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….

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!

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

Meg #3 Primal Waters, Meg #4 Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten

105746Oh where to begin with this one, I really enjoyed Meg #1 with its introduction of a prehistoric, once believed extinct species but then Meg #2 introduced another species and I was concerned the 3rd might keep that ball rolling. Sadly something worse happened, the book revolves around that gutter trash commonly referred to as reality television. Oh the pain. If it wasn’t bad enough that our screens are filled with this trash and that our society scoops up this rubbish in which stupid people are made famous. To write a book about it is just depressing. Was the author running out of story ideas? The story starts out loosely believable and then add in a plot of revenge and its just bare-able.

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But all sense of realism and plausibility is thrown right out the window with Meg #4.  To make up for his bucking of the trend in bringing back long dead species in Meg #3, the author steps it up a notch and brings back half a dozen extinct species and an underwater realm were they have all lived since time eternal. Cash money Arabs throwing money around like confetti to capture these animals and put them in a zoo just makes we wonder if anyone has ever watched Jurassic park? It wont work guys give up.

I really didn’t enjoy either of these books and really found myself having to bribe myself into finishing this book. The plot and realisim was just gone for me.  The sad reality is there is still a 5th book in this series to come, and I dread as to what the plot will be for that. My compulsion to always finish a series once started really annoys me here as I would love nothing more than to throw away these books and never read this author again but alas I must continue I hate loose ends

The Woods – Harlan Coben

The Woods – Harlan Coben
An oldie yet still a goodie from Harlan. Well only 9 years old but when an author releases a book or 2 a year 9 years is a long time and many books ago. Fortunately Harlan really hit his stride many years ago so this book really holds its own.
Paul’s sister was murdered along with 3 others years ago at a summer camp and his mother ran off not long after. For years his father would go into the woods and dig looking for his daughter, When Paul’s father dies he feels its time to let it all go and move on that. That is until he gets called in to ID a body that body turns out to be that of one of the kids murdered at that camp years ago, but how can that be,  could his sister also be alive. Paul’s attempts to get to the bottom of this really show just how far a family will go to protect its own.
This is another of Harlan’s stand alone novels but it has a recurring character loren muse who appears in several stand alones. A great character that i love reading and i love the fact that it implies all this stories occur in the same literary world. This book has the usual roller coaster of twists and turns before the shocking end.

Templar Series – Raymond Khoury

Templar Series – Raymond Khoury
Picked up the first book in this series along time ago but never read it. Didn’t even know it was part of series back then, i just saw it involved the Templars and thought it might be in a similar vane to Da Vinci code.
The Last Templar
The story in the is broken into 2 plot lines. The first set in the modern day world follows on from a heist at The Metropolitan Museum, where men on horseback dressed as Templars steal an artifact and the second plot line is set in the past first starting in 1291 and follows the Templars as they try and hide the artifact, as the city of Acre falls to invaders. Both lines do not initially discuss the nature of the artifact we find that out later.
What follows is very Da Vinci Code style hunt for treasure with Archaeologist Tess Chaykin(who was in the museum when it was robbed) and FBI Sean Reilly which leads them to a shocking discovery about the artifact. Which then leads us to the most disappointing part of the book. Tess talks about her job as an Archaeologist as uncovering the truth and how it is important to let the people decide etc, but then when she discovers what the artifact was she lets it be destroyed because it could upset some religious people, what a joke, a betrayal of her character. I just couldn’t believe this hogwash ending it just felt so wrong it almost turned me off the whole series luckily i persevered
The Templar Salvation
This book follows a similar vane with the same duo from the first book hunting down another Templar artifact. This time with a crazed Iranian hit man after them and the treasure. I never thought i would hope for a terrorist to win but after the bullshit ending in the first book i wanted the terrorist to find the artifact and reveal it to the world which was his intent.  Fortunately when the duo uncover it they too decide to share it and luckily it includes a copy of the artifact lost in the first book so their idiocy was undone
The Devil’s Elixir
I was disappointed to find that  this book goes on a different path and has nothing to do with the Templars. This one deals with figures from Sean’s past coming back to take him down and also to dispense a knew drug to the world with crazy hallucinations properties. I liked this one a lot, i thought it was going to go a bit too crazy with some of its mumbo jumbo but turned out there was a very logical basis for it. Very creative writing by the author.
Rasputin’s Shadow
My favorite book so far, the first book was the authors debut and now 8 years later with this book you can really feel how much the author has come into his own writing style and groove. This is much more structured and has the characters behaving in logical ways. Far better writing to be honest. The plot follows A Russian who is the son of a man very close to Rasputan, as he discovers a shocking secret behind Rasputan’s powers and builds a weapon following designs left by his dad. Realizing its power could be used by the wrong people he destroys it and flees to the US. Now in his last years of life he has been found and begins a race between the US n Russia to capture him and this deadly weapon before it is used
While originally i thought this was a series about Templar knights, its actually about Tess and Sean, which works since they are very like-able people and aside from some stupidity in the first book are quite fun to read. There are some issues from Seans past that are being slowly pieced together over these 4 books and looks like coming to a forefront in the next book. I’m really looking forward to it as i feel the author has come into his stride the characters make logical choices now and the plots and intrigue are just sucking me in each time. This series is very Da Vinci Code like for the first two books and then delves into a more thriller/adventure story as the themes move away from the Templars and focus more on Sean than Tess’s vocation.