Book reviews for September 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

2/5

Given that matchmaker businesses include stock exchanges, newspapers and shopping malls the claim that the field of economics only 'discovered' them in 2000 is the most interesting fact in this book. It doesn't sound like it can possibly true and either casts serious doubt on the credibility of the authors or on the entire field (including the authors).

Looking past the amazing recent discovery of multi-sided platforms the book is very light on any actual theory beyond the trivial - for example pricing may include a subsidy to one side and platform ignition is hard. Really. There are some good anecdotal accounts of specific businesses and there is a small amount of insight to be gained here. Overall I'd say avoid though.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

4/5

 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

3/5

 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

3/5

Solid thriller based on the multiple universe interpretation of quantum physics.

 

Book reviews for August 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

4/5

I've been occasionally checking in for the third part of Ashby's Machine Dynasty series and discovered that instead of finishing that off she wrote Company Town instead. Which is a good thing. This is fast paced and feels effortless. It's the story of a future town bought by a family dynasty and the bodyguard to the heir apparent. Hard to say too much more but I loved it.

 

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

2/5

 

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

1/5

Bell has a remarkable ability to fatally self-contradict himself in the space of a single sentence.

 

Book reviews for July 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7) by Charles Stross

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline

3/5

OK, but lots of foreshadowing, not much shadow.

 

Book reviews for June 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster, #2) by Robert Bryndza

The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster, #2) by Robert Bryndza

4/5

Decent police thriller, a notch up from the first in the series I thought. I'll buy the next one.

 

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers by Ian Stewart

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers by Ian Stewart

4/5

A tour of mathematics through the device of looking at what's interesting about different numbers. Brought back all sorts of things I learned in school and university that are now slowly fading again.

 

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1) by Robert Bryndza

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1) by Robert Bryndza

3/5

Bit linear but fun.

 

Book reviews for May 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt

3/5

I didn't realize this was just a collection of blog posts! There are some good ones for sure (my favorite is the evisceration of Good to Great for the exact same reasons that I hate that book). But it's just some blog posts and they're mostly too short and not fleshed out.

 

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

2/5

I'm not really sure what the point of this book is. I guess Dawkins is trying to bring people round to believing in science and so the main device used in the book is to mock religions and myths for a while before sketching in a light summary (very light for the non-Biology sections) of some area of science. If you're in it for the science then you're going to be mostly disappointing. If you're not of a scientific bent then you're going to be alienated by the heavy handed myth bashing and so I don't think you're going to be in a positive frame of mind to listen to what Dawkins has to say when you get the science bit. Not recommended for either audience.

 

Three Tales from the Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Three Tales from the Laundry Files by Charles Stross

3/5

 

The Mind Club by Daniel M. Wegner

The Mind Club by Daniel M. Wegner

3/5

The central theme of this book is some research about how people feel about different kinds of minds. At it's heart it's a Harvard Business Review style quadrant analysis with the two dimensions being doing and feeling (and doers doing things to feelers). This isn't nearly as interesting (or difficult) as actually trying to understand different minds. This is touched on briefly and mainly via that experiment where people report that they made a decision half a second after their body started doing the thing that they decided to do. Which is fascinating and hard to explain but it's only really a detour here. The meat of the book is how people feel about dogs and dead people and gods. There are some interesting anecdotes and the book is saved by the good humor and gentle snarkiness of at least one of the authors.

 

Book reviews for April 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
The Phoenix Descent by Chuck Grossart

The Phoenix Descent by Chuck Grossart

3/5

It's billed as a bit of a scifi time travel adventure but really it's more of a zombie apocalypse variant. Not really my thing so I initially hated it but that hatred turned to respect and finally, love. Well maybe not quite love but it's a decent read.

 

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad

4/5

Very personal and sometimes florid but deeply fascinating story of the Indian Army in World War 2.

 

Book reviews for March 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

2/5

I found it hard to care for anyone in this book. Pedestrian mystery.

 

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

3/5

Getting into diminishing returns here. Good, but not Silo/Sand good.

 

Beacon 23: The Complete Novel (Beacon 23 #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Beacon 23: The Complete Novel (Beacon 23 #1-5) by Hugh Howey

3/5

 

Book reviews for February 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Sand (Sand, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Sand (Sand, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

4/5

Very good, I was rather hoping Howey was a one hit wonder but now I see that I'm going to have to read the whole cannon.

 

Cockroaches (Harry Hole, #2) by Jo Nesbø

Cockroaches (Harry Hole, #2) by Jo Nesbø

4/5

Finally the #2 Hole has been translated. It's a good one. Sad because it's saying goodbye all over again.

 

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

4/5

Starts with a black guy called Me in the Supreme Court for slavery and gets progressively more weird and funny from there. Excellent.

 

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

5/5

Stonking collection of perfect short stories. After I finished each one I was gutted that it wasn't turned into a whole book.

 

Book reviews for January 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Starhawk (The Academy, #7) by Jack McDevitt

Starhawk (The Academy, #7) by Jack McDevitt

3/5

It's a prequel - how Hutch became Hutch - and because of that it's a bit limited in scope. Comfortable filler with a few good moments - worth reading for completeists.

 

Book reviews for December 2015

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

3/5

I always want to like Kim Stanley Robinson more than i do, this time was no different. It's a generation ship colonization story with a pretty decent if depressing twist and I really enjoyed the fist half of the book. After that it gets pretty slow and repetitive and then ends in a pretty unsatisfying and trite way.