Touch by Clair North

22314178I have read quite a few books (who hasn’t) probably a couple of hundred and I can count on one hand the number of books that made me lose sleep and hide from society. I’m not talking from fear or sadness, I’m talking about a book that hooks you in so bad that you lie awake at night wondering what happens next, you cancel social engagements to allow time to read. You call in sick to work to ensure you don’t run out of time and have to leave the book at a crucial point because it’s time to go to work.  This author has written two of these books.
Claire north is just a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, who in her teens wrote a lot of YA books, then when she hit 20 she started writing adult fantasy and so her publisher said its pseudonym time (kate Griffin) to ensure readers don’t get confused. Later on as she wrote books of a completely different style of writing and content it was time for a new name (Claire North) As someone who judges books by covers, and googles authors before picking up a new book this makes a lot of sense. If when I first saw 15 lives of harry august and then googled her name, if I saw she wrote YA I probably wouldn’t of grabbed the book. So kudos to her publishers I am the very type of person they thought of when saying its pseudonym time.
Touch is an amazing roller-coaster of a story, the plot is unique enough to pique my interest and her writing clever enough to keep me wanting more. It isn’t so much so the character I love but the story, I mean just wow. Kepler, is brutally murdered but in the last moments reaches out to the murderer, when suddenly the unthinkable happens, she switches. Kepler is now in the killers body. Kepler now has the ability to jump from one person to another and we are now drawn into a world where people are paid to allow someone to “reside” in their body. A secret society if you will, But when one such body is brutally murdered, Kepler soon finds out not everyone is happy with the idea of this ability

Claire delivers another knockout story, the level of depth she brings into the world is stunning. After I read her first book I went out and bought all the books by Clair, so I cant wait to dive into her next one

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.

Miracle Cure – Harlan Coben

Miracle Cure – Harlan Coben
This is one of Harlan’s earlier works that i had never got around to reading before now. Sometimes with musicians or authors their early works just aren’t up to the same standard as modern works, it takes an artist awhile to hit their groove. Harlan obviously knows this and has a warning in the front of the book saying. If this is your first book of his put it down and find another.  I was like wow he isn’t a big fan of it.
Because of that little intro of his i was very curious to see what it was like. It actually wasn’t bad, i did enjoy it. A clinic is developing a cure for AIDS, its still secret and not public knowledge but then someone starts killing off the patients that have been cured. Clearly someone doesn’t want it know they have a cure. The story deals a lot with the prejudices faced by those with the disease
I should be better at the picking the endings to his books but this one i completely got wrong. Good to see that some older works still  have the same impact as a modern novel. Great read and it definitely has aged well

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Bees – Laline Paull
Not sure how i stumbled on this gem. It has sat in my to read pile for months. Well to be honest i have that many books on my too read pile its now got its on dedicated bookcase. I seem to buy books far faster than i can read them. Anyway finally came around to reading this and all i can say is WOW. Such a creative story. Welcome to the life of Flora-717 our story follows Flora -717  from her  birth. She is quite special ,a normal sanitation worker would spend their lives cleaning the hive but very quickly her special mutation is noted and she is taken away before the fertility police can arrest and destroy her.  She is bigger than normal sanitation workers and the we soon discover she has a few more special habits. Flora is sent to work in the nurseries, feeding the newborns. After sometime she is no longer useful there and her story continues as we follow her as she returns to work with her clan. Through attacks from wasps. Crazy winters and political coups it is a great story. How high can a simple sanitation worker climb in a society dominated by clans? is any goal out of reach?
Such a unique and individual story. I always thought bee hives were full of males with only one female but this story shows that isn’t the case with honeybees. I really loved the conclusion to this story and the journey that Flora -717 goes through. Great female protagonist and written by a female too, will definitely be looking out for more works by this author.

What If? – Randall Munroe

What If? – Randall Munroe

Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving  to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions

There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as

  • what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
  • From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
  • Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
  • If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans

There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.

Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!

 

 

 

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
I may not understand how or why authors co-author a book but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of them. Do they co-author because they are too old to write themselves? Or are they trying to combine their powers like captain planet. More to the point how do they do it. Do they both just write separate plot lines then combine them and just alternate chapters or is it more a spinning ideas by each other. After all only one person can be typing at time.
Anyway this series turns out to be 5 books long and sadly Pratchett passed away just prior to book fours release. So the final book will be written solo. So i guess i might understand the writing process of a co-authored book by seeing how dissimilar the final book will be. Needless to say the world these two have made is stunningly imaginative.
A scientist discovers a way to travel to parallel worlds with a simple device made from basic component’s and a potato. Then he posts the blueprints online without a description of what it does and then disappears from society soon all over the place kids are building these and disappearing. No one knows where they are but one boy comes to the rescue, Joshua Valiente. He brings the kids back to home. The world soon learns of these parallel worlds and everything changes.
As one imagines when given the opportunity of slaving at some desk job to pay off a home loan. Or living like a pioneer building your own house and hunting or farming free from capitalism a huge amount of the population chooses the later and disappears from what they call datum earth(the same earth we the reader lives on). I know i sure as hell would go in a second. The parallel worlds are just numbered by how many steps they are from datum. They are also called east or west but those titles have nothing to do with a compass. A step is the term for stepping from one parallel world to another. In that you can step west into West 1, 2,3 or step east to 1 ,2,3 etc there is no end number. As you can imagine the first book deals with Joshua and friends going on an expedition to explore all the way to west 2 million. While still discussing the changes back home. Which were all quite logical. If half the population leaves government revenue dries up. Greedy evil banks and corporations start struggling but people can actually enjoy life.  Joshua on his journeys finds there are no humans in the other words but evolution has gone crazy and there is such an assortment of life out there.
The second book The Long War is more about the fall out of half the population getting up and leaving and then having the datum earth try and find ways to control and tax people. No taxation without representation sound familiar?  yeah how did that work out last time someone tried to do that.
I really felt the authors came into their own with the third book The Long Mars as its title suggests an expedition goes to mars and tries to step to see if its possible and if the parallel worlds of mars and earth are connected and there second objective is to keep stepping till they find life on mars
The fourth book The Long Utopia while still dealing with a natural disaster on datum earth our protagonist Joshua is led to a distant world where events are underway that could destroy the planet and possible the long earth
After the first book i just couldn’t stop and did all 4 in one go. The downside is i must wait till next year for the fifth and final part, oh the agony but well worth it. These books manage to tap into and capture that pioneering spirit and the readers imagination. i am just blown away by the level of creativity and imagination show by the authors in making this world.

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!