Category Archives: Books

Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet, Book 7) – Jack Campbell

If you don’t exercise a talent, you get rusty,

The odyssey of Captain Jack Geary and his start fleet continues beyond human-controlled space, into the alien enigmas territory. The captain finds itself again in new and tense situations, but dangers are much higher than during the war with the human Syndics.

Already the 7th volume in the series, the story keeps its appeal and, finally, Jack Campbell responds to some of the criticism and does not repeat the various descriptions of the universe it creates. The book is more ingrained in the space opera, rather than a stand alone book, which was always one of the aims of the author in the previous stories.

This time the war with the Syndics is over and enemy is a mysterious alien civilization. While the plot is simple, it develops well and has enough depth and logic to be plausible. This is indeed one of the strengths of the book – taking wild developments in the far future and then apply logic response to them. There is no silver bullet or magic that saves the day.

Beyond human-controlled space, into the unknown.

The jabs to politicians continue, but it is not a nod to fascism, as, while not explicit, democracy is still seen the best of all forms of socio-economical organisation. The political game makes sense and helps drive the plot forward.

The drawbacks remain the same: a somewhat limited vocabulary, too much focus on dialogue that does not really add more depth to characters, too little description of the universe it creates.

Nevertheless, it is astonishing how the series keeps its appeal, even at the seven volume. Jack Campbell is truly a masterful and ingenious storyteller.

Victorious (The Lost Fleet, Book 6) – Jack Campbell

We should have suspected that nonhumans were involved right from the start when the activation process didn’t involve a lot of arcane commands that had to be done in just the right order, and the destination was displayed as a name rather than using some counterintuitive code. No human software engineer would produce a device that easy to use.

The book is the last in the Lost Fleet series, completing the story arc. The odyssey of Captain Jack Black is finishing. Or does it? Jack Campbell brings the story to an end, but leaves place for another adventure.

Compared with the other books of the series, it is rather the worst. The plot is still good, but a bit predictable. The romantic twist is an interesting idea, but it does not add much to the main story. And the romantic ending is a cliche.

However, the story is still captivating and good enough to make the reader follow the story until its end. The final fights are well thought and engaging. The dialogue was never a strong point of the book, but managed to stay at decent levels. Some new characters are memorable, although seem sometimes as caricatures of some human traits and cultures.

I enjoyed the book, although the series does not finish with a high. A nice read for a rainy evening, with a glass of tea nearby.

Relentless (The Lost Fleet, Book 5) – Jack Campbell

He felt the comfort of being part of an eternal cycle symbolized by the gold strips on either side of the black mourning band he wore. Light, dark, light. The dark was just an interval.

The fifth book in the Lost Fleet series continues the odyssey of Captain Jack Geary, leading the Alliance Fleet back to home territory. However, a bigger threat than the rival Syndics is looming beyond the stars, a devious alien intelligence.

Already far in the series, the story is still captivating and it is a tribute to the writing skills of author, Jack Campbell, that he can come with new and unexpected ways to marvel the reader. The adventure is still very much anchored in hard scifi and no magic bullet happens that solves everything. Every progress of the fleet is marred by dangers and potential mistakes. Captain Geary is still human and, despite his undoubted talent, he loses ships. He recognizes himself that he could have done better.

Nevertheless, the fleet advances, and the advantages that were at the beginning (surprise tactics) fade away, as the Syndic learn themselves how to deal with the Alliance movements. However, now the Alliance’s sailors are veterans and know well their ships and how to maneuver them. Furthermore, the captains act more like a team and cover each other way better than at the beginning of the odyssey.

The fifth book in the Lost Fleet series continues the odyssey of Captain Jack Geary, leading the Alliance Fleet back to home territory.

On the negative side, the editing of the book seems to slightly drop the quality, with some extra spaces or commas missing. The vocabulary is less rich than other similar scifi series and the hard scifi part does not expand more than the already established environment. It would have been nice to know more about life in 24th century. Finally, it feels that the story gives too much time to the protagonist’s love interest.

Nevertheless, the book remains captivating, very hard to leave the book (better saying the e-reader) from a reader’s hands. Let’s see what happens in the next book of the series!

Valiant (The Lost Fleet, Book 4) – Jack Campbell

You’re not fighting for abstractions. No one does. Humans pay lip service to that, to big causes and great purposes, but any politician of any skill soon learns that what really motivates people is the small, personal things. Close friends, family, the small area they call home. They wrap those things around ideals and call them precious, but they’re precious for the smallest and closest of reasons. Soldiers may swear to fight for their flag, but they really fight because of the soldiers next to them.

The book continues the odyssey of Alliance fleet, caught behind the hostile Syndic lines. Led by legendary captain Jack Geary, the fleet tries to escape the pursuing Syndic fleet, while a more dangerous enemy shows its presence.

A military hard scifi story, the fourth volume in the series, manages to keep an unpredictable plot, decent writing and adds more depth to the fleet characters. The organic development of the fleet officers’ relations, the way the enemy reacts and the motivations behind every character make the story credible. The consequences of the fleet actions are well thought and no “magic bullet” exists. Mistakes have costs and there is no get-out-in-the-last-moment. That really helps pushing the plot and make the reader understand and appreciate the characters.

No wonder the series expanded to 8 books, followed by spin-offs. It is a highly appreciated series, by a former US military navy captain, pen name Jack Campbell, who really took the time and research to take a military story into a captivating hard scifi odyssey.

Leading – Alex Ferguson, with Michael Moritz

If I were running a company, I would always want to listen to the thoughts of its most talented youngsters, because they are the people most in touch with the realities of today and the prospects for tomorrow.

The book presents the leadership philosophy of Alex Ferguson, the Scottish football manager who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. During his time at the club, Ferguson won more major trophies than any other football manager, making him one of the most successful and respected managers in the history of the game.

“Leading” covers quite a lot of chapters, from communication (content and delivery of message) and building an organisation to important traits of character for the team and avoiding complacency. Ferguson presents this book as a series of well-placed anecdotes, making the book memorable and easy to read.

It does not fall into the trap of presenting juicy stories about football stars, but appears to genuinely present Ferguson’s thinking on leadership. In a way, it a memoir, but only looking at the managing the club part.

It is impressive to see how far ahead in time his thinking went and how important for him were discipline and winning character. He understood that he was a hired hand for a job and did not harbour any delusions of grandeur, although he might have been entitled to. Ferguson seems to have a clear sense of hierarchy and always presents the owners of the club with greatest respect.

The desire to be a champion and the winning mentality transcends from the book. No matter the challenge, there was no excuse to not aim for winning a trophy. Ferguson was immune to the budget, luck or unfair advantages of other teams. It was just one more challenge among others, no excuse to not aim for the top.

The book is considered one of the best in football coaching and tops many charts. An excellent read, even for those not interested in football.

The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today – Linda Yueh


Joan Robinson points out that if markets are imperfectly competitive, then firms can earn economic rents because rents aren’t entirely eroded by competition. In that situation, firms have market power…a theory of ‘monopsony’ [refers] to the market power that firms can wield in the labour market alongside the more familiar and established term, monopoly power, where firms have market power in the product market and can charge more for a good or service above their costs, earning them monopoly profits. Monopsony power allows employers to pay workers less than the value of their output, and keep more for themselves.

The book presents a selection of 12 illustrious economists, from the modern era to contemporary times. Linda Yueh introduces the reader to the ideas, times and life of those economists, but also speculates how one such economist would answer to the hot questions of today, from his/her perspective.

The Great Economists includes:
Adam Smith
David Ricardo
Karl Marx
Alfred Marshall
Irving Fisher
John Maynard Keynes
Joseph Schumpeter
Friedrich Hayek
Joan Robinson
Milton Friedman
Douglass North
Robert Solow

Linda Yueh is actually an economist, a fellow of the University of Oxford and assistant professor at the London Business School. A formal lawyer and journalists, she tries to present the groundbreaking ideas of those 12 economists in simple, non-academic terms. On that front, Yueh marvelously encapsulates the times and concepts put forward by those famous economists in the last three centuries.

The book is structured in 12 main chapters, each presented an economist. Each chapter is further divided into an introduction to the economist’s ideas, a presentation of his/her times, a study of today’s societies, with no focus on a particular country, and finally, a subsection where the economists’ ideas are tested to see how they can help us for today’s problems.

The book is truly enjoyable, particularly for a reader accustomed with the domain. It is a great reminder of important economic ideas. It is an interesting read for someone outside the domain as well, as it acts as a textbook, including a dictionary of terms at the end. I particularly liked the short biography for each economist and the brief presentation of the times they lived, bringing many insights into the motivations for their research.

Maybe exploring more the answers that such economists could have given to today’s questions would make the book even more interesting. I would have been delighted to see more economists added into the book, as each was carefully presented through the lens of their time and with a well-written, thoughtful and clear introduction of their ideas.

Overall, a great book to read that has a deserved place on my bookshelf.

The Virus in the Age of Madness – Bernard-Henri Lévy

They knew that Pascal’s room, Thoreau’s hut, and especially their own den was a dark chamber, an unhealthy space full of resentment; they knew that one is nothing when alone, that one thinks most often of nothing at all, and that hell is not other people, but the self.

This short book is a collection of thoughts regarding the Covid-19 pandemic from the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. Originally in French, the essay discusses the politics of the pandemic, wondering if the measures taken by governments are good or bad, the reaction of the media, and what we, humanity, should do collectively and individually in these circumstances.

The references to French literature and influential philosophers betray the cultural range and depth of Lévy , without being didactic. The media referenced is rather balanced, neither progressive or conservative, and covers both sides of the Atlantic.

The message of the book is a caution against human atomisation, using all the benefits of isolation, made possible by current technology. Food, clothes, items, can be ordered with a simple click. Communication can be done virtually. But the essential human touch cannot be ordered online. Staying at home cannot be praised, it is essentially anti-humane.

Furthermore, individual liberties are disappearing, in face of distancing and confinement measures. Once taken away, it is hard to restate them. The democratic model itself is at stake, with other socioeconomic models vying for top spot. Media is focusing too much on the virus, while other grave problems remain in the dark: global warming, refugee crises, dictatorships, feeble democracies sliding into authoritarianism. But also good news are fewer in the pages of journals and screens of TVs, we know less about the good in the world.

Lévy also warns about future pandemics. Humanity has lived with major pandemics all its history. What do we do if we another pandemic hits in five years time? Do we close again the economy? Measures against the spreading are needed, such as social distancing, but need to be debated, rationalized and lessons of the pandemic need to be learn. Because another pandemic is around the corner.

The book invites to reflection, to think about what makes us human. It is a book about courage, in face of illness. And finally, it is a warning for the human isolation that technology now allows. Isolation cannot be praised, as if we do, we lose our humanity, the French philosopher argues.

Dark AGE (RED RISING SAGA: BOOK 5) – Pierce Brown

I kept looking for hope in the world. Expecting the world to supply deliverance if I plucked the right chords. Demanding that it supply validation to my labor if I just gave enough effort. But that is not the nature of the world. Its nature is to consume. In time, it will consume us all, and the spheres will spin until they too are consumed when our sun dies. Maybe that is the point of it. Knowing that though one day darkness will cover all, at least your eyes were open to see moments of light.

“Dark Age” is the fifth book in the “Red Rising” scifi saga, and indeed the story takes a dark path. Darrow’s revolution against the vile colour-coded, class-based Society is crumbling. The very Republic he sought to create ousted him and his wife, Mustang, barely escapes with life in the coup the topples the Republic in the hands of Red Hands, a mafia-like organization.

The splintered Society starts to come together under the courage and bright political mind of Lysander au Lune, son of the previous Sovereign. The allies of Darrow, the Obsidians, fall under the charisma and sheer power of Volsung Fa, a new leader coming mysteriously from the Rim. Sevro and other Howlers, the backbone of Darrow’s intelligence arm, are caught prisoner by old enemies.

The only positives are that Darrow and Mustang are alive. Victra au Barca-Julii, wife of Sevro, is rebuilding her forces, despite losing her capital ship to the monstrous army of Volsung Fa. Mars stands still loyal to Darrow. Pax, Darrow and Mustang’s teenager son, starts to show a great future.

Again, the book shows super writing craftsmanship and an engaging plot. The vocabulary remains a jewel, making reading a fascinating discovery of new words and meanings. I understand the book has a separate vocabulary editor, a true master in his field.

Unlike other volumes, this one presents several points of view, not only Darrow’s. This makes the motivations of personages much clearer and adds depth to characters.

For some, the gore, the violence, the truly gruesome scenes make the book hard to read. It is truly a vision of dark times, where humanity lost its way and starts to break in little fiefdoms fighting with each other.

Overall, a great fifth book in the Red Rising series, with a true vision of dark ages.

Les hommes viennent de Mars les femmes viennent de Vénus – John Gray

Les hommes et les femmes ne se ressemblent pas. Tout le monde le sait mais peu d’entre nous mesurent à quel point cette différence complique la vie des couples. C’est comme si chacun venait d’une autre planète. Nous ne réagissons pas de la même manière au stress, aux soucis quotidiens, à l’argent, à l’amour. Il s’ensuit parfois de graves malentendus… Ce livre nous propose de découvrir la façon dont fonctionne ” l’étranger ” qui est en face de nous, afin de faciliter l’existence commune. Et il y a beaucoup à faire ! Analyser les attitudes, décoder les messages, adapter son langage à celui de la ” planète ” opposée, apprendre à demander, à offrir, à discuter avec les mots de l’Autre et même… à se disputer utilement !

C’est l’un des meilleurs livres sur l’amélioration de la vie des couples. Le livre n’apporte rien de nouveau ou d’innovant, juste des conseils simples, mais très bien expliqués et écrits.

Le livre parle des différences de communication, de compréhension, de valeurs et d’objectifs que les hommes et les femmes ont généralement. Comprendre ces différences, parfois si éloignées qu’elles semblent provenir de planètes différentes, est la clé d’une vie de couple saine.

Je l’ai lu du point de vue d’un homme et cela m’a aidé à mieux comprendre les situations difficiles et à comprendre ma femme.

Le plus utile pour moi a été de trouver, vers la fin du livre, une liste de 101 choses que je peux faire pour rendre ma femme heureuse. Ce sont de petites choses simples, loin des grands gestes que nous, hommes, sentons parfois nécessaires pour prouver notre amour.

Les livres conseillent de petits, mais fréquents cadeaux à notre femme, pour montrer notre appréciation, plutôt qu’un grand geste par an. Je pense que nous devons travailler sur une relation amoureuse tous les jours et ce livre aide définitivement à être un meilleur partenaire.

Enfin, je recommande vivement la lecture de ce livre à tous ceux qui souhaitent sauver ou améliorer une relation, mais ausssi comme conseil general.

Absolution gap (Revelation Space Book 3)- Alastair Reynolds

“When two or more of their lighthuggers met, they would compare and update their respective nomenclature tables. If the first ship had assigned names to a group of worlds and their associated geographical features, and the second ship had no current entries for those bodies, it was usual for the second ship to amend its database with the new names. They might be flagged as provisional, unless a third ship confirmed that they were still unallocated.”

A meandering, long and unexpected finish for the Revelation Space series. The characters from the last chapter are still followed by the Inhibitors, the civilization hunters and destroyers, but a mysterious, disappearing planet could give key answers.

Towering at almost 700 pages, this hard scifi book still comes with intriguing and though-provoking ideas, such as moving cathedrals, Gothic spaceships, religious viruses and many more. However, the changes seem more of style than substance, at least compared with the previous books.

It was an entertaining book and, despite its length and a falling flat ending, the writing, editing, vocabulary remained great.

The fight against the Inhibitors begins.