Category: Books (Page 2 of 45)

Brandon Sanderson – Oathbringer

I had such mixed feelings on finishing this book and I think I’m still processing, so while this isn’t a normal book review, here’s a brain dump:

  • I’ve been reading for almost a whole month and I’m really glad I’ve finished it.
  • I can’t believe it’s over, I want to keep reading forever.
  • I can’t believe the fourth book isn’t written yet
  • I can’t believe how much action was packed into the last 200 pages.
  • Have I actually been holding my breath for the last 2 hours?
  • How many plot-twists is it possible to fit into the ending of one book?
  • How long will it be until I can get my hands on the next book?
  • I need to know what will happen next.
  • Why, Brandon, why?!
  • Shallan and Adolin <3
  • But Kaladin…
  • JASNAH!!!
  • So many feelings, I just can’t process.
  • Bridge Four forever!
  • Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination

I’m actually still in shock from some of the things that happened at the end of the book, and all joking aside, I’m actually really gutted that I can’t just move onto the next book, having read the last ones back-to-back.

The book does feel like it’s so long it probably could have been split into two parts quite easily, there’s definitely ‘stages’ to the book where you can sense it could have been a good point to break. I mean, look how huge it is (and no, that’s not an espresso mug)!!

Until I can form coherent words and sentences, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“That wasn’t so uncommon a feeling for him. He felt good lots of days. Trouble was, on the bad days, that was hard to remember. At those times, for some reason, he felt like he had always been in darkness, and always would be. Why was it so hard to remember? Did he have to keep slipping back down? Why couldn’t he stay up here in the sunlight, where everyone else lived?”

“Failure is the mark of a life well lived. In turn, the only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone.”

“‘The question,’ she replied, ‘is not whether you will love, hurt, dream, and die. It is what you will love, why you will hurt, when you will dream, and how you will die. This is your choice. You cannot pick the destination, only the path.’”

““I will take responsibility for what I have done,” Dalinar whispered. “If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.””

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.64
1233 pages. Published in: 2017
Read in Paperbackon 27th August – 22nd September 2018
Robert C. Martin - Clean Code

Robert C. Martin – Clean Code

I was lent this book over a year ago by my work, but for one reason or another, I’ve never quite got round to reading it (I blame Brandon Sanderson!). But having now read it, I do wish I’d got around to reading it before.

Read now, the book for me reinforced a lot of the things that I’ve learnt over the last year, as well as introducing a few new ideas, but if I’d read it a year ago I think I would have appreciated the things I was learning a lot more.

The book introduces many ideas for practices that we, as professional developers, should be following to ensure our code remains clean. Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s the best it can be, and in order to maintain the code for future years and future developers, we need to try our best to keep the code clean so that it’s more future-proofed, and also less likely to contain bugs.

Reading through the book brought to mind so much code that I’ve worked on in the past, both worked on by myself and by developers from the past, and made me think of habits that I’m guilty of that I’m going to try my hardest to change.

The only negative for me in this book was that the code examples were written in Java which I’m not familiar with – obviously it’s not too hard to pick up the meaning of the code, but I think I would have been happier with examples written in C# instead – and as I would recommend this book to any new programmer, it could be more off-putting for them. But I’d still recommend it anyway!

My rating: 4/5Average rating: 4.39
2008 pages. Published in: 434
Read in Paperbackon 301th November 2017 – 19th September 2018

Enid Blyton – The Boy with the Loaves and Fishes

I picked up this book on a trip to one of my favourite places – Barter Books in Alnwick. If you’ve never been there – go. Seriously, it’s the best book shop. I love it for finding old books like this that you would never find anywhere else – this book only has 1 review on Goodreads and it’s not available at Waterstones or other bookshops.

But it was a delightful little book – a re-telling of the Bible story of the feeding of the five thousand, but from the perspective of the boy who brought the loaves and the fishes that Jesus used.

Told with Enid Blyton’s distinctive style, it was nice to think of this story from the perspective of the people that were there. It’s a story that I’ve heard so many times that I kind of take it for granted now, but the book was lovely and thoughtful.

Originally published in 1955, I can tell that this book was much loved at the time, as the original owner has tried to colour in some of the pictures and left little scribbles in the book.

And speaking of the pictures, the illustrations were great – from the outside the book doesn’t look at all like modern children’s books, but the illustrations make it a lovely experience to read.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.5
64 pages. Published in: 1955
Read in Hardbackon 15th September 2018

Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance (part 2)

Ahhhhhhhhh! I’ve not been so invested in a book for quite some time, it just seemed like it got more and more thrilling the more pages I turned, it made a 2.5 hour train journey pass in what seemed like no time at all, and left me gutted that I couldn’t stay on for an extra 20 minutes as I was so close to the end!

As I predicted in the last review, Shallan’s influence really comes to the fore in the second half of Words of Radiance, she’s definitely the driving force behind the plot and takes the story in a direction that I would never have guessed!

But my favourite Kaladin plays a major part too which I was so glad about. We see many flashbacks to Shallan’s childhood in this book and we can piece together what happened to tear her family apart and how she ended up searching out Jasnah in the first place.

The book culminates in a battle the likes of which I’ve never read before, when the countdown finally reaches 0 and the Parshendi unleash the Everstorm in a dramatic and brutal way. I felt so absorbed in what was going on and the descriptions drew me in so much that I felt like I was in on the action, and it felt like I had adrenaline running through my veins until the drama was over (or at least, until it had abated slightly).

I won’t give away any spoilers (even though it’s really hard not to), but the book took a very dramatic twist at the end, so far wild of anything I would have predicted, and now I’m desperate to get onto Oathbringer. I’m just glad I’ve bought it in E-book format, even though I have a signed hardback copy, as it’s 1,243 pages long.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.82
564 pages. Published in: 2014
Read in Paperbackon 21st – 26th August 2018

Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance (part 1)

I’m not sure I can find words grand enough to describe my feelings for this book, I could gush about it for days. I’d love to know how Brandon Sanderson manages to write books with such complex worlds and characters, that are so fast paced and yet still sooooo long! This particular book, for instance, was so long they had to publish the paperback in two parts. You’d think that there’d be parts where you’d be bored, but not at all!

What I’m loving is that in this book, the characters that seemed so distant to each other in the first book are now all meeting or coming close to meeting and those stories that didn’t seem like they could be related at all are now building into something much more epic!

I have to say, my favourite character is still Kaladin, although Shallan is playing a much greater part now and I’m liking that we get to see much more of her back story and her powers and influence are growing. She’s definitely going to be a character to watch.

I still can’t quite figure out Dalinar/Adolin, they seem like good guys, but I’m not 100% sold on that. We finish this book with Adolin saying “I’ll see it done”, in reference to winning shardplates from those Highprinces who are opposing Dalinar and siding with Sadeas, but I’m not convinced that he will be successful, and if that happens, I don’t know what that will mean for the kingdom. As much as I’m unsure about Dalinar and Adolin right now, I know for sure that I don’t want Sadeas anywhere near the crown.

I can’t wait to move on to part 2, and then Oathbringer after that. I can’t even predict what is going to happen, but I know it will be epic!

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.76
653 pages. Published in: 2015
Read in Paperbackon 31st July – 21st August 2018

Gemma Willis & Emma Randall – Diary of a Disciple: Luke’s Story

I bought this book thinking I was just reading it to check if it would be okay for our Sunday School/Youth Group kids, but actually I ended up loving it for myself too!

This beautifully designed hardback book is a re-telling of Luke’s Gospel, aimed at children and perfect for them to read either by themselves or with their parent or in a group.

I really liked the informal style of the writing which made it feel really relatable, it was kind of like being read a bedtime story by Luke himself. I think that the style of writing would make it really easy for children to get to grips with and for them to memorise parts of it too.

The text on the pages is well spaced out so that the pages are not overwhelming, which does make the book feel thicker that it might otherwise be, but it was a quick read for me, I read the whole thing in 2 sittings. For a child it would obviously take longer, but it’s a book that they could treasure.

I loved how the author/illustrator drew attention to certain words within the text by drawing them larger or illustrating around them, there were many times when that little detail really changed the way I felt about the sentence I was reading in a way that I have never got from a Bible.

That probably shows me that I need to slow down when reading my Bible and see what happens when I place focus on different words, but this style really helped.

I would really recommend this for any children’s groups. It was written so that you could just pick out a specific part for reading within the group if the whole book is too much, and I’ll definitely be thinking of ways to incorporate it into my groups.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.2
352 pages. Published in: 2016
Read in Hardbackon 28th July 2018 – 29th July 2018

Brandon Sanderson – Mitosis

Unfortunately, I think my opinion of this book may be clouded by the fact that I paid £8.99 for a book that was ultimately only 45 pages long. I bought it as a physical book rather than an ebook because I wanted to complete my Brandon Sanderson collection, but when I looked online, it said that it was 96 pages long. Turns out that half those pages are the start of the next book in the series.

But apart from that obvious disappointment, the novella itself was great, as you would expect from a Sanderson book (even if they’re usually 20x longer!). Taking place in between Steelheart and Firefight, it was a nice little filler story, and a great way of introducing us to a new Epic. I’m not sure if reading this was really necessary before starting Firefight, but at least I won’t be feeling like I’ve missed out.

After starting the book talking about what sounded like a delicious hot dog, we’re introduced to a new Epic called Mitosis, who can split himself into unlimited cloned copies of himself. Unfortunately, the more clones he makes, the more unstable he becomes.

But he’s returned to the city to find the Steelslayer and demand the truth about how Steelheart died. Can David and his team find out his weaknesses before it’s too late?

Well all I will say is that it won’t take you long to find out! It probably only took me 25 minutes to finish the story, which was finished off with some new artwork of Epics who I assume will feature heavily in the next book. Can’t wait to meet them properly!

My rating: 4/5Average rating: 3.87
96 pages. Published in: 2013
Read in Hardbackon 28th July 2018

Sarah Millican – How to be Champion

Sarah Millican has been one of my role models for a long time. Unashamedly proud of who she is, I look up to her for so many reasons.

I would whole-heartedly recommend you go and buy this book now while it’s still 99p on Kindle, it was a fantastic read.

Part autobiography, part advice, I found it so hard to put this book down. I loved the style it was written in, short chapters and lots of bullet points and lists made it so easy to read, and I swear I read the whole thing with Sarah’s voice narrating in my head.

It was great to get a glimpse of Sarah’s childhood growing up in the North East, then learning more about how she got into comedy (turns out divorce was great for her).

“I often think it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle it.”

If you’ve ever watched Millican do standup (I saw her at a warm-up gig in Preston which was fantastic), the book is filled with the kind of anecdotes you would expect. Not afraid to mince her words and say what she feels, there were actually times I was shocked at what was written, it seems more ‘out there’ in print than as a joke in a stand-up routine.

The thing I loved most was that the book was honest and raw at times, not afraid to hide anything.

“I didn’t mind the rest of the office knowing I was having counselling. I’ve always been pretty open about it to pals. The way I see it, I get my car checked regularly, why wouldn’t I do the same for my brain?”

The little ‘helpful tips’ at the end of each chapter were great too, I wish I could print them off and hand them out to people as handy reminders!

Don’t be mean to people you know and don’t be mean to people you don’t. You have no idea what someone is dealing with at the time. Be nice or be quiet.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.28
320 pages. Published in: 2017
Read in E-Bookon 24th-28th July 2018

Giovanna & Tom Fletcher – Eve of Man

Imagine if all of a sudden, all the babies being born were boys. If that happened for a single day, you’d think it was a bit weird, but what would happen if that carried on for years?

Well it turns out that if there are no girls being born, people start to feel there’s no hope left for humanity, and the world starts being destroyed at an alarming rate.

But then a miracle, a girl is born. She’s taken into care by the government so they can make sure she’s safe from all the men in the world who have never seen a woman younger than their own mothers.

But it appears like not all is as it seems, and Eve starts to feel like maybe they don’t have her best interests at heart. What if she doesn’t want to become a baby factory, a vessel for the government to try to produce another girl?

Enter Bram. He’s spent most of his life acting as Anna’s virtual holographic best friend, but he has fallen in love with her, and he feels like the feeling could be reciprocated. Now he wants to get out, and he wants to take Eve with him.

I LOVED the idea behind this book and it kept me completely gripped throughout. When I got to the end and realised that this book was the first part of a trilogy, I was absolutely gutted that I now have to wait for them to write the second book!

The one thing that I missed was a proper world-building. In other books I’ve read in this genre area, I’ve felt completely immersed in the location, but I felt a bit disconnected if I’m honest. I could completely imagine the dome where Eve lives, but I found it harder to visualise the wider world. I would have loved that to be described more.

Saying that, I can’t wait for book two, I’m hoping that it builds on what we’ve seen in the first book and takes us deeper towards being fully immersed in Eve and Bram’s futures.

 

My rating: 4/5Average rating: 4.26
400 pages. Published in: 2018
Read in Hardbackon 10th – 22nd July 2018

Eliyahu M. Goldratt – The Goal

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages after reading The Phoenix Project last year, and I finally got around to it after spotting it on the shelf at my local library (sidenote: libraries are awesome).

I think the thing I appreciated the most about this book was that it felt so easy to read. The fact that it’s written like a story really helps the facts sink in without it feeling dry or boring. I also love the fact that you come to the same realisations as the main character just at the same time as he does, so you really feel invested in the success of his efforts.

I wish I’d read this book a year ago when we started implementing these practices within our team at work as it would have made those practices seem much more intuitive from the get go.

I actually can’t believe this book was written 24 years ago as it still seems so completely relevant. The industry may have changed, but the techniques mentioned are applicable to so many industries that it doesn’t matter.

I would really recommend this book to anyone working in any kind of job that involves delivering a product to a customer, whether that product be physical or virtual, it may well just change the way you think!

My rating: 4/5Average rating: 4.02
384 pages. Published in: 1984
Read in Paperbackon 3rd – 10th July 2018

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