storytimewithbuffy

Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Fuzzy Nation

In Book Reviews on July 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2011

Tor 2011

Nutshell blurb: Jack Holloway works as an independent contractor for a company called ZaraCorp. He accidentally found some really valuable jewels which he may only claim if the planet isn’t inhabited by sentient species. But then he meets some little fuzzy creatures and there’s a huge debate about whether or not they are people.

Before I talk about this book, I’d just like to say that this is my 100th post. I can’t believe that I’ve written so many! I feel like I should be celebrating or something. Like, with cake. I really want some cake now…

Anyway.

I’m sure I’ve told you many times how much I love John Scalzi. If you don’t remember, then I’ll say it again. I love John Scalzi!

This book had me hooked in the first few pages where the main character taught his dog, Carl, to detonate some charges that he used in his work as an independent contractor. I love the amount of whimsy that exists within his books and I like that his characters feel like real people. There are times when the banter between the characters seems a bit forced, but it only happens occasionally and I can overlook it because the story is so good. Jack Holloway isn’t the best person in the world. I certainly couldn’t imagine myself being friends with him. I think that I would describe him as a lovable douche-nozzle. He does and says stupid things and he doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings when he makes his life decisions. He’s not loathsome, however, and I think that it takes quite a lot of skill to create a character like that.

There were only a couple of problems I had with this book. I felt like the main character was made out to be cleverer than he actually was. He had a lot of things up his sleeves and there were a couple of times when I had to force myself to suspend my disbelief. One of those times was at an integral turning point in the story.

(Don’t worry; there aren’t any spoilers!)

This turning point was hinted at in an earlier chapter so it didn’t come completely out of right field, but I had a moment when I was jolted out of the story (during a pivotal scene) and I was like ‘wait a minute…wuuut?’.  That’s never a good thing.

However, I was able to shrug it off and go with it. Because I love him so much.

I love the worlds he creates and Zarathustra is no exception. I feel that I have to say here that I’ve never read Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper which is the book that this one was based on. This book is a reboot of Piper’s 1968 novel and I don’t know how much of his world was used in this retelling. It’s quite a scary world as it is inhabited by scary creatures (like dinosaurs) called zararaptors which means that our protagonist lives in a treehouse. And valuable gems were the result of millions of jellyfish-like creatures being crushed under rock for centuries. I like it.

If you’ve never read any of John Scalzi’s work, I would suggest reading a different one first such as Old Man’s War. I really enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I would be as much of a fan girl if I had read this one before any of his others.

 

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The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness

In Book Reviews on July 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
Vermilion 2011

Vermilion 2011

Nutshell blurb: This book deals with three parts of the brain that Dr. Peters terms the chimp, the human and the computer. The chimp is the part of the brain that deals with emotion and instinct. This book contains instructions to dealing with emotions that can hamper our happiness and success.

Ok, I’ve gotta tell you…this book made me giggle. It is broken down into super easy to understand terms. Maybe a bit oversimplified. There are chimps, planets, gremlins, goblins, a stone of life and many more things. I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading this and then I flat out got the giggles because there are some crazy stick figure drawings all through this book. And, yes, I read it during my commute. Surrounded by witnesses.

However, once I got over my skepticism and embraced my stone of life, I really got into it and learned a few things about myself. I learned a few things that I can (and actually have) applied to my life in an effort to control my inner chimp.

So, I’ll break it down for you. The chimp is the part of the brain that controls our emotions and instincts. It’s sometimes irrational and unreasonable yet can be responsible for our personal safety. This is the part of the brain that takes over when I experience tube rage pretty much every morning. The human part of our brain is the logical part. It is the part that says “Hey, who cares if the guy next to you hogs the arm rest? You’re not using it anyway.” The computer is the part that stores in the information and allows us to make decisions. (If you want the scientific equivalents they are thus: Chimp = limbic, Human = frontal and the Computer = parietal.)

This books offers insight as to why we sometimes allow our emotions to take over and how to fix it. I have to say, that I’ve been able to apply some of these things to my life. I’ve been able to look rationally at why I feel the way I do and therefore distance myself from emotion and act accordingly. Things that I usually get worked up about don’t bother me much now. Not everything, obviously. I mean, I’ve only just finished this book and it will take a lot of practice for some of this stuff to sink in. It’s definitely worth having a look at if you tend to be an emotional type of person. You will have to look past the silliness of it and just run with it. I was a bit surprised by my ability to go with it.

I even named my chimp.

Yep, you read that right.

You might wish to give your Chimp a name and introduce yourself because it plays one of the biggest parts in your life. Throughout your life, you (the Human) and your Chimp (your emotional thinking machine) will often do battle.

I would like to introduce you to Sanchez. My emotions tend to be angry ones and so I visualise my chimp as being large and muscley. He might even be a gorilla. I’m not sure why I’ve made him Latin American, but I wanted to give him a badass name and I think that Sanchez is pretty tough.

My husband has become worried that I might develop a split-personality. I don’t think that will happen but I’m pretty sure that there’s a different book on that subject.

Anyway, it was a really entertaining and interesting read. It definitely wasn’t dry as some self-help books can be. It’s worth reading if you can get past the initial “What the hell…?” reaction.

Whispers Underground

In Book Reviews on July 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Gollancz 2012

Gollancz 2012

Practically the whole point of being police is that you don’t gather information covertly. You’re supposed to turn up on people’s doorsteps, terrify them with the sheer majesty of your authority, and keep asking questions until they tell you what you want to know.

If these books had been around when I was a teenager, I would have totally wanted to be a cop in London. I would have been super disappointed in my career aspirations to find out that there was no supernatural department of the Metropolitan Police Department, so it’s probably best that these books only came out a few years ago.

Nutshell blurb: Peter Grant is back for another adventure. This time he’s investigating the murder of the son of an American diplomat which means that the FBI gets involved. Hijinx and hilarity ensue.

I read The Rivers of London back before I started this blog, so I haven’t done a write-up on that but if you would like to read my thoughts on Moon Over Soho, please feel free to do so.

I loved this book as much (but maybe a teensy bit more because I adore Lesley) as the last one. They actually do seem to get better as you go along. The characters are all so unique and well thought out. They could be real people for all I know. They certainly seem like it.

I want to read them all again, one after the other because sometimes I forget events or names of people from previous books if I’ve left too much time in between them.

Also, Mr. Aaronovitch has such an engaging style of writing that I get so caught up in the narration that I don’t concentrate on what’s actually happening.

Does that even make sense? Maybe not, but it happens, people. It’s probably not the best thing when reading a crime novel as you need to pay attention to the details in order to keep up with plot twists and such.

It doesn’t really matter, though. The sheer enjoyment I’ve gotten from reading these books so far is worth it. And I’m sure that I’ll pay more attention to the facts during my second pass.

I said it in my post for Moon Over Soho and I’ll say it again now: Ben Aaronovitch is a genius. I hope that he keeps on writing these books forever.

Storytime with Buffy Facebook Page

In My Writing on July 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Books

I’ve been writing this blog for over a year now. Can you believe it?? It goes by so quickly. Yeesh…

Anyway, since I’ve proven to myself that I’m committed to my blog, I thought I’d create a Facebook page. Now you’ll never miss a post and can read it anywhere; at the hairdressers, while you’re waiting for your food to be served, when you’re trying to avoid talking to someone that you have no interest in talking to… Yep. I’m helpful like that.

Do you have a Facebook page for your blog? Let me know in the comments and I’ll ‘like’ the heck out of it.

Happy reading!

 

Parasite

In Book Reviews on July 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

Nutshell blurb: In the future, humans live disease-free due to a parasite engineered by a company called SymboGen. Things are hunky-dory until the parasites decide that they want their own lives.

Yes, the premise of this book is excruciatingly gross. The thought of having a parasite living inside of me ON PURPOSE is horrifying. Much less the thought that it could become sentient and want to take over my body.

Hence the reason I HAD to read this book.

Mira Grant does a really great job of painting a hopeful future where things like diabetes or the common cold are things of the past. It’s very rare to find people who haven’t jumped on the parasite bandwagon.

The main character is Sally, a woman who had a nearly fatal car accident and whose family nearly pulled the plug on her life support. She made a miraculous recovery and was the subject of study for the SymboGen corporation as a result.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot so as to avoid spoilers.

What I will tell you is that I really like Ms. Grant’s style of writing. She’s quirky and she has a knack for adventure and action. I’ve only read two of her books so far (here’s the link to my post on Feed if you’re interested in reading it) and I’ve really enjoyed them.

My problem with this book and the reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that it was very similar to Feed. They both featured a future that saw us with some sort of disease-preventing technology that’s gone wrong. And the characters were quite similar.

In Parasite, there’s the main character, Sally who seemed remarkably similar to Feed’s Georgia. There’s Sally’s boyfriend, Nathan, who reminded me of Georgia’s brother, Shaun. There’s the plucky side-kick, Tansy who could have easily been related to Feed‘s Buffy.

Even though the Parasite characters were, in many ways, different from their Feed counterparts they still felt connected to me. As I read the parts with them in it, I found myself picturing the characters from Feed. I’ve never experienced that before. It was eerie, although probably unintentionally so. As characterisation is a huge part of what draws me into a novel, I must admit that it was a bit off-putting.

However, the story was gripping enough that it wasn’t a huge issue for me. It was an enjoyable read and I would be up for reading the next one.

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