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….

It‘s the bioapocalypse…

Behemoth (Rifters, #3)
by Peter Watts

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Prelude: ´lawbreaker

We meet Achilles Desjardins again. And…

“The past receded; the unforgiven present advanced. The world fell apart in time-lapse increments: an apocalyptic microbe rose from the deep sea, hitching a ride in the brackish flesh of some deep-sea diver from N’AmPac. Floundering in its wake, the Powers That Weren’t dubbed it ßehemoth, burned people and property in their frantic, futile attempts to stave off the coming change of regime. North America fell.“

ß-Max

We are at the bottom of the Atlantic. Hiding away, in conjunction with our former enemy.

Very readable, mostly. There are sequences where I don‘t understand a thing… Lenie is a bystander a lot of the time, shunned not only by the other side, but also by her own people. We as readers often do not take part in the action, but look at what‘s happening from the outside, from her POV. I am not a fan of that way of story telling. But it‘s what it is, when reading from limited POVs, I guess.

I am not certain that I really understood what went on in this book. Yes, hiding away, conflict with the opposing inmates, revolution, mutation, a new infestation… Got that. Much head scratching. I also missed a stronger sense of being underwater. It almost did not feel as if they were spending time in the deep sea.

Seppuku

Emerging from the sea… This one more linear and with more traditional story telling at first. I really liked the new character, Taka.

Trigger warning: <spoiler>Torture, mutilation, rape</spoiler>

I could have done without that part. It added nothing to the plot and made me uncomfortable. Was it just for the shock effect? Because as a plot point it was pretty pointless or at the most served as a tool for a info dump. It actually turned me off so much, that I lost my motivation to keep going. 

Consequently I really struggled with the last 100 pages. I literally lost the plot. I couldn‘t grasp what was going on or why Ken and Lenie did what they were doing.

The big reveal at the end left me rather cold, I was glad to be finished and disappointed with the resolution of this trilogy. Did the final conflict really have to happen in the off? Clarke as a mere bystander did not make me happy either. She devolved into the chick on the side. She really did not gell for me in Seppuku. I understand that characters can change and develop, but I could not relate to Lenie’s progression. 

I really liked the first book, it had a good plot and setting and a strong, convincing main character in Lenie Clarke. Maelstrom and Behemoth (ß-Max & Seppuku) were confusing over long stretches and hard to understand. I admit to skimming quite a bit of the techno babble. I think stopping after the first book would have been best.

How to rate this? Considering that I struggled to finish, had problems to follow the plot, disliked the character inconsistency of Lenie Clake and the gratuitous violence/torture, I can‘t really give this more than two stars.


In my headspace Noomi Rapace took over the role of Lenie Clarke.

A free version of this book(s) can be found here.

Playlist:

  • Georg Friedrich Händel, Water Music
  • Tchaikovsky, Iolanta
  • Sergei Prokofiev
  • Igor Strawinsky

Are you afraid of the dark?

The Cavern by Alister Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No messing around in this book. Slow build-up? Pffft! It‘s B-Movie Horror Flick Night! Body count of the epilogue: 2:0 for the monster. And it keeps going. It‘s bloody, there is gore, there is a lot of action, suspense, oh-shit-moments and it‘s a lot of fun. It is well written to boot and the characters actually have personalities.

It‘s a little predictable, but that‘s to be expected with a creature feature fest like this.

If you are in the mood for uncomplicated monster fun with plenty of blood splatter—this is a pretty damn good choice! Oh yes, and I multiplied my knowledge of Aussie slang by a lot!

PS: very, very creepy! Caves! Cave diving! Darkness! Weird noises! Eep! It‘s vicious!

Recommended! 4.5 stars. Thank you, Dennis, for pointing me towards this particular cave system!

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Anemone?

Maelstrom (Rifters, #2)Maelstrom by Peter Watts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel to the first Rifters novel, Starfish. Difficult. Lenie Clarke comes to shore and with her the apocalypse, of a sort (two sorts, actually).

The first half of the book was confusing. Multiple viewpoints with different agendas, some of them of the artificial kind. I was pretty lost. Cyberpunk meets the apocalypse meets a revenge story and…. it was a mess. I skimmed some of the more indecipherable parts. I contemplated to DNF, but my curiosity kept me going. It was a case of „what the hell did I just read“, but it had its moments.

A plot finally coalesced about two-thirds into the book and it was pretty slim. This book is more about the noise than about the red thread. The ending was satisfying enough. I might even pick up the third book at some point.

★★¾☆☆

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