Book Review: ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ by Stephen Hawking

I’m currently reading this book, and I have to say that I really love this review. It is amazing!

Astrogeekz

On 14 March 2018, I happened to come across one of the most shocking news I had ever heard in my lifetime. Stephen Hawking was no more. I immediately posted the news of his demise on my social media handles. The Facebook post was shared by more than 32,000 people which shows how dearly he was loved and admired by everyone.

29176869_1885331438206405_6689272050097324032_n (Image Credit: LWP KOMMUNIKÁCIÓ/CC BY 2.0), Link to the Facebook post: Click here

Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death and died on the same day Albert Einstein was born. Few months later, in September, I read about his final book titled Brief Answers to the Big Questions on a news website and also came to know that it was going to be released on 17th of October. I preordered the book immediately. I was excited for the book to arrive and each passing…

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BOOK REVIEW: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

35212978Title: The 17th Suspect

Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 4 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Thrillers, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Crime

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The 17th Suspect is the 17th installment in the Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. You don’t really need to read the other books in order to understand what is happening in this 17th book (the author gives a brief summary of the events relevant for the book, if necessary); however, I always like to read the books in order, but that is just me. Honestly, I am debating reading the books over in order to give a real review on them.

Generally, though, the Woman’s Murder Club is a group of women who are friends and get together to solve crimes. Per the James Patterson official website, the cast of characters is as follows:

Detective Lindsay Boxer: “a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department. Lindsay is five foot ten. She was a sociology major and graduated from San Francisco State (to which she transferred from Berkeley when she found out that her mother had breast cancer). She loves beer and butterscotch praline ice cream. She has a border collie named Martha. She enjoys running, loves to read travel books and mysteries and her secret hobby is tai chi. Lindsay has been divorced once and is now married to long-time boyfriend Joseph Molinari. She has a younger sister named Cat and a father named Marty, who was also a member of the SFPD. Marty left Lindsay’s mother when Lindsay was 13.”

Cindy Thomas: “pretty, blonde and city cool. She’s a crime desk reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Cindy is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she was a sociology major. She loves yoga, jazz music and, like her friend Lindsay Boxer, loves to read travel books and mysteries—she’s even a member of a book club. She also has a tattoo, but unlike Lindsay, she has two small G-clefs on her shoulder.”

Claire Washburn, “Claire is black and heavyset; she always jokes, “I’m in shape… round’s a shape.” Claire is wise, confident, kind, and the Chief Medical Examiner for San Francisco. She is married to Edmund, a kettle drum-player in the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Claire and Edmund have two teenage sons and a young daughter named Ruby Rose. Her tattoo: an outline of a butterfly just below her waist. She also goes by the nickname “Butterfly” and has it embroidered on her lab coat at work.”

Yuki Castellano: “an ambitious, young San Francisco district attorney who is passionate, brilliant, given to speaking at 90 miles per hour, and sometimes wears a magenta red streak in her glossy, black, shoulder-length hair. Her parents met at a graduate school mixer for foreign students and married within three weeks. Her mother is Japanese and her father Italian American. Yuki’s favorite drink, when out with the other members of the Club, is a Germain-Robin sidecar.” Yuki joins the Women’s Murder Club in book #5. She replaces another lawyer, Jill Bernhardt who was killed.

As with the other books, this book takes place in San Francisco and has two main cases. In the first story, a man is going around the city shooting homeless people, and Boxer has to investigate the murders (this story is more focused on the police side). The second case is about a man who has accused his boss of rape, and Yuki is prosecuting the woman for rape. It is a controversial case because usually women are not accused of raping men (this story is more focused on the legal side and the other girls are not really involved). Cindy and Claire only make cameo appearances in this book, as both stories are more focused on Lindsay and Yuki.

My Review: As with most of the James Patterson books, the writing is nothing special. Patterson’s books are classic beach reads. Quick and entertaining for a day at the beach. I read this book during the winter while running, but it kept me entertained, so that’s something. The stories remind me of Law and Order Episodes, as there are usually two stories, one focused on “the law”, and the other on “the order”. My feelings overall are rather ambivalent. As with most beach reads, the book isn’t meant to stir up any emotions, it is just there to entertain you.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing to report.

Expectations/Recommendations: Since I have read many of Patterson’s books before, I knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed. I have to say though that the Patterson and Paetro collaboration is one of my favorite collaborations from Patterson. If you are looking for a quick read, and aren’t expecting anything intellectual, this is the right book for you.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

15703770Title: The Runaway King

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: The Runaway King is the sequel to the False Prince (see my review of the False Prince here). First, I guess I should explain that Sage the orphan from the first book was really Prince Jaron in disguise. At the end of the book, he reveals his true identity, and takes his rightful place on the throne. At the beginning of The Runaway King, King Jaron has been king for 1 month, and everything is already in shambles. The Princess who was betrothed to his older brother Darius, is now betrothed to Jaron. The only problem is that the two of them dislike each other, and she is courting favor and winning allies among Jaron’s regents (behind his back).

At the funeral of Jaron’s family, Roden (one of the other orphans from the first book) tries to assassinate Jaron. It is discovered that the pirates (who everyone thought killed Jaron in the first book) are trying to kill him again — and it is possible that they are being paid to do so by another country, which has neighboring lands to Carthya. This neighboring country is on the brink of declaring war against Carthya. Jaron, not knowing who to trust (and because the regents decide to put a Steward in place until Jaron comes of age), leaves the castle and becomes “The Runaway King.” His plan in to infiltrate the pirates and to stop the coming war, or to at least be better prepared.

My Review: I liked this book. It was entertaining and was a fast paced story. However, it didn’t have the same “I need to get to the ending as fast as possible to find out what’s happening” pull as the first book did. The reader knows that Jaron is hiding as “Sage”, and knows what Jaron intends to do. The book is about the unfolding of these plans. Since there is a third book, I could only assume that Jaron would pull off whatever scheme he cooked up — and I had no illusions that it would be like Game of Thrones where the author killed off my most favorite characters because it would happen like that in real life. This is a YA book after all.

One of the things that I don’t like about YA in general, is the age of the main characters. Jaron is supposed to be 14 years old, but acts like he’s 34. Maybe I am just showing my age a bit, but I don’t remember being so capable when I was 14. Another thing that struck me as weird, is the Imogen / Jaron relationship. They are friends, but also more? This did not seem well fleshed out, but rather only mentioned in a few lines of dialogue toward the end of the book. It left me confused as to whether they did have romantic feelings for each other, or was it really only a friendship? Maybe this will be explained in the 3rd book.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing special to report.