March 28th, 2016

Dead Dog Cat

#34

The weekend being busy and yet not constantly, I managed to finish another book, this one being Osprey Elite #11: Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny, about German military units that equipped themselves with captured American vehicles, weapons, and uniforms to capture specific bridges and sow seeds of confusion in the Allied rear during the Battle of the Bulge. It had its moments, but all-in-all not as engaging as I might have hoped for.
Briana and Aunty Tara

Books 15 & 16 - 2015

Book 15: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
ONE FINE MESS Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash-fast-but times are tough, and soon she's forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family...ONE FALSE MOVE Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company. She's got no experience. But that doesn't matter. As does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants, to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water-wanted for murder...ONE FOR THE MONEY Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn't. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she'll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight-and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man...

Thoughts:
I’ve been collecting these books for years with the intention of one day reading them. I decided upon finishing the Series of Unfortunate Events books that I would start this series. Basically, I read a book in the series and then I read four other books, and then I read the next in the series. I’m not sure why I came up with this, but nonetheless, it’s the rhythm I’ve gotten into. I knew enough about this series from reading the blurbs and seeing bits of the movie (which I’ve since gone back and watched) but it was good to finally read it. Firstly, even though I’ve seen the movie, I can’t see Katherine Heigl as Stephanie. Stephanie is a fairly relatable character even if she doesn’t exercise enough and eats too much (how does someone eat like she does and only be like 125 pounds! I exercise every day and eat super healthy because I’m gluten intolerant and I’ve never weighed anything less than 150 pounds!). Katherine Heigl, to my mind, is not relatable. But anyway, that’s not important. Stephanie’s lack of motivation/ambition etc, annoys me, but I can see why she’s managed to carry this series for so long. She’s funny, and a bit dopey, but she’s got a good heart, and she’s fairly intelligent when she wants to be. Also Morelli is an engaging character. He’s funny and charming and he and Stephanie have a great chemistry (you can see the future romance a mile away, but oh well). The mystery, like the Bones books I’ve been reading for so long, are fairly forgettable, but do their job of driving the character development along. All in all, it was a good story, and a good start to the series.  I’ve got a copy of every book up until number twenty, and I’ve enjoyed the series enough that I intend to keep on reading.


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


4886 / 15000 pages. 33% done!

Book 16: The Other Side of Despair: Jews and Arabs in the Promised Land by Daniel Gavron – 240 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
This compelling book takes the reader behind the headlines of the confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, examining its human dimension and setting it in a balanced historical context. In his search for understanding, Daniel Gavron talks to Israelis and Palestinians of all backgrounds and shades of opinion. Politicians and economists, entrepreneurs and writers, psychologists and teachers, men and women, veterans and youngsters, fervent militants and pragmatic realists all speak in these pages. We hear the Palestinian fighter and the Israeli soldier, the Jewish settler and the Arab Israeli, the negotiators from the opposite sides of the table, the bereaved parents. Reflecting the excruciating agony of both societies, these diverse voices emphasize the basic humanity of both peoples.

Thoughts:
This was another book I picked up to read for my religion assignment, and decided to read from start to finish. This one was done as individual sections interviewing people living within Israel within different areas of societies. It provided a very different take on the situation, and to some extent legitimizes the different arguments involved. Some of them I agreed with, some not so much. It was heartening to read the perspectives of parents determined to ensure the deaths of their children were not replicated, rather than purely seeking out revenge. On the flip side, the points of view of people who did seek revenge, sometimes for events that had occurred before their time, was disappointing, even if it was understandable on occasion. I won’t say it’s a topic I’m super passionate about, but it was an interesting read, and I’m glad I now know more about the topic.


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


5126 / 15000 pages. 34% done!

Currently reading:
-        Work’s Intimacy by Melissa Gregg – 198 pages
-        Guernica by Dave Boling – 368 pages
-        Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – 220 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
-        Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich – 300 pages
Briana and Aunty Tara

Books 17 & 18 - 2015

Book 17: Dragon Ball Z: "It's Over 9000!": When Worldviews Collide by Derek Padula – 76 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball is the world's most recognized anime and manga series, having entertained millions of fans across the globe. The legendary rivalry of the last two full blooded Saiya-jins, Goku and Vegeta, is the iconic example of a lifelong conflict that inspires fans to burst through their own personal limits. With a foreword by Ryo Horikawa, the Japanese voice of Vegeta, Dragon Ball Z "It's Over 9,000!" When Worldviews Collide is the first book to explain where "It's Over 9,000!" came from, how the original video spread to receive over 7 million views, and why it continues to be such a popular catchphrase. Featuring a thoroughly researched analysis of Goku and Vegeta's colliding worldviews, this book helps the reader better understand why conflict is necessary for profound personal growth and character development. Referencing East Asian belief systems and high tech futuristic paradigms, Derek Padula, the author of The Dao of Dragon Ball book and blog, provides a deeper understanding of this epic story and the inherent values within it. It will forever change the way we look at Dragon Ball Z.

Thoughts:
I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z. My first favourite character was Trunks, son of Bulma and Vegeta – the biggest plot twist in the story’s hundreds of episodes/manga chapters. In my late teens, I loved Videl, the feisty daughter of the lying-but-has-his-heart-in-the-right-place Mr Satan, and then Bulma, super genius, richest women in the world, main female character, and then finally, I settled on Vegeta, the story’s main anti-hero, the antithesis to main character Goku. Vegeta has always appealed to the part of me I keep very tightly locked up – the angry, bitter, opinionated part of me that I’d rather didn’t exist. He’s a Prince, a mass murderer, a man fueled by competition, pride, and a desire to be the very best. And out of the blue, he has a child with the main female character, the feisty, super smart, female lead, Bulma – one of the few characters able to strike fear into the hearts of fiercest warriors in the universe (and these days, in the new series, able to frighten the crap out of the Gods!). Their relationship is initially very much of the ‘we share a kid and that’s about it’ nature, but in time, they marry, and its Bulma that seems to anchor Vegeta to this group of crazy super heroes. In time, it is evident that he is devoted to her in a way that comes to be quite contrary to his dead race. On the other side, Goku, the hapless hero loves everyone and no one at the same time. The man portrayed as a Japanese Superman in the American adaptation (and with a back story pretty much ripped straight from Superman!) is not as noble as he appears in the original Japanese cut, makes sometimes terrible decisions, is an absent father and husband, but gets away with it all because he’s so damn loveable (and he saves the world on a regular basis). Anyway, the rivalry between Goku and Vegeta, each other’s opposite, has in time become the cornerstone of the Dragon Ball franchise, to the point where they now effectively co-headline the new series Dragon Ball Super. This book is an analysis of these two very different characters and what drives them, and how they evolve throughout the series. It’s an interesting read, something like a thesis, though it is quite repetitive. It focuses on the belief systems that underpin the Dragon Ball series (and its inspiration ‘Journey to the West’) in order to explain the challenges both men face, and how they come to be who they are by the end of the series (the book is written pre-Dragon Ball Super, so there’s a certain level of character development that’s not covered, as well as a few factual errors). For a fan, it’s an interesting read, even with its repetitiveness. Definitely recommend for Dragon Ball Z fans, but a fascinating read if you’re a fan of interesting character dynamics, or East Asian culture and belief systems.


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


5202 / 15000 pages. 35% done!

Book 18: Jaco the Galactic Patrolman by Akira Toriyama – 247 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Akira Toriyama, manga legend and creator of Dragon Ball Z, is back with the quirky comedy Jaco the Galactic Patrolman! Retired scientist Omori lives alone on a deserted island while continuing his research into time-travel. His quiet life is interrupted when galactic patrolman Jaco crash-lands and decided to move in with him. Can Jaco get along with the old man long enough to save the earth from a dangerous threat? Includes a special bonus chapter introducing Dragon Ball Z hero Goku's parents!

Thoughts:
In 2009, Fox made a truly terrible Dragon Ball movie. This movie so offended the story’s creator, Akira Toriyama, that he set about telling some more of the story himself. This is part of that continuation, some eighteen years after the story ended. Jaco is a Galactic Patrolman who must stop the terrible Saiyan race from getting to Earth. Crash landing on Earth, he seeks the help of a reclusive scientist and a teenage girl. This story is set about eleven years before the start of the original Dragon Ball story, and the teenage girl turns out to be the older sister of Dragon Ball/Z/GT/Super’s main female star, Bulma. This story is pretty basic but it does a really great job of expanding the universe’s lore, and of introducing some new fun characters. Tights, the teenage girl and the older sister of Bulma is a fun, smart, driven character, just like her sister, and Bulma’s short cameo (she’s five years old) demonstrates her very special brand of intelligence, which has long made her one of my female role models. The book also contains a small additional chapter providing Toriyama’s definitive back story for how Dragon Ball main character Goku came to be on Earth, though it contradicts the various other stories told by Toei (the animator of the series) but not created by Toriyama himself. This story is very Superman-esque, but it’s a cute edition to the lore anyway. Overall, not mind-blowing, but a cute story staring some well known characters and some cute new ones. A story readable without being familiar with the Dragon Ball universe.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


5449 / 15000 pages. 36% done!

Currently reading:
-        Work’s Intimacy by Melissa Gregg – 198 pages
-        Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – 220 pages
-        Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich – 300 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 Meteor Crater Story by Dean Smith – 69 pages