books I read 2016

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 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

Page last modified on 2016-Jan-03 20:48 GMT