Review of “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

Title: A Brief History of Time
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 5 hours 46 minutes
Published: 2012, Phoenix Books (originally published 1988)
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. Although he has been widely published within his specialized field, A Brief History of Time is the first work he has written for the non-mathematical layman. In it he explores the outer reaches of our knowledge of astrophysics and the nature of time and the universe. The result is a revelation: a book that not only serves as an introduction to today’s most important theories on the cosmos but affords a unique opportunity to experience one of the most imaginative and influential thinkers of our age.

Confined to a wheelchair for the last twenty years by a motor-neurone disease, Professor Hawking is best known for his work on black holes. But here he turns his mind to the biggest question of all: the search for a unified theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Always in the clearest, most accessible terms, Stephen Hawking reviews the great theories of the cosmos. From Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Poincaré, and then moves on into deepest space for the greatest intellectual adventure of all. Could time run backwards? Will a “no boundary” universe replace the big bang theory? What happens in a universe with eleven dimensions? These are just some of the questions considered with devastating lucidity and brilliance in A Brief History of Time, a work that is bound to become a classic of its kind.

 

MY REVIEW

I feel that my grade for this book is not fair. But the truth is that I did not connect with the narrator (and no, it’s not THE Michael Jackson). I have never zoned out so easily during an audiobook before. It might be because of the narrator or because I’ve had so much else to think about the past week. In either case, I will reread this at one point. I feel that this book has so much more to give me than what I got.

It’s been more than 30 years since it was originally published and there has happened a lot since then. But nothing is outdated and it still feels very relevant.

I really like that Hawking involves god in all of this. I’m not a believer myself, but I do like that he as a scientist at least tries to see where such a person possibly could fit in our cosmos.

I have now listened to his first and last scientific book and both are without any formulas or mathematics in it which is great! The universe is complicated as it is. And many ideas and theories are far beyond my reach of understanding. But at least now I’m aware of some theories that I can read more about now.

I believe that the grade should be at least one more than 3.5. But my gut tells me 3.5 right now and I always go with it.

Review of “Killing Giants” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Killing Giants
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #6
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 100
Published: 2019, HarperCollins
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Mogadorians have captured Six and Sam and brought them to Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of their mysterious master plan to get their revenge on the Garde. It’s the opening night of a spectacular new show, and dozens of special guests, the media, and tons of spectators have flocked to Sin City—which can only mean one thing: the Mogs are planning something truly devastating.

Luckily for Six and Sam, they’ve yet to find a prison that can hold them. When they do manage to escape, and finally regain control of their Legacies, they will have to race against the clock to try to stop their old adversaries once and for all. And if they can’t succeed, they—and countless others—will suffer the consequences.

 

MY REVIEW

The last installation in this side story to Lorien Legacies Reborn did not feel like the last. Well, it did. The story ended, the bad guys lost, the good guys won. But there was a cliffhanger at the end. Will there be more? I think chronologically, Return to Zero (the third and last of Lorien Legacies Reborn) is taking place after Killing Giants, and I just started reading it, so maybe there will be answers on how that cliffhanger plays out?

I finished this in one night and that helped me find my love for reading again. Just reading a couple or ten pages each time does not give me as much feeling for a book as longer sittings do. Maybe that’s why I liked this so much that I did?

The setting was Las Vegas and it felt like it was just the one scene taking place the whole novella. Which was great. The story flowed very easily and naturally.

Is it really only one book left from Pittacus Lore?

I give Killing Giants 3.5 out of a possible of 5.

Review of “Obsidio” by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Obsidio
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 615
Published: 2018, Alfred A. Knopf
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Kady, Ezra, Hanna and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

MY REVIEW

The third installation in the Illuminae Files series took me way too long to finish, 9 months. Wow. Not okay! Which is probably the main reason why I didn’t enjoy it as much either. It was a long time ago that I read Gemina and I didn’t really enjoy reading such a big hardcover book (since I’ve gotten used to reading on my ereader) and therefore finished several ones on my ereader while trying to finish this brick. It’s not a heavy book to read, it’s an as easy read as the first two in the series, still written in the same cool way with compiled files. Many video transcriptions, which makes sense in the scenes of this book. But the physical book is big and I didn’t have it as an e-book.

Since it took me so long to finish it, I found it very hard to remember the characters, but then the winter holidays came and I finished more than half in just a few days and I got into it again and remembered everything that happened before so it’s not my laziness that drags down the grade a bit. When I started reading a lot again, I still had a very hard time understanding the characters and telling who was who. Maybe that is the downside of writing in chat logs and radio transmissions? But still, the authors manage to get that high level of details and complexity in the story perfect. And this type of writing really works well with action. The end and conclusion to this trilogy really ends well. Without spoiling, the ending was not unexpected but very satisyfing still.

The other books in this trilogy got fours, but because of how difficult it was to keep track on the characters (especially the ones up on the ship, the characters down on Kerenza IV was very easy to know), the grades lowers a bit to a 3.5.

But all in all: a really interesting and fascinating space battle story well worth your time!

Review of “Introvert – Den tysta revolutionen” by Linus Jonkman

Title: Introvert – Den tysta revolutionen (~Introvert – The Silent Revolution)
Author: Linus Jonkman
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 243
Published: 2013, Forum
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

An underrated personality type.

Do you speak before you think or think before you speak? Are you uncomfortable when a salesperson comes up to you in the store or do you think it is just pleasant? Are you as most creative when you work alone or when you work in a group?

In our time “outgoing and flexible” seems to be the most sought after attributes on the job market, social competency is valued higher than specific work competence and the loudest person usually gets his or her way. It is a time where attributes such as inward looking, thoughtfulness and stillness have been classed as mental diseases. It is a time where introversion is confused with shyness, arrogance, and asocial behavior. Nothing could be more wrong.

Introversion and extroversion is a biologically hard-boiled part of our personality. This has been known and researched on by scientist for more than a hundred years. Despite this, there’s always new additions to the subject. Linus Jonkman takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the introverted world. He tells of his and other’s experiences as introverts and explains the differences and similarities between extroverted and introverted people. Much of the friction that we experience in our lives, both privately and professional, have roots between these different personalities. The understanding of what it means to be an introvert has increased significantly lately. But we have yet to seen is a job ad searching for an introverted person.

In a world where everything is going faster and faster and where the noise gets stronger and stronger each day, it can be an advantage to be an introvert, and the people who have that gift can call themselves lucky.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve always known that I was an introvert but I’m still really glad that I read this book. First of all, it was funny. I laughed! I recognized so many things and the author described them in funny ways. But it also made me realize that I’ve been trying to be someone that I’m not, just to try to fit in a society that favors extroverted attributes. But I have to admit that I do recognize myself in many of the extroverted traits that he writes about as well. But the testresult at the end of the book confirmed what I had always known anyway. 50/57 introvert, 7/57 extrovert. Pretty clear.

This is not a book solely based on science even if lots of studies are mentioned. No references though. This is a popular science book where the author makes an introvert laugh while at the same time making everyone understand and accept introverts a little bit more than before. It made me accept myself more than before.

But, take this book with a little grain of salt. It can sound kind of condescending towards extroverts and it is of course generalizing and mostly focusing on the author’s personal feelings, experiences and what makes him an introvert. It does not apply to everyone. Me for example am an introvert in most of the ways possible. But I would for example not say no to a last minute work trip to another country. At the end of every chapter there is a summary for extroverts. I thought that was funny.

One thing that really stood out for me was when Jonkman described the differences in English words and their Swedish translations. There are two words in English that both translates into the same Swedish word. Loneliness (unwanted alone time) and solitude (wanted alone time) both translates into “ensamhet” in Swedish, which means loneliness. Many people suggest to add a new Swedish word that translates into solitude, “självsam”. I totally agree with that!

Then there was the more serious section of the book about introverts in work environments. I would say that it was eye opening for me. I knew about most of the things he wrote, but I never really thought about it, because that’s just how it is. But why is it like that? I honestly got a bit upset. Commitment in a recruiter’s eyes is a person who is seen, who is loud, helps themselves, can fill a room. That’s loud commitment. Isn’t working very late at the office also a type of commitment? But since that is silent commitment, it’s not visible. Why does it have to be like that?

 

I don’t know if a book like this can be spoiled, but I have some things I would like to write here. The quotes are obviously translated by me since the book is originally written in Swedish (and probably not translated to English).

“An introvert does not need the outer world as a source for impressions. We already have lots of stories in our heads.” Maybe this is why I’ve always loved to write? I have always had countless of worlds and stories in my head that I had to get out. The “flow” that he describes is an amazing feeling. I don’t experience it as he describes it, but new things can come to me in the weirdest situations and it just fills my head and it is a blissful feeling of images and words all mixed together but somehow makes total sense.

“Some psychologists are saying that introversion is a mild form of autism and that ADHD is an extension to extroversion due to the ability to multitask.” Makes sense. I’m currently watching Atypical on Netflix about a boy with autism and even if I was never diagnosed with autism, I can relate to so many things.

“I’m not angry, depressed or antisocial. I just don’t want to talk to people for a while and that’s okay.” This is something that I honestly think about daily. Especially at work. I’m working as a project manager where most people are extroverted like nothing I’ve ever seen. Which is great, but the truth is that I’m doing a really good job as the flexible and introvert that I am as well. But I can sometimes feel “forced” into talking at lunch or breaks. And I think this is because extroverts are not comfortable with silence as I am. I am perfectly content with eating my lunch in silence next to my coworkers.

 

It was an entertaining book and for me it was a great read! I now find it easier to say no to invitations that would not be beneficial to me at all. Although I’ve learned that sometimes, compromises is an act of love. I am also more comfortable staying quiet when I before felt almost an obligation to say something because silence is generally seen as something awkward. I will give it a 3.5. I don’t recommend everyone reading it. But it was a very good read for me and probably for many others as well!

 

“The best way to find out if you’re an introvert or extrovert is to think about what you do when you don’t have to do anything.” A good conclusion to this book.

Review of “Dark Days” by Derek Landy

Title: Dark Days
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #4
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 419
Published: 2010, HarperCollins
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 villains

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Skulduggery Pleasant is lost on the other side of a portal, with only some evil gods for company. Can he possibly survive? (Yes, all right, he’s already dead. But still.)

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant: detective, sorcerer, warrior.

Oh yes. And dead.

Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension overrun by the Faceless Ones. If his bones haven’t already been turned to dust, chances are he’s insane, driven out of his mind by the horror of the ancient gods. There is no official, Sanctuary-approved rescue mission. There is no official plan to save him.

But Valkyrie’s never had much time for plans.

The problem is, even if she can get Skulduggery back, there might not be much left for him to return to. There’s a gang of villains bent on destroying the Sanctuary, there are some very powerful people who want Valkyrie dead, and as if all that wasn’t enough it looks very likely that a sorcerer named Darquesse is going to kill the world and everyone on it.

Skulduggery is gone. All our hopes rest with Valkyrie. The world’s weight is on her shoulders, and its fate is in her hands.

These are dark days indeed.

MY REVIEW

My general feeling about Dark Days is that this is mostly an in-between-book. That this book is only taking you from the previous and transporting you to the next. Som big reveals, recurring characters, but nothing really new.

I did really enjoy the first part, where Valkyrie tries to save Skulduggery in the dimension of The Faceless Ones. That was new and interesting and fun, after that it basically only felt lika a transportation from book 3 to book 5.

Still very entertaining and I smiled several times while reading. As usual.

Review of “Welcome to Camp Nightmare” by R. L. Stine

Title: Welcome to Camp Nightmare
Author: R. L. Stine
Series: Goosebumps #9
Genre: Horror
Pages: 136
Published: 1993, Scholastic
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 rifles

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Welcome to Camp Nightmare It’s the little camp of horrors! Next summer you’ll stay home … if you survive! Billy thinks that life at camp is a bit creepy, but when other campers start to disappear and his parents do not answer his letters, Camp Nightmoon becomes Camp Nightmare.

MY REVIEW

Like with the previous Goosebumps, The Girl Who Cried Monster, this book had a very twisted ending too. But perhapsa not as good one.

In every other way it was a new type of story. It was “scary” from the very first start, the mysterious things that happened didn’t have a logical explanation in the next chapter. Refreshing with a new type of story. And a little spaced out, haha!

It gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Review of “Prodigy” by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #2
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 371
Published: 2013, Penguin Books
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 paper clips

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

MY REVIEW

I am not sure why exactly this got a slighty better grade than Legend. It might have been because I listened to Legend as an audiobook and I did it in two sittings so it felt like nothing happened. Or perhaps because this one was slightly better. Maybe they were as good? I got a good impression of it anyway. 3 feels low, but according to my scale, it was a good book so I guess that is accurate.

What was good about it? First of all, it was very intimately written. I got the impression that this book’s focus was the development of the characters and their point of view rather than the story. The story is good, but the closeness to the characters really make it pop.

Second, any type of realistic dystopian story intrigues me. Well, it doesn’t even have to be realistic, but this is. More of the backstory to why it became the Republic of America is revealed in Prodigy and it is so cool that the author sits on so much information that never really gets out to the reader. This is something I have definitely learned since starting to write myself and Marie Lu has drawn up a very colorful (maybe vivid is the more correct term since her future is really really grey and dull) world.

Definitely better than the first. Is perhaps Champion (the last in the trilogy) even better? We will have to wait and see.

Review of “The Crown of Ptolemy” by Rick Riordan

Title: The Crown of Ptolemy
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover #3
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 63
Published: 2015, Disney-Hyperion
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 hats

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In their first encounter, demigod Percy Jackson and magician Carter Kane had to battle a giant crocodile on Long Island. A month later, Annabeth Chase ran into Carter’s sister, Sadie, on the A train to Rockaway, where the pair fought a god named Serapis. Now trouble is brewing again, this time on Governor’s Island. An ancient Egyptian magician named Setne has come back from the dead and is experimenting with Egyptian and Greek magic, trying to become a god himself. He’s so powerful and tricky that all four-Percy, Annabeth, Carter, and Sadie-have to team up against him. But their usual weapons and spells aren’t going to cut it this time. Will the heroes be taken down by a wannabe god who looks like Elvis, or will they rise to the challenge?

MY REVIEW

As a small side-project right now, this was a fun story seen from Percy Jackson’s point of view. This is the third crossover story between Percy Jackson (Greek demigod) and Carter Kane (Egyptian magician) and it is very much like the first two (which I read a long time ago) and also very much like the main Percy Jackson series. Riordan writes with a lot of humor and after have read more “serious” books lately, it felt a little bit childish. But I am still a huge fan of Rick Riordan!

I give this book a 3.5 because it was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t go as far as to encourage everyone to read it. Sure, it is a short story, so if you have an hour to spare somewhere and if you are a big fan of Riordan’s world full of ancient mythology, definitely have a go at it, you won’t be dissapointed!

Review of “Resan till Mörkret” (Into the Darkness) by Andrey Dyakov

Resan till Mörkret by Andrey DyakovTitle: Resan till Mörkret
Author: Andrey Dyakov
Translator (Swedish): Ola Wallin
Series: Metro Universe #2
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic
Pages: 398
Published: 2012, Coltso (translated 2015)
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 heavens

COLTSO’S DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

SANKT PETERSBURG YEAR 2033.
A couple of decades after the big nuclear war the metro is threathened  by another war. People are desperately clinging to their miserable lives on the metro stations and in the underworld tunnels and labyrinths. Colonies on two islands in the Gulf of Finland was recently discovered, but when a nuclear bomb is detonated, only a few seamen survive and seek refugee in the metro. They accuse the metro inhabitants of the attack and threathens to eliminate all life on the stations. Taran, an infamous Stalker, gets the assignment of finding the guilty. But then his stepson Gleb dissapears…

The world on the surface is an unknown wilderness and faceless dangers can lurk anywhere in the city’s ruins where barely any human have set its foot in over 20 years.

MY REVIEW

This is so far the Swedish translations in this trilogy goes. I really hope the third one gets translated soon, I really want to find out what happens next. Like the first one, it is a really good book. It is slightly less good though, I only give it a 3.5 instead of a 4. And the reason for that, is because I felt that it was a bit spread out. There was a main story, but it was left behind after just a few chapters and it instead focused on so many other things. I guess you could say it was a bit messy. But, it wrapped up nicely in the end and answered almost all questions you had while reading it. One got unanswered and I doubt that it will be brought up in the third book (Beyond the Horizon), but I hope it will.

Compared to the originals by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Andrey Dyakov’s story takes place more aboveground, this one not so much as the first (Resan till Ljuset), but still more than Metro 2033. Lots of monsters and the author definitely has a lot of imagination when inventing all of them.

Something that also drags down the review by 0.5 points is that it sometimes felt like too much. Almost all the action-filled situations went to the worst case scenario, but always worked out in the end. This is sci-fi, I know, but it felt unrealistic, and yes, a bit too much. The characters doesn’t have to be on the brink of death as soon as something happens. It gets predictable after a while, “oh no, they are dead/almost dead, but it is okay, they will survive of course, because they survived everything else so far”.

But it is still a very good story! I really like the setting of it all and it was definitely worth reading even with the exxagerations. If you enjoyed the original Metro series, you will enjoy this series too.

Review of “Quidditch Through the Ages” by J. K. Rowling

hogwarts-library-02-quidditch-through-the-ages-j-k-rowlingTitle: Quidditch Through the Ages
Author: J. K. Rowling
Series: Hogwarts Library #2
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 64
Published: 2001, Bloomsbury
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5 snitches

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Did you know that: there are 700 ways of committing a foul in Quidditch? The game first began to evolve on Queerditch Marsh – What Bumphing is? That Puddlemere United is oldest team in the Britain and Ireland league (founded 1163). All this information and much more could be yours once you have read this book: this is all you could ever need to know about the history, the rules – and the breaking of the rules – of the noble wizarding sport of Quidditch.

 

MY REVIEW

I have to say that after reading the original Harry Potter series and watching the movies, I felt that I had a decent idea of what this game called Quidditch was about. And I was a bit confused when reading this since I read the other books in Swedish and all the stuff had different names so I had to think for a bit to try to translate so it would be easier to understand. It was great to read about the history of Quidditch and how it developed into the game that all of us Harry Potter fans are used to from the books and movies.

It was an easy read that lasted about an hour. I am surprised that I didn’t read this one sooner since I have been a Harry Potter fan since the first book came out so many many years ago. But now I finally did it and feel more confident on how the game works. I will give this book a 3.5 out of 5, like all the other short stories from J. K. Rowling where she explains stuff that wasn’t included in the books. For the big Harry Potter fan, you probably have already read it, and if not, you should read it. For the non-fans, it wouldn’t really make any sense in reading it honestly.