I very much enjoyed Ken's book, Fog, which I won through the Goodread's First-Reads program. Rise of the Mooncusser is a short prequel to that book. AI very much enjoyed Ken's book, Fog, which I won through the Goodread's First-Reads program. Rise of the Mooncusser is a short prequel to that book. And when I say that it's short, I mean it's short. It's even shorter than it appears, because quite a few pages are (if I remember correctly) devoted to the opening chapter(s) of The Fog.
A mooncusser is a land-bound pirate. Instead of risking life and limb on the high seas, the mooncusser remains on solid ground and brings the ships to him through the use of deceptive lighting on moonless (hence the "cussing" of the moon) or stormy or foggy nights. I believe the light is meant to give the impression of another ship bobbing gently in a protected cove. Ships would go towards this light and would run aground. The mooncusser, being first on the scene, would pick the wreckage clean. Sometimes this would necessitate killing survivors. Mooncussing is a dirty business.
This brings us to Pomp, the mooncusser at the focus of this story. Pomp is right up there with the most memorable villains in literature. He is vile, wretched, evil. He is so thoroughly and unapologetically awful, and he really and truly makes my skin crawl. I hate him so much that I love him. If Ken writes another book about Pomp, I will read it.
If you haven't read Fog, I'm not sure whether to recommend that you start with it or this prequel. You probably can't go wrong either way, but I guess I lean towards starting with The Fog since it was published first. Then when you find that you need more Pomp, get Rise of the Mooncusser. ...more
Of the two genres this book inhabits -- adventure and thriller -- it is primarily an adventure. SpecificWon through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Of the two genres this book inhabits -- adventure and thriller -- it is primarily an adventure. Specifically, it is a mountain climbing adventure with some thriller elements tacked on. I enjoyed the former, not so much the latter.
The Abominable is an account of a fictional attempt by a small group of climbers to be the first to summit Everest. The attempt is made under the pretense of finding a climber who disappeared on Everest the previous year, but the real goal is to summit.
I have never climbed a mountain, so I cannot attest to the accuracy of the mountain climbing scenes, but I found them convincing. I enjoy books that can take me to new places and give me new experiences, and The Abominable does that.
I said that there are thriller elements tacked on. I can see why these were necessary -- because the history of early Everest summiting attempts is known, there has to be a reason why no one has heard of this particular attempt--a reason why this attempt was kept secret. Apart from that, I don't feel this story benefits from the addition of "bad guys." Furthermore, I think the thriller elements detract from the story by turning a simple but plausible adventure story into a nonsensical thriller. It just isn't very believable that anyone would choose the summit of Everest as an escape route.
I have to say something about the book's title. The word "abominable" obviously makes one think of the abominable snowman, aka yeti. And yetis are mentioned. But, without giving too much away, let me say that I would have preferred that the book was a little truer to its title.
FOG is self-published, but don't let that scare you away. The author, Ken McAlpine, has many years of experience as a writer,Won through First-Reads.
FOG is self-published, but don't let that scare you away. The author, Ken McAlpine, has many years of experience as a writer, and it shows. FOG is unlike any story I have ever read -- and introduced me to Pomp, a character unlike any I have ever met.
The story is set on the Cape Cod coastline, and tells the story of one particular lifesaving station. This lifesaving station is not for swimmers, but for ships. But are all shipwrecks caused by acts of God? Could there be a mooncusser at work? (A mooncusser is a land pirate, who attracts ships on moonless nights with false beacons and lures them to their doom.)
The writing of FOG is first-rate, but that doesn't mean I don't have any complaints. I have two. The first is that I wish the author did more to set his scenes. Often too little is said about the locations where scenes take place. For instance, I never had any understanding of what the lifesaving station was like, or where it was, or what was around it. My other complaint is that the "history-altering treasure" that drives much of the plot is a bit too much of a MacGuffin. It doesn't really matter what it is, only that people want it. I wish the author had either chosen a different treasure, or done a better job of convincing me of the importance of the one he chose.
I did come to like that FOG is a less passive read than most other books. It often was not enough to simply read the words -- I had to construct each scene in my head to get a firm grasp of what was happening. McAlpine doesn't spoon-feed his readers, that's for sure. Mind you, I don't see this as a fault. McAlpine gives his readers all the information they need, but he lets his readers connect the dots.
But if for no other reason, FOG should be read for the character of Pomp. Among all of the bad guys I have encountered in books, TV shows, and movies, Pomp stands out. I would not have expected that from a self-published novel. I won't be forgetting him any time soon....more
No one will ever read this review -- there are like 4,000 reviews for this book already. And I'm not even going to review this book, other than to sayNo one will ever read this review -- there are like 4,000 reviews for this book already. And I'm not even going to review this book, other than to say that it was one of my favorite books when I was young, and I still enjoy re-reading the series every few years.
All I really wanted to say in my review is that I hate revisionist history. I will never buy a set of this book that says that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the SECOND book. It's not the second book, it's the first book.
I know there's much debate about this, and surely I am not the first person to mention this in their Goodreads review.
And yet I press on.
There are two reasons why I am so against this book being called the second in the series. First, as I said, it's revisionist. Anyone who read the books when they were first published obviously read them The Lion et al first. Furthermore, although C.S. Lewis once stated that he preferred the chronological order, there must be some reason he didn't write them that way.
Which leads me to my second reason for being against calling Lion the second book. It's THE BEST book in the series. It's the book that will pull new readers into the series. I am sure there are plenty of people who read The Magician's Nephew first and went on to read the rest of the books. But it's only because they forged ahead to Lion and got caught up in its magic. And I'm sure there must be many others who did NOT continue after The Magician's Nephew, because it just didn't grab them. Despite the word "Magician" in the title, it's not as magical as Lion. Had The Magician's Nephew been written first, I have to wonder if the other books would have been published. I mean, The Magician's Nephew was written to tell the story behind the wonderous world of Narnia that millions of readers already loved. So why would anyone want to read the explanation of something they have no knowledge of?
Likewise, I hate it when people call Star Wars "A New Hope," or "Star Wars: A New Hope," or "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." Or any other bastardization of its name. It's called Star Wars, dammit. And if anyone tries to get into the movies by starting with Episode I, I doubt they will get very far. Star with the one that started it all. Start with the one that created the magic.
Does anyone call Raiders of the Lost Ark "Indiana Jones II"? Because it's not the first chronologically, you know. The second movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was a prequel to Raiders. But no, no one tries to revise the history of the Indiana Jones movies by calling Raiders the second movie or by insisting that people watch Temple before Raiders.
So if you are planning on introducing this series to a child, please please PLEASE give them this book first. This is where the magic really began....more
My fault, I admit it: I was expecting this book to be set in Australia.
My preferred way to read books or watch movies: Learn just enough to know thatMy fault, I admit it: I was expecting this book to be set in Australia.
My preferred way to read books or watch movies: Learn just enough to know that I want to read it/watch it, put it on my shelf on in my queue, forget almost everything I know about it, then read it/watch it in a state of near-complete ignorance.
In the case of Kiss of Death, I knew that the author and the main character are Australian. I also remembered that it was crime fiction, one of my favorite genres, and that it had something to do with vampires (real or pretend, I wasn't sure). Crime fiction can start to blur together if you read enough of it -- which I have -- so in my state of near-complete ignorance I was very jazzed about reading a tale of crime and vampires and Australia.
Two out of three isn't bad. As I said, my fault. I'll have to learn about Australian crime another time -- I see that the sixth entry in this series (Coming Home) IS set in Australia.
Sophie Anderson is an FBI profiler with mild psychic powers. She has visions of being chased through a park, then is called on to investigate the very murder she may have "witnessed" -- a woman's body has been found in the park, with puncture wounds in the neck.
I wonder if most profilers have it as easy as Sophie. Probably not, since I imagine psychic powers are not standard-issue. But even with her abilities, and even though she goes undercover on this case and forms a relationship with many of the suspects, Sophie sure takes her time in coming up with her profile. Her method is to basically decide who she thinks the killer is, then create a profile to match. I suspect her fellow profilers would consider this cheating.
Actually, I think you have to hand it to Sophie for recognizing that the "science" of profiling is anything but. Does anyone remember the Beltway Sniper case? The profilers said it was a lone white male. Turned out it was two black males. Hard to be more wrong. Sophie doesn't want to be wrong by quickly drawing up the obvious profile -- "bite marks equals wannabee-vampire." For all she knows, the killer wanted the murder to LOOK like the work of a vampire clan.
Sophie does the sensible thing and works the front lines, making contact with the local vampire clans. Her psychic powers kick in from time to time, but not enough to make her job any easier.
The story wisely keeps the nature of the vampires somewhat vague until the end. Are these people who like to pretend to be vampires because vampires are so cool and working a dead-end job is so not cool? Or could they be real vampires?
After so much crime fiction, Kiss of Death was a nice change of pace with its added supernatural twists on the genre. I look forward to reading Sophie's adventures Down Under for even more of a change of pace....more