zerosleeps

Since 2010

Reading log

A list of things I’ve read since about January 2019.

2019 was backfilled from memory and will have holes, but the listings for 2020 onwards are accurate.

2021

The Martian

Andy Weir. Science fiction. Re-read 2021-10-16.
★★★★★
Third read. I reckon this is my favouritest book ever.

Cocaine Blues

Kerry Greenwood. Fiction. Completed 2021-10-10.
★★☆☆☆
Harmless but lacked substance.

The Hunt for Red October

Tom Clancy. Fiction. Completed 2021-10-03.
★★★☆☆
Ugh I don’t know. I nearly gave this two stars, but I didn’t hate it. I’m indifferent. It took me bloody weeks to get through, I can tell you that. A very detailed story, with lots of characters and locations to keep track of. I think it’s just the subject that turned me off - I normally love detail in a story, but sneaky warfare and military stuff doesn’t work for me. Maybe I’ll watch the movie - I can imagine how it would make a good movie.

Camp

L.C. Rosen. Fiction. Completed 2021-08-27.
★★☆☆☆
I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this one. It was a sweet story, and I’m really happy books like this exist in the world though. Maybe if it had existed/I had read it about 25 years ago I’d have given it more stars.

Cockpit Confidential

Patrick Smith. Non-fiction. Completed 2021-08-21.
★★★★☆
I follow the author’s blog, and it seemed appropriate to dig into this book - which was already sitting in my queue - having just finished that MH370 book. It’s clear the author enjoys his industry, and he’s a great communicator. I’m a sucker for “behind the scenes” stories about everyday events.

The Disappearing Act: The Impossible Case of MH370

Florence de Changy. Non-fiction. Completed 2021-08-15.
★★★★☆
I followed the hunt for MH370 with interest, and I’ve read a wee bit about the mystery since. This author seems to have spoken to a lot of people over the last few years and makes a fairly solid case that the commonly accepted cause of the flight’s disappearance is a load of crap. The story we all know, about the rogue pilot and the incredibly accurate route he took in order to remain hidden, really doesn’t make sense to me after reading this book. At the same time, how on earth could any alternative solution have been kept so well hidden by so many people for so long?

Thirteen

Steve Cavanagh. Fiction. Completed 2021-07-31.
★★★★☆
I really enjoyed the way the stories being told met in the middle. There was a good balance between letting the reader know what’s about to happen, and keeping the next twist hidden from us. I might check out some more of this author’s work.

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun

Jonny Garza Villa. Fiction. Completed 2021-07-18.
★★★☆☆
Fine. Medium. The letter the main character sends to his asshole dad in one of the last chapters was 👌

Neither Here Nor There

Bill Bryson. Non-fiction. Completed 2021-07-16.
★★★★☆
Och I love a good Bill Bryson book, and I’d never read this one before. I’m never in these ones for the travel - he just makes me laugh!

The Midnight Library

Matt Haig. Fiction. Completed 2021-07-09.
★★★☆☆
Had some feel-good moments, some of which came close to being eye-roll clichés, but it all held together nicely in the end. The story was overall a rather interesting concept.

Catch-22

Joseph Heller. Fiction. Abandoned 2021-07-07.
☆☆☆☆☆
This is the second time I’ve attempted this “classic”, and while I made it further this time than last time I still only got about one-sixth of the way into it before giving up, mid-paragraph, in an agitated strop. I don’t get it. How is this on every “must read before you die” list? By about the second page there’s a cast of 300 characters you have to keep a track of, and there’s almost never any link between one sentence and the next. What a load of old shit.

Red, White and Royal Blue

Casey McQuiston. Fiction. Completed 2021-06-27.
★★★★★
Great fun with an enticing premise. Made me laugh out loud several times, which isn’t something that happens very often. Surprisingly mucky in sections, not that I’m a prude or didn’t enjoy those sections… Anyway it was clever, funny, romantic (but not too lovey-dovey), and very well put together.

The Coffinmaker’s Garden

Stuart MacBride. Crime fiction. Completed 2021-06-24.
★★☆☆☆
Ugh this was a struggle, especially on the back of that 5-star-er by Weir. That aside, I didn’t care for this one - didn’t care about the characters, didn’t care about the outcome.

Project Hail Mary

Andy Weir. Science fiction. Completed 2021-05-30.
★★★★★
Holy hell yes. This has a very similar feel to “The Martian”, with the same sort of humour and plausable science, but with a kind of… a kind of unexpected love story thrown in. I want to re-read this already!

Date Me, Bryson Keller

Kevin van Whye. Fiction. Completed 2021-05-21.
★★★★☆
I’m a sucker for these young adult, coming-out, self-discovery stories. They make me feel all sorts of things, and cause me to relive my own late teenage years.

The Switch

Beth O'Leary. Fiction. Completed 2021-05-18.
★★★☆☆
Yeah a pretty easy and intriguing story once I got into it. Somewhat predictable, but just enough “gotchas” to keep things interesting. I’ve realised that I quite enjoy stories where each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character.

Mouse Tales

David Koenig. Non-fiction. Completed 2021-05-02.
★★★★☆
This was fun, and I like the way the book was structured.

Wonder

R. J. Palacio. Fiction. Completed 2021-04-18.
★★★★★
Hey look - a rare 5 star-er! A beautiful story, told in an interesting way.

Hope Close

Tina Seskis. Fiction. Completed 2021-04-08.
★★☆☆☆
So much potential, but it became apparent in the last quarter that this one was not going anywhere interesting. Desperate Housewives without any of the drama or fun or unpredictability.

The 45% Hangover

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2021-03-14.
★★★★☆
I’m not sure this one counts as a “book”: it calls itself a novella and it only took a couple of hours to get through. I really enjoyed it though - it was a short, sharp, funny little story focussing on our favourite characters from the Logan McRae series.

All That’s Dead

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2021-03-06.
★★★★☆
My 9th from the Logan McRae by my count. I enjoyed this one - it had fewer characters and names to keep track of than some of the books from this series, which is fine with me. Had a couple of good “wow” moments towards the end too.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train

William Kuhn. Completed 2021-02-18.
★★★☆☆
Not sure about this. It was quirky and amusing to think of HRH going AWOL and making breakfast for people. The personal stories of the characters never landed though. I also felt like there was a lot of work done so that the different back-stories would intertwine, but they never did either.

What If It’s Us

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Completed 2021-02-13.
★★★☆☆
I think the target audience for this is half my age, but it was fast and fun and relatable in an I’d-rather-not-remember-those-years kind of way.

Star of the North

D. B. John. Fiction. Completed 2021-02-08.
★★★☆☆
It took me ages to get into this, but something told me I should persevere and about half-way through it started properly drawing me in. I’m not sure the pay-off was worth it hence my tepid review. The North Korean theme was interesting and thought provoking though, I’ll give it that.

Fourteen

Shannon Molloy. Autobiography. Completed 2021-01-25.
★★★★☆
An emotional and relatable story.

Into The Black

Evan Currie. Science fiction. Abandoned 2021-01-24.
☆☆☆☆☆
Nope. Too much war and military shit.

The Martian

Andy Weir. Science fiction. Re-read 2021-01-12.
★★★★★
Yep, easily keeps it’s 5 stars after my first re-read.

What Happened

Hillary Rodham Clinton. Autobiography. Completed 2021-01-09.
★★★☆☆
Long one, but kept me interested and entertained throughout. She deserves a rant, but that wasn’t the tone of the book at all: it was calm, factual, and kept an eye on the big picture. The edition I got has an addendum Clinton added about a year after initial publication, which was excellent - nice to get her thoughts after the dust of the 2016 election had settled a bit.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Douglas Adams. Fiction. Abandoned 2021-01-03.
☆☆☆☆☆
I closed my review of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by saying “I bought the whole series, so I’ll certainly continue with it.” Well I tried, but it wasn’t making me happy. Not funny, not clever.

How to Build a Car

Adrian Newey. Autobiography. Completed 2021-01-02.
★★★☆☆
I don’t usually go for autobiographies but the topic of designing Formula 1 cars sounded interesting. As with most autobiographies, there was more than enough self-congratulations, but what’s the point of writing a book if you can’t toot your own horn eh? Most of the engineering sections were about aerodynamics which doesn’t really float my boat, but it did open my eyes to the world of competitive racing a bit.

2020

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops

Shaun Bythell. Humour. Completed 2020-12-24.
★★★★☆
A short and fun read.

Cold Heart Creek

Lisa Regan. Fiction. Completed 2020-12-23.
★★★☆☆
It was only now when I looked up the author of this one that I saw it’s book seven in an ongoing series. Might keep an eye out for others. Didn’t blow my socks off but had some good twists and held my attention.

Blind Eye

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-12-15.
★★★★☆
Yep, another MacBride. Enjoyed this one. Good humour as well. By my count I’ve now read the first seven Logan MacRae books from the series (not in order though).

Shatter the Bones

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-12-05.
★★☆☆☆
Just two stars for this Logan McRae. I think that’s on me though: I just wasn’t able to hold the names of the main players in my head, so I was constantly moderately lost.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Non-fiction. Re-read 2020-11-28.
★★★★☆
This one gets better the further you read - the first couple of chapters are proper astrophysics and completely beyond me. Crams a lot of information into a little book.

The Betrayals

Bridget Collins. Fiction. Completed 2020-11-16.
★★★★☆
Big fan of Collins’ “The Binding”, so I was looking forward to the release of this one. Didn’t quite get the full 5-stars from me, but boy do I enjoy her writing. She manages to play with time and narrators in a way that leaves you curious, but never confused. The story got a bit too luvvy-duvvy towards the end for me, but as with “The Binding” I suspect there are nuances and layers that only a second read will reveal.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Michael Connelly. Fiction. Completed 2020-11-12.
★★☆☆☆
Took me ages to get through this one and I almost gave up about 20% of the way through, but it just managed to keep a hold of me. I dunno, it sort of felt like the story was constantly setting up for something that never happened.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taylor Jenkins Reid. Fiction. Completed 2020-10-21.
★★★★☆
I really enjoyed the style of this one, jumping between the present and the past. I didn’t think I’d care for the general subject that much, but the way the story was told made up for it. And a lumpy-throat ending too! I’ll keep an eye on this author.

The Mother Tongue

Bill Bryson. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-10-10.
★★★★☆
Bryson never fails to crack me up. This was a good fun read. A little dense in places perhaps, but boy the amount of research that must have gone into this one is staggering.

How to Make the World Add Up

Tim Harford. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-09-28.
★★★☆☆
Ach it was fine. Difficult to take a book that preaches the scrutiny of statistics seriously when the book itself is full of statistics. See also this post.

Flesh House

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-09-20.
★★★☆☆
Another Logan McRae, another three stars. Very graphical, pretty confronting, but a disappointing ending that lacked a solid conclusion.

Broken Skin

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-09-11.
★★★☆☆
Number 3 in the Logan McRae series. I’ve said it before about these novels, but I really do enjoy the Scottish-ness of them. This one was pretty easy to follow, and had a good amount of humour as well.

Bandwidth

Eliot Peper. Fiction. Completed 2020-08-31.
★☆☆☆☆
I have got to stop buying books from the Kindle Daily Deal. Exciting premise, flat execution. And bloody hell does the bloke enjoy long fancy sentences. Thesaurus much?

Molly’s Game

Molly Bloom. Autobiography. Completed 2020-08-16.
★★★★☆
I didn’t think I was one for autobiographies, but this was a pretty exciting read. Parts of the story are so unbelievable they have to be true.

The Binding

Bridget Collins. Fiction. Re-read 2020-08-12.
★★★★★
My first re-read of this one, and it keeps all five of it’s stars. As I suspected I would, I picked up on lots of little threads second time through that went largely unnoticed on my first read. Hits me in the feels.

The Last

Hanna Jameson. Mystery fiction. Completed 2020-08-04.
★★☆☆☆
Was immediately hooked on the premise, and the first half of the book unravelled very nicely, but then it started to become clear that we weren’t going to get any answers or satisfying conclusions. Sure enough, it just… ended.

The Quantum Magician

Derek Kunsken. Science fiction. Abandoned 2020-07-27.
☆☆☆☆☆
Nope. Persevered with this for way longer than I should have because I really wanted to like it. The basic plot was intriguing, but it was dense reading. Felt like the author had spent years building a massive, complicated world, and then a long-weekend cramming the whole bloody thing into one average sized novel.

Dying Light

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-07-12.
★★★★☆
I’ve been jumping around the Logan McRae series a bit, but they do all manage to stand up by themselves. This is number 2 in the series, and I read number 1 back in May, and have given both 4 stars. A special shout-out to the self-deprecating humour about crime novels in this one!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams. Fiction. Completed 2020-07-04.
★★★☆☆
Hm. Weird, but I knew that going in. It got a couple of chuckles out of me, but not as many as I hoped for. I suppose I was expecting greater things because this is one of those cult everyone-knows-a-line-from-it classics that’s hyped up. I bought the whole series, so I’ll certainly continue with it.

Dark Blood

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-06-27.
★★☆☆☆
Another from the Logan McRae series. Didn’t enjoy this one. Couldn’t get into it, and there were way too many characters and disconnected stories for me to keep a track of.

Artemis

Andy Weir. Science fiction. Completed 2020-06-16.
★★★★☆
As I promised myself, Weir’s other big novel. Not as good as “The Martian”, but I still really liked this. Hope he writes more!

The Martian

Andy Weir. Science fiction. Completed 2020-06-08.
★★★★★
Ploughed through this one in a couple of days, which says it all. The movie has become one of my favourites, and I don’t usually like reading books after having seen the movie, but there were no disappointments here. Fantastic humour, well considered and plausible science, and a caught-me-by-surprise wave of emotions towards the end. Really want to read “Artemis”, Weir’s other big novel now.

West Winging It

Pat Cunnane. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-06-06.
★★★☆☆
My last couple of reads were Kindle daily deals and I didn’t rate them very highly, so time to read something from my list. West Winging It never got deep into politics, keeping things more about office shenanigans, which was fine by me! A little haphazard perhaps. The author has unique stories to tell, but was never boastful. A real fast and fun read.

Origami Man

Matthew FitzSimmons. Crime fiction. Completed 2020-05-30.
★★☆☆☆
There was nothing wrong with this, and it wasn’t a struggle to finish, but at the same time I was never excited about reading the next chapter. Was half-way through before I realised this is part of a series - whether that had an impact on my enjoyment or not, I don’t know.

The Outsider

Stephen King. Supernatural crime fiction. Completed 2020-05-20.
★★☆☆☆
I don’t think I’ve read a King novel before. I knew going in that I’m not a fan of supernatural stuff, and this book hasn’t changed that. Nice mystery, likeable characters, lots of visual, but nah not for me.

Cold Granite

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-05-10.
★★★★☆
After reading “The Blood Road” last week (which I got on the cheap in one of Amazon’s Kindle daily deals) I decided to check out the first book in the McRae series. Was not disappointed. Gritty, extremely gory, but with great humour as well. I’ll be reading more of these.

The Blood Road

Stuart MacBride. Fiction. Completed 2020-05-03.
★★★★☆
I was not prepared for the Scottish-ness of the setting and language used by the characters! It took me straight back there. I might pick up a few more MacBride novels just to have in stock.

Seveneves

Neal Stephenson. Science fiction. Completed 2020-04-25.
★★★★☆
Took me a while to get through this one. I can’t decide whether reading things on Kindle, and therefore having no physical sense of progress through a book, is good or bad. Anyway, the first two thirds of Seveneves had me absolutely bloody hooked. Apparently “hard science fiction” is a genre, and one which I will certainly be reading more of. Fantastic blend of actual science with science fiction. The last third of the book lost me a bit as it became about people rather than science. Would have been an easy 5 stars otherwise.

Exactly

Simon Winchester. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-04-04.
★★★★☆
I enjoyed the progression through this one. Author has an old fashioned style of writing and loves enormously long sentences. Last chapter about Japanese watchmakers didn’t fit in either. Everything else was delightfully engineering-ey though.

No Man’s Land: the untold story of automation and QF72

Kevin Sullivan. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-03-14.
★★★☆☆
First half was suitably technical and rather exciting. There was a big chunk of self-pity and the guy blaming inanimate objects in the middle, but it picked up towards the end with nerdy details and Air Force stories.

The Diary of a Bookseller

Shaun Bythell. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-03-11.
★★★★☆
Recommendation from a friend. Ripped through it in a couple of evenings. Good fun, slightly repetitive, and the bloke got grumpier towards the end. Lots of laughs though. Kept finding myself reminiscing about life in Scotland as I was reading it as well.

Mockingjay

Suzanne Collins. Fiction. Completed 2020-03-08.
★★★☆☆
Mm. Thought the start of this one halted the pace of the second half of “Catching Fire”. Picked up again after a few chapters though. Lacked the climactic finish I was hoping for. Still, I’m looking forward to watching the movies now.

Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins. Fiction. Completed 2020-03-03.
★★★★☆
Did not go where I thought it was going to go, and that’s a good thing! On to the final in the trilogy next.

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins. Fiction. Completed 2020-02-26.
★★★★☆
Easy to read, and left lots of interesting possibilities. Looking forward to reading the next couple of books in the trilogy.

Disrupted: Ludicrous Misadventures in the Tech Start-up Bubble

Dan Lyons. Non-fiction. Completed 2020-02-19.
★★☆☆☆
Started off pretty interesting, but the last third was just the guy moaning about the way he was treated. Relatable, but I’ve got my own problems, thanks.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2020-02-11.
★★★★☆
Finished the series! I’m definitely going to re-read the whole lot in a few months as I just know there are lots of clever little threads that I’ll have missed on this read. I got a bit lost with Deathly Hallows - who had what wand and which horcruxes had already been found and and… A very satisfying conclusion though.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2020-02-01.
★★★★★
My favourite book in the Harry Potter series so far. Tied together a whole bunch of stuff from the previous books, and answered lots of questions. The magical universe felt pretty tight in this one as well - there wasn’t just magic for the sake of it, and the consequences of potions and spells were explained a little more. I suspect a full re-read of the series would uncover lots of layers I’ve missed.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2020-01.
★★★☆☆
I could feel my brain starting to loose track of all the characters and magical stuff in this one. Kindle X-Ray saved me a few times when a character cropped up that I was obviously supposed to have remembered from one of the previous four books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2020-01.
★★★★☆
No review.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Caroline Criado Perez. Abandoned 2020-01.
☆☆☆☆☆
Enlightening and thoughtful, but became repetitive after a few chapters. Gave up about ¾ of the way through this one.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2020-01.
★★★★☆
No review.

2019

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2019-12.
★★★★☆
No Review.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

J. K. Rowling. Fiction. Completed 2019-12.
★★★★☆
An easy read. I’ve read the Harry Potter series before, and was worried that the movies would cloud my mind’s eye during a re-read, but I needn’t have been concerned.

Twas the Nightshift before Christmas

Adam Kay. Non-fiction. Completed 2019-12.
★★★★☆
A short and sweet companion to “This Is Going To Hurt”. Equally as funny. I like that Kay clarified a couple of things from his first book in this one, and explained why he ended up quitting the NHS.

The Couple on Cedar Close

Anna-Lou Weatherley. Fiction. Completed 2019-12.
★★★☆☆
Easy read, and there weren’t as many characters to keep track of as I feared when I started this one. A few twists but nothing that blew my socks off.

One Word Kill

Mark Lawrence. Science fiction. Completed 2019-12.
★★★☆☆
Very imaginative, but didn’t give me a burning desire to read the next book in the series.

Made In Scotland: My Grand Adventures in a Wee Country

Billy Connolly. Autobiography. Completed 2019-11.
★★★★☆
Plenty of laugh-out-louds. Classic Connolly humour.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Bill Bryson. Non-fiction. Completed 2019-11.
★★★☆☆
I’m a big Bryson fan, but I wasn’t sold on the way he whizzed through the major organs of the body in this one. I suppose you have to draw a line somewhere, and while each chapter was full of fascinating facts, I frequently felt unsatisfied at the end of them.

To Obama

Jeanne Marie Laskas. Non-fiction.
★★★★★
A roller coaster of emotions! Impossible to imagine anything as compassionate as the work presented in this book going on inside the 2019 US administration. This was recommended to me by a friend, and I have since recommended it to several other people who have all praised it.

This Is Going To Hurt

Adam Kay. Non-fiction.
★★★★☆
Very funny, but don’t read this while you’re recovering from an illness or about to go into hospital for any reason!

Humble Pi

Matt Parker. Non-fiction. Completed 2019.
?????
No review.

The Hunt For MH370

Ean Higgins. Non-fiction.
★★★★☆
Pleasingly technical, pretty haunting, but somehow reassuring.

How To

Randall Munroe. Non-fiction. Completed 2019.
?????
No review.

The Binding

Bridget Collins. Fiction. Completed 2019.
★★★★★
I really enjoyed this. It was dark and mysterious and had twists I didn’t see coming. I cried at the end 😳

The Cocaine Diaries

Paul Keany with Jeff Farrell. Non-fiction. Completed 2019.
?????
No review.

Chernobyl

Serhii Plokhy. Non-fiction. Completed 2019.
★★★☆☆
Interesting enough but as with most modern history books I end up reading, was much more about the people and politics than it was about the science and engineering.

Daisy Jones & The Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid. Non-fiction. Completed 2019.
★★★☆☆
No review.