Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Island of Secrets by Matthew Power review/giveaway

About a year ago, I read David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (about the turn of the century real-life adventurer Percy Fawcett) and wrote that I'd greatly enjoyed about half of it, and hated the rest. It was an interesting story wrongly stretched into a book.

Matthew Power's Island of Secrets once again demonstrates that Kindle single-sized editions are perfect for nonfiction that's a bit too long for a magazine, but not deep enough to deserve publication as a book.

Here's the official description:

If geologist, adventurer and risk-prone eccentric John Lane can prove the existence of the elusive tree kangaroo on the remote Pacific island of New Britain, he just might be able to save one of the last truly wild endangered forests on earth. But first he and his ragtag expedition party—college students, adventure-seeking biologists, disinterested local teenagers—will have to find the rare animal. Award-winning writer Matthew Power plunges into one of the world’s most foreboding jungles alongside Lane. It is a quest that’s equal parts noble, dangerous and wacky, in a place that’s truly off the map.
Here's a photo gallery of the strange creatures spotted on the journey, including glow in the dark mushrooms.

And here's a sample:
I observed to Lane that a bunch of Californian college kids in the middle of a jungle sounded like the archetypical setup of a 1970s exploitation movie. And it did seem as though an F/X crew was on the premises. One morning, Lane woke to find a 10-foot web stitched between the same pair of trees as his hammock, an orb weaver spider the breadth of my palm splayed at its center. There were at least three species of scorpion in camp, and the native amethystine pythons were known to grow to 25 feet. Tiger leeches waited in ambush on the undersides of leaves, squirmed through the eyelets in hiking boots, and crawled to out-of-the-way sites to feed undisturbed. A few days earlier, Lane thought he felt a loose piece of skin on the inside of his cheek and discovered a leech feeding in his mouth. Alan discovered the same while brushing his teeth. One morning, Sarah had felt what she thought was a bit of dirt in her eye. She asked Heidi to take a look and was informed that a leech had attached itself to her eyeball, where it was happily engorged. As the camp gathered around to observe, Sarah maintained clinical detachment while...
Don't you want to read more?

The full story is available from The Atavist for the Kindle, the iPad/iPhone, the Nook, or iBooks.

I also have one digital copy to give away. For a chance to win, simply comment on this post and include your email so I can contact you if you win. One comment per person, and this contest is open worldwide. I'll pick a winner next week.