Book 11 - 2018

Book 11: The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson - 536 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Most history is about the people at the top of the towers of power. But what if the real action is in the social networks down below, in the town squares? Niall Ferguson, the international bestselling author of Empire, The Ascent of Money and Civilization, brilliantly recasts past and present as an unending contest between hierarchies and networks.


Thoughts:
My brother is a historian, and reading this book recently, he kept telling me how good it was, and that I should read it. So, when he was done, that's what I did. Ferguson basically outlines modern history and the relationship between hierarchies and networks. I learnt a lot from this book, probably because I'm more a student of sociology, international relations and anthropology than I am of history, but I wasn't always sure what Ferguson was trying to argue, if he was trying to argue anything at all. Personally, I also got a little bored in the middle bit, when he was talking through the early 20th century, but this is more a product of my interest areas than of the book itself. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about FANG (Facebook, amazon, netflix, google) and of the more recent political shenanigans in the United States, though I would have liked more on this topic, and maybe a little less on European history (again, my interest areas, and I gather there's more to say about that time period than there is on more modern times, at least for now). Ferguson's style is readable, and for the most part he doesn't get too technical on the network theory stuff. Moreover, I actually found some really great parallels between some of what was covered in this book, primarily in the realm of attempts to police the internet, and on an essay I am currently writing on policing space tourism. Overall, a good read, particularly if you are a student of history, or have an interest in structuralism.


11 / 50 books. 22% done!


3502 / 15000 pages. 23% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- Fearless Fourteen
by Janet Evanovich - 308 pages
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers - 402 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 Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters
by Tom Nichols - 248 pages
Gil

Books 3-4

RiptideRiptide by Douglas Preston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Not my usual cuppa but I almost always enjoy Preston and Child's books. This one is suspense rather than mystery and it's lifted whole cloth from the Curse of Oak Island. If you're not familiar with that real life pirate treasure hunt, it's just that, a supposed pirate treasure burial so complex we can't find it even told (but the reality show will keep dragging on for you.)

Way back in the day Red Ned Ockham buried his treasure off the coast of Maine on an island owned by Dr. Malin Hatch's family in the modern day. Ockham had kidnapped a famous architect to help him and this thing is filled with dangerous traps not the least of which is the water pit. As children, Malin and his brother were playing there when they weren't meant to, leaving his brother dead and Malin saddled with a life of guilt.

He gets into this with Neidelman, a captain with deep pockets and a scientifically advanced crew mostly to see if he can find out answers about his brother more so than the two billion dollars of treasure including St. Michael's sword. We have computer experts, fussy cryptographers, and Bonterre, the archaeologist. On the other side we have Clay, a preacher who hates the idea of the search of gold and is trying to radicalize the townspeople against the search. And then there's Malin's ex.

So obviously most of this is about the search for treasure, mounting paranoia and eventually lots of action/adventure at the end. I enjoyed it well enough but on the other hand I'm not all that wowed. it's not one I'll remember for a long time. It was a nice escape but not much more.



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Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure EverythingQuackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As a doctor with an interest in the history of medicine, I had so much fun with this. Looking at other reviews there are some good points there. This IS like a 300+ page Cracked article so if you don't like sarcasm and humor, this isn't for you. But to me, humor in teaching keeps it from getting boring and engages the learner so I loved it and it worked for me.

Another made a good point about some of this not being true quackery and a lot of it is more about the fact our understanding of medicine just sucked at that time. Medicine as we know it truly blossomed in the twentieth century. But I suppose Quackery made for a snappier title.

Regardless, it's a great look at the history of medicine along with true quackery. What I liked was they also pointed out that some of this misunderstood/quack medicine does have some medicinal value but didn't always include enough (like electricity which is used in bone/wound healing and inflammation decreasing via TENS/Inferential units).

What I would have liked was a bibliography in case you wanted to read further. There is zero in the way of reference pages. Even Wiki includes that so even though this is meant for the lay person, I found that disappointing. Still, in spite that, it was an informative fun read.



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Book 10 - 2018

Book 10: Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition by Daniel W. Drezner - 191 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
What would happen to international politics if the dead rose from the grave and started to eat the living? Daniel Drezner's groundbreaking book answers the question that other international relations scholars have been too scared to ask. Addressing timely issues with analytical bite, Drezner looks at how well-known theories from international relations might be applied to a war with zombies. Exploring the plots of popular zombie films, songs, and books, Theories of International Politics and Zombies predicts realistic scenarios for the political stage in the face of a zombie threat and considers how valid--or how rotten--such scenarios might be. This newly revived edition includes substantial updates throughout as well as a new epilogue assessing the role of the zombie analogy in the public sphere.


Thoughts:
In an International Relations Theory class a year and a half ago, my lecturer mentioned this book, probably because myself and my friends kept suggesting aliens as a solutions to all IR related problems. Being of the nerd persuasion, I immediately went out and purchased the book, though its been sitting on my pile for sometime since. In the middle of reading a much longer book on network theory, I decided to pick this book up to break up my reading. It's a nice, fun, quick read, that introduces readers to the key IR theories in a fun way. As I've already got a pretty good grounding in IR theory (I topped that IR theory class - haha!), I found it really easy to read - not coming at it as a newcomer, I can't say whether the book is deserving of the recommendations it gets to new students. As for its application of theory, I think its relatively sound. I don't agree with all of it to the letter, but the core is there, and though I would have preferred Drezner explained more of the critical theory part of the book (I personally would have gone with the racial aspect of critical theory than feminism, but to each his own), ultimately, I think it had good coverage. It's a silly fun book, that I probably won't quote in any assignments, but will recommend to anyone who shows a passing interest in IR theory.


10 / 50 books. 20% done!


2966 / 15000 pages. 20% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
by Niall Ferguson - 536 pages
- Fearless Fourteen
by Janet Evanovich - 308 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 Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers - 402 pages
Bones

Book #3: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton



Number of pages: 199

This is the sixth Agatha Raisin novel, and the first not yet adapted for television by Sky One.

This follows directly on from the fifth book, where... SPOILERS

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Agatha was engaged to her love interest, James, only for her husband to show up. The wedding was cancelled, but Agatha's husband got murdered - James nevertheless seemed to rule out any further romance with Agatha.



In this book, Agatha follows James on holiday in Cyprus, and inevitably there is a murder; this time, it happens practically in front of them. By some coincidence Charles who, as I recall, first appeared in the fourth book, Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, also happens to be in the area. Thus, the book also continues the will-they-or-won't they relationship between Agatha and James, and the appearance of Charles sees the emergence of a love triangle.

For the most part of it, this book was enjoyable, and I noticed that, as with the previous title, this one was less comic in tone than the first few books, particularly because a couple of times, someone tried to murder Agatha. On the downside, I realised that I was finding both James and Charles very difficult to like, for different reasons. I also noticed that James' reaction when Agatha caught up with him in the book seemed a bit unreal, considering that she was basically stalking him.

The only real problem I had with this one was the ending; it felt rushed, and I was left still confused about the killer's motive for a second murder that took place close to the end. I remember the second series of the TV show featured the love triangle that I mentioned before, and I'm interested to see how it is written in the books.

Incidentally, M.C. Beaton also died recently, so it is unlikely that any new books will be published, unless someone decides to continue the series, like what happened with the Millennium books.

Next book: Homesick for Another World (Otessa Moshfegh)

Book 9 - 2018

Book 9: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson - 210 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
New York Times Bestseller In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we've been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F**k positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let's be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn't sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is-a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let's-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up. Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited-"not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault."
Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek. There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.


Thoughts:
Today, carrying this book as I left a dessert cafe at the inner-city cultural precinct in my city, a man stopped me to ask me what I thought about this book (as its been everywhere here in Australia recently). Was it any good? He asked. And even I was surprised by my answer, as I am of my opinion. Yes, I said, it actually is. Not only is it very readable, but much of what it covers isn't actually crazy. In fact, its a pretty decent amalgamation of a variety of theories, most scientifically backed, that Manson has brought together into a common sense, no punches pulled, honest, real account on how to sort our own shit out. I think the thing that I really enjoyed the most was the discussion around entitlement. I'd never thought of entitlement in the context of it being something presented as both expecting to be treated special because you are amazing, and expecting to be treated because you have been victimised. I'd never thought of it in this context, but it made perfect sense, and I suddenly saw the behaviour of a few people around me illuminated for what it was - no different from me expecting to be treated differently because I think I'm special (not that I do). That one really blew me away, and I only wish more people could understand that point. Anyway, I personally found this book far less hokey than other books I've read on similar topics, but more relatable than more scientific texts, and mostly deserving of the fame its received. Overall, the only real problem I have with this book is that the vast majority of people who need its message will either not both to pick the book up in the first place, or, if they do, completely mix the message. After all, they are special and the book doesn't apply to them! (*sarcasm font*).


9 / 50 pages. 18% done!


2775 / 15000 pages. 19% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
by Niall Ferguson - 536 pages
- Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition
by Daniel W. Drezner - 191 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
- Fearless Fourteen
by Janet Evanovich - 308 pages
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Books 1-2

A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1)A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I received this from Netgalley for review which did not in any way influence my review. I struggled with what to rate this because there were parts of this I enjoyed very much. Sunshine and her daughter Auri are interesting characters. On the other hand there were huge chunks of this that made me want to yeet my ereader across the room.

The premise itself is a bit dodgy. Sunshine has returned to her birthplace of Del Sol New Mexico after her parents and several of the women in power behind the scenes put her up for sheriff against a man they felt was incompetent and corrupt and Sunshine won the election, one she didn't even know she was in (much to the displeasure of the mayor which thankfully was not a big part of the book because having the sheriff fight against the mayor all the time will get old fast for me). Now Sunshine has distinguished herself as a cop on other police forces but like I said, this is really dodgy. If I were her I'd be far more pissed off that my parents pulled this nonsense on me (partly as a bid to have more time with their granddaughter). Especially in the light of what happened to Sunshine in this city when she was a teen.

I will say I liked her BFF and fellow cop Quincy almost more than I liked anyone in this story. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and isn't (at least yet) a boyfriend wanna be. All too quickly Sun has that bad day, like literally on day one when a young girl from her daughter's class, Sybil, has been kidnapped, bringing up all the reasons Sun left this town. What was weird/interesting is Sybil has been dreaming about being kidnapped and killed on her birthday since she was little (which is about the closest you'll get to paranormal in this, for those coming here from Jones's other series). And ironically Sybil was one of the girls Auri met on her summer vacations in town and saw as a friend.

Auri has her own problems. She's prone to depression with suicidal ideation and her class thinks she ratted out a summer booze party to the cops because her mom is one and she's an immediate pariah except for a really chatty girl (whose name I've already forgotten, thank you ebooks for not imprinting on the memory right) and Cruz de la Santos, the cool, mysterious I don't give a damn what you think kid in class. Auri wants to play Nancy Drew to help find her friend and she does.

It doesn't take long before we see the parallels between Sybil's kidnapping and Sun's own unsolved kidnapping when she was a teen. We also run into the Ravinders a former (and would still be if the older members had their way) crime family. Levi Ravinder (who is probably not actually a Ravinder but a half Native America son of his mother's lover) is the one Sun always found hot in school but the family naturally hates her because they're criminals though Levi is turning their whiskey distillery into a legit business.

So what bugged me in this book? Let's deal with the non-spoilery things first. The mystery dragged. This book could have been trimmed and you'd have missed nothing. I could live with that. What got under my skin was the purple prose about how GORGEOUS Levi and/or Cruz was. Literally every time we had Sun or Auri interacting with these two men you'd get endless description of how hot they were and how much their ovaries were exploding. Once I could handle it. Twice even but the endless and ever present 'how hot are they? I can't stand it' descriptors got super old very fast.

And it's so bad that Sun even acts very unprofessionally because of it. That I couldn't handle. Also Levi is such an alphahole. He's nasty to her. He says sexually inappropriate skeevy things and Sun's all about it. Ugh. Can't we expect better for our heroines at this point? He does have one redeeming quality in regards to Sun's personal life but he came across so gross I wanted a shower and not in the good, hot way I'm sure I was supposed to feel. Cruz is much the same in the descriptions of how hot and cool he is (and I could accept that more of a teenaged girl) but at least he's a nice kid. He's not sexualizing her at every turn. Jones's RITA winning roots are showing in this.

As for a mildly spoilery thing or two, someone needed to point out that neither police forces or high schools work this way. If you're writing mysteries, those readers expect a bit of realism when it comes to police work. Sunshine is unprofessional so many times, especially where Levi is concerned. And I'm around Jones's age. The stuff she had these kids pulling might have flown back when we were in school but these days there would have been suspensions all around. Hell I have seen kids suspended for merely mentioning they want to hit someone let alone what the kids pulled on Auri on multiple occasions.

And I'll keep the spoilers to myself but I will say the ending just didn't work for me at all. You never had enough clues to make it to that and it was just very unsatisfying.




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The Whispered Word (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #2)The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I had really enjoyed the first book but this one was a huge let down for me. It did fix the one problem I had in the first book, namely a police officer who works against the amateur sleuth (that's a hard no for me). The new sheriff is much more accepting. I will say that unlike many mysteries series you might be lost if you don't read book one. Nora Hester, June and Estella, the members of the Secret, Book, & Scone Society, are presented like you already know their secrets, their hard past and their abilities. I like stories about broken people recovering and book one gave us that.

Book two was set up to do the same from the first pages when Nora sees a young woman (she calls her a girl at first which threw me. I was expecting a teenager but she's in her twenties), sleeping in the book story in ill-fitting clothes and a hospital bracelet on her arm. Abilene is obviously damaged and Nora and her friends want to help. Nora even lets Abilene stay in her tiny house but that quickly wears on her.

Nora finds an apartment in a new business, the virtual genie, a cyber-antique shop, a bring us your treasures and we'll sell them sort of place that they're wondering if it's even legit. Hester has agreed to take on Abilene as a baker and you know soon Nora will be finding Abilene books as therapy (as that's her super power) and Hester will be making a comfort scone that pulls out all the trauma etc (all four friends have something they can do to comfort people (June works at a spa and that's therapy enough and Estelle finds their inner beauty) But it doesn't work that way.

For one there's a general depression in the town after a local business basically robbed the townspeople then crashed and burned taking a lot of jobs with it. Secondly Amanda Frye, a rather unpleasant book lover has turned up dead and Nora and friends found her and they're not sure it was a suicide or accidental overdose and to Nora's surprise Amanda had very little but did have an expensive book collection. Her estranged son will do anything to get it (in spite of being left out of the will).

So we have the damaged person, we have the crime, we have suspects so what disappointed me so much? Nora herself. She comes across as horribly judgmental. For instance when they try to get the apartment for Abilene, Nora fears that since Abilene is an obvious alias and she's too afraid to say what the issue is that they won't be able to get past the background check for the apartment and Abilene isn't being paid much by Hester. When neither is a problem because Abilene 'has come to an arrangement with Griffin Kingsley the owner of the store/apartment.' Nora doesn't ask what that arrangement is. She leaps to 'that sounds like a euphemism for trading sex for the place.' Naturally and rightfully Abilene is pissed and she storms off and this upsets Hester as well. No kidding. Wow, how's that for helping a damaged person.

And I was surprised that no one at Kensington stopped and made Adams find some other descriptors than mocha (and worse mocha going to espresso) for an African woman's skin tone. How many times do PoC have to ask us to STOP doing that before someone listens?

But what really killed this book for me was the how they handled some very important details. Collapse )So yeah, I'm not sure I'm continuing with this series. I only finished this book because I was reading it for a challenge and I was nearly done anyhow. I'm very disappointed.



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Book 8 - 2018

Book 8: The Road by Cormac McCarthy - 307 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.


Thoughts:
This book pops up on every top 100 reading list going, so when I saw a copy for $2 at a book sale I go to regularly I picked up a copy. This is not my normal type of book; I'm not really a fan of the prose-type writing style, and I don't really seek out this style of literature (i.e. I don't like to be depressed by books). So I'm glad it was a quick read. I heard enough about the plot to sort of know what to expect, though I wasn't quite expecting it to be so readable (it only took me a couple of days to read it, and I read the last 100 pages in a single night - very unusual for me). I didn't exactly enjoy it, but I didn't not enjoy it either. It's sort of sad, and sort of hopeful, and sort of whimsical, and sort of melancholic. The fact that McCarthy never really explained why the world was in the state it was in annoyed me - I've heard it mentioned that this book is about a world post climate change, but I really struggled to see how climate change led to everything being burnt by fire. Anyway, it was a perfectly readable book, compelling enough to keep me going, but having read it, I'm still not entirely sure why its Pulitzer Prize winning.


8 / 50 books. 16% done!


2565 / 15000 pages. 17% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
by Mark Manson - 210 pages
- The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
by Niall Ferguson - 536 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
- Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition
by Daniel W. Drezner - 191 pages
pacificparlour

THERE'S HISTORICAL TRUTH, AND THEN THERE'S HOWARD ZINN'S TRUTH.

There's a large pile of books still to be reviewed, and I'll start the 2020 count with Mary Grabar's Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.

This Book Review No. 1 will not deal with the content of the book to any length, as I am more interested in its usefulness in helping teachers, whether as home-schooling parents or as employees of a school system, teach the controversies, where the book is deficient, than I am in the specific illustrations of elisions, omissions, and falsifications Ms Grabar points out.

I'm not a fan of People's History, and Ms Grabar located a review by Cornell's Michael Kammen who, years before I wrote that post, described People's History as a "scissors-and-paste-pot job."  Yup.  I'm troubled that some useful histories offering a different point of view, including naval historian S. E. Morison's investigation of Columbus's voyages are out of print and generally de-accessioned from the libraries.  On the other hand, the teacher or home-schooler wants to read up on the Founding or the Civil War or the Gilded Age or World War II, he's got to do his own research to identify where the controversies are introduced or contested,  That the Oregon Association of Scholars are conducting a campaign to get Debunking into public libraries and schools and supporting a talk by Ms Grabar at Portland State might be taking the fight to the enemy; and yet it's still going to be on that teacher or home-schooler to figure out what to do next.

That matters, as there is still much work to be done.  I borrowed my title from page 161 of DebunkingIt comes from Ronald Radosh, historian of inter alia several Communist plots and author of a generally favorable review that raises several of the points I could have raised here.  By all means, go there, read and understand.

Note, though, his conclusion.
Grabar has done a great service in writing the first serious book exposing Zinn’s scholarship and offering a corrective to his fables. It is unfortunate, however, that her book is not likely to receive the broad audience it deserves. It will likely be read by those who already know Zinn was an ideological partisan who used history to enforce his own political agenda. How better would it have been had a mainstream press undertaken this effort, one willing to buck convention and the publishing industry’s liberal clientele and give the book the chance it needs to effectively confront all those committed to what I call “the Zinning of America.”
Put another way, the book is a Regnery product, and, although the Regnery polemical touch is lighter than normal, that marque probably taints what's between the covers as not useful per se.  It's crucial, though, to understand that "Howard Zinn's truth" or "The Party's Truth" (Mr Radosh's original formulation) is something that's been granted legitimacy by the kind of radical skepticism that allows truth to be surrounded by a bodyguard of sneer quotes and falsehood, such as the smearing of Justice Kavanaugh, be rationalized as simply the accuser's truth.

It is useful for people, particularly people charged with the education of the young, to recognize nonsense masquerading as scholarship.  It is more useful for those people to be able to help the students in their care to understand the nature of the controversies and weigh the evidence.  Neither People's History nor Debunking contribute to that effort.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Kiefer_Sutherland

Book #2: The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz



Number of pages: 368

The sixth book in the Millennium series starts with the death of a tramp, who for some reason has Mikael Blomkvist's phone number in his pocket. Inevitably, it is suspected that this was a murder, which gets connected to a tragic 2008 mission to Mount Everest. There's also a sequence at the start where Salander launches an attack on a party for a corrupt businessman by sabotaging the sound systems, although it has very little connection with the rest of the book.

Most of the regular series characters appear in this book, and it feels completely different to the previous two books, as it feels like a more straightforward murder mystery thriller.

I found this to be the most straightforward of David Lagercrantz's Millennium books so far, despite the fact that it went into flashbacks a lot. At times, the truth felt a bit guessable, but there were some surprises too. I noticed Blomkvist and Salander both ended up with new romantic interests as well.

I noticed that the theme of mental health got brought up, mostly because of the suggestion that the dead tramp at the start had been hearing voices. The main plot did neatly connect to the developing backstory involving Salander's family, and there was a very thrilling final scene. The book managed to tie up some loose plot threads, while hinting at what might happen in the seventh novel, which I'll definitely read. I'm hoping it will have more of Erika Berger, who has been reduced to a small role in the last few titles.

Overall, my favourite out of all the books in the series written after Stieg Larsson died.

Next book: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton

Book 7 - 2018

Book 7: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich - 309 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
New secrets, old flames, and hidden agendas are about to send bounty hunter Stephanie Plum on her most outrageous adventure yet!

MISTAKE #1
Dickie Orr. Stephanie was married to him for about fifteen minutes before she caught him cheating on her with her arch-nemesis Joyce Barnhardt. Another fifteen minutes after that Stephanie filed for divorce, hoping to never see either one of them again.

MISTAKE #2
Doing favors for super bounty hunter Carlos Manoso (a.k.a. Ranger). Ranger needs her to meet with Dickie and find out if he's doing something shady. Turns out, he is. Turns out, he's also back to doing Joyce Barnhardt. And it turns out Ranger's favors always come with a price...

MISTAKE #3
Going completely nutso while doing the favor for Ranger, and trying to apply bodily injury to Dickie in front of the entire office.
Now Dickie has disappeared and Stephanie is the natural suspect in his disappearance. Is Dickie dead? Can he be found? And can she stay one step ahead in this new, dangerous game? Joe Morelli, the hottest cop in Trenton, NJ is also keeping Stephanie on her toes--and he may know more than lets on about her...It's a cat-and-mouse game for Stephanie Plum, where the ultimate prize might be her life.

With Janet Evanovich's flair for hilarious situations, breathtaking action, and unforgettable characters, Lean Mean Thirteen shows why no one can beat Evanovich for blockbuster entertainment.


Thoughts:
Another significantly more entertaining Stephanie Plum novel. I'm not sure if I'm just getting used to these novels and therefore find them less obnoxious or if I'm just in the right mood to enjoy their familiarity. Either way, I read through this one much quicker than prior novels and actually quite enjoyed it - to the point where I actually thought about it when not reading it! It's the same old plot for the most part, but I think I appreciate the relative truce between Morelli and Ranger, the fact that Ranger features more heavily (he's an interesting character) and the fact that Stephanie seems to be getting slightly less dumb than in past novels. Still not stellar literature, but it's the perfect read when you don't want to think too hard!


7 / 50 books. 14% done!


2258 / 15000 pages. 15% done!

Currently reading:
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- The Road
by Cormac McCarthy - 307 pages
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
by Mark Manson - 210 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 Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
by Niall Ferguson - 536 pages