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Search tags: Antarctica
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review 2018-03-26 19:35
Dense, interwoven historic fiction within a conspiracy-mystery frame story
Minds of Winter - Ed O'Loughlin

Remarkable work of historical fiction. Intricate in structure, convincing and meticulous in detail, and surprisingly engrossing in character, this novel avoids typical plot, organization, and closure in favour of more challenging choices.

 

The modern-day frame story is of two lost souls in the high Canadian Arctic and, oddly, a historic marine chronometer. Nelson's brother (recent) and Faye's grandfather (long past) went missing in the area - but they're not there on a Dan Brown-esque mystery-thriller search for the truth. This case of missing, confused, and obfuscated identities resists such tidy progressions. Instead, the unlikely couple stumble their way into uncertain discoveries of questionable validity based on documents left behind by Nelson's apparently-missing brother. This modern day progression is interspersed with "found" documents and firsthand accounts of explorers, adventurers, and secret-history-movers of the last two centuries prodding at the edges of the unknown on journeys that range from Australia to the Arctic and very nearly everywhere in between. The dots don't connect - or maybe they do - but the real surprise is how enjoyable the ride is.

 

I don't usually enjoy fiction that lacks the classic rise-and-fall story arc or that evade neatly-wrapped endings, but the unconventional format of this book somehow worked for me. Strong research, a talent for authentic(-seeming) voice, and telling details bring to life far-flung locations and eras long since passed. I couldn't keep track of the location, time, character, and (potential, suggested, unconfirmed) links between the jumps for most of the book - and in fact, once I thought I'd worked out the trajectory, this book happily dumped the drawer upside down on me once more. In effect, the experience is like reading a loosely-linked series of short stories or historic records. I'm not sure if it's the inherently fraught circumstances of so many of the players, the exotically far-reaching locales, or the promise of a mystery to untangle, but this dense, interwoven narrative completely held my attention. Highly recommended read.

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review 2017-12-18 22:15
Among Penguins / Noah Strycker
Among Penguins: A Bird Man in Antarctica - Noah Strycker

The year he graduated from college, 22-year-old Noah Strycker was dropped by helicopter in a remote Antarctic field camp with two bird scientists and a three months’ supply of frozen food. His subjects: more than a quarter million penguins.

Compact, industrious, and approachable, the Adélie Penguins who call Antarctica home visit their breeding grounds each Antarctic summer to nest and rear their young before returning to sea. Because of long-term studies, scientists may know more about how these penguins will adjust to climate change than about any other creature in the world.

Bird scientists like Noah are less well known. Like the intrepid early explorers of Antarctica, modern scientists drawn to the frozen continent face an utterly inhospitable landscape, one that inspires, isolates, and punishes.

 

  If you have enjoyed Ron Naveen’s Waiting to Fly or Gavin Francis’ Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence, and Emperor Penguins, you will likely also enjoy this book. In many ways, Among Penguins is like an update of Naveen’s work, documenting just how far research in Antarctica has come in 20 years. I also found the book somewhat reminiscent of Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder.

Like Kaufman, Strycker is a young man obsessed with birds. Unlike Kaufman, he chooses to find research positions to facilitate his quest for a larger, more exotic life list (a list of all the species of birds that one has seen during one’s life, for those who are not members of the birding cult). Although Strycker isn’t sleeping in ditches or hitch-hiking his way to his next birding destination, he does still endure some hardships during his Antarctic sojourn—his tent is destroyed in hurricane force winds, his boots (when outfitted with crampons) wound his ankles, he is unable to shower for 3 months. Nevertheless, he seems a cheerful and willing researcher, completely under the spell of the penguin.

There is a fair bit of interesting penguin info in this slim volume and some insights into the research process, but there is also an awful lot about Noah Stryker! If you are looking for penguin facts and statistics, this may not be the best reference for you. However, if you are interested in the lives of researchers in far flung parts of the planet, it will scratch that itch.

Stryker’s tale also convinces me that biological field work is not for me! In my life, roughing it is a cheap motel and my knees long ago betrayed me, making me far too unstable on my feet for the type of terrain that he takes in stride. However, I can admire and enjoy his hard work and tenacity.

On the main point, I agree fully with the author: there is absolutely nothing like watching a wild penguin go about its business! I have spent many happy hours doing just that and hope to still clock a few more before I’m physically forced to give up such pursuits.

 

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url 2017-03-07 15:41
Antarctica Journal publishmed my short story, The Better to See You With!
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review 2016-10-20 17:42
The Killing Ship by Simon Beaufort
The Killing Ship: An Antarctica Thriller - Simon Beaufort

"A group of scientists in the Antarctic face a desperate battle for survival as they are hunted down by hostile intruders. "


Having spent the summer conducting fieldwork on stark Livingston Island, marine biologist Andrew Berrister is looking forward to returning to civilization. But his final days in Antarctica take an unexpected turn when it becomes clear that he and his small group of scientists are not alone on the island. Deducing that the intruders are a crew of illegal whalers, the scientists face an increasingly desperate struggle for survival when two members of their shore party disappear and their supplies are deliberately sabotaged. 

As Berrister and his remaining companions flee across the treacherous, icy terrain, they are pursued unrelentingly by ruthless killers whose true reasons for being in the Antarctic are darker and more dangerous than the scientists could ever have imagined.
 
**********
 

I got in my head, for some reason, when I started to read this book that this would be a paranormal thriller. However, I quickly, after reading the blurb, realized that it was just a thriller. However, it was a pretty good thriller, so I'm pleased.

What I like about this book that there were never any dull moments from the start until the end. I mean why on earth would anyone want to hurt a bunch of scientists? And, would any of the scientists survive? Also, what's it in the cargo bay? I was hooked, and I came to like Berrister, Mortimer, and the rest very much and I was worried that any of them would die. Antarctica is a danger place as it is, but having people after you for some strange reason. Well, that's tough!


I love reading books about Antarctica, whether it be thrillers or literary fiction, hell I even take romance. It's such a fascinating setting for a book. The Killing Ship is no exception. And, I like that the ending is open. Hopefully, there will be a sequel!

I want to thank Severn House for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review.
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review 2016-03-22 05:10
Hot and cold
August Ice - Dev Bentham

Andre and Max meet when they must go below the earths surface together.  Andre has samples to take, and Max is the diver who must approve of his skill.  The attraction is mutual, hot and immediate.

 

Max cannot show any weakness among the men he works with.  He is afraid for them to find out he is interested in men.  His interest in Andre is not easy to hide.  He wants him more than breath.

 

Andre is a temptation Max is not sure he is willing to take a chance on.  Andre does not want a man in the closet.  He knows he is worth more than that.  He also knows he cannot choose for him.

 

Such a sweet and interesting story.  The book is full of fun facts and interesting parts about Antarctica.  I learned a lot.  I loved the characters finding each other.  I give this book a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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