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review 2018-04-19 18:58
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
The Strain - Guillermo del Toro,Chuck Hogan,Ron Perlman

I have not seen the show created from this material. I DVR’d it but the thing got full and it was deleted. That may have been for the best . . .

 

The Strain begins when a passenger plane lands with its windows all darkened and none of its 199 passengers getting off the plane. Is it a terrorist attack or something even more insidious?

 

I’ll give you a hint. It’s the second one and this part of the book is so very creepy!

 

There was something on that plane that is now wreaking havoc on the family members of the extremely unlucky passengers aboard the plane – and on society at large.

 

This story is basically pandemic via vampiric strain and focuses a lot of time on the rush for experts to discover exactly what the hell is going on and how to stop it before everyone dies a horrid death or worse.

 

The audiobook is narrated by Ron Perlman who gives the material a lethal edge and he doesn’t even attempt to feign a female voice (thank all that is good and kind in this world). He is deadly serious as well he should be for a story like this! It’s tense and gory and action packed.

 

But you need to know something. Terrible things happen to people, to children, and to dogs (gawd, the dogs!) in this book so guard yourself before you step in. Some may say this is a spoiler but I say you MUST know if you have any feelings at all. I wish I had. I might’ve skipped it had I known about one particular scene. That scene had me in complete dread mode guessing what was going to happen and wishing I could unhear it and pretend it never happened after it did. My heart let me know that it hasn’t completely shriveled up yet.

 

I love pandemic and plague stories even though they give me endless nightmares because I know it’s going to happen to us one of these days and that we’ll probably deserve it (well, most of us anyway). But I only sometimes enjoy thrillers and vampire stories. This one combines the two and I mostly enjoyed it before it got too gross and boring because the vampires are evil, hungry and not at all sexy. Nope, there is no sexy to be had here (more on that in a minute). My biggest complaint about this book was the fact that it was mainly a thriller with heavy handed violence and the characters weren’t given enough space for me to get to know them (especially the women) because they were so busy doing important things to stop this blight on humanity. I really didn’t end up giving any craps about any of them because the whole thing lacked an emotional connection for me. I know not everyone necessarily needs that but I do with very few exceptions. I think reading Salem’s Lot as a kid may have spoiled most vampire novels for me.

 

As I said, this book is deadly serious but there is a moment of dialogue that I must share because I am still laughing about it.

 

“I am a drinker of men.”

 

Heh, I’ve never quite heard it put this way before and I think I like it! I wish there had been more unintentionally funny bits to break up the slaying.

 

Towards the middle it gets rather gross and I rarely say that. There’s a proboscis thing, there’s white goo/blood and, grossest of all, there’s peeing/pooping vampires. And they do it as they feed! I told you there is no sexy here and I wasn’t kidding! There is just entirely too much yuck to behold. Even my cast iron stomach was screaming for it to stop. Maybe it’s because I listened on audio and I find audio such an intimate experience that it became way too much? Or perhaps I’m getting whimpy? I don’t know what my problem was but I do know I probably won’t be reading the next two in the series because the last bits bored me to tears. It’s all chasing down vampires and slicing off their noggins and looking at vampire pee/poo and lots of telling and not any showing. I tuned out during the final acts and I’m too chicken to rewind. I was also totally fatigued by the story at this point. I probably won’t be moving on to the two sequels even though my library has them unless someone decides to be super evil and makes me change my mind! Please don’t.

 

I’m going to give it a three because the first half or so was incredibly chilling. I just wish it had all gone another, perhaps less grosser, way in the latter half.

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review 2018-04-17 18:49
Afterage by Yvonne Navarro
Afterage - Yvonne Navarro

This is a book I had kicking around since the 90’s but just got around to reading when my horror loving friend Char created a buddy read at Goodreads.

 

A vampire apocalypse has occurred. Navarro starts things off after it has happened. The few remaining humans must struggle to survive in a wasteland ravaged by monsters both vampiric and human. And, as usual, the human monsters are always the worst! Only the suicidal dare venture out after dark because the vampires are fast, ravenous and deadly.

 

The book follows a rather large cast of survivors, most of them eking out a life by themselves but eventually they come together to save a group of humans being kept hostage by a vampire called Anyelet for reasons that are gross, disturbing and so, so awful!

 

I loved the fact that the Big Bad was a woman! She was vicious and selfish and so perfectly evil and so much better a villain than Anne Rice’s whiny creatures. I don’t think she had even one “poor me” moment. She was lonely so she changed her situation. It created an apocalypse but thems the breaks! Her human henchman was a vile man and she surrounded herself with lesser vampires that she could easily boss around. There’s some nasty stuff insinuated within these pages!

 

The survivors are all pretty well fleshed out and, despite the high number of them, I miraculously didn’t find myself terribly confused which is usually the case. I think it’s because the chapters were short and I tried to read big chunks of the book at each sitting so it was easier to remember who was who and what they had done a few chapters earlier.

 

This reads like old school horror because, well, it is! It reminds me of those long lost days when I was able to spend an entire day under a tree reading King and McCammon until the sun went down. It’s not quite at the emotional level of those two but it comes close at times and it isn’t overly wordy as some books of that time were. These characters were in peril from start to finish but they find time to love and help each other. The baddies are BAD but there are a few who haven’t totally lost their humanity and I appreciated that.

 

If you’re into nasty vampires that aren’t romanticized you should give this one a try.

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review 2018-04-16 10:00
New Release Review! Bloodline Origins (Bloodline Trilogy #1) Juliana Foos!
Bloodline Origins - Juliana Foos

 

 

Determined to turn her fantasy into reality, Ana starts her journey to become a vampire. Along the way, she learns the truth about their secret society, discovers her prestigious bloodline, and falls in love.

Not all vampires are accepting of humans and war looms in the shadows. An ancient tome reveals the vampires’ alien descent and sparks war.

An army bent on eradicating her coven’s existence threatens her new world. Survival or annihilation will be in Ana’s hands. 

 

 

Bloodline Origins is a steady paced story that is chock full of emotional turmoil and intense decision making that results in major life changes that keep readers engaged in the story from the very beginning. Ana’s fantasy may be coming to life but it’s not all sunshine and roses and during her journey she also has to deal with the emotions involved when falling in love, she will have to deal with learning secrets that impact the decision she’s making and the consequences of her decisions which keeps the readers glued to the pages as they follow her progress.

 

The characters are strong, compelling and easily draw readers in to their story while the spine tingling intrigue keeps readers on the edge of their seats and wondering what will happen next. The author brings her story to life with vivid imagery, some unique elements that keep the story from being a typical vampire story and her captivating characters that ensure that I want to read the next book in the trilogy.  The first book has a great ending that provides lots of information but ensures that readers know the complete story is to be continued.

 

 

Bloodline Origins is the first book in the Bloodline Trilogy.

 

Bloodline Origins is available in ebook at:

Amazon

 

Juliana Foos can be found at:

Goodreads   Facebook   Amazon

 

  

 

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review 2018-04-09 11:57
Echopraxia by Peter Watts
Echopraxia - Peter Watts

Echopraxia is more a sidequel than a sequel to BlindsightBlindsight blew me away and I feel comfortable in saying that it will very probably end up being my favourite book of the year. Unfortunately, Echopraxia is nowhere near as good as its predecessor – for multiple reasons.

 

1) Choice of narrator: I felt a certain kinship to Blindsight’s narrator Siri Keeton. I could relate to his difficulties to connect, to his struggling with interpersonal relationships, his misreadings of other people. I saw myself in him – and that’s an extremely rare occurrence. I didn’t expect it to happen again, and it didn’t. To most readers, Siri remained a freak, something inhuman; therefore Watts chose a more standard narrator for Echopraxia: Daniel Brüks, unaugmented baseline human. Brüks is clearly designed to work as a character to relate to, to chaperone readers through the story. He’s also your milquetoast straight white male, an academic and atheist, and more than a bit of a jerk. He spends a big part of the book talking down to a WoC character, trash-talkting her believes and belittling her faith. He’s supposed to be an asshole, a kind of “antihero with a conscience”. But antihero or not, the choice of narrator tells you something about how the author envisions his audience. It’s a vision not including me – or anyone else not fitting the straight white male academic mould. As a result, I felt uninvited, alienated, and quite frequently pissed off.

 

In a Q&A session, Watts expressed surprise about some readers‘ lack of connection with Brüks. Well, it’s absolutely no surprise to me. Brüks is not only unsympathetic, a person I not only can’t relate to, but wouldn’t even want to know in real life; he also has not agency. There’s not much reason for him – for Brüks, the individual – to be in the book in the first place. To add insult to injury, he also reads like Watts himself didn’t much care for his protagonist. And when the author doesn’t care, why should I?

 

2) Pacing & proseEchopraxia starts with what’s supposed to be an action-scene. We get a vampire commanding a zombie army, people spectacularly dying left and right, a hasty flight into space, explosions and whatnot. Unfortunately, this is written in such an obfuscating way that I often couldn’t tell what was actually going on. The author gets completely lost in his similes; but instead of making things clearer, the similes just muddy things further. It’s a textbook case of writing getting in the way of the story. If I can’t picture what’s going on, all action and suspense is lost.

 

The pacing’s off, too. The story starts with a bang and then just hangs there, with nothing happening. The characters‘ motivations and agencies are kept from the reader till very late in the book. Such mystery can work in favour of a story, upping the suspense. Here, the opposite happened: Instead of thrilled I felt bored to the point of losing all interest to even know the how and why of it. About halfway through, I spoilered myself to see if I should read on. I did and slogging through paid of in the end. Once Portia shows up, things get increasingly more interesting – at fucking last.

 

3) ThemesBlindsight dealt with the relation between intelligence and consciousness. Echopraxia focuses on the questions of free will versus determinism, and, more importantly, on the nature of God as a virus in a simulated universe (digital physics). I’m not the biggest fan of mixing religion and faith with science, but it can be interesting if done right. But Watts idea of religion is limited to monotheistic believe-systems in the Judeo-Christian tradition, ignoring much older faiths which used to be much more widespread. Western-centrism in action.

 

He’s also a bit too sure on the topic of free will versus determinism. Not everything is as settled as he might think it is. (Just a day after finishing the book, I read a meta-analysis by the North Carolina State University, showing methodological inconsistencies in neuroscientific studies trying to prove or disprove free will. In short, researchers are biased, and frequently find the results they are expecting to find. Not entirely surprising. Like the NCSU points out, this analysis does in no way mean that something like free will exists. But it puts a question mark behind some of Watts‘ pet studies – Libet, for example).

 

Despite all its problems, I don’t regret reading Echopraxia. It has a lot of things going for it. Portia, for one. The military zombies seem entirely plausible. And then there’s Colonel Jim Moore. Moore, not Brüks, is the human core of the story: a character showing actual emotion, following a relatable agency. I guess you could easily read his story arc as blatant misery porn; for me, the old Colonel was the emotional anchor, who kept me reading on when I had lost all interest in everything else. I was quite surprised by it, but I genuinely liked him.

 

So, I struggled with it, but the effort paid of in the end. I found the conclusion quite satisfying, and it leaves a lot of room for a third instalment. It was definitely an experience to read this book side by side with Spinoza’s Ethica(which I „read“ – or, more correctly, tried to read – as background for Samuel R. Delany’s The Atheist in the Attic). Spinoza seems regrettably neglected by today’s henchmen of determinism (although I just saw someone quoting him in the comments to the NCSU study) – maybe he’s too optimistic? Or simply forgotten? Be it as it may, the books complemented each other surprisingly well (or maybe not so surprisingly, if you’re already familiar with Spinoza).

 

ETA: I forgot the most important thing! The Soundtrack.

Editors - BelongNot really a theme-song, as the two texts don't have much connection, but it complements the mood. And is it me, or are they channeling this song from "28 Days Later" there at the end? That would explain why my mind immediately caught onto it and found it so fitting for a book featuring zombies.

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review 2018-04-09 11:20
Read the damn book, but brace yourself!
Sweet Dreams (The Kihn #2) - Rivi Jacks
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book direct from the author, that I write a review was not required. SO!!! Do you know how long I've waited for this book?? do ya, huh, huh?? FOUR YEARS! It's been four years since I read Sweetwater so I was awaiting this one. Oh yes, waiting and waiting! And it did not disappoint! It picks up right where Sweetwater left off, so you cannot read this without that one first, so, go back and get it! Sofie has discovered Lucas' secret, he's a Vampire. Not just any Vampire, either, he is head of the Guard who keep the Kihn at bay. And they are getting restless. The Kihn are pushing as the date for the gate opening gets ever closer, but they still don't know WHERE it will open. Sofie has her own secret, one that might push Lucas away. I have to say this, being all honest, like, cos that's what this is about: being honest. I don't remember only Sofie having a say in Sweetwater. I mean, 4 years folks! But she does here. AND it's in the first. AND it's in the present tense! So stuff that in your pipe and smoke it! Yes, me! Likes a first person, present tense book! Truthfully, I knew that, cos I mentioned it in my review for Sweetwater, that it's present tense. But yeah. Loved this one! Of course I would have loved Lucas to have a say, really I would, but I'm just greedy! Or I was loving it! Til Ms Jacks does her thing and throws you off the bloody cliff hanger of all cliff hangers! There we were, Lucas and Sofie all loved up, doing their things to keep the Kihn away. Things are moving against the Kihn, the supes have found a way to disrupt their communications, so gaining a upper hand. Plans are a-foot. Great plans, amazing plans. Then poof! You're off that cliff and hurtling down the ravine and you have no idea, NOT A SINGLE clue, when you can get back up again! Because, while Sweetwater was a great cliff hanger, this one?? OH. DEAR. LORD!!! I did not see that one coming, and my poor kindle, my new-at-Christmas kindle, had it's introduction to the wardrobe door! It's already been introduced to the wall, but the wardrobe was closer! OH!!! It just occurred to me! While Lucas is a Vampire, and he and Sofie do get lots *fans herself* of sexy time *fans some more* there was no biting! He doesn't bite her, or feed, not once! HUH! A Vampire that doesn't bite! The randomest things come to you when writing reviews! SO! Summing up?? Read the damn book, but brace yourself folks! Hurry, Ms Jacks, I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED book three. I need to know, not only if the Kihn are dealt with, but that things for Lucas and Sofie get sorted too. 5 full stars! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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