Vostok – By Steve Alten

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Vostok is the sequel to the loch, which in turn was a spin off from the Meg series. This book is a crossover story with the characters from the Loch returning but also involving the main characters from the Meg series as well. This book is also a prequel to the 5th book in the Meg series.

The sad reality is this book was so bad I think i’ll be breaking my mantra of always finishing a series I start. It was so bad I cant even bring myself to keep it on my bookshelf. The book starts off not too bad and based on the real world. Follows on from the discovery of a lake underneath Antarctica (lake Vostok is actually real) The main character from the Loch is called in to go down and explore this lake and see what is down there. Everything continues on much like any adventure novel but then halfway its like the author had a stroke and everything changes.

We go from exploring a underground lake to dealing with aliens and time travel abilities, like what?  I can only image the author went on an acid trip halfway through writing this. Nothing can explain the so sudden and abrupt change in story, the pace, theme and concept is just thrown out the window so the author can go on a conspiracy nut job wet dream exposition of secret governments and aliens in collusion with them.  Even now as I sit here writing this I cant even understand how his publisher agreed to print this. Its was so bad, and not like a “B” grade movie, where they are so bad its good, this was so bad its bad. If there could be a surgery where I can remove the memories of me reading this book I would do it in a heart beat. I just cant explain enough just how crazy and messed up this book was. If anyone out there even considers buying this book all i can suggest is rip it in half, the first half is good,  The second half can be used as toilet paper.
All I wanted was a nice “scary sea monster” read. I most certainly did not in any way want the acid trip of  gobbledegook that this book turned into

Steve Alten you are now barred from my bookshelves, please don’t write any more books until you get checked out by a doctor

The Terror – Dan Simmons

The Terror – Dan Simmons
Found this book while filling in time at a book store. I recognized the authors name and picked it up to check it out. It’s the authors take on what happened to the lost Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. The blurb on the back caught my attention with the whole the crew are pursued across the ice by The Terror.
It got me thinking back to his previous book i had read The Abominable, that books blurb gave the impression the climbers were stalked by a Yeti, but the truth was far from it. So i anticipated a similar deception here. I assumed instead of a monster, “The Terror” that the author described was death. chasing them across the ice as each man succumbed to starvation.  Since all the men died i felt this would probably be the case.
To test this i decided to get the book not from there of course, pfft Dymocks is a rip off. I scanned the book on my app and when i got home bought a copy from Bookdepository.com. $4 cheaper than Dymocks and free shipping.
Once the book arrived i dove straight in. Well unlike his previous book it wasn’t a metaphor, something is actually pursuing the men. This increased my interest ten fold. Man this book was good, the level of suspense, you really feel on edge like the men would be, ever wary of the nearby threat.
Was loving it till about halfway when a local native to the region started displaying some magic spiritual mumbo jumbo crap, when i first read that part i thought i had daydreamed it, it was so out of the blue. I went back and read the preceding pages to check, nope the author did indeed throw in some strange mumbo jumbo. I thought i can deal with it ill just ignore it and revel in the suspense side of things but as it drew to the end that spiritual mumbo jumbo just went down right crazy and for me it ruined a solid book. It was just over the top unbelievable stuff. like seriously a native who kisses polar bears and when the bear kisses her it blows into her mouth and plays her vocal cords like a flute?? what crack was this author on.
Loved the suspense and setting of this book but the ending just killed it for me, With the ridiculous mumbo jumbo. That aside if you read 3/4 of the book and skip the polar bear symphony and then finish there by saying then they all died its brilliant.
 Tongueless people who make music by kissing polar bears and all that other spiritual voodoo stuff, like really?? Try harder and be a little more creative  next time Mr Author

Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham
Part 2 of the ebook trilogy for Axis of Time series, follows straight on from Part 1 (Rome). Here we find ourselves still trying to piece together what is happening with the Soviets. Why there is so much focus on a scientist in Cairo for a talk.Will all be revealed in the soon to release Part 3 Paris.
Loving these brief returns to the world created in Axis of Time. Cant wait for Part 3 but i’m still not liking this whole ebook trend. I understand this author is in disputes with some Publishers so has chosen the self-publish ebook route for these books, but the concern is why are they always so short? There seems to be a real trend of publishers wanting shorter stories to fuel the ebook market. Aiming at people with short attention spans or busy schedules who don’t have lots of time to be able to read. Instead of releasing these ebooks as 3 small 100 page books, we not combine them into a proper sized book of 300 pages?
I need the big epics, i love my Tom Clancy or George R.R. Martin massive tomes. I pretty much won’t buy a book if its under 300 pages, i only grabbed these ebooks because it was the only way to continue the story that was established in the first trilogy. That being said i have my fingers crossed that they will be released in physical book one day so i can delete this damn kindle app for good.
Physical books for the win!!!!

Atlantis Series – Harry Turtledove

Atlantis Series – Harry Turtledove
After the author read an article about how New Zealand broke away from Australia 85 million years ago he wondered what would happen if the same happened to the east coast of the US. The idea of Atlantis was borne, the east coast of the US from Florida all the way up into Canada and as far west as the other side of the Appalachian mountains breaks off 85  million years ago and as such develops a unique and highly different fauna and flora.
The first book is set in the 1400s where a fisherman discovers the island after trading part of his catch  for directions to rich fishing grounds and finds Atlantis, he soon leads an expedition to colonise it to escape the tyranny of kings and queens back home but trouble soon follows him
The second book set in the 1700’s begins the trend of following the history of our US with this book dealing with Atlantis war of independence of England. Here we find that the Mainland has been colonised too but here it is called Terranova
The 3rd book set in 1800’s deals with slavery but unlike the real world and the civil war, here we have a slave insurrection fighting to be treated as equals
The 4th book is a collection of short stories not all to do with Atlantis but its included because it has 2 Atlantis stories. A knockoff of Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery and another of a naturalist searching for possibly extinct birds
The entire series is well written and i thoroughly enjoyed it but really felt it needed a map to accompany the story to help add depth and to understand the locations better.

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham
Continuing on from the epic Axis of Time trilogy,  John returns us to the world he established but a few years later. The year is now 1955 and the world has changed. The Allies won world war 2 (again) but with different outcomes, German cities being Nuked and finished earlier than expected.  The technology from the future has been in their hands for 13 years now and great leaps and bounds are being made.
Stalin’s Hammer is scheduled to be broken into 3  books, Rome being the first, Cairo and Paris being the other too and these books catch us up on what has been happening. Turns out Stalin not happy to hear his communist party doesn’t survive to the turn of century and sets out to fix this. Whatever that may mean….
Let me be clear i’m not an ebook person. I could ramble on about the smell, tactile sensation or how awesome a full bookshelf is but that’s beside the point. I prefer books on the shelf but since john has been screwed over by publishers he is going out on his own. As such the only (read cost effective) way to get the books is in ebook format. These are just novellas so quite short but i loved the world he created and just had to get them. Since my favourite characters from Axis of Time return such as Prince Harry, it is a fantastic (short) read.
He intends to release part 2 and 3 for free on his mailing list first so defiantly jump in there and sign up if you like freebies. http://cheeseburgergothic.com/

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Who hasn’t wondered about theoretical what ifs. What if Hitler got into The Academy of Fine Arts as a youth, would he still of got into politics? What if JFK changed his route that day?  So when you see movies like The Final Countdown, you think its going to be awesome but it just doesn’t live up to it since they fail to destroy the Japaneses (they want to preserve the timeline).

I had previously dabbled in some alternate history works by Harry Turtledove in his “Days of Infamy” duology in which the Japanese follow up Pearl Harbour bombing with a land invasion too.  Then i heard of the Axis of Time trilogy (which is now more than 3) in which a multinational task force from the year 2021 is sent back to the battle of midway (by accident). They are stuck in the past, as soon as i read that i was yes, shit is going to get messed up and changed. So i had to get them.

It great from the get go, The multinational task force had a Japanese ship in it so when the midway fleet see that they attack and are pretty much destroyed by the future ships. From that point on history is completely changed. Its worse because some of the fleets ships are missing. Did they travel back?  If so where or who has them, because some had nukes on board.

John crafts an amazing universe here with 1940s tech trying to adapt and jump forward to 2021. We see huge leaps in tech, Generals in WW2 using Ipads but more interestingly, John does a fantastic job of bringing to the front cultural issues too. Us civilized countries take it for granted that our armed forces are made up of both men and women and people of many colours but 1940s is far different. There are some massive issues in 1940 of people taking orders from women captains and “coloured” captains. I feel john does an amazing job of capturing this racist attitude. I know back then they didn’t see it as that but in today’s world that is exactly what it is, racist. This series covers the time frame of world war 2 which to no surprise finishes earlier in this new time line.

There are numerous comic moments for example Prince Harry was serving in the fleet that got sent back, so he gets to meet his grandparents before they were married and the royal succession line goes into a panic trying to adapt. Stalin loves hosting Tarantino marathons!

While this Trilogy deals just with ww2 John has continued this universe in some ebooks but set 10 years later. This series has really cemented john as one of my top 5 authors. Doesn’t hurt that he is an Aussie too, even though he is from Queensland.

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien
A long time ago when i first got interested in books, my dad gave me his copy of the hobbit to read, I never even finished it. As a teen i was insulted by the writing style, this is a kids book i said to him and that was that. Our family played alot of board games and every so often my dad would bring out his Lord of the Rings game and naturally i got quite interested as the board was the map of middle earth.  The game was Riddle of the Ring if your interested http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2157/riddle-ring
I bought myself a copy of Lord of the Rings back in ’99 and was quickly drawn into the world of middle earth and as such i have read it every year since
The movies came out and i found myself fielding questions from friends about plots and events. Occasionally something would stump me so i began to delve into more works. And bought every single book my Tolkien or his son. (i have 31 at the moment)
So now every year i read the entire epic of Middle Earth. I start with the Sillmarillion, then hit up the Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings and finish up with Unfinished Tales
Tolkien’s works have really set the standard for fantasy novels for me, i wont touch any unless it has a similar sense of depth and history. To this day the only other fantasy works i have read is a Song of Ice and Fire.
Even with the vast array of works i still find myself with unanswered questions and a desire for more.  Sadly this cant be, Tolkien died along time ago and his son has extensively gone through all his fathers notes to find as many stories as possible.  Alot has been published posthumously
The saga of middle earth would have to be my favorite book(s) and yet each time i read it i still discover more. Just this time it clicked as i was reading some of the genealogies in the appendices that Galadriel is Elrond’s mother in law.
Anytime i meet someone who hasn’t read it, i slowly coerce them to get it but it is a lot to take on, so i work it back wards from how i read them. I get them to read Lord of the Rings, in it it mentions a lot about the hobbit. So after Lord of the Rings they get curious so then i give them the Hobbit which explains a few things for them but then if still curious i give them the Sillmarillion ,it is probably the hardest of his works to swallow because it is  a collection of stories about the forming if the world. Coming of elves and men and of the first dark lord  (Saurons boss Morgoth) if only somehow Peter Jackson could make a Sillmarillion movie, armies of dragons and Balrogs oh what a sight. The Unfinished Tales is more like a giant appendices, it contains some expanded stories mentioned in the Silmarillion but it also has some good parts like, More information about the 5 wizards and the start of the abandoned sequel to Lord of the Rings.
Needless to say Tolkien has a shelf all to his own and i will continue to read these stories year after year until my eyesight fails me.