books I read 2018

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 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

Page last modified on 2017-Dec-17 12:27 GMT