Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

 

Mermaids are real. They are dangerous. And they are very, very hungry.

I really loved the 2015  novella Rolling in the Deep (review), so I was thrilled when I learned that a full-length novel was to follow. I was also a little nervous — the novella was so perfectly constructed and so utterly disturbing. Could the novel live up to the promise of the novella?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Into the Drowning Deep picks up seven years later, when the tragic loss of the Atargatis is remembered as a personal devastation by some, and derided as a hoax by many others. Imagine Network, responsible for the first voyage, is determined to redeem its less-than-respectable reputation and commissions a huge, elaborate research vessel to go back out to he Mariana Trench and find proof that the events shown on the found footage from the Atargatis were real. The new ship, the Melusine, is filled with top scientists and researchers in fields of oceanography, oceanographic acoustics, marine biology, organic chemistry, and more. It’s also staffed by Imagine’s corporate henchman and the network’s quirky/geeky/adorable TV personality, who’s there to record everything that happens for the sake of the inevitable documentary to follow up on the voyage.

My first thought as I read about the Melusine’s voyage: Are these people nuts? Everyone from the Atargatis died, brutally, eaten by sea creatures with big sharp teeth and a hunter’s instinct for tracking down prey. Why on earth would sane people intentionally choose to go back there?

Well. Science. Vengeance. Money. Fame.

The mystery of the creatures caught on film on the Atargatis is simply too alluring to resist. The scientists all dream of prize-worthy glory, seeing the new voyage as a chance to prove the existence of an unknown species, to find something truly new and introduce it to the world. And there are those with personal stakes as well, including Tory, the scientist whose sister Anne perished seven years earlier and who has been chasing her sister’s shadow for all the years since.

Let’s just say that pretty much what we knew would happen, happens. Yes, the mermaids attack again — but this time the people are at least a little more prepared than the first time around, and although the bloody mayhem is intense and brutal, there’s also progress in understanding more about the nature of the creatures — what they are, how they function, and even the rudiments of how they communicate. It’s all quite brilliant — bloodily so.

I love Mira Grant’s writing. She manages to create interesting characters — some to root for, some to despise — and then throw them into situations that challenge them, threaten them, and cause them to either rise to the occasion or be consumed by their own worst character flaws. And yes, “consumed” is an appropriate word, since bad decisions quickly lead to becoming mermaid chow.

One (of many) brilliant aspects of this book is that it’s set just slightly forward into the future, but not by much. The action takes place in 2022, and the author paints a picture of a world already feeling the ugly effects of climate change. The changing ocean temperatures and resulting changes in the ocean ecosystem directly influence what happens in Into the Drowning Deep. It’s not preachy, just presented as inevitable result of the direction we’re heading in now. Definitely provides food for thought, and should make us all pause… and worry.

While the ending was rich and satisfying and edge-of-the-seat suspenseful, I think the door is open for the story to continue… and I really hope it does. I want more! I want to see what happens next with the characters left alive at the end of the story (definitely fewer than there were at the start!), and how the world chooses to deal with the mermaids now that their existence is proven beyond doubt.

Reading this book gave me chills, in all the best ways. A few tidbits for your reading pleasure:

Had they looked, they might not have seen anything. Daryl was inexperienced compared to Gregory, and more, he was letting his nerves get the better of him; he was seeing danger in every corner, and allowing it to blind him to the danger that was actually lurking. He would have seen the smooth sweep of the hull, the fruit of human labor and innovation, intended to protect them from the dangerous waters. He would have seen how high up he was, and how far the mermaids would need to climb, and felt this rendered him safe, somehow. Protected, sheltered, like a small fish choosing to believe the coral reef can offer genuine protection from the jaws of the eel, the arms of the octopus.

(The door would not protect them; the door was not enough. The door was wood and riveted steel and it was not enough. Tory had known that even before they’d run past the first shattered door. The cabin beyond had been dark, but not dark enough; there was blood on the door, and blood mixed into the slime onthe deck outside, and none of them were safe. Not here, not anywhere.)

Do I think they found mermaids?

Yes. Of course I do.

And I think the mermaids ate them all.

And finally, one from the perspective of the mermaids:

Where there was one of these things, there were always others. The delicate, delicious things that died so easily never traveled alone. Their schools varied in number from few to many, but they never traveled alone.

Deep beneath the waves, the hungry turned their eyes upward, toward the promise of plenty, and began to prepare.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Into the Drowning Deep
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: November 14, 2017
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Horror
Source: Review copy courtesy of Orbit

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/20/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Greetings from Connecticut! I’m on the East Coast spending Thanksgiving with family. Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyful turkey day! My blogging will be minimal this week, but I hope to read lots and lots.

What did I read last week?

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: If mermaid horror isn’t already its own genre, this book should change that! Absolutely loved it. Review to follow.

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 310, “Heaven and Earth” is here. Not the best episode of the season, but hey — all Outlander is good Outlander.

Here’s a little peek at the episode:

Fresh Catch:

No new books this past week! Although I did indulge a bit when it comes to Kindle daily deals.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: So excited to finally be reading the newest release from Cat Winters!

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny: A book club read for November — seems like a lot of fun.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I read this book at the beginning of 2017 (review), and loved it. I’m doing an audiobook re-read now before diving into the sequel — although my listening will be pretty limited while on vacation this week.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of Private Matter is almost done — just three chapters to go! We’ll be moving on to Lord John & the Succubus in January — contact me if you’d like to join in.

So many books, so little time…

boy1Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 10

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 310: “Heaven and Earth”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire races to discover the source of an epidemic aboard a disease-stricken ship before hundreds of sailors die. And as Jamie locks horns with Captain Raines, Fergus finds himself torn between loyalty and love.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Claire and Jamie are separated once again — Claire on board the Porpoise, and Jamie left behind on the Artemis.
  • Claire gets down to business tending the sick. Jamie? Loses his sh*t completely, attempting a mutiny to get the captain to pursue the Porpoise and get Claire back.
  • Jamie is thrown in the brig. Fergus brings him food and water, but refuses Jamie’s command to steal the keys and free him so they can take the ship.
  • Meanwhile, Claire leads a valiant effort to stem the epidemic on the Porpoise and begins to see success once she traces the source of contamination to a cook’s helper.
  • Unfortunately, Claire also discovers that there’s a witness to Jamie’s crimes in Edinburgh on board the ship — the man who ended up burning down the print shop — and he’s informed the captain of the Porpoise that Jamie is wanted for sedition and murder. (The body in the cask of creme de menthe has been found after all).
  • Claire needs to find a way to warn Jamie, but the captain won’t give her the opportunity. A kind woman tending goats on the ship helps Claire escape.
  • As the episode ends, Claire jumps overboard, with hopes of drifting to the nearby island and finding a way to reach Jamie before he arrives in Jamaica, where he’ll be arrested.
  • Cutting back to Jamie, he’s released from the brig finally in order to help with navigation, after finally seeing Fergus’s point of view. He gives Fergus and Marsali his blessing to marry, but says they must wait and be married by a priest.

Insta-reaction:

This is going to be a short one, as I’m traveling this week and I’m viewing and writing on my laptop here in a little guestroom, without a whole lot of time to devote to getting this done.

Jamie and Claire had some brief moments of happiness last week, so of course this week they’re kept apart and are each dealing with a hellish situation.

Claire is amazing at dealing with the typhoid fever. She’s in her glory, giving orders and having them carried out, under the full authority of the captain. Claire’s knowledge of germs and diseases leads to some resistance and nastiness from certain of the men, especially after she orders the grog rations cut in half so that the rum can be distilled into pure alcohol. They men look at Claire as if she’s crazy, but all that dipping of hands in alcohol and her other cleanliness measure pay off, as by episode’s end, the epidemic seems finally to be under control.

Poor sweet Elias Pound! Elias is a 14-year-old on the ship, assigned to help Claire, and he’s sweet and oddly authoritative as he acts as her right-hand man. Sadly, just as most of the men seem to be healthier, even singing sea shanties in their hammocks. poor Elias is struck down by the disease. Like so many others, he’s buried at sea.

I wasn’t a great fan of the Jamie storyline. Jamie’s demands of Captain Raines aren’t reasonable, IMHO. He’s demanding that the Captain sail the Artemis at full speed in order to catch up with the Porpoise, which is a much bigger ship already at full sail. It’s just not possible, and the captain seems sincere in saying that what Jamie wants him to do isn’t safe. Jamie just doesn’t seem rationale, and his demands of Fergus aren’t particular fair or logical. Fergus is right to refuse — there’s the strongest likelihood that their attempted mutiny would lead to their deaths, dooming Marsali and Claire as well. Fergus’s decision not to obey Jamie is a huge step for him, and while Jamie thinks that only someone who understands love would move “heaven and earth” to rescue the woman he loves, Fergus’s reasoning about what’s best for Marsali is just as valid a demonstration of strong, true love. I’m glad Jamie finally gives in and offers his blessing.

Here’s where we get into parts of the story that never much appealed to me in the book, and which I hope will be resolved with less fuss in the show. The accusations against Jamie in the captain’s log on the Porpoise and the appearance of the witness against him seem like unnececessary plot complications at this point. The captains of the two ships were in agreement that they’d meet up in Jamaica, and Claire and Jamie could reunite then. But now, with Jamie at risk of arrest and possibly hanging, Claire is desperate enough to reach Jamie that she jumps overboard! What exactly the plan is once she floats ashore, I couldn’t tell. Annika (who helps Claire) gives her money — to buy passage on another ship? How does she expect to reach Jamie? Find a ship willing to intercept the Artemis for her? I’ve read the book several times, and I still don’t see the sense in what’s going on.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I have a pretty mixed reaction to this episode. On the one hand, I do love seeing Claire in doctor mode. She’s so calm and authoritative and knowledgeable, and doesn’t back down no matter what opposition she faces. She may have been upset initially at being hijacked against her will, but she buckles down immediately and is determined to fight and stop the disease, and frankly, she seems to be right in her element, finally getting to act as a medical professional with the backing and support of the people around her.

On the other hand, Jamie threatening a mutiny seems far-fetched and unnecessary. He knows he’s headed in the same direction as Claire, and I understand he’d be upset, but he goes too far. Fergus is sweet, but also shows backbone in this episode. He reveres Jamie and would do anything for him, but he actually draws a line and defies his wishes here. That must have taken incredible bravery. Good for Fergus.

I try not to dwell too much on comparison between the book and the show, but in this case, what I really missed from the book was Claire’s shipboard encounter with Lord John — not knowing who he was other than the new Governor en route to Jamaica, each ignorant of their signficance in Jamie’s life, but connecting over the moment of peace and quiet, and the desperation of being responsible for men’s lives. It’s a lovely little moment, and could have been a nice addition to the episode.

Wrapping it all up…

Based on the previews, it looks like the Claire/Jamie separation will drag on a while longer. These two just never catch a break. I wonder how they would ever fare if they had a solid month to just live peacefully somewhere, with no kidnappings or smuggling plots or spies or charges of sedition. Would they even know what to do with themselves?

Maybe that’s another reason Claire’s marriage to Frank was doomed to fail — not enough brushes with the law, political manipulation, or hiding from excisemen!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 

Shelf Control #97: The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise
Author: Julia Stuart
Published: 2010
Length: 320 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie.

Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London.

Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of principled erot­ica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens.

When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interest­ing. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away.

Filled with the humor and heart that calls to mind the delight­ful novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the charm and beauty of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly origi­nal novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page.

Published in the UK in August 2010 as Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo.

How and when I got it:

I really don’t remember how I ended up with a copy of this book, but I suspect I glimpsed it at a library sale and fell in love with the cover and title!

Why I want to read it:

That title! That cover! Really, it’s just all so very cute and charming — it makes me want to give it a big cuddle! I think the plot sounds adorable. This sounds like a perfect mid-winter curl-up-under-a-quilt kind of book.

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I loved reading with my kiddos

snowy10

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a new top 10 theme each week. While the “official” topic is slightly different, I thought I’d focus on books that I loved reading with my kids. Now, bear in mind that both (sadly) have outgrown the reading-aloud phase, but I did diligently read to both of them every single day from infancy onward.

First, here are some books that were perfect for my sweeties in the baby and toddler days:

1. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown — so perfectly sweet.

2. ALL books by Sandra Boynton: I especially loved The Going to Bed Book, But Not the Hippopotamus, Moo Baa La La La — but they’re really all terrific. And years later, I can (and do) still quote them by heart!

3. The poetry of Winnie the Pooh: A good friend gave me a beautiful set of the Winnie the Pooh books when my daughter was born, and what we ended up especially loving were the poems in the books. Lines and Squares is amazing!

4. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks from A to Z: You haven’t lived until you’ve read this book with a 2-year-old! The adults in the house were on the floor completely incapacitated by laughter the first time we read this with my son, who tried his best, in his adorable 2-year-old voice, to repeat the names of all of the very silly cars. (The 2-year-old is now 15 and I’m sure would deny having any part in this, but I have video proof!)

5. Tumble Tower – a wonderful picture book that we loved to pieces.

6. Tumble Bumble – Unrelated to Tumble Tower, it’s just such a wonderful sing-songy read, and so much fun.

As the kiddos got older, we moved on to chapter books and book series, and here are some we loved:

7. Harry Potter — of course! I read the entire series out loud to my son when he was about 7 or 8. I was so proud of myself! (He loved it too.) We had such a good time with reading and discussing these books — it was an amazing experience.

8. The Hobbit — another fun read-aloud.

9. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – I read this one with my daughter. She was definitely old enough to read it on her own, but the concepts involved are pretty complex, and it was a good choice for a book to share.

10. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede — The dragon and princess trope turns upside down in these magical tales. Book #1 is really the best, but all make for a great shared read.

What books did you love reading with the kids in your life… or which would you want to read with your future kids? Please leave me your link!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

Save

Save

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/13/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life… and a programming note.

I’ll be away for Thanksgiving week, and may not be keeping up with my regular blogging activities. We shall see. Meanwhile, I’m enthusiastically building piles of paperbacks to throw into my suitcase!

What did I read last week?

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay: My review is here.

Artemis by Andy Weir: My review is here.

Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger: A sweet, sexy novella. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Indexing: Reflections by Seanan McGuire: Wow, what a great listen! My thoughts are here.

I also did a quick listen to Once Upon A Time in the North by Philip Pullman, a novella that’s a prequel to the events of His Dark Materials. Excellent, as are all of the audiobooks in the series. The full-cast recordings are just amazing, with terrific narration by the author himself and some very talented voice actors in the cast.

And in graphic novels…

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman: A fun, quick graphic novel aimed at middle grade to young teen readers — an adventure story involving time travel, a mysterious ship, and bad guys set on world domination. I’ve been on a Pullman roll lately, so I just had to check this one out.

The Walking Dead, volume 28: A Certain Doom: Well, I binge-read and binge-watched The Walking Dead this year, so I just had to read the newest volume as soon as my library got it in stock.

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 309, “The Doldrums” is here. Great episode!

Here’s a little peek at “Doldrums”:

And in case you missed them, here are my reaction posts for the previous two episodes:

Fresh Catch:

First, I received a copy of Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix, courtesy of the lovely folks at Quirk:

And just yesterday, a special treat (from me to me) arrived in the mail — a signed copy of the 25th anniversary edition of Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon!

BTW, did you know that you can get signed copies of pretty much all of Diana Gabaldon’s books from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Phoenix? Check out their web info, here.

Last but not least, a delivery of a book I’m so looking forward to reading — Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, a full-length novel that’s a follow-up to the excellent novella Rolling in the Deep.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: So excited to finally be reading the newest release from Cat Winters! I’ve loved every single thing she’s written so far, and this one is off to a great start.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I read this book at the beginning of 2017 (review), and loved it. I’m doing an audiobook re-read now before diving into the sequel!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. Let me know if you’d like to participate! All are welcome.

So many books, so little time…

boy1Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 9

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 309: “The Doldrums”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire and Jamie leave Scotland, sailing to the West Indies on an urgent quest. When the superstitious crew looks for someone to blame after a string of bad luck, rescue comes from an unlikely source.

My take:

Although we’re technically past the half-way mark of the season already, episode 9 is a real new beginning for the show and the season. And hey, we’ve got a new theme song to go with!

Major plot points:

  • Cousin Jared helps trace the ship that took Young Ian — a Portugese ship called the Bruja, sailing for Jamaica.
  • Jamie and Claire book passage on the Artemis. Jamie declares that he will not set foot in Scotland again without Young Ian.
  • Fergus and Mr. Willoughby join them on the ship. Also, a stowaway — Fergus has brought Marsali with him.
  • Fergus and Marsali claim to be married, having been handfast that morning. Jamie begs to differ.
  • Ultimately, he allows Marsali to continue the voyage, but declares that she will bunk with Claire and Fergus will bunk with Jamie, in order to preserve Marsali’s virtue until she and Fergus can be properly wed.
  • The ship’s crew are very superstitious, and when the ship becomes becalmed, they start looking for someone to blame — a “Jonah” to throw overboard.
  • The wind finally returns, and the Artemis gets back underway, only to be stopped by a British man-of-war looking to “borrow” the ship’s surgeon.
  • Claire goes to the other ship to advise on treatment for the typhoid fever ravaging the crew — and then the ship takes off with her aboard.
  • Once again, Claire and Jamie are separated against their will.

Insta-reaction:

This:

If I could just see Claire and Jamie looking this happy and in love every day, I’d be good.

Anyhoo…

One of the biggest changes revealed in tonight’s episode is the amazing new version of the opening theme song, tweaked now to incorporate an island/Carribbean feel:

I just love it. It really captures the feel of the remainder of the season, with the emphasis on the sea voyage, the island culture, a hint of the mysterious and the danger awaiting — and with a nice connection from the torches in the new scenes to the lanterns of the dancers at Craigh na Dun, going full circle back to the beginning.

This episode felt like a breath of fresh air after the tension and strain of the last two. Claire and Jamie’s problems won’t evaporate immediately, and yet being alone together on a ship for months on end will hopefully give them the space to reconnect and regain their comfort with one another.

The filming for this episode was pretty glorious, taking full advantage of the beauty of being at sea to open up the horizons and give the characters more breathing space. The sunshine and open skies seems to portend an improvement in Jamie and Claire’s relationship — and even though they’re worried sick over Ian, there’s nothing they can do at this point but go on the voyage. I enjoyed seeing them living in the moment for the time being and taking time to be together.

Poor Jamie! He is not cut out for the life of a sailor. Mr. Willoughby to the rescue! Take note — if you ever find yourself in the middle of the ocean retching your guts out, make sure you have a skilled acupuncture practitioner along!

Jamie in paternal mode is a fairly funny Jamie. He’s very upset about Fergus and Marsali, who claim to have been courting for six months and to now be handfast (basically, declaring themselves wed in front of witnesses). In the books, Fergus is about 30 at this point and Marsali is 15, but it would appear that the show is fudging the age difference quite a bit to make the relationship more palatable. Jamie is so determined to keep Fergus from sleeping with Marsali that he declares that Marsali will share Claire’s cabin for the journey — only realizing a moment too late that this means that he and Claire won’t be sleeping together. Silly Jamie. (Fortunately, he and Claire do manage to steal some private time, and they seem very… um… satisfied by their time together).

The whole doldrums section — no wind, not enough water, the ship becalmed, the men becoming more and more superstitious — was a bit boring to me, to be honest, but luckily it went by pretty quickly. I do love when Claire gets righteous about the stupidity of superstitions (like touching the horseshoe or — gasp — having women on board).

No sooner do they get back underway that further bad news comes along in the form of the Porpoise, a British man-of-war with a decimated crew. Typhoid fever is spreading unchecked throughout the ship, with all senior officers already dead and a very young, inexperienced lieutenant now the acting captain. Claire has been immunized and knows she can’t catch the disease, and agrees to go see what advice she can offer. She explains to Jamie about her Hippocratic Oath, which is something Jamie can understand. Taking an oath in the 18th century is a binding, practically holy thing. This will matter throughout the course of the books, as Jamie treats Claire’s oath as something sacred, and this allows him to support her in pursuing whatever she needs to do to fulfill it, even if her actions are bewildering or defy society’s accepted roles for women.

In any case, apparently Claire’s advice to the Porpoise is a little too good, because they realize they need her and cast off, leaving the Artemis behind. Claire and Jamie are separated once again.

Poor Jamie — first sea-sickness, then getting stuck full of needles, and then his wife gets kidnapped at sea! Life with the Sassenach just isn’t easy.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Wow! I really, really loved this episode.

I suppose you could divide this season into thirds: First, there’s Claire and Jamie’s lives apart. Second, there’s the reunion and their time together in Scotland. And this episode marks the start of the final third, the voyage of Voyager‘s title, in which Jamie and Claire set sail for the new world, of course having no idea that they’ll not return for a very, very long time.

Once thing I really loved in this episode was Claire’s changing look. She’s been looking very starched and stiff since she returned to Jamie, buttoned up and in lots of formidable looking clothes with a scraped-back bun. As the journey progresses, she starts to shed her layers. The hair comes down, held back in a simple tie. The outer layers of coat and vest get discarded, and her skirt gets bunched up (sorry, I have no idea what the term is — not a fashion person, I!) so that it becomes more utilitarian, out of the way of her feet and enabling her to move about the ship with ease. I love too that her gray hair is back. In preparing for her return to Jamie, 20th century Claire dyed her hair. Now it’s back to being natural — and I actually feel that the grey streaks in her looser hair style and more relaxed clothing adds to an overall younger look for her.

Granted, the show has acknowledged that it’s not heavily aging the actors. Still, I love the idea that Claire is looking more youthful here simply because she’s finally starting to relax into her new life with Jamie. We can see them gaining a feel for their marriage again, exchanging small looks and gestures and intimacies. If not for the fact that their nephew’s life is in danger and they themselves are in the midst of a perilous sea voyage, this could almost be a 2nd honeymoon!

I’m really liking the actress playing Marsali. She’s got spunk and speaks her mind, and I like that she looks a bit like young Laoghaire too. Jamie insists that Fergus can’t possibly really know Marsali well enough to marry her since he presumably hasn’t told her about all the girls he’s slept with before — so he goes ahead and does that, and Marsali doesn’t seem to care. She’s headstrong and stubborn and knows what she wants. I had to laugh when she told Jamie that if he sent her home, she’d tell everyone that she’d slept with Fergus even though she hadn’t — so Jamie’s choice is to see her wed or see her ruined.

Wrapping it all up…

Heading into the final stretch of the season, I have a few trepidations. To be honest, I always found this section of the book kind of over-stuffed — but I’m hopeful that the limited amount of screen time will mean that the show whittles the often convoluted plot elements down to their essentials and leaves out some of the fluff.

The visuals in these sea-based scenes are stunning, and I can’t wait to see the action shift to Jamaica. Kudos to the production for taking advantage of the sets in South Africa. It must have been a delight to film there, and based on this first episode, it’s yielding beautiful results.

I’m sad that there are only four episodes left this season! How did that happen so quickly? The work of the cast and crew has been phenomenal in season 3, and the production overall seems to get better and better.

Sigh… I’m off to enjoy the scenes of Claire and Jamie’s Atlantic cruise once again.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 

Audiobook Review: Reflections (Indexing, #2) by Seanan McGuire


“For her to love me, she had to be willing to kill me. Anything else would show that her heart was untrue.”

The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta “Henry” Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.

But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.

Indexing: Reflections is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s continuing new urban fantasy, where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Book 2 of the fabulous Indexing series is just as fun and dangerous as the first! The story continues, as Henry’s field team is back out there fighting the good fight to keep fairy tale narratives from killing lots of innocent people. The gang is back together, along with a few new folks (including the HR lady who also happens to be a Bluebeard’s Wife).

It’s not all silly games, though — the stories become dark very quickly, and the various characters, especially Henry and the ever-fascinating Sloane, must face down the demons of their darkest secrets and the scary bad guys of their pasts in order to save the day and save themselves.

Sloane is technically a secondary character, but in Reflections, she gets to take the first-person narrative for several chapters, and she’s a hoot, particularly in the audiobook, where her voice comes across as a potty-mouthed, spoiled, super cranky Valley Girl. Kudos to narrator Mary Robinette Kowal for making Sloane just so excellent.

The voice-work throughout is pretty terrific, only faltering a bit for some of the male characters. This didn’t bother me as much in the 2nd book, because overall the narration is just so compelling and captivating, really capturing the humor and the tension and the darkness so convincingly.

I really ended up loving both of the Indexing books, and want more! Will there be more? Please tell me there will be more! While Reflections comes to a very satsifying conclusion after a truly epic adventure, there’s plenty of room for further adventures of Henry and her field team.

See my review of book #1, Indexing, here.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Indexing
Author: Seanan McGuire
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: 47North
Publication date: January 12, 2016
Length (print): 325 pages
Length (audiobook): 12 hours, 18 minutes
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Novella Review: Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

 

Werewolf in trouble…

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.

Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a charming gay love story set in her popular steampunk Parasolverse. Featuring the long-awaited reunion between everyone’s favorite quietly capable Beta and the werewolf Alpha dandy who let him slip away. This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining.

Delicate Sensibilities?
Contains men who love other men and have waited decades to do so.

Wait, where does this one fit?
The Supernatural Society novellas stand alone and may be read in any order. But if you’re a stickler, this story chronologically follows Imprudence and ties specifically to events in Timeless. Look for surprise appearances from popular side characters and the occasional strategic application of italics.

What a treat!

I love, love, love the world of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate (and also the Finishing School series and The Custard Protocol series), with their remarkable mix of supernatural shenanigans, intrigue, mayhem, and manners. The novella Romancing the Werewolf reunites two wonderful characters from the Parasol-verse, Biffy — the dandy who wanted to be a vampire but ended up an Alpha werewolf — and Lyall, the 400-year-old Beta werewolf who takes responsibility for the woes of the world and his beloved pack.

Here, Lyall finally comes home after 20 years away to resume his place as pack Beta… and to figure out if the connection between him and Biffy has stood the test of time during their years apart. Meanwhile, Biffy has the power of an Alpha but is so new in the role that he constantly second-guesses himself, and wonders if perhaps a romance with his Beta isn’t exactly appropriate any longer.

For fans of Carriger’s worlds, this novella is a total delight. The romance is sweet, sexy, and adorable — but before Biffy and Lyall manage to figure out where they stand, they also have to deal with all sorts of chaos involving the babies that keep getting left on their doorstep. There are plenty of laughs involving the pack and their sense of style (and inability to deal with infants), and some more serious moments as well as the pack settles into their new home and their new leadership.

I don’t think readers without a basic familiarity with the Parasol-verse will have an easy time following the story — but that just means that if you haven’t read the Parasol Protectorate yet, now is the perfect time to go ahead. (Let’s face it, it’s ALWAYS the right time for the Parasol Protectorate!)

Such a wonderful gift to Gail Carriger’s readers! If you love her characters and stories, get this one NOW.
_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Romancing the Werewolf
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Publication date: November 5, 2017
Length: 140 pages
Genre: Supernatural/steampunk/romance
Source: Purchased

**Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Book Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

 

I suppose I should acknowledge up front that it was practically impossible that Andy Weir’s second novel would measure up to his hugely successful first novel, The Martian. I mean, The Martian was amazing, plain and simple. It was fresh, it was new, it was smart, and it was highly entertaining.

So how does an author follow up such a tremendous hit?

Well, in this case, with a book that’s fun and light, but feels a little too familiar to really leave much of a mark.

In Artemis, Jazz (short for Jasmine) is a criminal-lite — she smuggles contraband while working as a porter, plans to become a wealthy EVA (extravehicular activity) tour guide, and meanwhile works odd jobs that are not quite legit in order to pay for her coffin-like bed chamber. (Calling it an apartment would be way overselling it.) Jazz seems to be well-connected, and while avoiding getting on the bad side of what passes for the law in Artemis, she drinks, avoids her observant Muslim father, and is something of a wise-ass.

When a mega-rich tycoon offers her a million slugs (moon currency) to carry out a dangerous, shady bit of sabotage, she sees a way to finally pay off some long-standing debts and improve her standard of living, but of course, nothing goes as planned. And when that escapade turns into a fiasco, she’s pulled into a worsening situation that involves murder, organized crime, and even more dangerous missions. If Jazz is caught, she’ll face deportation back to Earth, which would absolutely suck for her, since she’s lived on the moon since age six and wouldn’t be able to handle Earth’s gravity.

That’s the plot in a nutshell. Jazz is a survivor, and she manages to get on people’s bad sides constantly, and yet charms them into helping her anyway. She comes up with some clever plans, but naturally what ever can go wrong, does go wrong.

The book reads like a moon-based heist caper, like Ocean’s Eleven in a space bubble. We’ve got a scrappy gang applying their various skills to pull off one big job, making millions, disrupting a bunch of bad guys, and making sure that their little world ends up better than it started. Sure, there’s science and space involved — instead of robbing a casino, for example, here they’re trying to blow up a smelting plant, but it’s the same basic idea.

It all feels familiar somehow. As a science fiction reader, I’ve read other books about life on other planets with humans living in biospheres. I’ve seen plenty of caper flicks. So yes, putting those elements together is fun, and Artemis is definitely entertaining, but it doesn’t have that outrageous spark that powered The Martian.

Jazz herself is a bit problematic, verging on tokenism. Kudos for putting a Muslim woman in the main character role, and certainly her relationship with her father and the conflict between his beliefs and her approach to life are interesting — but she seems very cookie cutter to me. I didn’t get a feel for who she is beneath the surface facts — independent, mid-twenties, rebellious, daring… but when, for example, she ends up kissing one of the male characters toward the end of the book, it was completely out of the blue. I had no idea she had any interest in him, but it’s just that kind of story where you know the main character has to have a love interest, and the only question is which of the available characters will be it.

I enjoyed the time spent reading Artemis, but at the same time, it’s not a book that will stick with me now that I’m done. Still, I like Andy Weir’s writing and use of science to tell a story, and look forward to seeing what he does next.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: October 3, 2017
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save