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review 2020-05-24 15:08
The Cold
The Cold - Rich Hawkins

by Rich Hawkins

 

This is the sort of monster story that I don't see enough of these days. Lessons in what it's like to be at the bottom of the food chain!

 

It's the middle of summer but a freak snowstorm makes visibility from inside a train almost nil, then there's a crash! But Seth, a young survivor, is sure he saw something very strange outside the windows. Was the crash natural? From the conditions?

 

So starts an adventure that will change everything. This is the sort of alternate world story worthy of writers like Tim Curran and I expect to read many more from this author. Apart from a small segment when I noted too much 'telling' of Seth's emotions, it's well written and keeps the reader in a dark place where it feels like nothing will ever be normal again.

 

Plenty of monster action and some good character development, apart from a little too much religion in one of them. Very creepy, full of surprises. I'm wondering if there will be another book. I'll read it if there is.

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review 2020-05-17 15:00
Terror on the Tundra
Terror on the Tundra - J. Esker Miller

by J. Esker Miller

 

This one is an interesting concept. Some sort of superwolf is causing havoc in a remote part of Alaska where freezing cold is part of daily life and travelling on dogsleds is common, as is looking out for polar bears. An animal expert is flown in and assigned to work out what is attacking both humans and animals, though he's been set up by the university he works for to take the trolling as a sort of Sasquach watcher.

 

There's a sudden flashback in history that covers several chapters, showing how the monster dogs developed and evolved. This in itself was interesting. The story then continues and the knowledge the reader has gained raises new questions about the behaviour of the dogs, who aren't actually wolves at all.

 

Things get dark and scary by about 40%. It occurred to me while reading this that animal Horror stories are more scary than those with totally imaginary monsters because it's just close enough to reality. As one might expect, there's substantial gore, though the author didn't get gratuitously descriptive and drag it out.

 

thought the ending was dragged out too long. There was a place where and ending would have been natural, but then a sort of separate adventure was added that I felt was not only unnecessary and foolish of the characters, but finished in an unsatisfying way, leaving me thinking, well what was the point of that?

 

Overall a gripping read, despite a couple of flaws.

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text 2020-05-08 06:27
Reading progress update: I've read 181 out of 279 pages.
The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan

percy 

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review 2020-04-27 06:16
Review: Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Deeplight - Frances Hardinge

 This book drew me in with its cover, as is often the case. I was intrigued by the synopsis. And several reviews of it called it a merging of Frakenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, and that left me even more interested. Normally with that much hype surrounding a book it is bound to disappoint, at least a little bit, but this book was fantastic.

 

Hark was a fabulous character. He was uncertain and timid but trying to find a foothold in the world. He could see that his friendship with Jelt was changing but admitting it to himself meant that nothing would be the same. He broke my heart and left me cheering him on. He had a great story arc. Through the course of the story he was forced from being a little boy running a small time con to a man who takes responsibility for his own story.

 

I had a hard time feeling too much sympathy for Jelt because he was pretty mean to Hark from the moment we met him. But, despite that, I felt tremendous sympathy for how Hark dealt with the changes in his friend.

 

The gods were presented as monsters first, deities almost by accident, and I liked that approach. The idea of monster gods is appealing to me and this was the perfect blend of monster and majesty to suit me. The world this book was set in was also beautifully detailed. I could feel the undulating waves of the Undersea. The permeating fear of it that fed the gods for thousands of years. It was a beautifully written story. My only complaint was that the ending when Hark is going after the heart dragged on for a bit too long. After about 50 pages my mind started to wander and I wished we could stop describing everything so thoroughly and move on with the action a bit quicker. But the ending was compelling, as was the epilogue. I read the last thirty pages or so with tears streaming down my face, my heart breaking and cheering for Hark all at the same time. In the end this was a story about the power of stories, and it had a profound power all its own.

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review 2020-04-20 14:44
Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends - Alberto Manguel

Alberto Manguel’s book Fabulous Monsters details those fictional characters that he seems to feel the most for. At times it is a stranger list. There is Phoebe Caulfield for one. But it is an international list and that in of itself is a pleasure. Each character gets his/her own essay. The book, like most of Manguel’s work when he writes about reading is engrossing and great fun.


At times, though, it is very strange and, dare I say, very male.


Manguel’s reading of Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty are bit disturbing, off putting. They are not necessarily wrong. But strange. He takes about the seductive power about Red Riding Hood, and while he is not wrong when he calls her both the seduced and seducer, there is something weird about that expression considering that the version Manguel mostly deals with is the Perrault version, which is really about women and sex. He also does not mention the coda in the Grimm version (I can see Angela Carter rapping his knuckles about that), and so there is a disjointed feeling.
The same is true about his reading of Sleeping Beauty where the rape versions are not mentioned, which is strange because there is a French version. It makes for slightly strange reading.

 


But his essays about Alice and Gertrude in particular are absolutely wonderful. His take on Alice is great and his opinion of Gertrude is quite amusing. He also gets you to look at Catcher int eh Rye in different way (besides Holden as an ass). He is one of those people who does feel something for Gertrude.

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