books I read 2014

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

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

Page last modified on 2013-Dec-28 15:33 GMT