books I read 2019

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

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.

Overview of all Books

Page last modified on 2019-Feb-03 14:26 GMT