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Reading List

An Echo of Things to Come - James Islington
An Echo of Things to Come
James Islington
2018-07-17

Somehow even better than the first book. I can't wait for the final book to be released.

The Shadow of What Was Lost - James Islington
The Shadow of What Was Lost
James Islington
2018-07-07

This has to be the best fantasy book I've read for a long time. I love to have found an Aussie fantasy author that is really great. The plot, the characters, the world building, all the times when I thought there'd be a horrible cliche and then there wasn't. This book really has it all.

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch
The Republic of Thieves
Scott Lynch
2018-05-15

Absolutely terrible ending. The reveal is just so dumb. Aside from the fact that the author hasn't published since 2013, and therefore is unlikely to ever(???) publish again; I will definitely not be reading any further books in the series.

Red Seas Under Red Skies - Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies
Scott Lynch
2018-04-15

Sequel to 'Lies of Locke Lamora'. Pretty much the same review.

Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
Lies of Locke Lamora
Scott Lynch
2018-04-15

Pretty good fantasy/heist novel. The world building is second to none.

Contest - Matthew Reilly
Contest
Matthew Reilly
2018-03-30

'Shitty bookclub' for March. Not as terrible as you might think. None of the story or motivations made any sense, most of the aliens were trite and contrived, and the action scenes were boring.

Range of Ghosts - Elizabeth Bear
Range of Ghosts
Elizabeth Bear
2018-03-15

Starts off good. Interesting story, and the writing is great. Quickly becomes tedious. Lots of journeying from here-to-there and uninteresting characters. I won't be reading the remaining books.

Sweet Valley High: Secrets - Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley High: Secrets
Francine Pascal
2018-02-28

'Shitty bookclub' book for February. See above.

Sweet Valley High: Double Love - Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley High: Double Love
Francine Pascal
2018-02-24

'Shitty bookclub' book for February. Well and truly one of the whitest books I've ever read. I'm pretty sure that a characters cries on average once every other page.

Iron Gold - Pierce Brown
Iron Gold
Pierce Brown
2018-02-15

Way different feel than the previous trilogy. I really like that Darrow became a bad guy and really demonstrated he has flaws.

There's still quite a lot of exposition and handholding, but on the whole it's so much darker and gritter than the last books. I'm keen to see where the series goes.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight - Mararet Weis and Tracy Hickman
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Mararet Weis and Tracy Hickman
2018-01-15

First book in 'shitty bookclub'. So bad. Reads like a D&D campaign, which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise. I remember them being so much more "adult" when I was younger.

Persepolis Rising - James S. CCorey
Persepolis Rising
James S. CCorey
2018-01-15

Ends on a cliffhanger, and not as interesting as the previous few. Duarte is a shit bad guy.

Oathbringer - Brandon Sanderson
Oathbringer
Brandon Sanderson
2017-12-29

Much better than the second book. Less filler, just enough world building, and a few good twists.

The Stone Sky - N. K. Jemisin
The Stone Sky
N. K. Jemisin
2017-10-30

Excellent ending to the series.

The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch
The Hanging Tree
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-09-30

Finally a reveal! Can't wait for the next book.

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch
Foxglove Summer
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-09-20

Bit of a filler book. No real advancement of the bigger storyline, but still good overall. Hopeful that the latest novel is better.

Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch
Broken Homes
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-09-11

See above. Series continues to be good.

Whispers Underground - Ben Aaronovitch
Whispers Underground
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-09-03

See above. Series continues to be good.

Moons Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch
Moons Over Soho
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-08-27

As good as the first. The bigger mystery is interesting, and the fact that the main character isn't some super prodigy is encouraging.

Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London
Ben Aaronovitch
2017-08-21

Harry Potter meets Hot Fuzz. Fun read, though a bit scattered.

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia - David Hunt
Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
David Hunt
2017-07-31

Very similar to the "Rum, Rebels and Ratbags" podcast series. Because of that, I didn't really learn much new. Funny enough, in a Bill-Bryson-y sort of way. Looking forward to the next one.

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb
Assassin's Quest
Robin Hobb
2017-07-16

So. Much. Filler. Great ending to the series, though. Happily eschews either a melancholy or save-the-princess ending.

So much filler.

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb
Royal Assassin
Robin Hobb
2017-07-10

Much more gripping and action-packed than the first book. Far too much filler for me. Lots of moving from one location to another location and not much happenning in between.

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
2017-06-30

Finally got around the reading this, despite its popularity. Extremely well written, unsurprisingly. Still very sad, and doesn't offer much hope. I suspect it was written for a white audience that's already aware of its message.

Python for Data Analysis - Wes McKinney
Python for Data Analysis
Wes McKinney
2017-06-24

Intro to numpy/pandas. Learned a few things, but not as useful as I'd hoped.

The Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
The Assassin's Apprentice
Robin Hobb
2017-06-11

Lovely writing, though a bit slow to grab my attention. Great characters, with complex motivations, and just enough mystery.

Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson
Words of Radiance
Brandon Sanderson
2017-05-28

So much boring filler, but the action and overall story are enough to keep it moving forward. I can't believe the third book is going to be even longer.

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson
2017-05-21

The start is a bit rocky. Really annoyed to find out that the books are split into two parts each (book one is actually two physical books!?).

The characters have really started to grow on me. The world is interesting, and the magic/mysticism is present but not the focus of the storytelling.

Can't stand the interludes. Can't stand the flashbacks.

Babylon's Ashes - James S. A. Corey
Babylon's Ashes
James S. A. Corey
2017-05-14

Straying perilously close to boring-middle-book territory, but the ending and political intrigue are enough to carry it. I shouldn't have started a series that's not concluded. The wait for the remaining books is going to be painful.

Nemesis Gate - James S. A. Corey
Nemesis Gate
James S. A. Corey
2017-05-01

Series continues to get better.

Cibola Burn - James S. A. Corey
Cibola Burn
James S. A. Corey
2017-04-10

Action is starting to get a bit contrived, but I'm too deep on the series now to stop. At least ghost-Miller is no more.

Abaddon's Gate - James S. A. Corey
Abaddon's Gate
James S. A. Corey
2017-04-01

Series continues to get better.

Caliban's War - James S. A. Corey
Caliban's War
James S. A. Corey
2017-03-21

Much better than the first book. Way less cheesy, much more interesting story telling. I'm back into the series.

Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman
Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman
2017-03-19

Really well written and cleverly laid out. Good short read, and with some unexpectadly fun stories.

Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey
Leviathan Wakes
James S. A. Corey
2017-03-02

Good, but not particularly fantastic. Much more interesting than the book, but the plot moves along almost too fast. The main characters are paper thin, and largely unlikeable.

The sci-fi component is interesting, though. Good world building.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
2017-02-15

Terrible book. All the worst things about the social sciences and pop science rolled into a repetitive package.

Morning Star - Pierce Brown
Morning Star
Pierce Brown
2017-01-31

Solid ending to the series. Drawn out at the beginning, but eventually goes back to the style of the first book; action and plotting.

The ending was "bittersweet" enough that the whole story didn't feel tied together with a bow. Definitely the best sci-fi I've read in awhile. Here's hoping for a television adaptation.

Golden Son - Pierce Brown
Golden Son
Pierce Brown
2017-01-27

Way too many rollercoasters throughout the book and not enough, proper, character development. In the second book of the series, Brown expands the scope of the battle to the solar system but the relationships between characters continues to defy reasoning.

While Darrow's powers of invincibility in Red Rising bordered on parody, the double-double-double-double crossings going on throughout the story of Golden Son became tiresome.

Red Rising - Pierce Brown
Red Rising
Pierce Brown
2017-01-22

Riveting in the style of Hunger Games, but without as much ridiculous teenage angst. One of the best sci-fi books I've read in the last several years.

Both the world building, and the science are expanded on just enough to give the world some mystery. The characters, by and large, make rational decisions and have really human problems. Can't wait to finish the rest of the series.

The Fate of the Tearling - Erika Johansen
The Fate of the Tearling
Erika Johansen
2017-01-19

Still a fun, easy, read. The ending was really disappointing.

The Invasion of the Tearling - Erika Johansen
The Invasion of the Tearling
Erika Johansen
2017-01-15

Much better than the first book. Couldn't put it down. Dark and confusing towards the second half.

The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen
The Queen of the Tearling
Erika Johansen
2017-01-13

Fun, easy reading with a clever mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Traditional story where everything goes just as necessary for the " good guys ". Read it pretty quick, so it can't have been that bad.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger - Marc Levinson
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
Marc Levinson
2017-01-11

Lots of small interesting bits tied together with tedium. Worth finishing, but the core message was repeated way too often.

The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson
2016-12-22

A re-read after many years. Remains as I remember: a brilliant first half, and a totally uninspired ending.

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson
2016-12-11

A re-read after many years. Absolutely fascinating how much Neal got right, but also the things that he missed. Hopefully not a prescient view of the future of governance.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits - David Wong
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits
David Wong
2016-11-12

Terrible, nonsensicle, plot. Stupid characters. None of the humour of David's previous books makes it through. Just a terrible book from start to finish.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging - Sebastian Junger
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Sebastian Junger
2016-11-11

Less focus on the anthropology and psychology than I would have expected. Way too much time discussing communal treatment of PTSD, and PTSD in general. Generally disappointing.

The Causal Angel - Hannu Rajaniemi
The Causal Angel
Hannu Rajaniemi
2016-11-08

Best book of the series, and I remain impressed that all the loose ends managed to get tied up. I love the different descriptions between the Zoku and the Sobernost.

Perfect ending. Can't wait for more from Rajaniemi.

The Call of the Wild - Jack London
The Call of the Wild
Jack London
2016-11-06

After many years, reading a London story feels like returning home. The vibrancy and vivid detail that he uses to describe the settings is gripping.

Still a book that inspires me.

The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman
2016-11-04

So much exposition! This book has so many pointless storylines that could have been completely omitted without affecting the outcome.

The ending of the series was excellent, and didn't fall into the happy-ever-after trope that one might think.

The romance is just as cringe-worthy as real, actual, adolescent romance.

The Fractal Prince - Hannu Rajaniemi
The Fractal Prince
Hannu Rajaniemi
2016-11-03

Better than the first book, though the gap between reading them made the jargon often confusing. The play on " Arabian Nights " was fun, but ultimately the most unsatisfying part of the book.

The series really strikes me as, unfortunately, needing a second read to fully appreciate all that's going on.

The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife
Philip Pullman
2016-10-29

Same as The Golden Compass.

The Obelisk Gate - N. K. Jemisin
The Obelisk Gate
N. K. Jemisin
2016-10-08

Much slower than the first book, but the story progresses and the world building never feels overbearing. Ultimately the story was only enough to whet my appetite for the third book, and I was left unsatisfied.

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass
Philip Pullman
2016-10-04

Haven't read this for a decade. Strong beginning and middle, and a very weak ending. Excellent audio book production.

The Fifth Season - N. K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season
N. K. Jemisin
2016-10-01

Finally! Some original fantasy that doesn't involve thousands of pages of world-building snoozefests. More than anything the series reminds me of the Avatar series; part magic, part coming of age, and part political intrigue and mystery. Weaving all three plots together was a satisfying, and mostly unexpected, twist.

Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival - Peter Stark
Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
Peter Stark
2016-09-28

The best adventure book I've read in ages, with the exception of an ending that fizzles out (one can hardly blame the author for the history, but the ending still felt rather abrupt).

The accounts of interaction with Native Americans/First Nations is deepling interesting, as was imagining the wearwithall that must have been required to survive either the overland trek or the sea voyage.

The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett
The Last Continent
Terry Pratchett
2016-09-10

More Pratchett. Forgettable. The Australian humour was fun at first, but quickly gets old.

The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi
The Quantum Thief
Hannu Rajaniemi
2016-08-20

Gibsonian sci-fi. Lots of jargon and slang. I loved the weapons concepts, and the "twist" at the end was unexpected. I'm not sure I'm inspired to read the remaining books in the trilogy, but I should follow up with more from the author.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth
2016-08-05

The underlying message of; "hard work and perserverence are the biggest predictors of success" is something that ultimately is difficult to argue with.

The book fails to address the difference between extreme performers, do some of them really just outwork the others? The interlude about smarter, intentional practice, was particularly infuriating since the unstated premise is that knowing how to do so isn't a problem in its own right.

Eventually, the number of anecdata and interviews with successful individuals becomes tiresome. The core take away was the goal setting approach that Duckworth advocates for — Maintain high-level goals and validate them with mid-level goals.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson
The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America
Erik Larson
2016-07-31

Beautiful writing, and a very interesting parallel set of stories. The beginning of the fair thread, in particular, was incredibly interesting.

Even the murder "mystery" was excellent, though it certainly made me grateful for modern policing.

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Carribean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down - Colin Woodard
The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Carribean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down
Colin Woodard
2016-07-21

For the life of my I cannot figure out why this book got such rave reviews. I could not imagine a more boring book about pirates.

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
2016-06-27

It took over a year to finish, but finally happened. One of the saddest and most uncomfortable things I've ever read. Glory, honour, pride are irrelevant. The war of the anyman is pointless trauma and meaningless sacrifice. Where Catch-22 treated it with humour, Remarque treats it with brutal realism.

Off to Be the Wizard - Scott Meyer
Off to Be the Wizard
Scott Meyer
2016-06-25

Lots of "nerdy" pop culture references that don't really click with me. Quick and easy read, though. Interesting concept, but the hero's journey and the bad guy really felt forced.

Jingo - Terry Pratchett
Jingo
Terry Pratchett
2016-03-30

Too much binging on Pratchett at this point, I think. Not really a fan of this one. Didn't feel as magical or interesting as the first books in the watch thread.

Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett
Feet of Clay
Terry Pratchett
2016-03-25

The Watch thread definitely coming into it's own. Just as good as the last (better?) and will keep me going.

Men at Arms - Terry Pratchett
Men at Arms
Terry Pratchett
2016-03-25

Phonetic spelling got much better in this book, and the political overtones (herein: racism/discrimination) come to the forefront. The characters continue to flesh themselves out, both Vimes and Carrot being the most interesting.

Better than the first, definitely carrying on with the Watch thread. How had I not read Pratchett before? I really see how it's classic.

Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett
Guards! Guards!
Terry Pratchett
2016-02-28

Clever, and funny. Fantastic writing. The phonentic spelling got tedius, and led to a lot of confusion. The lack of chapters and constant switching of settings was hard to follow in an e-book where the separation wasn't clear enough.

Good enough to keep me reading the Discoworld series for at least a few more books in the night's watch thread.

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman - Jon Krakauer
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
Jon Krakauer
2016-02-20

As detailed and well written as most Krakauer, but lacking in focus. Lots of meandering around the pschye of the nation post-9/11 and of the Bush administrations criminality.

The way the army handled Tillman's death was, of course, literally criminal. However, I struggled to find meaning in searching out his real cause of death. After all, he was killed — like so many others — in an unjust war, in a foreign land, following orders he didn't believe in. No matter what the reason, he remains dead.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship - Robert Kurson
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
Robert Kurson
2016-02-08

At times, eye-rolling-ly contrived. The characters portrayed in the book are far too larger than life to be accurately represented. Much of the book felt like padding to get to page-count. The best bits were about the history of pirates, but they were few and far between.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America - Jill Leovy
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
Jill Leovy
2016-01-26

Fascinating look at homicide in under-represented communities of South L.A. Frustratingly long winded at times, though the main story thread was gripping. One of the most thought provoking theses is that over-policing blacks (and other poor/minorities) for minor crimes, while simultaneously under-policing for serious crimes such as murder is partially what led to fear and hatred of the LAPD amongst these communities.

The epilogue seemed divorced from the narrative of the rest of the book. That is to say, murder rates are dropping precipitously in South L.A. even without drastic change in policy. This is ascribed to better social security and health care, but that seems too simple to me.

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
2016-01-11

While the convergent storylines were clever, and didn't feel forced or unnatural as often happens, they also were ultimately banal and predictable. The post-apocolypse society wasn't fleshed out or particularly believable either.

The rest of the novel was a bore. Rich people doing rich people things. Oh no.

The Sellout: A Novel - Paul Beatty
The Sellout: A Novel
Paul Beatty
2015-12-31

Less satire and more memoir than expected. The navel gazing was a bit much at times.

The beginning set a brilliant tone, but the ending left something to be desired. Nevertheless, the best book on race that I've read in a long while.

One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway - Asne Seierstad (Author), Sarah Death (Translator)
One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway
Asne Seierstad (Author), Sarah Death (Translator)
2015-12-22

A humanising look at one of the right-wing monsters of the post-9/11 era. Breivik's life is explored from beginning to end, engagingly written and darkly fascinating.

One of the most interesting books of the year, to be sure. One of the most interesting things to take away from this is how little the extreme right's message has changed over the years - Women are objects, brown people are fine as long as they don't mix with whites or " white culture ", men should be men and other toxic masculinity tropes.

I can't help but be left wondering how much impact the slaughter of so many soon-to-be politicos has had on Norway's future. Has Breivik's attack had a similar effect as Yitzhak Rabin's assassination did in Israel?

Definitely one to recommend.

Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig - Mark Essig
Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig
Mark Essig
2015-12-20

Some really interesting history about the pig, especially the role it played in westward expansion and exploration. By the end, though, the book was dragging on and had gotten quite repetitive.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt
Michael Lewis
2015-12-15

Interesting view from some Wall Street insiders about how technology has changed trading in the modern era.

I was unimpressed with much of the description of technologists and their ethics, capabilities and responsibilities. Describing shipping proprietary code owned by your employer offsite against both criminal law and contractual obligations as something many Wall Street techies did can be viewed either as a gross misunderstanding or a depressing view into vocational ethics.

The total lack of input from the side of HFT throughout the book is a bit deafening, especially since the deeper an understanding Brad Katsuyama and IEX get of HFT firms, the more they realise that the bigger banks are the ones enabling many of the more complicated trading strategies that favour HFT. Despite this, HFT remains the villain throughout.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
Jonas Jonasson
2015-11-16

Beautiful novel. I loved all of the characters and the writing was superb. The comedy style reminded me of the style in Catch-22, though certainly less dark towards the end. The book drags on a bit towards the end, but ultimately wraps itself up nicely. Will be looking at more books by Jonasson.

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World - Edward Dolnick
The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World
Edward Dolnick
2015-11-13

Amazing! I've never been so engaged with a book about the history of mathematics. Dolnick spreads the context of the age of discovery over every one of the unique personalities involved. From Kepler & Brahe to Newton & Leibniz, the transition from the classical world to the modern one is told in fascinating detail.

Not only does Dolnick describe the how and why, but delves deeply into their relationships and interactions. Has there ever been a group so vain and so righteous in that vanity than the early Royal Society?

Freedom (TM) - Daniel Suarez
Freedom (TM)
Daniel Suarez
2015-11-09

A much more politically-centric continuation of the first book. Largely I felt that Suarez didn't tackle the hard questions, leaving the reader to suspend a substantial amount of disbelief to arrive at the distributed utopia created by a machine AI gone wild.

Ultimately I felt that the augmented reality & gamification ideas were fun, but derivative.

The series as a whole was fun, and engaging enough, but ultimately lacked substance.

Daemon - Daniel Suarez
Daemon
Daniel Suarez
2015-11-07

Surprising and twisting thriller. The book starts off as your standard who-done-it thriller with a hard-boiled detective. Eventually it departs from that and turns into more of a sci-fi-cum-political story in the vein of Doctorow.

Some sections drag on, and the " Bad Guys " seem unflinchingly successful or foiled only by a new technological (literal) Deus Ex Machina.

Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
Altered Carbon
Richard Morgan
2015-10-31

Film noír cyber punk, what's not to like? Slightly longer than I thought necessary, and more than a little formulaic, nevertheless "-" a guilty pleasure.

The premise of digitised humans, where the limiting factor is cost, paints a world where only the rich can be both immortal and all powerful.

The sex scenes were written for 14 year olds, and the hand to hand combat references to karate and other Japanesisms were eye-roll inducing. The who-done-it and raw grit of the story, while predictable, did the genre justice in the future-tech world.

One Bullet Away: The making of a US Marine Officer - Nathaniel Fick
One Bullet Away: The making of a US Marine Officer
Nathaniel Fick
2015-10-27

A thought provoking foray into the pleasures and sorrows of the military. Fick, as an ivy-league liberal, is convinced by the ROTC recruiter to try a 10-week summer intro to the Marines (pre-September 11th). In this he gets the itch of comraderie and challenge.

One quote from the recruiter, in response to a comment from a student about how having ROTC on campus went against the morals of the school (paraphrased) "- It's good that the ROTC is on campus because the university needs to liberalize the military"

The middle of the book is largely a recounting of the 2002 invasion of Iraq from the perspective of a ground soldier, and from a bloodthirsty American public. Ultimately I found this part of the book too procedural, and found my interest waning.

As the book progresses towards the end, Fick becomes more and more conservative. By the end (once he's finished his 4-year stint) he's alienated his friends and family. They're unable to understand his perspective, and he theirs.

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage - Bill Bryson
Shakespeare: The World as a Stage
Bill Bryson
2015-10-26

Typical Bill Bryson wit can't rescue a topic that is relatively devoid of factual information. The book can basically be summarized as "- We don't know much".

I appreciate that the book did a good job of addressing some of the more pernicious of Shakespearean myths (he was multiple persons, he was Lord Byron, etc). Some of the history of London itself was interesting, and especially with respect to what I know about Elizabethan society, some time was spend not just on the court and the nobles, but on daily life.

Overall, not a disappointment, but not the best of Bill's work.

Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
2015-10-13

Interesting story, that takes until about halfway through to really come together. I love the play with languages and the broader themes feel very much like the The Foundation series.

The inner monologue of Justice of Toren made him the most sympathetic character in the book. So many of the other characters left me wondering about their motivations. Like a William Gibson novel, the depth of the vernacular left me confused for large portions "-" especially when talking about gender.

A Dance With Dragons - George R.R. Martin
A Dance With Dragons
George R.R. Martin
2015-09-28

(see - A Game of Thrones)

A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
2015-09-15

(see - A Game of Thrones)

When Google Met Wikileaks - Julian Assange
When Google Met Wikileaks
Julian Assange
2015-09-10

Julian is such an inspired thinker. Both the interview and his polemic against Eric Schmidt as commentary of the aftermath is particularly insightful. The footnotes were often such a distraction that I had a hard time following the thought train.

Assange's insights into Namecoin and Bitcoin were especially interesting. I wish I would have read this interview years ago. Where was this when I was a kid?

The Phoenix Project - Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
The Phoenix Project
Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
2015-09-10

The first time I've read a “work” book and not just learned something, but enjoyed the ride. Obviously a parable, but well written enough that I didn't care. Has inspired me to read “The Toyota Way” and perhaps pursue more thinking about manufacturing approaches.

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin
2015-08-27

(see - A Game of Thrones)

A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings
George R.R. Martin
2015-08-16

(see - A Game of Thrones)

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
2015-08-06

What's to say here that hasn't already been written. ASOIAF is a fantasy epic, mostly readable series, and after spending a bunch more time understanding the lore and history of Westeros is even more interesting. The books start to slow as they get deeper into world building, but the eschewing of fantasy tropes keeps them engaging enough to continue.

Armada - Ernet Cline
Armada
Ernet Cline
2015-07-24

Pretty awesome. A self-aware novelisation (/s) of “The Last Starfighter” with a twist of Star Trek. The writing, as with Ready Player One, was informal and funny.

The 80's trivia/pop-culture was a bit much, this time around though. In Ready Player One it felt like it was taking a bit of the piss, but here it feels forced.

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
2015-07-20

Filled with irrational people and their problems. The way the story unfolded was well executed, but the “twist” felt forced.

The characterisation of alcoholism was, I think, the best part of the book, and Rachel's character kept me the most engaged. Definitely an improbable amount of fucked-up people in such a small vicinity of one another, though. The epilogue felt as if the book had to have a happy ending.

Call for the Dead - John le Carré
Call for the Dead
John le Carré
2015-07-16

Completely forgettable.

Where'd You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple
Where'd You Go Bernadette
Maria Semple
2015-06-09

Charming story, and a very interesting concept. Throughout the book the only character that I didn't think was a total jerk was Bee (the girl writing). Bernadette was a prima donna, too focused on herself and judgemental of others. The dad, out of nowhere, went from foundation solid to off the rails crazy.

All of the other women were catty and gossipy, complete stereotypes. Only once in the book did Bee finally recognise the privilege that she was born into.

I loved the way the characters were explored, and the ending was about as good as it possibly could have been.

I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak
I Am the Messenger
Markus Zusak
2015-06-06

Strong beginning, but wavers heavily towards the end. The message that “normal” people have the opportunity to be great, all they have to do is pay attention was paper thin. The romance coming together at the end was cheesy.

However, being set in Sydney there was lots of interesting Australian-isms. Zusak, just like in The Book Thief, wrote engagingly. I didn't really put the book down once I started, but felt unsatisfied at the end.

Solaris - Stanisław Lem
Solaris
Stanisław Lem
2015-05-20

A psychological thriller throughout. The first half or so was extremely good, the explanation of the living planet and the confusion oozes through the pages.

As the book procedes, though, it shifts its gaze increasingly towards its navel. Pontificating on all kinds of probably-philosophical-but-ultimately-boring existentialism. Should have powered through the final half, but found it extremely difficult. Not as clear a sci-fi statement on the real world as most classics.

The Boys in the Boat - Daniel James Brown
The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown
2015-04-05

Fantastic story. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. The era when sports meant heart and not dollars is sadly past. The back drop of the depression along with the coming tide of WWII cast against west coast blue collar workers was fantastic.

It's hard not to be inspired by the story of Joe Rantz and the other boys. It's hard not to be jealous of the kind of comradery shown by the crew.

Grippingly written. Not a book to be put down.

Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz
Moriarty
Anthony Horowitz
2015-03-15

Excellent twist, kept mostly hidden until the end (though at the point the reader is surely starting to guess).

Moriarty himself describes Holmes as bumbling and childish never really a rival at all shattering quite a lot of the illusion. Especially since... if he was really all that brilliant - How did Devoreaux start to take over across the pond to begin with?

Overall, a good book but disappointing following on the heals of the first. Here's hoping Horowitz makes a return to the Holmesian style in the next edition.

The Martian - Andy Weir
The Martian
Andy Weir
2015-03-07

Interesting take on the classic survival story. Mark Watney is a bit of a campy character. Too much “lol'ing”. The survival bits are fascinating, and the maths is cool. However, it dragged on a bit longer than was necessary - and at every turn something going wrong was tiresome. None of the other characters were ever really explored (perhaps that was the point).

Overall, it was a page turner. I finished it fast, unable to put it down.

The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz
The House of Silk
Anthony Horowitz
2015-03-01

Brilliant new and riveting Holmes story. Nothing not to like other than it ended. I'm hopeful that Horwitz's other Holmes books are as good.

The twist of how things connected at the end was unexpected, including the wife-cum-killer and the husband pedophile. Watson's internal narrative set the stage brilliantly. The only thing that could have been added was more of an insight into Holmes himself. But maybe that's the charm of the Sherlock stories?

Peripheral - William Gibson
Peripheral
William Gibson
2015-02-10

Very dense. Scott mentioned that he thought it was crazy-super-dense even for Gibson, but I thought Neuromancer was harder to get a grasp on. I really like the idea of the past being a communicable place that rich plutocrats from the future pillage. I thought the tech was mostly unimaginative, but maybe that's my cynicism.

The “romance” between Flynn and Netherton was boring. Most of the characters were underdeveloped. The ending happened too abruptly (And then… everything worked out happily ever after!), and the mystery and motivations of the bad guys was completely undeveloped.

Acceptance - Jeff VanderMeer
Acceptance
Jeff VanderMeer
2015-01-10

A disappointing end to a great trilogy. The mystery of Area X continued without any real answers that were forthcoming. At the same time, the character development stalled completely.

By the end, not much had really happened. There were many more story threads than in the other two books, but only Saul's (the lighthouse keeper) resonated in any way, and then only a bit.