Star Wars Catalyst – James Luceno

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This book is sort of a prequel to Rogue One, in which we see the prcoess in how the death star was constructed and the troubles along the way. We follow krennic as he manipulates Galen Orso into helping power the weapon. Outside of being  a prelude to Rogue One it doesn’t really add anything into the mythology of Star Wars.  It is a rather poor story when it stands on its own, plus there are no Jedi in it! It obviously serves as a necessary source of info for Rogue One since that movie introduces a lot of new faces that we have never met and portrays alot of information and back story that can’t be placed into a movies flashback scenes

I just failed to really get hooked by this book, which is disapointing as im a big star wars fan. Further cementing my view that movie tie-ins are never a good idea

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

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!!!!

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.