Origin

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)
Author ~ Dan Brown

By the author that brought you the world-wide sensation, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has another home run with his latest Robert Langdon adventure, Origin.

Robert Langdon finds himself at the Guggenheim Museum, invited to an extraordinary scientificpresentation presented by his former student, Edmond Kirsch.  With religious and scientific repercussions, Kirsch has discovered the answer to the age old question of Where do we come from?
Where are we going?  
Moments before the big reveal, the evening erupts into chaos and Langdon finds himself forced to flee the Guggenheim, with the museum coordinator and future queen consort of Spain, Ambra Vidal, in tow.

Aided by Kirsch's assistant, Winston, Langdon and Vidal must find a way to help Kirsch to reveal his secrets to the world.  

I was a little hesitant to get back into the Robert Langdon world.  I didn't much like the last book in this series, and felt that it was a little too outrageous and over the top.  I wasn't expecting much from Origin, but I surprised myself by liking it.  

Origin is a popcorn book, plain and simple.  If you are expecting any more depth to this book, you will be sadly disappointed, but if you are going in, knowing that it's going to be just a little ridiculous, just a little silly and a whole lot of "that would never happen in the real world", Origin will be a fun read.  

With a few twists and turns Origin is a fun read and if you have enjoyed Dan Brown's other books in the Robert Langdon series, Origin is a very good addition and you will surely enjoy it too.

Contact

Contact
Author ~ Carl Sagan

Contact is one of those books that has been on my TRL for years and years, but also one of those books that I have put off reading for ages.    

A Signal has been detected in the vicinity of the star Vega.  It is intelligent life?  Is it god?  We don't know, but with this signal, the course of human history is forever changed.

For a science fiction book written by scientist, Carl Sagan, I was surprised that Contact explored more than just the possibility of life in other parts of the universe.  Contact explored how that life would effect the religious communities of Earth.  

I don't know why this surprised me, I guess I was expecting a fun novel about the possibility of life outer-space, instead I read a novel that used the fictional story as a way to deliver questions about other live and how if would impact religions here on earth.  It really felt that the characters in the story were the vehicle that Carl Sagan was driving to explore his own thoughts about religion.

I enjoyed reading Contact, it just wasn't the space adventure alien story I was expecting to read.  

 

 

It's been a while

It has been a busy few weeks.  Since it was summer, I was in and out of town, filling out a huge pile of paperwork and generally complacent in updating this site.  I now finally have a little bit of time, and energy to let you kind readers know what I've been reading lately.

I haven't read a lot in the last month and I've been feeling kind of slovenly because of this.  The last few weeks found me watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  I made it all the way to season 3 before my obsession of watching the show waned a bit.  So in the meantime I only found time to read four books.  

  • Artemis by Andy Weir (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Paradox Bound by Peter Clines (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • When you Disappeared by John Marrs (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Rituals (Cainsville, #5) by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray

Reviews!

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Artemis
Author ~ Andy Weir

Artemis is the newest novel by Andy Weir (The Martian).  To say I was excited about Artemis is an understatement.  The Martian was a great novel, with lots of humour, that I really enjoyed so I had high hopes for Artemis.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it.

Jazz Bashara lives on the first and only city on the moon.  As a way of making ends meat, she smuggles in the occasional bit of contraband.  When Jazz receives a request that is too lucrative to turn down, she stumbles into a conspiracy to overtake control of Artemis, the moon city.

Artemis was well written, and I could tell that a lot of time and research went into the science side of the book, and overall the story wasn't that bad, but the main character, Jazz Bashara, ugh.  I just found that she had zero redeeming qualities.  It wasn't until the very very end of the book where you actually found out her motivations.  

Aside from my dislike of Jazz, the overall story was interesting and entertaining.  This is nothing like The Martian though, so don't start reading this novel thinking that you are going to find a similar story.  

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Paradox Bound
Author ~ Peter Clines

I had a hard time getting in Peter Clines most recent novel, Paradox Bound.  

Time Travelling through American History, Eli and Harry are on the search for the "American Dream".  In this case, the "American Dream" is a literal object, created by the founding fathers of the United States of America and lost for the past sixty years.

I usually like Peter Clines's novels, but I think with the current state of the USA, constantly being in the news, it's dotard leader and now on the brink of war with North Korea, this was just a bit to much America for me.  I did enjoy that this is set in the same world as two of Clines other novels, 14 and The Fold, but unless you read those two novel, the one sentence that lets you know this is the same world, would be glossed right over by other readers.

I look forward to Peter Clines's next novel, but this one just wasn't for me.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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When you Disappeared
Author ~ John Marrs

After a couple of dud books I was reluctant to start yet another ARC from Netgalley, however, When you Disappeared by John Marrs hooked me immediately.

Catherine wakes up one morning, her husband, Simon, is gone.  Thinking he was out for a run then off to work, Catherine didn't worry about him until his colleague called her looking for him.  

Meanwhile, Simon is alive and well, having left his family because he knows the truth about the life they had lead.  Alive and thriving, Simon is doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of his past.

Twenty-Five year later, when Simon shows up on her doorstep, Catherine is finally introduce to the man Simon is, and she wished she never met him.

When I finished this book, my first thought was just, wow.  I really enjoyed this book, which was great since the last two books I had read were not my favourites (Artemis & Paradox Bound).

I also found the way it was written well done.  The story took place in "the now" with past memories of Catherine and Simon being told to each other.  It was a very effective piece of storytelling that I throughly enjoyed.  

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Rituals (Cainsville, #5)
Author ~ Kelley Armstrong

My popcorn novel.  I've been really enjoying the Cainsville series from Kelley Armstrong.  If you haven't read the first 4 in this series, don't bother reading Rituals, as you will be totally lost, and instead start at the beginning.

Olivia Jones must make a choice between two rival supernatural forces.  

I've enjoyed all of the books in this series and Rituals was no exception.  I do wonder how many books Kelley Armstrong has planed for this series because as I was reading Rituals, I could feel the story start to wind is way up.  It is by no means complete and there are still a lot on unanswered questions, and new questions that have appeared, but I suspect there will only be 2 or 3 more books in this series.

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The Ghost Line
Author ~ Andrew Neil Gray

I purchased this book on recommendation email from Amazon.  The Ghost Line was a surprising read, and quite quick.  It only took me a few hours to read it, but it was an intriguing story.  

The Martian Queen is a mothballed ship when Saga and Michel are hired to hack into it and changes it's course, effectively destroying the ship and openings up the shipping lane it has been occupying. 

Expecting an easy payday, Saga and Michel end up stranded aboard the Martian Queen, fighting to maintain their humanity and find their way back home.

The Ghost Line would make an excellent movie.  The story is pretty simple but also interesting.  It has a little bit of mystery, that isn't easily discoverable until it is revealed to you by the author.  I enjoyed reading this one.


I feel that this particular post is a little lacking in depth, but I also wanted to get something out to the readers of this website.  It's been a while since I've posted anything, and I kind of figured something was better than nothing.  If you have any questions or comments about the books I've briefly reviewed here, please let me know.  I'd be happy to answer them or pleased to read your comment.

Review ~ M*A*S*H* Goes to Maine

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M*A*S*H* Goes to Maine
Author ~ Richard Hooker

You were likely aware that the original M*A*S*H TV series that was on the air for eleven season was based off a movie from the 70's starring Donald Sutherland and Tom Skerritt?  But did you know that the movie was based off a book written by Richard Hooker?  Well from 1968 to 1977 Richard Hooker wrote Fifteen M*A*S*H books, and only the first one took place during the Korean war.

M*A*S*H Goes to Maine is the second book in this series.  If you've never seen the movie and have never read the first M*A*S*H book, you will be quite lost as you read this book.  There are characters in these books that never show up in the TV series, or were only in the series for a few episodes.  I loved the TV series, I remember watching it as a child, then again in my teens and once more as an adult.  It was one of those shoes that you could watch over and over again, and it always seemed to be on TV.  I would always skip over the nightmare episode though as I found it quite disturbing as a child and those feelings still linger there as I remember Major Margaret "Hot-Lip" Hoilihan standing there with blood running down the front of her nightgown, shudder, but that's all I remember of that episode.  Thankfully the rest of the episode's memories have been lost to time.

Back to M*A*S*H Goes to Maine.  The second book is written pretty much the same as the first,  a bunch of short stories held together by an overall premise, in this case the opening of the Finestkind Clinic and Fishmarket.   This was Maine in the late 50's and medicine back then was very different than what it is now (be glad).  The surgeons of the swamp, Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Duke Forrest, Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones, are all tops of their respective fields and have banded together to provide the residents of Maine the very best or "Finestkind" medical clinic and fishmarket.  Get your medical exams and procedures done in the morning and on your way out in the afternoon pick up some fish for dinner.

M*A*S*H Goes to Main is a quick read that I enjoyed, however, If you don't like M*A*S*H or struggle with understanding the time frame something was written, then I don't think you would enjoy this.  It's quite disjointed in the way Hooker tells his story, hopping around from one "small town event" to another.  There is also quite a lot of crude language, racial slurs and outdated views on women in M*A*S*H Goes to Main.  This book was written forty-five years ago, and then also written about a time fifteen years earlier than that.  Societal views on language, race and women were very different then than they are now.  It made me glad that in many ways society isn't like that any more.  We are not perfect, we will likely never be perfect and there is still a long long way to go before everyone feels safe, but it is better than it once was.

Maybe one day I will go on to read more of this series, but for now, I'll take a pass.

3 Penguins

Ack! Apologies are in order

Hello everyone!  I wanted to send out a quick apology that my next book review is taking so long.  I'm actually almost finished writing it and I'll have it posted shortly.  

The reason for the delay is that I found myself getting a little overwhelmed trying to write a long and detailed review of the books I've been reading.  It it started feeling like is was a chore instead of something fun to do and as I read more and more books, the thought of writing long reviews of them became something I was dreading.  I didn't want to give up doing the book reviews, but I also needed to figure out a way to continue to enjoy reading and not dread writing the review.  

It took me some time to finally decided what I wanted to do with the book review section of my website.  In the end, I came up with the idea to write the reviews in a different manner than I had started out with, the biggest change is that I'm not going to worry about how long they are.  Some books I just really don't have anything to say and others I have a tone of stuff to say and those books that I didn't really have anything to say about them were incredibly stressful to write "enough" words about them.  So from this point forward some of my reviews might be short and to the point while others will be more detailed.  I'm going to let the writing just come and not pressure myself to reach a specific word count.  I feel that this will be a good compromise between continuing with the reviews and not overwhelming myself with trying to become a wordsmith.

You may be wondering what I have read in the meantime since my last review. Well I've read twelve and a half books between May and June.  Eleven of those books you'll find  have a short review in the post, with a fuller review of the book Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1) by A.G. Riddle as my next "full length" review.  I hope you enjoy reading the mini-reviews.

Mini Book Reviews

#1) The Seventh Plague by James Rollins
A pandemic style story with ancient Egyptian origins.  The member of Sigma Force have to discover who is trying to unleash a plague straight out of the bible.  This isn't one of my favourite of the Sigma Force stories.  I've been finding that each story seems to be getting a little bit more and more ridiculous as  this series has been going on.  I also found that The Seventh Plague seemed to be action scene followed by action scene without a ton of character development.  This being the twelve book in the series (with a bunch of novellas too) I wonder if James Rollins is getting tired of Sigma Force.  I hope the next book is better.

2.5 Penguins

#2) Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The North American debut of Frank Thilliez will provide you with one of the best murder mysteries I've read.  The story starts off with an old-film connoisseur who ends up blind after viewing his most recent acquisition, an odd film from the 50's.  While his ex-girlfriend investigates his blindness, she discovers that the film is connected with 5 bodies that were recently discovered in the woods.  This murder-thriller is filled with shocking plot twist that will have you travelling from France to Canada, Egypt and Rwanda and keep you guessing right until the very last sentence and beyond.

5 Penguins

#3) Bred to Kill By Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The sequel to Syndrome E.  While investigating the brutal animal attack of a graduate student, it is discovered that she was actually murdered.  The investigation leads us into the Alps only to discover that a thirty-thousand-year-old virus has been discovered and their are plans to unleash it on the world.    

Bred to Kill picks up about a year after the events in Syndrome E.  While the murder mystery of Bred to Kill isn't quite as gripping as Syndrome E, the personal development of the police detectives more than makes up for it.  I wish that I could either read French or that more of Franck Thilliez's novels were translated into English.

5 Penguins

#4) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The main idea behind American Gods are that gods exist because people believe in them.  American Gods centres around Shadow and his work as an errand boy for Mr. Wednesday.  

A cross between fantasy, fiction and ancient mythology American Gods is Neil Gaiman at his best.  It's a real shame that I just don't really like Neil Gaiman.  I read the book because the show was coming out and I wanted to see what it was all about.  For 3/4 of the book, I found it just barely interesting enough to keep reading and it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I was final hooked.  This book took be 12 days to read, which may not seem like a lot to some, but when I finish a book on average every 2-3 days, this was an extremely long time for me.

1 Penguins

#5) Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
This short novella is a science fiction detective mystery.   At some undetermined point in the future we gain the ability to produce a "snapshot" of the day.  An exact recreation of any given date.  Detectives use the snapshot to help solves murders.  

I really enjoyed this novella.  The idea of a snapshot was quite creative.  I'm not a huge fan of short stories or novellas because just as I'm really getting into them, the story is over.  I felt that Brandon Sanderson did an excellent job of balancing the shortness of Snapshot while still providing the details needed for me to enjoy.

4 Penguins

#6) The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Some point in the future, after a great tribulation, earths humanity only has a dim relocation of humanity before, a small village roots out "deviations" and destroys them as abominations.  The Cyrysalids focuses on one boy, who hides that he his a deviation.  

I enjoyed reading The Chrysalids.  This is one of the books that tends to be on the high-school syllabus, but I always had the English teacher that taught the "other" books on the syllabus, so I never read this in school.  I was entertained throughout, my only complaint being that the ending of the book seemed a little rushed and I would like to have know what happens afterwards.

4 Penguins

#7) Thrawn by Timothy Zhan
Grand Admiral Thrawn was first introduced in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire Series.  Now considered to be Legends and no longer cannon in the Star Wars world, many believe that it was this series and it's captivating antagonist that brought Star Wars back into mainstream and paved the way for the re-releases and prequels, and now an entire world of movies.  Disney was very smart to bring Grand Admiral Thrawn into Cannon and they were even smarter to have Timothy Zhan write Thrawn's history.  I grew up reading the now legends Star Wars novels, and while a lot of them were and are quite terrible stories, there were also a ton of them that were quite amazing, including the Heir to the Empire Series.  Thrawn is the first book in the new canon that I have really enjoyed.  It reintroduces us to the blue skinned, red eyed Chiss commander and documents his rise through the Galactic Empire to become a Grand Admiral.  If you've only ever seen the movies, you can easily read Thrawn and be captivated by this master of military strategy.  

4 Penguins

#8) Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson
The third and final book in the Reckoners Series by Brandon Sanderson, and my favourite of the three.  The professor has gone rogue and it's up to David and the rest of the Reckoners to save him from himself.  These stories are about the corruption that the people who've gained special powers have to face.  

I found the first two books in this series filled with a lot of teen angst, and if put me off reading the final book for a long time.  The teen angst is gone from this book which I was very relieved.  Overall, it's a good wrap-up for the series, although the ending and final climatic event felt a little rushed.

3.5 Penguins

#9) Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
During the late 1800's while the gold-rush towns are popping up everywhere, two rival palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are on the hunt for dinosaur fossils.  William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than common-sense makes a bet with one of his school-mates and finds himself in the West assisting on a dig.  When he is abandoned by the paranoid Marsh he joins forces with Cope and discovers a grave of huge historical significance.   With this find comes grave danger and his life is on the line.  

This is Michael Crichton at best, blending history, science and fiction flawlessly.  The palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are based of real people and the history of finding dinosaur fossils in the West are loosely true.  William Johnson is the fictional made up character that allows Crichton to blend history and fiction together in a cohesive story.  

4 Penguins

#10) Spin (Spin Saga #1) by Robert Charles Wilson
When the stars disappear, replaced by a black membrane, three friends will be forever changed once it's discovered that the black membrane has placed the Earth in a temporal stasis.  

With a cast of well developed characters, I was drawn into the story right from the get-go.  The narration takes place in both the past and present.  The present day narration takes some time before you understand what's going on and only until the past narration catches up do you fully get the scope of the story.  I very much enjoyed this science fiction story and at the time of writing this review I'm currently reading the second one in the series, Aixs.

5 Penguins

#11) Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn
Human Martian, Polly Newton, is sent to her with her brother Charles to the pretentious Galileo Academy on Earth.  While there Polly and Charles struggle to fit in with the privilege Earth teenagers as strange accidents start to happen.  

I really wanted to enjoy this story as it seemed very intriguing, a fish out of water type story, but I didn't.  I hated the main character, Polly.  I found her to be a whiny person filled with teen angst and never learned from her mistakes.  The story itself was well written though, which is why I was able to finish it and not give up half way through.

2 Penguins