Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

20160823_163723After the last 2 disappointments i had read, it was a risk to grab an author i hadn’t read before. I needed a good mystery and i had read everything by Harlan Coben and then this showed up on my Goodreads feed.

What i liked about this story was the way it was structured, we begin with the plane crash and then as the story moves on and deals with the investigation interspersed with flashback chapters dealing with the events leading up to the crash from one character point of view. Naturally we have one of these chapters for each of the victims.

I thought it was a little bit different to do it this way, rather than several chapters in a row dealing with the past or perhaps leaving it out completely, we have these brief pauses to current events and a brief flashback. I think it does a good job of not hurting the forward momentum of the story by doing it this way.

As the investigation continues we see the stark reality of nature come to a front, we see the vicious parasites that most people just refer to as the media, Go from labeling the  survivor a hero, to stalking him to try and get a interview, to down right blaming him for the crash.

As personal biases and agendas come to a front (just like our own media)  and the harassment of the survivor continues we the reader get drawn into it and start to wonder could the survivor really be responsible? The ending is rather shocking and i did not see it coming.

Really makes us think on our own judgements and how often we make them before all the facts are in. A fantastic read!

 

 

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz – Denis Avey

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz – Denis Avey

We live in a different time now, we have become numb to violence and hatred. We fear speaking out because the left wing nanny state fascists will accuse you of being a racist or intolerant.

This story serves to remind us of a time when people risked death to save another and didn’t give it a second thought, a time when people saw something was wrong and knew something had to be done to let others know what occurred. A far cry from today’s generation who only care for themselves (and their votes at the next election). All life is equal and it is only through the fallacies that are religion, Supremacy ideology and elitism that we seem to forget this. This story is a horrible insight into a difficult and appalling time but one that still offers a glimpse at the enduring human spirit.

What Denis did for a stranger is beyond words, but shows us what we were once made of. This story is even more emotional as not only are we given a glimpse into what occurred but we also follow the journey of Denis as years later, he discovers the consequences as a results from his actions.

A brilliant and emotional read….

Tell No One – Harlan Coben

Tell No One – Harlan Coben
Harlan master of suspense delivers another cracker here. Its an old one of his that i haven’t gotten around to before. David becks wife died 8 years ago, he has struggled since then not quite letting go nor moving on and then he receives a cryptic email and ignoring all common sense he pursues it as he feels it is from his wife.
As the reader i’m left to try and unravel this mystery. Is it really his wife. Why did she email right after two bodies were dug up near where she was murdered. Coincidence? What is the connection
This is what i love about Harlan’s works we are trying to unravel the mystery faster than the protagonist. What really happened 8 years ago on that fateful night. Didn’t quite see that ending coming but i do like how it all wrapped up.

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien
A long time ago when i first got interested in books, my dad gave me his copy of the hobbit to read, I never even finished it. As a teen i was insulted by the writing style, this is a kids book i said to him and that was that. Our family played alot of board games and every so often my dad would bring out his Lord of the Rings game and naturally i got quite interested as the board was the map of middle earth.  The game was Riddle of the Ring if your interested http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2157/riddle-ring
I bought myself a copy of Lord of the Rings back in ’99 and was quickly drawn into the world of middle earth and as such i have read it every year since
The movies came out and i found myself fielding questions from friends about plots and events. Occasionally something would stump me so i began to delve into more works. And bought every single book my Tolkien or his son. (i have 31 at the moment)
So now every year i read the entire epic of Middle Earth. I start with the Sillmarillion, then hit up the Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings and finish up with Unfinished Tales
Tolkien’s works have really set the standard for fantasy novels for me, i wont touch any unless it has a similar sense of depth and history. To this day the only other fantasy works i have read is a Song of Ice and Fire.
Even with the vast array of works i still find myself with unanswered questions and a desire for more.  Sadly this cant be, Tolkien died along time ago and his son has extensively gone through all his fathers notes to find as many stories as possible.  Alot has been published posthumously
The saga of middle earth would have to be my favorite book(s) and yet each time i read it i still discover more. Just this time it clicked as i was reading some of the genealogies in the appendices that Galadriel is Elrond’s mother in law.
Anytime i meet someone who hasn’t read it, i slowly coerce them to get it but it is a lot to take on, so i work it back wards from how i read them. I get them to read Lord of the Rings, in it it mentions a lot about the hobbit. So after Lord of the Rings they get curious so then i give them the Hobbit which explains a few things for them but then if still curious i give them the Sillmarillion ,it is probably the hardest of his works to swallow because it is  a collection of stories about the forming if the world. Coming of elves and men and of the first dark lord  (Saurons boss Morgoth) if only somehow Peter Jackson could make a Sillmarillion movie, armies of dragons and Balrogs oh what a sight. The Unfinished Tales is more like a giant appendices, it contains some expanded stories mentioned in the Silmarillion but it also has some good parts like, More information about the 5 wizards and the start of the abandoned sequel to Lord of the Rings.
Needless to say Tolkien has a shelf all to his own and i will continue to read these stories year after year until my eyesight fails me.

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
I may not understand how or why authors co-author a book but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of them. Do they co-author because they are too old to write themselves? Or are they trying to combine their powers like captain planet. More to the point how do they do it. Do they both just write separate plot lines then combine them and just alternate chapters or is it more a spinning ideas by each other. After all only one person can be typing at time.
Anyway this series turns out to be 5 books long and sadly Pratchett passed away just prior to book fours release. So the final book will be written solo. So i guess i might understand the writing process of a co-authored book by seeing how dissimilar the final book will be. Needless to say the world these two have made is stunningly imaginative.
A scientist discovers a way to travel to parallel worlds with a simple device made from basic component’s and a potato. Then he posts the blueprints online without a description of what it does and then disappears from society soon all over the place kids are building these and disappearing. No one knows where they are but one boy comes to the rescue, Joshua Valiente. He brings the kids back to home. The world soon learns of these parallel worlds and everything changes.
As one imagines when given the opportunity of slaving at some desk job to pay off a home loan. Or living like a pioneer building your own house and hunting or farming free from capitalism a huge amount of the population chooses the later and disappears from what they call datum earth(the same earth we the reader lives on). I know i sure as hell would go in a second. The parallel worlds are just numbered by how many steps they are from datum. They are also called east or west but those titles have nothing to do with a compass. A step is the term for stepping from one parallel world to another. In that you can step west into West 1, 2,3 or step east to 1 ,2,3 etc there is no end number. As you can imagine the first book deals with Joshua and friends going on an expedition to explore all the way to west 2 million. While still discussing the changes back home. Which were all quite logical. If half the population leaves government revenue dries up. Greedy evil banks and corporations start struggling but people can actually enjoy life.  Joshua on his journeys finds there are no humans in the other words but evolution has gone crazy and there is such an assortment of life out there.
The second book The Long War is more about the fall out of half the population getting up and leaving and then having the datum earth try and find ways to control and tax people. No taxation without representation sound familiar?  yeah how did that work out last time someone tried to do that.
I really felt the authors came into their own with the third book The Long Mars as its title suggests an expedition goes to mars and tries to step to see if its possible and if the parallel worlds of mars and earth are connected and there second objective is to keep stepping till they find life on mars
The fourth book The Long Utopia while still dealing with a natural disaster on datum earth our protagonist Joshua is led to a distant world where events are underway that could destroy the planet and possible the long earth
After the first book i just couldn’t stop and did all 4 in one go. The downside is i must wait till next year for the fifth and final part, oh the agony but well worth it. These books manage to tap into and capture that pioneering spirit and the readers imagination. i am just blown away by the level of creativity and imagination show by the authors in making this world.

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

Essentially what Matthew has done is make these Jack West Jr books into a lord of the rings style trilogy. In that each book doesn’t finish the story, just continues it. In fact the second book much like its twin the two towers has no conclusion and leaves the story hanging on a cliff hanger no less. What a pain it would of been to of read these books back when they were released and reach that end and have to wait a year or so for this book to wrap things up.

This book picks up right from the cliff hanger from the previous one. The story then moves on the follow the team as it tries to find the remaining stones and pillars and naturally save the world. Which of course is done after quite some adventuring. It was refreshing to see someone other than the US being the bad guys. Matthew does seem to have something against them, with the US being the bad guy in numerous stories. Art imitating life anyone? Here we have Japan filling the role of the “bad guy” to the extreme, wanting to destroy the planet and thus erase the events of their WW2 defeat which stripped their nation of honor. Extreme, yes but then again when you hear of a small minority of Japanese schools removing reference to Pearl Harbour and calling the US the aggressors, is it really that much of a stretch?

This book really did have a “Return of the king” style to it as many plots from the previous ones were wrapped up however i couldn’t help but notice his choice of titles for this series. “Seven Wonders” “Six Stones” “Five Warriors” clearly a countdown which precludes the need for four more books to complete the countdown. And sure enough in the interview at the back, he suggests this very notion and implies there will be more. Which aside from some real stretches of the imagination in terms of plot so far, i am actually quite looking forward to. I have really taken a shining to these characters

Lost on Mars – Paul Magrs

Lost on Mars – Paul Magrs

I have a frustrating tendency lately to pick up books which are parts of trilogies that havent been finished. Unbeknowst to me at the time of course, its kinda frustraing to get to the end of a book that you have been really enjoying and as you approach it, you say to yourself how will he wrap this up. Then it finishes and you find out you have to wait for the author to write part two and three. I hate waiting, i was the kid who stuck downstairs at christmas carefully unwrapped his christmas presents to see what he got and then wrap them back up. In fact it gets worst, there was one time i got a boxset of the 3 original robocop movies, i watched two of them then wrapt it back up, just in time for the morning festivities. Thats bad i know, but anyway back to this book. This book blends a good mix of sci fi with life in the mid west, frontier style. Third generation settlers on mars have developed small communities, they each keep to themselves and there is no contact between communities or earth. LIfe is that of isolation. Think of this as Little house on the Martian Praire, if anyone gets that refference. There are rumours that have drifted down from the original settlers of Martians but everyone thought it was just nonsense stories from old ladies, the kind to scare kids. That was untill people start going missing. First its the town drunk, then someones kid, but soon Lora’s Grandma and father go missing, Then Lora sees the Martians and after a chance encounter with a friendly one sets of on an adventure with her family to escape the coming Martians. What follows is an amazing journey across an unforgiving and unfamiliar landscape what she and her family discover at the end aside from a giant plot hole makes them rethink their entire existence on Mars.

Such a great read, it really captures the imagination with the view of frontier life on Mars. Good to see a strong willed female protagonist. If you over look the giant plot hole (read technology being used well before its invented) its a great read. Eager to grab parts two and three whenever they are ready