The North Water – Ian McGuire

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it wasn’t just merely a sailing adventure but a murder mystery and conspiracy all wrapped into one bundle, up in the frozen north. I think the author really set the scene quite well and as such the story really drew me in. Just imagine setting sail for a journey lasting several months into the far north to hunt whales knowing there was a murderer on board with you. Yes there is a bit of violence in this book, and i’ve seen some reviews complain of it but it is about hunting whales and a murder so you cant expect it to be a tea party with everyone eating scones. I think the book is essentially making us ask ourselves which is more harsh the cruel and unforgiving frozen north or human nature at its instinctual basics.

I have read quite a few books that suffer from lulls in the drama between key scenes but this book just doesn’t stop, it just keeps the story going, there are no lulls and the fast pace keeps you from wanting to put the book down for a break. Such a great read!

The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

136538I have often heard of The Little Prince, so when I decided to increase the number of “translated” books I own. I thought i’d give this one a try. Yet as I worked my way through the story I found myself asking what the heck is this about, It read like a kids book, with matching pictures and i had trouble connecting with it as such.Some crazy trip to different planets with bizarre and weird occupants, was very reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson.

After finishing it i was still at a loss to describe the book, i have never had to delve deeply to discover what a book was about. In general a book conveys a story but this story didn’t make sense, so i reached out online to try and find help in understanding this story. I remember i used to mock my Shakespeare obsessed, socially quirky English teacher back in high school because she was always trying to over-analysis a story by asking what did the author mean, what concepts was he/she trying to convey. I was like chill Miss he just wrote an entertaining story about adventure why ruin it by over-analysis. But now with this book i needed that over-analysis to figure out what was going on.

I had found a place to discuss this book but before i could even start, The first thing i read was by a woman who wrote, (SPOILER ALERT) firstly are you aware the little prince dies at the end? I mocked her to myself and thought no he didn’t he goes home. But then she goes on to say to reread the book but with the eyes and mind of an adult.

As i begun this second read through, it occurs to me that since i initial thought it was a child’s story i read it as such. So as instructed i approached it differently and it was as if the curtains had been pulled down from my eyes. It was as if the story was like one of those crazy 3D images where on the top is one picture but if you look hard underneath is another. This book is like that, on the surface its a child like bedtime story but if you look through the narrative you see a cleverly crafted world beneath trying to teach a lesson.

Every planet The Little Prince visits has its own Moral, it shows just how weird adults and their behaviours can be to a child. The lamplighter, who follows his orders to the letter without question giving him only 1 minute of free time a day, The business man, so busy counting stars he fails to live his life, or the drunkard who drinks to forget the shame of drinking. Such behaviours to a child come off strange and weird and yet to an adult they are somewhat familiar.As adults we can sometimes get so caught up in what society expects, we forget to think about what we want or whats truly important.

Then we come to the fox, how can a child’s story have such a profound impact on an adult. but yet here i am reading of a fox who tells me that true beauty is invisible to the eyes. Society drills into us so much that looks and appearance are all that matters but when you come to the heart of it that’s all bullshit, its whats underneath that’s truly important

Now i come to the sad part, originally sad because i thought the story was over and the Little Prince goes home but really its much worse than that. The Snake is society, the little prince a child. Society promises the world to a child and in the case of the book, the snake tells the prince i’ll help you get home. But in reality, all society does is kill off the innocence and purity of a child. The Death of the Little Prince corresponds to the death of the child in each of us. We become mindless automatons in society lacking imagination and focus on materialistic things rather than fun. We do things because they are expected of us or because we “have to” not because we want too.

This isn’t really a children’s book, its for us adults who still can remember being a child and have that knowledge that we can never really go back to that time of innocence and youth. This book tells us its important to hold onto that memory and that we don’t have to listen to the Snake. There are still parts of the book i cant quite understand or determine the morals and perhaps that is because society hasn’t fully changed me and i still have a little bit of my inner child still alive in me….

 

The Disappearing Spoon – Sam Kean

9413837This book is much more than a rambling, collection of stories,  facts and quirky science knowledge. It is a history of  adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The book follows every element on the periodic table and their parts in human history, and in the lives of the scientists who discovered them.
It had enough science in it to both keep scientifically minded person interested and not scare off the scientifically illiterate. A great read for a source of trivia and improving your knowledge of elements if you have no clue as to what the difference between copper or bronze is.
Its title comes from the lab prank of molding spoons out of Gallium, which is solid at room temperature, but melts at 28 degrees Celsius ( 84Fahrenheit for those crazy imperials). So when you give a gallium spoon to someone with their tea, it will melt as they stir it, man those scientists are a crazy bunch. It’s a book I think everyone should read (might help raise our poor education standard for STEM)

Odessa Sea – Clive Cussler

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Picking up a book by your favourite author is like sliding into a warm bed in winter or that first sip of beer on a hot Australian summer day, its just fantastic. Speaking of which it is 42 ° C   (or 107 F) to you crazy yanks.

Another solid entry into the Dirk Pitt series (its number 24 by the way) It ha been 2 years since out last adventure with these heroes and after the first few pages it feels like no time has passed at all. With the introduction of his long lost kids a few books back they pretty much are in all the books now and its sticks to the same formula, the kids have one plot and Pitt has another but by the end it turns out they are intertwined. This is normally done well but this time each plot for me just felt forced, like they each could have been their own book since the connection wasn’t that strong at all, each could function without the other.

It was however refreshing to see that the crew on the NUMA vessel’s which normally are treated like red shirts from star trek (ie canon fodder) were actually treated like people for once and not just killed off.

I do like how his books always seem to include some real life event in them kind of ties them down to a specific time frame. For this one we deal with the Russian invasion and take over of the Crimea Peninsula
With his multitude of series running and it is no surprise that sometimes things feel “familiar” but that doesn’t deter you from enjoying the ride. Bring on book #25

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 Loch by Steve Alten

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A bad book is like a band aid, sometimes its best to just rip it off quickly and be done with it. Likewise a bad book series must be completed in its entirety so one can move on with life never to return. The Meg series which has spiraled down into the trash ever since its first sequel stepped into crazy land. Well that series spawned a spin off, The loch.

The Loch takes place after book 4 in the Meg series and as its title suggests, deals with the Loch nest monster. This book was a surprise unlike the meg sequels this book was grounded in reality had a lot of marine science in it and no far off outlandish stuff.

The story of what the Loch Ness monster is was believable and easy to swallow. I enjoyed the new characters but really found the way the story was written, with the rough Scottish wording difficult and at times hard to keep pace with. Definitely something that is easier to listen too rather than read.

Rather surprised to find myself enjoying the book enough to actually look forward to its sequel

Meg #3 Primal Waters, Meg #4 Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten

105746Oh where to begin with this one, I really enjoyed Meg #1 with its introduction of a prehistoric, once believed extinct species but then Meg #2 introduced another species and I was concerned the 3rd might keep that ball rolling. Sadly something worse happened, the book revolves around that gutter trash commonly referred to as reality television. Oh the pain. If it wasn’t bad enough that our screens are filled with this trash and that our society scoops up this rubbish in which stupid people are made famous. To write a book about it is just depressing. Was the author running out of story ideas? The story starts out loosely believable and then add in a plot of revenge and its just bare-able.

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But all sense of realism and plausibility is thrown right out the window with Meg #4.  To make up for his bucking of the trend in bringing back long dead species in Meg #3, the author steps it up a notch and brings back half a dozen extinct species and an underwater realm were they have all lived since time eternal. Cash money Arabs throwing money around like confetti to capture these animals and put them in a zoo just makes we wonder if anyone has ever watched Jurassic park? It wont work guys give up.

I really didn’t enjoy either of these books and really found myself having to bribe myself into finishing this book. The plot and realisim was just gone for me.  The sad reality is there is still a 5th book in this series to come, and I dread as to what the plot will be for that. My compulsion to always finish a series once started really annoys me here as I would love nothing more than to throw away these books and never read this author again but alas I must continue I hate loose ends