Archive for August, 2013


Review: Meg by Steve Alten

meg Meg by Steve Alten

Published June 2nd 1997 by DoubleDay

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean’s deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom. The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he’s sure he saw but still can’t prove exists – Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark. The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds. Taylor spends years theorizing, lecturing, and writing about the possibility that Meg still feeds at the deepest levels of the sea. But it takes an old friend in need to get him to return to the water, and a hotshot female submarine pilot to dare him back into a high-tech miniature sub. Diving deeper than he ever has before, Taylor will face terror like he’s never imagined. MEG is about to surface. When she does, nothing and no one is going to be safe, and Jonas must face his greatest fear once again.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

God how I loved this book, I loved it like a fat kid loves ice cream. We have all seen a horror movie that we thought “Oh man, this is just so awful! I love it!” That’s what this book was for me, a made for tv horror movie. But that’s also what made me hesitate to give it four stars. Based on the technical merits of the writing it would probably be a three, based on the story alone maybe a two, but based on how much I absolutely adored it a five would be appropriate. So in the end a 3.5 to 4 seems most fair.

Let’s get a few things straight about this book right up front. The writing is not very inventive or clever. I counted at least 3 times that the word “entrails” was used in every single scene where the shark eats something or someone. It was a bit repetitive and not very thrilling. The plot is also highly outlandish. You might just have to turn off your disbelief switch because I don’t think just suspending it will do the trick.

Though the plot was out there, I also thought it was awesome for that exact reason. More than once I just sat there with the book in my lap laughing so hard that I couldn’t see straight as the book slowly slid its way to the floor unnoticed. I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to see what outrageous thing would happen next. It was fabulous! And the ending…oh my God the ending! Give me a minute, the giggles came back. *deep breath* Okay, I’m good now. The ending was quite possibly the silliest and most amazing thing I have ever read. I cannot even fathom how such an ending came into being. I refuse to say anything else about it because it would ruin the amazingness.

Now let’s ponder for a moment on Mr. Alten’s  theory of how the Megalodon survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. The book proposes that the Meg’s prey were driven to the depths of the ocean by the Ice Age and given that they are warm blooded the Meg followed and then stayed there because that’s were the prey was. And by the time they had any need or desire to return to the surface they were trapped by the colder water temperatures and so have stayed in the depths for millions of years. It’s an interesting theory but it ignores several key facts about the closest living relative of the Megalodon, the Great White shark. The White is also warm blooded, and it prefers colder waters. The White is most concentrated in areas such as northern California, off the coast of Massachusetts, the southern tip of Africa. Yes they can and do inhabit warmer waters as well, but the colder water is seemingly preferred. Since the Megalodon is considered a cousin to the White shark, why would that species be much different? There is no logical reason that the Meg would have been “trapped” by the cold layer of water between the depths and the surface. It made for an interesting theory for a book, but doesn’t make much logical sense. *blush* I’m sorry, is my nerd showing?

ENTRAILS!  Now that you’re all distracted let’s move on to characters. They were all typical of this kind of horror book, nothing new or earthshattering. I did think the love interest seemed really forced. I mean, it wasn’t necessary so why not just leave it out? Instead I was caught feeling…wait a second they were wishing death on each other not two chapters ago and now they’re planning a romantic trip for when they survive this? That was kind of weird.

This book had a nice set up for a sequel, which I do intend on reading. I recommend this book if you want to read a book that is as silly as it is tropey, but still completely awesome. I know I loved it.

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daysatancalledThe Day Satan Called by Bill Scott

Published October 11th, 2011 by FaithWords

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books A Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

THE DAY SATAN CALLED is Bill Scott’s account of an excruciating 18-month period in his life. Out of Christian love he and his wife invited a young lady who was demon possessed and the member of an active satanic network into their home. They prayed the sinner’s prayer with her and believed that they could help redeem someone who had witnessed and experienced unimaginable rituals and abuses.
What happened instead were death threats and the loss of their home as a sanctuary. Voices. Threats. Objects falling and moving. Strange visitors and callers. A loving church falling into turmoil. And yes the voice of Satan. Every day was filled with the dread of nightfall. Once you’ve invited someone filled with demons that aren’t leaving her into your home what do you next? Where do you send her? How do you protect yourself and your family? What do you do after she’s finally gone but the demons haven’t left?
This is the account of a terrifying and incredible phenomenon. But ultimately, it is a testament to the power of God’s love, even over evil spirits.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Ask anyone who knows me (including my husband) and they will tell you that I am an incredibly open minded person when it comes to the paranormal and supernatural.  I’ve always been that way but it really came home when I became a practicing Pagan over 10 years ago. But there is just one thing that I didn’t believe in as a practicing Christian or as a Pagan, Satan and demons. To me, it makes no sense in the context of Christian beliefs. God is perfect, therefore God cannot contradict himself/herself/itself. God is also all-loving and all-forgiving…but is ready to condemn billions of souls to eternal torment at the hands of Satan and his minions for not following the rules. Is it just me or does that sound like a contradiction? So, one of those things cannot be true. Either God is not perfect, not all-loving and forgiving, or there is no devil. Can’t have it both ways. I have always viewed Satan and demons as convenient inventions of the Christian establishment to scare people into behaving themselves. Yet, in spite of this belief, I was willing to be open minded about this book. And good heavens was it painful!

This book just wasn’t very good. It centers around Christian radio host Bill Scott, telling a story that happened over 20 years ago in the mid 80’s. A week before Halloween he received a phone call from a 16 year old girl named Lacey who claimed to be a prisoner of a Satanic coven and was going to be sacrificed on Halloween. She also claimed to be demon possessed. Bill talks to her for two days and then she asks him to meet her at this church in person and thus begins a year and a half long saga of trying to help this girl, who actually is a 30 something year old woman named Roxanne, apparently Lacey is one of her demons.  Let’s break this book down by good points and bad points.

Good:

1. For once the demons aren’t possessing good, faithful Christian folks. I have always posed this question to Christians who believe in demon possession, why do demons only seem interested in faithful Christians?  Surely there must be easier targets! The only answer I’ve ever gotten was that non Christians were already going to hell and so their soul was already in jeopardy, okay then whatever. But here we have a natural target for a demon, a Satanic witch who willingly invited the demons to possess her. Great!

2. Three words: Demon of Nicotine. No I’m not kidding. This made me laugh so hard! And guess what accompanies his arrival….the smell of cigarette smoke. Oh no, the giggles are coming back. This alone made me give this 2 stars instead of 1 because it was just so funny. Too bad he was trying to be serious, this would have been a great comedy.

 

Bad:

1. Signals that what you’re hearing is a bullshit story: 16 year old claims to be part of a Satanic coven and has no birth certificate to prove she ever existed. Somehow she is being held prisoner against her will but has constant access to a phone for over 48 hours and can leave the coven at any time to meet you. Another “witch” shows up to tell you that she’s been sent there to kill the 16 year old girl except…she is the same person as the 16 year old girl who never existed.

2. The author actually used this sentence, “taking home a member of the opposite sex was threatening to my wife”. Uh, I think I have a clue why your marriage didn’t go so great Bill. Maybe because you announced to your wife that without discussing it with her you were bringing home a woman who claimed to be possessed by demons, a high priestess of Satan, has participated in human sacrifice…and you insist that she’s threatening because it’s a woman. God, how condescending.

3. The book also says of itself, “The lines seemed to be coming from a bad script or a bad movie”. Yes, I agree, a very bad movie indeed.

4. There is absolutely no logic in this book at all. He invites a demon possessed woman into his house then seems stunned when a demon tells him that he was invited into his house. Um, duh! He believes that the key to defeating the demons is destroying Roxanne’s old Satanic items, commands a demon to bring the jewelry to him, is stunned to find it in his garage when he gets home.  But then he’s also equally stunned that destroying it doesn’t get rid of the demons. WHY WOULD THE DEMONS BRING YOU THE KEY TO THEIR DESTRUCTION!?

5. The author is clearly trying to convert people to Christianity, despite the fact that he claims Roxanna was a catalyst in dozens of divorces, churches falling apart, and didn’t actually manage to cure her of her demon affliction. There’s a whole chapter at the end about how to keep yourself rid of demons and living a God centered life.

6.  Everything goes Bill’s way as soon as he prays to God or Jesus. He claims that this whole period was horrific for him, but in every example in the book he prays and gets what he’s asking for. Doesn’t seem so hard to me.

7. Any and all evidence or supporting statements that Bill might have had to prove he’s not full of shit don’t exist anymore. He had recordings of the phone calls from the demons, he destroyed them. Roxanne must exist because she was able to get an apartment and numerous other people were in contact with her…all of them have been silent thus far.

8. Bill admits several times that he thinks Roxanne is mentally ill yet never once does he go to a psychiatrist or doctor for help. He self diagnoses her as Multiple Personalities and uses that as his reasoning for why the demons don’t go away, one or more of her personalities must be allowing the demons back in. The only time a mental health professional gets involved they are too scared to continue working with her….yeah because that happens all the time. Mental health professionals aren’t accustomed at all to dealing with unstable people. *insert massive eye roll here*

9. The book shows absolutely zero understanding whatsoever about what witchcraft or Satanism are. Witches do not believe in Satan, they do not believe in demons, they do not believe in hell. The first tenet of witchcraft is “and if it harm none, do what ye will.” So this rules out that witches are killing and eating babies or asking demons to possess them. I should know, I’ve been a practicing witch for over a decade. And I’m not one of those “new age, Wiccans” unlike what Bill Scott believes. Satanism is the same, I’ve never ascribed to Satanism but I’ve known a lot of people who do. Satanists don’t believe that Satan or demons exist either. They view Satan as symbolic for self indulgence, living in the now, absolute truth not filtered through dogma, kindness to deserving people not all mankind, vengeance not turning the other cheek, and that man is just an animal like any other. So Satanists do not worship Satan, they live the tenets of what Satan represents. And so a Satanist would not be harmed or frightened by Christian symbols because they view the Christian church as ridiculous nonsense that inhibits one’s life for no reason. Even the littlest understanding of witchcraft or Satanism immediately turns this book into nothing but fiction.

Okay, I’ve ranted and raved about this enough here. End note this book was laughable in its ignorance. But ultimately I was amused by how utterly cliche it was.

 

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

mrs poe Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Expected publication October 1st, 2013 by Gallery Books

Pre-order this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

This book was an interesting read for me but not entirely what I expected. I expected to find a forbidden love story complicated by a manipulative and conniving wife. What I got was a whole lot of social repartee of the wealthy and elite of early 1900’s New York with a kind of love story and suspicions about the wife that weren’t very well proven with facts. That disappointed me but the story was still ultimately entertaining.

Frances was the main character, despite the title suggesting that Mrs. Poe plays the main role. I felt a lot of sympathy for Frances. Her husband has left her and their children destitute to philander his way across the country, forcing her to try and sell her poetry and live with a family friend. Her first connection to Edgar Poe is round about, she is told that her flowery love poems are not in style since Mr. Poe’s Raven poem but that if she manages to write something more “shivery” to come back and they’ll buy it. After that she begins something of an obsession to be his better until she meets him at a social gathering and….well, I’m not sure exactly when or why she fell in love with him but she does at some point.

Here’s my main problem with the love story in this, it is almost non-existent until the very end of the book. There were a few flirtations here and there and suddenly they’re proclaiming how much they love each other and can’t live without one another. It was strange and I didn’t completely buy into it.

I also didn’t buy into the fact that Mrs. Poe was as manipulative and conniving as Frances would have had me believe. Again, for most of the book NOTHING shady happened at all. As far as I could see Mrs. Poe was only rightly betrayed and jealous that she was so ill and some other woman is making a move on her husband. I have a feeling I’d be a little cold and pissed off too! I just couldn’t ascribe these negative intentions to her no matter how hard I tried.

The ending was interesting and not what I expected but ultimately was something of a let down too. I was hoping that either there would be dire consequences for their actions or their lives would somehow be better for having had their elicit romance. But there were no consequences at all and still their lives sucked about the same as they had before. I tried really hard to love this book because I liked the main character and it was well written and put together. But by the end I was apathetic about it, which disappointed me.

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Once again this August I sat down to set my DVR to record Shark Week. This has been a tradition for me for most of my life. I have been watching Shark Week every year for the past 17 years. Back in those days I was just 11 years old and had to call my dad and remind him to set the VCR to record every night. Oh and I did call every night! I remember sitting down to watch hour long shows about exactly how the science of a shark’s electroreception worked. I remember a show that focused on different internal organs that are unique to sharks as they performed an necropsy on a shark that had died in a shark net. I remembered watching gorgeous programs about blue sharks, white sharks, tiger sharks, sandtiger sharks, even the nurse shark. All of them were visually stunning and educational to boot. It inspired in me a burning desire to know more. For years I ravenously watched every shark program I could find and I scoured my local bookstore for the latest shark related science book. Every year I anxiously anticipated what new and amazing thing Discovery Channel would delight me with that year. I found myself over the years answering questions posed by the show before the experts could or even arguing with the experts on television on why I believed their conclusion to be flawed.

But the past 4 or 5 years, Shark Week just hasn’t been the same. Oh there’s still the obligatory conservation commercials about protecting sharks but everything else is sensationalism, sensationalism, and more sensationalism. It dismays me. the last 2 years I have resorted to recording everything on Nat Geo Wild’s Shark Fest instead because while the programs may all be reruns at least it’s something that isn’t just cotton candy for my brain. I can find no excuse for what I see on my DVR this year Discovery Channel, and it’s insulting to my intelligence.

– Megalodon: Similary to DC’s “mockumentary” about mermaids last year on Animal Planet this was embarrassing. They attempted, poorly, to pass this off as an actual truthful program and it was laughable. First, their “scientist” Collin Drake doesn’t exist. I scoured the interwebs for him and there is no One Tree Hill look alike scientist with that name anywhere. The closest I got was a software engineer on Facebook. Similarly the female scientist that tags the supposed “megalodon” also doesn’t exist anywhere on the internet except in relation to this program. They talk about a fishing vessel of Americans that went down in South Africa under mysterious circumstances and no bodies or survivors were recovered. Strangely, no such news report exists. Gee, I would think that might be newsworthy, wouldn’t you? Then they show photos of a whale carcass with its tail bitten of in a clear shark bite, those photos don’t exist online either. The only real scientist I could connect to this program was Mike Bhana. Add to this the lightning fast disclaimer at the end “no entities or organizations named in this program endorse its contents. Some portions of this program have been dramatized.”  Aka, it was all bullshit.

– Shark After Dark Live: Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?! You have some drunk, shirtless redneck loser with moonshine on there talking about his show and sharks. You have a host who is completely toasted and a moron to boot. Then a cutely dressed girly announcing all the latest and greatest social media activity who is so drunk I worried that she might fall right off her stool. Plus you have the only real expert from the Megalodon program, Mike Bhana, who says without 30 seconds of the show open…megalodon is not real, period end of sentence. I can’t stop laughing now, I think I actually felt my brain shrink a little during that hour.

Air Jaws Part 429: So we seriously need another edition of this garbage? It was interesting the first time but it’s just old news now. Nothing interesting here, move on.

To move further along the sensationalism road, this week we have Return of Jaws, Voodoo Shark, I Escaped Jaws, Spawn of Jaws, Great White Serial Killer, and Sharkpocalypse. My God, am I watching SyFy and their next big idea after Sharknado?!

If Discovery Channel was even the least bit interested in education and conservation of sharks why not do a documentary on shark finning, that is killing hundreds of millions of sharks per year?  Why not a program about how shark nets are negatively impacting dozens of marine species for the illusion of safety? Why not send out an expedition to try and find Great White’s birthing grounds? Why not do a program about the real liklihoods of attack and how to avoid one?

I am just about at the end of my patience with Discovery Channel. I think their head is so far wedged up their collective ass that they’ll never recover. RIP Shark Week, I guess it’s reruns of Shark Fest for me next year.

The Farm by Emily McKay

the farmThe Farm by Emily McKay

Published December 4th, 2012 by Berkley Trade

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

Rating: 3 star

Review:

I’m not so sure what happened with this book. The premise is great, the characters are great, I’d heard such great things, but it just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my mood. I honestly don’t know. By the end of this book I didn’t feel passionately about it in either a good or bad way. Let’s talk about the things I can actually say I did or didn’t like.

Lily was a good character. There have been far too many shrinking violet women in YA books lately. I appreciated that Lily was fairly kick ass and willing to do whatever it took to protect Mel, her autistic sister. I also really loved the brief glimpses we get from Mel’s POV. On the negative side, it was precisely Mel’s POV chapters that allowed me to easily guess one of the “big reveals”. So in the end it was a double edged sword. Conner got on my nerves in the beginning but slowly he grew on me.  By the end I had a teensy crush on him, he’s adorable!

I really liked that we had two different kinds of vampires. On the one hand you have the Ticks, which were everything that vampires have been missing for a long time. They are monsters and I loved them. Then you have the more refined vampires that have retained their humanity…a little. Still monsters and still awesome.

I even really liked the plot, although at times it seemed a bit simplistic to me. The plan was this, escape the farm, run to Canada, hope that Canada is any safer than the U.S.  Hmm, doesn’t sound very brilliant to me. I didn’t mind it as long as what happened on the way to that plan was good and most of it was. But here’s where it fell off the rails for me, the “big reveals.” Big reveal one was not even a reveal since I had suspected as much for most of the book. Big reveal two actually surprised me but I am not sure what it actually has to do with anything about the larger plot. The second big reveal seemed to shoot the larger plot in the foot honestly.

Right now I am unsure if I’ll read the next book. I am leaning toward yes I will read it to see if the plot can recover from the nuke the author threw in it at the end of this one.