• blinger

Book 18 - 2019

Book 18: Saga: Volume 9 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The multiple Eisner Award-winning series returns with a spacefaring adventure about fake news and genuine terror. Get ready for the most shocking, most impactful SAGA storyline yet.


Thoughts:
OMG! OMG! OMG! What kind of ending was that? I can't believe it! I won't believe it! I can handle Robot's ending - he's kind of prick! But not Marko!

What a cliffhanger. I get all the reviews now. And to leave it there, the last (so far) Saga volume, is cruel. The idea that all the preaching about peace, and kindness, and anti violence gets paid off in such a way is achingly cruel.

I waited a long time to read this volume because I was scared of what the ending would be. Vaughan has not shied away from tough story telling but this one takes the cake.

I'm just going to hope it gets resolved in the next one - while it remains unpublished I can live in my fantasy world!


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


4391 / 15000 pages. 29% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
The Loneliness of Distant Beings
by Kate Ling - 358 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Tricky Twenty-Two
by Janet Evanovich - 280 pages
  • Current Music
    The West Wing
  • blinger

Book 17 - 2019

Book 17: Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance between Astrophysics and the Military by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang - 549 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In this fascinating foray into the millennia-long relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist and "the world's best science communicator" (Times Literary Supplement) Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions", say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds", they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it's a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology-which is more or less the same technology for both parties-nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinise it, dominate it or use it to their advantage and someone else's disadvantage."

Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry and power that will introduce Tyson's millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.


Thoughts:
I really really wanted to like this book more, but man did it drag on. I was super excited when I discovered this book as the topic is closely aligned to the subject matter I want to do my PHD in. I was then amused to discover that my brother, currently undertaking his PHD in Military History, had purchased the same book. And the subject matter is interesting. It's just that the layers of detail and the step-by-step journey through the development of astrophysics related military technology makes this book feel a thousand times longer than it is. Somehow it feels like Tyson and Lang have taken a subject that is otherwise really cool and made it dull. Putting that aside, this book does lay out the history of the military and astrophysics in exacting detail, highlighting the fact that this relationship has existed for centuries, and that in many ways one cannot exist without the other. Perhaps a little preachy towards the end (talking about Trump, of course!), it nonetheless points out the value that ridiculous military budgets represent to science, though of course this is fraught with danger. I think if you're more into the military side of the equation here, this book is totally up your alley. If you're writing or super interested in the subject matter, again, really interesting read. If you're a casual observer, maybe not for you.


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


4239 / 15000 pages. 28% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Saga: Volume 9
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
The Loneliness of Distant Beings
by Kate Ling - 358 pages
  • Current Music
    A Touch of Paradise - John Farnham
  • blinger

Book 16 - 2019

Book 16: Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 146 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
After the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.


Thoughts:
The second last (as it currently stands) volume of Saga picks up with Alana, Marko, Hazel and crew on a planet pretty much famous for offering abortions, as they find themselves needing to resolve the issue of Alana's miscarriage (which occurred at the end of Volume 7). It's an unfortunate start, but like always Vaughan handles it with the appropriate balance of humour and pathos. Moreover, like everything in Saga, the resolution isn't simple, and Alana and Marko, with Hazel in tow, undertake a new journey to save Alana's life. Along the way, we meet the child that might have been, which is juxtaposed nicely against the blossoming friendship between Hazel and Squire. As usual, the art is beautiful, the story warm, the themes real despite the fantasy setting. There is currently only one volume to go, and everything I've read indicates that it ends on a cliff hanger - I'm a little terrified to pick it up without knowing how long it may be til the next volume comes out. What a journey!


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


3690 / 15000 pages. 25% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance between Astrophysics and the Military
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang - 549 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Saga: Volume 9
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages
  • Current Music
    Air Conditioner running
  • blinger

Book 15 - 2019

Book 15: Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich - 326 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she'll pull it all off: top secret. Trenton, New Jersey's favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he's out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city's hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer's whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn't want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti's bookkeeper and knows all his boss's dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti's list of people to put six feet under. To top things off, Ranger--resident security expert and Stephanie's greatest temptation--has been the target of an assassination plot. He's dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he'll have to enlist Stephanie's help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past. Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day's work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur's wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli's Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what's number one on the list--but that's top secret.


Thoughts:
I don't know if I'm just not in the mood for Stephanie Plum at the moment, but for at least the first 150 pages I was really not feeling this book. I had to keep going back and re-reading bits to remember what was going on. It's not that the books have gotten worse (they are already exceeding formulaic), and I long ago accepted that no character development would ever happen. I just feel like I have no patience for the antics at the moment. Having said that, this one did start to pick up when the plot moved to the Ranger and Russian bad guy story which was exceedingly more interesting but rather pathetically wrapped up. Standard fare but missing some of the laughs of the past.


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


3544 / 15000 pages. 24% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Saga: Volume 8
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 146 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance between Astrophysics and the Military
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang - 549 pages
  • Current Music
    Shallow - Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga
  • blinger

Book 14 - 2019

Book 14: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - 367 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.


Thoughts:
Another book purchased at the biannual book sale for $2. Another book that always appears in the must-read list. I maybe picked up this book to read at the wrong time in my life. Dealing with my own troubling health issues, reading about the tragedy of Mariam and Laila’s life only served to depress me more. Putting that aside, this is a compelling story, particularly once Mariam and Laila’s friendship develops. Both married to Rasheed, both suffering as a result of a life that has been unkind, a country that is troubled and a merry go round of cultures that ever increasingly devalue them, they find solace, confidence and love in each other. The background story of Afghanistan in the 70s-00s demonstrates how much our lives are dictated by the circumstances of our birth. I ended up reading the last 150 pages over a single day (partly because I was in hospital!), and thoroughly enjoying it despite the heavy topic. If you’re prepared for the emotional rollercoaster and the physical violence depicted, it’s a very compelling read.


14 / 50 books. 28% done!


3218 / 15000 words. 21% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Top Secret Twenty-One
by Janet Evanovich - 326 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Saga: Volume 8
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 146 pages
  • Current Music
    My stomach grumbling
-sg1headwall

Books 31-40.

31. Tyldesley - Daughters Of Isis: Women Of Ancient Egypt (287 pages)
32. Tolstoy - Anna Karenina (831 pages)
33. Bowman - Contagion (401 pages)
34. Ishiguro - The Remains Of The Day (228 pages)
35. Toibin - Brooklyn (246 pages)
36. Harrison - Dead Witch Walking (418 pages)
37. Kusher - The Mars Room (311 pages)
38. Gyasi - Homegoing (303 pages)
39. W.Gibson - Pattern Recognition (373 pages)
40. E.Bear - Ancestral Night (503 pages)

Total so far: 12 372 pages.
  • Current Music
    Radiohead - "Morning Bell"
  • blinger

Book 13 - 2019

Book 13: Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Finally reunited with her ever-expanding family, Hazel travels to a war-torn comet that Wreath and Landfall have been battling over for ages. New friendships are forged and others are lost forever in this action-packed volume about families, combat and the refugee experience.


Thoughts:
This is probably the saddest of all the Saga volumes thus far. After the last volume ended with our favourite family reunited and some joyous news, by the end of this one we've lost three characters, one that had been awhile, two not so much, all important and all heartbreaking. Now reunited, Alana, Marko, Hazel, Robot and Petri are trying to get back to the planet Robot's son was left on. Things don't go to plan and they find themselves stuck on the hellish comet Phang - a dreadful battlefield in the never ending war. Planning to be there a few days, the gang gets stuck there for 6 months, befriending a local family along the way. Hazel's made a friend, but Robot's not happy he's been stuck for so long. Accordingly, he effectively goads Isabel into doing some investigating for him and it all goes downhill from there. Meanwhile, we pick up with The Will again, who decides to track down Sophie and Gwen but doesn't like the response he gets from them. Again, another awesome addition to the series. I'm conscious that I've only got two volumes to go - I've heard volume 9 is a killer, so I'm starting to get nervous!!


13 / 50 books. 26% done!


2851 / 15000 pages. 19% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini - 367 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Top Secret Twenty-One
by Janet Evanovich - 326 pages
  • Current Music
    My dog panting
  • blinger

Book 12 - 2019

Book 12: Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly - 440 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
From the NASA astronaut who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station - what it's like out there and what it's like now, back here. Enter Scott Kelly's fascinating world and dare to think of your own a little differently.

As soon as you realize you aren't going to die, space is the most fun you'll ever have...

The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for most consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few of us ever have and very few of us ever will.

Kelly's humanity, compassion, humour, and passion shine as he describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both existential and banal. He touches on what's happened to his body, the sadness of being isolated from everyone he loves; the pressures of constant close cohabitation; the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk, and the still more haunting threat of being absent should tragedy strike at home.

From a natural storyteller Endurance is one of the finest examples the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the boundless wonder of the galaxy.


Thoughts:
Last year, after completing my Masters degree, I made an agreement with my mother that I wouldn't start my PHD until 2025, at which point I intended to write about the intersection of politics and space exploration. In order to prevent myself accidentally enrolling early (I work in a University so this is a very real risk!), I decided to try and occupy myself by reading as much literature on space as I could. I have started with astronaut memoirs, of which Kelly's book is my third. This is a very 'readable' memoir. That's not to say I think Kelly is my favourite of all the astronauts I've read about (I've read Chris Hadfield and Mike Massimino's memoirs too). In fact, at points in this book I actually wasn't sure I liked Kelly at all. Why? At times Kelly comes across as either disinterested in what he's doing (though I don't think he is), at other times he appears selfish or self-indulgent, still others I felt he did not deserve the success he's had (as a total teacher's pet, work my ass off type student, I can't deny I get a little pissy when I read about people who've been very successful despite not trying at school or somehow circumventing the system - it feels like cheating to me!). Still Kelly's writing style flows really well and I enjoyed the alternating chapters - one about his year in space, followed by one about his life pre-year in space. I was uncomfortable reading about his marriage (and its subsequent breakdown) and about his prostate cancer (even though I understood the whole lifetime radiation levels issue, the idea of getting an entire, very important sex organ removed so one could get back to space seemed rather extreme and ignorant to his partner's needs, though I'm sure he must have discussed the issue with her). And maybe its that brutal honesty, despite its uncomfortableness, that makes this such a page turner. Either way, I would highly recommend this book for any space enthusiasts. Kelly calmly and reasonably outlines some of the more psychological challenges of space exploration and in doing so also just maybe reveals that you have to be a very particular type of person to be an astronaut (and maybe not one I aspire to!).


12 / 50 books. 24% done!


2699 / 15000 pages. 18% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Saga: Volume 7
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini - 367 pages
  • Current Music
    Reflection - Christina Aguilera
  • blinger

Book 11 - 2019

Book 11: Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.


Thoughts:
The latest volume of Saga sees Hazel with her grandmother in a prison camp on Landfall, while Alana and Marko try to find and rescue them. Alana and Marko are the kind of couple that seem to work best when they are up against the wall. The boring monotony of every day life - despite the appeal they claim it has given their love for the Heist book - seems to drain them, given what happened in the previous two volumes. Where they truly shine is when they are fighting the universe for each other and for Hazel. That is exemplified in this volume. Meanwhile, Hazel is learning about who she can trust, and she remains an adorable little kid, perfectly pure despite the strange obsession all and sundry have with her existence. A few side stories also run through this volume - Prince Robot is trying to raise his son to be a good person, away from the mess of the Robot Kingdom. The Will is still struggling with the death of Stalk and The Brand, and the two reporters from a few volumes back make a reappearance. Another great addition to the series!


11 / 50 books. 22% done!


2259 / 15000 pages. 15% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery
by Scott Kelly - 440 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Saga: Volume 7
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages
  • Current Music
    the lakes - Taylor Swift

Book 10 - 2019

Book 10: Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich - 295 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Stephanie Plum has her sights set on catching a notorious mob boss. If she doesn't take him down, he may take her out.

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it's up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in--not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because--just Stephanie's luck--the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail. It's not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client's mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie's Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she's working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose--and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor. With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.


Thoughts:
I don't know if I just wasn't in the mood, or this one was worse than normal, but I really struggled with this Stephanie Plum novel. It dragged and dragged, and even though I had four long haul flights in which to read this book, I chose to do pretty much anything but read this book. It just felt like nothing happened, and then when the mystery was solved, Stephanie had nothing to do with it. Sometimes I find Stephanie's silliness really appealing and I can fly through them; other times, I want to smack her upside the head. I'm experiencing the later at the moment. Stephanie, grow up already!


10 / 50 books. 20% done!


2107 / 15000 pages. 14% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Security Studies: An Introduction
edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages
Saga: Volume 6
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 152 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery
by Scott Kelly - 440 pages
  • Current Music
    Birds squawking in the Dawn