Red Moon – Kim Stanley Robinson

38496710

Any time I hear Kim has a new book it’s an auto purchase for me, no need to even read the blurb. After so many hits I just know whatever story he tackles next will be great and this book is no exception.

An interesting observation I noticed while reading this book was that I do find it quite interesting how books and movies and their choices in protagonists change over the years. Back in the 80s, the baddies were always Russians but now we see the Chinese being used more and more, no doubt a reflection of US politics. This change is a mixed bag in my mind, while I do enjoy the chance to explore characters of different backgrounds, it’s the names I struggle with. I’m completely clueless when it comes to their naming conventions and pronunciations, which leaves me unable to fully immerse myself in the characters. Hopefully, increased exposure to these types of characters may sort that out but only time will tell.

The best part of Kim’s stories is that they are always dosed with a touch of reality, the stories really feel like they could happen. I can fully see the Chinese sending people to the moon and that in turn starting another space race with the USA, so for the book to have this idea as the backbone of the story was great and easy to digest.

A simple technician (Fred) on an almost routine trip to deliver a product to the moon gets involved unknowingly in an assassination plot. Colour me intrigued. From there it’s a quick jump into political instability, power struggle and coup-de-tats, which seems more important than one of the main characters who might be the first to give birth on the moon, Chan Qi. While I thought Fred and Chan Qi were the main characters the events back on earth seem to overshadow the idea of a human born on the moon, with that story being given only a few lines, to my great annoyance.

That aside I really loved the political flavour of this story, trying to figure out along with the main characters what was going on and who was involved was quite a bit of fun. Definitely more of a political thriller than a sci-fi story but a great read nonetheless. I might even have a look at trying to read some more political thrillers now

 

The Sudden Appearance of Hope – Claire North

25746699

Claire keeps one-upping herself with each new book and its unique plot. This time around we find our story revolves around a young woman named Hope. Hope is unique in the sense that when she was 16 people started to forget her. Now stay with me, for this does sound strange but for some reason, people that meet Hope are unable to make long term memories of her, so pretty much as soon as they look away they forget all about her. It really serves the story that Claire doesn’t try to explain how or why this occurs. The downside to this unique ability is the loneliness, Hope can’t have friends as they just forget about you and her family has no clue who she is, Fortunately, the story doesn’t harp on this too much but it does focus a lot on her loneliness but it isn’t an overly emotional book thankfully.

From this unique concept, a story is born. Imagine what you could get away with if people forgot who you were as soon as they can’t see you. Walk out of a restaurant without paying, go on a massive shopping spree, Rob a bank. Fortunately, Hope chooses a more interesting choice and becomes a Jewel Thief. It is in the process of stealing some jewels that the plot thickens when a woman in the same hotel commits suicide which brings to Hopes attention a social media app called Perfection.

Perfection is control, that pretty much sums it up. The app “suggests” to you what to eat, who to be friends with, what to wear, locations for holidays and then rewards you for doing them. It’s an advertisers dream, not to mention that it’s also linked to your planner, bank accounts and every aspect of your life. It’s truly a creepy big brother for the 21st century.

This app becomes the focus of Hopes anger and where our story really heats up. I really liked this story, even though I found it difficult to relate to Hope it didn’t detract me from the story. It also serves as a great warning on how much of our personal data we should let social media have access too. I can’t wait to see what Claire delivers next

 

Star Wars Ahsoka -E. K. Johnston

asohka

This was a great little story,  with the character of Ahsoka, first introduced in the clone wars cartoon but that there is the problem, the character is in a CARTOON not really a source of entertainment for adults and sadly Disney seems content in only making it’s non-movie material for kids.

There’s plenty of young adult and children’s books, the Rebels cartoon series but for an adult there is nothing but the main movies and the occasion sub par movie tie in book. Its as if Disney doesn’t care that adults like star wars

Which makes a dilemma for those not interested in children’s entertainment but want more Star Wars. This book is set after Episode 3 and the massacre of the jedi. Originally introduced as Anakin Skywalkers apprentice, Ahsoka was framed for a crime and left the jedi order when no one believed her innocence and that is when she left the Clone Wars series. She recently reappeared in the Rebels cartoon but we have no knowledge of what happened between the two series which is about 15 years

The story picks up after the fall of the Jedi and we find her in hiding, just trying to survive. After arriving on a planet she begrudgingly befriends some locals and finally starts to fit in when her past comes back to haunt her and she must choose to either run away or stand and fight. Great story that fills in the gaps between her appearances on the clone wars cartoon and in star wars rebels, with many flashback scenes taking us to past events as well. The events in this book help shape her and make her decision to return the fight

The Light Between Oceans – M. L. Stedman

17166492-1

I saw a poster for this movie near my work and it spoke of moral dilemma, that alone was enough to get me intrigued. I then checked with a few people to make sure it wasn’t just a boring love story, which thankfully it wasn’t.

Tom, having returned from the horrors of war just wants some piece and quite and to get away from society, so he takes up a role of lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock off the coast of Western Australia.

His life is quite disciplined on that island, everything gets reported and logged and he forms a rigid routine, to fill in the time between the quarterly supply boats. On his not so regular visits to the mainland he falls for a woman Isabel. Whom he eventually marries and brings back to the island.

After miscarriages and still births, Isabel is soon at wits end, when on the breeze she hears a babies cry. A boat has washed ashore on their island with the dead body of a man and a baby crying. Isabel still reeling from her most recent loss convinces Tom to betray his principles and not report the boat and pretend the baby is there. A few years later when they take some leave on the mainland the real consequences of their actions dawn on them.

What then follows is a battle between what feels is for the best and what is right. A lot of the reviews i read really disagreed with Isabel’s actions later in the book, but i’m the opposite, i think her actions were natural and realistic, its is Tom’s actions that i have issue with. I just cant understand the reasoning behind them. its this thought provoking struggle that makes me like this book so much. On a separate note this definitely goes in the pile of the book is better than the movie

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….

 

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

Star Wars Aftermath:Life Debt – Chuck Wendig

Star Wars Aftermath:Life Debt – Chuck Wendig

The second part of a trilogy set months after Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. While the story isn’t to bad, this book trilogy plus the many others released since Disney took over really shows the new direction Disney is taking Star Wars.

Star Wars used to be for all ages, there were the movies of course but then there were the two Ewok movies for kids/families, plenty of computer games and numerous expanded universe books. These books were detailed and many were parts of series. It didn’t matter your age, there was something to cater to your star wars needs

But with Disney taking over if you want your Star Wars fix you have the choice of the following

Rebel cartoon series

Children’s adventure stories – letting you know what the main characters got up to between Ep 6-7

Numerous young adult novels

They have been a few books released for adults but all of them just like this read more like young adult novels, the level of detail and depth just isn’t there anymore. This saddens me, it shows Disney sees Star Wars as a kids market only.

I have nothing against the young adult genre, i just personally don’t like it not just because i’m not a teenager but because i crave books with detail and young adults books don’t have that, they are short in length much like a teenagers attention span. While i crave tomes like Tom Clancy novels or A Song of Ice and Fire.

I just wish Disney would stop dumbing down Star Wars and Release some decent Adult level Fiction