January 1st, 2020

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Book 2 - 2018

Book 2: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich - 413 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, where bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's life is about to implode in Janet Evanovich's wildest, hottest novel yet!
FIRST A STRANGER APPEARS
While chasing down the usual cast of miscreants and weirdos, Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her.
THEN THE STRANGER REVEALS HER SECRETS
The woman dresses in black, carries a 9mm Glock, and has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to dark and dangerous Carlos Manoso ...street name, Ranger.
NEXT, SOMEBODY DIES
The action turns deadly serious, and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer.
SOON, THE CHASE IS ON
Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now, the two are working together to find a killer, rescue a missing child, and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, vice cop Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in. Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve...or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum...forever?


Thoughts:
This was by far my favourite Stephanie Plum book so far. I actually laughed out loud a handful of times, and I flew through it (I had a large print copy as well, which I think helped). A genuinely interesting mystery, lots of Morelli and Ranger, but with the right amount of tension between the two men, sufficient Lula/Connie/Vinnie/Grandma without being overwhelming. And for the first time, Stephanie actually felt remotely competent at her job - she managed to apprehended half a dozen or so bad guys, and watching her train Meri proved she’d actually learnt some things over the previous eleven books. Probably my only gripe was the fact that I kinda wish Ranger would lay off a little - Stephanie is obviously with Morelli, and even though she does struggle a little with her feelings for the two men, it kind of annoys me that Ranger tends to take advantage of this. But it’s a minor gripe, and if more of these books were like this one, I think I’d really enjoy them more. Overall, a five star book in a 3.5 half star series.


2 / 50 books. 4% done!


737 / 15000 pages. 5% done!

Currently reading:
- The Lexus and the Olive Tree
by Thomas Friedman – 378 pages
- Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential
by Dr. Carol S. Dweck – 288 pages
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 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
- Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff - 310 pages
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Book 3 - 2018

Book 3: The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman - 382 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In this vivid portrait of the new business world, Thomas L. Friedman shows how technology, capital, and information are transforming the global marketplace, leveling old geographic and geopolitical boundaries. With bold reporting and acute analysis, Friedman dramatizes the conflict between globalizing forces and local cultures, and he shows why a balance between progress and the preservation of ancient traditions will ensure a better future for all. The Lexus and the Olive Tree is an indispensable look at power and big change in the age of globalization.


Thoughts:
I really wanted to rate this book more highly, and my rating does bear in mind that it is a book written 20 years ago, but the last section really got my back up. I assume Friedman is writing to an American audience, which in a way is funny, because it completely misses his own point - that even the literature world is globalised now and when you spend 100 pages telling your country how freaking amazing it is, you literally just perpetuate the very issue you discuss - how good America can be at really pissing off the rest of the world. But I digress.
Given this book was written in the 90s, pre-9/11, GFC etc, he does a pretty impressive job predicting much of globalisation's (and thus the world's) future. He talks about the risk of terrorism, about the risk of financial crises, about the invention of something to keep us connected 24/7 (he calls it Evernet, we call it Wi-fi - an Australian discovery!). His points are valid and nail much of what actually did happen over the past twenty years - the future to Friedman at the time, the past to us now. But then he uses the last 100 pages to talk up America and how integral it is to globalisation. And its not that he's wrong because it is. What he fails to understand is that America isn't actually as pro-globalisation as it might appear - he misses Trump and the strong anti-globalisation sentiment in the States, he misses the fact that America is still much better at pulling down other's trade barriers than it is its own, he misses the fact that America literally caused the GFC because of insufficient regulation. And he misses (though he claims otherwise) America's arrogance, by talking about how good damn awesome they are, and how god damn shit the rest of us are. I love you, America, I really do, but bloody hell, I get so tired of you thinking you’re perfect. I know my country isn't perfect - I'm not blind to its faults - but far out America, you need to invest some of that capital in a mirror!


3 / 50 books. 6% done!


1119 / 15000 pages. 7% done!

Currently reading:
- Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential
by Dr. Carol S. Dweck – 288 pages
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
by Michael Wolff - 310 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
- Strayapedia
by Dominic Knight - 232 pages
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Book 4 - 2018

Book 4: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff - 310 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time.

The first nine months of Donald Trump's term were stormy, outrageous - and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

- What President Trump's staff really thinks of him
- What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
- Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
- Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn't be in the same room
- Who is really directing the Trump administration's strategy in the wake of Bannon's firing
- What the secret to communicating with Trump is
- What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers
Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.


Thoughts:
The only word I have to describe this book is chaotic. And I don't mean that in reference to the book's content (though it too is at epic levels of chaotic), but rather in the way Wolff has laid it out. It's confusing, its all over the place, its a book written either assuming the average reader knows just who all these randoms floating around the White House are (and maybe the average American does, maybe its my nationality that is adding to my confusion), or assuming that it doesn't matter who the players are - maybe its simply trying to demonstrate the insanity of the Trump White House. The problem is that all it does is take away from Wolff's point - that the Trump White House is a mad house. Consequently, it makes the unbelievableness of some of the antics described ever more unbelievable. I honestly don't know what to think after having read this book - I feel no more convinced that Trump is inadequate to be President, because Wolff has not truly convinced me that all he describes is true. Maybe I'm naive, and I'm not saying I think Trump is actually the perfect person to be President, I'm not even saying that I doubt some of the stories in this book, but by the same token, I'm equally sceptical of the media's intentions, motives and feelings on Trump, and I can't help but take their words with a grain of salt too. Alas, I can only give this book three stars. Its rapid rush to publication is obvious in more ways than one.


4 / 50 books. 8% done!


1429 / 15000 pages. 10% done!

Currently reading:
- Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential
by Dr. Carol S. Dweck – 288 pages
- Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
- Strayapedia
by Dominic Knight - 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
- Lean Mean Thirteen
by Janet Evanovich - 309 pages
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Last books and reading wrapup

71. Raven Black by Ann Cleaves
First in the Shetland mystery series. In the wee hours of New Year’s Day, two teenagers stop by the home of the local recluse, and a few days later one of them is found dead in the field leading to his home. This case has parallels to a missing child from several years ago, for which he was suspected but never charged. Good introduction to the characters and landscape without getting bogged down in exposition. Related to the BBC series but with only one story in common. Read 26-30 December.
72. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Poignant family story about a young African American girl coming of age in Brooklyn in 2001. Told from POVs of her parents and grandparents as well as her own, taking place at various points in time. Not as engaging as Brown Girt Dreaming, but still memorable. Short read. Good way to close out the year. Read 31 December.
Wrap up
• 72 books total, 62 authors, 43 new-to-me authors, 48 female authors, 13 authors of color
• 35 mysteries, 15 historical, 13 speculative, 8 children’s/YA, 6 NF/biography
• 2 books in translation, 1 movie adaptation (Artemis Fowl, May 2020)
• Oldest published in 1935, newest published in September 2019
• Favorites: Brown Girl Dreaming, With the Fire on High, Inheritance
• Least favorites: Christmas Cake Murder and The Silver Dream
• Non-fantasy settings included 24 US States, Canada, Mexico, France, UK, Ireland, Lithuania, Bolivia
• Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge completed, bailed on Read Harder and Litsy Booked2019
• Volunteered at National Book Festival and attended local book festival
• Other than a trip to B&N based on a request from myspouse, patronized only indie bookstores
• In 2020 I want to seek out more diverse authors/settings and reduce my backlog of partially finished books