Books I read in 2017

2017 in books


2018 Reading Challenge

Last year I said that I was going to do a few reading challenges. In the end I managed to not complete a single one of them. I read 85 books in total last year but did not get around to actually working out if any of them met any of the challenges that I intended to try to complete.

On that basis this year I will only try to complete the one challenge and that challenge is going to be Back to the Classics 2018

1. A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2. A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1968. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

Midnight’s Children

3. A classic by a woman author.

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules.

5. A children’s classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Young adult and picture books don’t count!

6. A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc. The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions.

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. The journey itself must be the major plot point — not just the destination. Good examples include The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc.

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine — Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. (Silver, gold, etc. are acceptable. Basically, if it’s a color in a Crayola box of crayons, it’s fine!)

10. A classic by an author that’s new to you. Choose an author you’ve never read before.

11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you’ve been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now’s the time to read it, and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites — choose one and read it again, then tell us why you love it so much.

This sounds like a reasonable and realistic plan.


The Apprentice 2017 Week 7

Apprenticeep7b-a016221This weeks task was all about cars. Each team had to create an advertising campaign for a new car including a commercial and a digital billboard for said car with the best campaign would win.

Once again Charles put himself forward for project manager of Vitality but there was tumbleweed until Michaela through her oar in and was picked over Charles yet again. Poor Charles.

For Grapehene Anisa put herself forward but it was James who was picked. I think because he owned a car, or perhaps because he really, really wanted to do it. Either way he was the one that everyone was happy with, at least at this point anyway.

Graphene chose to aim their campaign at families based upon Bushra making a offhand comment that this was car that she would happily use for her family, with Vitality aiming for the young female market based upon the fact that Jade is a young woman and Michaela used to be a young woman, and probably still thinks that she is.

Graphene chose the name “Expando” which does sound more like shape wear than it does a vehicle which went down like a lead balloon when it was first mooted but there really wasn’t anything better on offer so they stuck with that name, no matter how crap it was.

Vitality named their car “Miami” based upon the fact that if you bought that car it would make you feel like you were in Miami, rather than say Croydon, which is probably where most of the people who would actually by the car are actually from, but not in their heads.

For their advert Graphene wanted to set it in a old fashioned village as they thought that this would best show the car in a family setting. However Graphene ended up with the location of a Norman fort rather than the old fashioned village that they wanted for their telly advert which featured Elizabeth chasing some chickens away from the car whilst trying to take her kids to school, which is the sort of thing that happens all of the time.

Vitality’s advert just showed a car pulling up to take a party of girls off on a weekend away which made a lot more sense than Graphene’s advert and did actually manager to look quite stylish, especially when compared to the other teams effort. And there were no chickens in sight..

The billboards were not much better to be honest with people thinking that the billboard for Miami were either for a car hire firm, or a bike hire firm, with not one person they asked actually thinking that it was for a car.

When it came down to the pitches neither team covered themselves in glory with mistakes being made by all teams but Michaela doing rather well and much better than Anisa who were worried that Michaela would fuck up with pitch due to her nerves.

In the end neither of them did that well but due to the experts opinion it was Vitality that did better, more to do with Michaela’s performance in the pitch and also a slightly better advert.

James chose Joanna and Sajan to go back in the boardroom with him but Lord Sugar chose to keep Elizabeth back as well but it was Sajan who was on the end of the firing rather than the others and to be honest it was rather a close call for all of them to be honest and any of them could have gone for various different reasons, and probably should have done.

Star Trek Discovery


In the first episode we are introduced to the lead character in the series, Michael Burnham, who is not a Captain of a Federation ship, but is a first officer on a Federation ship, which is a first for the series and actually quite a nice change as the lead character is usually the Captain, which does set is apart from other Trek shows and give a bit of a different dynamic to the show.

She is a human female, who we learn in this episode was the only human ever to attend the Vulcan Science Academy, and has been in the Federation for approx seven years as we saw her being bought to the Shenzou by Spock’s father, Sarek.

She is human but has had Vulcan training and appears to follow the Vulcan principles of logic over emotion and that sets her apart from both human and Vulcan’s alike as she is more Vulcan like that most humans but too human to pass as a Vulcan, very different from Spock who always seemed a lot more Vulcan than he did Human.

We also meet a character called Saru who is from an entirely new species and is the first of his kind to join the Federation. He is the science office on board the Shenzou and is one of the many alien species that the Shenzou is full of which is more like how you would imagine a Starship to be in the twenty-third century and not quite how it was portrayed in the original series, but more like it was in the animated series and the Star Trek novels, but this is more to do with when it was made rather than anything else.

The captain of the Shenzhou is Phillipa Georgiou who is an experienced captain who it seems is respected by the crew and likes to get her own way and is also very close to Michael Burnham and is a sort of mother figure to her in a strange sort of way.

We don’t get to see a massive amount of the Shenzou in this episode apart from the bridge and the medical bay where most of the action is set but it does look a similar size to original enterprise and has some of the same basic design.

We see a few members of the crew of the Shenzou in this episode but a lot of them have just one or two lines and we don’t even get to know their names but the show isn’t really about them so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

The Klingon’s are one of the most interesting element of this episode as they look nothing like any Klingon I have ever seen before and look even more alien than they ever have done before; it also makes them look more menacing than they have been for a while as well, even if they look like an entirely different species to what we are used to, which I think has rubbed some people up the wrong way. Me I quite like the new design but I can understand people who just can’t get past it, even if it isn’t a problem for me.

Both the Klingon and Federation vessels are also very impressive looking as are the scenes set in space which look so much better than they did before mostly due to the quality of effects nowadays which is a bit unfair on the old stuff which did the best that it could with limited resources.

I thought that this was a strong first episode and I rather liked the fact that it was very dark for Star Trek and I like the dynamic between Burnham and Georgiou.