Every now and again, Kim hands me her Nook and asks me to scroll through a list of books that are highlighted, usually for a sale or a particular event or season. One time I was flipping through a list of science fiction titles and one book in particular stood out. A creepy and undead hand was reaching up towards a picture of the Titanic steaming along the ocean. Intrigued, I began to read the synopsis. Two minutes later, I purchased Deck Z:The Titanic by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon.
It is 1912, and the White Star Line is preparing to flex its muscle as one of the most powerful British shipping companies in the world with the debut of its flagship, the Titanic. Meanwhile, in a remote village in Manchuria, a mysterious sickness is spreading. Characterized by a black, oily substance that exits the mouths and noses of those infected; the patients often beg for death before descending into a subhuman state. Theodore Weiss, a German scientist, is sent by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself to investigate. What he finds is purely terrifying, and he is able to capture one of the infected and retrieve a vial of what he notes is "the Toxic" from which this infection spreads. Meanwhile, he discovers that he is not the only one who is interested in this mysterious disease, and he runs for his life as he is pursued in order to gain access to "the Toxic." Weiss finds safety on the Titanic just as it weighs anchor and leaves port. None of the thousands of passengers aboard have the slightest idea of the grave danger they face on a ship which they believe to be unsinkable. What follows next is a tale of terror and action that doesn't stop until the very end.
Being such a fan of science fiction and zombies, I knew that I was going to find this book entertaining. What I was curious about was the level of detail the book would provide about the zombies. If it was just going to be a gory zombie-fest with the undead chasing Titanic passengers around their cabins, I was going to be a little disappointed. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I read the opening chapters. In fact, there is a good amount of time before any action happens aboard the Titanic at all. Pauls and Solomon do a great job at setting the stage and describing "the sickness" in vivid detail. I felt as if I was with Weiss, investigating the illnesses in remote villages and his own lab, with little-to-no idea of the gravity in which he was placing himself.
After things get going on the Titanic itself, the action only picks up more, chapter by chapter. Weiss is a likable character, and I found myself rooting for him throughout the story. Pauls and Solomon also add a touch of softness with a side story line involving a young girl, which helps to round out all the horror and action that is going on otherwise. Overall, although things do get a bit predictable at points (there are only so many ways to describe a zombie, I suppose), the authors did an admirable job keeping me entertained and cheering for Weiss to the end. This is well worth a pickup for a quick read that will leave you turning the pages (or in my case, tapping the screen) until you discover what really happened on the Titanic that day....more
At a time when the average temperature across America is a balmy negative 300 degrees, it was a nice change of pace (and scenery) to read Lloyd ShepheAt a time when the average temperature across America is a balmy negative 300 degrees, it was a nice change of pace (and scenery) to read Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island, which partially takes place in Tahiti. It was an altogether warmer and intriguing story that kept me from thinking about the chills outside!
LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti.
When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles - John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation. But what connects the crewmen's dying dreams with the ambitions of the ship's principal backer, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society? And how can Britain's new science possibly explain the strangeness of Tahiti's floral riches now growing at Kew?
Horton must employ his singular methods to uncover a chain of conspiracy stretching all the way back to the foot of the great dead volcano Tahiti Nui, beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods.
The Goodreads description doesn't do this book justice; Shepherd packs so much imagery and description into his prose that my imagination had to work overtime to keep up. I could only imagine the Solander's arrival, laden with a multitude of colors and scents as it pulled into the docks of dreary London. This was the backdrop for a creepy murder mystery, where all of the victims were found with looks of pure delight frozen on their faces as they were brutally murdered. The constable appointed to look into this mystery is Charles Horton. I took an immediate liking to him, as his natural inclination to investigate connected with me intellectually, and the fact that he is an all-around good guy didn't hurt either. As these were the days before detective work was commonplace, Horton is forced to do much of his work alone and in secret. What's more, his wife is inadvertently pulled into the fray, making the level of suspense even higher.
Additionally, Shepherd doesn't just keep us confined to London, as we travel to Tahiti itself and get to view the mystery from the point of view of a young prince. This added another level of complexity to the story, as this point of view begins to intersect with those of Horton, Horton's boss, the magistrate of the River Police, and the proprietor of the Solanderherself, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society. With all of these characters so expertly depicted and developed, it was easy to fall right into the story from the first page. My only complaint is that Shepherd got slightly too descriptive at times, which made things lag slightly. Other than this, Shepherd has written a solid work that makes me excited to check out his other novel, The English Monster.
As you may or may not know, I've been a fan of Marsha Cornelius' work ever since I read the thrilling H10N1 (find the review here). Sure, it could haAs you may or may not know, I've been a fan of Marsha Cornelius' work ever since I read the thrilling H10N1 (find the review here). Sure, it could have been the fact that I work with the flu virus that made that book so exciting, but I soon followed it up with her next work, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead (review here.) So, once I heard that she had a third book coming out, Losing It All, I knew I had to give it a try. The only problem was that it had a romance-type feel to it, of which I am not accustomed to reading. But, since I am working on overcoming my tendency to be a genre snob, I figured I should give it a try!
Losing It All tells the story of Frank Barnes and Chloe Roberts. Frank is a Vietnam veteran and a drifter, kindhearted yet down on his luck and accustomed to living on the streets. Chloe isn't any better off as her husband abandons her and her children, leaving them to fend for themselves. She and Frank eventually meet randomly at a soup kitchen, with Chloe taking note of Frank's kind manners and gentle actions despite his living conditions. Frank decides to help Chloe, who seems scared and awkward at her first trip to the soup kitchen. Although both decide that this chance meeting was just that, a brief encounter that wouldn't bear repeating, both seem to find it impossible to forget the other. Sadly, a terrible accident leaves Frank badly injured, and it is many weeks later before he sees Chloe again, and she is in far worse shape than when he met her for the first time. Frank, on the other hand, finds a steady job and a place to call his own. Now that Frank's luck has turned for the better, will Chloe allow him to help her and her children? What will become of these two battered individuals?
I have to admit that my self-imposed stigma against romance-themed novels was unfounded. I've come to find that I enjoy the part in most stories when two main romantic interests finally come together after many chapters of waiting. I've just never noticed it before. It's funny how authors can write a plot line where most everyone knows that these characters will eventually end up together, yet there is a ton of enjoyment in getting to that point, waiting impatiently for the characters to realize that they are in fact perfect for each other. I guess that I was doing this all along, but it took Cornelius's work (as well as some introspection) to realize that this is the case. In short, I really enjoyed this story. It had an engaging plot with plenty of sub-plots that kept my attention span. Cornelius' characterizations are spot on, and I felt as if I was on the streets with Chloe and Frank at some points. The sense of pride that I felt for Frank for taking charge of his life and turning it around was definitely palpable. In all, this is a great and enticing story that will make you want to keep reading, even if it happens to be labeled as romantic-leaning.
As you all well know, I'm a huge fan of Mr. Crichton's work. I've reviewed Timelineand Jurassic Parkso far, and I've been on the lookout for the neAs you all well know, I'm a huge fan of Mr. Crichton's work. I've reviewed Timelineand Jurassic Parkso far, and I've been on the lookout for the next book to try from his arsenal. Micro caught my eye, as it was Crichton's last work, and the second to be published posthumously after Crichton's death in 2008. Micro was unfinished, so HarperCollins (his publisher at the time) commissioned Richard Preston to complete the novel based on Crichton's remaining notes and research.
Micro begins with a mysterious occurrence in a lawyer's office in Hawaii. There, police find three men with mysterious cuts all over their bodies caused by razor-sharp knives that killed them all. There were no knives found in the office, leaving the Hawaii Police Department investigator assigned to the case, Dan Watanabe, stumped. On another part of the island, a new biotechnology company named Nanigen has built a vast lab complex deep in the forests of Hawaii. They claim it is for the purposes of drug discovery via identifying new compounds that the island has to offer using new technology. However, all is not as it seems. A group of graduate students from Cambridge who study specific fields of biology are recruited by Vin Drake, the CEO of Nanigen, to come to Hawaii and work on their groundbreaking research. However, one of the students, Peter Jansen, discovers that his brother Eric, who already works for Nanigen, has died following a tragic boat accident in Hawaii. Peter is quite skeptical, as his brother is an accomplished boater and swimmer, and he suspects foul play at the hands of Nanigen. He travels with his fellow students to Hawaii on the pretense of accepting Drake's offer, but plans on uncovering Drake's secrets. What he finds however, is much, much more than he bargained for. What he originally intended to be an outing of Drake's involvement in his brother's disappearance turns into a brutal fight for survival that none of the students were prepared for.
I think one of my favorite things about Micro as well as Crichton's writing in general is his descriptiveness. The paragraphs about the "micro world" are so rich and colorful that I could imagine myself amongst the students, as diminutive in stature as they were, staring up at twigs and leaves that dwarfed them, and running in fear from huge beetles that would have never seemed ominous to a "normal" sized human. Crichton (and Preston's) inclusion of Drake as the villain was quite smart, as he was a great counterweight to the intuitive and tenacious nature that the students expressed in order to stay alive in the micro world. He was just as brilliant as them, which made him all the more evil and cunning, and made the reader hate him even more. Crichton and Preston were also able to include some great biology lessons in this work as well, which I of course found extremely interesting (although I guess I might be slightly biased.)
Additionally, the inclusion of Preston as the second author to this work was a great move by HarperCollins. I couldn't tell where Crichton's work stopped and Preston's began. I know that Crichton had extensive notes on the book as a whole, and I believe that Preston did a great job in interpreting these notes and capturing the essence of Crichton's vision for the work. In all, it is an exciting and fast paced read, both things that I have come to expect from Mr. Crichton. If you're in the mood for a fun and fast summer read that you can power through in a few days, this is the one, science fiction fans.
Fresh off of the nail-biting adventures ofGame by Anders De La Motte, I was excited to see what else was in store for HP and his fight against the GaFresh off of the nail-biting adventures ofGame by Anders De La Motte, I was excited to see what else was in store for HP and his fight against the Gamemaker and his empire. Not only did Game end with an amazing climactic action scene, but there was a definite cliffhanger that made me want to start Buzz as soon as possible. I knew it was only a matter of time before HP found himself ensnared in the clutches of The Game again, and Buzz did not disappoint in this respect.
It’s been four months since he was dragged into the Alternative Reality Game that nearly cost him his life, and HP is still on the run. He has everything he ever wished for—freedom, money, and no responsibilities, but he still isn’t happy. Plagued by insomnia and paranoia, HP misses the rush and attention of The Game. Sometimes he almost wishes the Game Master would find him.
In Dubai, HP meets Anna Argos, a sophisticated and beautiful Swedish IT millionaire. When she disappears, HP is questioned by the police. Fearing he has been found by The Game, HP returns to Sweden after being released from custody. Determined to uncover the truth about Anna’s disappearance, HP uses a fake identity to apply for a job at ArgosEye, the company Anna worked for. In the business of online information management, ArgosEye is involved in some questionable practices, under the control of Anna’s husband, the CEO Philip Argos.
Meanwhile, HP’s sister Rebecca has started dating Philip Argos. When she unknowingly reveals her brother’s real identity to Philip, the police try to bring HP in for questioning again. On the run again, HP refuses to give up and tries to uncover what is really happening at ArgosEye. Before he can find the truth, HP is stopped in his tracks. Thinking he’s about to be thrown in prison, HP is taken to the outskirts of the city and left in the woods, where an elderly man hands him a piece of paper. HP believes the game is over, but is it really just beginning?
I think the best part about this series is the fact that it is multifaceted. Just when you think that you've figured out The Game and HP's place in it, your preconceptions are turned on their head and you are thrown for a loop. Not only does this make the plot multi-layered, but it keeps you (and HP consequently) in the dark until the last possible moment. Not only that, but HP's overall likability and aloofness makes him an easy character to get along with and root for. I found myself drawing some parallels between the twists and turns of this series (thus far) and my favorite TV show, LOST. The plots of both of these franchises are complex and deceptive, and I think that's what draws me in and makes me want to uncover the truth about The Game so badly, just as I wanted to find out the identity of "The Others" in LOST. Therefore, it's not surprising that I've rated Buzz so highly, and I cannot wait to read the exciting conclusion to this series: Bubble.