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

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
I needed a change from the usual action, thriller and Scifi i read. I wanted a story that could make one laugh and cry, smile and feel. This book ticks all those boxes.
The book centers on a 7 year old girl Elsa, She is a child of divorce who lives with her mum and her new partner in a block of units. There are several other tenants in that building and her Granny. She has a very close relationship with her granny, who loves to tell her stories, together they have made up a fantasy world. Elsa is a little different from others, she’s slightly smarter and so her granny is very protective of her. Together in their fantasy land they go on adventures and hear stories of knights going on quests.
When her granny dies she is devastated but finds a letter from Gran in which she asks Elsa to go on one more quest to save their fantasy world. What follows is carefully crafted plan by Gran for Elsa to learn who Gran used to be and on the way Elsa discovers more about her family and neighbors and how connected they all are with their fantasy world.
A brillant story that does a great job of showing the world through the eyes of a child. and how kids can be more grown up than they appear

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.

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
In today’s day and age it is so hard to have a real discussion about religion. We have as a society evolved (well devolved since its going backwards) to lash out when people want to discuss certain topics.
In the media the left wing nanny state fascists, instead of having discussions on the issue just throw around words like racist and bigots or commence in slanderous attacks rather than discuss the issue but this is just childish. We seem to have lost the ability to have a respectful talk on key issues with someone of an opposing point of view. Is it because we have become a race of keyboard warriors who lash out at anything they don’t agree with? or are people becoming so brainwashed they don’t know why they hold a point of view so they cant argue it? or worse still they are told they are not allowed to.
This book does a wonderful job of highlighting this very issue. How religion has turned into a topic that people don’t want to discuss and just react violently to who ever brings it up. Which is the very opposite of what the major religions preach.
Its a great read for someone who has an open mind and doesn’t run off and bury their head in the sand when a topic is broached they don’t like.

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.

Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson

I stumbled upon Kim about a year ago, when i picked up 2312 as part of my mission to find a female author who doesn’t  ADD a love story to her book. Imagine my surprise to find out Kim was male. In hindsight i probably should of done some further research. Anyway i loved his sense of grandness and would defiantly grab another book of his. Fast forward to a year later and near where i used to work in the city(Sydney) there was an actual Dymocks bookstore, i’m surprised they (bookstores) still exist. Anyway i regular used to visit the bookstore from a price checking point of view, to see if they had any of the books on my wishlist at bookdepostory.com for a cheaper price. In the history of my price checking visits i NEVER found a physical bookstore had a cheaper price than an online bookstore based halfway around the world. Its crazy how that works out. Anyway on one of these price checking missions i saw this book sitting there in my beloved Sci-Fi area. I thought oh Kim has a new book out cool, i flip it over to read the blurb and find out it doesn’t have one, just quotes from newspapers etc. I was stumped, how can a book not have a blurb. I wasn’t aware Kim was a behemoth of the literary world like Tom Clancy or Stephen king. who could release a book without a description and simply say its my new book buy it and people would. So onto google i go to see if i can find out some info but i cant find much. I’m hesitant these days to grab a book on a whim now based on its cover or blurb. As the bitter taste of defeat still hangs over me after the pain of picking up a young adult love story. Damn you Amy Tintera (reboot) making the awesomeness that is a zombie Apocalypse a sub plot to a love story. I glance at the cover again and at the tiny spaceship on it and decide Kim’s previous works are reason enough for me to take a chance and break my rule of not buying a book that doesn’t have a blurb. So i bought it and let me tell you i am glad i did

Aurora is an interesting piece, The story is about the ship pictured on the cover and its journey towards Aurora. However to keep things interesting the story isn’t written from the point of view of one of the 2000 colonists living on board but from the point of view of the Ship. The ship is managed by a computer system and over the course of the ships 170 year journey it begins to exceed its programming. At the start of the novel we are introduced to a character who is very much the reason for the computers growth. Devi pretty much the head engineer and goto person for issues. She is the first person in the history of this journey to crack open the ships code and start changing things. As part of its “growth” she tasks the computer with compiling a summary of the story of the ship. Naturally the computer struggles with the concept of a summary and how it decides what to keep and what info isn’t needed and this starts of the stories narrative. I just felt it was a unique way of writing.

The ship is a multi generational ship and as it approaches Aurora, wear and tear is really showing with lots of things breaking down. I cant really go into too much detail of the story as it would be spoiler filed but Aurora is an amazing story of humanities first interstellar journey to a new home and a tragic insight into the very idea of social politics and in turn that of human nature

Well done Kim another fantastic story crafted here!

Lost on Mars – Paul Magrs

Lost on Mars – Paul Magrs

I have a frustrating tendency lately to pick up books which are parts of trilogies that havent been finished. Unbeknowst to me at the time of course, its kinda frustraing to get to the end of a book that you have been really enjoying and as you approach it, you say to yourself how will he wrap this up. Then it finishes and you find out you have to wait for the author to write part two and three. I hate waiting, i was the kid who stuck downstairs at christmas carefully unwrapped his christmas presents to see what he got and then wrap them back up. In fact it gets worst, there was one time i got a boxset of the 3 original robocop movies, i watched two of them then wrapt it back up, just in time for the morning festivities. Thats bad i know, but anyway back to this book. This book blends a good mix of sci fi with life in the mid west, frontier style. Third generation settlers on mars have developed small communities, they each keep to themselves and there is no contact between communities or earth. LIfe is that of isolation. Think of this as Little house on the Martian Praire, if anyone gets that refference. There are rumours that have drifted down from the original settlers of Martians but everyone thought it was just nonsense stories from old ladies, the kind to scare kids. That was untill people start going missing. First its the town drunk, then someones kid, but soon Lora’s Grandma and father go missing, Then Lora sees the Martians and after a chance encounter with a friendly one sets of on an adventure with her family to escape the coming Martians. What follows is an amazing journey across an unforgiving and unfamiliar landscape what she and her family discover at the end aside from a giant plot hole makes them rethink their entire existence on Mars.

Such a great read, it really captures the imagination with the view of frontier life on Mars. Good to see a strong willed female protagonist. If you over look the giant plot hole (read technology being used well before its invented) its a great read. Eager to grab parts two and three whenever they are ready