The World Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin

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You can pretty much sum up this book by calling it Martin’s version of The Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings appendices rolled into one. Beautiful colour pictures bring the story to life, however, this is also its downside as those colour pictures and maps disappear in the last 3rd of the book. Meaning this part of the book offers nothing a search on Wikipedia would find. Because of the books price, this is its biggest downside.

From the beginning of the colonisation of Westeros by the first men right up until the start of the book series, this book covers everything. While it in no way fills the void that is 8 years without a new book in the series, it does with the help of some beautiful artwork try and ease our pain from our absence for so long from this fantastic world.

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt For The Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson

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Books about polar exploration always draw me in and the Franklin expedition would have to be my second favourite polar story after Shackleton of course. There’s just something about the whole age of heroes that draws me in each time. Men risking their lives for science (and celebrity status) is just a thing that’s not done anymore. The age of physical discovery is over, we don’t have these expeditions off to fill in an area of the map any more. Science is now done in the lab and on computers. I really wish that I live long enough to see this same race to explore take up once again but this time in space.

This book is split pretty much into three parts, the first part tells the story of the organisation of the expedition, Discussing the politics and bureaucracy in getting it all organised and then follows the progress if the expedition once it finally gets going and goes as far as known records show.

Once our records of known events are finished the story then switches back to England and the push by his wife to try and ascertain what has happened. The immense struggle she faces to get the Admiralty to do anything is covered by the many letters she wrote and then finally once she succeeds the story covers the many searches carried out and what limited findings they made.

The third and final part deals with recent events starting with the man who delved into Inuit stories to put the final pieces of the puzzle together and then on to the expeditions that finally found the ships as a result of Inuit stories.

Of course, there is still plenty of mystery around the expedition, most bodies still remain missing. Perhaps global warming and the receding ice sheets may reveal its final stories soon enough, in the meantime, this book serves as an excellent source to raise ones knowledge of events surround this expedition. It is well written, Paul really manages to capture the frustration felt my franklins wife as she struggled for years to get the Admiralty to do something. I really like how the book lists its sources where possible and even includes several pictures in the middle. A great read for sure,

 

Artemis – Andy Weir

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I was skeptical when I first heard that Andy Weir was writing another book, like how could he back up after the Martian was such an amazing hit. Since we are all expecting another blockbuster do we then run the risk of over hyping this book and then being utterly disappointed once its released? Heck even cover is made to mirror The Martian. Fortunately I managed to convince myself to approach this in a positive light and while I can’t help but make comparisons to The Martian, this on its own, is a fantastic book. I hope they make a movie of it too.

Andy creates a world slightly more removed from our own, than the world established in The Martian. Yet the concept of a moon base isn’t too far fetched to require that much of a stretch of the imagination. Hell, if there was a moon base i’d move there pronto! I liked the character and the strained relationship with her father. Great believable characters and quite factual in terms of launch site location benefits.

Can’t really reveal more without entering spoiler territory but its a great story and
Hopefully Andy keeps the ball rolling and has plans for a 3rd blockbuster already in the works

Origin – Dan Brown

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Dan brown has almost, I repeat, almost redeemed himself in my eyes thanks to this book. I was a huge Dan Brown fan since his early books. I loved Deception Point and Digital Fortress, which I had read before i had heard of Angels and Demons. Then the follow up to Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code rocked my socks off. The fact that the book also upset bible thumpers everywhere made me smile as well. But then instead of keeping momentum and releasing another kick ass book, Dan sold out and decided instead of upsetting (unintentionally) the church with another book he would write one that kisses its ass. I speak of the Lost Symbol, the third Robert Langdon book.

On initial reading its quite good, a nice adventure with secret societies but then as the book draws to a close, Dan throws a mud pie in your face with the worst ending in book history. The ending screams ass kisser and a sell out, in fact I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. I just threw the book on the floor in disgust and left it there for several days. Don’t believe me that the book was an ass kissing attempt at the church in response for upsetting them in the previous books? Well the movie directors passed on it and went and made the 4th book into a movie instead.

As a result of my disgust from that ending I refused to get his 4th Langdon book, Inferno. It wasn’t until word of Origin (then untitled) being in the works, that a friend and I got discussing Dan Brown and after expressing my views, they pointed out that Inferno had nothing to do with the church and perhaps I should give it a go. It was in the same vein as the earlier books but it didn’t revolve around a secret society or the church. It did however, lift me out of my hatred for Dan. Once Origins title was released it was clear to me, religion would be involved in some aspect with the idea of the origins of life being discussed. Since there was zero chance of the book confirming fairy tales, I felt it was a good chance of upsetting the apple cart again so to speak.

While the book does sort of return to the earlier themes of church vs science, the secret society aspect was really lacking. It just doesn’t feel like a true Dan Brown novel without secret societies being the main concept. This book was also a little too Sci-fi, with the addition of AI in the plot. But it does raise the hope that his next book might return to his roots of secret societies, symbols and religion. All in all my bias aside, it was a pretty good book, the pace felt great. While the reveal was predictable, the twist was a nice surprise.

Dan Brown you have almost redeemed yourself from the mess that was The Lost Symbol….

Star Wars Ahsoka -E. K. Johnston

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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

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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 North Water – Ian McGuire

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it wasn’t just merely a sailing adventure but a murder mystery and conspiracy all wrapped into one bundle, up in the frozen north. I think the author really set the scene quite well and as such the story really drew me in. Just imagine setting sail for a journey lasting several months into the far north to hunt whales knowing there was a murderer on board with you. Yes there is a bit of violence in this book, and i’ve seen some reviews complain of it but it is about hunting whales and a murder so you cant expect it to be a tea party with everyone eating scones. I think the book is essentially making us ask ourselves which is more harsh the cruel and unforgiving frozen north or human nature at its instinctual basics.

I have read quite a few books that suffer from lulls in the drama between key scenes but this book just doesn’t stop, it just keeps the story going, there are no lulls and the fast pace keeps you from wanting to put the book down for a break. Such a great read!