ITHCWY: Robert Ellison's Blog

Book reviews for May 2017

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

5/5

Stonking near future bio thriller.

 

Book reviews for April 2017

Palace of Treason (Red Sparrow Trilogy #2) by Jason  Matthews

Palace of Treason (Red Sparrow Trilogy #2) by Jason Matthews

3/5

 

Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason  Matthews

Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason Matthews

3/5

Reasonable spy thriller, strangely has a recipe at the end of each chapter which cuts through any tension. You end up wondering what snack in each chapter is going to be featured at the end. Ruins the pacing. Doesn't work as a cookbook either as the recipes omit quantities and cooking time and instead just touch on ingredients and rough technique.

 

Excessive Book Reviews

You know how you're debugging and comment out that return statement that stops book reviews from being posted more than once a month so you can get to the bottom of a problem without constantly deleting posts? And then you get distracted and push a new version of the blog software with that return statement still commented out? Thankfully that task is only scheduled to run every four hours. Sorry.

Book reviews for March 2017

UnHappenings by Edward Aubry

UnHappenings by Edward Aubry

4/5

 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

4/5

 

Book reviews for February 2017

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

5/5

Stories of Your Life was made into Arrival, and it's a great story but just one of many in this book. Only one fell flat for me. Ted Chiang has a thought and then takes it so devastatingly literally that it will take you a while to stop thinking about it.

 

The End Has Come (The Apocalypse Triptych, #3) by John Joseph Adams

The End Has Come (The Apocalypse Triptych, #3) by John Joseph Adams

4/5

A cunning ploy - like most sets of short stories this is a mixed bag. The sting in the tail is that most continue in some form through all three books in the series so you have to read all three (if you have trouble not finishing a story, there isn't an executive order or anything). It's probably more of an investment than the material warrants (I'd have preferred a single and more tightly edited volume). It does however include a new strand of the Wool saga as well as a few other standouts so if you have the time, dive in.

 

Book reviews for December 2016

The End is Now by John Joseph Adams

The End is Now by John Joseph Adams

4/5

Review coming with book 3...

 

The End is Nigh by John Joseph Adams

The End is Nigh by John Joseph Adams

4/5

Review coming with book 3...

 

Night School (Jack Reacher, #21) by Lee Child

Night School (Jack Reacher, #21) by Lee Child

4/5

I much prefer flashback Reacher to modern day midwest town trauma Reacher. This is one of the best.

 

Book reviews for November 2016

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

Far future space pirates. Awesome.

 

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

3/5

The overall message is good - focus on making your users actually awesome rather than you looking awesome with some concrete strategies to find out what that is and how to get there. A central theme is removing barriers to effective usage. The product here is a book. It was hell to read on my phone. Now if the graphics were large and central to the message and couldn't be done other than in some weird non-standard way I might forgive this. But all I needed to on every page was zoom in to get rid of the needless massive borders. That's all it took. Hundreds of times. So I'd recommend this if you still like paper books or are some sort of tablet toting throwback but on phone? No.

 

Book reviews for October 2016

The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

4/5

Affecting story of a boy (and family) who are forced to disconnect thanks to a category five storm. First non sci-fi Howey that I've read and it's one of his best.

 

Presence by Richard MacManus

Presence by Richard MacManus

2/5

Plodding retread of VR tropes.

 

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

3/5

 

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

3/5

Jon Ronson visits with the Alt Right. It's good but not a revelation.

 

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

3/5

Everything is getting more complicated. This book suggests we abandon the physics based approach of trying to understand systems in a reductionist way and switch to biological thinking - sample, study the ecology, embrace a glimpse of understanding and forget knowing everything. Gulp.

 

Book reviews for September 2016

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

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.