Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy

Life gets in the way sometimes with what we really want to do and the past year has been a killer in terms of my reading progress. With all that was going on, I struggled to get the desire to read. Books would take almost a month for me to get through and rather than enjoy the fact I finished it I felt more a relief that it was over. That’s not how reading should make you feel, so I took a break from reading. I went from 60+ books read a year to 11. The book that changed it all for me had been sitting on my shelf for some time.  I had eyed it off many a time, found out it was part one in a trilogy and even order parts two and three but it still sat unread. In my reading lul its size was a turn-off, then one night while searching Netflix unsuccessfully for a good sci-fi movie, I said screw it and picked up book one and I just couldn’t put it down. A cliche I know but considering the last few months, I had struggled to even finish a chapter per reading session not being able to put this down was a huge turning point.

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The Three Body-Problem initially caught my eye for two reasons, firstly a big recommendation from another favourite sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson was on the cover and secondly,  the title alluded to an actual scientific concept/problem in the real world. The book’s blurb confirms my reasoning for grabbing it.

In 1967, physics professor Ye Zhetai is killed after he refuses to denounce the theory of relativity. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, witnesses his gruesome death. Shortly after, she’s falsely charged with sedition for promoting the works of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and told she can avoid punishment by working at a defense research facility involved with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. More than 40 years later, Ye’s work becomes linked to a string of physicist suicides and a complex role-playing game involving the classic physics problem of the title.”

Well colour me intrigued, the book involves SETI a huge interest of mine. We begin with A nanotech engineer, Wang Miao being asked by the police to investigate a secret cadre of scientists after a raft of suicides. Wangs pursuit of this leads him to an online game. Wang soon discovers that the game is key to everything and somehow links to an impending extinction-level threat to humanity. A game linked to a potential extinction, how? I just couldn’t put the book down at this point.

Such a unique story, I love the crime drama like feel to it as the plot is slowly unraveled from the perspective of Wang but just when you think you have it all figured out a bombshell is dropped on you. There is also a great insight into the realities of choices and the impact ones upbringing can have on your outlook in life. Early on, I was at a loss as to what the extinction level event could be and going into that last few pages I still couldnt piece it all together and then bam they drop the reveal right into our laps and we now know we have 400 years to prepare for it.

I just couldn’t leave it there so I dove straight into the second book as soon as I finished the first – spoilers will follow

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There’s no messing around this book dives right in and deals with the extinction-level threat and how humanity rallies to deal with it. We have 400 years to prepare somehow against the alien armada on its way. The Aliens are revealed to be called Trisolaris, a fitting name since they come from a planetary system with 3 suns hence the name of the first book. What’s worse is Trisolaris spies are already among us. The Sophons can see everything……How do you organize and plan to prevent an event of this magnitude when your every move is being watched and countered before you start it. How can you organize governments and the people to plan for something that’s 400 years in the future? The solution is the Wallfacer project, four men granted unlimited authority to prepare for the coming invasion how they see fit. The caveat, they can’t write anything down or tell anyone their plan as the sophons will see it and sabotage it.

There is a lot of pessimism in this book. I’m not sure if this is an insight into, the Chinese view of the world, just specifically the authors, or if this was merely for the sake of the plot but it was slightly discouraging to think that someone could be this pessimistic about humanity and life in the universe. For me, as an optimist, I saw the whole dark forest concept as deeply depressing. That instead of a galaxy with life everywhere and interacting like a forest full of animals, we are led to believe that all life comes to a stark and inevitable realization that its kill or be killed so all civilizations stay hidden from others, hence a dark forest and if signs of another are seen it is exterminated

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The climactic battle and the stalemate reach at the end of the previous book almost wrapped things up so just when you think you know how this one will bring the story home it takes it off onto such a unique path, I was just left in awe

From the unique concepts and twists on usual stories and themes to accurate science mentioned. This book series ticked all the right boxes for me. I had some difficulty with the names in this book, mainly from a lack of understanding of how to tell a given name from a family name for the numerous Chinese character, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was also great to read a story where the world isn’t saved by the good ol’ US of A. This series was apparently the first books from the author to be translated into English, so I am hoping more of his other works will be translated too. Definitely becoming one of my favorite book series.

This series has renewed my passion for reading once again

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 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

The Trench – Steve Alten

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Set four years after the previous novel, we find the baby shark from  said novel is now a full grown 20+ meter long Megalodon Shark. The book does talk in imperial units,  yuck! A 20+ Meter shark in captivity, yeah that sounds like a good idea. Then we quickly find out the shark is in heat, so there is a bunch of eager great white males hanging around the aquarium. The fact that the male great white is only about 4 meters long compared to the Megalodon who is called “Angel” being at over 20 meters long, doesn’t even deter these animals.

So it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise when Angel broke out and as Jonas and gang attempt to capture her again we find out there are other forces at work with some kind of hidden agenda.

The situation gets worse when Jonas finds out his wife has gone back to the trench where this all began, plagued by nightmares it seems Jonas is about to fall apart.

Too often action stories focus solely on the physical so it was refreshing to see this story deal with the emotional impact and possible PTSD. Mental issues are too often ignored so its great to see this being dealt with in this story.

It did get a bit far fetched when they introduced a second prehistoric creature but that didnt deter the entertainment. This book was just as good as the original but with 3 more to go in the series i wonder if they can maintain realisim throughout or will the final books and up much like the final jaws movie, rubbish

Home – Harlan Coben

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I’ve been waiting 5 years for this book, granted for most of that time it didn’t exist but i had hoped for another book in the Myron bolitar series. Then new years day this year Harlan posted on his twitter a picture of page one of this novel being typed into his word program. After 5 long years book 11 was on its way, while not the longest wait between books in this series that belongs to to book 8 being 6 years after book 7, it was the hardest.

Book 10 Live wire, really wrapped a lot of story lines up. Myron shut down his Sports Rep company, so his employees  Esperanza and Big Cindy go there own way, and his best friend Win goes into hiding. It really felt like the story was over.

Set only 1 year after the previous book in the series, we find Win still in hiding but on the trail of a kid who went missing 10 years ago and after a disastrous encounter with the kid, Win decides  to call his friend Myron in to help as this case is personal. The kid is one of two who went missing 10 years ago, once of which is Win’s cousins kid, which i guess makes it his second cousin.

After the reunion between these best friends,  Win explains very little to Myron about his time away, however in a change of pace there are a few chapters that are from Wins POV and has him explaining stuff to the reader, something quite different for Harlan. It was through these POV expositions that we find Win was a lot closer to home than we realized. In the intervening year when with the help of his nephew Mickey, Myron final finds his brother long thought dead and in a touching tribute to the strength of their bromance we find Win was close by just in case.

This story was one of Harlan’s best, i loved it! I’m sure part of that love is being reunited with these characters after all this time. So one must wonder if another book was released in this series would i still feel so positive about this book?

While this book does in a sense have closure with the gang back together again, i still feel like there is the potential for another story dealing with Win’s absence and what occurred while he was in hiding and in true Harlan style it could easily be something from his past coming back to grab him, a recurring theme in his books.

A careful reader will also notice the shock revelation about Em’s long elusive father at the wedding.