books I read

Once when I picked up a book from the local library, the librarian asked to tell her what I thought about the book when I would bring it back. Well, why not write a few lines about all the books I read so everybody could see what I thought about it? I'm often also happy to have friends recommend a certain book or tell me this and that is not really worth reading. I won't comment about the tons of books I have read so far, but about books I read from now on.

1-star recommended not to read it empfehlung das buch nicht zu lesen
2-star not too interesting nicht allzu interessant
3-star average durchschnittlich
4-star good reading gutes lesematerial
5-star highly recommended sehr empfohlen

Overview of all Books

titleNanjing 1937
authorYe Zhaoyan

An unusual love story around the spoilt university professor Ding Wenyu who completely falls for Yuyuan when he sees her at her wedding party.

The love story as such would make for quite a good reading. However, the book is completely overloaded with historical and political details of the time. Sometimes it reads like a "Who's Who" of chinese politics in 1937. Whereas in chinese culture it might be rather important to know who is friends which who, for the western reader it has the effect of partially drowning the love story.

titleThe Bonesetter's Daughter
authorAmy Tan

Ruth, her American father dying very early, has been brought up in America by her Chinese mother LuLing. Life with mother has not always been easy. It is only when LuLing is old, that Ruth learns about the past of her mother, just as LuLing herself did not know the truth about her own mother until after it was too late.

A well told dual-cultural story.

titleDeception Point
authorDan Brown

Campaigning for office is at its height. Rachel Sexton of the National Reconnaissance Office and daughter of his opponent, is ordered by the current President of the United States to check out and confirm the world changing finding NASA has just made. Only hours later Rachel finds herself on an arctic glacier.

By chance the civilian scientists stumble upon some minor issue which not only puzzles them but also puts a team of highly skilled killers on their heels.

A fast paced, well told political thriller. Dan Brown understands his craft exceptionally well by building up the readers urge to go on reading.

titleHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
authorJ.K. Rowling

This is the sixth volume of the Harry Potter series, a story about a boy-wizard chosen to fight the evil and highly skilled dark wizard Voldemort.

Don't attempt to read this without having read the previous volumes; quite a lot of knowledge from the other books is presumed. This sixth book in the series sports less action and surprises than the previous ones. While I still consider it an enjoyable read and can recommend it, I also got the feeling that this volume was somehow fabricated and constructed. In my opinion, the previous five books of this series were better.

titleThe Only Woman in the Room
authorBeate Sirota Gordon

The autobiography of Beate Sirota Gordon, the daughter of the famous pianist Leo Sirota. Beate has been brought up mainly in Austria and Japan. During war she was studying in America and thanks to her excellent language skills was hired to translate foreign radio broadcasts monitored by the US. At the end of the war she returned to Japan in search for her parents and worked for the US army where she happened to draft part of the Japanese constitution.

While this is not a literary high standing work, it is nice reading and well worthwhile if you are interested in Japan, especially the early 20th century, or in Leo Sirota.

Leitfaden zu Design und Implementierung von Kernel 2.6
authorRobert Love

Ein Buch, das nicht vornehmlich für den C-Programier-Guru geschrieben ist, sondern auch von "Normalsterblichen" verstanden werden kann.

Es wird Einblick gewährt, wie im Linux Kernel programmiert werden soll, Stolpersteine aufgezeigt und Tipps gegeben. Die wichtigsten Bereiche des Kernels, seiner Aufgaben und verwendete Konzepte werden in verständlicher Sprache erklärt. Die Zahl der C-Beispiele hält sich in Grenzen, so dass man nicht unbedingt C Programmierer sein muss, um von diesem Buch profitieren zu können.

Dieses Buch ist eine Deutsche Uebersetzung des Englischen Originals. Die Sprache der Linux Kernelentwicklung und der Programmierung ganz allgemein ist zwar Englisch, aber die sehr vielen Englischen Ausdrücke (teilweise mit Uebersetzungen in Klammern) stören doch merklich. Meine Bücherrei hatte nur die Deutsche Ausgabe an Lager und ich bereue, mich damit zufrieden gegeben zu haben, statt das Englische Original zu bestellen. Auch bezüglich Tipp- und anderer Fehler könnte noch einiges verbessert werden. Zum Beispiel sind in meiner Auflage in einem ganzen Kapitel sämtliche Tabellenunterschriften falsch.

Als Vorbereitung auf einen Linux Performance Tuning Kurs wollte ich etwas mehr über den Kernel lernen und habe dieses Buch gelesen. Die darin enthaltenen Ausführungen und Erklärungen waren zwar verständlich, ich bin mir aber nicht sicher, wieviel sie mir für den bevorstehenden Kurs wirklich helfen werden.

titlePerfect Harmony
authorBarbara Wood

Charlotte, the American-Chinese young woman has inherited Harmony Biotech, the successful company her grandmother has built selling Chinese herbal remedies. Not long after she is in charge of the company, somebody tries to destroy it. Who is it? Why?

An extremely well written thriller, right from the first to the very last page. The way Barbara Wood succeeds to tell both, the story of Charlotte and her struggle, as well as the story of her grandmother in one book, side by side, without the two stories getting into the way of each other, is simply fantastic.

Definitely a book which is hard to put away once you started reading.

Overview of all Books

titleThe Magdalene Scrolls
authorBarbara Wood

When the paleographer Ben Messer receives some ancient scrolls from Israel for translation he soon realizes that these scrolls are unlike any others ever found. They might even contain evidence which could prove or change what we think to know of history.

But with each scroll translated, Ben himself seems to change more and more. Is the Curse of Moses upon him? The line between present and history is diminishing with each scroll...

titleDigital Fortress
authorDan Brown

Susan Fletcher, a cryptography specialist with the NSA, had planned a trip for the weekend with David. But it all comes different. First David is sent onto a mysterious mission, and later her boss calls her in for an emergency.

As usual, the whole story plays in a timeframe of only 24 hours, but Dan Brown has enough twists and turns up his sleeve to make it a very eventful 24 hours, right from the first page through to the last one. Even though Digital Fortress is not exactly as highly capturing as some of his other books, it still makes for a fine read. It also makes you wonder how much spying power big organizations and countries really do have.

Some small mistakes in the book, like the mixup of the terms bit and byte, as well as a mistake in some code are tiny glitches. But for somebody who is used to the Japanese language and Japanese names, the Japanese sounding but definitely non-Japanese name Dan Brown chose for one main character becomes a bit annoying while reading. If you don't speak Japanese, you probably won't notice and mind.

titleManaging RPM-Based Systems with Kickstart and Yum
authorEthan McCallum

A concise introduction to kickstarting Red Hat based Linux distributions and how to keep them patched and up to date with the exact same infrastructure used for installations.

If you have been managing systems through kickstart, satellite server and the like for some time, there is not much new information, even if you haven't worked with yum before. If you are new to kickstart, however, you will find a good introduction to the topic, complete with a suggestion on how to layout your environment. In this respect, this O'Reilly Short Cut does exactly what it says: giving you a short cut to a workable environment.

authorDoris Knop

Ein einigermassen ausführlicher und doch kompakter Reiseführer für eine Trans-Sibirien Reise.

Ich habe die Reise noch nicht gemacht, sondern beginne mich erst darauf vorzubereiten und zu freuen; somit kann ich die Korrektheit und und Nützlichkeit der Informationen in diesem Reiseführer noch nicht richtig beurteilen. Zumindest für die Vorbereitung scheint es mir aber ein sehr nützlicher Ratgeber zu sein, zumal für so eine Reise doch einige spezielle Vorbereitungen nötig sind. Gerade in den ersten drei Kapiteln findet man vielerlei Hinweise worauf bei den Vorbereitungen und während der Reise zu achten ist, inclusive Ein- und Ausreisebestimmungen und ausführliche Informationen zur Beschaffung der nötigen Visas (in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz).

Die nachfolgenden Kapitel beziehen sich dann auf die einzelnen Streckenabschnitte, wobei alle drei Routen, nach Wladiwostok, nach Peking über die Mongolei und nach Peking über die Mandschurei, kurz beschrieben werden.

Dem rund vierzigseitigen Anhang kann ich persönlich nicht viel abgewinnen.

Obwohl die Autorin selber Veranstalterin von entsprechenden Reisen ist, wird das TransSib-Reisehandbuch nicht für Eigenwerbung misbraucht. Natürlich gibt es an der einen oder anderen Stelle Hinweise, dass beschriebene Touren zum Teil über die Autorin gebucht werden können. Der Leser empfindet diese wenigen Einschübe aber nicht als Werbung, sondern als Information. Schliesslich ist man ja froh zu wissen, wo man entsprechende Arrangements buchen kann und es werden auch andere Agenturen genannt.

Fazit: Kurz und büdig, die wichtigsten Informationen im handlichen Format.

titleThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
authorDouglas Adams

For very early internet adopters like me, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is legend. But I have to confess, up to 2007 (lightyears in internet timecounting) I never attempted to read this book. After it was highly recommended to me again by some people, I finally dug into it.

Even though some very few lines are funny I just can't get the hang of Adams' writing style. Too disintegrated, too nebulous, no story line visible. Actually this is one of the few books I put away again unfinished after having slaved through the first 50 to 100 pages.

titleThe Woman Next Door
authorBarbara Delinsky

An average story of the average neighbourhood in an average small village. While Amanda and Graham are struggling to conceive, the reserved widow next door, Gretchen, is pregnant and won't tell who the father is. This again does not quite help the worked up marriage of the other neighbours, Karen and Lee, especially as Lee has a history of cheating on his wife. Also Georgia, the last neighbour on the cul-de-sac is asking herself, whether her husband, Russ, could have fathered Gretchen's child. After all she's out on business for most of the week while Russ is at home...

Barbara Delinsky has a way of working with the feelings of the characters in the book, fear, expectation, doubt, love, trust, that makes a good read out of an average story.

titleWebdesign mit JavaScript
authorNick Heinle & Bill Pena

In der Regel ziehe ich englische Computerfachbücher den deutschen Versionen vor. Dieser Titel ist aber auch in der äusserst gut gelungenen Uebersetzung sehr zu empfehlen. In der Tat habe ich bis jetzt kaum ein ähnlich gut übersetztes Fachbuch gesehen.

Für den mit mittelmässigen HTML-Kenntnissen ausgestatteten Leser bietet dieses Buch einen sehr guten Grundeinstieg in die Welt der JavaScript Programmierung. Die Beispiele sind verständlich aufgebaut und werden gut erklärt. Dabei werden verschiedene Themen wie die Arbeit mit Fenstern, Browsererkennung, Formularvalidierungen, Cookies, DHTML, etc. berücksichtigt und vorgestellt.

Wer eine Vertiefung ins Thema JavaScript sucht, sollte sich nach einem anderen Buch umsehen, wer aber an einem gut verständlichen Einstieg in das Thema interessiert ist, dem wird dieser Titel Freude bereiten.

titleDie Wälder von Albion
authorMarion Zimmer Bradley

Die Römer herrschen in Britannien, sind aber nicht überall willkommen. Ein junger römischer Offizier, halb Britone halb Römer, verunfallt und wird von Einheimischen gerettet und gesund gepflegt. Dabei verliebt er sich in die Enkeltochter des höchsten Druiden.

Eine Geschichte über Liebe, Macht, Glaube, Unterschiede und Kommunikationsprobleme. Die Kinder, welche sich am Anfang gegenseitig helfen und teilweise zusammen aufwachsen, gehen in ihren Leben ganz verschiedene Wege, welche sich aber immer wieder kreuzen. Während ihres ganzen Lebens beeinflussen sie sich gegenseitig, aber weniger kontrolliert und weniger direkt als in ihrer Kindheit.

Die Geschichte ist gut geschrieben, liest sich flüssig und ist keinesfalls oberflächlich, aber mir fehlt ein eigentlicher Höhepunkt. Während die erste Hälfte eine kurze Zeitspanne umfasst und mich noch eher gefesselt hat, ist mir die zweite Hälfte, welche sich über Jahre hinwegstreckt, eher zu breit geschlagen.

authorHans Engberding, Bodo Thöns

Eine Sammlung von Reiseberichten mit der Transsibirischen Eisenbahn von 1901 bis 2001, geschrieben von mehr und weniger bekannten Personen. Die Berichte sind vielfältig, teils enthalten sie viel geschichtliches oder politisches oder auch persönliches.

Man kann zwar ein wenig herauslesen wie sich die Eisenbahnstrecke und das Reisen darauf im Laufe der Zeit verändert hat, darf aber keinesfalls erwarten, irgendwelche Reisetipps zu bekommen. Dies ist ein Buch zur Unterhaltung oder allenfalls fü den geschichtlich / politisch interessierten Leser, aber kein Buch zur Reisevorbereitung.

Mir selber hat das Buch nicht so sehr gefallen, die Reise jedoch schon.

titleThe Second Horseman
authorKyle Mills

Brandon Vale is a thief by profession. And he is a grand master of this art. He never hurts people, never steals anything an insurance company could not replace and never gets caught.

Brandon actually is in jail for something he did not do, having been set up by a former FBI agent. This very agent breaks him out of jail shortly before Brandon has done his time. Why? To steal 200 million dollars from Las Vegas in order to buy twelve nuclear warheads and this way save the world...

This is one of the books which has the tendency of sticking to your fingers and when you are to put it away for the day you hear yourself begging: "Just one more chapter, please."

titleThe Hard Way
authorLee Child

Another Jack Reacher story. As usual, full of action, thrilling, a pleasure to read.

This time Jack Reacher finds himself working with a bunch of other ex military forces guys on a kidnapping case. However, something stinks, something does not feel right. But Reacher can not point it out.

What first looks like a normal kidnapping turns out to be something much more complicated and dangerous.

titleBittere Mandelblüten
authorSujata Massey

Als an der renomierten Kayama Ikebana Schule eine Lehrerin ermordet wird, finden Rei Shimura und ihre Tante Norie die Leiche. Das Verhältnis zwischen der ermordeten Lehrerin und den Shimuras war sehr angespannt gewesen, was letztere automatisch verdächtig macht. In der Folge passieren noch mehr merkwürdige Dinge, doch schliesslich kann Rei, halb Amerikanerin, halb Japanerin und begnadete Spürnase, den Fall lösen.

Die Geschichte selber ist durchschnittlich aber die Spannung versprechenden Wendungen werden nicht genutzt um das Buch fesselnder zu machen. Massey gelingt es hingegen recht gut, Japan und die Grätsche, welche aklimatisierte Ausländer oder Halbjapaner machen, zu beschreiben. Ob dies für Leser, welche selber keine Japanerfahrung haben, genügend einfach zu verstehen ist, kann ich nicht richtig beurteilen, da ich dazu selber zu "japanisiert" bin.

Die deutsche Uebersetzung weist deftige Ausrutscher auf; "Fudschijama" ist wie ein Schlag ins Gesicht oder wie wenn man "George Bush" mit "Tschordsch Busch" übersetzen würde und "Pocket Monsters" sind auch nicht so leicht als "Pokemon" zu erkennen.

titleManaging Projects with GNU Make (Third Edition)
authorRobert Mecklenburg

Which unix administrator has not typed "./configure; make; make install" many times to magically compile source code. No need to know how to invoke the compiler, what libraries must be linked etc. It simply works, thanks to make and the makefile.

Ever wondered how to write a makefile to automate source code compilations or other tasks? I did, wanting to provide an easy way for my colleagues to update and tranlate my LaTeX documentations when they make changes to a system and to also automatically update the central documentation repository with the new version. I also want to build an easier to handle system for sorting and processing my vacation photos, etc.

In this book, Robert Mecklenburg introduces the reader in a well chosen sequence of steps to make and the art of writing makefiles. Throughout the book he uses samples, starting out simple and refining them as new concepts are explained. Some clever hacks and tricks are shown and explained as well.

Even though most samples handle compiling C or Java code, the explanations are clear enough to easily apply the techniques to other uses as well. Part one explains rules, variables, macros, functions and commands, while part two goes into advanced and specialized topics like managing large projects, writing portable makefiles, samples for handling C, C++ and Java, performance and debugging.

I did not understand everything (and don't need to), but rather than feeling intimidated by makefiles, I now believe to be able to write simple and moderately involved makefiles for the uses I had in mind.

authorRichard Bach

Richard and Leslie Bach are approaching Los Angeles in their small airplane, when they suddenly find themselves in another world. But this is no real world, time stands still, you do not get hungry, the airplane is not using any fuel. It is a place from where you can get to any number of parallel existences. Richard and Leslie visit some of their parallel themselves in the future, in the past, in the maybe-present.

While I like the idea of visiting parallel worlds, the book was not really appealing to me. It was about enough to keep me reading till the end, sparked some thougths, but that's about it.

titleDie Rebellin
authorTrudi Canavan

Die ärmeren Leute von Imardin müssen ausserhalb der Stadtmauern leben, im sogenannten äusseren Ring. Alljährlich zur Winterszeit findet eine Säuberung des inneren Ringes statt; die sich in der Stadt befindlichen ärmeren Leute werden vertrieben. Bei dieser Säuberung errichten die Magier der Gilde einen magischen Schutzschild und die Kinder machen sich einen Sport daraus, diesen Schutzschild der verhassten Gilde mit Steinen zu bewerfen. Auch Sonea lässt sich dazu überreden Steine zu werfen. Allerdings erstaunt sie nicht nur sich selber, sondern die ganze Stadt und insbesondere die Magiergilde, als ihr Stein das Schutzschild durchdringt. Dies ist nur mit Magie möglich.

Fortan beginnt für Sonea ein Leben in Verstecken, denn die Magier suchen nach ihr und haben gar eine fette Belohnung ausgesetzt. Gleichzeitig nimmt die Stärke der Magie in Sonea zu und wird schwieriger zu kontrollieren. Anfangs steckt sie nur unbeabsichtigt kleinere Sachen in Brand, aber immer grösser wird der Schaden, den sie mit ihrer unkontrollierten Magie anrichtet...

Eine absolut fesselnde Geschichte, welche mit diesem Buche keineswegs zu Ende ist, sondern erst richtig beginnt und in zwei weiteren Bänden, "Die Novizin" und "Die Meiseterin" weitergeführt wird.

authorPaul R. Scheel

Ich habe zwar schon in wesentlich schlimmeren Büchern herumgestöbert, aber Leute, welche nicht gelegentlich grosszügig über ein gewisses Mass an Eigenwerbung hinweglesen können, dürften mit diesem Buch hin und wieder ein Problem haben. Auch der sehr optimistische Ton wird wohl nicht jedem der eher nüchternen Europäer liegen.

Ob das in diesem Buch berschriebene Photolesen so möglich und erlernbar ist? Ich gebe zu, dass ich gewisse Zweifel hege (und darum Mühe haben werde, diese Technik wirklich zu erlernen). Anderseits glaube ich, das viele der Informationen und Techniken, wie zum Beispiel Vor- und Nachbearbeitung, Formulierung von Fragen an den Text, etc. sehr wohl nützlich und vorteilhaft sind. Ich bin auch überzeugt, dass unser Geist wirklich zu mehr im Stande ist, als was wir ihm generell zutrauen und wir uns, um mehr erreichen zu können, von gewissen Vorstellungen und Haltungen lösen müssen. Diesbezüglich hat dieses Buch sehr wohl einen Wert, auch für halb-Zweifler wie mich, die (noch) nicht bereit sind, sich von der linearen Lesemethode zu lösen.

Overview of all Books

titleDie Novizin
authorTrudi Canavan

Sonea ist in die Magiergilde als Novizin aufgenommen worden. Sie ist die einzige Magierin überhaupt, welche aus den Hüttenvierteln stammt und nicht aus den feinen Häusern. Als Aussenseiterin hat sie es nicht leicht, obwohl ihre magischen Fähigkeiten ausgezeichnet sind. Immer wieder machen ihr die anderen Novizen das Leben schwer, vor allem Regin.

Die Fortsetzungsgeschichte von "Die Rebellin" ist weniger spannend als der erste Band der Trilogie. Das Buch, obwohl immer noch interessant, hat bei mir ein wenig den Eindruck erweckt, als wäre die ungefähre Seitenzahl vorgegeben gewesen und hätte gefüllt werden müssen. Richtig knisternde Spannung kommt bei der Lektüre nicht auf. Allerdings kann ich mir auch sehr gut vorstellen, dass dieses Buch eine Brücke darstellt zwischen dem ersten und dritten Band, die Informationen vermittelt und Voraussetzungen schafft um dann im letzen Teil der Trilogie nochmals so richtig Gas geben und Spannung erzeugen zu können.

"Die Novizin" zu lesen ohne vorgängig "Die Rebellin" gelesen zu haben würde ich definitiv nicht empfehlen.

titleDie Meisterin
authorTrudi Canavan

Seit ihrer Herausforderung und ihrem Sieg über Regin vor einem Jahr, machen die Mitschüler Sonea das Leben in der Magierschule nicht mehr so schwer. Dennnoch ist sie nach wie vor eine Einzelgängerin. Ihr Leben verändert sich jedoch abermals grundlegend, als ihr Mentor, der Hohe Lord der Magiergilde, sie eines abends mitnimmt in die Stadt und ihr an einem Gefangenen Sachakaner beibringt, wie sie Gedanken lesen kann, auch gegen den Willen des Betroffenen. Von diesem Zeitpunkt an beginnen sich die Ereignisse zu überschlagen. Schon nach kurzer Zeit fällt die Gilde in eine Krise, als sie ihren Hohen Lord anklagt, verbotene schwarze Magie nicht nur gelernt, sondern auch praktiziert zu haben. Trotzdem getrauen sich weder die Gilde, noch der König, die für dieses Verbrechen vorgesehene Strafe der Hinrichtung zu verhängen. Gleichzeitig mit der Anklage von Akkarin, dem Hohen Lord, bricht ein weiteres Unglück über die Gilde herein, das nicht nur für die Gilde selber, sondern für die ganze Stadt Imardin, ja sogar ganz Kyralia eine existentielle Bedrohung darstellt.

Dies ist der letze Band der Trilogie und ein Buch, bei dem es einem schwer fällt, es zur Seite zu legen. Unerwartete Wendungen in der Geschichte; all die Aufbauarbeit der ersten zwei Bücher wird benutzt, um von der ersten bis zur letzen Seite prickelnde Spannung aufkommen zu lassen. Dieser letzte Teil ist Entlöhnung genug, um sich vorher auch durch das nur mittelmässige zweite Buch zu lesen.

titleWhen We Were Orphans
authorKazuo Ishiguro

Christopher Banks is a detective in London of the 1930-ies. He has come to England from Shanghai when he was a young boy.

After having read close to half the book, I still don't have much more information on what is supposed to be going on. Ishiguro lets his main character, Christopher, reflect in his memories but does not make apparent what the story is all about. One guesses that at some point, Christopher might travel to Shanghai again and try to find out what did happen to his parents. The writing style is very descriptive without saying much. After page 138 I finally gave up hoping to find something which might make it worth to go on reading.

titleErschöpfung und Überlastung positiv bewältigen
authorNossrat & Nawid Peseschikan

Das Buch ist für den fachlichen Laien sehr gut verständlich geschrieben. Es versucht anhand von Beispielen aufzuzeigen, was Auslöser für Stress sein können und was man in solchen Situationen tun kann. Vor allem baut es auf dem immer wieder zitierten (Un)Gleichgewicht zwischen Körper, Zukunft, Leistung und Kontakt auf.

Ich glaube nicht, dass dieses Buch ein Mittel ist um aus Krisensituationen herauszufinden oder zur Stressbewältigung dienen kann. Es zeigt jedoch sehr wohl Ansatzpunkte auf und kann zum überdenken der eigenen Situation und Verhaltensweisen anregen. Diesbezüglich kann ich mir das Buch gut vorstellen als begleitendes Hilfsmittel bei einer Therapie oder als Leitfaden zum nachdenken über unsere eigenen Verhaltensweisen und Reaktionsmechanismen.

titleWe'll meet again
authorMary Higgins Clark

When Molly Lash, convicted for murdering her husband but always saying she can not remember having done such a thing, is released from imprisonment after five and a half years, she makes a bold statement to the press covering her release: she still thinks she did not murder her husband and wants to find the true murderer. However, within a week of getting out of jail, Molly is accused of having murdered yet another person. Everybody believes she is mentally ill and dangerous. Only one reporter, Fran Simmons who is to be doing a TV special on the case, starts do dig deeper into the matter and comes to think that Molly might actually say the truth.

A wonderfully crafted story where all the pieces fit together. Taking you in right from the first to the last page. The only problem with this book is that you'll hardly be able to ever take your hand off till you've read it all.

authorKate Mosse

During summer break 2005 Alice is visiting her friend Shelagh in France who is the deputy at an excarvation site. As Alice does not have any other plans, she helps for a couple of days and makes a discovery at her last day...

In July 1209 Alaïs finds a dead body in the river when she goes to find fresh herbs for her medicines. When she describes what she found to her father, he is rather distressed, just as if the dead might be somebody dear to him. It turns out to be somebody else, but still, something seems to be bothering her father and he passes her an ancient book of great value for safekeeping. One book of a set of three he once was asked to bring from Egypt because it supposedly was safer in France...

Is Alice the same person as Alaïs? Is she a decendant? Gradually the two stories, at first seemingly unrelated, become one. A story of religion, faith, love, all centered around the Holy Grail.

A longish book but told well enough so I kept reading even though I'm usually not too much interested in historical or religious stories.

titleHour Game
authorDavid Baldacci

Shortly after the dead body of a woman is found in Wrigthsburg, more murders happen. The handywork of some maniac serial killer. But neither the police, nor the FBI can put the pieces together. Also Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, two ex-Secret Service agents can't make sense out of it at first. And some additional murders, which seem not to be performed by the serial killer, don't make things easier either...

After their first adventure in Split Second, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, now partners in a private investigation firm, solve another mistery crime. The story makes for a good read, but is somewhat cruel at times and it is not always so clear how the hero jumps to the conclusions which help to solve the mistery.

titleBeautiful Ghosts
authorEliot Pattison

Shan Tao Yun, once a successful Chinese investigator, was put in prison and working camp, because of his success. Since his release he lives in the mountains of Tibet.

Shan planned to go on a retreat for meditation after the festival. However, during the festival something happens in the cave and seems to have driven the lama Surya mad. There is also a pond of blood deep down in the cave, but no injury or body to go with it. When then finally some helicopters with troops arrive, Shan decides he could not possibly find peace in meditation until he knows more about what has happened in the cave, not expecting the kind of troubles and dangers he is about to face.

A well written thriller in a different setting from the mainstream. Sometimes I did not really see how the characters in the story came to their conclusions, but this well structured story makes still for a good read.

titleThe Sociopath Next Door
authorMartha Stout

Imagine a person with no conscience, none at all. This is the most basic description of a sociopath. Stout, a psychotherapist in the Boston area, kind of shocked me on the first page with the explanation of what a sociopath is. She goes on and explains, also using real-life examples, why it is so difficult to recognize these people, why they often seem to be successful, respectable achievers, what their motivation is and compares what is going on inside of a sociopath and a non-sociopath. Towards the end of the book she also shows how similar science and religion see these people.

Even though I do not quite agree with the complete black-and-white picture Stout draws, her samples and explanations can be an eye opener for something, you might already have witnessed but took for a mistake on your side since it just seemed so unbelievable.

The book does not give you any direct help on how to deal with sociopaths, even though it does sport a (far too short and utterly useless) section called Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life. The real value of this book, however, is to open up your mind to accept and thus be aware of something, most of us would think was completely impossible, so impossible we would come up with tons of excuses why what we saw and thought could simply not be true. In fact, after reading this book, I might, in some situations, now accept that indeed it was true.

titleState of Fear
authorMichael Crichton

Global warming threatens to make the island nation of Vanutu disappear. Vanutu and the National Environmental Resource Fund are preparing to file a lawsuit against the US over global warming. George Morton is financially backing the lawsuit with a 10 million dollar grant. All the preparations go fine. But after John Kenner shows up at Morton's place, Morton seems to have second thoughts about the matter and threatens to withdraw the grant. Shortly before dying in a car crash, an obviously drunk George Morton publicly hints his withdrawal in a public speech.

Now things really speed up. In the course of only a couple of days George Morton's lawyer and secretary are urged by John Kenner to follow him to a number of places around the world in order to prevent some catastrophes which would be only too convenient to coincide with a big conference on abrupt clima change.

The book is very well written and loaded with presumably well researched information about global warming, all wrapped in a thrilling and fast paced story. Some chapters contain more story while others are more designed to present information and facts about global warming, media influence etc. without being boaring or pure descriptions.

Some of the action in the book seems a bit far fetched and I could well do without one particularly cruel death, but apart from that the book is really recommendable. It shows global warming from a refreshingly different side than what we hear and read from the news all the time.

titleS is for Silence
authorSue Grafton

Violet Sullivan is an extremely attractive woman, but married to a violent guy. Both her husband and herself often hang out at the Blue Moon and have a drink too much. One day Violet disappears and is never seen again. Foley, her husband, is suspected of having killed her, but he persists in saying he didn't do any wrong and she simply ran off. No proof can ever be produced to backup one or the other story.

Thirtyfour years after the disappearance of Violet Sullivan, her daughter Daisy hires the private investigator Kinsey Millhone to have, against all odds, a look into the matter once more. She wants to find out whether her mother was murdered or ran off without ever bothering about her own daughter.

A medicore story which, I think, could have done without another death at the very end of the book.

titleThe Name of the Wind
authorPatrick Rothfuss

Kvothe is the son of a trouper family, going from town to town, performing, moving on. He is a formidable actor. He is a great musician. And he is very bright.

When Kvothe sees someone call the name of the wind so the wind rushes to the aid of the caller, he wants to learn the names of things as well. He wishes to go to university to learn. He longs to have access to the huge library at the university. But the Chandrian meddles with his life. The way to university is hard. Staying at the university is hard. But hardest of all is the thirst for knowledge.

This story is fantasy, set in a time when people believe in daemons, but might be they are right in doing so. It is extremely well told and it keeps you turning page after page after page. Like the story itself, you can not do justice to the book by explaining about it, the only way to understand is to read it. I assure you, you will not regret it.

titleNo Place like Home
authorMary Higgins Clark

Liza Barton, at the age of ten, shot her mother and wounded her stepfather while trying to save her mother's life. She was accused of cold blooded murder but finally got off without being sentenced. Twenty four years later, after having taken on a different identity, Liza returns to her former home when her new husband, who is not aware of her past, buys a house for her birthday present, the house where everything happened. Upon their moving in, they are greeted with a nasty surprise to make things worse, a series of murders start.

While quite a number of happenings in the storyline are predictable, Marry Higgins Clark still succeeds to keep the reader turning page after page.

titleHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
authorJ.K. Rowling

The final part of the Harry Potter story. Lord Voldermort has returned and risen again. He is about to take over the whole wizarding world. Of course, not everybody agrees with the new ruler, but putting up resistance becomes more and more difficult by the day. Even Harry Potter has to go into hiding. Before Professor Dumbledore died, he gave Harry a task, but Harry feels he has not be taught enough about what he is supposed to do...

Again, Rowling easily succeeds to catch the reader's interest, to keep everyone's nose sticking to the pages. There are, however, quite a number of references made to the part of the story which happened in the preceding books, so don't attempt to read this book without having read the rest of the story.

titleOne Foot in the Grave
authorJeaniene Frost

Cat is half vampire and half human. She is pretty, powerful and dangerous, but has been lonely ever since she left Bones four years ago. Cat hates vampires and at the same time still loves Bones, wo himself is a Master vampire. In her undercover job, she and her team fight those creatures who go for humans. Yes, Cat is 'Red Reaper', the one no vampire knows and every vampire fears. One day, however, she lets one of the fanged creatures escape and he comes back at her, trying to add her to his collection. A tougher battle begins than what Cat is used to and she is lucky Bones, her ex, finds her before Ian does. But Ian still gets his second encounter with Cat...

Even though there is a fair amount of slaughtering in this book, it is not frightening. There are also some sexually explicit scenes which I would have guessed were written by a woman even if I hadn't known the author of the book. All in all: good entertainment.

Overview of all Books

titleVersteckte Botschaften
authorKlaus Schmeh

Steganographie kannte ich bis anhin nur aus der Computerwelt. Diese Art des Botschaften Versteckens nimmt in Schmeh's Buch nur einen kleinen Teil ein. Mit zahlreichen zum Teil humorvollen Beispielen wird in den ersten drei Teilen aufgezeigt, was Steganographie ist und was für verschiedene Methoden über die Jahrhunderte angewendet wurden um Nachrichten zu verstecken. Jargon Codes, Semagramme, Zinken, Akrostichen sind nur einige der zahlreichen Techniken, auf die im Buch eingegangen wird.

Im vierten Teil räumt der Autor gnadenlos mit Steganographie-Scharlatanerei auf und zeigt wiederum anhand etlicher Beispiele, dass noch lange nicht hinter jedem vermeintlich gefundenen Code auch wirklich ein Code steckt.

Dieses Buch gibt auf humorvolle Art und Weise einen Ueberblick über die vierschiedenen Arten, wie Nachrichten versteckt werden können. Wer jedoch eine wissenschaftliche Abhandlung erwartet wird enttäuscht sein. Der Leser, der eine technische Anleitung zur Steganographie sucht findet auch nicht, sehr wohl aber vielfältige Ideen und Anhaltspunkte.

titleLife Support
authorTess Gerritsen

Toby Harper is a doctor at a hospital. She usually works the night shift at the ER. One night the cops bring in a completely disoriented elderly man who unfortunately leaves again some time later without a proper diagnosis. This already turns her live somewhat upside down, but things start to really go wrong when a few weeks later another man comes in with the same symptoms.

The story starts out rather slow but picks up speed after some time and gets really fast moving towards the end. The author was a doctor herself and surely knows what she is writing about but from time to time there is an overload of medical expressions which might be interesting to people who actually did study medicine, but not to others. Neither are these special terms a necessary part of the story, so if you don't understand them, simply skip them. And if you are the type of person who can't close an eye after seeing a mild horror movie, you should keep your fingers off this book. It is not horror, but in my opinion it is neither for the fragile.

titleHow to Win Friends & Influence People
authorDale Carnegie

Many of these self improvement books are completely exaggerating and talking about methods which are simply not applicable. This is, I feel, one of the books which actually are on track and give advice which is useful.

There are three parts in this book: how to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking and how to change people without arousing resentment. Actually, most of the people will actually know about most of the things the book suggests, but often we "know but do not realize". Ever so often I had to say to myself "Well, that's actually the way to do it and if I think of it, I somehow knew it." But these things have never before been laid out in front of me so openly. Some of the principles described in the book I already used consciously, some of them unconsciously and some where new ideas to me.

The book is not a manual giving concrete steps to take or phrases to use, but rather a guide to show you the direction to follow. The steps used to walk into the given direction must be found and taken by yourself, as they are very much dependent on the situation at hand. But there are numerous examples of how people applied the principles in certain situations. Actually most of the book consists of such examples and what the result was. Sure, Dale Carnegie uses positive examples with incredible results for illustration in his book, basically he shows the tip of the iceberg. The reader must realize that not every time one of these principles is being applied such a huge gain can result. So don't expect immediate radical changes once you start following the advice in the book, but I'm sure the general idea is correct and will yield results finally.

titlePandora's Daughter
authorIris Johansen

When she was a child, Megan Blair heard voices. Sometimes they drove her almost crazy. Her mother always insisted that Megan does not need to see a doctor about it and that the voices will go away when she grows up.

As a grown up, Megan indeed does not hear voices any longer. Until the day she is almost murdered and Neal Grady appears in her life, again. Megan must learn to accept the shocking news, that she does have a very special gift. A gift which can also be a curse. That gift is valuable to some and it makes others want to eliminate her. A cat and mouse race begins.

Iris Johansen has written a real page turner. The prologue is short, leaves many questions open, but it is a necessary part to avoid lengthy explanations inside of the main story; thus, right from the first chapter, the action can and does start.

titleSAP on Linux
authorW.Nüßer, M.Stein, A.Hass, T.Kugelberg, F.Kley

Das Buch gibt eine sehr gute Vogelperspektive über SAP und wie es auf Linux zu betreiben ist. An manchen Stellen geht es vom Höhenflug in rasantem Sturzflug in die Tiefe und es werden Dinge wie Speicherverwaltung unter Linux oder IO unter Linux in einem Detailgrad erklärt, der ansonsten nur in spezialisierten Kernel- oder Performance-Tuning-Büchern zu finden ist. Auch bei einigen nicht-Linux Themen, wie Datenbanken (MaxDB, DB2 UDB, Oracle) oder Starten und Stoppen von SAP wird zum Tiefflug angesetzt.

Obwohl der Inhalt des Buches wertvoll und informativ ist, macht es doch sehr stark den Eindruck eines unvollendeten, unter Termindruck erstellten Werkes: Für einen allgemeinen Ueberblick werden zu viele Details in einer zu grossen Detailtiefe besprochen und als tiefgehende technische Dokumentation zu SAP ist die Breite der Themen nicht ausreichend. Eine spätere Auflage dürfte hier wohl Abhilfe schaffen und die Breite der Themen erweitern. Auch orthographisch und grammatikalisch ist dringend eine Ueberarbeitung nötig (wurde das Manuskript vor dem Druck korrekturgelesen?); die vielen Fehler beeinträchtigen zwar den Inhalt nicht, wirken aber dennoch störend.

titleThe Postman always Rings Twice
authorJames M. Cain

Frank Chambers is a vagabond, here today and somewhere else tomorrow. When he tries to cheat a Greek restaurant owner for a meal he is unexpectely offered a job. But in this job he stays much longer than usual, the reason being the pretty wife of Nick, the Greek. Frank and Cora fall in love and are looking for a way to get rid of Nick.

This is a rather old book and no doubt had the stuff to be scandalous in its time. But more than seventy years later it is rather tame. Interesting, however, some of the wording used. Good I did not study English from this book or my marks for grammar would have suffered.

titlePulling Strings with Puppet
authorJames Turnbull

Puppet, being a great tool for system administrators, unfortunately suffers, at least in my opinion, from a lack of good documentation. Sure, the wiki at has a good amount of information, but it is neither easy to read, nor complete and the structure is not suitable for learning the ropes.

Does this book fill the gap? Only partially. What struck me at first was the complete lack of an index. The index in 'Red Hat RPM Guide' is of poor quality, but still better than none at all. Very often the author references to the wiki at for further reading and more details. I really would have liked more depth in the book. Especially a more extensive coverage of the various types, functions and configuration items used by puppet, including samples, would be in order, possibly in a separate chapter. Even if this meant duplicating much of the information in the wiki, it would avoid having to switch back and forth bewteen the book and the online reference.

On the bright side, Turnbull's writing style is easy to read. What is covered in the book mostly is explained by showing a sample followed by text explaining what's going on in the sample code. This makes it easy for newcomers to follow along. This covers mainly the basics plus some first steps beyond. I'm sure with puppet you can do much more, but here we're on our own again.

If you are new to puppet, get the book; it will help you get up to speed more quickly than the wiki. If you have puppet up and running with basics only, you might get some ideas from the book on how to get beyond the basics. If you are a slightly advanced puppeteer already you'll probably not gain anything from reading this book.

I'm still waiting for a good book on puppet, but meanwhile this is probably the best you can get and thus it gets a small bonus in my rating simply for the fact of being available.

titleThe First Counsel
authorBrad Meltzer

Michael Garrick is a young lawyer at the White House. And he is a very lucky man, because he is asked for a date by the First Daughter, Nora Hartson. Nora is a real daredevil getting rid of the Secret Service tailing them to sneak into a bar incognito and without being watched. There they spot Simon, Michael's boss, who seems to be handing over something. Secret information? Money? Nora convinces Michael to follow Simon and this is where Michael's life starts to go upside down. Within hours he is not only lying to the police, but also investigated by the FBI as a prime suspect in a sudden death case.

This is one of the few books written in present tense, which needed some getting used to on the first few pages. The story is well told with a number of unexpected twists and turns. Good enough, but nothing which kept me up at night reading till dawn.

authorTess Gerritsen

Jordan Travistock is a real British gentleman and aristocrat. And he is there for his friends when they need his help. So in the end he agrees, when Veronica Cairncross pleads "A small burglary. That's all I'm asking for." in order to help her out of some trouble. However, during this small and relatively harmeless burglary, Jordan stumbles upon another burglar at the same site. And this is when his own trouble starts.

At the beginning of the book, there are several odds and ends which, at first, seem to be completely self contained and not interwined with each other; especially if you also read the prologue, which you should do. But at the latest from the middle of the second chapter, some connections between the different stories become obvious. The whole story is very well constructed, every then and when the reader, together with the main figures, learns something new about how the events and characters are connected. It definietely is not one of those stories where you know all about the plot after reading the first twenty pages.

titleVersion Control with Git
authorJon Loeliger

Git is a very powerful, but also a very complicated Version Control System (VCS). I have experience with Subversion and for sure subversion was much easier to understand and learn. Also the documentation available online for subversion I think is better. So I was looking forward very much to this book, hoping it would finally jumpstart me on understanding and using git.

Jon Loeliger definitely does a better job with his book than the online documentation to give the reader an understanding of git. But even after reading the book I still feel somewhat like a toddler, wobbly on my feet when walking on the git-road. Partially this definitely is due to the complexity of git and its (seemingly) dozens of sub-commands and possible ways of doing things. However, I would have preferred fewer references to the manpages. The various commit graphs used throughout the book are a big help to understand what is going on, but a consistent example repository which is used from begin to end for all the examples might make things easier. On the upside, Jon does usually show how the sample repository he is using in each step is created, so you can follow along quite easily. With some of the later chapters I felt a bit lost. For example at the end of chapter 12 'Repository Management', I really thought I had a misprinted book with some pages missing; a few possibilities on how different repositories could theoretically be connected are mentioned, but there is no information on actually how to do it, not even a hint that such information can be found further on in chapter 15 'Combining Projects'.

If you need or want to use git and are dissatisfied with the usage information you can find on the web, Version Control with Git is probably worth buying and reading, it will remove some of your struggle, but don't expect you will be proficient in git after going through this book.

titleThe Charm School
authorNelson DeMille

Gregory Fisher is a young American travelling with his Trans Am in Russia. Major Jack Dodson is an army pilot who has been missing for years. Lisa Rhodes works as a public affairs officer at the US embassy in Moscow. Sam Hollis served as a pilot in Vietnam and now as military attaché in the US embassy of Moscow. Finally, Seth Alevy is the top CIA guy in the same embassy. In one or another way they are all involved in a breathtaking discovery: Mrs. Ivanova's Charm School. A school unlike any other. A school, which threatens to refreeze the thawing relationship between Russia and the United States. A school which is hidden and well protected.

The Charm School is a cold war spy story. It is written very well. The first two chapters are promising and the remaining forty chapters fully make up on that promise. This book is not only full of action, it also is done in a way so the reader never knows too much. Sometimes the main characters know or suspect more than the reader, not vice versa as it is with some other books. DeMille also does a good job of creating the appropriate moods with his writing. Adrenaline when things move fast, fear and a sense of disorientation when held and tortured in prison...

titleA Walk in the Woods
authorBill Bryson

Bill Bryson describes his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail, an old and famous trail in the US stretching over more than 2000 miles. Not only is Bryson's writing style entertaining, he also adds quite some facts and figures about the trail itself, how it came to be or various areas through which the trail passes.

This non-fiction book is for entertainment and would not be useful as preparatory lecture for doing the Appalachian Trail.

titleGünter lernt verkaufen
authorStefan Frädrich

Eigentlich hatte ich garnicht vor, dieses Buch zu lesen, aber es lag da auf dem Tisch, ich guckte einfach mal rein und schon war ich mitten drin. Der Schreibstil ist sehr locker, leicht zu lesen und gut verdaulich. Aufgeteilt in 100 mundgerechte Häppchen, kann man seinem innern Schweinehund namens Günter beibringen, wie man erfolgreich Geschäfte abschliesst.

Die präsentierten Häppchen sind keine Hexereien und auch keine hochgeheimen Rezepte, sondern ganz normale Verhaltensweisen, denen manch einer automatisch folgt. Dennoch ist es hin und wieder garnicht schlecht, wenn einem diese klar aufgezeigt werden. Und mit diesem Buch macht das sogar Spass.

titleThe next accident
authorLisa Gardner

Whether he knew it or not, Pierce Quincy was a legend around the Bureau. A highly skilled profiler, having studied psychology and criminology, one of the best people the FBI had for predicting crimes and moves criminals would make. But one day somebody equally skilled in understanding the mind of others starts to play games with Pierce. A terribly skilled and enormously motivated opponent wanting to do Quincy as much harm as possible, taking away all he has left in life.

From the prologue to the last chapter, this thriller is loaded with action. Just as the main characters themselves, the reader does not really know who the culprit is till the very end. An addictive book.

titleManche mögen's gleich
authorSydney Biddle Barrows & Judith Newman

Wie kommt ein Kerl dazu ein Buch zu lesen, das für Frauen geschrieben wurde? Nun, ganz einfach: dieses Buch soll Frauen zeigen, was Männer mögen, warum sie zuweilen für Sex bezahlen, weshalb sie fremdgehen. Da besteht doch auch für Mann die Chance, etwas mehr über sich selbst zu erfahren und vor allem interessiert auch, ob die Autorinnen uns Männer wirklich gut genug kennen, so dass sie auch imstande sind Ratschläge zu erteilen.

Nun, ich muss eingestehen, dass ich mich zum Grossteil mit dem Bild, welches von der männlichen Bevölkerung gezeichnet wird und mit den Erklärungen, welche abgegeben werden, identifizieren kann. Die Damen, welche das Buch verfasst haben, verstehen wirklich etwas von dem, was in den Köpfen der Männer (und weiter unten) abgeht. Der Damenwelt werden hier auch keine abwegigen, sondern durchaus sinvolle und angemessene Ratschläge erteilt, wie sie vermeiden können, ihre Ehe- und anderen Männer zu verlieren oder unbewusst fast schon mit Gewalt von sich wegzustossen. Es wird nicht nur aufgezeigt was Mann mag, sondern auch was es für Gründe geben kann, die ihn in die Arme einer Anderen treiben können. Mehr sogar, Dame erfährt auch Dinge, die Mann sich nicht getraut zu sagen.

Durchaus ein lesenswertes Buch, dass sicherlich dazu beitragen kann, das Verständnis zwischen den Geschlechtern etwas zu verbessern. Das Theama ist enger gefasst, aber die Beispiele und Erklärungen sind sehr viel besser als im Klassiker "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". Ein ähnliches Buch über Frauen für Männer wäre sicherlich auch sehr interessant.

titleJust one Look
authorHarlan Coben

Grace Lawson, a happily married mother of two, picks up a pack of freshly developed photos from the Photomat. Between the shots recently taken there is a single old picture. She does not know the picture or how it came there, but one of the five people in it might be her husband at a time before she met him. When her husband has just one look at the odd photograph, he makes a call, gets into his car and disappears. She does not know what might have happened to him, but the police assumes he simply ran away due to some marital problems or the like. Some people from Grace's own past start showing up; a past, she had hoped would be history and stay history.

The book starts out with several seemingly unconnected events and these separate lines of the story go on for quite some time. Sure, it is one book and they must somehow be connected, but it takes a long time until it becomes apparent in what way. And it is only in the very end that things start to make at least some sense. Even in the very end, all the glue to put the pieces of the puzzle together seems rather far fetched and unlikely.

titleThe Ruby Programming Language
authorDavid Flanagan & Yukihiro Matsumoto

Ruby definitely has won a firm place in the list of commonly used scripting/programming languages these days. So even if you don't want to become a ruby guru, you might want to have a good book covering the important parts of the language. And as there are differences between ruby 1.8 and ruby 1.9, your reference ideally covers both. If so, then this book certainly is a good choice, even if you decide to skip the more advanced chapters or save them for when you need them. And if you intend to become the local ruby guru, then you definitely should have this book and read it two or three times, until you also understand the more advanced topics.

If your goal is to learn programming, then this book is not for you. It is not intended for programming beginners, but assumes that you know how to program in at least one other language. You should also know at least the basics about object oriented programming.

Flanagan does a very good job explaining how ruby works, not only in words, but also with code snippets. I found the book to be very well balanced; not too much lengthy explanation but enough to make things clear; short samples of code which demonstrate just the features being explained. This style creates a book densely packed with information. The topics are presented mainly in logical order, starting with lexical and syntactic structures, explaining data types, covering expressions and operators, going on with statements and control structures before getting involved in the more advanced topics like methods, classes, modules and metaprogramming. Personally I'd have preferred to have the last two chapters "The Ruby Platform" and "The Ruby Environment" placed somewhere before the heavyweights. The more difficult chapters may well scare a lot of folks off and if they don't jump to those two chapters at the end, they'll miss some of the more important and easier information.

All in all: Definitely no easy reader, densely packed but well done and well balanced.

titlesleeping dogs
authorThomas Perry

Michael Schaeffer appears. Out of nowhere. Nobody knows him. And he stays. He's a nondescript, average guy and the only thing which one could possibly see as out of the common is that he seems not to have any past. At least he never talks about anything that was before he came to Bath, England.

Ten years later his girlfriend, the Honourable Meg drags him along to a horse race in Brighton. And there the dogs that have been sleeping for the past ten years wake up again. Two people get killed and an attempt at Micahel's life is made too. All of a sudden he is thrown back into his old life with full force. Schaeffer vanishes on a 'business trip' back to the US. His business? Clean up the mess so he can live in peace again. He is still good, one of the best, at doing what he was doing in earlier days, but there are obstacles now, which he never had to consider before. It's not only the mob which is after him now, but also the FBI...

The whole story is well told and surely worth reading, although the book was not keeping me up till late at night because I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. A few times going on to the next paragraph felt like I had skipped some pages; new environment, new people. However, things started to fit into the big picture again after a couple of more paragraphs.

titleThe Andromeda Strain
authorMichael Crichton

After a satellite goes off course and is brought down earlier than expected just outside of Piedmont, the whole town literally stops in its track and drops dead. Four scientists are called in to a secret high security underground laboratory. Their task is to find out what is going on. What happened to the inhabitants of Piedmont, why did two individuals survive, what is causing this, how can it be stopped?

Despite of the fact that it is full of medical terms, the book reads smoothly and is interesting. For somebody who does not know about all the various advanced medical tests, the only tipoff about the age of this text (original copyright 1969) is the seemingly absurdly low cost of some of the machinery. The plot itself could well be plucked right from the present.

As with other books written by Michael Crichton, there are lots of scientific details. But the plot is not as elaborately shaped and told as with some of his other books.

Overview of all Books

titleThe Christmas Train
authorDavid Baldacci

I have read several of David Baldacci's books and he is a very gifted thriller author. But he really excels and outshines himself when he's writing a non-thriller. This is the second non-thriller by Baldacci which I read and just as "The Wishing Well", it is simply superb.

In the book, Tom Langdon, a journalist, travels by train from Washington D.C to Los Angeles during Christmas season. To do so, he has to take the Capitol Limited from Washington D.C. to Chicago, and from there the Southwest Chief to LA. Even though it is one single story, when Langdon changes the train, the flow of the story also changes.

In the first part Baldacci plays a lot with language and expressions in a pleasant way. And he does a terrific job of capturing the atmosphere of such a multi-day train ride. I can't speak for American railroad travel, but I have myself done a fair bit of longhaul travel by train in Europe and Asia, among others also along one of the venerable Trans-Siberian routes. And the way this journey is described by the author, it caused me to remember my own journeys and often I had to say "Yes, this is exactly the way it is on the train."

The second part of the book is then more kept on the exciting side with action and unexpected happenings.

Even though it is a fabulous book, I do have a small complaint: do yourself a favour and read only the first paragraph of the last chapter (about one page) and just skip the last four pages. They are fine, but the story is simply nicer without them.

titleThe Second Saladin
authorStephen Hunter

Paul Chardy is an ex-CIA agent. In his time he was a star, one of the tough and successful cowboys out in the field but also somewhat controversial due to his famous temper. Years after his less than glorious dismissal a situation builds up where the CIA wants to get him back. He is the only one who has ever seen the face of the man they fear. Chardy's last operation, which went belly-up comes back to hunt him. But he finally also learns what exactly went wrong.

The first half of the book is mildly interesting, though far from splendid. Then things worsen and some parts get quite chatty without saying anything or bringing the story any further. Obviously Hunter wants to make the reader feel the situation the characters are in by describing their thoughts and reasoning, but all he succeeds in is to create some boredom. Then, in the last quarter of the book things pick up but unfortunately they disintegrate quite a lot. Characters in the story know where to look for the villains out of the blue, they find some good guys offhand in the Mexican mountains even though the last time they heard of them was before they ran into the mountains etc. It feels very much as if the manuscript had been sitting on the desk for weeks and now, due to some kind of deadline a desperate attempt was made to bring it to an end, somehow.

titleInnocent in Death
authorNora Roberts

Craig Foster is a young history teacher at the prestigious private school Sarah Child Academy. The staff like him, the students like him and, freshly married, Craig and his beautiful wife Lissette are totally in love. Even though he seems to have no enemies at all, he ends up being murdered on the school's premises. A shock for everybody and some very negative publicity for the otherwise picture-perfect school.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has no problem finding out how Craig Foster was killed and there are also some possible suspects which would have had the opportunity to do him in. But each of them is lacking a reason for doing so. And after the most likely suspect is confronted with a possible reason...

The story is well designed with an ending which can hardly be foreseen. It's well written but I could have done without the second story, going on in the private live of Lieutenant Eve Dallas, which is worked into it and distracts from the main stuff without adding any value or twist to the murder case. On the other hand, I imagine this sidestory would appeal to many female readers.

title50 Erfolgsmodelle
authorMikael Krogerus & Roman Tschäppeler

Das Buch verspricht viel. Es soll helfen Entscheidungen zu treffen, Ratschläge geben und sicher durch Beruf und Alltag führen.

Zwar ist es klein, handlich und wirklich schön gemacht, ähnlich edel wie ein Moleskin und wartet mit zahlreichen Illustrationen auf, aber der Inhalt überzeugt nicht. Ein Sammelsurium von 50 sogenannten Modellen, welche allzu häufig nur genannt, aber keineswegs auch nur annähernd ausreichend erklärt werden. Etliche der Illustrationen entpuppen sich als absolut unnütz und wären zu Gunsten von ausführlicheren Erklärungen besser weggelassen worden.

Die eine oder andere Idee lässt sich vielleicht doch noch verwerten, aber alles in allem hätte ich besser daran getan, dem Umschlag Glauben zu schenken. Ich wollte dieses Buch. Auf dem Umschlag steht "Falls Sie jetzt schon wissen, dass Sie dieses Buch wollen, ist es wohl nichts für Sie."

titleNippon Connection
authorMichael Crichton

Peter James Smith ist der Kontaktmann des Los Angeles Police Departments bei Problemen mit asiatischen Staatsangehörigen. Eines abends wird er beigezogen, als es Probleme gibt bei einem Mordfall, der am Rande einer Party passiert, welche von einer grossen Japanischen Firma veranstaltet wird. Eine bildhübsche junge Dame wurde tot auf dem Konferenztisch in den Büroräumlichkeiten im Stockwerk über der Party aufgefunden. Die Japaner stellen sich den Ermittlungen in den Weg. Zum Glück hat Peter Smith einen alten Hasen mit dabei, wenn es um Japaner geht: John Connor. Dennoch beginnt ein Katz- und Mausspiel sondergleichen.

Die Geschichte an und für sich gibt nicht so viel her. Dennoch schafft es Crichton hervorragend, die Unterschiede in der Mentalität, Denkweise und im Handeln zwischen den Amerikanern und den Japanern zu beschreiben. Und er spart nicht mit Kritik, auch nicht gegenüber der amerikanischen Seite. Amerika kenne ich selber weniger gut als Japan und kann weniger gut sagen, wo der Autor über das Ziel hinausschiesst und doch etwas zu weit geht. Auf der Seite von Japan, hatte ich häfig den Eindruck, dass Crichton sehr gut recherchiert hat und vieles recht korrekt wiedergegeben hat, aber doch auch hier und dort etwas zu hart war und zu weit ging.

Alles in allem, wenn man das Ganze mit ein wenig Skepsis nimmt und von einer 80-prozentigen Glaubwürdigkeit ausgeht, eine gute Gegenüberstellung der zwei Mentalitäten.

titleFrench Silk
authorSandra Brown

The book jumps right in with The Reverend Jackson Wilde had been shot in the head, the heart, and the testicles. Reverend Jackson Wilde had been a celebrity, an enormously successful televangelist. The main suspects for the murder are his wife Ariel and Claire Laurent, the owner of French Silk, which is a very successful lingerie company but under heavy attack by the Reverend for its pornographic catalog.

Both, Claire Laurent and Ariel Wilde are very strong characters and they make the investigation not an easy one for Robert Cassidy. Or rather, the solution looks easy and right at hand, but it feels wrong to Cassidy.

Sandra Brown masterfully plots the whole story so the reader is thrown hither and thither about who could be the culprit, but never can be quite sure. Was it Ariel? Did Claire do it? Possibly Yasmine? Or Claire's mother? Lots of people with ample motive and sufficient opportunity. It's only in the very end that the murderer is found out. But don't check the last pages in advance, you don't want to spoil all the thrill, do you?

Some of the passages could be considered R-rated, so if you are offended by rather explicit scenes and descriptions, you might want to pick up another book instead. Or if you like them, you might doubly like this book.

titlepresentation zen
authorGarr Reynolds

Presentations these days are mostly done with powerpoint slides containing bullet list after bullet list full of text and numbers. And it seems this terrible presentation style is getting worse and worse.

Have you ever paid attention to how you listen to such a presentation yourself? Joe average tries to decipher the text which actually is much too small to read while attempting to listen to the presenter at the same time and by the time Joe average managed to get through half of the slide's text, the next one is put on. At the end? Instead of any wiser Joe average is tired and irritated.

Garr Reynolds is one of the seemingly diminishing number of people who (still) know that a presentation is not the same as a documentation. While his book is not a step by step cookbook for better presentations, he clearly points out the principles and shows examples. Principles, which lead to much better, less tiring, more memorable presentations which are not only more enjoyable, but also have a much better chance to bring your key points clearly to your audience. Simplicity, strong visuals, planning, story and less text.

While I knew and tried to apply part of the principles to a certain degree, reading this book really encourages me to even much much more go against the common-non-sense and again apply more commonsense, to use more radical deviations from the usual malpractice. It also opened my eyes for things I had not yet considered.

Presentations would be so much better if it was impossible to open powerpoint before having read this book...

titleIch weiss, was du denkst
authorThorsten Havener

Thorsten Havener verdient sein Geld damit, Gedanken zu lesen. In diesem Buch lässt er uns teilhaben an seinen Methoden. Dabei verspricht er weder das Blaue vom Himmel, noch behauptet er wirklich die Gedanken anderer Menschen lesen zu können. Havener geht sachlich und vernünftig an das Thema heran und verrät, wie er dazu kommt Dinge über andere Leute zu wissen, oder eben zu ahnen, die er eigentlich nicht wissen kann. Dazu gehören unter anderem eine sehr gute Beobachtungsgabe und bestimmte Fragetechniken. Einige der beschriebenen Methoden dürften, kennt und übt man sie ein wenig, in verschiedenen Alltagssituationen hilfreich sein um sein Gegenüber besser einschätzen zu können, sei dies in Meetings, in Verkaufsgesprächen oder auch bei anderen Gelegenheiten. Es gibt im Buch Anleitungen für ein paar Selbstversuche, von denen einige wirklich gelingen, da einem beigebracht wird, worauf man achten muss.

titleThe Falls
authorIan Rankin

In Edinburgh, Philippa Balfour, a 20 year old student of art history, disappears. She is not only a student, but also the daughter of a very influential merchant banker, which does not necessarily make the police work any easier. There isn't really much which could help to find the whereabouts of Philippa or to indicate whether she is still alive or not. An email found on her computer from someone calling himself 'Quizmaster' suggests, she was playing some kind of game through the internet. The investigation becomes more interesting when, after a few days, a small coffin with a wooden doll is found not too far from where Philippa grew up. All these things seem rather far fetched, but they are the only straws John Rebus and Siobhan Clarke have to clutch at.

The story wouldn't make for an action-rich Hollywood movie, but nevertheless it is not only well written, but also interesting. Quite a number of seemingly dead ends which are followed by the main characters and which finally all come together. It's also nice to not only have the crime to follow, but also being given an insight into the main investigators lives, with all their good sides and their faults.

titleBone Mountain
authorEliot Pattison

Another adventure for Shan Tao Yun. Shan once was a Chinese investigator, then was sentenced to do time a Chinese prison and labour camp from which we managed to to be released early but without proper papers. Since then, Shan has been in Tibet, mostly moving around with his befriended lamas Lokesh and Gendun.

This time Shan finds himself in some situation which he does not really understand why it developed this way. The stone eye of a deity was stolen from Tibet by Chinese many decades ago and now it has been stolen back. Of course the Chinese are mad. Why is it Shan, a Han Chinese, which has been chosen to bring back this holy artefact to its original place? Even though the whole journey has been well planned, it does not go smooth. Multiple Chinese groups are in pursuit of the small Tibetan caravan, all for different reasons, as it turns out. On multiple occasions, Shan is thinking about giving up.

Pattison again wonderfully succeeds to not only tell a story, but also literally paint a picture of Tibet, of the problems between the two nations, of the people's mindset... This is a thriller, but one of a different kind; instead of fast paced car chases through busy city streets there are dangerous trails in high mountains, instead of high tech equipment to get through dangerous situations there are prayer beads, and the wounded can not be rushed to some emergency room but must be healed with herbs. At times, however, I did have some trouble keeping the many characters straight.

titleTwelve Sharp
authorJanet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter, going after people who were bonded but did not show up in court when they should. But instead of her going after people, things turn out to be the other way round: a woman is stalking her. That woman, claiming to be the wife of Stephanie's friend Ranger, seems to be rather short tempered and quick to draw her gun. Not very easy to talk her into reason. But as Stephanie soon finds out, this woman is only a minor nuisance compared to the Ranger she married...

A good novel written in a refreshing style, humorous and easy to read. There is also a sufficiently elaborate storyline behind it. The book starts off somewhat chatty without much action, then goes over into real action and culminates very fast paced and captivating at the end.

authorKyle Mills

Fade is a former Navy SEAL. During his time, he was the best and often risked his life for his country. But when an accident left him almost crippled, his government turned its back on him, didn't pay for the surgery he would have needed. No wonder he is not on good speaking terms with the government and when years later Hillel Strand from Homeland Security wants him to come back for some job, he declines. However, Strand is not someone taking "No" for an answer. He tries to force Fade to come back. As he soon finds out, Fade still is the best and Hillel's attempt blows up right into his own face. Even though he has the police and Homeland Security resources at his disposal, Fade is still an enormeous threat to his life.

The short chapters and easily understood language and sentences make this book easy to read. One thing is difficult, though: putting it away. Just one more chapter before going to bed, and maybe still one more, and just another one...

titleThe Whole Truth
authorDavid Baldacci

Shaw is a man who can walk into a room full of terrorists, do whatever he does and walk away alive -- a winner. Nicolas Creel is behind Ares Corp., a company selling weaponry to governments all over the world. Creel highly successful in what he does and one of the richest men in the world -- a winner. Katie James is a journalist through and through and won two Pulitzers already -- a winner. Before she started drinking, that is.

Some allegations are made against the Russian government. It is accused of torturing and getting rid of uncomfortable individuals. Lots of them. These allegations are followed up by bits and pieces of evidence. The whole world is at rage. And the Russians are denying everything. The only problem is that nobody knows where exactly all the information is coming from. But who cares about the sources when the facts given are so outrageous. Outrageous enough so a war could start.

Shaw, Creel and James somehow are all connected to these events, but each of them from different angles. For Creel, the situation increases sales, Shaw holds a personal grudge about whoever is behind this and for James this could be the story, which finally helps her to get a grip on her life again.

The story, playing in an international setting, is very well written and constructed from start to end. It often kept me up reading longer than I initially intended to. However, both Shaw and Creel are just a little too good and capable for my liking, kind of almost superhuman. Probably the story could also have been told by leaving the reader much longer in the dark about who is behind the Red Menace, making it even more interesting and almost impossible to put the book away.

titleWhere Serpents Lie
authorT. Jefferson Parker

CAY, short for Crimes Against Youth, is the newest police unit. The mob they specialize in, is mainly pedophiles. One very vicious criminal they currently are after calls himself The Horridus. He abducts young children, girls, but lets them go again after a few hours, without raping them, for now...

Terry Naughton is the initiator, driving force and head of CAY. He is successful in what he does, but not without his own share of personal problems, huge intake of Herradura being only one of them. The interval in which The Horridus hunts girls shortens and the CAY unit still is none the wiser about who is behind it. When they finally find at least some straws to which they are clinging, Terry is forced to leave his team alone.

At times, especially in the beginning, I would have preferred less lengthy descriptions of situations and things and move on with the storyline instead. But mostly the story is well told and not all too predictable, even though some of the details about the villain given early on would better have been left out.

There is, however, one aspect which I absolutely dislike about this book and which is also the reason for the low marks I give it. Had I known in advance what this book is about, for example from the back cover which I did read, or in what gory details some of the most ugly scenes are described, then I certainly would not have bought it. Due to some details meticulously described in length, this book can, in my opinion, easily be classified into the horror genre.

titleGesund mit Ingwer
authorEllen Heidböhmer

Dass Ingwer wärmt und mir in gewissen Situationen gut tut, hab ich selber schon gemerkt. Beim herumstöbern in der Buchhandlung bin ich auf dieses phantastische Buch gestossen. Häufig findet man Ratgeber-Bücher, welche nur einen Teil eines Themas abhandeln. Nicht so "Gesund mit Ingwer". Ellen Heidböhmer beleuchtet das Thema Ingwer ausführlich von verschiedenen Seiten. Es wird nicht nur erklärt wo Ingwer herkommt, welche Sorten es gibt und wie er verwendet werden kann, sondern auch auf die Inhaltsstoffe und deren Wirkung wird eingegangen und als Krone obendrauf wird das ganze mit einem grosszügigen Rezeptteil abgerundet.

Der Verwendung als Heilmittel wird gut ein Viertel des Buches gewidmet, der Rezeptteil füllt etwas weniger als die Hälfte der 206 Seiten. Die Rezepte sind sehr breit gefächert und reichen von Vorspeisen, über Hauptgerichte, Saucen, Desserts, Backwaren bis hin zu Getränken. Wie allerdings Irish Coffee in den Rezeptteil hineingerutscht ist, kann ich mir nicht erklären, kommt doch in diesem Rezept überhaupt kein Ingwer vor. Und bei den Ingwerwaffeln muss wohl der letzte Absatz irgendwo untergegangen sein, denn irgendwie sollte der Teig doch sicher noch gebacken werden. Ansonsten ist das Buch äusserst sorgfältig und übersichtlich gestaltet. Die Themen sind farblich gekennzeichnet, das Inhaltsverzeichnis nützlich unterteilt und alles so angeordnet, dass man sehr rasch zum Ziel kommt, wenn man nach etwas bestimmtem sucht.

Dies vom Format her handliche Buch ist Gesundheitsratgeber und Rezeptebuch in einem und eines der ausgewogensten Bücher dieser Art, das mir bis jetzt in die Finger gekommen ist.

Overview of all Books

titleChild 44
authorTom Rob Smith

Leo Stepanovich Demidov, once a hero of war, well trained, is now a successful and dedicated officer of the MGB, the State Security force in Moscow. He does what is expected of him, what he is told to do, and he does not question his orders. Some things just need to be done to keep the system running, to work towards a brighter future. In secret, however, he does have second thoughts about some things going on. And when his superiors demand something very drastic of Leo, his patriotism falters. Expecting to be executed or at least being sent to the Gulag, he gets off very easy, being degraded and sent to some post far away. Punishment or slow torture? Leo does not know. But his real trouble only starts there and soon he finds himself up against the very system he had worked for his whole life.

Tom Rob Smith succeeds in painting a picture with his words. He gives the required background to understand the story, to understand the people, their way of thinking and their actions, albeit at times there are many pages between some at first seemingly unrelated event and the point where the relation becomes obvious. While the whole book is very interesting to read, and the things happening seem to be really possible, I felt the very end, were the mystery is solved, is a bit lukewarm and far fetched, not too logical. But that's only my personal interpretation and despite that, I enjoyed reading this book.

titleNight Fall
authorNelson DeMille

At the five year memorial service for the victims of the TWA Flight 800 crash, Kate Mayfield talks about the investigation of the crash to John Corey, a former NYPD homicide detective now working for the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force. It is the first time Kate talks about it. She was working on this case five years ago, but she is not at all happy with the official statement about the cause of the crash. Of course, to give John some inside information and point out some irregularities is like teasing a hungry dog with a steak. He goes for the bait and starts digging around this old case on his own time and against explicit orders from his superiors. The warnings form the higher ranks only make him more suspicious.

While the story is laid out fine and interesting enough, the style this book is written in needs some getting used to. Not only is it all told from a first person perspective, but also very conversational. In numerous places John tells the reader something just to follow it with "Just kidding." This book by Nelson DeMille is ok, but he has written better ones.

titleCity of Bones
authorCassandra Clare

Clary Fray is just an ordinary girl, or at least she thinks she is until she learns about daemons, shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires and more such creatures. And shortly after she sees such creatures for the first time, Clary is already deep in trouble. It's not her fault, though, but nevertheless there is no piece of mind and battling some of these creatures is the only way to survive. Piece by piece she learns who she really is, what her mother never told her and why.

This is the first book of the Mortal Instruments trilogy. Right from the beginning the reader dives into an expanded dimension of the world as we know it. There are many groups of species which are not always too friendly with each other. The book is inherently interesting and absorbing. It very much tended to stick to my hands, preventing me from doing much else till I reached the last page. But I can write no more, the second book in the series is right there on my desk and I just can't resist...

titleCity of Ashes
authorCassandra Clare

This book carries on right where the first one in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, City of Bones, left off. And I don't think it would be good to read this again fantastic book without having read the previous one; there is no explanation any more of the main characters or their circumstances, like why Simon gets so sick seeing an episode from a Dracula film on TV or the role of Valentine.

The Mortal Cup is not enough for Valentine. He wants more and he surely does not hesitate to use dark forces to get what he wants. Jace is imprisoned by the Inquisitor of the Clave for his alleged conspiracy with Valentine. But Jace as well as Clary find they have some special powers beyond what they thought possible. The shadowhunters are up against more evil than ever, more vicious daemons than what they usually fight and not everybody survives...

Just like the first book, this is an absolutely absorbing page-turner, even though towards the end I could have done with less fighting and bloodshedding.

titleCity of Glass
authorCassandra Clare

The third book in the Mortal Instruments series is as fascinating as the first two, City of Bones and City of Ashes. In fact, the three books actually are one huge book split into three volumes. Each subsequent one picks up where the previous one left off without either a break nor any explanation what had gone on in the story before. Unlike some other series, where each book can stand by itself, the only way to read the Mortal Instruments series is in the correct order.

Clary finally is going to the City of Glass, to Alicante in Idris. She wants to find Ragnor Fell, who is said to be the only one able to help her mother, who is still lying unconscious in hospital. But Clary does not arrive in Alicante the way she thought she would. As it turns out, the city also faces some never seen mayhem courtesy of Valentine. And both, Clary and Jace learn what shocking thing Valentine has done to his son, what he made him.

It is extremely difficult to tell anything useful about the gist of the story in this series without spoiling it. Just as difficult as it is to put the books away once you opened the first page. As I'm now through the three books in record speed, I finally can catch up on lost sleep...

titleFreeSWITCH 1.0.6
authorAntony Minessale, Michael S. Collins, Darren Schreiber

While a wiki is a really good means of keeping documentation up to date, especially in a project which is constantly moving forward at a good pace, documentation in a wiki usually is rather troublesome for the newcomer who first has to learn the ropes. For a first overview and as an introduction to a new topic, books are a much better choice and they definitely are much easier to read. So after struggling for some time to get a hold on the topic through what was available on the wiki, I was really looking forward to this first book on FreeSWITCH.

Indeed, the book did fill in some gaps I had, especially it was helpful for understanding the overall structure of FreeSWITCH better. This is what the first chapter is about, the architecture, followed in the next chapter with a walkthrough of how to build and install the software on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. In chapter three the user is guided through a few test calls to get acquainted with making calls and how things work very roughly. The chapter also includes details on how to configure some SIP phones. The remainder of the book goes deeper into configuration, dialplan, the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) engine as well as the event system architecture. The information is presented in mostly logical order and configuration samples are given throughout the book. In this respect, the book is absolutely fine.

However, in areas not directly related to the information it tries to give the reader, there are severe shortcomings. From the beginning to the end I couldn't get rid of the strong impression that this book either was produced without the hand of an editor or that instead of the final an earlier draft made it to the printer by mistake. Many of the samples contain wrong commands or settings, obvious even to a FreeSWITCH-almost-newbie like myself. A few mentioned commands or API calls make you wonder whether they are mentioned just as a reminder to add a more detailed explanation later. Also typographically the book has scope for improvement; the section, subsection and sub-subsection headings all seem to be the same font and size, making it sometimes hard to decide whether the next heading starts a new sub-topic or a new top-topic until you read half through it.

Maybe I'm spoiled from reading too many well produced technical books, but this definitely is not the kind of quality I expect from a publisher of several hundred tech-books.

To learn about the general architecture of FreeSWITCH and what might be possible or if you are new to SIP and VoIP and want to work with FreeSWITCH, then the book is worth an investment, despite its shortcomings. But if you know your way only halfway around SIP, have already been working with another SIP server such as Asterisk or figured out what you absolutely need to know from the wiki, then stick with the wiki.

titleBad Luck and Trouble
authorLee Child

The book starts with Calvin Franz falling from a helicopter at 3000 feed, without a parachute, not by chance and neither out of his free will. Some time later Jack Reacher gets a distress message from Frances Neagley, a member of his former MP team. Even ten years after they all left the service, they still stand in for each other and thus, if one of his former teammates is in trouble he's going to help, no questions asked. Jack quickly learns that it's not Neagley who is in trouble, Franz obviously was. But why? Soon they try to raise all the others as well.

A Jack Reacher story usually makes for some good reading and this one is no exception. Action packed from start to end. It's no news that rules and the law sometimes must be interpreted flexibly in order to prevent larger collateral damage. But the way Jack raises some money because he is more or less broke definitely is neither gentleman like nor terribly important for the greater good.

titleThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
authorStieg Larsson

Mikael Blomkvist, a respected reporter, is convicted of libel. He hasn't done much to defend himself. Shortly after his conviction Mikael is offered a peculiar assignment by Henrik Vanger, a wealthy, retired industrialist. Henrik wants Mikael to write the biography of the Vanger family, but mainly as a pretext to have a thorough look at a crime which happened more than thirty years ago; the murder of Harriet Vanger.

The three Stieg Larsson books have gained tremendous popularity. This first book in the series is good, but to be honest, that's it. I have no idea what should be so extraordinary about it.

titleThe Girl who played with Fire
authorStieg Larsson

This book is a continuation of the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Not only are there the same characters, but also the story continues, even though there is a break of about one year in between. There are quite a number of back references to the first book, but also some brief explanations what happened. So, while it might be possible to make head and tail of this book without having read the first one, knowing the previous story surely does help.

After her coup with the Wennerström's accounts, Lisbeth Salander has the funds to go travelling abroad. She spends about one year out of the country. Then, shortly after she gets back, the world turns against her. Completely. But Salander has an enormous fighting spirit and she is incredibly sharp. In the whole mess Salander's past finally surfaces. She has always kept to herself, refused to talk to authorities or psychiatrists. And finally some people do find out what 'All The Evil' was, that triggered this sort of behaviour. And even Salander herself finds out a thing or two about her past she was not aware of...

Some of the material in the book does not have anything to do with the main story and in hindsight seems to be completely superfluous. But possibly Larsson is going to pick up on it in the final book, just as lots of things from the first book very much influence what is happening in this one.

Even though this book is an absolute bestseller, personally I would rate it as good, but certainly not top.

titleThe Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest
authorStieg Larsson

This third book in the trilogy is the best. If it were a book on its own, a slightly higher rating would be justifiable. But it simply is not a book on its own. It clearly is part two of the second book, 'The Girl who played with Fire'. The story goes on as if it continued on the next page rather than on the first page of another book.

After Salander has tracked down her father and they almost killed each other, they both end up in the same hospital. For Lisbeth, who needs to have a bullet removed from inside her brain, this means a very long stay in the hospital with no access to computers or the internet. On the other hand, people who want to harm her also don't have easy access to Lisbeth.

Because of the whole tumult about Zalachenko, some already retired staff from a secret unit inside the Security Police come aboard again and take command. The situation is exceptional and this calls for exceptional measures, not all of which are strictly legal.

titleTibet - Reisen auf dem Dach der Welt
authorAndreas von Hessberg, Waltraud Schulze

Dieses Buch stand inmitten von Reiseführern für China und Tibet. Est ist aber weniger ein Reiseführer der während der Reise hilfreiche Informationen bereit hält, als ein Buch zur Vorbereitung im Vorfeld, um etwas über Land und Leute zu erfahren und was einen in Tibet etwa erwarten kann.

Der erste Teil widmet sich der Geographie und Geologie, dem Klima, der Flora und Fauna. Dabei muten die Autoren dem Leser vor allem im Teil über die Pflanzen Tibets sehr viel zu; dort tönt es eher wie in einer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit. Für die Autorin, studierte Biologin, vielleicht sehr einfach verständlich, für den Durchschnittsleser jedoch eher weniger. Auch über die Menschen, Medizin, Küche und die Geschichte Tibets inclusive Religion ist im ersten Teil einiges zu erfahren.

Im Gegensatz zum ersten, rund 130 Seiten umfassenden Teil, fällt der zweite Teil eher mager aus. Es werden hier auf rund 60 Seiten die wichtigsten Reiseziele und Sehenswürdigkeiten beschrieben, bis hin zu einem kleinen Kapitel 'Bergsteigen an Achttausendern'.

Sehr interessant zu lesen ist die lange Reisereportage der zwei Autoren über ihre Fahrradtour quer durch Tibet. Diese Reportage nimmt geanso viel Platz in Anspruch wie der zweite Teil.

Teil vier beinhaltet kurz und bündig die wichtigsten Tipps zur Ausrüstung, zugeschnitten auf Outdoor Reisen, bevor im fünften Teil, mit dem Titel 'Sprachführer', auf sage und schreibe vier Seiten (davon lediglich eineinhalb Seiten Text) das Thema Sprache zumindest erwähnt wird. Dieser fünfte Teil ist absolut unzureichend und wäre besser gleich ganz weggelassen worden.

Die rund 30 Seiten im Teil sechs 'Reisetipps von A bis Z' geben dagegen wieder etwas an Informationen her, incl. Listen für weiterführende Lektüre.

Das ganze wird abgerundet von einem Anhang bestehend aus einem mehrsprachigen Ortsverzeichnis, das als sinnvoll und hilfreich erscheint, sowie einer für die meisten Reisenden kaum sehr hilfreichen, achtseitigen Artenliste mit den verschiedenen in Tibet vorkommenden Tieren.

Wie bereits erwähnt, als Vorbereitung für eine Tibet Reise, um etwas über das Land, seine Leute und Geschichte zu erfahren, ist dieses Buch ganz hilfreich. Als Reisehilfe für unterwegs gibt es jedoch sicher bessere Werke.

titlePredictably Irrational
authorDan Ariely

Are humans predictable? Mostly. Are humans rational? Not always. But the interesting thing is that even some of our irrationality is predictable, what Ariely nicely shows in his well written book which is not only enlightening but also entertaining.

Have you ever wondered about advertisements which contain one option which no sane person ever would consider? In the first chapter Ariely picks up exactly this situation and explains why this offer is there along the others. It is not an option the company actually wants to sell, but a way to steer us towards the offer it wants us to choose. Why are outrageously expensive things sometimes so much more desirable than comparable, but reasonably priced items? How comes we buy tons of chocolates when they are almost free, but we only take one or two if they are completely free? On the other hand we tend to easily give up a much better deal for one which is free but actually worse. Or why does a certain beer taste better if we're told what it contains only after tasting it, compared to being told before taking a sip?

In many real life situations we're acting irrationally, but do so predictably. Dan Ariely discusses lots of such situations and underlines each of them with multiple experiments. Knowing about this predictability allows us not only to make more conscious decisions, but also to see through some tricks used in advertising or possibly even to better understand how we might need to present something to make it more appealing to others.

While most of the information in this book might not be groundbreaking news to you, it is still worth reading. The statements of each chapter are always backed up by experiments and including their outcome. The whole book is very easy to understand, written in a conversational, easy to follow style, far from the unintelligible scientific hubble-bubble which could be expected for such a topic.

titleSkin Trade
authorLaurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake is a Vampire Hunter. A feared one. They call her "The Executioner". One morning she gets a gross present. After talking to the Las Vegas police she's on her way to there. It appears Vittorio, one of the most powerful and most gruelsome vampires, has resurfaced there. Vittorio and Anita have met before, when he slaughtered some men of her SWAT team and managed to escape. Now she gets another chance to kill him, or vice versa.

The story takes place in a time when both vampires and wereanimals live among humans, peacefully but with exceptions. Also witches and many other individuals with special abilities are abound.

Quite a number of characters appear in the book, including many boyfriends and lovers of Anita and at times it was not so easy to keep track of who is who. Also the concept that a single living, day walking person could be part vampire and part wereanimal at the same time was unusual. These do not always get along too well with each other in different stories. Even more unusual was the concept that the same person could be different wereanimals at once.

All in all, the book is fine, but a bit complicated and confusing at times. The end comes extremely quickly, giving the impression of "Ok, now I've reached the commissioned number of pages, let's stop here."

titleI Served the King of England
authorBohumil Hrabal

The story of Mr. Ditie, a young Czech who starts out as a simple busboy at the Golden Prague Hotel and has a dream of becoming rich and a hotel owner himself one day. Ditie loves his work and has a talent for it and he uses his chances to advance. But World War II has a huge influence on his life. Becoming rich and a hotel owner, is that really what life is all about?

At first the book, which is sprinkled with rather pornographic scenes, which surprised me for a book originally written in the early 19-hundreds, appears to lead to a good story with a climax, but somewhere in the middle this turns around completely. There is no more clear aim, or much aim at all and it becomes more of a reflective text. The expection building up in the reader in the first part is never fulfilled. And people who like thought provoking literature whould probably not guess the second part was to their liking when starting to read the first part.

titleIhre Ausstrahlung - erkennen, entwickeln und bewusst leben
authorMichael Reiter

Bezüglich Aufbau und Aufmachung ist das Büchlein sehr gelungen. Die 122 Seiten sind eineteilt in die vier Teile "Eine positive Ausstrahlung - aber wie?", "Finden Sie Ihr inneres Geichgewicht", "Lassen Sie Ihren Körper sprechen" und "Wie Sie auf andere wirken". Die zwei benutzten Farben sowie die Gestaltungshilfen werden konsistent und wirkungsvoll eingesetzt; sie unterstützen die Uebersicht ohne aufdringlich oder ablenkend zu wirken. Diesbezüglich könnte manch ein 'grosses' Buch mit einem viel höheren Preis etwas von diesem kleinen Büchlein 'lernen'.

Inhaltlich dürfte man enttäuscht sein, wenn man nur den ersten Teil des Titels liest: "Ihre Ausstrahlung". Beachtet man aber auch den zweiten Teil des Titels "erkennen, entwickeln und bewusst leben", dann stimmt der Inhalt. Der Autor weist immer wieder darauf hin, dass man eine positive Ausstrahlung nicht erlernen oder mit Tricks herbeizaubern kann; das muss von innen heraus kommen. Man kann allerdings Vorhandenes verstärken (bewusst leben) oder langsam ändern (entwickeln). Dazu muss man sich jedoch erst mal der eigenen Ausstrahlung bewusst werden (erkennen). Dies ist genau wo das Büchlein versucht zu unterstützen.

Sehr viele der Uebungen basieren auf Atemtechniken und Körperhaltung. Hier bin ich persönlich sehr skeptisch, respektive ich traue mir selber nicht zu, dies nur mit einem Buch zu erlernen. Auch gewisse andere Uebungen dürften viel effektiver in einer Gruppe und unter Anleitung durchzuführen sein als alleine im abgeschlossenen Kämmerlein. Persönlich hatte ich mir weitaus mehr Beispiele und Erklärungen dazu erhofft, wie gewisse Sachen auf Mitmenschen wirken und weniger Uebungen. Aber dazu hätte ich mir vielleicht ein Buch über Körpersprache kaufen sollen.

authorKristin Cashore

Have you ever seen a person with two differently coloured eyes? If so, you've seen a graceling, a person who is graced with a special ability. This could be a special skill in cooking, mind reading, archery, medicine, whatever. But not always is the exact nature of such a grace what it appears to be.

Katsa is graced with special fighting skills. Even though she is a girl, there is not the slightest chance even ten highly trained warriors attacking her at once could do her much harm. For Randa, the king of Middluns, her grace is a very useful tool. But Katsa has also her own agenda, unknown to Randa.

When Katsa encounters another graced fighter, for the first time in her life she meets an opponent worthy to train with her. Very soon they become good friends and they happen to become involved in an adventure that requires even them to go to the very limits of their abilities.

This is an exceptionally good book but don't even think about starting to read it in fine weather or when you have lots of other things to do; putting it down before you've read it all is tremendously hard.

I'm convinced Kristin Cashore has two differently coloured eyes herself and surely her grace it writing good books.

titlesed & awk
authorDale Dougherty & Arnold Robbins

All of sed and awk that most unix users know, including many professional administrators, is 's/this/that/' and '{ print $1 }'

But there is so much more these two tools can do. And this book shows you how. In each of the two major parts things are laid out in a logical manner building up knowledge thoroughly from the ground up, all supported by lots of well explained examples.

Both, sed and awk, rely heavily on regular expressions and the authors don't let you down in this area either. Chapter 3 is dedicated to equip you with a well enough working knowledge of regular expressions. It surely is not as thorough as Jeffry Friedl's "Mastering Regular Expressions", but the chapter packs a lot of information into the 29 pages. Especially with awk, there are quite a number of different versions out there and they are not quite identical in feature scope. Differences among some major implementations are discussed as well. Finally, in the appendices, you can find a quick reference for both sed and awk.

As thorough (and even beginner friendly) as the book is, it does have one drawback: it is old. Much of the sample code deals with manipulating troff files or uucp logs. Both things many unix/linux users of today have no idea about. The reliance on such old samples is not a problem per se, they still do the job of demonstrating concepts and usage of sed and awk quite nicely. But these samples are much less applicable to sed/awk users today than they were twenty years ago when the first edition of this book was published. What I also think would be badly needed in an updated third revision is a discussion of how to use these tools with non-English charactersets and Unicode.

While this is an excellent book for learning to use sed and awk much more effectively, let's hope that the authors sometime get around to do an overhaul, provide samples which are more accessible today and also add a chapter or two about using these tools with the much larger and inherently more complex charactersets in common use today.

titleSo What!
authorMarlene Faro

Das Buch handelt von vier Frauen, Freundinnen, in ihren Vierzigern. Langsam werden sie alle älter, Fältchen beginnen sich zu bilden, die ersten grauen Härchen werden sichtbar und Selbstzweifel erwachen. Und leider ist das auch schon so ziemlich alles. Vieles wird angefangen, aber nichts zu Ende erzählt. So What! hat keine Pointe, keinen Höhepunkt, keine 'Moral der Geschichte'; es ist einfach nur eine belanglose Erzählung, eine Momentaufnahme. Zwar versucht Faro ganz am Schluss plötzlich, auf gerade mal zwanzig Seiten, einen Höhepunkt zu erzwinen, scheitert aber kläglich.

Nicht nur fehlt ein Höhepunkt, auch der ganze Aufbau und Ablauf der Erzählung mutet zuweilen recht chaotisch an. Es mag ja angehen, dass ein neues Kapitel plötzlich von einer anderen Freundin handelt oder seit dem letzten Kapitel ohne Vorwarnung einige Zeit verstrichen ist. Aber es ist sehr verwirrend wenn dasselbe oftmals von einem Absatz zum nächsten gemacht wird und man erst mal einige Zeilen lesen muss, damit klar wird dass dies garnichts mehr mit den vorangehenden Abschnitten zu tun hat.

Nur eine einzige Zielgruppe kann ich mir vorstellen, die an diesem Buch Gefallen finden dürfte: Frauen in ihren Vierzigern, bei denen sich Fältchen zu bilden beginnen, die ersten grauen Härchen sichtbar werden, langsam Selbstzweifel aufkommen und die niemanden haben, um sich darüber zu unterhalten. Diese Gruppe von Damen könnte unter Umständen Zuflucht in diesem Buch finden, ein Ort, wo es den Hauptfiguren genauso ergeht, ein Trostspender der zeigt, dass es auch anderen genauso ergeht. Ansonsten: im Regal stehen lassen; die Wahrscheinlichkeit dass ein anderes Buch bessere Unterhaltung bietet ist gross.

titleSimple Genius
authorDavid Baldacci

The private investigator team consisting of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell is at work again. Actually, as Michelle is not really well, Sean takes on the assignment by himself.

Up at Babbage Town, a high level research facility, he is to investigate the death of Monk Turing. Turing was found dead on the more than top secret CIA facility which sits just across the river. Everything points to a suicide. But why go to these forbidden grounds to commit suicide? And why is the FBI interested in the case too. When the top dog of said CIA facility personally summons Sean and the local sheriff to make it very clear to them this be better none of their business, Sean is sure something is terribly wrong here.

As a side story the reader also learns one of Michelle's secrets. There is a reason why the interior of her truck always looks like the inside of a dumpster.

Just like the other Baldacci books featuring the winning team Michelle Maxwell and Sean King, Simple Genius is a very captivating book, well written, well plotted and full of action.

titleGrundkurs Typografie und Layout
authorClaudia Runk

Das Thema des Buches ist weit von meinem Fachgebiet entfernt, interessiert mich aber. Die fachliche Richtigkeit des Inhaltes kann ich mit meinen minimen Kenntnissen somit nicht beurteilen.

In den ersten rund 80 Seiten geht Claudia Runk erst mal auf die geschichtliche Entstehung von Schrift und vor allem Typographie seit 3500 v.Chr. bis heute ein. Auch zahlreiche Typographen und Schriftendesigner werden dabei vorgestellt. Danach geht sie, ausgehend vom einzelnen Zeichen über Wörter und Zeilen bis hin zur ganzen Seite, nicht nur auf Formen, Grössen, Hervorhebungen, Abstände ein, sondern auch auf Schreibregeln, Lesegewohnheiten und vieles mehr. Quasi nebenbei wird der Leser mit den entsprechenden Fachausdrücken bekannt gemacht. Die Wirkung der verschiedenen Elemente wird nicht nur erklärt, sondern auflockernd anhand von zahlreichen Beispielen dargestellt. Diese Beispiele dienen gleichzeitig sehr gekonnt als Gestaltungsbausteine auf den einzelnen Seiten.

Immer wieder wird auf Einstellungen in InDesign und QuarkXPress eingegangen, welche aber von Leuten, welche diese Programme nicht einsetzen, ganz einfach übersprungen werden können. Ein Kapitel beschäftigt sich auch mit Typographie im Web und im letzen Kapitel wird auf die Schrifttechnologien PostScript, TrueType und OpenType eingegangen.

Das Buch ist durchaus auch für interessierte Laien lesbar und informativ. Was ich etwas vermisst habe sind härtere Fakten was wann wo in welcher Grösse etc. benutzt werden soll. Zwar werden etliche generelle Daumenregeln genannt aber dann gleich wieder abgeschwächt indem darauf hingewiesen wird, dass man Regeln, die man kennt, bewusst auch umgehen darf, wenn man sie erst mal kennt.

authorValentin Haenel und Julius Plenz

Obwohl ich seit gut zwei Jahren regelmässsig mit Git arbeite und gut damit zurecht komme, konnte ich aus diesem Buch viel Neues lernen.

Im Gegensatz zu den meisten anderen Büchern wird nicht im Haupttext erklärt, wie Git zu installieren ist. Lediglich im Anhang A wird kurz darauf eingegangen. Das ist aber kein Problem; für praktisch alle Systeme stehen fix fertige Installationspakete zur Verfügung.

Im ersten Kapitel geht es neben den unverzichtbaren Grundbegriffen um die Konfiguration von Git. Schon hier werden Optionen vorgestellt, die in anderen Büchern erst sehr viel später oder garnicht behandelt werden, wie zum Beispiel Aliase oder automatische Fehlerkorrektur.

Nach dem zweiten Kapitel ist der Leser in der Lage mit Git lokal zu arbeiten; die dazu benötigten Kommandos werden ausführlich erklärt und auch das Objektmodell vorgestellt. Wieder fällt auf, dass die Autoren sich nicht auf das Minimum beschränken, sondern auch ein paar erweiterte Optionen erklären, die bei der täglichen Arbeit mit Git immer mal wieder sehr nützlich sind. So z.B. -p für git add oder die grep Funktionalität. Man merkt sehr gut, dass die Autoren Git wirklich im Alltag einsezten die Leserschaft an ihren gesammelten Erfahrungen teilhaben lassen.

Kapitel drei beschäftigt sich vor allem mit Branches, Tags und allem rund ums mergen, während das darauffolgende Kapitel einige fortgeschrittene Konzepte wie rebase, stash, bisect etc. erklärt.

Erst im fünften Kapitel, wenn man ein solides Verständnis von Git aufgebaut hat, verlässt man den lokalen Rechner und lernt mit entfernten Repositories umzugehen. Das nächste, relativ kurze Kapitel gibt Tipps wie Abläufe sowohl lokal als auch im verteilten Repository strukturiert werden können.

Kapitel sieben beinhaltet alle Informationen, welche man benötigt um einen eigenen Server aufzubauen, der Git Repositories für verteiltes Arbeiten zur Verfügung stellt. Dabei werden verschiedene Varianten betrachtet inclusive Gitolite, Gitweb und CGit.

Das zweitletzte Kapitel gehört definitiv in die Sparte fortgreschritten. Es geht um Attribute, Hooks, Referenzen und ganz allgemein darum, vieles zu automatisieren. In diesem Kapitel ist noch viel mehr als in den anderen sichtbar, dass die Autoren aus der Unix/Linux Ecke kommen. Während die vorgestellten Git Mechanismen sicherlich auch unter Windows funktionnieren müssten, sind alle Scripte für Linux ausgelegt.

Im letzten Kapitel wird sehr ausführlich erklärt, wie man mit Git an einem Subversion Repository mitarbeiten kann und wie ein Subversion Repository nach Git migriert werden kann.

Sehr zu empfehlen ist auch Anhang C, wo ausfährlich erklärt wird wie Git besser in die Bash und Z-Shell integriert werden kann, mit Kommando Vervollständigung und einem angepassten Comand Prompt.

Allgemein kann gesagt werden, dass dies ein sehr gelungenes Buch ist, welches auch von geübten Git Anwendern geschätzt werden dürfte. Für Anfänger dürften Kapitel 1, 2 und 5 erst mal interessant sein und die Lektüre des ganzen Buches nach einiger Arbeit mit Git erscheint als sinnvoll. Allerdings sollte man nicht den Anspruch haben, sämtliche erwähnten Kommandos und Optionen nach einmaligem Lesen zu kennen; viele davon kommen aus der Schublade "fortgeschrittenes Arbeiten mit Git" und sind in einigen Situationen ausgesprochen hilfreich, aber nicht überlebensnotwendig.

titleThe Secret Servant
authorDaniel Silva

Gabriel Allon is an art-restorer, officially. Off the record, however, he is one of the best agents Israeli intelligence has. When a scholar doing terrorism analysis is murdered in Amsterdam, Gabriel is sent to his house to make sure nothing linking the dead scholar back to the "Office" in Israel will be found. But Gabriel can not even go out to get some Thai food for dinner without stumbling right into something big. An international chase of very well organized terrorrists starts.

Neither familiar with the history nor the political situation in the middle east, there were many terms and concepts which I did not really understand. Nevertheless, the fast paced story is understandable and interesting to read. But at times it is not quite so clear how Gabriel comes to some conclusions.

authorTiziana Bruno und Gregor Adamczyk

Ich finde dieses Büchlein ist ehrlich. Es will nicht dem Leser vorgaukeln, dass er mit ein paar einstudierten Körperstellungen sein Gegenüber einfach täuschen oder auf einen Blick das Innerste aus dem Gegenüber herauslesen kann.

Sehr wohl "sprechen" wir nicht nur mit Worten, sondern auch durch unseren Körper, aber jeder mit vielleicht einem klein wenig anderen Dialekt. Auch darauf hingewiesen, dass wir meist nicht authentisch wirken, wenn wir bewusst versuchen Signale auszusenden, welche nicht unseren wahren Absichten oder Gefühlen entsprechen.

Der erste Teil erklärt die Körpersprache. Dazu gehören Themen wie Haltung, Gang, Mimik, Gestik, aber auch Sprechweise. Intuitiv verstehen wir alle die Körpersprache, einige vielleicht besser als andere. Aber oft wissen wir nicht recht warum uns jemand sympathisch ist, weshalb gewisse Personen in Besprechungen dominieren oder warum uns bei manchen Verkäufern das Bauchgefühl rät "schliess keinen Vertrag bei dem ab". Die Erklärungen im ersten Teil können helfen, gewisse Situationen besser zu verstehen. Gleichzeitig lernen wir auch besser zu beobachten und verstehen was für Signale wir selber aussenden und warum wir vielleicht manchmal anders wirken als beabsichtigt.

Im zweiten Teil werden rund fünfzig Uebungen vorgestellt. Die eine oder andere mag hin und wieder ganz nützlich sein zur gezielten Entspannung oder Beruhigung.

Das Büchlein ist günstig und handlich im Format. Meiner Meinung nach ist es geeignet, dem Leser Signale bewusster zu machen, welche wir mit unserem Körper mehr oder weniger bewusst aussenden.

titleThe Collectors
authorDavid Baldacci

Two seemingly unconnected stories start in this book and it is not before about the middle they finally become somewhat connected.

Annabelle Conroy is planning to relieve someone with a rather heavy bank account of some of his weight. For this she needs some help; a very skilled team and a precisely planned script.

Robert Bradley, a successful and influential politician is shot at a party. Jonathan DeHaven, librarian at the Library of Congress, dies at his workplace. Cause of his death: unclear. Nothing suggests these two deaths, and others to follow, have anything to do with each other. But when the members of the Camel Club have a look into the circumstances of DeHaven's death, they are convinced it was a well orchestrated murder.

As always, David Baldacci captures the reader right from the start and keeps things interesting throughout the whole book, even though the reader knows lots of things already early on and can guess a lot. But the why and how only comes bit by bit. By the way, how are the two stories connected to each other? Well, you'll have to read the book for yourself to find that out, I don't want to spoil it and you won't regret reading the book for yourself.

Overview of all Books

titleBöses Blut
authorArne Dahl

Der letze Fall der Spezialeinheit für "Gewaltverbrechen von internationalem Charakter" beim Reichskriminalamt in Stockholm lag schon eine Zeit zurück. Und seit damals hatte die Gruppe nichts richtiges zu tun gehabt. Das ändert sich aber von einer Minute auf die andere, als ein berühmter schwedischer Literaturkritiker am New Yorker Flughafen kurz vor dem Heimflug von einem Serienmörder hingerichtet, das Ticket storniert und kurz darauf an jemand anders weider verkauft wird. Alles deutet daruf hin, dass einer der berüchtigsten amerikanischen Serienmörder aller Zeiten auf dem Weg nach Schweden ist.

Anfangs muss man sich etwas an den Schreibstil (oder die Uebersetzung?) gewöhnen. In teils langen, verschachtelten Sätzen werden die Personen beschrieben, die Atmosphäre dargestellt, die Umstände dargelegt, kum, "das Spielfeld wird abgesteckt". Zwar geht es stets vorwärts, aber gemächlich. Wer hier durchhaltevermögen beweist wird dann im letzten Drittel schliesslich mit spannender und flüssig lesbarer Lektüre belohnt. Obwohl die Geschichte am Anfang sehr sorgsam aufgegleist wird, erwecken einige Begebenheiten gegen Schluss doch den Eindruck, sie seien weniger von Beginn weg geplant gewesen, als viel mehr eine Notlösung.

Alles in allem, ganz in Ordnung als Unterhaltungslektüre, aber nichts herausragendes.

titleThe Hammer of Eden
authorKen Follett

A group of ex-hippies has been living hidden out in a valley for the last 25 years without much contact to the rest of civilization. However, now a dam should be built to flood the valley so a hydro-power plant can be built. This would mean the end of the commune. In their despair they decide to threaten the governor of California to cause earthquakes unless the plans for all new power plants in the state are abolished. A crazy, unrealistic threat? Everybody thinks so, at first, and the FBI is investigating only proforma. But when there actually is a tremor at said time and location...

Is the plot realistic? Well, unlikely yes, but maybe it would really work. I won't spoil it for you and tell you how the group intends to cause quakes.

The first half of the book solidly builds on the plot, but later on the book picks up speed and things start to become more fast paced but also a bit weird. Not to say it is a bad book and I could not really put a finger on it, but my gut feeling just says "nah, something's wrong with at least the seconds part of this book".

titleThree to get Deadly
authorJanet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum, the bounty hunter, is at work again. Mo Bedemier, the owner of the ice cream and candy store, is loved by everybody and the perfect, amiable citizen. So getting this done should be very easy, probably will only take a minute to talk to him. However, when Stephanie gets to his store it's closed. This store never was closed before... Before long Plum is finding herself hated by everybody, being shot at and constantly stumbling over new dead bodies. Not quite what she expected from this assignment.

This is the second Stephanie Plum novel I've read and what I said about the first one is true for this one as well. The beginning is very chatty and lacking in action. The action is towards the end of the book. Reading one or two books written in this style is fine, but I really can't imagine reading the whole series if everything is starting so slow and chattering.

titleMein Weg führt nach Tibet
authorSabriye Tenberken

Da wagt es doch wirklich einer, nur 4 Sterne für ein Buch über so ein super Projekt zu verteilen. Ja, denn hier soll nicht das Projekt von Sabriye Tenberken bewertet werden, welches 7 von 5 möglichen Sternen verdient hätte, sondern das Buch. Und für mich als Europäer beteuten 5 Sterne nach wie vor "herausragend" und 4 Sterne "überdurchschnittlich".

In "Mein Weg führt nach Tibet" beschreibt Sabriye wie es überhaupt zu diesem Projekt gekommen ist, wie es gestartet wurde und in den ersten Jahren lief. Es zeigt auch ein paar wenige Vorurteile, die wir Sehenden häufig gegenüber Blinden (und generell Andersartigen) hegen, wie wir mit diesen Menchen teilweise umgehen und wie diese Menschen unsere oft gut gemeinten, aber falsch ausgeführten Handlungen zu spüren bekommen. Es wird uns aber keinesfalls der Spiegel vorgehalten; taktvoll belässt es Sabriye bei ein paar kleinen Episoden, völlig ohne anzuklagen. Man spürt sehr stark, dass es ihr um was ganz anderes geht; kein Sebstmitleid, kein Mitleid erwecken, kein Hilferuf und keine Anschuldigungen. Es handelt sich um ein sehr sehr positives Buch: Möglichkeiten wahrnehmen, das Beste aus Situationen machen, Selbsthilfe, nicht aufgeben; kurz: vorwärts schauen und positiv denken. Aber es erwähnt auch die Tiefen und dunkleren Momente auf diesem steinigen Weg. Sehr schön auch die Beschreibungen von Land, Leuten und Lebensbedingungen.

Ich hatte die Ehre, 2011 das Blindenzentrum in Lhasa kurz zu besuchen und Paul Kronenberg persönlich kennen zu lernen und 2012 eine Veranstaltung von Braille Without Borders Foundation Switzerland zu besuchen, bei der Sabriye und Paul ebenfalls anwesend waren. Das Buch gibt einen guten Einblick in den Start dieses absolut unterstützenswerten Projektes.

titleOptimistisch in die Zukunft
authorAntony Fedrigotti

Erfolgreich sein kann man nur, wenn man an das glaubt was man macht; wenn man eine positive Haltung hat. Hier stimme ich mit Fedrigotti überein. Wer negativ denkt wird nichts Positives zustande bringen. Und so stimme ich auch dem Inhalt des Buches zu und der Einstellung die es zu vermitteln versucht. Der Autor weist wiederholt darauf hin, dass man eine positive Grundhaltung benötigt und sagt auch, dass wir diese Haltung durch Kontrolle unserer Gedanken entsprechend steuern können, denn wir können schliesslich selber entscheiden was wir denken wollen.

Der Inhalt von "Optimistisch in die Zukunft" ist in Ordnung und weist, meiner Meinung nach, in die richtige Richtung. Trotzdem gibt es etwas, das mich an diesem Buch stört: Werbung und Suggestion. Die ersten zwei Kapitel versuchen vor allem, den Leser davon zu überzeugen, dass es richtig war, dieses Buch zu kaufen und zu lesen. Wenn ich ein Buch bereits gekauft und zu lesen begonnen habe, möchte ich mich eigentlich nicht erst durch 10% des Inhaltes kämpfen müssen, der mir nur sagt "dieser Kauf war richtig; durchhalten und schön bis zu Ende lesen, bitte". Auch im Rest des Buches, der dann endlich etwas besser ist und auch Informationen enthält, finden sich immer wieder unzäghlige Hinweise auf andere Bücher es Autors und auf Seminare, die er anbietet. Das grenzt schon an Suggestion und ich bin mir sicher, dass einige Leute deswegen wirklich weitere Bücher des Autors kaufen oder sich für seine Seminare anmelden werden. Bitte, wenn sie das wollen, ist das in Ordnung, aber mit dieser sich an Manipulation anlehnenden Methode habe ich doch etwas Mühe.

Fazit: Der Inhalt ist in Ordnung, aber and der Form störe ich mich ein wenig.

titleThe Havana Room
authorColin Harrison

Bill Wyeth was a very successful attorney until, for his son's birthday, he decided to come back home early from an out-of-town assignment. His life became something completely different after this incident. Mostly by accident, one night he was asked to help out with a legal matter, innocent looking, but this again gave his life a completely new turn.

Colin Harrison has a tendency to write in an extremely descriptive manner. Some parts of the book, especially the beginning, are pages and pages of description, creating an atmosphere. But he also knows when not to do this and keep the story going. If you like a well designed story and can live with long atmospheric descriptions, this is OK. However, if you are a reader which mainly wants to know what is happening as quickly as possible, you'll probably be giving up before you've read the first third of the book.

titleThe Berlin Conspiracy
authorTom Gabbay

The Berlin Conspiracy is a story around the assassination of President Kennedy in Berlin. Jack Teller, a former CIA agent, gets a call from his friend and former boss, Sam. He agrees to fly to Berlin in order to meet an informant, which only wants to talk Jack and nobody else. As already during his active career with the CIA, Jack is not the typical team player and soon decides to do things his own way and by himself, not exactly making things easy for him and gradually bringing himself into the role as the enemy in the eyes of the CIA.

The book is well written, easy to read, follow and understand. The plot is logically setup and straight forward, which makes it, except for a few minor twists, rather predictable.

titleMortal Pursuit
authorMichael Prescott

Trish Robinson has freshly graduated from police academy and is now for the first time working as a cop. But this is not LA, where all the action seems to be. It's a quiet place where she is, no real villains here. At least that's what everybody says and thinks. Nobody would ever expect what is really behind the simple call about a possible prowler...

The whole story plays in one single night and it action loaded to the limit. Never boring but sometimes Trish seems to be a bit too much like wonder woman; it's hard to imagine a person really could go through all that.

titleLast Breath
authorMichael Prescott

When C.J. Osborn was a girl, she had an encounter with the boogeyman. Nobody believed her, but she could never forget that incident. To overcome her fear she felt ever since, C.J. choose to become a cop. But even in this line of work she was never able to forget or to really overcome her fear. On the contrary, in some situations it made her risk more than she normally should. But C.J. is a survivor type. Maybe it was good not to forget, because the boogeyman is back and wants to finish what he couldn't accomplish so many years ago. Worse than that even, there is somebody else who wishes her no well. As so many years ago, she is going through a hell of a night. Only this time she is not completely alone.

Fast paced, well written and well researched. I can't speak for the description of arms etc. but at least the computer terms and technologies mentioned are accurate and do make sense. The whole setup is quite believable and not overdone.

titleDer verborgene Stern
authorNora Roberts

Eine wunderschöne Frau taucht plötzlich in Cade Parris' Privatdetektei auf. Sofort ist er angetan von ihr. Aber sie weiss selber nicht, wer sie ist, hat ihr Gedächtnis verloren. Parris soll ihr helfen herauszufinden, wer sie ist. Die wichtigsten Hinweise, welche sie liefern kann, sind eine Tasche voll Geld und ein sehr wertvoller Diamant.

Obwohl Cade Parris Privatdetektiv ist, handelt es sich nicht um einen Kriminalroman. Dieser Aspekt, wie auch die ganze Suche nach der Identität der holden Unbekannten, erweist sich als Nebensache. Das Buch ist viel mehr eine Liebesgeschichte. Es liest sich flüssig ist aber sehr leichte Lektüre; weder tiefgründig, noch sonderlich fesselnd. In Ordnung um einfach was zu lesen ohne viel zu überlegen. Offensichtlich gibt es noch mindestens zwei Bücher, die diese Geschichte weiterführen; ich verspüre aber momentan keinen Drang, diese zu kaufen...

titleDer Wolkentempel
authorPatrick Woodhead

Luca und Bill sind zwei englische bergsteiger, die schon etliche touren zusammen unternommen haben. Während des aufstiegs zum Makalau in Tibet, tut sich für ganz kurze zeit die wolkendecke unter ihnen auf und legt die sicht frei auf einen berg, der so gleichmässig geformt ist, als wäre er von menschenhand erschaffen. Dieser berg lässt Luca fortan nicht mehr los, er muss ihn einfach besteigen, erst recht als sich abzeichnet, dass er noch unbestiegen ist. Das vorhaben stellt sich aber nicht nur als schier unmöglich heraus, sondern verwickelt die beiden auch in gefährliche politisch-religiöse machenschaften zwischen Tibet und China.

Ein sehr spannendes buch, welches, anders als z.b. die bücher von Eliot Pattison, eine eher westliche, aktuelle sichtweise von Tibet und den dort herrschenden konflikten einnimmt.

titleAmok on Screen
authorGolo Weiss

Der siebzehnjährige Kai Decker ist sich nicht so sicher, ob er das abitur schafft. Aber das kümmert ihn nicht zu sehr, solange er sich regelmässig mit drogen zudröhnen und in die virtuelle welt eintauchen kann. Für Kai ist diese virtuelle welt, die sich nur auf dem screen abspielt, nicht nur zufluchtsort, sondern auch der realen welt überlegen. Aber menschen können sich ändern...

Das ganze buch ist in der ich-form, mit den augen von Kai geschrieben, so als würde er dem leser sein leben, seine gedankengänge, seine gefühle erzählen. Und erst mal kämpft man sich sehr lange durch nichts als negative aussagen: die schule ist scheisse, die eltern nerven, die reale welt an und für sich ist öde... Wenn man sich für die möglichen gedankengänge eines jugendlichen interessiert, dann mag das interessant sein. Möchte man das buch jedoch zur unterhaltung lesen, so fragt man sich doch, ob man es nicht besser weglegen und ein anderes hervor nehmen soll; es gibt erst mal überhaupt keine handlung und auch nicht viel aussicht, dass irgendwann dann doch mal was geschieht. Erst nach etwa einem fünftel oder einem viertel des buches, beginnt sich endlich eine geschichte abzuzeichnen, die dann tatsächlich auch bis am schluss durchgezogen wird und ein richtiges ende hat. Allerdings wird die geschichte vor allem am schluss so unglaubwürdig, dass man sich zu fragen beginnt, ob man durch lesen des buches selber in einen drogenrausch verfallen sein könnte.

Das buch, welches übrigens immer mal wieder doppelte worte, hin und wieder falsche fälle etc. aufweist (ist der/die korrekturleser/in bei der arbeit wohl auch in den drogenrausch gefallen?), kann ich einfach nicht richtig einordnen. Wer sich in die gedankengänge eines jugendlichen versetzen möchte, findet hier vielleicht was er sucht, darf sich aber nicht an der komischen geschichte stören. Wer zur unterhaltung liest, wird wohl am schreibstil und der am schluss überdrehten handlung nicht wirklich gefallen finden und den langen einstieg als mühsam empfinden.

titleCity of Fallen Angels
authorCassandra Clare

Originally, as far as I know, the Mortal Instruments series should have consisted of three books only. This is now the fourth in this very successful series. Often when, due to great success, more books are written than what was planned for, the content of the additional books is not of the same quality any more. How about this one? It definitely is not as packed with superbly plotted action as 'City of Glass', the third book, but that would be almost impossible to beat and very difficult to match. Nevertheless, this is still an excellent book.

The book picks up where the previous one left off. Actually, in the story, it starts just a couple of weeks after the end of 'City of Glass'. And it goes right on. No setting the scene, no long introductions of the characters. But there are plenty of references to what has happened in the other three books, especially the third one. So without having read the other books in this series in the proper order, many things might be hard to grasp and understand. If you haven't done so yet, read 'City of Bones', 'City of Ashes' and 'City of Glass' before this one. They all are very worthwhile too.

Clary is training as a Shadowhunter and much in love with Jace. But Jace is withdrawing himself more and more from Clary. Why? What is wrong? Jace, being Jace and not wanting to bother or hurt Clary, blames himself and tries to hide his problems. Not the best move and rather dangerous. Simon is trying to get used to being turned a vampire while, at the same time, trying to continue with his former normal life. The powers that be don't so easily let him do that, especially not with his unique gifts which are invaluable for some. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Jace's and Simon's problems are related and some evil doers are more alive than everybody thought...

titleVim and Vi Tips - Essential Vim and Vi Editor Skills
authorJacek Artymiak

I am, and have been so for many years, a heavy user of vim. Over the years I've picked up many a trick and shortcut. Nevertheless, there are so many features you'll always only be using and remembering a more or less small subset of them and usually every book and most articles about vim cover some stuff which I haven't known before. Also this one.

What I liked about this book when I saw it is the fact that it is not too daunting to a newbie at vim. It is not a huge volume trying to teach you everything in the vim-universe, it just covers the basics. The information is split up in very small, easily digestible junks of information; each junk very short, teaching just one small task and mostly concluded with an easy to follow example. The table of contents makes it very easy to immediately find the information you're looking for. And yes, even as a long time intensive vim user I could learn new tricks again. So also for seasoned users it may be interesting to browse through.

On one hand I would like to recommend this book to vim newcomers for the conciseness and because of the approach which makes it simple to find specific information. On the other hand I have some big warnings as well. There isn't really any explanation about the working philosophy of vim. No spelled out information about the way counters are combined in vim with movement or other commands; which I think is a key concept to really understand things. Some of the commands are just plain wrong (:ZZ does not exist, that is ZZ). Others are introduced in a wrong context (CTRL-^ is explained as switching to the previous file; that would be :prev; CTRL-^ is to toggle between two buffers/files only). cursor movement is not explained before chapter 3, while file operations are already explained in chapter 2. While the short info and samples are great for looking something up, it would be much more useful to explain things after them. Often there are just some examples which you can type just according to the book but you won't really know what you're doing or why. In some places there are lots of examples with regular expressions but no information about what regular expressions are and how to really use their power.

So for some things I would like to give the book high marks, for others low. All in all, a medium mark is probably what's appropriate. There is good stuff in this book for both, the vim newcomer and for long time users, but background information is completely missing and all the samples have to be taken with a pinch of salt, they may not be quite accurrate.

titleSaving Faith
authorDavid Baldacci

The bullet was destined to silence Faith Lockhart and if the FBI agent with her dies by one and the same bullet too, so be it. Collateral damage. However, it definitely never was planned for Faith to survive and even less so for her to get away.

To lose one of their own men does not go down well with the FBI and of course they put a lot of effort into finding out what this is all about. Not too easy if your unknown enemy is another resourceful government agency working undercover.

The story has and is told from three, or more precisely, even four angles: the view of the FBI, of Robert Thornhill, of Danny Buchanan and of course the view of Faith, who is on the run and wanted by at least two agencies; by one preferably alive, by the other rather dead. What's refreshing compared to some other book in this genre is the fact, that the story does not need too many unexpected happenings or very close shaves and is still very interesting to read. And typical Baldacci: well planned right from the start.

titleExploring Splunk
authorDavid Carasso

You're using Splunk? I think you want to get this book.

Exploring Splunk is not a thorough tutorial teaching you everything there is to know, but it is both, a fairly good introduction and a reference you may often reach for. Therefor it is a book for newbies and old hands alike.

Chapter 1 is about the history of Splunk and why you might want to use it. If you're already using it, not much to gain from. Chapter 2 gives an overview of how data can be fed to Splunk and details what happens when the data is read in and indexed. How to install and start the software is explained too. Chapter 3 has lots of useful information about the GUI elements and the basics of how searches work in general. Chapter 4 shines with a lot of samples on how searches can be built. It is nice to see a book which not only explains things in text, but also gives numerous samples in code and as a big bonus visualizes what it explains. The visualizations are generally easy to understand and thus very useful. Well done! Chapter 5 then goes on to move beyond mere simple searches: field extraction, reporting, visualizations and alerts.

Part 2 of the book, chapters 6 to 8, take a problem-solution approach. Each chapter presents a number of "problems" (or simply tasks) you may want to solve with Splunk and one or more ways to achieve that goal. Each solution is well explained and along the way you will how to use more of the capabilities of Splunk. Many of the solutions mentioned here are things, which you are likely to need sooner or later when trying to solve a non-trivial task. Even experienced Splunk users are likely to flip these pages from time to time. This part covers areas such as concurrency, comparing different time ranges, identifying spikes, identifying and reporting on transactions, lookup tables and more.

Appendix E contains an useful Quick Reference Guide. You may have seen something similar as a short PDF sheet or in printed form, but it certainly is useful to have it in the book so this can be your one-stop Splunk reference.

So is this the perfect all-you-need-to-know Splunk book? No. Neither does it cover configuration, nor advanced charting or menu creation, etc. But at around 150 pages, it does an excellent job and for many users it will be all they ever need. However, there is one detail I absolutely hate about this book: there is no index!

titleSphere of Influence
authorKyle Mills

Kyle Mills succeeds to paint a rather interwoven scenario which still feels mostly straight forward to the reader. In this book not everything is the way one would expect. The supposedly good guys are breaking at least as many laws as the bad guys. Federal agencies are the ones helping small time crooks breaking the law big time and getting away with it. The big time criminals are the ones calling the police to help them catch some bad guys...

The whole plot is based around big scale heroin trade, terrorist groups and a rocket launcher which threatens US citizens and the FBI desperately tries to find. Mark Beamon, once upon a legend at the FBI, initially only wants to help out a friend of his with a small favour but in the end finds himself at the centre of all this mess. And true to his nature he is following his instinct much more than orders from above...

titleDer Heroin Schuster
authorAlexander Golfidis

Alex erzählt in der ich-Form wie zahlreiche Jahre seines Lebens abgelaufen sind und wie es dazu kam. Ursache - Wirkung. Es hätte sicher nicht unbedingt so kommen müssen, es hätte auch andere Möglichkeiten gegeben, aber schwierige Umstände (Ursache) gepaart mit eigenen Vorstellungen und Entscheiden (Ursache) haben seinen Weg in die Drogenhölle (Wirkung) gelenkt. Lange Zeit gesteht sich Alex selbst nicht ein, dass er schwerst Dorgenabhängig ist und meint "Wenn es zuviel wird, muss man halt einfach aufhören". Irgendwann kann er sich aber auch selber nicht mehr belügen und muss anerkennen, dass er längst drogenabhängig ist. Und das mit dem "einfach aufhören" ist dann doch nicht so einfach.

"Nur" drei Sterne? Wenn ich danach bewerten würde, wie ehrlich und offen ein Buch geschrieben ist, dann gäbe es sicher mehr Punkte. Meine Bewertungen richten sich jedoch stets danach, wieviel Unterhaltungs- und/oder Informationswert ein Buch mir brachte; fünf für "herausragend", drei für "ok" und eins für "schlecht". Alexanders Lebens(Leidens)geschichte ist offen dargelegt. Sie zeigt auch wie(so) er von einem Problem ins nächstgrössere geraten ist und was ihm jeweils zum entsprechenden Zeitpunkt wichtig war. Sie gibt Einblick in eine Welt und in Gedankengänge, die man als "Aussenstehender" vielleicht nicht so einfach ohne die Hilfe eines solchen Buches nachzuvollziehen vermag.

Unweigerlich taucht bei der Lektüre irgendwo im Hinterkopf die Frage auf, ob das Buch zur Prävention beitragen kann. Ich persönlich glaube nicht, höchstens in Grenzfällen. Ich glaube diejenigen, die auch ohne solche Lektüre Drogen nehmen wollen, werden das trotzdem tun, auch Alex selber hätte so ein Buch vermutlich nicht vom Drogenkonsum abgehalten. Vielleicht hätte er sich selber gegenüber aber schon früher zugegeben, dass er süchtig ist und den Ausstieg früher geschafft. Und da könnte ich mir schon vorstellen, dass diese Lebensgeschichte dem einen oder andern bereits Süchtigen Mut zum Ausstieg gibt.

Overview of all Books

titleClusterbau: Hochverfügbarkeit mit Linux
authorMichael Schwartzkopff

Ein Buch, zu dem ich noch viele Male greifen werde.

Obwohl der Hauptfokus dieses Buches auf der Funktionsweise und Konfiguration von pacemaker mit corosync liegt, wird auch, für Administratoren welche einen bestehenden Cluster älteren Datums geerbt haben, in geringerem Umfang auf heartbeat eingegangen. Nicht nur das, Theorie zu Hochverfügbarkeit, Ueberlegungen zur Infrastruktur rund um den Cluster, Grundlagen des Clusterbaus und mehr sind ebenfalls Bestandteil, so dass mit diesem Buch wirklich ein umfassendes Werk zum Thema Clusterbau mit Linux vorliegt. Selbst LVS (Linux Virtual Server), nicht ein Cluster im eigentlichen Sinne aber eine andere Variante von Hochverfügbarkeit, wird beschrieben.

Ein ganzes Kapitel widmet sich verschiedenen interessanten Beispielszenarien, unter anderem auch unter Einbezug von DRBD (Distributed Redundant Block Devices), welche besprochen und mitsamt Konfiguration vorgestellt werden. Szenarien, die nicht nur theoretisch sind, sondern so wirklich auch "in der freien Wildbahn" Sinn machen und anwendbar sind.

Verschiedene Verwaltungswerkzeuge werden vorgestellt, sowie mögliche Vorgehensweisen für Upgrades der Clustersoftware selber. Die zur Verfügung stehenden Agenten werden genauso besprochen. Auch Themen wie Ueberwachung (etwas SNMP-lastig) und Sicherheit findet man.

Die ganzen Erklärungen sind nicht nur in einer gut verständlichen Sprache geschrieben, sondern auch logisch aufbauend angeordnet und immer mit Beispielkonfigurationen versehen. Bei den Beispielen wird abgewechselt zwischen der XML Notation und der Syntax, wie sie in der crm shell verwendet wird, sodass der Leser mit der Zeit beide Varianten zu verstehen in der Lage ist. Sehr schön ist auch, dass für Ungeduldige und Eilige am Ende des Kapitels über die Installation schon eine Minimalkonfiguration vorgestellt wird, mit der man erste Erfolgserlebnisse feiern kann.

Alles in allem ein sehr gelungenes Buch, welches man auch nach dem ersten Durchlesen immer wieder gerne zur Hand nimmt.

titleThe Wise Man's Fear
authorPatrick Rothfuss

This is the second book of the "Kingkiller Chronicle". It has been a long wait for the second book to be published (several years). Was it worth the wait?

Two things struck me about this volume. One: It is huge. Already "The Name of the Wind" has been a big book. "The Wise Man's Fear" is even bigger. Two: This second volume continues exactly where the first one ended. Seamless. At the end of the first book Kvothe, Bast and Chronicler went to bed, at the beginning of the second book they get up the next morning. The story goes on as if it was one and the same book. This also means that reading "The Wise Man's Fear" without having read "The Name of the Wind" first, lots of things will not be so easy to understand. Even having read the first volume, I was in for a rough start, as it has been four years since I read it; I didn't have all the details ready at the tip of my fingers any more.

The book is still interesting to read, but it is not as engrossing as the first one, there is no real culmination. Sure, there are a few scenes where things happen but It mainly feels as if this was more or less meant to plow the path for a future book which then should have a highlight. One part of the book, where Felurian appears, is even rather long and slow going, threatening to get outright boring.

So, was it worth the wait? Still an OK book, but it did not quite fulfill the high expectations I had after having read the first book.

titleTor der Verwandlung
authorCarol Berg

Seyonne, ein sklave. Sein leben nichts wert. Sein status dem eines tieres gleich. Derweil war er einst höchst angesehen. Der beste "wächter" den die Ezzarier seit vielen jahren hatten.

Aleksander, prinz. Thronfolger der Derzhi. Sein status am obersten ende der skala. Vererbt, von geburt an bis zu seinem tode.

Zwei männer, wie sie unterscheidlicher kaum sein könnten. Und doch so gleich. Zwei männer, die das schicksal auf seine unergründliche weise zusammenbringt und die beide das leben des anderen massiv verändern; in tiefste abgründe stürzen, in gefahr bringen, wieder aufbauen.

Viel kann nicht gesagt werden, über das buch, ohne einen teil des inhaltes zu verraten. Die geschichte spielt in einer welt von verschiedenen völkern, mit kriegen, unterdrückung, intriegen, magischen kräften, gut und böse. Der aufbau ist gut geplant, die erzählung schwebt flüssig dahin, wirkt nirgends langweilig. Die eigentliche geschichte liegt meines erachtens weniger in der handlung als in der sich verändernden beziehung der beiden hauptfiguren; nicht nur dem anderen gegenüber, sondern auch dem leben an und für sich und anderen menschen gegenüber.

Ein gutes buch.

authorMichael Palmer

Dr. Matt Rutledge accuses the local coal mining company of wrongdoing ever since his beloved wife died. However, there is no prove and Matt does not even know what exactly should be wrong. All his blaming is solely based on suspicion. Matt is clinging to a couple of cases of an extremely rare conditions in a few patients, all of who die unpleasant deaths. Extremely rare conditions but too many cases in the immediate vicinity of the mining company to be a coincidence, Matt believes. His assumptions are disturbed when he learns about a death with the same symptoms of a former resident. The deceased simply has been living away from her home town too long to be affected by any local toxins. However, at the same time some kidnapping happens, something must be wrong...

The book starts our with three seemingly unrelated stories. It is only towards the end, where they finally all come together.

titleThe Great Game of Business
authorJack Stack

Jack Stack has not only saved a company from closing down, but at the same time developed a different way of managing a business. His way is an approach of openness, fairness and involvement right down to the bottom. An approach, which I think can work very well and actually do wonders for the health of an enterprise, even though, by only having read the book and not seen this in action, I'm a bit sceptical of the constantly described enthusiasm of every employee.

This definitely is an "American book", full of enthusiasm and lots of repetitions (tell the readers a hundred times and the hundred and first time they'll start to believe it), but it is better than many other "guides"; it is not only a list of "do this, do that", but also the story of the first successful implementation of this approach. What I found refreshing, compared with other "guides", is the fact that it also openly shows some wrong paths taken by Jack himself, the worries he had, etc. This helps a lot to understand why he recommends to do some things this and not another way. It also makes him more human by openly acknowledging that he had fears too and took a few wrong turns.

If you read the book, please do yourself a favour and read it all. Some things are only explained in the later chapters (such as downsizing, which I think is one of the most important aspects). This "explaining later" is not at all a shortcoming, it fits perfectly; the sequencing is very logical, exactly in the order you're likely to hit the various issues.

I've read the updated edition, which has an additional part in the form of a story detailing the introduction of this system in a fictious company. There's nothing new in this part and the book does not gain any more value from it, except, maybe, the references to online tools strewn throughout the part. However, I have not checked these tools and references and can not comment on them.

authorDavid Ambrose

Joanna Cross, a journalist, who busted a scam which claimed to make it possible to contact the deceased, agrees to take part in an experiment run by Sam Towne. Sam is a scientist at an university and his area of research paranormal phenomena. The group of people taking part in the experiment, one of them Joanna, try to 'create' a ghost. Once they get first results, progress is very quick and witin a short time they are far beyond their initial expectations. As the created ghost is only a product of their combined imagination, there is no danger in exploring a bit deeper and go a bit further than originally planned. Or ther 'should' be no danger. However, the imagined ghost starts to show unexpected (re)actions. Some of the group get frightened, others want to explore more and things start to get out of hand.

The book is not frightening and interesting to read; it definitely is not part of the horror genre. But the more the experiment in the book gets out of control, the more the story lacks structure. Towards the end it felt to me, as if the author had not thought things through to that stage and was introducing twists and turns to somehow come to an end.

Half of the book is quite interesting, another third is ok and the last bit is, in my opinion, poor.

titleThe Glass Palace
authorAmitav Ghosh

At the start of the book, Rajkumar Raha is eleven years old. An Indian boy who came to Mandalay by chance, rather than on purpose. From here, the book follows Rajkumar throughout his whole life, and further.

The Glass Palace is part fictious biography, part history book. It lets the characters explain their thoughts, their feelings, their reasoning; it picks up and mixes in historical events (which I did not check and therefor can not confirm) and gives faces to those events. In some parts it is very detailed and in other places it easily skips over many years.

This is an unusual book. Neither is it thrilling and making you want to read "just one more chapter before going to bed", nor is it boaring or uninteresting so you would put it away for good. It is somewhere in between: keeping you coming back to read a bit more, so long, you will have read the whole book in the end.

titleMr Clarinet
authorNick Stone

Max Mingus, ex cop, ex private investigator, ex con, in that order. He's freshly out of prison and trying to find a new foothold in life. Yet he's offered a job to investigate the kidnapping of a child that happened two years ago, in Haiti. A job, he doesn't really want, but a job which would put him far away from his old/new home. A distance, he appreciates, money he can use, a challenge he welcomes.

The Carver family offers Max all the support he needs. But, as he finds out very soon, Allain, Gustav and Francesca Carver do not get along with each other all too well, but they all want to find little Charlie.

For Max Haiti is a strange place, with all the voodoo, spirits and black magic people believe in. They also believe in Tonton Clarinet, a figure who steals children. And Max finds a crime against which the kidnapping of Charlie Carver pales.

A well written book with a well arranged storyline. However, some of the content I would consider more likely NC-17 rated than R-rated. Definitely not a book for children or people who are easily upset.

titlePro Git
authorScott Chacon

Like many other tech books, Pro Git starts out with a chapter titled "Getting Started". Well, that chapter alone certainly is not sufficient to get you started with git, but the book as a whole is an excellent way to learn how to work with git and how git is working with your code (or whatever you feed it to chew on).

I've used git before and scratched a bit more than just the bare surface of it, so many of the things described were not new to me. I was reading this book mainly to get a feel of whether I could recommend it to a team of IT people who will start working with git soon. And yes, I can recommend it. The book introduces the reader gradually and in a logical sequence to the concepts behind git and the way to work with it.

There are several ways a team can collaborate using git and Scott Chacon explains some of them in the book, complete with workflow, advantages and disadvantages. This is one of the things I like especially in this book. It is often difficult to decide on a workflow to use when you're new to a tool and this information can help a lot. Also the recommendations for size of commits, structure of commit message etc. are all there.

The samples in the book are clear and easy to understand. They are kept short, which is a good thing on one hand (quickly find what you need and be done with it), but in some circumstances you may need to piece together a few things by yourself to achieve what you want to do (branch, make changes, cleanup using interactive rebase, cherry-pick/rebase/merge back to master). An additional (optional) chapter walking the reader through a whole change step by step might be useful for new users.

One chapter is dedicated to working with and converting from other systems. Pro Git uses subversion and perforce as samples. A really helpful chapter if you're stuck with a central subversion repository or you need to import the history from an old setup.

The last chapter is rather technical and a great treasure trove and source of how git works internally. It walks the reader through a series of low-level commands and builds a complete repository just using the plumbing commands; a great way to learn and understand how git works behind the scenes. Very valuable information if you need to do something very special or if you're just very curious.

All in all, a good book.

Overview of all Books

titlePoint of Impact
authorStephen Hunter

Bob Lee Swagger lives by himself. He only meets people when he has to. But one day some strangers, most probably members of a special force in law enforcement, offer him to take revenge on the guy who shot his partner in Vietnam and badly wounded Bob for life, all while saving important lives, Bob is back in sniper mode. But when the shot is fired...

There is a huge load of technical babble about guns, ammunition, long range shooting, etc. But other than that, the book is quite readable.

titleStein und Flöte
authorHans Bemmann

Hans Bemmann erzählt das leben von Lauscher, von seinen jungen jahren bis hin zu seinem tod. Es ist ein märchen, eine fantasy geschichte mit allerlei zauber, ungewöhnlichen fähigkeiten etc. Das buch ist unterteilt in drei teile (der autor nennt sie bücher), von denen der dritte rund die hälfte des ganzen buches ausmacht und selbst aus wiederum drei teilen besteht. Ich selber empfinde den dritten teil als zwei und verwende hier meine eigene vierteilung.

Der erste teil beschreibt Lauschers lehrjahre. Wie er sich aufmacht zu seinem entfernt lebenden grossvater, dem "sanften Flöter", und unterwegs auf schloss Barleboog stecken bleibt. Was er dort anstellt bestimmt praktisch sein ganzes weiteres leben. Nachdem er schliesslich seinen grossvater doch noch erreicht hat, muss er mehrere jahre lang mit Barlo durch die welt ziehen.

Der zweite teil widmet sich Lauschers wanderjahren. Wie er alleine weiter in der welt herumzieht und heil oder unheil anrichtet. Lauscher hat viele gaben, weiss sie aber nicht immer alle richtig zu nutzen.

Der dritte teil unterscheidet sich deutlich von den ersten zwei. Er beschreibt quasi eine zeit der suche nach sich selbst. Lauscher wendet sich notgedrungen von der welt ab, die er bis jetzt gesehen und gekannt hat.

Im vierten teil kehrt Lauscher zu einem gewissen teil in die zivilisation zurück. Ob er zu sich selbst gefunden hat sei dahingestellt. Verändert hat er sich aber allemal.

Der erste teil ist sehr kurzweilig und interessant zu lesen. Auch der zweite teil ist weitgehend spannend, wenn sich der leser zuweilen auch etwas über Lauschers benehmen wundern mag. Der dritte teil schlägt einen ganz anderen ton an und hat mich nur begrenzt zum weiterlesen animiert. Und den vierten teil hätte man meiner meinung nach komplett weglassen können. Bei mir entstand der eindruck, dieser seit eher widerstrebend geschrieben worden unter der selbst auferlegten pflicht, die geschichte zu einem geordneten abschluss zu bringen. Mich hätte es nicht gestört, ja ich hätte gar bevorzugt, die geschichte nach dem dritten teil beendet zu wissen und mir somit die freiheit zu bewahren, selber zu entscheiden, wie für mich die geschichte noch weiter ginge.

titleBig Data Analytics Using Splunk
authorPeter Zadrozny and Raghu Kodali

splunk> is a very powerful tool. With the right input, and the right questions asked, you can get an awful lot of information out of your logs and data.

This book helps you understand how splunk> works, how to "think splunk>". It does walk you through a number of scenarios with mostly publicly available data. Many scenarios are probably not what you will use in your environment (flight data, twitter data, foursquare data), but that's not the intention either. It is to showcase both possibilities with and handling of splunk>. All the scenarios include information on how to get the input/sample data, how to make it available to splunk> and the how to dig for the golden information nuggets in it. The text points out again and again how important it is to understand your logdata, and yes, as someone working with splunk> professionally, I agree this can't be stressed enough.

There are many monochrome screenshots to show what is being done, which is good. But sometimes coloured images would be easier to follow, especially when some resulting charts are shown. Some screenshots are not too easy to decipher, there are a few mistakes in the text and also some other rough edges, but it's not too bad. While I think the topic about clustering splunk> at the end of the book is positioned well, I personally think the introduction to forwarders should have come towards the beginning, not the end. After all, you may want to get started with your own projects already while working through the book.

The appendix dealing with performance is rather vague and the appendix listing some of the apps may be outdated quickly, but it does give some idea what there is in terms of add ons. The book only scratches the surface of the available commands and does not give any lists or tables of what commands, evals etc. are available in splunk>, but then again, it is not a tutorial or product documentation, but a selection of scenarios to showcase approaches and the way of thinking and exploring required to make you a successful splunk> user or admin.

If you are new to splunk>, don't think you'll know all there is to know after reading this book, you'll need other information too. But for getting info and samples how to wrap your head around logs and data the "splunk> way", I think the book is worth its price.

authorJilliane Hoffman

J.C. Townsend is a State Attorney and handles the Cupid case. A case of a brutal serial killer. But what J.C. was not prepared for is, that this murderer actually is someone from her past, someone she hoped to never meet again...

The story is well structured, well told and does have an unexpected twist at the end. But it is nothing extraordinary nor something that can't put away at night.

titleRules of Vengeance
authorChristopher Reich

Jonathan Ransom is a doctor, working in various parts of the world for Doctors Without Borders. Happily married, he would never have guessed that his beautiful wife Emma in fact is a secret operative for a secret government agency. It is only when Emma blows an operation that Jonathan finds out. Emma has has to run and fakes her own death. But Jonathan now knows and does not want to accept their separation. At a medical congress in London, Emma contacts her husband again so they can have a few hours together. But Emma is up to something and tells him they will never be able to see each other again. Jonathan does not want to accept this, follows Emma and hell breaks out for him, becoming the prime suspect in a car bombing. Jonathan is a simple, but gifted doctor. He turns out to be at least as gifted escaping manhunt, discovering secrets and finding the people responsible.

authorKristin Cashore

This is book 2 in the Graceling series. However, there is only some talk of Gracelings (the people which have different coloured eyes and are graced with some special skill). The only Graceling in this book is one which is a master mind controller and happens to fall through a crack into another kingdom. Most of the talk in this book is from this other of the seven kingdoms, the Dells. There Gracelings are unknown. Instead the Dells sport monsters. Very beautiful creatures. Their beauty can take in people and they do have the ability to mind control others. So does Fire, which is a human monster. Cansrel, her father was a much feared human monster but very close to the king. Fire's line of thought is rather different from her father's...

I enjoyed the first of the Graceling books more, but also this one is worthwhile to read.

titleNothing to Lose
authorLee Child

Jack Reacher walks from the town of Hope to the neighbouring town called Despair. Neither the people in Despair, nor the police there are fine with strangers. Jack's urged to leave the town at once. But Reacher, an ex military police cop, does not take well to being told what to do and especially not to being told what not to do. After a charge of vagrancy and being thrown out of Despair, his curiosity is piqued. He wants to know what is going on there.

The Jack Reacher novels I have read up to know, and I do have read a few over the years, have always been good. This one is ok, but definitely not up to the quality of the others. Had this been the first Jack Reacher novel I have read, I wouldn't have gone to the bookshop afterwards hungry for more.

titleThe Circle
authorDave Eggers

The Circle is a company in the digital age, not unlike google or facebook today. It is high tech, it is communication based, it is big-data and it is heaven for the employees. Mae Holland was able to get a position at The Circle and her live changes considerably. To the better. Or the worse?

For this book there should be two or three ratings, one for the first third of the book (4 stars), one for the rest of the book (no more than 3 stars) and possibly another one for what the book tries to make transparent (5 stars). The topic is very contemporary. The book shows an extremely realistic trend in our wired civilization. These things shown in the book are really happening, here and now. Many of the ideas and things born at The Circle may seem exaggerated at first sight, but thinking a bit more about it, most of them are actually existing in one or another way. Existing today, not in the future. So the book could be an eye opener, could be something to make us aware of what is going on. Unfortunately it does not succeed in that enough, I feel. There is not enough opposition in the book, not enough protagonists with scepticism (or simply common sense) which do open our eyes. Probably the author intended it that way, thinking that things are overdrawn enough for everyone to realize. But I feel just showing extremes without the opposition does neither make people think, nor does it make a book gripping.

The idea of the book is very good. It is timely. It highlights many things which do exist in our world today but which we often do not recognize as what they are. But the book does not do this as well and interestingly as I think it could have.

titleThe Affair
authorLee Child

Jack Reacher, the lone ex Military Police Cop. Except that this book plays earlier, in 'The Affair', Jack is still a MP with the army. In a forlorn town a woman is killed. There is an army base nearby and things look as if the killing could have been the work of a soldier with special training. Some investigation is undertaken. An MP is officially sent to the base to look into matters and Reacher is sent to the town undercover to keep an eye on the police chief and the investigations by the local police.

Very soon Reacher knows more about the case than the MP on base and he also learns this has not been the first such killing. Something is not right and it very much looks as if the army tries to hide something. Reacher wants to know what and why, even if it means investigating against some people higher up in his line of command.

Most Jack Reacher novels are really good and this one is no exception. And so far it is the only one I have encountered where Jack is still in the army.

titleThe Hit
authorDavid Baldacci

Will Robbie is the best hitman the agency has. He does the dirty work, the dangerous stuff. He is the one putting his life on the line in clandestine operations, assassinating "human problems". When an agency handler is killed, Robbie is called in to go after Jessica Reel, who supposedly performed the kill. She's as good as Robbie and an agency killer too. Why she suddenly turned sour and goes after her own people is unknown. Robbie, having worked with Jessica before, can not imagine she's doing something without a good reason.

David Baldacci writes good books, I know that, have read a number of his works. But this one is more than good. Not a single chapter where something becomes slightly long-winded. Quite to the contrary, it was always very hard to put the book down and go to sleep (and more than once I stayed up reading longer than I should have...)

authorTom Hillenbrand

Aart van der Westerhuizen ist ein Emittler für Europol. Er soll den Mord am Abgeordneten Vittorio Pazzi aufklären. Normalerweise ist ein Mord binnen maximal 24 Stunden restlos aufgeklärt. Bei Pazzi dauert es allerdings etwas länger, denn er wurde in einem Feld, an einem verlassenen Ort erschossen. Und dort ist die allgegenwärtige Ueberwachung weniger ausgeprägt. Allerdings glaubt Aart, dass mehr hinter diesem Mord steckt und im Zusammenhang mit weiteren Todesfällen betrachtet werden muss, auch wenn die Beweislage eindeutig erscheint.

Was dieses Buch auszeichnet und heute absolut lesenswert macht ist weniger die Geschichte selbst, als das drum herum. Ich wage aber zu behaupten, dass dieses Buch in 20-30 Jahren überhaupt nicht mehr lesenswert sein wird, weil bis dahin vieles von dem, was jetzt noch futuristisch, ungewöhnlich und unerhört tönt, Alltag und ganz normal sein wird.

Die Leute tragen alle Specs. Darauf rufen sie ständig Informationen aller Art ab. Autos fahren autonom und ohne dass ein Mensch sie lenken muss. Pakete, wichtige Mitteilungen etc. werden von Drohnen ausgeliefert und Ueberwachungsdrohnen sowie -kameras sind allgegenwärtig. Zudem sind all diese Unmengen von Informationen zusammengelinkt und werden laufend von mächtigen Computern ausgewertet. Es ist dem Ueberwachungsstaat zum Beispiel binnen Sekunden möglich, von einem x-beliebigen Bürger die Wahrscheinlichkeit errechnen zu lassen wie er wählen und abstimmen wird, ob er in seinem Leben strafffällig wird, wo er voraussichtlich seinen nächsten Urlaub verbringt und mit wem, was er am nächsten Tag zu Mittag essen wird, etc. Im totalen Ueberwachungsstaat kennt der Computer die Menschen besser als sie sich selber. Das birgt aber auch immense Gefahren.

Utopie? Nein, wir steuern heute wirklich mit Vollgas auf diese Zukunft zu. Eine enorme Fülle an Informationen über jeden Einzelnen ist heutzutage bereits vorhanden (Mobiltelephon, Facebook, Treuekarten, Internetbestellungen, EMail, Fitnessarmband, ...). Die einzelnen Dateninseln sind nur noch nicht so gut miteinander verbunden. Viele der beschriebenen Technologien existieren bereits: Was im Buch als Specs bezeichnet wird ist heute die als "Google Glass" bekannte Brille. Selbstfahrende Autos gibt es ebenfalls; noch nicht auf öffentlichen Strassen, aber in mindestens einer Stadt in den USA sowie auf Firmengeländen wird diese Technologie heute auch ausserhalb der Labors getestet. Sowohl Amazon (Buchauslieferungen auf Stadtgebiet) als auch Google (in Australien) sezten mindestens testweise Transportdrohnen ein. Für Land- und Gebäudevermessungen werden Drohnen bereits seit einiger Zeit eingesetzt und mindestens in Teilen der USA wird auch Ueberwachung damit getrieben. Fest installierte Ueberwachungskameras begegnen uns an immer mehr Orten (Bahn, Bus, öffentliche Plätze und Gebäude, Restaurants, ...), teils auch mit Gesichtserkennung und Messung der Körpertemperatur (Flughafen). Wer die Szenarien im Buch als weltfremd und übertrieben abtut, versteht nicht, wohin sich unsere Zivilisation bewegt. Drohnenland gibt uns einen Vorgeschmack darauf.

Overview of all Books

titleThe Innocent
authorDavid Baldacci

Will Robie is a professional assassin for a government agency. But in one job he gets in a rush, he hesitates to pull the trigger. Somebody else kills the victim and Robie is on the run. He is also assigned to be the contact person for the FBI in the case of investigating this murder. A murder, Robie should have performed but has not. Something is not right here and Robie wants to know what it is. After all, his live depends on it.

A few details in the plot are just not realistic. One could definitely not know how exactly multiple people would react in certain situations and design such an extremely detailed and fine grained conspiracy. Nevertheless: typical Baldacci: good plot, well written and engrossing.

authorCharles Maclean

Ed und Laura Lister's tochter Sophie wurde ermordet. Die polizei konnte den mörder nicht finden. Ed gibt aber nicht auf, er will den mörder seiner tochter finden und folgt auf eigene faust spuren. Diese spuren sind aber nicht ungefährlich, für andere und auch für ihn selber. Und vor allem ihn verwickeln sie in ungeahnte komplikationen.

Eigentlich ist die idee für das buch gut und es ist auch nicht schlecht geschrieben. Aber irgendwie fehlt mir einfach das gewisse etwas; das etwas, welches mich fesselt und es mir schwer macht, das buch beiseite zu legen. Es ist mir aber nicht möglich dieses etwas zu fassen. Vielleicht werden einfach zu viele verschiedene themen in ein und derselben geschichte miteinander verknüpft.

titleMastering Regular Expressions (3rd Edition)
authorJeffrey E.F. Friedl

I have read the first edition of 'Mastering Regular Expressions' many years ago and that was an enormous boost to my ability of using regular expressions. In the meantime, a lot has happened in this area and because in my current job I use non-trivial regexes frequently, I thought getting the latest version of Jeffrey's book might be a good idea. It was. Compared to the first edition, there is a lot of new and updated material.

Even though I already knew quite a bit about this topic, this is still one of the very best technical books I've ever read (and I don't give five stars easily). No light reading at all, though. But the writing style of Jeffrey helps a lot to make things interesting and approachable. At the same time he succeeds to think razor-sharp, not forgetting corner cases. Sometimes it's almost frightening how he remembers to check and point out all possibilities. And again, all this without becoming repetitive, boring or anything the like.

The 31-page index is quite complete and definitely useful and the hundreds of cross references in the text are a boon. I'd have appreciated a few more tables or, better yet, an appendix with the existing tables all collected once more in one place for easy reference. But then, this book is not a reference, it is a book from which you can learn the ins and outs of regular expressions. And it does a very good job teaching this, starting out with an introduction to regular expressions and simple examples. A complete regex beginner might stop reading after the first one or two chapters, get his or her hands dirty with regexes for a while and then continue reading after a few months of using regular expressions. Some more complex samples follow and then an overview of regular expression features and flavours. For casual users the difference between DFA and NFA engines might not be so important, but the more you use regular expressions and the more complex things you start to solve with them, the more such differences become apparent. When you start to apply your knowledge to larger amounts of data, suddenly knowing about efficiency, which has its own chapter, or the mechanics of processing (another chapter) makes a huge difference. Need to handle unicode? Yes, Jeffrey has this covered too, just as regex use in various scripting languages, such as Java, .NET, PHP, Perl, Python, Tcl. Four of them, Perl, Java, .NET and PHP, even have their own chapters (which I did not read all).

If you want to learn about regular expressions, I can not imagine a better or more complete book to turn to. And if you're just curious about regexes, then read the first one or two chapters and start being impressed by how much simpler many data manipulation tasks suddenly become. You'll definitely pull out this book again from your bookshelf and continue reading after some time.

titleOn Web Typography
authorJason Santa Maria

This book serves as a primer for (not only) web designers who are new to typography. And rightly so. These days there are so many options abound for typesetting text that the average Joe often is overwhelmed by all the possibilities, fonts, sizes, etc. and forgets to consider overall layout and legibility. All to often less variation in presentations, documents and web pages would be more. The book stresses the fact that typography should help in reading and understanding a text rather than get in the way of the reader. Very sound advice.

There are not really hard rules in typography, no clear wrongs and rights valid in all situations. So Jason starts out with a short overview of how we are reading, followed by some info on how type works. Without thinking about these 'mechanics', you'd have nothing to base your selection of typefaces, widths, sizes etc. on. The text then goes on explaining some more type-technical stuff like boxes, height, various attributes and how to choose typefaces which match or complement each other. Good advice also about creating a hierarchical typographic system for your project. Finally, some words about overall page layout (horizontal, vertical, grid), which I think is especially important in web design.

There are no hard rules given on how to typeset something, but sound advice. And this advice is not only true for web page design. In the part which talks about various typefaces (commonly called fonts), their features and their distinctions, you can easily feel the authors interest for the details of all the various fonts. For the non-professional designer this can, at times, be a bit too detailed, differences between shown fonts too small to really notice.

Don't expect to be a top notch web page layout pro after reading this book, but heeding the advice given, you should not fall prey any more to some of the most common problems. And this is not only true for web pages, take the advice for all text you produce or set.

titleThe door into summer
authorRobert A.Heinlein

Dan Davis is an extraordinarily gifted engineer. His inventions are groundbreaking. But one day he finds himself cheated out of business by his partner and his fiancé. Things escalate and in the end Dan awakens 30 years later in the future, well preserved and not a day older, after being forced into "cold sleep". Things are a bit different in the year 2000 than they were back in 1970 and sure engineering has progressed a lot. Some patents, however, which have been applied for in his name while he certainly was frozen and sleeping, are disturbing him. An when he learns there is a classified way to not only travel forward in time, but also backward, he sets out to fix some things which have happened in the past...

The book is not only interesting to read; having read it in 2014, it was also interesting to see what an author thought life and technical achievements would be like in 1970 and 2000 - thought so back when the book was written in the 1950-ies!

titleThe Open Organization
authorJim Whitehurst

Are you a manager? Or are your managed? I've been both and I'm positively certain this book appeals to both. But first things first.

Jim Whitehurst does a really great job not only describing this other way of running a company, but also in confessing that coming from a conventional top-down style management position to this more bottom-up style was not an easy transition. This confession, I believe, can be quite important for somebody new to this style of running things. Important to realize that you can not always have all the answers; more important even, to realize that nobody expects you to have the answers to all problems. Most important, probably, to realize that people will not listen to you simply because you have some fancy title on your business card but for other reasons, reasons you have to work for.

The book is easy to read, of manageable size (about 200 pages) and well structured. In the first part Jim talks about why this management style is superior in many environments. Part two explains how things are achieved the open way and in the third part he provides some samples what to do.

The fact that throughout the book Jim talks about associates, rather than employees, emphasizes the fact, that he really believes in what he writes about.

From a manager perspective, the book gives ample suggestions on how to lead (rather than boss about) people and thus have them work with you, rather than against you. From the perspective of somebody being managed, it can give you some ideas where to challenge, where to support and when to shut up and accept some decisions. And those sandwiched between higher-ups and subordinates can get ideas for both directions.

Myself, I strongly believe in the concept Whitehurst describes in his book. And I do know it can work and yield good results, even though I (unfortunately) have never seen it implemented as thoroughly as described in this book.

titleThe Phoenix Project
authorGene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Sapfford

An extraordinary book! In essence, it is a management book. But it is written like a fascinating novel. If you have worked in IT for some time, be it as a manager or as a non-manager, you will find yourself right at home. The authors manage to tell a fascinating story of a company where Murphy is omnipresent in the IT department and how the crew gradually takes care of things and dramatically improves the situation. But it is not only a story for pleasure. It also very cleverly tells what is needed to convert to and run a successful IT organization based on the DevOps principle. The story takes up 90% of the book. The remaining 10% sum up the core information in concise format and give detailed information about some further reading.

I've never before read a management or technical book which was so interesting to read. And it still gives you all the relevant information. Just brilliant.

titleZero Day
authorDavid Baldacci

David Baldacci as the author is almost a guarantee for a good read. True also for this book, which obviously starts a new series with John Puller as the main figure. John is an investigator with the US Army and is sent out to Drake, a remote coal mining town in West Virginia. Puller is suspicious about this assignment, as he is sent there alone, rather than together with a whole team.

The book is easy to read and keeps you wanting to continue. It is possible to guess some things, but that's ok. The story strongly goes in the direction of the "Jack Reacher" books by Lee Child. What I found a bit distrubing at times is, that John Puller is too much of a hero; he's just too good and able to do too many things without help. Also the momentousness of the plot, the bad guys have been planning, is a bit too big for my liking. Nevertheless, Zero Day offeres good entertainment for a couple of hours.

authorMax Barry

Wil has been kidnapped at an airport by two guys. Together with one of the kidnappers, he is trying to survive. Who is trying to kill them and why, he does not really know or comprehend. Tom, his kidnapper and/or saviour is not really making much sense. Or maybe he is making sense, but it just is quite unbelievable...

The story is about an association of especially gifted people. People, who are able to influence others with words, who are able to make other people do their bidding by just making the propper sounds. The idea behind the story is quite fascinating and while it might not really be possible to command people by just using certain strange combinations of letters, using the right words certainly makes people more likely to do or not do something. Think about using "please", a trailing "or else..." or some phrase like "I bet you don't dare doing this." So, how far fetched is the idea really?

The story is told on two timelines. Most of the time it's fairly easy to see in which of the timelines a chapter is based, but there are occasions (few only) where it's not quite so obvious until later and I found that to be a bit disturbing. There certainly were a few words I didn't quite understand and when I looked some of them up, I had the impression that as a non-native English speaker, I'm probably not able to propperly appreciate the choice of words; I had no problem at all understanding the story, but I might have missed some fine details.

authorLiz & J.K. Brandon

Eine Vampirgeschichte, die nicht in schmuddeligen Höhlen oder dunklen Räumen spielt. Und eine Romanze.

Natalie Adam, eine junge Innenarchitektin in Wien, gerät in den Weg von Vampiren. Derweil glaubt sie nicht mal an die wirkliche Existenz dieser Spezies und weiss nur über sie, was man allgemein aus Speilfilmen und Geschichten hört. Dass einige unauffällig mitten unter uns leben, und auch nicht bei Sonnenschein zu Staub und Asche verfallen, ist komplettes Neuland für Natalie.

Eine höchstens mittelmässige Liebesgeschichte zwischen Mensch und Vampir.

Overview of all Books

titleThe Finisher
authorDavid Baldacci

Baldacci is mostly known for his thrillers. I saw this book and the cover did simply not fit a thriller, thus did not fit the usual Baldacci. It looked much more like something from the fantasy genre. When I picked the book up, indeed, it was a fantasy book. This got me even more interested, wanting to see how good Baldacci stands up to this.

Vega Jane is a Wugmort. Wugmorts live in Wormwood Village and never ever venture beyond their village. Never. Ever. Except maybe that one individual, Vega might have seen. But that would be suicide, wouldn't it? Everything Vega had ever been taught about Wugs, Wormwood Village and the Quag surrounding the village, starts to collapse; definitely not for every Wug, but for Vega, who is ever suspicious, wondering, wanting to know and thinking independently rather than simply accepting everything she's told...

Indeed, Baldacci succeeded in writing a very good fantasy book, which kept me reading and reading. Much recommend. (So why not five stars? For me, four stars means really good and five stars is reserved for extraordinary.)

titleThe Witness
authorSandra Brown

At first, and for a long time, the story is told in two separate streams, one being now, the other the past which leads to now. This is done in an excellent manner, giving the reader information bit by bit and keeping him or her in the dark about lots of things. This makes the book very interesting and leaves room for some unexpected turns.

It is hard to tell something about the contents without a spoiler, so I keep it to the bare minimum; for more, you will have to read the book, it's worth it. Kendall and her three month old baby boy miraculously survive a car crash mostly unscathed. Before the car is washed away by the river, she manages to pull out the badly injured driver, but not the other passenger. The driver can not remember anything, not even who he is. A great chance for Kendall to escape. But even though the driver has no memory, his instincts are still intact and on high alert...

titleDead Witch walking
authorKim Harrison

Kim Harrison creates a new world. One in which humans, witches, vampires, weres and other folk live together. It really is not your typical vampire story.

Rachel Morgan is a runner for the I.S., Inderland Security, which is some kind of police dealing with non-humans. But Rachel does something which puts her on the death list of her own agency: she quits her job and opens her own agency. Hiding from the I.S. Rachel, together with her friends, soon finds herself in big trouble trying to solve a case nobody ever asked her to solve.

Besides creating a new and interesting world, Harrison also succeeds in writing a fast paced and highly capturing story. There are a few places in the book which have the slight feel of a loose end, but considering this is the first book in a series, I expect later books to eventually pick them up.

titleThe Iron King
authorJulie Kagawa

Meghan Chase is a sixteen year old girl, living with her mother, stepfather and brother. An ordinary girl, she thinks of herself. Her father, whom she loved, disappeared out of the blue when she was much younger. And her little brother sometimes is afraid of the creatures coming out of the closet in his room. Well, small children do have a strong fantasy, don't they?

Meghan, however, is about to find out she is not an ordinary girl at all. Plus, one of her friends is a very well known feary. Before long, Meghan is deeply involved in matters concerning the lands of the fey, the Nevernever.

This is a very good book written from the view of Meghan. It brings to life a great many mystical creatures in a capturing story which is the beginning of a whole series. In some places Julie Kagawa successfully mixes in some criticism about our modern way of life and how we treat our environment. Having this criticism weaved in more evenly throughout would have been better; I was not quite sure whether it was planned to be part of the book from the beginning or more of an afterthought edited in later.

Hopefully Julie Kagawa can keep up the good and interesting flow of the story in the following books of the series. This first one definitely is worthwhile to read.

titleNot All Data Is Created Equal
authorGregory Fell and Mike Barlow

This is only a short report addressing, or rather, slightly touching on topics like value of data, the dangers and merits of merging data from different sources, privacy and data security. In the few pages it is not possible to cover the topics in depth and thus is more to be seen as a rough management summary. As a thought initiating management primer it does bring up some major points and thanks to its minimal length does ot take long to read through.

titleChill Factor
authorSandra Brown

In Cleary, five women have disappeared. None of the disappearances has been solved so far. No bodies found, nothing. When Lilly Martin wants to head back to town from her mountain hut before the approaching very bad winter storm makes the roads unpassable, something happens. She is forced to go back to the hut with an injured man. While trying to survive the storm in the hut, Lilly starts to wonder whether this man is the very kind soul he seems to be or the wanted murderer. How long will she be stuck with him?

This is not just about Lilly and the outsider, but also about some other people of Cleary. Not everybody has a white vest in this small town.

First everything in the story seems to be going straight on, but towards the end, there are quite a number of (too many?) surprises, twists and turns.

authorClive Cussler

Terrorists bring down a chartered plane with the UN Secretary-General. When the plane crashes on Greenland, Dirk Pitt is nearby on a NUMA ship and hastens to help. There are survivors indeed. The terrorists, too, learn that not everybody died in the crash and launch a follow-up attempt. Dirk is involved again in trying to rescue the US Secretary-General. But not only her, there are also other important people needing rescue from a superbly planned attempt at their lives. The stakes are high, multinational and the results would be disastrous if the terrorists succeeded. And they are good, those terrorists.

I felt Dirk Pitt is just a bit too much of an over-hero, too good, too flawless. Other than that, the book is well written and the story interesting.

titleUser Story Mapping
authorJeff Patton

Patton gives a good introduction to user story mapping in agile development. What is it? Why do it? How to do it? What are the benefits you can expect? What are the pitfalls you should be aware of?

Basically, the book gives a good overview. If you are new to the concept, things are explained well in an easy to read, narrative way. And I guess if you've been doing this for some time, there are also parts in it you still can use to improve your user story mapping.

However, as Patton says in the very beginning of the book, it has turned out much bigger than he first intended. And quite honestly, I'd have preferred a shorter version. There are numerous examples of using story mapping from his various "friends". Half of the examples would have been sufficient. With some things, he is also repeating himself a few times. The narrative writing style makes the book easy to read, but it also blows up the volume of text. I think you can save yourself some reading time by generously ignoring some of the stories contributed by the "friends" of Patton.

titlePatrolling the Dark Net
authorMike Barlow, Gregory Fell

The book does not give information on how to find the dark net, how to move on it, how to get information out of it. For that it would also be much too short. What it does, and does well for its small size, is to give an idea what the dark net is, why it is there, partially who uses it and also why you might be better off not ignoring it. An overview, a very short intro, only, but good at that.

titleThe Abominable
authorDan Simmons

The story of Jake Perry and his friends, all three of them avid and experienced climbers, how it happens they attempt to summit Mt. Everest in 1925 and what happens on that mountain, this story is not bad. Towards the end it also has some unexpected turn. But the explanations, the details, the descriptions, all that is quite long. I was dragging through the first half of this more than 700 pages long tome considering more than once to just toss it away. Then the second half was more interesting, though still dragging on enough, and I did finish reading it.

If you are a climber yourself, I can imagine you might enjoy the lengthy details, but otherwise there definitely are more interesting books.

titleMonitoring Distributed Systems
authorRob Ewaschuk

This is a short writeup of what considerations Site Reliability Engineering at Google take into account when building infrastructure monitoring systems. What they monitor, what they alert or do not alert, what to correlate or not and why. It definitely is not a 'how to monitor your infrastructure' but it does give some insight into the experience some people responsible for large and dynamic environments have made with monitoring and alerting and gives some of their reasoning why they do some things this way. So spending the one hour or less to go over this report might well save you many hours of preliminary trial-and-error and offer you a head start.

titleFunctional Programming in Python
authorDavid Mertz

Even though I am not a programmer, I do know my way around python well enough to get things done. My code very rarely is object oriented. Functional programming? I was wondering, what does that mean. Is it the way I usually program? Does it help me to improve my style?

In four short chapters, (Avoiding) Flow Control / Callables / Lazy Evaluations / Higher-Order Functions, David gives an overview of functional programming. (Yes, it definitely is closer to my favoured style than OO techniques are.)While at first I could still follow the various examples, I got more and more lost after a third of the book. Too many lambdas (which I hate and never really understand to this day). And heavily stacked stuff like

do_all_funcs = lambda fns, *args: [ list (map(fn, *args)) for fn in fns]

makes my head spin when I try to figure out what it is supposed to do.

While I believe the book might be a treasure trove for a python programmer much more advanced than me, at least half of this stuff was simply over my head. My rating for the book is seen from an occasional python user; had I understood more of it, the rating would probably be better.

titleThe Blade Itself
authorJoe Abercrombie

The book starts like a few separate stories; one about Logen Ninefiners, one about Inquisitor Glokta and a third one about Captain Jezal dan Luthar. The setting sounds like several hundred years ago, in lands which have seen many wars. There are various kinds of different people: warriors, magicians, noblemen, commoners and more. Bit by bit and slowly, the stories come together and the various people meet each other. The language is good and precise, the going somewhat slow.

What is the big plot? Good question. This is the first book in a trilogy and quite honestly, after reading the first book I have hardly an idea where things are headed to. Neither have I come across something you may call a highlight of this first part. I've been patiently waiting for more things to happen, but the book has ended without rewarding me for my patience. Possibly something more interesting will happen in the next book. But somehow I have the feeling that won't be the case until the very end (or not at all). It is something I might never know, because the next book in the trilogy won't make it onto my buying list. Basically, the writing etc. would get one more star, but not having a highlight or being at least a little bit complete in itself is a reason enough for me to deduct one full star from the rating.

Overview of all Books

titleKrambambuli und weitere Meistererzählungen
authorMarie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Bis anhin kannte ich Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach vor allem durch gedichte. Dieses buch ist eine sammlung von neun erzählungen sowie einigen kurztexten und aphorismen. Da Ebner-Eschenbach keine schriftstellerin der heutigen zeit ist, dürfen natürlich nicht neuzeitliche krimis oder ähnliches erwartet werden. Die geschichten sind viel mehr aus dem alltag und über eher normale leute als die superheros moderner bücher.

titleDynagrams - Denken in Stereo
authorMartin J. Eppler / Sebasitan Kernbach / Roland A. Pfister

Diagramme benutzte ich bisher vor allem statisch um mengenmässige Zusammenhänge graphisch, und somit hoffentlich übersichtlich und auf einen Blick verständlich, darzustellen. Zumindest glaubte ich das bis anhin. Was mir erst durch die Beschäftigung mit Dynagrams - dynamischen Diagrammen - bewusst wurde: mit (immer noch statischen) Diagrammen habe ich schon seit längerer Zeit immer wieder versucht in Präsentationen und Berichten anderen ganze Zusammenhänge zu erklären und näher zu bringen.

Eigentlich wollte ich erfahren, wie ich vielleicht mit einem neuen, nicht-statischen Ansatz bessere Diagramme erstellen kann. Stattdessen habe ich eine ganz neue Denkweise entdeckt, ein für mich komplett neues Einsatzgebiet von Diagrammen: statt irgendwelche Zahlen und Zusammenhänge visuell aufbereiten nachdem sie zusammengetragen und errechnet wurden, den Resultate-Findungsprozess mit Diagrammen unterstützen! Und genau das ist es, worum es in diesem Buch geht.

Die Autoren zeigen anhand ausgewählter Beispiele, wie Diagramme effizient als Kommunikationsmittel eingesetzt werden können. Als Werkzeug, Diskussionen zu leiten, gemeinsames Wissen zusammenzutragen, fundiert zu planen. Diagramme als kreatives Tool zur Unterstützung des Denkprozesses, von Meetings, etc.

Im Buch wird zuerst erklärt, was die Autoren unter "Dynagrams" und "Denken in Stereo" verstehen, gefolgt ein paar Fallbeispielen. Im Hauptteil werden dreizehn verschiedene Diagrammtypen erklärt, stets mit Kernidee, Vorgehen, Praxisbeispiel und Variantionen. Auch Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur zu jedem Diagrammtyp fehlt nicht. Nicht jedes Diagramm wird für jeden Leser den gleichen Wert haben, aber jeder wird unter den vorgestellten Typen sicher ein paar finden, die er oder sie einsetzen kann. Und schliesslich verbietet niemand, Vorschläge abzuändern und den eigenen Bedürfnissen anzupassen oder selber weitere Varianten zu erarbeiten, der Leser wird sogar dazu ermuntert.

So wie eine gute Graphik nackte Zahlenreihen für den Menschen viel zugänglicher machen kann, so kann auch ein gutes dynamisches Diagramm dazu beitragen, eine Diskussion viel zielgerichteter und fruchtbarer zu machen. Ideen dafür und Anleitungen dazu finden sich in diesem hervorragenden Buch. Einziger Wermutstropfen: Es werden ein paar Vorlagen und Software erwähnt, die auf der Website zum Buch zu finden sein sollten (und dort vor einem halben jahr auch wirklich waren). Aktuell kann ich auf der Webseite diese Zusätze nicht mehr finden, was den Wert des Buches jedoch nicht schmälert.

titleThe Forgotten
authorDavid Baldacci

This second book in Baldacci's John Puller series is better than the first one. The plot, while still big, is not that unbelievably big and John Puller, the main hero, is not 200% unfailing like in the previous book. In the usual Baldacci way, the individual chapters are short and easy to follow, there is lots of action and the hardest thing about the book is to put it away for the night before you've read it all. Often, however, it is not quite comprehensible how Puller comes to certain conclusions.

While still on recuperation after the last assignment, a mysterious letter from his aunt Betsy reaches John Puller, a top army investigator. Something seems not to be in order, but his aunt does not spell out what. So John, in order to learn about Betsy's concerns, pays her a visit; something he hasn't done for too many years anyways. Only, when John arrives at her house, she's not there. Not only has he a run-in with the local police in no time, but also with the local mob. And yet some other guys are following him.

titleDie Traumwerkstatt von Kerala
authorSabriye Tenberken

Kanthari, das trainingszentrum im süden Indiens, eine traumwerkstatt? Die leute, die das glück haben, dort einen siebenmonatigen kurs belegen zu dürfen, lernen nicht wie man träume herstellt. Sie alle kommen bereits mit grossen träumen. In Kerala lernen sie, wie man träume, und seien sie noch so gross, umsetzt, allen widrigkeiten zum trotz.

Kanthari ist nicht das erste projekt, das Sabriye Tenberken und Paul Kronenberg ins leben gerufen haben, nicht der erste eigene traum, den sie selber umgesetzt haben. Am anfang stand ihre blindenschule in Tibet. In einem land, wo blinde als taugenichts und last gelten. Was für eine überraschung muss das sein, wenn es einheimische blinde dann plötzlich schaffen, in eine regelschule zu gehen und dort zu den besten zu gehören?

In ihrem buch 'Die Traumwerkstatt von Kerala' erzählt Sabriye wie sie selber erblindete, mit welchen stigmatisierungen sie konfrontiert wurde, welche hürden sie meistern musste, auch sich selber gegenüber. Wie es dazu kam, dass sie in Tibet zusammen mit Paul eine blindenschule gründete, mit was für herausforderungen sie teils zu kämpfen hatten und wie die idee zur gründung des Kanthari instituts entstand. Wie das institut selber auch entstand. Dabei stellt sich nicht sich in den mittelpunkt, überhaupt nicht, sondern die tatsache, dass träume, insbesondere zur verbesserung der lebensbedingungen von randständigen, realisiert werden können, auch wenn sie der gesellschaft und direkten umgebung nicht passen. Aber es braucht dazu etwas wut im bauch. Wut im bauch und einen traum, das sind die voraussetzungen für einen kanthari, die voraussetzungen um etwas verändern zu können, voraussetzungen um sich nicht unterkriegen zu lassen. Erzählt wird auch von etlichen absolventen des Kanthari trainingszentrum, was ihre beweggründe sind, was sie auf die beine gestellt haben, was sie erreichen konnten, was sie in der gesellschaft verändern konnten.

Ein sehr lesenswertes buch. Ein buch, das auch mut macht. Kanthari: aus wut wird mut, oder mut zur wut.

titleAdvanced Splunk
authorAshish Kumar and Tulsiram Yadav

As the title already suggests, this is not a book for the splunk> novice. You should already know the basics, such as how to install splunk> and how to make it run, as well as how to basically import data.

The splunk> version used for all samples is 6.3 and the three big topics (but not the only ones covered) are data analytics, visualizations and dashboards. The authors do a fine job explaining. When they write about a feature, they explain what it does, provide a sample implementation, have relevant screenshots so the reader can see what they are talking about and they not only print the code for implementing the feature, but also annotate the code. These annotations are very helpful to understand what is going on, what portion in the code is linked to which other part and where changes must be made. It is these good explanations and well commented code fragments, which I find most useful.

In my opinion this is a good book to have around so you can quickly look up how to implement visualization and dashboard features you don't use every day and have a clear explanation with good samples in no time. Valuable enough to order an extra paper copy for the office.

title101 Geschichte von Nasreddin Hodscha
authorJürgen Bosbach

Nasreddin Hodscha ist richter, gelehrter, lehrer ... und schelm. Und oftmals hält er den leuten aber auch den spiegel vor. Eine art türkischer Till Eulenspiegel (in der hundertsten geschichte behauptet er sogar, Till Eulenspiegel einst selber getroffen zu haben).

Die kleinen geschichten sind meist amüsant, regen aber auch immer wieder zum nachdenken an. Auf jeden fall sind sie kurz und bündig. Auch wenn es noch so spät ist und man schon lange hätte schlafen gehen sollen, eine dieser kurzen geschichten kann man trotzdem noch lesen als gute-nacht geschichte.

titleMr. Sapien träumt vom Menschsein
authorAriel S. Winter

Mr. Sapien möchte zeit für sich zum nachdenken und fährt in urlaub. Er hat eine einsame hütte an einem strand gemietet, nicht zu nahe am nächsten ort. Zuvor hat er sich noch einen neuen arm bestellt, weil sein alter defekt ist. Mr. Sapien ist ein roboter, ein älteres modell, einer der wenigen, die noch von menschenhand gebaut wurden.

Die erzählung ist eine durchaus interessante idee. Eine welt, in der fast nur noch roboter leben und kaum noch menschen. Die roboter sterben eben nicht, können repariert werden, wenn ihnen etwas passiert. Bei menschen geht das nicht so einfach. Die roboter wissen auch sehr viel über das 'menschsein', aber sie verstehen es grösstenteils nicht. Wissen und verstehen. Das eine ist nicht unbedingt mit dem anderen gleichzusetzen. Genau davon handelt eigentlich das ganze buch. Was nützt den robotern all das wissen ohne richtiges verständnis? Sie können sich reparieren, sind kaum zerstörbar, wissen sonst fast alles, verstehen aber nicht einmal sich selber. Es gibt ausnahmen. Es gibt roboter, die lernen zu verstehen. Aber diejenigen, welche zu verstehen lernen, gehen an ihrem verständnis zu grunde. Unverständlich für die anderen, welche nicht verstehen.

Komplex? Ja. Und ich behaupte auch nicht, dass diese interpretation richtig ist, aber es ist meine interpretation, mein verständnis vom inhalt des buches. Wer eine geschichte mit anfang und ende sucht, ist bei diesem buch falsch. Es fühlt sich mehr an wie eine erzählung, die irgendwo im zeitstrom einfach ansetzt und irgendwann später wieder absetzt.

titleThe Business Blockchain
authorWilliam Mougayar

Let me start with a short extract from chapter 3 of the book:

A lack of a comprehensive understanding of the basic capabilities surrounding the blockchain will deter any smart executive from seeing the fullness of its potential value. ... This was my impetus for my writing The Business Blockchain.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, Mougayar miserably fails to build understanding. True, the whole book is full of potential values, (mostly rather vague) areas the blockchain could be applied to. But what's missing is an explanation of the basic capabilities, exactly what the author himself states are the "building blocks" for understanding it all. Just saying a few times that the blockchain is distributed, encrypted and with built-in consensus is not enough of an explanation. Neither are the many comparisons to the evolution of the internet helpful in building understanding, even if blockchains may actually, over time, become a game changer comparable in impact to the internet.

So, to learn the basics of what blockchain is, you'll need to go somewhere else. And once you get to know the basics, I assume you start to see ideas how and where to implement it. By then you'll probably not find much new information in this book. Even though I do have to credit the author with being quite comprehensive in listing what topics might need consideration from a business perspective (legal, regulatory, existing business processes, etc.)

titleOnly the Truth
authorAdam Croft

Reading this book is fairly easy. Short sentences. Simple language.

Dan Cooper is away from home, which he often is due to his work. After screwing the hotel's receptionist in the afternoon, he unexpectedly finds his wife Lisa in his room when he returns after supper. Lisa is dead. And on her phone is a message from Dan telling her to come up to his room. But Dan never sent this message. Panicking, Dan goes is running. Away from Britain and through the whole of Europe.

I'm certain this could be made a very interesting story. Could. But not in this book. The protagonist is constantly asking himself why this has happened and who might have done it. Yes, he does get some answers in the end, but without anything that feels like a highlight of the story or a big relevation or the like. All in all: There are lots of better books out there.

titleBlockchain Fast and Simple
authorPiero Martini

This booklet won't make you a blockchain pro, but it is perfect for the layman who wants to get some short introduction to what all this talk about 'the blockchain' means. It is short and written in plain language, understandable without special knowledge. If you only want to get an idea about 'what a blockchain is' then this is the perfect starter.

titleTor and the Dark Art of Anonymity
authorLance Henderson

Oh yes, there is some talk about Tor in this book. But mainly it is a chatty text about how important your anonymity should be to you. It does mention several tools and sites which should be useful in protecting your online anonymity (something I do not consider to be a _dark_ art). Most of the references are, however, links to further resources on the web. Personally I'm not too thrilled if I'm reading a book and, to find out more than the name of most products or services mentioned, need to open a web browser.

If you are looking for a guide helping you in setting up Tor or using it, then look elsewhere. If you want to know why you might want to stay anonymous online, then this is for you. If you want to know how to do that, it does offer some information.

I completely agree that most internet users are far too careless and unthoughtful about their online anonymity and share their data far too easily, often unknowingly. But the level of paranoia in this book is very high. And a reader without a good grasp of network-technology etc. will just have to accept that getting this or that information is easily possible, as there are no technical explanations given. A bit like sowing fear rather than understanding.

There is one huge mistake in the book: the part about PGP. Using a different virtual identity for every different purpose, as the author advises, is good advice. But creating PGP keys, passing the public key around, have it signed by others and accept encrypted messages causes a short-circuit between your identities (unless you use different key pairs for each of your identities).

titleThe Good, the Bad, and the Undead
authorKim Harrison

Rachel Morgan, a witch, Ivy Tamwood, a vampire and Jenks, a pixy. The three of them together form the private investigation agency "Vampiric Charms". Rachel has to run from a pack of werewolfs when trying to bring back a mascot fish which has been stolen from a baseball team. But then she is not paid for her services. Rent is due, though... But soon she is, more or less unvoluntarily, involved into something much bigger and skids into it deeper and deeper.

As already the first book in the series, Kim Harrison's writing is capturing, fast paced and full of humor. Lots of fun to read and sometimes really difficult to put away for the night. However, a few passages are quite grotesque. It really would not have been necessary to describe the state of the murdered witches in so much detail akin a bad Friday night horror movie. Bad enough to not not give it a top score.

Some of the things which happen in this book seem not to be really relevant to the ending of the story. But that's because this is a whole series and I'm certain one of the next books in the series will pick these things up and then they will be relevant. Also this second book in the Hollows series is full of references to what happened in the first book "Dead Witch walking" and some things might not make so much sense if you haven't read the first book. So if you are going to read some books of this series, do yourself a favour and read them in the correct order.

titleISO 20022 for Dummies
authorThe SWIFT Standards Team

ISO 20022 is the new, worldwide standard in the payments industry. As book just about 50 pages strong certainly can not explain a standard in detail, which concerns such a complex area like internationally interoperable payments. Well, it not even attempts to do that. Other than what the title of the small book might suggest, it merely explains what the ISO 20022 is (a standard) and gives some information on why it is there, who developed it and what (people think) is so great about it. It also sheds some light on older existing standards and why you might want to upgrade to this new one.

While I was well aware 50 pages can never explain internals of ISO 20022 and at best give you a broad overview, I was still disappointed. If you know what a standard is, then you have hardly a need to read this introduction and if if you want to know how ISO 20022 works, then you better look elsewhere.

titlePrivacy and the Internet of Things
authorGilad Rosner

Whether we like it or not, the Internet of Thing is coming, coming in a massively larger scale than most of us imagine. And with it come also a lot of privacy challenges. While you might be OK with your car communicating technical vehicle health data back to the manufacturer, what about data tracking all your motorized movements? Do you agree with your employer having access to the data generated by your health monitoring wristband?

What we deem acceptable and what not changes with circumstances, culture, intended use, etc. and it even changes over time. So there is not one correct way to protect privacy, be it with the Internet of Things or elsewhere.

This report shines a light on the issue from different angles. First it shows that "IoT" is not one clearly defined technology, but a banner for a variety of definitions and trends. Then Gilad Rosner does a splendid job of explaining what we conceive as privacy and shows that privacy and security are two different things, before going into the specific privacy risks that come with the land of IoT. There is also a chapter talking about the different ways of privacy protection (mandatory vs. optional, law vs. self-regulation, etc. before coming to the methods available to protect privacy.

All in all a very well researched report which gives a lot of insight in not only privacy related to the IoT, but is helpful in general to think about an help address privacy concerns in technology.

titleAmerican Gods
authorNeil Gaiman

When Shadow comes out of prison, he meets a strange guy, calling himself Wednesday, several times. Wednesday wants Shadow to work for him. Shadow is a driver and errands boy for Wednesday and they go to visit many peculiar people. Everybody is talking about a storm in the making. Little by little Shadow understands what he got involved into. These folks, not quite being the average Joe, are trying to blend in, to appear unsuspicious...

No, this is not a thriller or gangster story. It is a rather unusual kind of story about how the various ancient and new gods from all over the world are trying to survive in America. Sometimes the story is so strange that I couldn't quite follow what actually is going on. While you definitely don't need any knowledge about the ancient gods in the various cultures around the world, I imagine some such knowledge might make the book more interesting.

authorRR Haywood

The idea in this book is interesting: Somebody invented a time machine, but fucked up using it and changed the future (for the worse). Now a kind of rescue mission is attempted to find out what went wrong, when and where and rectify it.

At first, the book is really interesting. Three people form three different time periods are extracted to be members of the mission. The middle of the book describes a period, which is rather slow-moving and not too interesting for the main characters. You could now argue the author is doing an outstanding job relaying this feeling to the reader, as this part of the book really does feel sluggish. For my part, however, I rather say the middle of the book is too long. Quite contrary, the very end moves on too fast. All this put together: mere average.

But there is something more, something I hate in books: the story is begun, but does not have anything nearly resembling an end. Even though it is designed as a trilogy, I still think each of the books should have some kind of end; even if you need to read them in the correct order to understand things.

authorWalter Burk

Der Whiskytrek ist eine aktion der brauerei (und whisky brennerei) Locher in Appenzell zusammen mit 27 berggasthäusern im alpstein. Die 27 kurzkrimis in diesem buch sind diesem Whiskytreck gewidmet und spielen in oder in der nähe je eines der teilnehmenden berggasthäuser. Dabei mischt Walter Burk fiktion mit viel detaillierter ortskenntnis, historischen informationen und allerlei sagen aus der region. Für jemanden, der die gegend kennt, eine interessante mischung und immer wieder ein häppchen information, das man noch nicht kannte.

Eine kurzweilige lektüre, bei der nicht unbedingt jedes verbrechen aufgeklärt wird und auch mal ein mysterium bestehen bleibt. Hoffen wir, dass aber rund um den Whiskytrek nicht wirklich so viele verbrechen passieren...

titleAbsolute Power
authorDavid Baldacci

Luther Whitney is an elderly burglar with high ethics. He only takes from those who have more then plenty and does not hurt anybody. And he prepares well. But on his last heist, somebody comes back home while Luther is emptying their treasures. He finds a place to hide, but what he sees is more than shocking.

Luther could bring down the people he as silently been watching while in hiding. But they are powerful. Very powerful and immensely resourceful. This could cost him his life. And it might also cost the life of everybody else who gets to know about this. Even even law enforcement might be able to do anything, unless this is done very carefully...

In typical Baldacci style, the book is a page turner from start to end, interesting throughout with no boarding chapters. There are other important figures and interwoven stories in the book, but I won't tell you about it, you'll want to read the book for yourself!

authorBjörn Nehrhoff von Holderberg & Stefan Jahn

Ein kleines büchlein von knapp unter hundert seiten, das rasch gelesen ist. Für den erfahrenen kajakfahrer sicher alles 'alter hut', aber für den neuling eine interessante und lehrreiche einstiegslektüre. Unter anderem findet man informationen über die verschiedenen bootsformen mit ihren vor- und nachteilen sowie die ausrüstung. Auch paddel- und rettungstechniken werden vorgestellt. Die kapitel über navigation und wettereinflüsse sind sicherlich ein wichtiges thema für leute, die sich auf grössere touren machen wollen mit strecken ohne direkten sichtkontakt zum ziel, aber meines erachtens richtet sich das büchlein an absolute anfänger, die sich nicht grad als erstes auf solche touren einlassen sollten.

Klein und handlich, grad richtig um sich erstmals ein bisschen ins thema kajaking einzulesen. Aber auch nicht mehr.

titleEvery Which Way But Dead
authorKim Harrison

You do have read the first two books in the Hollows series, don't you? If not, my first advice: go and read the first two books before this one. Second advice, don't give up if the second book is a bit gross, this third one is better again.

Basically also this book could be read by itself and it is a whole story, but it really does build on what has happened before and not knowing the content of the first two books would make reading "Every Which Way But Dead" only half as much fun. Things are mentioned briefly again where necessary, but of course not the full details can be given.

Now, what is happening in this book? Of course Rachel is up again against some bad boy this side of the ley lines. Actually that job is not even so difficult, even though it definitely is extremely dangerous. But the big struggle is with creatures from the other side of the ley lines, especially Al. But not only Rachel is having a hard time with Al, also Al is having a hard time with Rachel and has to realize he's not dealing with the average witch here.

While Rachel makes new friends, some are also turning away from her...

This book is less bloody than the second one. It's again well written, fast paced and capturing.

titleAnsible Up & Running
authorLorin Hochstein & René Moser

I was expecting a thorough, methodical and very structured introduction to ansible. Well, this book is sort of that. It definitely is a good and useful introduction to ansible. The authors do a good job guiding the reader from first steps to intermediate use by using a sample multi-server scenario which you easily can run on your single-machine laptop (and they explain how to do that). There are many options, possibilities and usage scenarios described in enough detail, but what I am missing a little bit is a kind of structured listing of all (or most) options and possibilities. I guess if I want to have that, then I'll have to go through the official ansible documentation. The book is more learning from a seasoned and well versed user, rather than from a schoolbook.

The breadth of topics is quite good. Of course, playbooks and role, the inventory, variables and facts are all covered. But not only. There are also chapters dealing specifically with Vagrant, Amazon EC2, Docker, Windows Hosts and Network Devices, even Ansible Tower has its chapter. And there is also information on performance, debugging and writing custom modules.

Even though I was expecting something slightly different, I still think this is a valuable book to read and can recommend it to anyone who wants to make good use of ansible and its capabilities.

titleA Fistful of Charms
authorKim Harrison

This is the fourth book in the Hollows series. If you have not read the preceding three books of this series, then this book is not for you. Go back and read the other three first, otherwise there will be too many things you will not understand. If you have read the first three books, then welcome to another fast paced adventure of Rachel Mariana Morgan.

While previously Rachel, who is an earth witch but can use ley line magic too, usually got into trouble with some daemons it's weres this time she's up against. And for once she is also operating out of her home turf, Cincinnati. Of course, many of the usual characters are on board again, at least briefly. And look forward to getting to know Jenks in a completely new and unusual form. Also some other characters show a new side to them.

The book is a great read, never getting boring, always fast paced makes you constantly want to read just one more chapter before going to bed. So if you open this book, be prepared for a long read and short sleep.

titleTen Big Ones
authorJanet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum somehow is always getting into trouble. And as a bounty hunter, trouble may also mean serious trouble with criminals. But if you get on the wrong side of a whole organized gang, then serious trouble takes on a whole new meaning.

As usual for the Stephanie Plum series, there is always something going on and things are moving fast, especially as all of the other characters are very energetic too. But some things just don't seem in place. Simple bounty hunter up against a whole organized gang? Unlikely. Bounty hunter bonding out one of the dangerous bad guys nobody else would bond out? Highly unlikely. But if you can overlook those things, the book is entertaining.

authorSandra Brown

Duncan Hatcher and DeeDee Bowen are homicide detectives. They are called to Judge Laird's house when his stunningly beautiful wife Elise shot a burglar in self defence. Judge Laird is overly protective of his wife, wants to have everything dealt with very quickly and without much fuss. But a few tiny details are unusual. And behind the Judge's back, his wife is trying to convince detective hatcher to believe in a completely different story.

Towards the end, there are a few things where I thought "Duncan could not have foreseen this reaction of that person", but it's not too bad. Not a single page in this book is boring. The story flows very smoothly and does have some not so expected twists and turns. Go and read it for yourself, you won't regret it.

titleUnderstanding Message Brokers
authorJakub Korab

This smalll booklet gives an introduction into what a message broker is and what it is not and how it works. It does an amazing job in explaining the concepts in an easy to understand way and simple language. There are two completely different types of Message Brokers explained: Apache ActiveMQ and Apache Kafka. Their workings are both explained, as well as their differences. There are various samples what to watch out for in your own application when involving the services of a message broker.

Korab not only gives a good introduction of Message Brokers, but, I believe, also a valuable guide for people who want to write applications interacting with a message broker, what to do or not to do, what to pay attention to, what you can expect from which type of message broker and what you can not expect from it. I'm sure, reading this booklet before coding your application is well worth your time because it can save you a lot of troubleshooting and debugging time by doing away with some misconceptions.

Overview of all Books

titleThe Girl in the Spider's Web
authorDavid Lagercrantz

This is a continuation of Stieg Larsson's famous Millennium Series. But can another author continue the series and do it justice? Well, yes, Lagercrantz does quite a good job. He manages to keep the characteristics of the main players and builds on the original story. He also opens the field for more to come and rather cleverly reveals some more things about Lisbeth Salanders past. In some respects, this book is even better than the original series: it does away with much of the unnecessary stuff and stays much more focussed on the story it wants to tell. Thanks to this, the story it tells fits within one book. But it clearly has more the feel of a commercially engineered book than the previous ones. This is not necessarily bad, but makes it more alike books by other successful authors. If you liked the characters in the original books, give it a try, they stay mostly the same. If the original books were too slow-moving for your taste, you surely will like this one better.

Mikael Blomkvist has not published anything too interesting in a while. Not only is Millennium magazine in a financially tight spot again, but also Mikael himself is under heavy criticism for not having had any good articles in a long time. But this all changes quite suddenly, when a top Swedish researcher is murdered. As it happens, a break in into a highly guarded computer system Lisbeth Salander recently performed reveals some information which might be connected to this murder, even though Lisbeth was looking for other information.

titleMastering Ansible - Second Edition
authorJesse Keating

You are new to ansible and want to learn how to use it? Sorry, wrong book. But if you do have some experience with ansible already, know what the inventory is, what roles are, how to use modules, how to find which modules you need for a certain task and want to dig deeper, then this might well be for you.

This book definitely does not teach the basics, the reader is expected to already have acquired that knowledge. Rather than what, it explains how ansible does things and along the way explains how to use its more advanced features. Things like dynamic inventories, adding hosts at runtime, execution strategies, protecting sensitive information, conditionals, loops, macros and filters in Jinja2 templates, error recovery and failure handling, dynamic variable inclusion, troubleshooting, etc. For certain topics, the author not only shows how to use the feature, but also where and how to add your own custom functionality by building small and easy extensions to ansible.

For everything an example is given, showing the actual configuration/code used and what the output is. Almost all of the examples are done with the debug module, thus not actually running anything on remote hosts. Still, the author succeeds in bringing his point across, maybe even more easily than by using other modules, because this way you can concentrate on understanding the mechanics of what was done, without needing to think too much about what (would have) happened on the remote host.

If you want to learn from scratch how to use ansible, then get another book. If know the basics and want to understand more of how it works and how to use more dynamic and advanced features give it a go. The things I liked most: the chapter on Jinja2 templates, the samples on how to easily extend the functionality of ansible and the author staying strictly focussed on the topic.

authorVolker Klüpfel / Michael Kobr

Für Kluftinger, kriminalhauptkommissar aus Altusried, kommt grad einiges zusammen. Das kann zuweilen ein bisschen stressig sein. Die neue chefin hat einen ganz anderen, strengeren, führungsstil als der alte chef, dann ist da die bevorstehende hochzeit seines sohnes Markus mit Yumiko und diesbezüglich der besuch von Yumiko's eltern direkt aus Japan. Neben all diesem gilt es auch noch den mord auf schloss Grimmbart aufzuklären. Schloss Grimmbart, hinter dem ein unvollständiger märchenwald steht, wo ein verarmter baron lebt, auf dem komische feste gefeiert werden und das gäste beherbergt, welche nicht über alle zweifel erhaben sind.

Kluftinger ist nicht ein super-hero wie Jack Reacher, Sean King oder andere bekannte detektive. Er hat seine ecken und kanten und ängste und ist trotzdem, oder gerade deswegen, ein liebenswerter kerl, über den man im verlaufe der geschichte immer wieder herzhaft lachen kann. Eine wirklich vergnügliche geschichte mit ganz normalen leuten und einem verzwickten mordfall.

titleDie Kunst des achtsamen Putzens
authorKeisuke Matsumoto

Nein, viele nützliche tipps mit welchen hausmitteln man welche flecken am besten beseitigt gibt es nicht in diesem büchlein. Zwar geht es ums sauber machen, aber eigentlich mehr ums sauber machen in unserem geist und herzen.

Matsumoto benutzt den beschrieb des reinigens von zimmern, geräten, garten etc. mehr als mittel zum zweck und als guten vergleich. Er zeigt uns auf, wie wir mit unserem generellen äusseren verhalten auch unser inneres verhalten beeinflussen und beschreibt den umgang mit unserem geist geschickt mit etwas, das wir aus weltlicher sicht besser verstehen, eben dem putzen. Als beispiel: wenn wir den wert der dinge nicht mehr achten und abgenutzte oder minim beschädigte sachen gleich wegwerfen statt sie zu reparieren, dann beeinflusst dieses verhalten auch unsere geistige haltung: wir betrachten auch beziehungen etc mehr und mehr als wegwerf-ware; wenn sie mal etwas schwieriger werden und vielleicht einfach nur ein bisschen klebeband bräuchten, schmeissen wir sie viel zu einfach weg.

Der vergleich mit dem sauber machen im alltag und im tempel hinkt nicht und das büchlein regt durchaus an, sich über gewisse dinge (endlich wieder einmal) gedanken zu machen.

Sehr empfohlen, aber eben, ein ratgeber für den frühlingsputz ist es ganz bestimmt nicht.

titleLetters for Emily
authorCamron Wright

Emily is seven years old. Together with her mother she visits her grandpa every Friday. Her grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and he is not always coherent. Before he dies quite unexpectedly, he composes a number of letters addressed to his granddaughter Emily. Addressed to Emily, but not necessarily only meant for Emily.

This is a very nice and interesting story. Grandpa Harry obviously is no good expressing his true feelings or what is important to him with spoken words. This is also the reason he is somewhat estranged to his own kids. But once he is dead, through his letters for Emily, he finally finds a way to indirectly express his love, to talk about his struggles in life, to finally drop his mask. And it does some good, not only to Emily.

titleHello, Darkness
authorSandra Brown

Paris Gibson is a nighttime radio-DJ. In her program she also takes calls from her listeners. When one night a regular caller threatens to kill a girl in 72 hours, she believes he means it and goes to the police. A hunt for the unknown villain and against the clock starts.

There is much more happening in the story than only the manhunt. Various tragedies come to light, romance, trust, adolescent behaviour, ... Gradually the reader forms a suspicion as to who is the bad guy. But only to have that suspicion challenged again by new developments or revelations. And once you have nailed it down to two suspects, new developments offer other possibilities too. It is not until the very last moment that you can be sure who the bad guy is. A true masterpiece.

titleIntroducing GitHub
authorBrent Beer

The book is not too big and it contains lots of screenshots of what is being explained. So it reading does not take too much time. With an approach such heavy on visuals, however, I would have expected the menus etc. discussed to be clearly marked in the screenshots. I am not familiar with how frequently the layout of GitHub's user interface changes, but if readers really do need so many screen shots to follow along, I fear they will be lost pretty quickly once the interface changes.

Not being a technical guide (as is also stated on the cover), there is no information about git or what git does, even though git is the big workhorse under the hood of GitHub. Basically the book tries to go through the motions of viewing a repository, changing a single file, collaboration and configuring a GitHub project. It does this by going through all the menus in the user interface. Yes, it does complete samples of simple tasks. There is also has a chapter on GitHub Desktop.

If you are looking for a book showing you how to use git, this definitely is the wrong book. If you are a somewhat technical person who knows the basics of git, you probably won't get much out of this book. If you are a non-technical person who needs to work on some projects (possibly administratively) together with others using GitHub, then this book could be of some help to you. And if you are a non-technical person wanting to get a feeling whether GitHub could be a possible solution for organizing collaboration of your company/organization/team software projects, then this book might actually be interesting for you.

titleFettnäpfchenführer Korea
authorJan Janowski

In einem fremden land kann man schon mal in das eine oder andere fettnäpfchen treten. Und in einer fremden kultur erst recht. Ich habe selber mehrere jahre in einem asiatischen land gelebt und weiss das aus erster hand. Einige sitten und gebräuche der asiatischen kulturen sind uns Europäern nicht nur fremd, sondern können auch durchaus falsch verstanden werden. Genauso kann unser benehmen, so gut wir es auch meinen und wie richtig es bei uns auch wäre, in einigen situationen falsch verstanden werden. Auch wertvorstellungen können komplett unterschiedlich sein und zu grossen missverständnissen und peinlichen situationen führen.

Dieser fettnäpfchenführer zeigt auf kurzweilige und unterhaltsame weise, was einem in Korea so alles passieren kann, in welche benimm-dich-fallen man schnell man hineinschlittert und wie man gewisse sachen zu verstehen hat. Der autor verwendet dabei zwei charaktere, die studentin Julia und den Praktikanten Nico, welche einen austauschaufenthalt in Seoul machen. In vielen kurzen geschichten erleben die beiden viele typische situationen, auf die man treffen kann. Der autor beschränkt sich aber nicht darauf solche situationen bloss aufzuzeigen, sondern er analysiert sie am schluss immer. Es werden erklärungen abgegeben, wie die sachen zu verstehen sind, manchmal auch wie diese verhaltensweisen entstanden sind und vor allem auch, wie man sich in solchen situationen am besten verhält.

Wer sich länger in Korea aufenthalten möchte ist sicher nicht schlecht beraten, sich die geschichten in diesem führer vorgängig zu gemüte zu führen. Der kulturschock dürfte dadurch leicht abgefedert werden, man versteht die Koreaner vielleicht von anfang an ein bisschen besser und ein paar peinlichkeiten lassen sich sicher mit dem angesammelten wissen vermeiden oder zumindest abschwächen.

titleDie schönsten japanischen Märchen
authorRotraud Saeki

Japanische märchen, sagen und fabeln sind meist doch etwas anders als europäische. Füchse und dachse zeigen sich in menschengestalt; winzige kinder, welche in bambusstämmen gefunden werden; gestalten, wie die kappa, welche es bei uns so gar nicht gibt, etc. Dieses büchlein ist eine kleine sammlung von japanischen erzählungen und märchen. Im ersten drittel finden sich märchen aus ganz Japan, während im rest des buches geschichten speziell aus dem südwesten von Japan, Okinawa / Ryukyu, zum besten gegeben werden. Dass ich eine geschichte der schneeprinzessin in dieser sammlung gefunden habe, hat mich doch etwas erstaunt; wenn schon spezifisch märchen aus Japan erzählt werden, dann hätte ich erwartet, dass solche, die in sehr ähnlicher form in Europa bestens bekannt sind, nicht mit aufgenommen werden. Was mir jedoch sehr gefallen hat sind diejenigen geschichten, welche gewisse phänomene aufgreifen und quasi zu erklären versuchen, wie z.b. warum die Wale einmal im jahr nach Hateruma kommen. Zwar kenne ich einige der Ryukyu inseln selber, aber wenn schon ein grossteil der geschichten aus diesem gebiet stammt, hätte ich mir für die leser eine kleine karte auf einer seite am anfang des buches gewünscht.

Die kurzen geschichten eignen sich gut als kleine gute-nacht lektüre.

titleWater Touching Stone
authorEliot Pattison

A female teacher has been killed and a Tibetan lama disappeared. Shan Tao Yun, the former Beijing investigator who now lives with Tibetan monks and for the Chinese government technically is an escaped prisoner, is asked by his monk-friends to go with them to where this happened. They want him to help find out what happened. Already on the way to Yoktian they find out that somebody is out to kill the teachers students, all orphans, too.

Like the other books in this series, "Water Touching Stone" is full of peaceful places, the struggle between China and Tibet, the differences between cultures. And this book is especially international, as the story is situated in a cultural melting pot: Tibetan, Chinese, Uighur, Kazakh, Russian, even American.

If you want a fast-paced 'Hollywood-style' thriller, get another book. If you are open for an equally interesting alternative setting, try this one.

titleKafka: The Definitive Guide
authorNeha Narkhede, Gwen Shapira, Todd Palino

This guide walks you through Kafka whether you are a system administrator who needs to keep the installation running or a developer who needs to make an application to talk to Kafka. Albeit the for the latter it probably is much easier if you are developing in Java.

And at first it may also be a bit difficult to follow along the examples, be it due to badly formatted code samples (what should be part of the command and what not?) or because with a slightly different version of Kafka you might need to read through error messages to find out what to change to make the sample work.

There are also some things which are plain wrong. A network interface which is 80% utilized does not necessarily mean you need an additional machine for connecting more clients; it depends on what exactly is using those 80%.

On the plus side, the book gives lots of good advice for performance tuning, sending data, pulling data, layout of the system etc. The recommendations come with explanations and are not limited to Kafka tuning, but include also OS parameters, application design etc. There are so many pitfalls taken into consideration, that it sometimes sounds a bit pessimistic and you almost start to wonder "what is Kafka good for". But the considerations are good and heeding the warnings will definitely keep you from having to make your own painful discoveries. It definitely shows that the authors very well know what they are writing about and have seen Kafka in operation in various environments.

The book starts out with an explanation of what Kafka is, what it does and where it has its advantages over other solutions. The next chapter goes through the installation, including recommendations on selecting hardware. After this follow explanations on how to write and read data to/from Kafka, before going through the internals. How to build reliable data delivery systems, data pipelines and do data mirroring is explained in the next three chapters, before turning to administration and monitoring. The last chapter has a good introduction to processing data as streams.

You can read this book to learn what Kafka is, you can read it to get information on how to design, setup, administer and monitor a Kafka installation and you can also learn how to talk to Kafka from your application, albeit all the examples are in Java. But be prepared to see a lot of detail information, many settings and a lot of passages explaining what could go wrong.

titleThe Namesake
authorJhumpa Lahiri

Have you lived in a place with a totally different culture than your own? Lived, not just gone there for a holiday? This is what the story in this book is telling. Of a husband and wife moving from India to the US, and of their kids. Two kids, both born and raised in the US, but stuck in limbo. On the one hand they are raised with an Indian background, on the other hand, they are raised in and interact with a totally different culture on the outside. Where do they really belong? And also their parents, foreigners where they live, they gradually become kind of foreigner in their original country too. And they seem to have two faces, they kind of turn into different people when going back 'home' to India for vacation.

There is no big story or artfully constructed plot in this book. It's just about the life of a family, but with interesting insights. Insights, which many people might never stop to think about. I have first-hand experience living in a different culture for several years. But not as totally as in this book, which, in some places, made think me too.

titleThe Cassandra Compact
authorRobert Ludlum

Getting hold of a sample of highly deadly bacteria is already bad enough. But what if someone had the unique opportunity to alter it? What would it be worth? What would one be willing to sacrifice for it? What would it take to stop this insanity?

The main figure in this book, Jon Smith, is doing his best to stop the insanity. But Jon is, for my liking, too perfect and too point on with his guesses. In the whole book there is only one very slight mistake he makes. Also towards the end of the book everything goes very quickly, quite smoothly, predictably. The plot definitely could have been garnished with more side tracks, some dead ends, a few unexpected turns and this way made a far better read.

titleFor a few Demons more
authorKim Harrison

First things first. This is the fifth book in a series and I highly recommend to start with the first one and read them in order.

A serial killer is at work in the Hollows, trying to make the killings look like suicides. And somehow the I.S. seems to be covering up those killings, while the FIB wants to solve them, enlisting some help from Rachel. But it would not be Rachel, the adrenaline junkie, if she didn't get into way more trouble than this warrants for, crossing demons and master vampires and were alphas along the way and doing one or the other unbelievable thing.

As always in this series, very good reading, although, at the very end, things get a bit out of hand and happen a bit fast. The buildup to get there is very enjoyable, though.

titleKann mir bitte jemand das Wasser reichen?
authorAri Turunen

Mögen sie arrogante, überhebliche, selbstherrliche, stets nur auf das eigene wohl bedachte menschen? Oder gehen sie diesen eher aus dem weg? Manchmal aber, kann man einem solchen menschen gar nicht aus dem weg gehen. Und in anderen fällen hat man keinen direkten kontakt zu diesen menschen, wird bloss indirekt von ihnen beeinflusst und sieht unter umständen nur einen bruchteil dessen, was diesen menschen ausmacht. Und dieser bruchteil kann ein ganz anderes licht auf die person, deren taten, deren fähigkeiten werfen und uns bewundernd zu ihr aufschauen lassen.

In diesem buch geht es um arroganz. Arroganz und ihre gefolgin, ignoranz, können ganz schön mächtig sein und mächtig machen, aber gepaart mit viel macht, können sie auch ganz mächtig gefährlich sein. Mit vielen beispielen, vor allem aus geschichte, politik, prominenz, wirtschaft, wird aufgezeigt, was arroganz sein kann, wie sie sich auswirken kann und warum wir oft von ihr regelrecht geblendet werden. Vielleicht sind einige der beispiele etwas einseitig, denn jede medallie hat zwei (oder noch mehr) seiten und ich habe keine der beschriebenen fakten überprüft. Doch selbst wenn sie einseitig wären, öffnen sie oft die augen für eine seite, der wir vielleicht bisweilen zu wenig aufmerksamkeit schenken.

authorTatjana Kühne

Die autorin wurde mit dreizehn jahren vergewaltigt. In diesem buch beschreibt sie sehr offen die jahre danach, ihre ängste, gefühle. Wie sie die bilder in ihrem kopf fertig machen. Wie sie versucht, alles zu verstecken und daran langsam zugrunde geht. Wie ein therapieversuch anfänglich alles nur noch schlimmer macht. Wie sie zuflucht sucht in einer sucht, was aber zu weiteren problemen führt.

Die autorin ist dabei grausam ehrlich und direkt gegenüber dem leser (die grauenvolle tat selber, der leser möge es ihr danken, wird nicht näher beschrieben); sie beschönigt nicht. Zum glück nicht, denn wer verstehen möchte, wie einem menschen zu mute ist nach einem höchst traumatischen ereignis, der ist froh um die wahrheit, froh, wenn jemand den mut hat zu sagen, was wirklich abgeht, was der oder die betroffene durchmacht, welche ängste sie oder ihn plagen, etc. Denn je besser man sich ein (noch so unscharfes) bild davon machen kann, umso besser dürfte man in der lage sein, zu unterstützen und eine helfende hand auszustrecken, welche der oder die betroffene hoffentlich anzunehmen wagt.

Wie jemand dieses buch bewertet, dürfte sehr davon abhängen, warum es gelesen wird. Müsste ich den unterhaltungsswert beurteilen, gäbe es keine drei sterne. Wenn man jedoch verstehen möchte, wie sich jemand in einer solchen oder ähnlichen situation fühlt, was "innen drin" abgeht, dann sind fünf sterne garantiert, auch wenn klar ist, dass dies die erfahrungen eines einzelnen menschen sind und vermutlich eine andere person nicht genau gleich reagiert. Was ich schade finde ist, dass es im ganzen hauptteil des buches nicht eine einzige unterteilung gibt; keine kapitel und nicht mal leerzeilen. Egal, ob zwischen dem alten und dem neuen satz ein paar stunden oder ein paar monate vergangen sind, es fängt einfach nur auf der nächsten zeile ein neuer absatz an.

titleThe Cobra
authorFrederick Forsyth

Law enforcement has been battling against drug trafficking for a long time. An uphill battle. What would it take to wipe out the cocaine trade? Really wipe it out? The answer is: a lot of study and a lot of money. And a carte blanche.

In this fictional book, Paul Devereux, a CIA special ops veteran, is given, by presidential order, a lot of money, quite some time and a big carte blanche in order to make the US cocaine free. Interestingly, Devereux only goes after THE cocaine baron, not any of the smaller ones. Interestingly he really is hardly challenged by any agency and allowed to use any resources he sees fit to achieve the goal. And indeed, he brings the imports of this drug basically to a standstill. But does he really succeed? And is the country who asked him to take on this job really ready to bear the consequences?

titleThe Outlaw Daemon Wails
authorKim Harrison

As with the other books in this series, do yourself a favour and read them in the correct sequence. This is the sixth book in he Hollows series.

Rachel is mourning for Kisten, but her life as well as her adventures and her trouble with the other species, such as elves, vampires and daemons, even with some of her own species, witches, do not stop because of that. There are unexpected changes with Ceri, Al is not so securely imprisoned as expected, her relationship with Ivy takes on a new turn and most importantly, Rachel finds out some well kept secrets about herself and her family. Not everything is the way she always thought...

As already the five preceding books in the Hollows series, it is fun to read and captivating. And even though this is already the sixth book, I'm still looking forward to reading the next one. It's not getting boring or too repetitive.

titleLittle Fires Everywhere
authorCeleste Ng

What happens, when a stranger, living by somewhat different believes, comes to a community which strictly functions by adhering to rule-based planning? Especially if the stranger is an avid observer of people and very sensitive to what is going on all around? Mia is an artist and such a person. Mia and her daughter Pearl come to Shaker Heights to stay only for a while. But then they decide do to stay for good and especially Pearl gets more involved with the Richardsons, some 'Shaker Heights natives'. Everything goes well until, one day, some happening brings a lot of commotion into the local community.

The book describes the life of some people and after one third of the book, it finally sprinkles the descriptions and uneventful flow of life with some happenings. But even then, it is much stronger on the descriptive side than on the happening side. There are passages where I felt like a sentence or thought is started and an intermediate block tucked in the middle of it before ending it. Only that the intermediate block was several pages long, telling half a life story. This style does not make the book hard to read, it is still easy to understand and follow. But if you prefer a more straight forward, linear style to these roundabout ways, it can be slightly annoying at times.

titleThe English Spy
authorDaniel Silva

Obviously, this is a book in a whole series and it is not the first one of the series. Nevertheless, it was easy enough to follow and absolutely fine to be read "standalone". I like the writing style. There are no characters who hold long monologues, their conversations are brief and to the point. Most of the sentences are kept short, as are the chapters. This fits very well to the action loaded story.

After a certain incident, two master spies, Gabriel Allon and Christopher Keller, are asked to go after one of the best bomb makers in the world, Eamon Quinn, an ex IRA man who is now selling his services to whomever pays well enough. Both, Gabriel and Keller hold personal grudges against Quinn because of some happenings in the past in which Quinn played an important role. So the hunt is more than just a job. Also for Quinn.

The story has twists and turns, which are unexpected. You definitely can't predict the story or outcome after reading a few chapters. Very entertaining.

titleThe Switch
authorSandra Brown

Melina and Gillian Lloyd are identical twins, indistinguishable. When one of them is being murdered, the other wants to know who did it. The police can close the case very quickly, but the surviving twin does not believe that is the whole truth and starts digging, bringing herself into a lot of danger.

A really well written book with a capturing story full of turns and twists and surprises; you never know whether what you know is the truth, just part of it or all lies.

Overview of all Books

authorKristin Cashore

Bitterblue is the third book in the Graceling Realm series and builds on the first (Graceling) and second (Fire) one. It is possible to follow the story without having read the previous books, but having read the other two will make it much easier to understand a lot of things, such as who Katsa is, what gracelings are, who Lech was and how he became what he was, etc.

Bitterblue is the young queen of the kingdom Monsea, daughter of Ashen and Leck, both deceased. Her kingdom is not in the best of states, due to her fathers' reign. However, she does not really know the poor state of her empire because her main advisors, which all have served under king Lech, keep her too busy to find out and shield her from the truth. Until, frustrated, Bitterblue decides to venture into the city by herself at night. Eventually she realizes that she's being much lied to and her people still suffer a lot from the terrible time under king Lech. She truly wants to improve things, be a good queen to her people, give them hope for the future, but that is not a simple task when you don't know who of your staff you can trust.

The whole book is about Bitterblue and her struggle to become a worthy queen and be fair and good to her people. Even though it is a good book, reading it feels a little bit like you are locked in the castle and now allowed to go outside, take much part in what Po or Katsa are doing. But then, that's exactly the way Bitterblue herself feels.

titleThe Iron Daughter
authorJulie Kagawa

This is book 2 of the Iron Fey series. If you have not read the first one, I do recommend to read The Iron King first, as there are lots of situations and things happening which are based on what went on in the first book.

Meghan Chase has come to the Winter Court willingly, but she does not really want to stay there; the winter queen does not really believe here story of the Iron Fey, Rowan, Ash's brother, is mocking her, Ash himself is ignoring her, etc.

Somehow, even though Machina is dead, the Iron Fey are still out there and they do find a way to infiltrate the courts and cause winter and summer to go to war against each other. Meghan is caught in the middle of all this and it is up to her and the very few fey who believe her more or less, to stop this war and the big betrayal behind it.

As already the first book: an interesting story told from the view of Meghan, well written and entertaining. This is a worthy continuation of the first book in the series, about as good as the first one.

titleWhite Witch Black Curse
authorKim Harrison

As with the other books in this series, do yourself a favour and read them in the correct sequence. This is the seventh book in he Hollows series.

Rachel and Ivy are still trying to find out who had murdered Kisten, but not making much progress. At times, tough, small bits and pieces of Rachel's memory of that disastrous night are coming back to her. (And, how could it be different with Rachel, things are usually not straight forward.)

The hunt for the truth about the night of Kisten's murder, however, is a sideline in this book. The main part concerns Edden's request for Rachel to help with bringing in the person responsible for almost killing Edden's son Glenn. That someone turns out to be a very old and powerful Inderlander, much too powerful for a witch to deal with. But as we already got to know in the previous books, the more impossible a task looks like, the more Rachel gets involved.

The relationship with Al takes a slight turn too, after a long time Rachel meets her brother again and a new character, Pierce, enters the story. I think Pierce will turn into a main character in one of the next books...

Even after seven books of the same series, I'm still looking forward to read the next one.

titleA River in Darkness
authorMasaji Ishikawa

Born in Japan to a japanese mother and a north korean father, Masaji's family moved to North Korea in 1960 because they were promised a better life there. One thing in Masaji's life indeed did improve in the homeland of his father, but it definitely was not the promised "paradise on earth", "hell on earth" definitely is more to the point. After more than 30 years, Masaji succeeded to flee and go back to Japan. Definitely Japan is paradise compared to North Korea, but for him it's more like "purgatory on earth".

Even though it does not seem like Mr. Ishikawa has mercy with the reader when describing his life in North Korea, I am pretty sure the reality was even worse and he spares us a lot. Spares us things also, which probably would be beyond our understanding. But he also let's the reader understand that not everyone is suffering there, that some people are doing well enough.

For people living in the developed western world, like Western Europe or the US and similarly rich and prosperous countries, this should be mandatory reading. But not only reading, also thinking. We live in such abundance, we are wailing about the smallest non-issues, most of us actually do live in paradise but think that we have a tough time or are treated unfair. Think again, after letting sink in the contents of this book.

titleDaughters of the Dragon
authorWilliam Andrews

The text on the book cover is pretty misleading. Yes, for sure there is the story of Anna Carlson, but it is only used as a very thin wrapping for the main story of the book. The main story is the one of Hong Jae-Hee, from teenage girl to elderly lady. Jae-Hee did not have an easy life, mainly because at the age of fourteen she was forced by the Japanese occupants to become one of thousands of comfort women, which marked her for life.

Anna is US-raised. And she talks in short sentences. Very appropriate. Jae-Hee is older, Korean, marked and uses somewhat longer sentences. So the writing style of Andrews is good and it is easy to understand. However, some of the contents are quite tough, especially when Jae-Hee talks about her time as a comfort woman for the Japanese. There are lots of things you probably wouldn't want to know in so much detail, even though I think it could be much worse and Andrews actually has spared the reader a lot.

If you want to know about comfort women in Korea during the war and how they might have fared after the war, then this book probably does a good job. But you'll need to be able to stomach some ugly details. If you are looking for some entertainment or thought this might be an interesting mystery because of what you read on the book cover, then better put it back on the shelve.

titleZwei Pioniere, eine Idee
authorHilmar Gernet & Michael Klein

Im ersten Teil des Buches beschreibt Hilmar Gerner das Wirken von Johann Evangelist Traber, vor allem seine Rolle als Begründer der Schweizer Raiffeisenbanken. Der zweite, kürzere Teil stammt von Michael Klein und ist quasi eine Kurzbiographie über Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, dem ursprünglichen Erfinder der Raiffeisenbanken.

Der zweite Teil liest sich recht flüssig und gibt die wichtigsten Stationen in Raiffeisen's Leben wieder. Hier und dort werden ein paar Auszüge aus anderen Quellen zitiert.

Der erste Teil ist mühsam zu lesen. Er mutet an wie eine wissenschaftliche Arbeit, welche vor allem aus Zitaten und Auszügen aus vielen verschiedenen Quellen besteht. In der Tat reihen sich in diesem Teil oft Auszug (Quellenangabe) an Auszug (Quellenangabe) an Auszug (Quellenangabe).

Bestimmt gibt es bessere Bücher über die Urväter der Raiffeisenbanken in Deutschland und der Schweiz.

titleBlack Magic Sanction
authorKim Harrison

Is this really already the eighth book in the Hollows series? Yes it is. And it's not getting boring at all. Fast paced, thrilling, entertaining, captivating. If you haven't read the previous seven books of the series yet, please do yourself a favour and read them first. I think you'd be utterly lost if you started out with this book, because it very much builds on what has happened up to now.

Rachel Morgan would not be Rachel Morgan if she didn't get into any kind of trouble. Anyways, trouble is like her second name and she thrives on it. Getting out of it, often in spectacular ways, being her unintended speciality. This time she gets into crossfire with her own kind: witches. Powerful witches. Influential witches. White witches. And Rachel has to learn that white magic is not always good, just as black magic does not necessarily mean it is bad. It is more what you do with your magic that makes a spell or curse good or bad.

titleThe Lighthouse
authorP.D. James

A suspicious death on a small, secluded island with strictly controlled access and less than twenty people on the island. How hard can it be to investigate, find out whether it was suicide or murder? And if the latter, find the murderer?

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is not sent to investigate the incident on Combe Island because the case seems very difficult, but because it is highly sensitive and needs much discretion. Even though the number of possible suspects is very limited, all of them could possibly have a motive. And with only few people on the island nobody has seen anything.

The relaxed and tranquil atmosphere of the island finds its way into the story. It is not action loaded and fast paced, but not at all boring either. And also the reader is none the wiser than anyone in the book; P.D. James keeps the reader wondering and speculating to the end who has done it. If you are a non-native English speaker be warned that you will need a reasonably good command of the language, intermediate at the least. Don't expect to understand every word but don't be put off by it either, you can enjoy it and follow along even if you don't know all the words.

titleWinter's Passage
authorJulie Kagawa

Meghan is making good on her promise to go with Ash to the Unseelie Court. However on the way to Winter Court they are followed, followed by an ancient creature. A creature even Ash might not be strong enough to defeat....

This very short story plays between book 1 (The Iron King) and book 2 (The Iron Daughter) of The Iron Fey saga. It can be seen as a kind of teaser. As it definitely is written in the style the "normal" larger books of this saga are written, it does give a taste of what those books are like. However, being placed between the first and the second book rather than before the first one, it will not be of much help to somebody who is considering this to find out whether to buy the "normal" books; it is too short to bring the reader up to speed on what has happened in book 1 and without that knowledge I think it is kind of difficult to understand what is going on. Is it necessary to read this book before continuing with book 2? No. To appreciate book 2 you should have read book 1, but this interlude is not required.

titleThe Iron Queen
authorJulie Kagawa

It's a year now, since Meghan Chase has vanished from home and a lot has happened. Meanwhile she's banished from the Nevernever, as is Ash. But lo and behold, that does not mean she's safe from the fearies. Quite to the contrast, the new, false, Iron King is after her. Has it not been enough to kill Machina, the former Iron King? As long as the false Iron King is at loose, Meghan will not be able to rest. So... But things become more complicated than imagined. On the other hand, Meghan becomes more self-confident and trusting her own powers.

If this soulds like a riddle, they you probably have not read the previous two books in The Iron Fey series and should do so before you open this one. Otherwise many things will be hard to understand because you'll lack the context of what happened before.

Also this third book is well written and will keep you entertained. It is also interesting how Julie Kagawa uses the evolution of the Iron Kingdom to show us, between the lines, how our own world evolved over time: (the old Iron King, Ferrum) industrialization by mechanical machines, driven by pistons; (the new Iron King Machina) electrification of machines replaced the older steam-based machines, but still mechanical; (the fake Iron King) computers make a lot of the electric machines obsolete. And with each of these changes we lost some amount of the old, fully natural ways (Summer Court). It will be interesting to see, whether this analogy will continue in the next book.

titleFirst Family
authorDavid Baldacci

In this 4th adventure of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, they work for the President again, or more precisely, for the First Lady. Not as Secret Service agents, what they both once used to be, but as private investigators. On a high profile and very sensible abduction case. Both, FBI and Secret Service are working his case, but the First Lady insists that King take a shot at it too.

However, this is not the only case at hand. At the same time some developments ask for Michelle's involvement and the investigation of one more crime.

The book is in typical Baldacci style: fast paced, thrilling and the reader is left wondering till the very end. Sure, some suspicions come up, but at no time are you, as the reader, sure whether your suspicions are correct or not. Also the roles of good and bad are not really so clear. Is the bad guy really so bad? Aren't the good guys possibly even worse?

There is not a real need to read the books in this series in order. Just a very thin sideline development would benefit from it, but that's not really important. Read the King/Maxwell series in any order you happen to come across it.

titleSummer's Crossing
authorJulie Kagawa

This is a snmall interlude between the real books of the Iron Fey Saga, some kind of teaser. It is also the first book in this series which is not written in the voice of Meghan, but Puck. To understand the events and the big story as a whole, it is no required reading.

This book, about a short "in-between-adventure" of Ash and Puck, is not up to the standard of the previous books in the series. It is short (a teaser), it is not in the voice of Meghan, the story does not feel as well constructed, etc. If it's a rainy Sunday and you're still waiting for the next real book in the series to be delivered to your dorstep, ok, read it. If, however, you already have the next real volume, simply skip this one and go on with the next real book.

titleThe Iron Knight
authorJulie Kagawa

This fourth book in the Iron Fey Saga is written in the eyes of Ash, the (former) Winter Prince. If this is the first book of this series, then please go back and start reading them in the correct order, which will make things clear. Starting out so far along in the whole story, you'd probably be confused and missing out a lot.

At the end of the last book, Ash has made a promise to Meghan, one she did not ask for, though. As promised, Ash sets out to find a way to set foot in the Iron Realm without being poisoned by all the iron. Puck, his arch enemy and at the same time best friend accompanies him. Together they come to places in the wyldwood they both have never been before. They gain a new new friend and protector and find a long lost love. But they also find tasks lying ahead which are tougher than what they ever experienced. Tasks and fights requiring their combined effort to barely survive. Even the invincible Ash hits his limits and finds out that he's not absolutely invincible after all, and neither so cold or able to shutout all feelings. The quest is demanding, dangerous, bringing them to their limit, and not all of them return alive.

A very good read, gradually showing another side of Ash, a transformation of the former Winter Prince and a glimpse into the past, long before Meghan came into play. Also the reasons behind the combined friendship/hate-relationship between Ash and Puck become more clear.

titleHands-On MQTT Programming with Python
authorGaston C. Hillar

There are good things about this book and not so good things. At around 200 pages, the book is not too big. It is easy to read, kept in understandable language. But at this page count, it feels overly repetitive: "We are going to see how to do X", "To do X do X.1", "To do X do X.2", "To do X, do X.3", "We have seen how to do X".

The story used in the book to go along is about monitoring and/or controlling drones, small vehicles or surfboards. But it does not require you to actually own one of the boards or devices mentioned, everything is kept in 'simulation mode' and can be run on a PC.

What I definitely like about the book is, that it shows you how to perform everything you need to follow along. The author does not assume that you know how to install a Mosquitto server or how to setup a venv environment in Python, or how to create self signed SSL certificates. He explains all these steps detailed in an easy to follow way for those readers who may not be familiar with these tasks. So to follow along, you don't really need to know much, you'll really be guided well through everything required. Before the book starts with the actual programming (after more than half the page count), it does explain MQTT and shows how it works and how to use it. So it is, in my opinion, mostly a book about MQTT and explains how this protocol works and how to use it with Python code. If your main goal is to learn about MQTT, a good choice.

If you are more interested in how to write Python code interacting with MQTT, rather than how MQTT works, then I would not really recommend this book. I am not a professional programmer, but neither is Python something new for me. Although the code presented and built step by step does work, it is, in my opinion, quite flawed. Connections to the MQTT server are stored as class variables, rather than instance variables (which I still could see as useful in certain specific situations); class methods are declared as static methods (normally used if the method does not need anything from the class) but then access things in the class by referencing the class name; a method is created which builds a non-changing dictionary from scratch each time the method is called... Again, I am not a professional programmer, but to me the code looks like a mess. Personally, I only used a few lines from it, had a look at the paho.mqtt.client help and successfully and quickly built my project in a way I think is more sensible.

You want an introduction to MQTT and/or the Mosquitto Server? This book is OK for you. You want to learn how to write Python code accessing an MQTT server? Don't use this book.

titleUnf*ck Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life
authorGary John Bishop

Broken down to its very bare essentials, what Bishop preaches in this book is two things:

  1. There are things in life which you can not change, but you are free to choose how you want to react to them.
  2. To actually change something, you have to act.

Even though I completely agree with the message of the book, I still don't like it at all. The writing style is terribly "chatty". And especially in the later chapters, Bishop starts to "yell" at the reader. There may well be people who enjoy this kind of writing or even need it to get the message through. But for me, this style is OK for a discussion among friends having a drink, not for a book which is supposed to help people improve their life.

titleHeaven is for Real
authorTodd Burpo

At the age of only three years, Colton Burpo has a near-death experience, during which he leaves his body and goes to heaven. His parents don't know their son was this close to dying. It's only after a couple of months, when Colton makes a casual comment about angels singing to him at the hospital, that his Dad and Mom start to realize not only how close to death he has been, but also that he obviously really has been to heaven and has seen God, because he knows things and people which would otherwise be impossible for him to know.

titlegit commit murder
authorMichael Warren Lucas

Michael Warren Lucas certainly does know a thing or two (probably even three) about the inner workings of computer geeks (and unix like systems). Being one of those people myself, it was very interesting to read a crime story set at a computer conference, complete with correct details as to how people at such a conference think and act and generally do things.

Dale Whitehead is a technically very savvy administrator, but quite the introvert. He is happy, content and very capable when he can direct his thoughts towards a screen and the world behind it, but actually talking to and interacting with people in meatspace can be somewhat of a challenge. Dale travels to Ottawa to give a talk at the BSD North. It's not only his first time to present at such a big event, it's his very first time at any non-local event. Upon arriving, he learns that he's to share rooms with somebody. Needing to interact with his roommate at least a bit out of politeness is already bad enough, but even worse, when the conference starts the next morning his roommate drops dead in front of everyone...

titleNur 15 Sekunden
authorKate Pepper

Darcy ist mit ihrem sohn einige zeit nach dem tod ihres mannes nach New York gezogen und hat ein neues Leben angefangen. Allerdings hat sie nicht damit gerechnet dass sie ein stalking-opfer werden würde. Was als ganz harmloses, scheinbar zufälliges ereignis beginnt, macht ihr rasch das leben zur hölle.

Das buch ist gut geschrieben, liest sich flüssig und hat mehrere ebenen, in denen sich die hauptfigur bewegt. Es ist aber vielleicht nicht geeignet für ängstlicher charactere, welche auch ohne das buch schon hinter jeder ecke einen mörder oder etwas anderes schreckliches vermuten.

titleIron's Prophecy
authorJulie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has gotten used to her new position as the Queen of the Iron Realm. Ash, too, has settled in his new life as Meghan's husband and knight. They have not seen either Puck, nor Grimalkin since Ash came to the Iron Realm. But their friends stand at Meghan's side again, when a prophecy lures her out to strange places in the wyldwood.

This is one of the short tales again in-between the main stories. Nothing really very important is happening and it also does not contain any major adventure or challenge. Like the other short novellas, it serves more like a (not so terribly tasty) appetizer and bridge from the previous book in the series to the following one.

titleThe Lost Prince
authorJulie Kagawa

Ethan Chase, the little brother of Meghan, who has become the Iron Queen, is now much older than in the adventures of Meghan. He still has the gift (or curse?) of being able to see the fey, which has influenced much of his life. Meghan has not visited her family for many years and Ethan feels somewhat betrayed by her. Even though he does have a way to get into touch with his Queen sister if there should be an emergency, Ethan is determined to master his life and problems by himself. He has done so for many years. But when a new kind of fey start to appear, a kind nobody has ever seen before, not even the common fey themselves, things start to become more difficult. Ethan finally has no other way than to do what he intended never to do. And he finds out some things which he was not supposed to discover.

This is the fifth book in the Iron Fey Saga. As the previous ones, it is full of magic, playing in much the same places, building on the previous books in this series. If you haven't read books 1-4 of this saga, many things in this book will not make much sense. So if you haven't read the previous books, go and read them first. Yet, this book is also different from the former ones. Not only is it written from the view of Ethan and playing several years after the last story, but it also somewhat feels like a new series. The heroes of books 1-4 also play a role in this fifth one, but only an outsider role. They are no longer the main figures, no longer the heroes.

Personally I think what Julie Kagawa does here is a fragile endeavour. She takes a very good series, replaces the main figures with new ones and basically builds a new series. But you still need to know the old series to understand the new one. This could go both ways. It might work out and keep the fans reading, possibly bring new readers to the "old" series because they want to understand this new one. On the other hand, readers of books 1-4 which have attached to Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grimalkin, might not like Ethan, Keirran, Kenzie and Annwyl as much. For me this book was still worth reading and fun, but slightly less so than the previous ones.

Oh, and by the way, if you haven't read "Iron's Prophecy" yet, the short story going between "The Iron Knight" and "The Lost Prince", then don't read it. "Iron's Prophecy" is no required reading for following the story, but it does have some information which spoils the fun of reading "The Lost Prince".

titlePale Demon
authorKim Harrison

Book number 9 in the Hollows series. If you haven't read the preceding books, then go and read them first; there are a number of back references and the story in this book generally assumes you know what has happened before.

Rachel has been shunned, but a deal was made to remove her shunning at a public hearing if she apologizes for having used black magic. Rachel would not be Rachel if getting to the west coast was easy, safe and without major problems. And as always, the whole load of her problems is not decreasing but increasing.

What happens in this book gives, I believe, the whole story a new direction for the future. Things, which up to now have been a given, get somewhat shaky and uncertain. The whole setup, which was used in books 1-9, could possibly change in the future; at least the ground is laid out for changes.

One chapter in the middle of the book, when Rachel and her companions are attacked by a dark force, are rather bloody. That scene feels much like right out of a horror movie; a little overdone. Other than that, you get what you learnt to expect after having read eight of these books already. Kim Harrison is one of the few authors which succeeds to develop an ever evolving story over a larger number of books without getting boring, too predictable or too repetitive.

authorJames Patterson

Private is a top notch private investigation enterprise. The best on staff, the wealthy and the rich on the client list. It's kind of busy at Private, as they are working several urgent cases at once.

The people in the story work on several investigations at once and the book does no deep dive into any of them; they all are presented too shallow. And it's not only the number of parallel cases being worked on, it's also other sidelines which distract: the romances of Jack Morgan, his differences with his brother, his past, some Mafia business. Certainly these ideas could all be built up into individual interesting stories of a series, but trying to fit it all into a single book of just under 500 pages simply does not give any of the ideas enough room. As a result, the story feels crowded and rushed and the main characters are too good and efficient, so they can solve everything before running out of those almost 500 pages.

titleThe Thomas Berryman Number
authorJames Patterson

The book is written in the voice of Ochs Jones, a newspaper journalist who covered the shooting of Jimmie Lee Horn. Jimmie Horn is, or better was, a black man being mayor and running for governor. Thoroughly investigating the shooting and the people involved, Ochs (supposedly) writes a book about it. It's as much the story of the shooting, as it is the story of collecting the information for the book, as it is the story of the assassin Thomas Berryman, as it is the story of Ochs Jones. Sounds complicated? Then it sounds right. The story jumps back and forth in time, halfway back again, fast forward, switches between Ochs Jones, Thomas Berryman, Jimmie Horn and a number of other people. It is confusing and hard to read, feels like bits and badly matching pieces wildly mixed together in an annoying order.

You definitely won't miss anything by not reading this book. There are tons of better books to pick up.

titleA Long Night in Paris
authorDov Alfon

An Israeli tech professional vanishes at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Has he been abducted? Murdered? Simply taken the chance to disappear? For Commissaire Léger from the French police, it is not clear, but it does become clear that this is not a simple case when an Israeli Intelligence officer joins the investigation and Chinese assassins, having been picked up by a surveillance camera, are assassinated themselves.

The book is very captivating. It often switches between Paris, Israel. Half of the story plays in Paris, half of it, at the same time, in Israel. The chapters are short and each chapter always takes place at one of the locations, so the constant switching back and forth is no problem and easy to follow. Actually, the bigger story in this book is less about what happens in Paris, but more about what is, and was, going on inside of Israeli Intelligence.

With "A Long Night in Paris" Alfon has published a good book which keeps you reading and reading. It is also refreshing to have a female main figure in the story who is there not for her looks (which are supposed to be well above average), but for her brains and boldness.

titleDer Mann, der die Wörter liebte
authorSimon Winchester

Simon Winchester erzählt, wie der Oxford English Dictionary entstanden ist und biographiert dabei zwei der in diesem zusammenhang wichtigsten männer: James Murray und W.C. Minor. Einer von beiden sitzt mehr als die hälfte seiner lebenszeit in einer irrenanstalt, was ihn nicht daran hindert, einer der wichtigsten beitragslieferanten für dieses meisterwerk eines wörterbuches zu werden.

Wer biographien vor allem als eine eher langweilige aneinanderreihung von fakten kennt, wird dieses buch lieben. Winchester versteht es bestens, die gegebenheiten so zu erzählen, dass sie interessant und spannend zu lesen sind. Sicherlich hilft dabei die tatsache, dass nicht das leben nur einer person beschrieben wird, sondern die entstehungsgeschichte eines lexikographischen meisterwerkes, verknüpft mit der geschichte zweier besonderer menschen. Dabei kommt auch die art und weise nicht zu kurz, wie man früher an die erstellung eines solchen immensen nachschlagewerkes herangegangen ist. Oder was für versuche es vorher schon gegeben hat.

Spannende und gleichzeitig lehrreiche lektüre.

titleIron Traitor
authorJulie Kagawa

You do know the Iron Fey Saga, right? You have read the first five books in the series, right? If not, then go and read the first five books before starting with this one. Without knowing what has happened before, it would be very hard to figure out what happens and why.

The "old" heros, Puck, Ash, Grimalkin and Meghan, are there, but only play minor roles. All the action is really centered around Ethan, Kenzie and Keirran.

This book too, is told in the voice of Meghan's brother Ethan. It's been only a week since Ethan and Kenzie returned from the Nevernever and no dust has yet settled over that. But one of their new friends is desperately looking for help. They can hardly refuse such a plea, can they? And you can bet they get into way more trouble than they care for. Plus some of their actions trigger huge changes in the Nevernever.

As usually, Julie Kagawa writes in a very captivating way. Lots of action. Sometimes almost too many things happening. And the end is very abrupt, not like a real end of a book, but much more like the end of one part of a TV stories, leaving more questions open than it gives answers, so you basically need to continue with the next part.

titleIron Warrior
authorJulie Kagawa

If you don't know Meghan, Keirran, Ethan and all the others already, then you are starting this story from the wrong end. This is the seventh and last book in the Iron Fey Saga and you definitely want to have read the previous six books before this one, otherwise you'll have a very hard time trying to figure out what is happening and why.

The previous book didn't have a real end, just a very bad thing happening on the last pages, which kept the reader in limbo. So it comes as no surprise that this book has no real beginning and starts off just as if it was the next page beyond the back-cover of book six. This book too, is written in the voice of Ethan and the 'new' heroes are the main players, with the heroes from the start of the series playing their roles, but keeping to the sidelines.

Keirran has completely lost it. He is not even a shadow of his former self anymore and has become a real threat to the courts. His former friends, however, do not accept his complete change of heart and set out, however impossible it may seem, to bring him to his senses. They do so at great risk and they find themselves in some really scary situations. Possible death is lurking at every corner and they have to venture to where no human and not many Fey have gone before.

Julie Kagawa again does a very good job of telling a captivating story full of adventures. It does get darker and darker, but, without spilling the beans, let me tell you the end of the whole series is not so hopeless and gloomy as you might fear, even though there are some grave sacrifices to be made.

titleThe Twelve
authorStuart Neville

Gerry Fegan did his time. Twelve years. Twelve years in prison for killing twelve people in his time as a killer for the IRA. But his past has taken a toll on Gerry and Gerry has taken to the bottle. His way of droning out the shadows of his past, the shadows his victims haunting him. But what if there was a way to get rid of these shadows, rather than unsuccessfully trying to ignore them or drown them in alcohol? Give them what they demand, satisfy their lust for revenge, free them of their haunting and be freed of their haunting?

This well written story shows a lot of the remorse Gerry Fegan feels and his non-cold-blooded side. It pictures him more as a victim of his time than a murderer and terrorist. But at the same time it is also a story which is built very much around killing. And revenge. Killing in the past, which finally leads to killing in the present.

Does it have a happy end? It does have an end, a rather predictable one. Happy or unhappy? I don't know, depends on what you consider to be a happy end.

titleThe Outcast
authorSadie Jones

The book begins with the release of young Lewis Aldridge from prison and then goes back to his childhood, describes how he ended up in prison and continues with what happened when he got back.

Lewis' mother died when we was a young boy. He was the only one to witness what happened. Let mostly alone with his grief he turned into himself, didn't get along with others too well. The older he got, the worse it got. It is a very long way for Lewis to realize that he is not the only one in the world who is not perfect.

The story draws a rather psychological picture of not only a boy who has to cope with a bitter loss and feels utterly lost because of it, but also of his environment; his father, his stepmother, some of his friends, some of the important people in the village. It is a dark story, full of unhappiness. Time and again one paragraph ends in one time and the next continues in a different time without being obvious at first. Time and again you wish you could help the people in this story. But mostly they wouldn't even want to accept any help. This definitely is not a bright story where the protagonist(s) are strong and successfully and glamorously fight, besiege and conquer all the evil and bad around them, but much more a statement of how much injustice around us is just silently ignored and concealed out of shame.

titleA perfect blood
authorKim Harrison

Book number 10 in the Hollows series. If you haven't read the preceding books, then go and read them first; the story in this book assumes you know what has happened before. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, then you'll often not know why people behave like this, who it is they are talking about etc. Don't worry, the whole series, including this book, is very enthralling (or maybe I should rather say bewitching :-), so you'll fly through the books in no time.

Rachel has finally acknowledged that she's not a normal witch. And she willingly and physically limited the magic she can do, strictly sticking to earth magic, stirring charms in her pots. This works well until she gets involved in a hunt done by the IS. It's "only" humans they are after, but these humans are not the usual, rather harmless kind. Rachel is even less sure about the usual categorization of black, gray and white: daemon, inderlander and human. Humans obviously can be just as bad as daemons, and similarly dangerous.

Harrison includes an additional chapter at the end of the book. It is a copy of chapter nineteen, but written in the voice of Trent. As Harrison mentions, she wondered what it would be like to tell the story in a third person view, instead of the first person view of Rachel. I think the first person approach she has settled for the series does work better (of after 10 books I'm just much more used to it?).

Overview of all Books

authorSimon Winchester

If schoolbooks were written the way Simon Winchester writes his books, history and other boring subjects would actually be fun. Winchester makes things personal. For example: it is not simply "some of the more concerned people, who seek to go to higher ground for better safety", but it is "Mrs. Beyerinck, the wife of the Dutch contrôleur in Ketimbang, who makes the strange request to her husband that the family not go home on their return from the market, but instead make right away for their rented holiday cottage in a tiny village in the hills".

Of course, the book describes what happened in the summer of 1883, when the volcano Krakatoa ferociously blew apart and completely vanished. However, it is not only the event itself, the how and what, but also why this happened and how it affected not only the environment, but also the people, why and how it changed science, what effects this disaster potentially had on politics and religion... Some of the effects were not even local, but in other parts of the world. To understand some of the effects, it is important to understand the situation before this dramatic eruption and how this situation came to be, which is presented as well. Winchester goes into botanics, plate tectonics, trade, Dutch colonization, and more; all the time making the presented information approachable and interesting to read.

titleOpenSSL Cookbook
authorIvan Ristić

This is a small book and definitely does not cover all the ins and outs of openssl. It is not the intention of this book. What this book does, and does pretty well, is to teach the basics a sysadmin might need to know about openssl and SSL/TLS. Chapter 1 contains a nice step-by-step guide if you want to create certificates, say for your webserver, or even for building your own very simple PKI. It also gives recommendations on selecting cipher suites and discusses some performance considerations. Chapter 2 shows how to use openssl to test and verify various SSL/TLS aspects for your servers. Appendix A is equally informative and gives you real recommendations for working out a good the transport layer security concept you might need. It shows which ciphers to use and which to avoid, how to prefer stronger encryption standards for clients which support it, while still allowing older clients to connect and also performance is taken into consideration.

All in all, Ristić offers a very valuable guide for anybody who occasionally has to deal with SSL/TLS certificates. The guide is short enough to easily find what you need and even to read everything in a relatively short time. At the same time it is comprehensive enough to be useful in many situations.

A guide like this would have been helpful way back in the days when I designed a simple PKI for an enterprise. And I can recommend it to anybody who needs to create certificate or certificate sign requests on the command line without any special tools.

titleI ♥ Logs
authorJay Kreps

How you perceive this book probably depends on what you consider to be a 'log'. As a guy having spent the last 7 years running a company-wide log-analysis system, I find the notion of 'log' in this book rather narrow-minded. What Kreps writes about clearly is 'transaction logs' and 'message queues'. So unless this is exactly what you are looking for, it is probably not the book you're interested in. It also clearly shines through that Kreps is a big fan of Kafka.

Even though the author claims to have lots of experience with designing systems around (transaction) logs at LinkedIn, he never gives any technical advice or hard facts on how to interconnect various systems, not even on how to structure the messages you are passing between the systems. Working more than 25 years in IT building various company-wide systems and services myself, I have read dozens of books published by O'Reilly and have come to appreciate this publisher for their high quality technical books. This book definitely does not even come close to the standard I have come to expect from O'Reilly. I ♥ Logs is more suited to a blog post or one of the cheap write-ups found with some other publishers.

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Page last modified on 2020-Jan-26 11:32 GMT