Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of this title. So, the failed Franklin Expedition of 1845 has been a subject that I have been obsessed with ever since reading The Terror by Dan Simmons. For those not familiar with the lost expedition, Sir John Franlin set out from England in the mid 19th century to find the elusive Northwest Passage. The purpose of the expedition was to shorten the amount of time it would take to conduct trade between Europe and Asia. Franklin was convinced that there was a way to navigate the harsh and icy northern Canada waterways and come through clean on the western side. In Simmons' The Terror, the expedition was the backdrop of his horror story and although many details about the expedition were factual and hashed out, I've always been looking for a more comprehensive treatment of the entire mystery of what occurred. Needless to say, I was very excited to see this title on NetGalley as the summary described it as being a factual telling of the entire expedition as well as a modern-day story detailing the 2014 discovery of many of the artifacts from that fateful event. Based on that description alone, I had a feeling that this may be the historical book that I was looking for to satisfy my curiosity where the Terror just fell short. The book begins with a brief introduction of the 2014 exploration and what was needed to bring that to fruition. After the introduction, we really get into the meat of the story and are treated to a wonderful account of what was believed to have happened to the crew of the HMS Terror and Erebus. As the historical account is told, the book also flashes forward to 2014 and the discoveries of the exploration team. I thought this worked incredibly effectively as it allowed me to connect the discoveries that the modern-day team made with what was depicted in the historical account. Watson does a great job of dispelling many of the myths that have circulated over the years as to the cause of the tragedy. I was especially intrigued by his inclusion of the Inuit tribes of the far north and how he was able to surmise that they could have been of great assistance to Franklin and his men, if not for the inherent prejudice of the crew that may have stopped them from asking for help. In the end, Watson comes to the conclusion that many factors decided the fate of the doomed crew, not the least of which was the harshness and unpredictability of the arctic weather itself. I thoroughly enjoyed Ice Ghosts and highly recommend it to anyone interested in this historic event or readers who are simply looking for a terrific adventure story. I can't recommend this book enough and I believe that it deserves five stars.

View all my reviews

Review: Something's Alive on the Titanic

Something's Alive on the Titanic Something's Alive on the Titanic by Robert J. Serling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of this title. The Titanic is a subject that has always intrigued me. Even as a child I remember gobbling up any book that I could find on the Titanic from my local library. So when I saw the title and the blurb, I was instantly drawn to want to request it. Robert Serling's book was actually originally released in the 90's and has since been rereleased. The narrative switches back and forth from 1975, where an amateur group of researchers discover the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor. The second part of the story takes place in 1995 and also follows a group of researchers, with one difference. The researchers from 1995 have much better equipment at their disposal and as a result, are able to perform their search more effectively and with fascinating results. As the title suggests - something is truly alive on the Titanic, but the nature of that being or entity is a mystery. It is upon this mystery that the main plot of the story is built. I was pleasantly surprised that the cheese factor was less than I expected. The book is actually a very effective adventure story with a supernatural twist blended in. Now that's not to say that there aren't moments where the eyes roll, but I fully expected this to be nothing more than a mindlessly fun popcorn read. The science and marine biology aspects in my opinion were fairly well-researched and interesting. Another aspect that I was impressed with was how the history of the sinking of the Titanic was handled. In a story such as this one, it would have been easy to simply craft an adventure story with the wreck of the Titanic solely used as the background. Serling shows that he knows his stuff when it comes to that tragic event and uses part of his story to give us an interesting and compelling retelling while never losing the main mystery, that being the "thing" that happens to be alive on the ship. And it is there where the story slowly builds to a climax. Would the payoff of the discovery of that thing be worth the investment of reading 300 pages or so of info dumps and dual storylines? I am pleased to say that yes, the payoff was worth it! I recommend Something's Alive on the Titanic to readers who are looking for a light, fun, adventurous read. It is also a perfect book to read on a plane or to take to the beach. Despite the hokey title, it is a book that may surprise you and delight you at the same time. I found it to be a very entertaining read.

View all my reviews