7) by Rita Falk The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson Hell's Aquarium (Meg #4) by Steve Alten 50 Klassiker Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass by Joachim Scholl Sharkantula (B-Movie Novels #1) by Essel Pratt The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5) by Ben Aaronovitch BLAME! Vol. 3 by Tsutomu Nihei Hellboy Volume 1 Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis 

Spiderman would not have been able to save this one…

Sharkantula: Shark. Tarantula. Sharkantula. (A B-Movie Novel Book 1)
by Essel Pratt (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Shark. Tarantula. Sharkantula.
Is your spidey sense tingling yet?

The beginning was not bad. I had hopes of a fun read. However, the writing was not good enough for me to turn a blind eye to it in favour of my trashy read.

The way the gay couple was written was annoying and offensive. Over the top, too much of a cliché. Really bad innuendos. Very infantile and not funny.

It took too long for the sharkantula action to get going. I was ready to toss the book by the time the first shark with spider legs showed up.

The animals were too anthropomorphized for my taste.

The shark is shooting spider silk from its tail. How? From its butt? D-oh. This is too silly and lacking any redeeming features. Thank goodness that I spent no money on this. DNF at 48%.

Lost World at the Bottom of the Sea

Hell’s Aquarium (Meg #4)
by Steve Alten

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A prologue with a quick history of Earth‘s geological history and a brief summary of marine evolution all the way to the Megalodon, followed by a first chapter that summarizes the previous books, interspersed with the beginning of this book‘s plot. In third person present tense. Not a fan of third person present tense, it‘s weird. Anyway…

Jonas’s son, “David is off to Dubai for the summer of his life, not realizing that he is being set up to lead an expedition that will hunt down and capture the most dangerous creatures ever to inhabit the Earth.“ (sorry, I stole that from the book blurb…)

Jonas has his own toothy problems to deal with back home at the Tanaka Institute in Monterey. Parallel plots with alternating locations, as in previous books. Which is a bummer, when every other chapter ends in a cliffhanger. The alternating plotlines add a nice urgency to the proceedings though.

I looked up and learned things about the Phillippine Sea Plate and its tectonics. And I looked up a ton of extinct, prehistoric beasts. Educational! I was constantly googling images of weird sharks, with teeth sticking allover the place or monstrous bony fish or gelatinous vampire squid or… it kept going. The later part of the book basically turns into Lost World at the Bottom of the Sea. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel to the first movie with a very heavy dose of well-done CGI! Although I am having a hard time picturing Jason Statham with the hair of Anderson Cooper and in his 60s…

I wish Alten‘s writing would get better with consecutive books. He should be able to afford an editor at least, after one of his books was turned into a movie, right? At least to check for correct punctuation, to tone down those info dumps to a necessary amount, integrate them more smoothly into the general narrative and to get rid of the truly superfluous stuff. I am turning a blind eye to the politically incorrect bits and lack of correct representation of pretty much everything.

At the end of the ebook we get to read the prologue and first two chapters of the next book, Nightstalkers. I enjoyed that, too, and almost downloaded it straight away. The entertainment value of these books is great. And, hey, the next book seems to be in the third person past tense… nonetheless, I can‘t possibly give this more than three stars, because of its barely tolerable writing.

Welcome to Hell’s Aquarium. Unruly guests will be eaten.

Meg 5: Nightstalkers

This one was a corker…

Sub Zero
by Matt James

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Oh my goodness, the writing is ridiculously bad. 

Bad grammar, odd changes in tense, endless waffling without relevance to the action taking place, logical errors in the plotting, unrealistic characters, repetition… Where was the editor? Or a beta reader? 

I am willing to overlook a lot in my popcorn creature features, but I can‘t read this, sorry! DNF at 21%. Yikes.


P.S.: I would be happy for recommendations of some entertaining light horror, set underwater. I have an obsession with caves, diving, etc….