Mexico: Stories

Mexico: StoriesMexico: Stories by Josh Barkan
Published by Hogarth on January 24th 2017
Pages: 256
Goodreads

The unforgettable characters in Josh Barkan’s astonishing and beautiful story collection—chef, architect, nurse, high school teacher, painter, beauty queen, classical bass player, plastic surgeon, businessman, mime—are simply trying to lead their lives and steer clear of violence. Yet, inevitably, crime has a way of intruding on their lives all the same. A surgeon finds himself forced into performing a risky procedure on a narco killer. A teacher struggles to protect lovestruck students whose forbidden romance has put them in mortal peril. A painter’s freewheeling ways land him in the back of a kidnapper’s car. Again and again, the walls between “ordinary life” and cartel violence are shown to be paper thin, and when they collapse the consequences are life-changing.
These are stories about transformation and danger, passion and heartbreak, terror and triumph. They are funny, deeply moving, and stunningly well-crafted, and they tap into the most universal and enduring human experiences: love even in the face of danger and loss, the struggle to grow and keep faith amid hardship and conflict, and the pursuit of authenticity and courage over apathy and oppression. With unflinching honesty and exquisite tenderness, Josh Barkan masterfully introduces us to characters that are full of life, marking the arrival of a new and essential voice in American fiction.

This book was brutal to read.

This year I went through a phase of being interested in reading/watching stuff about Mexico that included seeing an installation on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at The University of Texas and continued through the heartbreaking tragedy of the earthquake in September.

During that time I noticed this book on my library’s New shelf and grabbed it. It’s a book of short stories all written by the same author and all about Mexico. What I didn’t know was that although the stories cover a wide variety of people in Mexico they all hold one thing in common: violence.

Every story has some bits of normalcy: someone working at a restaurant, someone taking their kids to the park, two teens in love. But that normalcy is taken over by violence every time.

I watched Netflix’s Narcos this year and although I that series showed how brutal cartels can be these stories were still shocking and unsettling.

Mexico is the closest foreign country to my home city and my traveler’s heart yearns to visit and explore. Through exploring I want to find out what real life is like there. This book does very little in feeding wanderlust though. It sticks with growing stories out of stereotypes and feeding a perception that is already very available. There is little hope in these pages and I refuse to believe that defines an entire country.

This was book number 40 of 52 for 201.

Adventures in Raspberry Pi

Adventures in Raspberry Pi (Adventures In ...) by Carrie Anne Philbin
on January 16, 2015
Goodreads
My Rating: four-stars

Coding for kids is cool with Raspberry Pi and this elementary guideEven if your kids don't have an ounce of computer geek in them, they can learn to code with Raspberry Pi and this wonderful book. Written for 11- to 15-year-olds and assuming no prior computing knowledge, this book uses the wildly successful, low-cost, credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computer to explain fundamental computing concepts. Young people will enjoy going through the book's nine fun projects while they learn basic programming and system administration skills, starting with the very basics of how to plug in the board and turn it on.
Each project includes a lively and informative video to reinforce the lessons. It's perfect for young, eager self-learners--your kids can jump in, set up their Raspberry Pi, and go through the lessons on their own.Written by Carrie Anne Philbin, a high school teacher of computing who advises the U.K. government on the revised ICT CurriculumTeaches 11- to 15-year-olds programming and system administration skills using Raspberry PiFeatures 9 fun projects accompanied by lively and helpful videosRaspberry Pi is a $35/25 credit-card-sized computer created by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation; over a million have been sold
Help your children have fun and learn computing skills at the same time with "Adventures in Raspberry Pi."

This was a fun book. My library had a copy of it and Amanda grabbed it on one of her weekly trips.

We had seen one of the author’s tutorials on YouTube covering the Raspberry Pi Sense HAT so we were confident she knows her stuff. Here’s the video.

The book has several fun projects and progresses at a pace appropriate for kids 11-15 years old (as stated by the book description. My kids are younger and they could complete the projects with some help.

This was book number 7 of 52 for 2017.

The Lost Symbol

The Lost SymbolThe Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3) by Dan Brown
Published by Doubleday on September 15, 2009
Pages: 509
Goodreads
My Rating: three-stars

WHAT IS LOST...WILL BE FOUND
In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world's most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling - a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths...all under the watchful eye of Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, DC., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.
As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object - artfully encoded with five symbols - is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation...one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.
When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon - a prominent Mason and philanthropist - is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations - all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown's novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown's fans have been waiting for...his most thrilling novel yet.

I’ve read several Dan Brown novels and they are all very predictable. They are crafted with a bunch of interchangeable parts: a secret society, Robert Langdon gets involved, a young brilliant woman, and a threat to the world.

I’m not sure why I expected anything different from the third installment of the Robert Langdon series. I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Read this book if you’re into Brown’s script. If not try something else.

This was book number 5 of 52 for 2017.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and IdeasFrida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities by Carol Sabbeth
Published by Chicago Review Press on August 1st 2005
Pages: 160
Goodreads
My Rating: four-stars

Children will find artistic inspiration as they learn about iconic artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in these imaginative and colorful activities. The art and ideas of Kahlo and Rivera are explored through projects that include painting a self-portrait Kahlo-style, creating a mural with a social message like Rivera, making a Day of the Dead ofrenda, and crafting an Olmec head carving. Vibrant illustrations throughout the book include Rivera's murals and paintings, Kahlo's dreamscapes and self-portraits, pre-Columbian art and Mexican folk art, as well as many photographs of the two artists. Children will learn that art is more than just pretty pictures; it can be a way to express the artist's innermost feelings, a source of everyday joy and fun, an outlet for political ideas, and an expression of hope for a better world. Sidebars will introduce children to other Mexican artists and other notable female artists. A time line, listings of art museums and places where Kahlo and Rivera's art can be viewed, and a list of relevant websites complete this cross-cultural art experience.

For some reason this year I’ve been interested in Mexico City, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera. It partly started because there was a local Frida festival and art exhibit, and partly because of a story on a local news site where the editor-in-chief talked about his vacation to Mexico City with his son.

Next thing I knew I was researching flights and AirBnbs. Turns out both were super affordable. I also checked out this book to read and learn about the lives of two of Mexico’s most famous artists. I enjoyed reading this book to learn more about their lives and liked that it was aimed at kids and included art projects.

The book is a great read if you want some facts about Frida and Diego’s lives, their work, and the times they lived in, but want a PG version of it.

I did a YouTube search for vlogs of people visiting Mexico City (or CDMX) in the past 4-6 months to get an idea of what the city looks like now. I found Eileen Aldis’s channel and her wonderful videos about her time in CDMX and a few other locations in Mexico.

Here’s a great video about a Frida Tour.

A few months after reading the book I accompanied my niece on a visit of The University of Texas at Austin and we got to see an exhibition titled “Mexico Modern: 1920-1945 Art, Commerce, and Cultural Exchange”. The exhibition “explores two decades of dynamic cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States”. There were several works by Kahlo and Rivera, along with photographs of them. It was a lot of fun to see knowing what I learned from this book!

This was book number 34 of 52 for 2017.

Dark Matter

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Pages: 342
Goodreads
My Rating: four-stars

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

My wife suggested this book after Knox and Jamie at the Popcast gave it their Green Light.

This book was a very quick read/listen. Once I got half way through I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to a friend and he finished it in one day. I listened to the audio book version of this book mostly while walking around my neighborhood. I still associate certain parts of a street or the view of a neighbor’s house with parts of the story!

***Spoilers Ahead***

The book is a really good thriller, but the part that resonated with me most is the main character’s drive to restore his life with his wife and son. Even when presented with alternate versions of his wife he knew that the woman and life he loved weren’t just the physical representation of that person, it was much more. The life he loved was the physical person along with the sum of the shared history. And he was willing to do whatever it took to get back to that life.

My wife and I will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this year and as each year passes I realize how precious our time is to me. The value of those 14 years together (16 counting our dating and courtship) greatly outweigh the sum of the time. This might be an odd conclusion to reach from this book, but it’s where I landed.

If you’re looking for a techno-thriller with some soul, give this book a read.

This was book number 3 of 52 for 2017.

Silence

SilenceSilence by Shūsaku Endō, William Johnston
Published by Taplinger Publishing on January 1st 1999
Pages: 201
Goodreads
My Rating: five-stars

With an introduction by Martin Scorsese

Father Rodrigues is an idealistic Portuguese Jesuit priest who, in the 1640s, sets sail for Japan on a determined mission to help the brutally oppressed Japanese Christians and to discover the truth behind unthinkable rumours that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. Once faced with the realities of religious persecution Rodrigues himself is forced to make an impossible choice: whether to abandon his flock or his God.

Winner of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, Silence is Shusaku Endo's most highly acclaimed novel and a classic of its genre. It caused major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967.

Silence will soon be a major film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver.

I read this on a suggestion from my friend David. The book did not disappoint. It was challenging and made me ask a lot of questions of my own personal faith.

We also saw the movie that came out last year. I’m glad I read the book first to get the full impact of the events depicted. I imagined the main characters much different than the actors who portrayed them.

This was book number 4 of 52 for 2017.

Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of SuccessOutliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
on November 18th 2008
Pages: 309
Goodreads
My Rating: five-stars

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?
His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

I’ve read several of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I know that he gets blasted for writing “pseudo science”, connecting unrelated dots, and publishing in a different way than scholarly articles. But these books aren’t meant to be scholarly articles. They are interesting stories and he’s a great storyteller. I listened to the first season of Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History and listened to this book on audio so have his voice echoing in my brain.

The story about the Beatles was really interesting. Our kids started learning musical instruments last year and that story helped me encourage them in their practice time letting them know to enjoy it, but also to know that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Give this a read to enjoy the stories and how Gladwell weaves together stories and uncovers connections that you may not have heard before.

This was book number 8 of 52 for 2017.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) by Beth Revis
Published by Razorbill on January 11th 2011
Pages: 399
Goodreads
My Rating: two-stars

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship —tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

I read this book because I liked the cover. It’s a cool image of almost kiss hovering over the expanse of space.

**Some spoilers you’ve been warned**

When I read YA it can go either really good or really bad for me. This book was the later. The book is set on a space ship and is in the “future”, but the future isn’t very well explained, and the tech is laughably poor.

Question: “How are we going to get people through hundreds of years of space travel?”

Author’s Answer: “Uh, we’ll freeze them, yeah! With tubes and liquid, and some other stuff. Sure.”

Then the population living on the spaceship are supposed to be able to physically and psychologically survive this flight. Yeah right. Maybe it’s because I read Stephenson’s Seveneves before this one, but every turn on this ship I was thinking “That’s not possible. Nope. Where did they get the resources for that? How do you make that up in space?”

Then there’s the inevitable hormones of YA. This one had it bad. A teenage boy seeing a teenage girl in cryosleep and he’s covered with the feels. The whole book just didn’t work for me. Other reviewers dig it, but I want to just bury it.

I originally gave this three stars which is my “Yeah go ahead and read it, but it’s not bloody Shakespeare” rating, but after writing this I dropped it down to two stars which is my “please don’t waste your time” rating.

This was book number 38 of 52 for 2017.

Inferno

InfernoInferno (The Divine Comedy #1) by Dante Alighieri, Anthony M. Esolen
Published by Modern Library on December 9th 2003
Pages: 490
Goodreads

Guided by the poet Virgil, Dante plunges to the very depths of Hell and embarks on his arduous journey towards God. Together they descend through the twenty-four circles of the underworld and encounter the tormented souls of the damned - from heretics and pagans to gluttons, criminals and seducers - who tell of their sad fates and predict events still to come in Dante's life. In this first part of his Divine Comedy, Dante fused satire and humour with intellect and soaring passion to create an immortal Christian allegory of mankind's search for self-knowledge and spiritual enlightenment.

I didn’t love this book or hate the book. I read it because it was available and I felt like I should have read it.

Probably the most interesting thing about this book was that it reminded me a ton of spending a week camping out in line to go into Britannia Manor in 1994- the personal residence of Richard Garriott.  Richard would host a haunted house and invite professional costume and set builders to come out. The experience was amazing and totally immersive and I’ve never been part of anything like it. Teams of four progressed through the house to find the Star of Palestine and save the Avatar. This story was a little from some of his video games and a lot from Dante’s Inferno. The house had a room of gluttons, imps running around the grounds, and a boatman. Really crazy stuff. For some pics and old video of the manor check out this super old page.

I didn’t give the book a star rating because who am I to rate a book that is still in print 700 years after being published. Dante you go boy!

This was book number 33 of 52 for 2017.

Dune Messiah

Dune MessiahDune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2) by Frank Herbert
Published by Ace Books on July 15th 1987
Pages: 331
Goodreads
My Rating: three-stars

Dune Messiah continues the story of the man Muad'dib, heir to a power unimaginable, bringing to completion the centuries-old scheme to create a super-being."Brilliant...It is all that Dune was, and maybe a little bit more."--Galaxy Magazine

I read Dune in my teens and loved it. LOVED IT. I memorized Paul’s whole soliloquy “I must not fear, fear is the mind killer…” and really liked the planets as feudal houses makeup of the universe (literally). I adored the love story of Paul and Chani. Maybe this was the beginning of my attraction to strong willed women? who knows.

When I started this book I felt like I had read it before, but enough time has passed since my teens that it felt like a first reading. Re-entering the universe of The Spice Melange in book form was a welcome feeling. A re-watching of the Dune movie with my wife last year did not bring the same good feelings. It hasn’t aged well which is a shame.

*** Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned ***

This book picks up where the first one leaves off. Paul Atreides, or Muad’dib, has conquered Arrakis and the Empire. He’s reached god-like status and has an army of super killers. Given how omnipotent and omniscient Paul’s powers seem to make him as the super-being it is difficult to imagine any antagonist challenging his authority. Any possible plot against him should be seen coming a mile away and thwarted right? Or any that got too close would be quickly defeated by his super powers. That’s a tight corner for the author to paint himself out of.

The book weaves some political intrigue and “challenges of nation-building” into the plot that make it plausible. The threat from far-off turns out to be a reanimated Duncan Idaho who may or may not be an assassin, but is presented to Paul as a gift. Once that happened I kinda detached from the story and finished on auto-pilot.

I won’t be continuing with the series, but am glad I read this one.

This was book number 10 of 52 for 2017.

The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and Enjoy

The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and EnjoyThe Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and Enjoy by Charles W.G. Smith, Edward C. Smith
on April 17th 2010
Pages: 145
Goodreads

Nothing tastes better than herbs fresh from the garden. Discover how easy and rewarding it is to grow your own! Simple instructions, tempting dishes, and beautiful full-color photographs will inspire you to grow, harvest, preserve, and cook with 26 of the most popular kitchen herbs, including basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. Your pantry will soon be filled with seasoned salts, Provençal vinegar, and caraway cookies.

This was a quick read to learn more about herbs to help when choosing what to plant in our edible garden. Most of our herbs died during the hot summer when we went on vacation and they didn’t get watered. So it goes.

This was This was book number 9 of 52 for 2017.

Daemon

DaemonDaemon (Daemon, #1) by Daniel Suarez
on January 8th 2009
Pages: 432
Goodreads
My Rating: five-stars

Technology controls almost everything in our modern-day world, from remote entry on our cars to access to our homes, from the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can't always be said for the people who design them.
Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer—the architect behind half-a-dozen popular online games. His premature death depressed both gamers and his company's stock price. But Sobol's fans aren't the only ones to note his passing. When his obituary is posted online, a previously dormant daemon activates, initiating a chain of events intended to unravel the fabric of our hyper-efficient, interconnected world. With Sobol's secrets buried along with him, and as new layers of his daemon are unleashed at every turn, it's up to an unlikely alliance to decipher his intricate plans and wrest the world from the grasp of a nameless, faceless enemy—or learn to live in a society in which we are no longer in control. . . .
Computer technology expert Daniel Suarez blends haunting high-tech realism with gripping suspense in an authentic, complex thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson.

I started this book about six times and each time put it down. It’s not that I was dis-interested in the book or it was bad, but I really wanted to enjoy it and have the brain space to dedicate to enjoying the book.

Now that I’ve finished it I’m glad I waited until I could focus on it!

I enjoy the type of thrillers and after getting a footing in the world after the main characters were introduced I really enjoyed how the multiple plot lines unfolded then intertwined.

** Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned **

I enjoy sci-fi for its visions of the future, of “what could be”, even if those visions aren’t pretty. Daemon takes very recent and future possible tech and uses it to weave it’s story. A friend called it “WOW in the real world” and it felt like it. The book came out in 2009 and some of the tech that would have seemed like a moon-shot back then now seems almost inevitable only eight years later. Specifically, the armada of self-driving cars that is used by the Daeomon to attack the government compound and protect Brian Gragg at the end of the book is probably possible today.

What doesn’t seem possible today is character Jon Ross’s ability to stay anonymous and hide his identity from government agencies.

This was book number 42 of 52 for 2017.

Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
Published by Penguin Press

I read this book expecting it to be an extension of Ansari’s stand-up or some other form of comedy writing. I found the comedy that I looked for wrapped in a scholarly research program. Ansari teamed up with a sociologist to study, actually research, what it looks like to seek out love today. (Ansari starts the book explaining that due to cost and time limitations he constrained the research to a defined group of urban, heterosexuals.)

The findings of the social science was very interesting to a married guy with kids. The stories that were shared about online dating experiences sounded like a sequence from America’s Funniest Videos. I laughed several times while reading people’s dating stores. From reading this book I feel like I have some compassion and understanding of what it’s like to be in that dating scene which is very different from my dating experience.

I met my wife in 2002. We met in person. We dated and courted for 1.5 years. During that time we met in person, talked on the phone, and emailed each other often. Then we were married in 2003. This year we’ve been married 14 years. Ours isn’t a ‘modern’ romance as defined by this book, but it is a great romance.

 

This was book number 12 of 52 for 2017.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Published by Crown Business on April 15th 2014
Pages: 260
Goodreads
My Rating: four-stars

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. 
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism  is a movement whose time has come.

The problem with writing a book review a few months after reading a book is that you’ve forgotten those initial thoughts you had after reading the book! This could also be a good test to see what really made an impact. This one is leaning to the “Woah I’ve forgotten what was in this book” direction.

I’ve been running a business for 10 years and am a sucker for any non-fiction business book that promises a way of doing things better. We also went through a season of reducing our “stuff” a few years ago (aided by a house fire, but that’s another story). We’re big fans of reducing down to the essential whether that’s in house possessions or the things we allow into our schedule.

I really enjoyed the book’s focus on the importance of sleep, choosing what you’re going to be about instead of letting things happen to you by saying “no”, and conscious editing. Some of the contents were things I already know, but the book was a worthwhile read for new things and some review.

This was book number 30 of 52 for 2017.

Change Agent

Change AgentChange Agent by Daniel Suarez
Published by Dutton Books on April 18th 2017
Pages: 416
Goodreads
My Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez delivers an exhilarating sci-fi thriller exploring a potential future where CRISPR genetic editing allows the human species to control evolution itself.


On a crowded train platform, Interpol agent Kenneth Durand feels the sting of a needle— and his transformation begins. . . .    In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime, hunting down black market labs that perform "vanity edits" on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution—preying on human-trafficking victims to experiment and advance their technology.   With the worlds of genetic crime and human trafficking converging, Durand and his fellow Interpol agents discover that one figure looms behind it all: Marcus Demang Wyckes, leader of a powerful and sophisticated cartel known as the Huli jing.   But the Huli jing have identified Durand, too. After being forcibly dosed with a radical new change agent, Durand wakes from a coma weeks later to find he’s been genetically transformed into someone else—his most wanted suspect: Wyckes.   Now a fugitive, pursued through the genetic underworld by his former colleagues and the police, Durand is determined to restore his original DNA by locating the source of the mysterious—and highly valuable—change agent. But Durand hasn’t anticipated just how difficult locating his enemy will be. With the technology to genetically edit the living, Wyckes and his Huli jing could be anyone and everyone—and they have plans to undermine identity itself.

I really enjoyed the first Suarez book I read (Kill Decision) so was excited when I saw this was published.

This book takes from the same playbook in that it is a near-future thriller where the author takes a current technology and extrapolates a possible future. The result is a fun ride through a tech fun house. This book tickles my tech taste bud, but also heaps on a helping of international locations as the main character is based in Singapore and travels through Southeast Asia.

This is a fun book read or something to listen to while doing house chores.

**Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned**

I hadn’t heard of CRISPR technology, but did some research on it after reading the book. I found a few articles and a TED talk about it. It looks cool, but boy howdy will it spur some heavy debate because of what it does. As with most technologies the application of the tool is more important than the tool itself. This tech could be used to make food that feeds a growing population, or, as in the book, as a camouflage technique for an international criminal syndicate. Who knows.

This was book number 29 of 52 for 2017.