books I read 2010

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

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

Page last modified on 2009-Dec-27 12:49 GMT