More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories
by Kel McDonald

More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers by Jonah Cabudol-Chalker (illustrator, Hawaii) & Kate Ashwin (writer, UK) ★★★☆☆

A positive ghost story. Nice page layouts. Very short.

The Legend of Apolaki and Mayari by Kim Miranda ★★★★☆

What a pretty story with nice sketches! Brother and sister end up fighting each other… Philippines again. Very simple, but I really liked the artwork.

Nanuae the Sharkboy by Gen H. ★★★★☆

And Hawaii… good story! There is shapeshifting (yay!), sharks (yay!) and the story is told a lot through images instead of text, which was done well. The ending was a bit abrupt.

Thousand Eyes by Paolo Chikiamco & Tintin Pantoja ★★★★☆

And the Philippines again… about a girl that seems to be lazy and gives her mother some trouble. Of the stories included here, this looks the most like a comic. Another good one, with a sci-fi twist this time.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Top Ten Tuesday and what made me want to read those books…

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 / August 3: Titles or Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book

Tricky. I mainly pick up books that are recommended to me by my reading buddies. Or books by favourite authors, never mind the cover or title. But I will have a look at my want-to-read list and see if I can recall what triggered my interest.

And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed

I picked up this novella on Netgalley. I honestly can‘t remember why I chose it, but assume that the cover pulled me in and then the title. Because the blurb is not grabbing me right now.

In a far future city, where you can fall to a government cull for a single mistake, And What Can We Offer You Tonight tells the story of Jewel, established courtesan in a luxurious House. Jewel’s world is shaken when her friend is murdered by a client, but somehow comes back to life. To get revenge, they will both have to confront the limits of loyalty, guilt, and justice.

Sentient by Jeff Lemire

I went looking for comics written by Jeff Lemire, because I like him and want to work on his backlist. Here the title drew me in. I like SF about AI and this title suggest that something slightly unusual might have reached sentience and that offers unusual options…

When a separatist attack kills the adults on board a colony ship in deep space, the on-board A.I. VALARIE must help the ship’s children survive the perils of space.

Nemo Vol. 1: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore

Here I was looking for comics set underwater. I have a thing for anything underwater, from documentaries about the deep sea to cheesy creature features involving Megalodon. I definitely picked this one for the title. Captain Nemo is a classic. I don‘t expect this to follow Jules Verne, but who knows.

It’s 1925, fifteen years after the death of Captain Nemo, when his daughter Janni Dakkar launches a grand Antarctic expedition to lay the old man’s burdensome legacy to rest.

Oh yes, I have a thing for cheesy creature features set in Antarctica as well. Or adventure novels. That clinched the deal.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam

Definitely the title. A planet in the Goldilocks Zone is in a distance to the sun, where conditions are just right for human habitation. So, an SF about colonization? Or finding a new home for humanity… Instant winner.

This is The Martian by way of The Handmaid’s Tale – a bold and thought-provoking new high-concept thriller

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Granted, I added this to my list, because it‘s Adrien Tchaikovsky. But isn‘t the cover pretty? And doesn‘t the title remind you of some awesome MMORPG?

In Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race, a junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe.

Below by Ryan Lockwood

Title again. I did mention my fascination with all things underwater and creature features, right?

Now, off the coast of California, something is rising from the deep–and multiplying. Voracious, unstoppable, and migrating north, an ungodly life form trailed by a gruesome wake of corpses. 

The Audacity of Sara Grayson by Joani Elliott

Title again. I seem to be a title person. How audacious of me!

What happens when the world’s greatest literary icon dies before she finishes the final book in her best-selling series?
 
And what happens when she leaves that book in the hands of her unstable, neurotic daughter, who swears she’s not a real writer?

Sounds like fun, right?

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories by Kel McDonald

Another comic. And… yes, there‘s an ocean in the title…

Ghostly warriors, angry gods, and monstrous tyrants? That’s just the start of this collection of folklore from the Pacific, retold in comics! 

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

This really was a recommendation by someone in my buddy reading group. The title piqued my interest and the cover sealed the deal. It‘s simple at fist glance, but very stylish. And then you notice those rock spires curving in, looking like claws. Hm…

This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2) by Nghi Vo

Not sure how I ended up with this one, but I imagine that the cover drew me in… plus it has a very lyrical title.

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

So, that was more or less the last 10 books and comics that I added to my list and haven‘t actually read yet. Does anything here tempt you?

Sharks, whales and a lot of crazy

Nightstalkers (Meg #5)
by Steve Alten

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The prologue was a smart way of summarizing the salient points of the previous book. The first chapter though… did he just copy and paste that complete chapter with the kayak tourists and the pod of orca from the previous book?

Early on we meet the main character from The Loch and the subsequent novels of that series. Cross-over time! Unfortunately that character talks with a Scottish brogue. I don‘t mind (too much), however it‘s pretty inconsistent. Whole sentences in the Queen‘s English and then a few Scottish things thrown in. Nobody talks that way.

Alten sticks to his tried and tested routine: two plots with distinct sets of main characters that each face their challenges—the respective monster of the day. First they alternate by chapter and eventually, as the suspense heats up towards the later parts of the book, the narrative switches between the plotlines faster and faster. Chapters usually finish with cliffhangers and then move on to the other plot. Which is annoying and means that you basically have to rush from one chapter to the next, driven by the momentum of whatever crazy thing just happened.

Somewhere in or after the middle Alten throws in some weird development from the other series, specifically from Vostok (I think—I haven‘t actually read that one). You have to suspend your disbelief very hard. He went into a very ridiculous, superfluous direction. Which is saying much, considering that this is about the appearance of pre-historic sharks, Liopleurodons and a ton of other bizarre creatures. My reading buddies and I all rolled our eyes so much… 

Up to that point the plot was more or less a repetition of the last book. Felt a bit like Alten plagiarizing himself. Copy-and-paste-a-lot…. I wish that Alten had just stayed with the main plot — chasing the megs and capturing that Liopleurodon. Adding another monster and the character from the other books with his own brand of crazy… what‘s next, sharks in space? 

Sorry, I stole this pic somewhere, but didn‘t keep track…

And for the characters — I didn‘t have many expectations, but even those are completely interchangeable. David is Jonas, Monty is Mac… Never mind David‘s squeeze of the day. That romance/friendship-with-benefits was implausible at best. The way Alten writes the female characters is just atrocious. Again. Hoping for an improvement on that front was probably naive.

Why did I think picking up this book was a good idea? And why on Earth did I finish it? Embarrassingly enough I quite enjoyed the action in Part 3 and 4, despite there being too may different monsters. I didn‘t mind all the new monsters in the last book, they worked within the setting of that book. Here it read like a hodgepode of (more) crazy. *head desk*

And you know what? Apparently there will be only one more book. I can‘t not read that one, even it it will be another 2 start rating. Oh boy.

A touch of Meg

The Fortuna Island Lagoon (Carthago, #1)
by Christophe Bec,  Eric Henninot,  Milan Jovanovic

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I picked this up because it looked to be set underwater and I got a whiff of Megalodon. Unfortunately that fish is mostly in the off at first and then disappears all together for a good while.

And it’s a very wordy graphic novel. Much too wordy. I don‘t mind the occasional info dump or longer explanation, but this never stops. Somewhere in the middle I started to skim a little. On top of that there was this glacially slow build-up. 

It eventually got going — a little. And by the time it did get more interesting, it also immediately finished with two cliffhangers.

The artwork was ok. It‘s unlikely that I will continue.

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.