-sg1headwall

Books 1 -10.

1. Reynolds - The Prefect (AKA Aurora Rising)(567 pages)
2. Reynolds - Elysium Fire (410 pages)
3. Angela - A Day In The Life Of Ancient Rome (Finnish translation)(457 pages)
4. Reynolds - Chasm City (698 pages)
5. Reynolds - Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (295 pages)
6. Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic & Regional Recipes From The Cooks At The Legendary Restaurant (606 pages)
7. Reynolds - Revelation Space (603 pages)
8. Bardugo - Shadow & Bones (Finnish translation)(327 pages)
9. Weller - Back Care Basics ('Healthy Back' in Finnish translation)(98 pages)
10. Reynolds - Redemption Ark (698 pages)

Total pages so far: 4 759 pages.
  • Current Music
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Book 33 - 2019

Book 33: The Farm by Joanne Ramos - 324 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules...

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks - a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

Welcome to The Farm.


Thoughts:
I came across The Farm in Goodreads post, adding it to my to-read list, and promptly forgetting about it. Then my boss at work got me VIP tickets to Brisbane Writer's Festival, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Joanne Ramos would be speaking about her debut novel at the festival. So I come at my reading of this book with the wonderful additional context Joanne gave at several sessions at the festival. I've also long held an interest in reproductive politics. The Farm is one of those frightfully plausible stories, that one imagines is only just around the corner: women paid ridiculous amounts of money and holed up on an estate for nine months carrying other people's babies. It's also an analysis of immigrant women, trying to support families at home and in their adoptive countries, by any means necessary. In The Farm, these women are predominately Filipino, and having grown up in Australia, with a significant Asian population and significantly more income equality, this aspect both baffled but also spoke to me: the culture of these woman, in their commitment to family was more familiar to me than the American idea of leaving everyone to fend for themselves ever will be.
The Farm's story is told through alternating perspectives: Jane, a Filipino immigrant who signs up to be a surrogate at the farm to support her infant daughter; Ate, Jane's cousin who looks after Jane's daughter while she's away; Reagan, a middle class, white woman at the Farm, who is struggling with her purpose; and Mae, the director of Golden Oaks, who is Asian herself. The perspectives of each of these women are totally justified, and yet, each of them is a frustrating in their own way. They have flaws and strengths, motivations and setbacks. They feel very real, much like the Farm itself. This is a thought provoking book, that I am pleased to say I was not able to predict the ending for (a rare thing these days). Ramos' debut novel deserves much of the praise it has received, and I'll be interested to see what she does next (she also just seems like a really lovely person having sat three feet away from her!).


33 / 50 books. 66% done!


9383 / 15000 pages. 63% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman - 370 pages
The Umbrella Academy: Volume 2 - Dallas
by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba - 192 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
Look Alive Twenty-Five
by Janet Evanovich - 306 pages
  • Current Music
    Here is Gone - Goo Goo Dolls

Book 32 - 2019

Book 32: The Mammoth Book of SF Wars edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates - 497 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
War is becoming increasingly 'SF-ized' with remotely controlled attack drones and robot warriors already in development and being tested. Over the past 100 years the technology of war has advanced enormously in destructive power, yet also in sophistication so that we no longer seem to live under the constant threat of all-out global thermonuclear cataclysm. So what will future wars be like? And what will start them: religion, politics, resources, refugees, or advanced weaponry itself?

Watson and Whates present a gripping anthology of SF stories which explores the gamut of possible future conflicts, including such themes as nuclear war, psychological and cyberwars, enhanced soldiery, mercenaries, terrorism, intelligent robotic war machines, and war with aliens.

All the stories in this collection of remarkable quality and diversity reveals humankind pressed to the limits in every conceivable way.


Thoughts:
I bought this book and another anthology of Science Fiction romance stories at the University book shop a few years ago. I intended to read this while on holiday recently, but never got to it, so I’ve been reading it on and off for the last six or so weeks. It was a slog. Most of these stories really did little for me - they were either two militaristic, totally confusing, or just genuinely bad stories. I probably won’t seek out more anthologies such as this. My reviews of the 24 stories are as follows:
1. Okay
2. Okay
3. Weird
4. Good
5. Pretty Good
6. Lost me at the end; I couldn’t work out what was going on
7. One of the best in the anthology
8. A very clever satire - another of the best
9. Quite clever
10. Pretty good
11. Quite clever
12. Really fascinating but I wouldn’t have considered it SF
13. Confused me. One minute she’s kissing the guy in the spirit world, the next minute the Captain. I feel like I missed something.
14. Had a lot of detail that confused me. The story, whilst okay, didn't really do a lot for me because I was missing so much context.
15. Deeply depressing
16. Really confusing at the start, and I’m not sure the ending made a lot of sense to me
17. Confused me to start but ended up being really good. The ending was really sad.
18. Is basically about a man in love with a cat…I so want to love steampunk but it really doesn’t work in short story format.
19. Really didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I couldn’t follow what was going on, was confused by which character was which, and found the ending trite.
20. Creepy!
21. Started out okay but didn’t make a lot of sense to me in the end.
22. Written by the guy who wrote The Forever War (which I’ve read). I can see the similarities!
23. Is basically a zombie story in space. Not a bad read.
24. Strong SF romance tones to it, but though it started off a bit meh, it ended well!


32 / 50 books. 64% done!


9059 / 15000 pages. 60% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman - 370 pages
The Farm
by Joanne Ramos - 324 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 Umbrella Academy: Volume 2 - Dallas
by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba - 192 pages
  • Current Music
    Don't Walk Away - Pat Benatar
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Book 31 - 2019

Book 31: The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia by Richard Glover - 269 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
There's plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like?

In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It's a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and now and then surprisingly appealing.

It's the Australia of his childhood.
The Australia of the late '60s and early '70s.

Let's break the news now: they didn't have avocado.

It's a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It is also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes - often enshrined in law - towards anybody who didn't fit in.

The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, feel angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago.

Most of all, it will make you realise just how far we've come - and how much further we can go.


Thoughts:
This is getting a four stars for the last 50 pages or so, which I'll explain below.
So I'd seen this book around at book shops but I didn't pick up a copy until I heard Richard Glover speak about the book at the recent Brisbane Writer's Festival. His stories were hilarious, so after the session (the last of the four day festival that I attended) I raced to the festival book shop to buy a copy. I was lucky enough to be there before anyone else and actually managed to get my copy signed by Mr Glover.
Basically, this book is about how terribly bizarre Australia was in the 1960s and 1970s. It looks at food, as the name suggests, laws, works, cars, immigrants, and homosexuals (LGBTQI+ would blow that era's minds!). All in all, it sums up that life has significantly improved. I already knew this, which I think might be news to Mr Glover, who explains early on that he was inspired to write the book after both his millennial co-worker and millennial son were baffled by some of his story, if not downright disbelieving. I'm a millennial but my Mum and grandmother have told me enough of that era for me to not be too surprised. Still, some excellent eye-opening stories.
The last 50 pages however turn into a bit of a political...discussion (its not quite a rant), praising progressive and decrying conservatives in equal measure. I will give Mr Glover his due in that he acknowledges, in this section, that life has gotten significantly better. He pretty much attributes this almost entirely to the Labor Government and unions etc. I'm sure he's right. But there's an undertone throughout that anyone who votes conservatively now is halting progress. I take real issue with this. I've voted for both parties, and I am of the firm belief that both parties haven't quite got it right all the time. The Labor party of Whitlam's day is not the same party that exists now. Nor are the union leaders as civically minded today. I prefer to 'vote' with my actions, more than have faith in government - I treat all people with respect, I consistently try to reduce my impact on the planet, etc, etc. If anything, I hope that's the legacy of my millennial generation.
Nonetheless, an interesting look at recent Australian history.


31 / 50 books. 62% done!


8562 / 15000 pages. 57% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman - 370 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 Farm
by Joanne Ramos - 324 pages
  • Current Music
    exile - Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
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Book 30 - 2019

Book 30: Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich - 285 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Headless bodies have started appearing across town in Trenton, New Jersey...

At first, it's just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. Then a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church. Stephanie Plum knows that she's the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If that's not enough, Diesel's back in town. The six-foot-tall, blond-haired hunk accepts no limits - that includes locked doors, closed windows and underwear. Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, isn't pleased at his arrival, nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant with his own plans for Stephanie.

Jersey's favourite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle with more questions than answers. Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel's sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?


Thoughts:
Like all Evanovich novels, this was a very quick read. This time it features zombies, or something behaving like zombies. I actually enjoyed this part of the story, as it broke up the growing monotony of the Stephanie Plum novels. I was probably more frustrated with the introduction of Diesel, as I haven’t read the Diesel books yet specifically because I wanted to finish the Plum books first. Oh well. It’s obvious the storyline is partly ripped from the headlines, but again, I didn’t mind it so much. I do wish Stephanie would just make a call between the men, and that she’d either dump Lula or call her out on her shit more (she caused half the problems Plum finds herself in, which is saying something because Plum gets herself into some pretty dumb situations all on her own). Anyway, a little part of me is pleased I’ve nearly caught up with the publication.


30 / 50 books. 60% done!


8293 / 15000 pages. 55% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia
by Richard Glover - 269 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
Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman - 370 pages
  • Current Music
    Star Trek: Discovery
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Book 29 - 2019

Book 29: The Sandman: Volume 2 - The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman - 232 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Morpheus tracks down three dreams who escaped his world, while a young woman searches for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex threatens dreamers worldwide.


Thoughts:
This is the second volume of Gaiman's Sandman series, and it is definitely better than the first. The story is tighter, and has a nice flow to it, and I feel like I'm starting to get the lore of this universe. It follows the story of a young woman who finds out she has a rich grandmother in England, and then tries to hunt down her brother. Her story collides with a convention of serial killers, and we start to understand some of other Endless that Morphesus interacts with. The creation of dreams, and how they can go rogue was also fascinating. Overall, I enjoyed this volume much more than the first.


29 / 50 books. 58% done!


8008 / 15000 pages. 53% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
Hardcore Twenty-Four
by Janet Evanovich - 285 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 Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia
by Richard Glover - 269 pages
  • Current Music
    Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House
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Book 28 - 2019

Book 28: The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber - 287 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
For almost four years, men came to my cabin carrying trouble on their backs, each one haunted and looking over their shoulders . . . They showed up during the spring, they appeared in the summer and early fall. But never now, never in January . . .

Winter, 1888. In the inhospitable lands of Utah Territory, glovemaker Deborah Tyler awaits her husband's return home after months working across the state. But as his due date comes and goes without a word, Deborah starts to fear the worst. Facing a future alone, matters are only compounded when a desperate stranger arrives on her doorstep. And with him, trouble.

For although the man claims just to need a place to rest for the night, he wouldn't be here in the bitter month of January if he wasn't on the run. And where he goes, lawmen are sure to follow. Lawmen who wouldn't think twice about burning Deborah's home to the ground if they thought she'd helped their fugitive.

With her husband's absence felt stronger by the minute, Deborah must make a decision. A decision that will change her life forever . . .


Thoughts:
This book was recommended to me by my CFO at work, as the author is appearing at Brisbane Writer’s Festival (which my CFO is involved with) in September. I had no idea what it was about, but given I will be attending the festival, I thought I should give it a read. It tells the story of Deborah, a Mormon woman living in Utah, waiting for the return of her husband who is late coming back from a long trip travelling to Utah to repair wheels. While he’s away, a man appears at Deborah’s door - Deborah, her husband and her husband’s stepbrother are involved in a scheme where they protect men in plural marriages who are running away from the law. But never before have one of these men come in January, and so sets off a chain of events that unsettles life in Deborah’s tiny town, while she ponders whether her husband is simply late getting home. To read it, it feels like a fairly simple story, but the people of this town are a little different from the average Mormon, and the gentle politics of this tiny town contrasts against the challenges posed by a government that hates the Mormon people. In addition, the almost wistful relationship between Deborah and her stepbrother-in-law Nels provides a gentle undercurrent to the story. It’s also very well written, and certainly appears to be historically accurate. It’s not really my usual genre, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if not for the recommendation and the Festival, but nonetheless, its a fascinating snapshot in time and place to get exposed to, and certainly a pleasant way to spend a week of my reading time.


28 / 50 books. 56% done!


7776 / 15000 pages. 52% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
The Sandman: Volume 2 - The Doll’s House
by Neil Gaiman - 232 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
Hardcore Twenty-Four
by Janet Evanovich - 285 pages
  • Current Music
    So Beautiful - Pete Murray
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Book 27 - 2019

Book 27: The Umbrella Academy: Volume 1 - Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba - 184 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-three extraordinary children were spontaneously born to women who'd previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, "To save the world." These seven children form the Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.


Thoughts:
So I'd never heard of the Umbrella Academy until I stumbled upon the show not long after it was released on Netflix. I gave it a go and loved it - I think I watched it twice in quick succession. I've been trying to get the graphic novel off Book Depository for months, but as quick as it would come in, it would sell out. So while in a book shop in Canada recently, I found this volume and had to purchase it! For those who haven't seen/read it, basically the idea is that a strange wealthy man adopts seven supposedly super powered children in order to train them to save the world. Twenty years later, the death of their adoptive father brings the now adults back together but they each struggle with their powers and the ramifications of their childhood in different, often destructive (or self-destructive) ways. I think the premise, particularly the start with the babies, got me interested, and the graphic novel certainly mimics that (or the TV show mimicked the graphic novel!). From there, there are some relatively significant differences between the TV show and the graphic novel (though without reading the second volume, I don't know how much was brought forward to pad out the TV show). This suite feels like a skimmed down version of the TV show, and I must admit I like the additional characterisation that happens in the show. Not to say the graphic novel isn't good - lots of interesting ideas and things to explore. The relationships between the siblings, how they came to exist, Hargreeves' motives in the first place, what happened to Ben, are all intriguing. But in some way, cause I'd seen the show, the graphic novel felt a little light on. No matter, I will be pursuing the next volume (and I believe the third volume comes out soon), hoping for answers! Recommended for anyone who liked X-Men.


27 / 50 books. 54% done!


7489 / 15000 pages. 50% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
The Glovemaker
by Ann Weisgarber - 287 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 Sandman: Volume 2 - The Doll’s House
by Neil Gaiman - 232 pages
  • Current Music
    Bridgerton on Netflix
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Book 26 - 2019

Book 26: Security Studies: An Introduction edited by Paul D. Williams - 620 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Comprehensively revised for the new edition including new chapters on Polarity, Culture, Intelligence, and the Academic and Policy Worlds, it continues to give students a detailed overview of the major theoretical approaches, key themes and most significant issues within security studies.

Part 1 explores the main theoretical approaches currently used within the field from realism to international political sociology.
Part 2 explains the central concepts underpinning contemporary debates from the security dilemma to terrorism.
Part 3 presents an overview of the institutional security architecture currently influencing world politics using international, regional and global levels of analysis.
Part 4 examines some of the key contemporary challenges to global security from the arms trade to energy security.
Part 5 discusses the future of security.

Security Studies provides a valuable teaching tool for undergraduates and MA students by collecting these related strands of the field together into a single coherent textbook.


Thoughts:
The book was the required text for a Security Studies subject I did as part of International Relations Masters last year. I read the first three chapters before I started the course, and then only made it through a few more chapters before the end of the course - its busy work studying and holding down a full time job. Nonetheless, despite my limited progress during semester, I actually found this to be quite interesting for a text book. It comprehensively covers over thirty topics within the security studies discipline, including environmental and energy security, as well as the future of the discipline and the challenges of academia versus policy. The text never gets too academic, so its easily readable by anyone who grasps the basics of the humanities. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone studying in the security studies discipline.


26 / 50 books. 52% done!


7305 / 15000 pages. 49% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
by Ian Watson & Ian Whates - 497 pages
The Umbrella Academy: Volume 1 - Apocalypse Suite
by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba - 184 pages
  • Current Music
    The Leshan Buddha - from Abominable
-sg1headwall

(no subject)

51.C.McCarthy - Outer Dark (245 pages)
52.Hardy - Under The Greenwood Tree (220 pages)
53.Sharma - The Anger Of Aubergines (152 pages)
54.Shaffer & Barrows - The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (247 pages)
55.Herrera - Signs Preceding The End Of The World (89 pages)
56.Nguyên - The Song Of Kieu (211 pages)
57.Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting (145 pages)
58.Kawakami - Strange Weather In Tokyo (174 pages)
59.A.Breton - Nadja (118 pages)
60.Leiris - You Will Not Have My Hate (89 pages)
61.Rhys - After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (143 pages)
62.Sapphire - Precious (176 pages) Collapse )

Total of pages this year: 24 643 pages.
*rewinding noises*
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    Sarah McLachlan - "Hold On"