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 Pharaoh’s Secret – Clive Cussler

The Pharaoh’s Secret – Clive Cussler
There is something to be said about the excitement you feel when you hear one of your favourite authors is releasing a new book. Clive does have several different series going and i am a fan of and only read 2 of these series so far. As a result, for the last few years anytime he releases a new one, I’ve got it day one.
So when i saw a post on his Facebook page of the new book coming soon, i was straight to Bookdepository.com to pre-order it.
While many of his stories have similar themes (they are action stories after all) i do still enjoy them. This book was no exception. In this story the bad guy has found a way to hold several North African governments hostage and primed for a coup, allow his less than scrupulous friends to take over. well that’s his plan anyway. Fortunately our heroes accidentally get drawn in and prevent it.These books are much like James bond movies, Most feature a new baddie doing what baddies do and our hero saves the day.
I always do like how clive includes a little bit of history into all his stories. Another great read by clive and keen for the next one

Bad Astronomy – Philip Plait

Bad Astronomy – Philip Plait
This was an interesting book, i actually got it because while i have quite a passion for Astronomy it gets rather repetitive during conversations having to constantly debunk silly ideas people have about Astronomy. Ideas such as is their sound in space? to the most infuriating, confusing it with the ridiculous hogwash that is Astrology.   I thought if i could find a book that answered all these i could just give them out.
Turns out (obviously) its much more fun to share knowledge and talk to people and debunk silly or misleading ideas than to simply hand over a book. Nothing to do with the fact there are people who simply just don’t like reading – a concept i just cant fathom. Interesting point i noticed was that many of the people who don’t read are also the ones who believe in Astrology
But this book does serve a purpose. It has a wonderful collection of ideas and misleading things popular culture has about science. From bad science in movies featuring explosions and sounds in space and lasers that can be seen and dodged once fired . To dispelling rumours about why the moon looks bigger on the horizon or what causes the tides.
Its a great quick reference guide to helping understand the reality behind some situations.  While anyone with a science background will already understand the reasons behind most of the issues, like why is the sky blue, Does water really spin opposite directions when draining in different hemispheres, Did the moon landings actually happen and why astrology is complete hogwash. There are a few unique surprises in there such as my favourite. The optical illusion of the moon looking bigger when its near the horizon, actually disappears and it looks normal when you bend over and view it between your legs. I so have to try this!!!
It is definitely a book for all types, a fun and yet informative read.

The Art Forger – B.A. Shapiro

The Art Forger – B.A. Shapiro
Under normal circumstances i would never pick up a book to do with Art, I just don’t find the subject matter interesting. There is just something about Art that turns a normal person into some pompus doofus. Walking around acting superior to others. Hell I’ve seen it first hand, a good mate from high school somehow becomes drawn into the world of art, he starts speaking different. He feels literature, film, music are all inferior to art and those that don’t agree with him a less cultured.  This coming from the guy who challenged me to a race to chug a half litre bottle of maple syrup. But anyway i kept this perception of art people going for many years.
Anyway that’s enough of my coloured view of the art world now onto how i picked up this book.  A friend of mine shared an instagram pic that caught my attention a few months ago. It was of a book wrapped in brown paper with string and it had the themes of the book written down the side. I thought how cool was that. Its from a site called blinddatewithabook.com on this site you pick a genre or theme and you get sent a random book. There motto is “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which is rather the polar opposite of how i choose a new author. I searched  through the site it had allot of weird and unappealing themes. Like 1930’s Hollywood or African Fantasy. But i was in the mood for a thriller so i choose that option. A few days later this magnificently wrapped book with string and tag arrived i was quite excited on the paper wrap the themes were listed
Ingeniously  Plotted
Literary Thriller
Foolish choices
I was thinking yes just what i wanted but then i saw the last two
Fine art
Love and painting
At this point i was loosing that excitement, i then unwrapped the book. The book was about an artist who earns a living copying paintings(legitimately). One day she is delivered a painting believed stolen many years earlier and enters a deal to copy it for a one woman show at a gallery. As she begins her research before she paints she comes to believe that the painting that was stolen is actually a forgery
Naturally it got placed at the bottom of my to read pile. Which at this stage is getting close to 100 books. I really need to read faster or stop buying so many books, oh the dilemma!
A few months past and i really wanted to try my luck with that website again but before i do i felt i should at least read that book.
As is almost always the case the female author inserts a love story into the book, i was glad it was rather brief so it didn’t detract from the plot too much. It bored me whenever the characters were talking about art or art galleries however the plot i liked, it kept me  engaged. That’s what i like about thrillers the twists trying to figure it out before the character does.
And this book had that, it did give me a peak into the art world and to no surprise the characters act exactly as i would stereotypical believe, pompus and superior. but the author really has done some research into this topic, her knowledge of forgery techniques really stunned me and that level of knowledge really made up for the the love story line i was forced to endure.
Did i like this book? surprisingly yes considering it had the two most hated themes of mine, art and love/romance, would i read another like this one? No, i think the chances of finding a book as cleverly crafted as this one and with only brief forays into a love/romance story is quite small
But on the other hand i think Blinddatewithabook.com picked the perfect book for this themes. I thoroughly recommend you all to visit and give that site a go.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher
I have never been a fan of Shakespeare. If someone even mentions it or suggest watching one i groan in agony. People get all pious and suggest he is the greatest playwright, that’s but their opinion. I’m not a fan of plays so i have done my best to avoid it and am quite proud to have not touched any of his works since leaving high school. Then came a moment of reflection when i saw these books. I thought if my hatred of Shakespeare and contemplated its route cause and I have come to think this might stem from the fact in high school our English Teacher force fed us Shakespeare  for 3 years and then they do what all all English teachers do and over analyse  a work to take the fun out of it.
So i thought maybe my attitude towards Shakespeare was coloured not by its strength as an artistic work but by my dislike of the teacher and her forcing us to do it. (Other classes studied star wars. Man i would of nailed that one but then also ran the risk of them over analyzing it and taking the fun out if it for me) anyway when i saw these books I’m like why not give it a go if i can tolerate the language they use then perhaps it wouldn’t be too difficult to transition to Shakespeare.
Boy was i wrong, Straight away my eyes drifted over the harsh use of Early Modern English. Memories came flooding back of my dislike for this style and how painful i find to read it. Yet i pushed forward, the books were quite small and easy to demolish and yet the pain never subsided.
After finishing all 6 books i can still affirm my dislike of Shakespeare and yet i fully understand now its because of the awful language style used.  Yes i know that’s how people spoke. Yes i know people class it as the greatest work in fiction. But don’t forget the populace used to think the world was flat. So its not a stretch to think they too can be wrong about Shakespeare
Perhaps if someone translated his works into proper modern English i’d give him another crack but at this point i’m going to keep Shakespeare in the same  category as romance novels,  that of  rubbish with no use other than to be fuel for when a zombie apocalypse strikes and we run out of wood to fuel our cooking and keep warm

After America

After America

A wave that wipes out most of the US, Pirates have taken over New York. Those two lines is all it took for me to grab this book. There is no clear introduction to the world of this novel but over its first few chapters as you are introduced to its characters to get a brief indication of what has taken place, which i shall now condense into an easily disseminated version. The story takes place 3 years after an unknown even in the North Atlantic/possibly Arctic Ocean causes a massive wave to wash over almost all of the US leaving only the area around Seattle, and all of Alaska untouched. it also wipes out a fair chunk of Canada and Mexico. The exact method of this eradication isn’t elaborated it is just referred to as a “wave” and the people who are killed are merely referenced to as the “disappeared”.

As one would imagine much like the GFC of a few years ago what ever happens in the US has a domino effect on the world. The story does not explicitly explain the events that occurred after the wave but throughout the story it just throws out random bits of information and references them as if the reader already knows what happened. The world is thrown into chaos, there is a civil war in china, a second holocaust of some kind in Africa, Israel launches a war against someone. The middle east is nuked back to the stone age. A mass exodus of people of the Muslim faith into European countries. Needless to say it is a world far removed from ours. However governments still exist and people do work and pay taxes etc. I’m not sure why the author likes to make throw away comments about world events, without a further explanation of them i don’t feel it adds to the story and is more of a distraction. and to be honest i have seen many authors do this and i really don’t like it . I crave information, you cant tell me a little snippet of something and refuse to further explain it. Its like when you were a kid and a friend says i’ve got a secret but i cant tell you. well why the heck mention you have a secret in the first place? unless just to annoy me

Most interestingly is since New York’s population is wiped out, pirates and marauders have moved in. a bit more time (in the book) is used to explain this but basically, after the wave Somali pirates started raiding New York, Then Russian mafia and other European peoples start raiding New York for goods and then pretty much soon all kinds of US goods and clothing are flooding the European markets

The story is broken up into essentially 4 points of view.There is the story of the US president as he tries to retake New York from the pirates. There is a story of a US spy who is based in the UK as she tracks down a target that made an attempt to kill her family and there is a story following 2 smugglers as they try to enter New York to track down a specific item for their client. These 3 stories are quite interwoven and related. oddly enough there is one last story of a immigrant in Texas. In the US bid to resettle its vacant land it offers up land for settlers to work on and raise cattle and other stock. to pay back the government for bringing them to the US. Either way the story of this rancher feels like an after thought and irrelevant to the story as a whole because at least the other  3 stories meet up and are involved in the same situations but this rancher is just out on his own, to be honest it becomes quite boring reading of him and i just want to return to the story of the other 3.

Having been to New York, and using the descriptions and detailed narrative of the battles in New York, i really could imagine the scope of their ordeal and thoroughly enjoyed that story line. The presidents story was really quite powerful seeing such a powerful man simply as a human and dealing with the emotions based on his decisions was quite enjoying to read

As the narrative picked up in speed, i simply couldn’t put the book down. i had to see it through to its conclusion and watch as the president finally came to terms with the decisions he has to make and then watch it play out. such a great read even with the silly throw away story of the rancher in there. From killing pirates to wiping out terrorists this book has it all. i would highly recommend it to anyone and i will definitely keep my eye out for more books from this author for sure!