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Sunday, October 16, 2022

Grim disappointment


I found Dark Matter such an interesting book that I wanted to read more of this author. I should have been warned by the fact that it was lingering in the stacks of the city library, unloved and unread.

Very easy to put down, and I doubt I will finish it. I dislike serial killer books, as the murderer never has a motive, and is just a faceless monster. Books in this awful genre are just horror porn.

What I found most annoying, however, was the protagonist. He is such a gormless wonder, no fight or resourcefulness at all. At one stage he has a loaded gun in his hand, with instructions to murder a bound and helpless victim. Considering the horrors he has witnessed, the obvious move is to shoot the killer, and then shoot himself. But no, he tamely carries out the murder, as ordered.

Whatever nastiness is awaiting him in the rest of the book, he fully deserves it.

Saturday, October 15, 2022


Blake Crouch is a new writer for me. I picked this up after reading a rave review of his latest - which is not out in New Zealand yet - as I felt curious.

As the review hinted, the writing style is interesting.  I am a fan of Simon Kernick's thrillers, which are written in short sentences, with short chapters, along with non-stop action that keeps the pages turning.  I also love Hugh Howey's wildly imaginative dystopia novels (Wool, Shift, Dust, Sand) which are brisk, compelling reads, too.  Well, Crouch is a blend of both.  

Not a bad thriller writer at all -- if one can forgive the use of "like" where "as if" is a lot mor logical and elegant. ("Like" is a preposition, and should be followed by a noun and nothing else, as in she slept like a baby; "as if" is a conjunction and is followed by a clause -- he ran as if pursued by a thousand devils). And, on the whole, the imagination isn't lacking, either. If his style is Kernick meets Howey, his theme is Stephen King meets Michael Crichton.

It is hard to write a review of this thriller - mystery - fantasy novel without spoilers, but if you have ever thought back on your past and wondered what would have happened if you had taken a different turn in your life's journey, this book is perfect for you.  

Jason, the protagonist, is faced with exactly that situation -- but with no control over the turning whatsoever.  He is a helpless victim of a metaphysical experiment.

Walking back home at night, thinking of nothing much but the dinner and glass of wine with his beloved family that awaits, but simmering a little because a past classmate has won the great scientific award that should rightfully be his, Jason is captured,  and forced to turn that different path.

Many different paths, in fact, each leading to a different apocalypse. There is contagion, there is famine, and there is war.  Pollution and global warming should be there, too: this is the one and only part of the book that lacks imagination.  But the book is otherwise great, with a slam-dunk conclusion.

Read it, and see what you think.  Definitely different.  And definitely readable.



Quarterdeck Watch logo

A new supplement to Quarterdeck magazine, featuring the latest in nautical fiction, sailing and boating, maritime history, and more from:

Globe Pequot * McBooks Press * Mystic Seaport Museum *

Sheridan House * Lyons Press * Muddy Boots

Hot off the Press

Cover of book Night Boat to New York by Erik Hesselberg

Night Boat to New York
Steamboats on the Connecticut, 1815–1931
Erik Hesselberg

A portrait of the vanished steamboat days, when a procession of stately sidewheelers plied between Hartford and New York City, docking at Peck’s Slip on the East River in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A Spy in Casablanca
Riley Fitzhugh Novels, #5
Terry Mort

Riley Fitzhugh, former Hollywood private detective turned US Navy lieutenant, is recruited by the OSS for temporary duty as a naval spy in Morocco during the planning for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. His assignment? Kidnap a French river pilot and extract him from Casablanca.

Cover of book A Spy in Casablanca by Terry Mort
Cover of book Shanties from the Seven Seas, collected by Stan Hugill

Shanties from the Seven Seas
Collected by Stan Hugill

This book contains not only more than 400 sea shanties but also as much of their history as Stan Hugill could collect in his extraordinary career as sailor, scholar, author, artist, and inspiration to new generations of sea-music enthusiasts and performers.

Book covers of Kydd, Artemis, and Seaflower by Julian Stockwin

Upcoming Releases

Cover of book Trafalgar: The Fog of War by Seth Hunter
Cover of book A Troubled Course by David Donachie
Cover of book The Falmouth Frigate by James L. Nelson

Trafalgar: The Fog of War by Seth Hunter

~ Nathan Peake #8 ~
1803, on the eve of war: This is the story of the murders and intrigues, the myths and mysteries—and crucially the naval encounters—that preceded the most famous battle in nautical history. This is Nathan Peake’s Trafalgar, the true story of the events leading up to the campaign.

A Troubled Course

by David Donachie

~ John Pearce #17 ~
In night actions, outnumbered on land and sea, John Pearce and his crew must fight the Francophile Corsicans, who are arming themselves for an insurrection. Will he succeed, or will he, HMS Hazard, and the Pelicans pay the ultimate price of failure?

The Falmouth Frigate

by James L. Nelson

~ Isaac Biddlecomb #6 ~

Biddlecomb and the men of the half-built frigate Falmouth manage to slip through a British blockade, only to find themselves trapped in a desolate harbor on the New Jersey coast and menaced by outlaw bands that terrorize the countryside and see the ship as a valuable prize.

Cover of book Sailing by Starlight by Rod Scher
Cover of book Every Second Counts by David Donachie

Sailing by Starlight

by Rod Scher

In the early 1980s, retired geography professor Marvin Creamer set out to do what hadn’t been done for a thousand years—if indeed ever at all: sail around the world without the use of any instruments. There was no sextant aboard. No compass. No chart-plotter. No GPS. No radar. Not even a stopwatch. Travel with Creamer and his crew as their 35′ sailboat Globe Star ventures around the perilous Horn, across the tumultuous Tasman Sea, and into an active war zone. This is the story of a man who was taken prisoner by an idea, a man obsessed with proving a point, and who would let neither 40-foot waves nor fractious crewmembers deter him.

Every Second Counts

~ Brand-new historical fiction from

McBooks author David Donachie ~

July 1940: In this thrilling historical “what-if,” Churchill has resigned without naming a successor and Parliament leaders are calling for an armistice with Hitler. Meanwhile, the fugitive Billy Houston finds himself in possession of Britain’s plans to thwart the German invasion. No patriot, Houston is determined to help bring about a Nazi-run Britain. Soon, Adam Strachan, Deputy Director of Counter-Espionage at MI5, finds himself pursuing Houston through England in a desperate bid to stop the missing defense plans from falling into German hands. The clock is ticking, and Britain’s future is anything but secure.

New in Children's

Cover of book The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Arielle North Olson

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
by Arielle North Olson; illustrated by Elaine Wentworth

On a rocky island outpost off the coast of Maine, a young girl once kept the lighthouse lamps burning for days while her father was held on the mainland by a violent storm. Illustrated in sweeping watercolors, this story will stir the hearts of readers as they watch Miranda struggle triumphantly against storm and rock and sea.

Joey Goes to Sea
Alan Villiers

Joey the ginger cat went to sea with Alan Villiers on the ship Joseph Conrad. He caught flying fish, got into trouble generally, and even fell overboard—just as he does in this book! He was a kitten of great personality and an adventurous spirit, and his story is full of humor. This family classic will appeal to children and cat-lovers everywhere.

Cover of book Joey Goes to Sea by Alan Villiers

Something for Everyone

Cover of book The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told by Christopher Caswell
Cover of book The Incredible Voyage by Tristan Jones
Cover of book Three Sheets to the Wind by Cynthia Barrett

The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told

Ed. by Christopher Caswell

A collection of 27 of the most compelling writings of the millennium, including Peter Goss's wrenching narrative of incredible courage in the world's most desolate ocean; Ernest Shackleton's understated account of one of the most daring small-boat journeys ever taken; and William F. Buckley Jr. on idyllic cruising.

The Incredible Voyage

by Tristan Jones

In a salty, slashing style, Tristan Jones unfolds his extraordinary saga: a six-year voyage during which he covered a distance equal to twice the circumference of the world, dodged snipers on the Red Sea, capsized off the Cape of Good Hope, struggled for 3,000 miles against the mightiest sea current in the world, and much more.

Three Sheets to the Wind

by Cynthia Barrett

An entertaining compilation revealing the maritime roots of 200 common English words and expressions, such as "slush fund", “turned a blind eye”, "pooped," and the "bitter end." This is the perfect companion for sailors, etymology lovers, factophiles, ocean dreamers, and the conversationally curious!

Cover of book Last Man Down by David W. Jourdan
Cover of book Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Sailing by John Vigor
Cover of book Doctor on Board by William W. Forgey, MD

Last Man Down

by David W. Jourdan

The USS Nautilus was the flagship of Submarine Division 12 operating out of Pearl Harbor throughout World War II. In 1942–45, she engaged the enemy in fourteen different patrols, from the Battle of Midway to the liberation of the Philippines, earning fourteen battle stars. Here, the historical events documented in deck logs and patrol reports are told through the voices of the men who lived them.

Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Sailing

by John Vigor; foreword by Don Casey

Aimed at sailboat owners of all kinds, this reference book contains 200 entries packed with solid practical advice and valuable tips. Each entry is categorized alphabetically and prefaced by an arresting statement, such as "People always lie about how fast their boats are." Cartoons by SAIL Magazine cartoonist Tom Payne enliven the text; a comprehensive appendix covers 50 technical topics.

Doctor on Board

by William W. Forgey, M.D.

This must-have book for the serious or weekend sailor or power-boater focuses on care for head trauma and management of orthopedic injuries, seasickness, issues relating to cold injuries (“cockpit foot”), illness, and burns (including exposure to the sun and/or boiling water in the galley). All these and much more are discussed, along with treatment options while on the water.