Book Trailers: Pandemic by Scott Sigler

Every second Saturday I share a book trailer of new releases, books we (other readers and myself) love, want to read, and anything that fits in with BA, in the hopes of helping readers find something new to enjoy.

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If you’d like to share a trailer for other readers to watch, including if it is your own, please read through my Special Features Policy and feel free to forward any enquiries.

Short Story Review: Alien Contact by Marty Halpern

Are we alone? From War of the Worlds to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, ET to Close Encounters, creators of science fiction have always eagerly speculated on just how the story of alien contact would play out.

Editor Marty Halpern has gathered together some of the best stories of the last 30 years, by today’s most exciting genre writers, weaving a tapestry that covers a broad range of scenarios: from the insidious, to the violent, to the transcendent.

Review

If you’re going to read something like Alien Contact all in one go, like I did, you should only do it if you love the idea of aliens. Of course I don’t know why anyone would read 500 pages of short stories based around an alien theme if they weren’t into aliens, but just incase you’re not, you have been warned that you could overdose.

The great thing about the length of Alien Contact, is that there’s guaranteed to be at least a few stories that will float your boat and there is enough variety that overdosing won’t be much of a problem, even if you’re like me and can’t read anything else while in the midst of a short story collection. Continue reading

Comic Review: The War of The Worlds

It’s 2005, and Earth is invaded by a seemingly unstoppable Martian army of tripods and flying machines.

As seen from the viewpoint of one American family, this is a story of human survival that will resonate with today’s readers, just as the original galvanized its audience more than a century ago

I must admit that by the time I started reading this I was a tad frustrated. I hadn’t been able to lose myself deeply in a novel for several weeks or more and it was getting to me. Plus I’m a H.G. Wells fan and one of my favourite stories is The War of The Worlds so at the beginning of this one I was already rolling my eyes at it. The first thing I found myself asking in a huff was, ‘Why does this have to be set in modern times, and why is the main character driving a sporty convertible. Why, oh why?’ Yes that’s what I asked myself. I really was not impressed when I came across that very early on, but I forced myself to keep reading even though that had turned me off. You never know when it could turn out differently to what you expect.

To be fair when it comes to the art work, I think I can be a bit spoilt when it comes to reading graphic novels. I never grew up or read a lot of comics, my main exposure has been artsy graphic novels and Heavy Metal magazines so the art is really plain and generic to me. It’s a typical black and white comic art rather than anything else, but in a way that is good because it leaves me to focus more on the story then on the art itself and getting lost. And yet there are some really cool artistic panels in there, mainly the ones that have action instead of dialogue and take up an entire page.

I don’t remember there being aircraft along with the alien pods in the original story and nor do I remember there being red weeds and poisonous gas, speaking of which; are white surgical masks going to save you from a poisonous cloud of gas?

Ok, I shouldn’t be too mean, I’m mostly taking my frustration out on a mediocre version of an awesome story, but it isn’t all bad. It is interesting to see a new twist of the story and how they tell it from yet another perspective, but I would really have liked the story to follow the original plot.

All I can really say is that the art is not completely typical art with a bit of artistic flair, it is well adapted to a more modern time, and it is a good novel for a quick little read.

  • Created By: Stephen Stern and Arne Starr
  • Genre: Science Fiction, War
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2005 by Best Sellers Illustrated
  • Adapted/Based: The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Old School Thursdays: Shortened Reviews Part II

Last Thursday I posted a collection of shortened reviews that I had posted on a review site and here’s some more from 2008.

Beyond Fear by Dorothy Rowe

What looks like a self help book turns out to not be your typical self help book. Instead it delves more into the psychology of fear and explains the human relationship to fear in order to give an understanding rather then a quick fix.
Usually I have difficulty reading such deep thinking non fiction as I become quite bored with the writing style that a lot of ‘self help’ books have, but Dorothy Rowe was not only easy to understand and follow, she also wasn’t dull in her delivery. Perfect for anyone interested in psychology, but not used to reading such heavy material.

Communion: A True Story by Whitley Strieber

This isn’t your typical ‘little green men flew down in funny ships and took me away’ alien story so if you read this expecting that you might be either disappointed or surprised. Yes there is talk of ‘visitors’ but this isn’t some sci fi novel. What this is, is a man trying to understand the disruption to his life and the people around him. I got the impression as I read the book that it was his way of coming to terms with and understanding his experience. In saying that don’t expect a definite conclusion as to what is going on.

It was an interesting read though especially seeing as a fair bit of it was told via hypnosis transcripts, but I think if it wasn’t for those transcripts I wouldn’t have found it as interesting. It also isn’t a story that stays with you while you’re reading it. I was really only ever compelled to read it and not put it down when I finally decided to pick it up, but when I took a break and closed the covers it felt like I wasn’t even reading it.

Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks

Read at the right time, especially when on a spiritual path, I think this could be one of those life changing or at least very pivotal books to read. It’s very simply set out and easy to comprehend which is great for those who are only just learning or discovering law of attraction. As for people who already know about law of attraction I think it’s great for a reminder and for fine tuning what you know, but not for extensive learning or research.

I did find it to be slightly repetitive, but I feel that given the subject and taking into consideration how much we are all used to a certain perspective it’s probably for the best as it drums it in more helping to push past any resistance and keeping an open mind.

The Horizontal Instrument by Christopher Wilkins

Upon finishing this I thought it was an interesting take on love, loss and grief about a man who losses his wife to dementia. At first it read like a book about time and timepieces interspersed with bits of the story, but after awhile it became moments of introspective reflections on perspective, time, memory and how they are connected, again interspersed with more of the story which made it read like two separate books in the one, yet fluidly moving within the two, until the two became the one and ended in a complete story that was quite heartbreaking. It was probably even more so because of Wilkins’ writing style made it feel like someone was actually talking to you about their loss and their thoughts on that loss.

Review: Infected and Contagious

This might sound childish, but after reading certain books I have a specific reaction. I pout.

I have just finished reading Contagious by Scott Sigler (the second book in his Infected trilogy) and my reaction was a pout followed by a damn it for three reasons.

  1. It was really good and now I have to wait for the next book.
  2. It was a really good read and now it’s over.
  3. Something happened towards the end that upset me a little bit (I love books like that).

Rather than rambling on about both Infected and Contagious together I’m going to do a short review for both. You might want to skip the last part if you haven’t read Infected yet. Not that I’d include major spoilers, but even a review can very rarely be spoiler free.

I will say for both of them that they are great books and a great story which I highly recommend.

Infected

They dropped from the atmosphere like microscopic snow. Billions of seeds, smaller than specks of dust, spiralling down from the heavens. A few survived, and began to grow…

Now three people face a race against time. Dew Philips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.

And Perry Dawsey, an ex-footballer in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. And which is getting bigger.

And then the voices start…

What a mind fudge (yes fudge because I’m trying to control my swearing). I love mind fudges in a story, but this one was a bit different because it was more a mind fudge for the character rather than yourself.
I say it is a mind fudge because the main character, Perry, ends up infected and the infection has him hearing voices. I love how it swings from Perry being ‘sane’ to being a mental nut job while he is going through this experience. You don’t really know where this character is going most of the time and how he’ll come out at the end or even if he can continue on.
Yet there’s a part where you know something is coming which is ok because you don’t really want to believe it and it is probably all the more fucked up (sorry, but it’s the best word for it) because of knowing it’s coming.
As for the writing style itself, I’m not in love with Sigler’s writing style, but he has great story telling ability which shows and over shadows the writing style too.
In my reading experience, someone can put a lot of energy into style and completely lose sight of the story by just making it all about the words and sentences. That’s not to say that Sigler doesn’t have a style about him, but to me it’s simplistic and the story jumps out to you and gets under your skin because of the character development, detail, and plot.
There’s also some dark and disturbing content and even though the subject isn’t exactly funny I think Scott Sigler might have quite a sense of humour because I read a lot of humour in there. I even had a chuckle at times.
The funny thing for me though was how much I loved the character Perry. Here’s this young jock (at the end of this book I started to wonder if perhaps Sigler is a footy fan because there was a lot of American football talk and yet it wasn’t enough to take away from the story) who comes out with some very ignorant, rude, slightly homophobic (but not seemingly intentional) and very sexist slurs and yet I love the character that is Perry Dawsey. He could have turned out to be very one dimensional and stereotypically boorish, but he is actually pretty complex and a very entertaining character. I do like the other characters (some of which grew on me into the next book), but I think it helps following Perry’s problems and thanks to the main plot having to read a lot about him as well.
I could probably ramble on a lot more about it because I love it, but I’m just going to recommend you read it if this is your sort of subject.

Contagious

When the seeds landed on Chelsea Jewell, they made her seven year old body and mind the incubator for the worst plague ever to attack the planet.

Mankind’s best hope of defence is Perry Dawsey: host-turned-hunter, bloodthirsty psychotic, and – with his new strange ability – a key member in the black-ops team leading a deadly battle against the mysterious disease that is spreading across America.

Now Dawsey and the rest of the black-ops team are in a desperate race to find and destroy Chelsea and her ‘family’ before it’s too late.

I think this book carried on really well from the first one and I’m really glad it did because I originally came across this trilogy because of this book. There is a review about it on Horrorscope which has the gas mask cover (I love gas masks and I completely agree with the wow factor in that review too) and I decided I just had to read it, but of course I had to read it all in order.
I also think this book helped me love Perry Dawsey as a character even more because of the changes he goes through and I love the reactions from the other characters towards him because I think it adds more depth to the characters around him and to the story. There are quite a lot of conflicts in there and not just between characters, but also emotional and moral conflicts happening throughout the whole story.
There are also a lot of very stereotypical redneck, homophobic, old school male chauvinistic references in this story and yet there’s a part of it that’s homo-erotic. That may not have been intentional and I probably just picked up on it because I’m queer and can’t help myself. I also have a few friends who are also always pointing out homo-erotic scenarios and situations in very heterosexual stories and I really picked up on it in this book because some of the male characters remind me of guys from the 50s who have some very old school values.
That’s not the focus though and I don’t want to make it sound like it is. The focus is the story and Perry’s journey laced with a lot of action; I have just observed those other aspects of it which might not even come to a lot of people’s attention.
And there is a lot of action, a lot of very good action. There’s also a lot of detail explaining said action, but Sigler doesn’t go on about it or repeat himself beyond bearing like a lot of authors will do (that includes the repeating of specific key points from the first novel) which makes me very happy. Instead he shares some details and gets right into the story.
There’s also one other character I wish to mention – Chelsea Jewell – great character and not because she’s complex like Perry Dawsey or because she’s amusing like two of the other characters that share banter, it’s because of how she is used in this story. It can be considered pretty dark and twisted which is probably why I like it so much, but I won’t get into what happens there because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It basically has to do with the infection and the escalation of the story.

This book is pretty much just as well written as the first with even more character development because you have more time with the other characters. Add onto that there’s also more action on a far broader scale and, same as with Infected, even though it has some dark content there’s still quite a sense of humour in there which makes it a fast paced read with some amusement as well.

Last, but not least, I won’t be happy if I don’t mention that Scott Sigler writes some great lines. Not along the lines of something from Proust or Orwell, but more amusement wise. That also includes some of his chapter titles which crack me up (If ifs and buts were candy and nuts) and now I feel I have to quote them in my day to day life.

And now it’s time to wait for the next one…

Old School Thursdays: Alien Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll

An old review from my old blog which I believe I wrote in late 2008 or possibly early 2009.

Aliens mating with Earthlings? It’s true. Now three of their other-worldly offspring have stolen a spaceship and are zooming toward Earth in search of – what else? – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Parking their saucer in Sydney, Australia, they shapeshift into luscious earthgirl form.

When the alien who calls herself Baby abducts Jake (the commitment-phobic young dude from Jaivin’s “Eat Me”) and straps him into the saucer’s sexual experimentation chamber, the global warming begins. The Babes form a band and skyrocket to rock ‘n’ roll stardom.

But trouble’s on its way in the small gray shape of Captain Qwerk, who has set out to recapture them, with the U.S. military and Eros, the excitable asteroid, right behind. The Babes are preparing for the biggest concert in interplanetary history, but they just might have to save the world at the same time.


Knowing Linda Jaivin wrote erotica (Eat Me) and that this book has aliens I was expecting something out there. Well my expectations were met and then exceeded!

From the first page I was hooked and by the sixth I was laughing my head off. Rock ‘n’ Roll Babes was refreshing. I’m so used to reading novels based in America or Europe and not using Aussie slang because they are either by American/European authors or they are Aussie’s trying to fit into that market. R&R was refreshing in that it is based in Sydney and is jam packed full of Aussie slang, Aussie place names, bands, and a language that I completely was at ease with. A language that involved a lot of swearing. Lets face it, I’m a gutter mouth at times and this book was right up my little dirty alley.

It’s not erotica, although it is permeated with sexual innuendo, sexual situations and it starts off with “sexual experimentation”, but it actually turns out to be a novel about 90’s sub culture more then anything else, just with aliens. And if you, like me, loved the 90’s and lived in the alternative music scene then you’ll understand it’s completely natural for it to have a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

I love how this novel doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s so fast paced and addictive. Jaivin doesn’t seem to be afraid or conform which is probably why within the first ten pages I decided I had to read her other books. To me it’s really no wonder that I’m hooked being a 90’s chick (spent most of my teens in the 90’s) and being into all the things mentioned in the novel (from grunge music to the X-Files) does help, but Jaivin has a way with words that makes the story fast pop and speed along.

If you want a laugh or if you are an Aussie and want something Aussie based filled with lots of slang you can relate to and feel at home with then I highly recommend it. Rock ‘n’ Roll Babes From Outer Space is excellent.

Old School Thursdays: The Host

Another one from 2008 I believe. I’d finished reading the Twilight Saga not long before this and was still waiting for Breaking Dawn. Also, by this point I wasn’t a big science fiction reader unless it was Dystopia or largely labelled as Horror.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer is a science fiction novel described as “Science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.” Something of which turned out to be a very apt description (if more science fiction was like that I‘d be more inclined to read it). I don’t usually read science fiction unless it has some deeper meaning to it or a psychological aspect to it. Basically I’m not a science fiction nut when it comes to literature (unless it’s dystopian then gimme, gimme, gimme).

Synopsis

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie’s thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love

The story itself doesn’t start off slow but it does feel slow to get into at first. It’s like warming up to it. By the time you hit the 50 page mark you feel the story building at a steadily increasing pace and yourself getting wrapped up in it along the way. By the 100 page mark I didn’t want to put the book down.

If you’ve read the Twilight saga like I have and enjoyed it like I did, but want something a bit more adult, more detail, but still with some love interest then perhaps you should check out The Host. Like The Twilight series, Meyer once again sucks you in and has you loving the characters but the difference here is that it has more depth.

I’ve noticed a theme here with Meyer, she explores emotions and delves so deeply into them that you’re affected by it. Although on the surface this is a story about an alien invasion from body snatchers, underneath it’s a story about humanity. It’s described as a romance (and yes there is romance) but the way I saw the love story was as a love for humanity.

The ending was excellent and is also one of those endings that can be open ended enough for a sequel, but what I really like about that ending is that the book as a whole can be a stand alone novel and stay that way without lacking anything.

I really don’t think The Host gets anywhere near as much attention as it should, especially being overshadowed by Twilight which is a shame because there are probably a lot of people out there who would enjoy it, but are missing out.