Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This was the latest book selected as part of the book club. It is the type of book that I never would have picked up in a thousand years. I was hesitant to start the book as pretty much when we picked it, it was described as a "candy" and "girl" book. This is what I get by being in a book club dominated by women! Still, I promised I would give it a shot and ended up finding things I liked in it. So while it wasn't the best for me, at least I don't feel like I wasted my time.

Read on for my full review.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Astronomy: Cool Stars 18 Meeting

Last week, I visited Flagstaff, Arizona to attend the 18th meeting of the "Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun" more commonly known as "Cool Stars 18." This was an excellent conference and is probably the best I've ever been to. Despite being well focused on the field, there was still so much to see and learn. Furthermore, Flagstaff was a great city and I enjoyed my time there.

Here I summarize some of my thoughts on the meeting.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

I had to take some long flights and spend a week at a conference. I figured Storm Front by Jim Butcher was a light book I could read throughout the week. I did not expect I would finish it practically in one flight. Guess that means I can get the next one in the series for the return trip?

My full review after the jump.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is the latest book selected for our Santiago Book Club. The Amazon blurb is quite brief: Set in Moscow of the 1920's, this satirical novel recounts the dealings a writer and his mistress have with Satan.

Read on for my full review.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice is a space opera novel that has been getting a lot of press lately as it wins award after award. It is the 2013 debut novel by Ann Leckie, though she has already written many short stories. I've had this book on my list for some time and finally got some time to read it. Be forewarned that it's part of an unfinished trilogy, but I have no problem starting series and I think this is one I will certainly continue.

The official blurb:
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren-a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose-to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

Read on for my full review.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

This is, as the subtitle rightly states, "A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was." It is part of a short series of books relating the adventures of Master Li and Number Ten Ox and are collected in a single volume on the Kindle store. It reminded me at parts of Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland as the characters travel to exotic and magical places meeting extraordinary characters all in order to solve the mysteries of ancient China.
‘Take a large bowl,’ I said. ‘Fill it with equal measures of fact, fantasy, history, mythology, science, superstition, logic, and lunacy. Darken the mixture with bitter tears, brighten it with howls of laughter, toss in three thousand years of civilization, bellow kan pei—which means “dry cup”—and drink to the dregs.’ Procopius stared at me. ‘And I will be wise?’ he asked. ‘Better,’ I said. ‘You will be Chinese.’”

Read on for my full review (spoiler-free).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is an interesting experiment that Brandon Sanderson decided to do. He released it online for free through his website, though you can buy it in hardcover (as I did) or through the kindle store (as I also did). If you don't want to pay for a Sanderson book, you can just grab the free version, though if you wanted to give him a try I would start with Mistborn.

This is the second time I read this, so I knew a few things to expect but still enjoyed the story. My full review after the jump.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Astronomy: Observing at CTIO


This past week I went to two observatories for some observing runs: Cerro Tololo International Observatory (CTIO) and La Silla Observatory. I've talked about La Silla before (here and here). However, it's been several years since I've been to CTIO. I'll briefly go over my experience there observing the Dark Energy Camera (DECam).