October 19th, 2019

Book 21 - 2017

Book 21: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich – 312 pages|

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
She's accidentally destroyed a dozen cars. She's a target for every psycho and miscreant this side of the Jersey Turnpike. Her mother's convinced she'll end up dead . . . or worse, without a man. She's Stephanie Plum, and she kicks butt for a living (well, she thinks it sounds good to put it that way. . . .). It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lula, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang---and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman. There's only one safe place, and it has Ranger's name all over it---if she can find it. And if the Junkman doesn't find her first. With Lula riding shotgun and Grandma Mazur on the loose, Stephanie Plum is racing against the clock in her most suspenseful novel yet. Ten Big Ones is page-turning entertainment, and Janet Evanovich is the best there is.


Thoughts:
Another Stephanie Plum novel. This one unmasks Ranger’s physical location in Trenton and needless to say its as mysterious as Ranger. I liked this inclusion; the body wash and the housekeeper and just the general imagery of Ranger’s place really works for me, and it had me looking around my own home wishing it could be that nice! The story itself is fairly standard - Ranger, Morelli, Stephanie love triangle, crazy Lula and Grandma, fairly standard crime in crime riddled Trenton. Funny stuff as usual, but not ground breaking, and it certainly doesn’t require me to think too hard. Enjoyable.


21 / 50 books. 42% done!


9126 / 15000 pages. 61% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 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 Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages

Book 22 - 2017

Book 22: Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
On August 21, 2017, more than ten million Americans will experience an awe-inspiring phenomenon: the first total eclipse of the sun in America in almost forty years. In Sun Moon Earth, astronomer Tyler Nordgren illustrates how this most seemingly unnatural of natural phenomena was transformed from a fearsome omen to a tourist attraction. From the astrologers of ancient China and Babylon to the high priests of the Maya, Sun Moon Earth takes us around the world to show how different cultures interpreted these dramatic events. Greek philosophers discovered eclipses' cause and used them to measure their world and the cosmos beyond. Victorian-era scientists mounted eclipse expeditions during the age of globe-spanning empires. And modern-day physicists continue to use eclipses to confirm Einstein's theory of relativity.Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Sun Moon Earth is the ideal guide for all eclipse watchers and star gazers alike.


Thoughts:
I happened to be in Oregon just before the eclipse in 2017. Of course, given this event, there was a lot of buzz, which manifested itself in a number of books on eclipses at any science facilities I happened to visit (I’m a science nerd, so needless to say, I often visit science centres and related museums when vacationing). This book seemed the most interesting of all those I came across. I was particularly interested in the discussion of how people have perceived eclipses throughout history. However, this book’s style was a little to dry for my taste. While it does cover the aforementioned topic, as well as the science behind how eclipses work, it doesn’t excite the reader as much as I think this topic should (which is saying something, given I’m a space nerd). Nonetheless, Nordgren does sufficiently cover the beauty and magic of witnessing an eclipse, the challenge chasers face in actually getting to see an eclipse even when in the right place at the right time (due to weather etc), and the wanderlust that such an experience fosters in a person, driving them to seek out subsequent eclipses. A fascinating topic that I feel could have been served a little better with more enthusiastic writing.


22 / 50 books. 44% done!


9352 / 15000 pages. 62% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 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
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages
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Book 23 - 2017

Book 23: Without Remorse by Tom Clancy – 750 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
John Kelly, former Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran, is still getting over the accidental death of his wife six months before, when he befriends a young woman with a decidedly checkered past. When that past reaches out for her in a particularly horrifying fashion, he vows revenge and, assembling all of his old skills, sets out to track down the men responsible, before it can happen again. At the same time, the Pentagon is readying an operation to rescue a key group of prisoners in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp. One man, they find, knows the terrain around the camp better than anyone else they have: a certain former Navy SEAL named John Kelly. Kelly has his own mission. The Pentagon wants him for theirs. Attempting to juggle the two, Kelly (now code-named Mr. Clark) finds himself confronted by a vast array of enemies, both at home and abroad - men so skillful that the slightest misstep means death. And the fate of dozens of people, including Kelly himself, restson his making sure that misstep never happens. Men aren't born dangerous. They grow dangerous. And the most dangerous of all, Kelly learns, are the ones you least expect...


Thoughts:
A few years ago, in a particular mood, I decided I wanted to read some more action/adventure style novels and I picked up a copy of Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October on sale. I then realised that Red October, whilst the original release, is not chronologically the first book in the Jack Ryan series. As I hate to read out of order, I went and tracked down the rest, and have been putting together a collection (mostly sourced at second hand book sales) over the last few years. Without Remorse, which hardly features Jack Ryan at all, was really hard to come by, so I ended up buying it off book depository, only to have the postman leave it down the side of my house where I failed to notice it for several days. It got wet in the rain, and the book is novel double the size due to the way it dried. But nonetheless, it was readable. I read most of book while on a cruise with friends (when my friends were sleeping off their hangovers - I don’t drink). This book is mostly about John Clark, who features in the John Ryan novels. It’s a solid story, that kept my enthralled despite its ridiculous length. I’m sure some serious editing could have been done, but the book didn’t necessarily feel bloated as I’ve heard some of Clancy’s later books could use. I was most moved by the story at the beginning, that kicks off Clark’s journey - the story of the young woman who Clark develops affection for. It’s really sad, and a total kick in the face to the idea of trying to better yourself. Overall, a good read.


23 / 50 books. 46% done!


10102 / 15000 pages. 67% done!

Currently reading:
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 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
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages

Book 24 - 2017

Book 24: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth.


Thoughts:
This is a gorgeous book. Leant to me by a work friend, it tours the senses, describing how they work, how they interact, how we interpret the world with them, how people use them in unusual ways. Ackerman’s descriptions and use of language is gorgeous; she makes you feel, as if you could experience the sensory images she describes merely by reading her words. It’s a wonderful read.


24 / 50 books. 48% done!


10417 / 15000 pages. 69% done!

Currently reading:
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 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
- Eleven on Top
by Janet Evanovich – 280 pages

Book 25 - 2017

Book 25: Skinny by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Together, they can feel themselves slipping and are holding on for dear life.
This honest look at the special bond between sisters is told from the perspective of both girls, as they alternate narrating each chapter. Gritty and often wryly funny, Skinny explores family relationships, love, pain, and the hunger for acceptance that drives all of us.


Thoughts:
This book struck me as strange, and the ending made little sense - I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going on in the end. Giselle comes across as a strong individual but she hides a terrible secret. This book very much looks out how many anorexia sufferers use food as a means of control, when they feel they can’t control anything else. Holly, Giselle’s younger sister, witness her sister’s destruction, but is unable to stop it. I thought this book would speak to me as I have a younger sister, but the confusing ending really tainted the rest of the book for me, and I didn’t get as much out of it as I was hoping to. It is a quick read, so if you can accept the ending, and the topic is of interest, its still worth a look.


25 / 50 books. 50% done!


10661 / 15000 pages. 71% done!

Currently reading:
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages
- Eleven on Top
by Janet Evanovich – 280 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
- For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
by Jedediah Purdy – 214 pages