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50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 46-48

50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 46-48

46. Erin Bried – How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew (2010)   


This book is a combination of tips/instructions given by a number of different grandfathers to the author of this book. Whilst a lot of the things are pretty straight forward its less about what’s being instructed, more about the stories of the grandfathers themselves and there touching stories of days gone by! This won’t be the first book I ever recommend to anyone, but it wasn’t bad.

47. Anthony Horowitz – The House of Silk (2011)     


This is the first Official Sherlock Holmes book not written by Conan Doyle and actually the first Sherlock Holmes book I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed the story and got through it quite fast as I kept on picking it up to read even when I should have been doing other things! The story involves two seemingly unconnected mysteries, the large one being that of the House of Silk, and the elements of the story came together really well. If Conan Doyle’s Sherlock books are as good as this (which I’m sure they will be) I’m going to really enjoy reading them soon.

48. Jim Crace – The Pesthouse (2007)     


Set in a future America where a large amount of the population have been wiped out by something (its never actually explained) the story follows a man and a woman who meet after a disaster wipes out a whole town in one night, and the journey they then have getting to the sea. The book was readable but I never really connected with either of the two characters so I found it a bit tough going at points and the story felt like it went a bit stale in places.


SO that’s 48 out of my 50 books challenge for 2012. With 4 weeks left and 2 books to go I’m pretty confident I’ll make it, in fact I may even be able to slip another book or two in!

50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 30-45

50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 30-45

30. Mark Bowden – Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (1999)      


Despite the film adaption being quite good, I actually didn’t like this book that much. I found it quite difficult to read as there were a lot of characters making it a struggle to read on (I didn’t attach to any of them.) Towards the end it got a bit easier but all round not the best book I’ve read this year.

31. Bret Easton Ellis – Less Than Zero (1985)     


I thought I’d have a read of another Bret Easton Ellis book. Apparently this was one of the first books he wrote. Whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as American Psycho it wasn’t too bad. The storyline didn’t really go anywhere, but I guess that was the point. Its a very surreal read, as the main guy essentially drifts through like in dream like state after coming back from uni.

32. Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club (1996)       


I really enjoyed the film of this book and it turns out the book is very similar to it. It was a great book and I’d recommend it to anyone, even if they have seen the film already. No need to describe it further as most people have seen it!

33. Philip K. Dick – We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1966)        


A short story which felt like Philip K. Dick was just having a bit of fun with his imagination. The concept is very interesting and I like the way he goes about the idea within so few pages. One thing I was surprised about (having seen the original film before) was that no part of the story actually occurs on Mars!

34. Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake (2003)     


This book was a bit slow at the beginning but as the story of Oryx and Crake and Snowman slowly unfolded I found myself really getting into it! Its set in a post apocalyptic future in which Snowman is the only man left alive, despite him being the only real character alive (there are the Crakes who arn’t quite human..) the story was still great. Turns out this book is the first of a trilogy, which I hadn’t known, but I’m looking forward to the rest.

35. Nick Hornby – High Fidelity (1995)       


This was interesting to read, and essentially about a pedantic guy making lists about his top 5 breakups and many other lists. I guess not too much actually happens, but the story revolves around the main characters life not really going anywhere so that makes sense.

36. John Christopher – The Death of Grass (1956)       


Somebody at work recommended this book. It was a really great book and I couldn’t put it down. Its another post-apocalyptic style book about a man getting him and his family out of London to his brothers safe haven in the north. I really connected with the characters and was rooting them the whole way. Very high up there on the best books I’ve read this year.

37. Mike Resnick – The 43 Antarean Dynasties (1997)  

A short sci-fi story which won the 1998 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Essentially its about an alien (or you might say native) tour guide showing some humans around a city on his planet that has been conquered by humans and others repeatedly. He thinks back on the vast history of his planet and the humans don’t really care too much. Makes you think about colonisation and how the conquerors really don’t care about the history of the conquered.

38. Richard Paul Evans – The Christmas Box (1995)       


Not my sort of book but its good to branch out every now and then. There was a lot of emotional aspects to the book and it was a bit too religious for my liking, but I can see why it was a number 1 book when it was released.

39. J. G. Ballard – The Drowned World (1962)     


Post apocalyptic. Bit odd, but quite interesting, not quite sure when it was meant to be based but the world was overrun like a swamp pretty quickly. There was strange talk of shared dreams of prehistoric times which didn’t really work for me.

40. Patrick Suskind – Perfume (1985)       


Good book. Like the film apart from some extra stuff in the middle (the main character stays in a cave for some time). I can see why the made it into a film, and they did a very good job. Amazing how the premise is the killer cant describe the smells he can smell but the author and the director of the movies did a pretty good job in my mind!

41. Algis Budrys – The Burning Word (1957)

Accidentally got this book when I thought I was getting “J. G. Ballard – The Burning World”.  Interesting about regimes taking over from one another. Short story. Could have done with being a bit more filled out.

42. Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2003)       


Again this isn’t my usual sort of book. I did actually enjoy reading this book though, the premise was interesting and it kept me wanting to see what happened. It was a nice touching read.

43. Christopher Priest – The Prestige (1995)       


Yet another book where I liked the film so decided to read the book. The book adds and is different to the film in a number of ways. Its a very good book, some of the intrigue my have been lost by having seen the film first, but one of the big twists of the film is revealed quite easily early on in the book.

44. Hugh Howey – I, Zombie (2012)   


The premise is essentially that Zombies still have there human minds locked inside, they just have no control over their body. Its written from the zombies point of view which is interesting at first but the book soon becomes chapter after chapter of boring monologues. I’d recommend just enjoying the idea, not reading the book.

45. Neil Strauss – Emergency (2009)   


A book about a man learning how to survive so he’s prepared if shit hits the fan. It was a very interesting read and I enjoyed following Neil on his journey of learning about how to be a survivalist. In fact its made me think that maybe rather than reading 50 books next year I should learn some practical skills instead! (e.g. first aid.)

50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 25-29

50 Book Challenge 2012 – Book 25-29

25. George R.R. Martin – A Storm of Swords (2000)       


The third in the Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) series. I’m really getting into this series now and have had to force myself to not read on once I finished this one. I want to space the rest of the books out a bit as I know its going to be a while till he writes the last couple! The web of stories in these books are real page turners and I can see why its such a popular series. On this book I’m not going to say much, but Littlefinger may have just become my favourite character 🙂

26. Phillip K. Dick – Ubik (1969)   


A very strange but enjoyable book, where you were never really sure what was happening and what wasn’t. It very much made me think the writers of ‘Inception’ may have read this for a few ideas (they aren’t that similar but some things definitely ring the same!) This is probably one of my favourite Phillip K. Dick books that I’ve read so far.

27. Nick Hornby – About A Boy (1998)       


Turns out this was made into a pretty famous film about 10 years ago, guess I either missed that or forgot about it. Anyway this book was a great read with some really great characters in. One of the things I liked was the characters weren’t really your regular cliché types, each was unique and special (often in weird little ways.)

28. Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003)       


My girlfriend, Cesca, recommended this one to me. It took me a while to get into as I found the first half of the book pretty slow going, but it does start to get a bit more interesting later on. Written in the style of letters, its not the sort of book I normally go for, but it was a nice change, and the slow going of finding out about Kevin and his oddities from his mothers perspective did eventually pay off.

29. Justin Halpern – Sh*t My Dad Says (2010)     


Justin started tweeting about the funny things his dad said, thousands of people started to follow him, and since then he has written this book (and they even made a TV series I think.) This was a nice light hearted read, I’d say it would be good for a journey, or if your not looking to read anything too heavy.

Programming Metro Style Apps

Programming Metro Style Apps

On Wednesday myself and my manager went to a workshop on Windows 8 Metro application development. I mentioned the ‘Windows 8 Conflab‘ in a previous blog post and this was actually the event, just delayed by a couple of months and changed slightly!

The workshop took place at Skills Matter in London and was lead by Matt Baxter-Reynolds. It was a really interesting day, Matt talked us through a number of elements of Metro application development which was great as I already knew a lot of the architectural elements of Windows 8 but didn’t know much about the actually WinRT development side of things. After presenting the information to us in the morning Matt lead us in a  coding workshop in the afternoon practically showing us how to implement Metro apps, of particular note was when he showed us how to implement a SQLite database in a Metro app.

What I learnt should be interesting for work if we ever decide to put out a Metro app, in the mean time though the course has spurred me on to have a go at putting a metro app together myself.