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review 2017-02-10 14:33
Wherein I discuss my totally rational fears + reminisce on blog beginnings
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson

Today I'm going to tell you about Deep Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania aka reason #5022 why I will never go on a cruise. I have an odd fascination with shipwrecks but also a deep, crushing fear of them. I cannot deal with images of sunken ships, statues, or really anything submerged under the water and nestled at the bottom of the ocean floor (you can also substitute ocean with sea, lake, or deep pool). Here is also where I confess that I am woefully ignorant about World War I. I always struggle to remember who was fighting in the war and what it was really about (I think this is still being puzzled over in some places). As far as the Lusitania, the only thing I knew was that it was a large passenger ship that had sunk (filling me with terror like the sinking of the Titanic and the film Poseidon with Kurt Russell). So I went into this book pretty much as a blank slate and by 30 pages in I was already spouting facts about it to my coworkers (who may never go on a cruise either). Like with all of Larson's works, he focuses on a major topic while interweaving storylines that occur parallel to the main event. For example, this book is about the Lusitania and its final voyage but in order to put that into context Larson had to discuss WWI and President Woodrow Wilson's state of mind in regards to the neutrality of the United States in that war (Wilson was one passionate dude, ya'll.). So not only did I learn about the machinations of the leading world powers of the early 20th century (Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S.A.) but I also got a glimpse into President Wilson's personal life, learned how submarines operate, and discovered that people really liked to smoke in 1915.


PS As mentioned in other posts, I love reading the end notes of nonfiction books because there are always fantastic little tidbits there that just didn't fit in the overall narrative of the book. Dead Wake was no exception. It led me to The Lusitania Resource which is a website dedicated to uncovering all of the facts of the sinking of the ship including primary documents, articles concerning the controversy of its significance to WWI, and much more. I highly recommend you check it out if nothing else than to whet your appetite for Larson's book. (Yes, I know that it's insane for me to be obsessed with this site after referencing my very real fears of traveling on a cruise ship but I like to have all of my facts ready for those trying to change my mind. It's perfectly normal.)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-07-23 06:55
The Infernal Device
The Infernal Device (A Professor Moriarty Novel) - Michael Kurland

I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, so anything Holmes-related is going to attract my attention, and when I happened across the chance to get the entire Professor Moriarty series for a song, I grabbed them up, and this, the first in the series, didn't disappoint.


Of course it's odd reading a novel that makes Moriarty a hero of sorts, but for a good read, I'm willing to overlook the fact that this is the man who tried to kill Sherlock Holmes (knowing the outcome of that fateful meeting at Reichenbach Falls makes it easier for me to overcome my natural aversion to Moriarty). In The Infernal Device he comes across as intelligent and calculating, of course, but also as a gentleman with a certain kind of honor. I won't say I like him, but I find him slightly less than utterly despicable, and it's very interesting to see him and Holmes having to work together for a change.


The plot revolves around international intrigue, an unfortunate murder, and a dastardly plot to kill a prominent member of the British royal family. Of course there are close calls, plans gone awry, and a spectacularly suspenseful climax at the end.


I recommend this to Holmes fans and to readers looking for action, intrigue, and suspense. Long live Sherlock Holmes!


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review 2016-06-26 00:11
Submarine Warfare under the Polar Ice Cap...
Ice Station Nautilus: A Novel - Rick Campbell

Whoa that was exciting and very intense! I realized when I finished that I had been holding my breath for way too long.


It's nice to breathe again. : ) I can't imagine being on a submarine that's running high on carbon dioxide & low on oxygen or having to maneuver around a torpedo flanking my ass. Thankfully I don't foresee encountering any of those problems anytime soon but if you want an up-close & personal taste of close quarter submarine warfare then this book is a must read! The second half of the book was especially fun and suspenseful. It's not bogged down with too many acronyms or too much technical jargon either, so if you're not use to the military or submariner lingo you can still enjoy this book.


Note: This is actually the third book in the series but it reads very well as a stand-alone which is what I did. The other two books are going on my TBR though...



*I received this ARC from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!



Professional Reader Challenge Participant Reviews Published 

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review 2014-10-28 00:00
Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (Bluejacket Books)
Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (Bluejacket Books) - Clay Blair Jr. I'm sure that real navy and submarine buffs will have a ball reading it with all the details it presents to the reader. And as such I can only recommend it wholehearted.

But for me it is simply too much and too far from my 'home turf'; Army and combat aviation related stuff.
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review 2014-06-25 13:00
Thriller Review: Apex Predator by Kelvin Kwa
Apex Predator - Kelvin Kwa

Despite having a very heavy load of titles to review,Apex Predator was just one of those books I couldn't say 'no' to. I mean, you've got a secret Chinese satellite crashed in the arctic, a group of Navy Seals racing against the Chinese Special Forces who are sent to retrieve it, a submarine crew on the way to rescue (with a Captain who has lost his nerve and the support of his XO), and a giant prehistoric monster awakened from beneath the ice. With Kelvin Kwa willing to send over the doorstopper paperback, it became one of my first beach reads of the early summer.

We got off to something of an awkward start, with a few narrative flaws that irked me, but it all smoothed itself out and I quickly found myself settling in. I'm a sucker for both giant monster stories and submarine warfare, and I'm pleased to say Kwa pays off on both counts. This is one of those rare hybrid novels that actually works, managing to blend the genre of the high-tech thriller with that of horror. I was initially afraid there might be too much going on, especially with the tensions between Captain Marcus and his XO, the introduction of a (as it turns out) not-so-Bond-like special agent, and the tensions within the Chinese crew, but it all comes together very well.

The characters here are well-developed, with some genuine growth and surprises along the way, and Kwa smartly avoids the usual temptation to glorify the 'good' guys and vilify the 'bad' ones. This is a well-rounded cast that you get to know and like, becoming completely invested in their fate. As for the monster, I'd rather not say too much about it, but I quite like the way its cunning intelligence was explored, making it more than just another mindless super-beast. The story is well-paced too, getting off to a quick start, throwing us right into the height of the action, and then racing along from there.

With the exception of those few narrative gaffes I mentioned earlier, this is a really strong story, and one that ably delivers on what is, admittedly, a very ambitious premise. If you've ever wondered what might happen if the Red October were to come against Godzilla, and ever thought about how much darkness there is within a character like James Bond, then Apex Predator is a book I think you'll enjoy very much.

Source: beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.ca/2014/06/thriller-review-apex-predator-by-kelvin.html
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