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Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

Snakes in Suits

In Book Reviews on June 29, 2014 at 6:00 am
HarperCollins 2006

HarperCollins 2006

Nustshell blurb: So, apparently there are a lot of psychopaths in the corporate world. This book tells you how to identify those people and how to deal with them.

This book was recommended to me by a colleague (whose name I will withhold in order to protect her anonymity). Obviously, this book is merely for the lolz because I work in an office filled with really nice and well-adjusted people. Not a psychopath in sight. Nope. Not a single one.

Ahem.

This book can actually apply to people outside of the corporate world and, in fact, I was able to look back on past relationships and realise that some of those people were psychopaths. The authors of this book warn about diagnosing and labeling people as psychopaths, though, as only a qualified psychiatrist should make that judgement.

What they did encourage you to do is to be able to identify people who exhibit psychopathic tendencies so that you can understand better how to deal with them.

I’m going to go ahead and spoil it for you because it made me laugh. Basically, if you are in a relationship or work with a psychopath, do not confront them. Step away from the psychopath and under NO circumstances should you EVER call them a psychopath. Not to their faces anyway. The best idea is to try to avoid them as they are great schemers and manipulators. They will always turn things around to where you get the shaft.

I’m simplifying things, certainly, but that’s the gist.

In spite of making me giggle a little bit, it did make me think about myself and the people around me. I’ve always had low self-esteem and it’s within the past few years that I’ve been able to really recognise my self-worth. I’ve been working really hard to get rid of my hang-ups which is another thing that this book recommends. One of the things that a psychopath will do is to capitalise on a person’s insecurities. If you get rid of your insecurities, the psychopath will have less ammo with which to obliterate your career or your life in general.

I’m simplifying this book in a huge way and the things that they talk about are actually rooted in science as well as common sense, so I felt as though it was pretty sound advice. It was a good read and it has made me more aware of the actions of people around me as well as my behaviour around other people. After all, who is to say that I’m not a psychopath?

(I’m not, by the way.)

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Shift

In Book Reviews on June 22, 2014 at 6:00 am
Arrow Books 2013

Arrow Books 2013

This is the second book of this trilogy by Hugh Howey. I read the first book back in August so if you want to read that post first, click here.

Nutshell blurb: The story takes place before Wool. We find out how and why the silos were built and the measures that were put in place to protect the people who live in them.

This book was quite gripping and, frankly, creepy as hell. This is why I love dystopia.

But before I talk more about why I liked the book, can I just direct your attention to the yellow circle in the picture above? This is a pet peeve of mine. I know that people do this to sell books, but I think it’s sneaky and underhanded. I try not to read too many reviews before I read a book (except for the ones I read on the blogs I follow) because I don’t like people to market things to me. I don’t mind it if people whose taste I trust tell me what they thought of a book. But the Sunday Times stating that this is ‘The next Hunger Games‘ is not going to get me to buy the book. In fact, if I had bought this book based on the fact that it’s been touted as ‘The next Hunger Games‘, I would have been extremely pissed off to find that this was absolutely nothing like The Hunger Games. Other than the fact that it’s dystopia. And a book.

I’m sorry. I’ll stop ranting now. But it’s nothing like The Hunger Games. So there.

Anyway, I really liked this book. It only took me 7 days to read which is pretty good considering that it’s a hefty 578 pages.

I always struggle to tell you about some of these books which contain twists and turns because it would grieve me to no end if I spoiled it for you.

I’ll do my best to not spoil it.

Let’s talk about the main character, Donald. That’s safe. He’s a pretty interesting guy. He’s a young senator who studied to be an architect at university. He’s enlisted by an older senator (who helped him win his votes) to design some underground silos. He doesn’t know why he’s doing it and does it despite having a bad feeling about it. I like this guy because he’s desperately in love with his wife. He does his best to prove to her that he’s not going to cheat on her even though he’s now working on this project with an ex-flame from university. This love for his wife is a central theme in this book and it is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.

The book flashes back and forth between the time time when the silos were being built and the people who are on shift in them in the future. Eventually, the future collides with the events that take place in Wool. There are a few ‘aha!’ moments when you realise that you’re reading the back story of someone from the first book. I really liked that.

I’m intensely curious about what’s going to happen in the next book although it will take me a while to get around to reading it. My stack of books to be read is quite sizable at the moment so I shall have to wait to see what happens. I’ll definitely buy the next one though.

The Shining

In Book Reviews on June 15, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Continuing on with my Stephen King fan-girling, I’ve finally read The Shining. A lot of people have told me that this is their favourite of his books. I’m really sad to say that I didn’t like this one very much. Or maybe I didn’t like it as much as his other stuff. I really wanted to like it a lot more than I did because it’s by Stephen King, but I just wasn’t feeling the love.

Nutshell blurb: 5 year old Danny and his family move into a creepy-ass hotel in Colorado where his father will be acting as caretaker for the winter.

Where this book fell down for me was that there was sooooo much back story and exposition. On the one hand, that’s ok because in true Stephen King style the characters were fantastic. Jack Torrence wanted to be a good person but he was so flawed that he couldn’t be. He lacked the ability to control his anger and he was a recovering alcoholic. He was wracked with guilt for breaking his son’s arm a couple of years earlier yet sometimes he found himself fantasizing about hurting his wife and child. The tenuous grasp he had on his self-control made him a really interesting character. We spent a lot of time in his past, though, which didn’t appeal to me as much. I understood the need to explain the kind of person he was, but there was just way too much of it for my liking.

Danny was interesting as well. He had the ability to know what people were thinking and could sometimes see snippets of what was going to happen in the future. That must be terrifying for a 5 year old. I really got a sense of how alone he felt.

I felt that this book moved very slowly. It would build up to the point where I would start thinking that something was going to happen, but then nothing would. I find that very frustrating in a horror book.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the film yet. I know that it is nothing like the book, but I feel that I have to watch it now.

The fact that I wasn’t crazy about this book doesn’t diminish my admiration for Mr. King in any way. He’s still one of my favourite authors, although I’m really glad that this wasn’t the first book of his that I’ve read. Otherwise I might not be able to say that.

Old Man’s War

In Book Reviews on June 8, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2005

Tor 2005

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.

I love John Scalzi. I really do. This is only the second book of his that I’ve read, but I’m now officially a fan girl. (Here’s a link to my post on Redshirts.)

Nutshell blurb: Mankind has expanded and colonised other planets in outer space. Once people on Earth turn 75, they have the option to join the military to fight aliens and to protect colonists.

It’s quite interesting that a military would want 75 year olds to join its ranks and I certainly won’t spoil anything for you by telling you why. What I will tell you is why I love Mr. Scalzi’s writing so much. He has the power to make me snicker (Out loud. On my morning commute.) and cringe at the same time. He has a brilliant sense of whimsy and he doesn’t mince around his story. He embraces the ridiculous and runs with it. And it works.

There are so many times when I read a sci-fi book and get lost in scientific detail. This certainly has a lot of detail in it, but it’s accessible to those of us who aren’t able to grasp some heavy scientific explanation.

I don’t really feel like I can say much more about it without spoiling it. I will say that I loved it, it was super fun and that I’ll be reading more of his work.

If you don’t already know, he has a blog which is great if you’re a fan of his writing.

The Redbreast

In Book Reviews on June 1, 2014 at 6:00 am
Vintage 2006

Vintage 2006

Nutshell blurb: Harry Hole is a detective trying to solve a case involving a rare gun, WWII Nazi sympathisers and his murdered partner.

This was the first book I’ve read by Jo Nesbo. I’ve noticed that he is one of the most popular authors on the tube. I always see people reading his books and I’ve wanted to give them a go so I finally have.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I tend to not read too much crime. It’s not because I don’t like it, but it’s because most of the crime books I’ve read have super annoying characters in them. To be fair to the genre, I haven’t read that many of them but the ones I have really put me off. In so many cases the main character is ridiculously handsome, phenomenally talented (more so than any actual, living human being), a super athlete, catnip to the ladies, he single-handedly solves every case he comes across, speaks 15 different languages, has read every book that was ever written AND committed them all to memory. You know the kind of character I’m talking about.

Super. Annoying.

I gave this book a try and was pleased to find out that the main character is just a regular guy. He has a few social issues in that he’s not great with people but he’s relatable. My eyes didn’t roll at any time during the reading of this book.

It was especially interesting because it flashed back to the 40s and Norways involvement in WWII.

One thing I did have a problem with (which was my own stupid fault) were the names. This book takes place in Norway and I’m not really very familiar with Nordic names. When I read, I do so very quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t make allowances for names that are foreign to me. So, I read along as I normally do. You know, at the speed of light. And then when I got to the end and the plot twist/reveal, I was a bit confused because I’d gotten some of the names mixed up. It was quite an interesting twist, but it felt somewhat diminished by my idiocy.

Next time I read one of Mr. Nesbo’s books (and I definitely will be reading more), I will make a note to pay special attention to the names. It’s not difficult, but the fact that I wasn’t paying as close attention as I should have at first made it tricky at the end.

I feel so uncultured.

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