Left Behind – Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins (Review)

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Suddenly, without warning or explanation, people are missing. All across the world – from beds and cars and aeroplanes – people are just gone. The clothes they were wearing are left piled behind them; any vehicles being driven have crashed.

Humanity is in shock, struggling to deal both with the aftermath of the disappearances and the resultant chaos. Some think aliens are behind it all, others blame bizarre meteorological phenomena or electromagnetic buildup. Only those who have studied the Bible know the real truth: the Rapture has occurred, God has called his faithful into heaven, and the apocalypse has begun. 

Continue reading “Left Behind – Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins (Review)”

Blackwoods Marauders – K. S. Villoso (Review)

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Luc is an innocent. He loves his family, spending his days helping his father on the farm and defending his disabled brother. He doesn’t get on well with his step-mother, but he tries to, and he’s not really sure how to deal with pretty girls showing an interest in him. He’s a nice lad.

One failed exam and a string of poor decisions later, Luc winds up the de-facto leader of a band of unsavoury mercenaries. His new companions are thieves, murderers, and rapists. Unable to return to his placid life, Luc has no choice but to fulfil the mercenaries’ contract as best he is able, despite the dangers he faces and the secrets he uncovers.  Continue reading “Blackwoods Marauders – K. S. Villoso (Review)”

To the Poles (Without a Beard) – Catharine Hartley (Review)

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The story of an ordinary thirty-something city girl who became the first British woman to walk to the South Pole. ‘We called ourselves Plebs to the Pole. It was the first time travellers with no previous polar experience had the chance to attempt such a journey. Before our expedition, Antarctica had been sacred territory – the preserve of scientists and real explorers. No one had any idea how amateurs would perform in such extreme conditions.’

In January 2000 Catharine Hartley, a thirty-four-year-old Londoner with no previous polar experience, walked into the record books by becoming the first British woman to reach the South Pole on foot. Continue reading “To the Poles (Without a Beard) – Catharine Hartley (Review)”

The Deep Range – Arthur C. Clarke (Review)

tdr1After an accident in space left deep scars on his psyche, Walter Franklin retrains as a warden, one of the herders protecting and tending to the whales that form a large proportion of Earth’s food supply. Though space is forever denied to him, he finds new purpose exploring an equally strange and bewitching environment.

The Deep Range is set on a relatively near-future Earth. Humanity has control of the upper levels of the ocean, using the life within it to feed the planet. But there are always still secrets, dangers, and strange creatures down in the deeps. Continue reading “The Deep Range – Arthur C. Clarke (Review)”

Mission: Impossible – from I to Fallout

Mission Impossible Fallout book reviewI would like to begin with an apology. Right now, there are 7 drafts sitting in my review folder. I have indie films to analyze, antique anthropology to bring back into the light, and a hatchet job on Mamma Mia 2 which consumes me with evil joy.

But nothing – nothing – can come before Mission: Impossible. I am totally biased on this topic. I have been nurturing weird fan theories for years, so as well as a review, you are going to have to sit through the internet equivalent of someone sitting at a bar emanating weird smells and muttering to themselves.

I’m probably going to get kicked off the blog for this. Thanks for the excuse to rewatch the series. Continue reading “Mission: Impossible – from I to Fallout”

Eight – W. W. Mortensen (Review)

EDeep in the jungles of South America, an expedition searches for a lost city and a new source of potentially limitless power. But something is stirring in the ancient ruins – something ancient, dangerous, and hungry.

Rebecca Riley, an entomologist, joins the expedition at the request of her former partner, facing her deepest fears in search of his deepest desire. What was promised to be a journey of scientific discover quickly becomes a desperate struggle for survival.
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Three Reasons to Read Steve Alten’s “Meg” series

I’ve read a lot of books, and watched a lot of films, about monsters. In so far as “monster attacks group of people” is a genre, it’s one of my preferred genres. I have thrilled to tales of liopleurodons, Humboldt squid, sabre-tooth tigers and titanoboas. I have watched, due to the prominence of sharks as the antagonist, countless films with a two word title in which the second word is “shark” (or, to be fair, “sharks”). The first word of the title allows more variation, including “snow“, “swamp“, “Jurassic“, and “raging“. I’ve even had the privilege of enjoying a whole bunch of works which just jammed two words together to create the title, like Sharknado, Sharktopus, and Piranhaconda

I mention these works to establish that I know what I’m talking about here, rather than as recommendations. I’m not recommending them because, in all this time of monster books and films, a common element has come clear: most of these works are absolutely terrible. Sturgeon’s Revelation states that 90% of everything is awful, but I believe monster stories to be a special case; I think the percentage for this specific genre might be closer to 98%.

For some reason, authors seem to feel that they can get away with more poorly-written books than in other genres. This might be attributable to the fact that a higher proportion of monster books seem to be self-published than in other genres, so there’s no one to enforce editing and proofreading. I don’t think that’s entirely it, as there are many traditionally published monster books that are terrible, and several well-designed self-published ones. In general, it just seems that monster books are where authors dump all their plot holes and inconsistent characterisation – it’s not a genre that is taken that seriously, or regarded very highly.

Now, this doesn’t particularly bother me. I like monster stories enough that despite (and occasionally because of) their terribleness, I still enjoy them. I will struggle through countless clumsy coincidences and grammatical errors to read about a deranged businessman being devoured by ptero-wasps. However, I’m aware that not everyone is as forgiving of, or as engaged in, the genre as I am.

MEG1I thought I’d use this post, after trashing the genre as a whole, to recommend an author who not only writes monsters books, but does so well. One of the few authors who manages to write a coherent plot in coherent English that’s also about a shark killing people.

Steve Alten’s “Meg” series is one of the stand-outs of the monster genre. The books are based around the idea that Carcharodon Megalodon, an ancestor of today’s great white shark, survived into the modern era; when one of these antediluvian murder machines comes into contact with humans, it’s up to a tortured marine biologist to stop the carnage. Continue reading “Three Reasons to Read Steve Alten’s “Meg” series”