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Search tags: Battles
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text 2017-08-14 17:20
My life in books
Headlong Flight - Dayton Ward
Rewinder - Brett Battles
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Night Comes Early - Burt Gabot
Superman Unchained - Scott Snyder

Reading has been my past time in a long time. Growing up in the province my access to reading materials when I was a kid is very limited but I was contented with reading the short stories in my English and Filipino textbooks. In high school, I now have access to fiction books from the school library. Most of the books in the library are the classics and literary novels. These were required reading and we have to make book reports so reading them became a chore and not enjoyable. Until I found out about the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. I pretty much enjoyed those books. In college I may have forgotten reading for pleasure. Even if I had time to read, the college library does not carry fiction novels. The only time I enjoyed reading is from reading the comics collection of a friend. I remember reading issues of X-Men, X-Factor, Superman, and D.P. 7.

 

My interest in reading returned when I chanced upon a battered book when I already started working. It does not have a cover and the story is set on a world where technology is based on organic materials and not on metals. The story intrigued me and I kept on reading the book during my down time. Too bad I can’t remember the title of the story or who wrote it. This book showed me that my genre of choice is science fiction (or speculative fiction in general).

 

Since I am already working (meaning I have the means) and staying in the city (meaning I have the access), I can now buy my own reading materials. The bookstore is like a candy store! Too many books to choose from. The bookstore also introduced me to Star Trek original novels and media tie-in books in general. This is also the time that I started buying comic books, mostly from the X-Men line. And then I discovered used books stores. The books are dirt cheap. Then I started hording. I also branched to magazines by this point.

 

It came to a point that I acquire 5 but only finishing 2 then acquiring a new batch again. I realized that this a problem when I moved apartments more than 3 times now. I now have a book buying ban: buy one paperback book at most in a month. I am now shifting to electronic books and digital comics. Also a recent development, listening to audio books. I am pretty much becoming format agnostic as long as I like the story. In the next few months, I will try to unload my paperback books. (Cue Elsa, “let it go, let it go...”)

 

I have a bad habit of starting a book but not finishing it or reading multiple books at a time. Also when I read a book, I pretty much jump to another book immediately. I do not give myself enough time to reflect on the book I read. When someone asks me how I see the book, all I can say is “I liked it” or “not liked it” with no further elaboration. I would like to change that. Well, I tried it before but the only word that can describes my attempt to write reviews is “terse”. Most actually fits as a tweet.

 

How should I do it? I asked myself. I need a structure. So I made one that I hope I can follow (I might also use these guide questions as section headings).

1. Why did you pick this up?
2. What is it?
3. What is it all about? (for non-fiction)/What happened? (for fiction)
4. Did you liked it?
5. Would you recommend it?

There you go, a book review for at least 5 sentences!

 

I will also do a status update on the first 10% placing my initial impression of the book. And on the 20% mark or after 50 pages (whichever comes first), I will evaluate if I need to proceed reading. If I will DNF the book (short for did-not-finish), I will post a status update as to why and if I there is chance that I might revisit the book in the near future.

 

I now have a plan for this book blog. I hope I can stick with it. Crossing fingers.

 

 

Wow, I write more than 700 words this time! Nice!

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review 2017-05-13 20:05
Sad!
Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever - Patrick J. Buchanan

A view of the Nixon presidency, through the eyes of it's arch conservative member, Patrick Buchanan. The detail is amazing. The author must either have an incredible memory, or kept notes on everything he has done.
Throughout the book, the central theme is that Buchanan's ultra conservative beliefs are the only path to success for the United States. Everyone who has a differing opinion is just wrong, and is the enemy. (Sounds eerily familiar to the current administration). It must be something to be so sure of oneself, and to have never an inkling of doubt of one's beliefs, or that you may sometimes be wrong. However, I think it would be a sad and lonely existence. It makes me feel bad for Mr. Buchanan.

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text 2017-03-28 02:41
Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption - Ronald E Yates

Interview with the author at New Books in Historical Fiction. He's a journalist by training and inclination, as well as a former radio host, so lots of fun to listen to even if the book is not your usual cup of tea.

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review 2016-09-22 00:00
Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World - Bruce Schneier I love the topic. I love the details provided in this book. But, to tell a story you need more than a great topic and a bunch of facts. One needs a narrative and an attitude to tie the pieces together. This book lacked the story telling 'je ne sais quas" (literal: "I don't know what", but figuratively "elusive quality") though he does have the attitude.

I don't think there is any current topic where I could be more interested in than along the lines of the merging of the data that is out there with computers and algorithms, and I would consider Edward Snowden a hero, because what we have learned from him and the potential to do harm (as well as good) with the merging of big data with computers and the power of using context and content that both government and corporations (and even private citizens) can use against us (or for us) as a potential threat to our liberty or a boon to our equality. Complete liberty means no equality, and complete equality means no liberty. There is a balance and books like this can offer a guideline, but it needs the story to tie the pieces together with a narrative of some kind.

I'll give an example, of a book that I just recently read. "Rise of the Machines", by Thomas Rid. He covers many of the same topics that were covered in this book, especially on the part of encryption and PGP (pretty good privacy). At the same time that book always had a theme woven into the story as a whole in which he was tying all the pieces together, and even summarized them in the final chapter for the dense reader like me. This book, "Data and Goliath", doesn't interweave them coherently and therefore made what should have been an incredibly exciting story for me into a dull story with a lot of facts.

My problem with this book is not that it didn't give the listener plenty of details, but it didn't give the listener an easy story to tell so one can, for example, share with colleagues over the water cooler while at work. The values we use to explain the world through science would include: simplicity, accuracy, prediction, fitting in to the web of knowledge, and lastly the ability to explain. In order to explain, one needs a story to put the pieces together this book doesn't offer that. (Galileo had a story to tell as well as plenty of details. Read "Dialogs Concerning Two Chief World Systems", e.g.).

I'm in the minority on this book. It gave me details which I loved, but it lacked a over arcing narrative that I could wrap my mind around. Good fiction needs a story to hook the listener, and non-fiction needs that narrative even more as to not bore. I like all genres of non-fiction except for the boring kind.
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review 2016-04-12 15:22
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

5/4 - Another book from my school days that I haven't read since, at least 14 years ago (I'm not sure which year I was in when it was the set reading). Another book where my tolerance for injustice will be tested. I think the only war book that I've read from the German point of view, but except for calling the enemy 'Tommy' and the fact that most of the names aren't what you would expect to hear from a group of Australian, American, or British soldiers, this could have been written by a soldier from any army from either side of the war. This was the book that taught me that the average German soldier had a pretty similar experience to the average Allied soldier - inappropriate clothing for the conditions, not enough food, a lot of hurry up and wait, too many dead friends, men too old to go off to war encouraging the boys to join up and fight for their country - simply put no matter who you fought for it was a horrific experience for any 18-year-old boy that left a generation of men permanently damaged. To be continued...

 

12/4 - I consider that I have reasonably strong ties to 'the Western Front' (for an Australian of my generation) and a high level of interest thanks to the presence of my two paternal great-grandfathers. One was with the 22nd (I can never remember who was in which battalion or who went through which specific experience, so I won't be able to name them), the other the 24th infantry battalion of the AIF. Their battalions were practically neighbours on the battle field, it's amazing that they both made it back home and ended up brothers-in-law. A kneecap was blown off by the shrapnel of a passing grenade and they were both gassed, and reading the chapters of that were set in the hospital really made me think about what they went through while they recuperated in whatever hospital they were sent to (records do exist, but they're very faint and the handwriting is a nearly illegible scrawl). Were they sent to hospital with friends or did they go alone? How many men did they see being taken away and then never saw again while they lay in their bed, not knowing if it was going to be their turn next? Of course, they lost many friends, in fact one of them was discharged from the AIF a sergeant because all of his commanding officers died in battle and he was the only one left with enough experience to reliably hold the position. I never actually knew either of them, they both died before I was born, but I have heard a lot about them from their children (my grandparents) and my father who was close to both of them. 24 years later my grandfather enlisted in WWII and he went through many of the things his own father and future father-in-law did (although, knowing my grandfather as I did, I doubt they talked about their experiences). He was with the 2/6th Field Ambulance in New Guinea and the surrounding islands and almost never mentioned what he saw or did during the war. All that kept running through my head while I was reading was that the 'others' Paul and his friends were fighting could have been one of my ancestors' battalions and how it was pretty much luck that my great-grandads made it home (and thus, indirectly enabled me to be here) and Paul and his friends didn't.

 

2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Category: A Banned Book (this was banned by the Nazis after they came into power in 1933, it was in fact one of the first so called 'degenerate books' to be publicly burnt).

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