Book Review | Leviathan Wakes

“For thirty years, Miller had worked security. Violence and death were familiar companions to him. Men, women. Animals. Kids. Once he’d held a woman’s hand while she bled to death. He’d killed two people, could still see them die if he closed his eyes and thought about it. If anyone had asked him, he’d have said there wasn’t much left that would shake him. But he’d never watched a war start before.”

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in a series by James S. A. Corey. I first heard about this book by watching a show called The Expanse, which was based off this series. I made it through a few episodes and then decided I would like to read the books before continuing the show.

Leviathan Wakes started out good, then went to great…and then got better. I am always a fan of science fiction, and this book packed a lot of emotional energy in between some smooth technical descriptions of “spacey stuff”. Epstein drive? Coolest thing I’ve ever heard. And then about halfway through the book, we get…wait for it….

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

.

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zombies.

Yep. James S. A. Corey managed to combine space and zombies. Space zombies. That’s when I became totally hooked. If my attention was only half mast before, space zombies gave me a fully erect literature hard-on. I devoured the second half of the book. All books have those periods where they kind of slow down, you lose interest, you put the book down for a few days and don’t pick it back up. I hit that point with this book about 50% into it, and then hit that plot point and was fully committed to finishing as soon as possible.

And just when you thought you knew where the story was going, they throw in another little plot twist right around the final showdown. I didn’t see it coming, and I was pleasantly surprised. Can’t say I get a lot of that in books these days. Really, it was refreshing.

I loved the characters in this book. Amos is, of course, a fan favorite. The funny guy that everyone loves. I waited with bated breath to see if he survives the whole length of the book and…well, you’ll have to read it to find out. But my favorite character in the whole book was Miller. Holden might have been the MC, but Miller stood out as one of the most dynamic characters. I felt for him like a drunk uncle. I wanted him to be happy, whatever the hell that meant for him. And I was so thankful to know that in the end, he gets exactly what he wants. Sigh of satisfaction.

However, like all books these days, I feel like this was written more as a screenplay than an actual novel. It was heavy on dialogue and scene descriptions in a way that would work great for a tv show (which it did end up becoming). I could even hear a little of my own writer’s voice in the way he phrased things and thought to myself, “funny, I could have written something like this”, which was an interesting way to critique my own work.

Should you read it?

Yep! It was enjoyable, engaging, and even humorous at times. And if you are a fan of Resident Evil or Dead Space, you’re going to love this. Not for the faint of heart. There are gruesome descriptions about bodyparts skittering around on the ground and stomach bile floating in midair like a churning ocean. Reader beware!


Have you read it? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications! 

 

Book Review | Biohazard

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“Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I’ve encountered in the West say it isn’t possible to alter viruses genetically to make reliable weapons, or to store enough of a give pathogen for strategic purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power. My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written this book to explain why.
There are some who maintain that discussing the subject will cause needless alarm. But existing defenses against these weapons are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I am convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.”
Ken Alibek, Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It

Ever since I played Resident Evil when I was little I have always had a fascination with biological weaponry. Strictly from a fictional viewpoint, of course. Which is where biological, viral weaponry should have stayed. I really wish Biohazard was fictional. Unfortunately the story detailed in this book is real, or as close to real as one is likely to get from a defected member of Russia’s bioweaponry department.

You see, as a reader, I was skeptical of all the facts presented in this book. Why would someone who called Russia his home for so long suddenly spill all of its secrets with no fear of reprimand? Why was he allowed to go public with the information he had? Not only does he discuss Russia’s side of things. He discusses America’s as well. While I don’t doubt the authenticity of his story, I read this book with grains of salt. How much was fiction? How much was real? And is hydrogen peroxide really enough to sanitize a lab room that was infected with a virus?

This book is a slow burner. There was no way I could plow through this in one sitting, just because I’m the kind of reader who likes to let things soak in, and this was a deep read that required many breaks. Despite this, the first three quarters of the book were easy reading. It could be defined as boring in some places because of the amount of detail paid to the description of scientific causes, effects, and procedures, but for the most part, it was a devourable read.

The last few chapters close out the book nicely by discussing Americas cures, vaccines, and safety precautions that are now in place to combat the ill-effects of his previous work. As he stated, more or less, was that this book was his attempt at making up for all the wrongdoings he did as a member of Biopreparate.

I feel that this book is vastly important and a must read for anyone who has even the smallest interest in war, Russia, America, military techniques, or bioweapons. And if you don’t have an interest in any of those things, I still recommend this book. It is heavy with politics and if nothing else is a quick history lesson into who was in power during the Cold War era in Russia and America. Very informative, and quite enjoyable.

Book Review | Girl Code

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Girl Code is a motivational kick in the pants for any woman out there who is currently or is planning on running a business. The book concisely outlines most of the usual points that come up when discussing successful people in general. In other words, it’s all been said before. However, one of her points in the book is that just because other girls are already doing it doesn’t mean you can’t too. So even though this content has been touched upon so many times that it has become droll, Cara brings her own personality to the topic.

There is a term I use with my clients that I call limitless luxe. When you are in a space of limitless luxe, we understand that our desires should be boundless, and they can happen for us–no matter how big we perceive those desires to be. We have to undo our programmed thinking that we cannot have what we want in life, or that we should feel guilty, shameful, or selfish for wanting everything. Or that because someone else has it, there is none left for us. There is absolutely no shame in having desires, and the sooner you own them, the sooner they will flow to you.

I’m not really one to write negative book reviews, because I know how much work goes into the production of a book, but I found this book pretty difficult to get through. It had many golden passages, for example:

Many of my clients come to me with what they think is a “business issue”, but in reality it’s a “life issue” that we need to work on before we can even touch their business. If you think your unresolved issues with your ex or your struggles with your body image aren’t affecting your success, then you are wrong. Life and business are undeniably intertwined. When our lives are a mess, our businesses mirror that. And on the flipside, when we’re facing our life issues head-on and working to be the best version of ourselves, our businesses thrive.

But in between these spot-on motivational truths was a lot of empty words. Fluff. Space fillers. It felt like reading a blog post, but much much longer, and my thought throughout was, “was it necessary to turn this into a book length dissertation?” Perhaps it was just because I didn’t really click with her demographic. After all, I’m not necessarily a woman looking to go into independent business. But even if I was, I would say this book didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Yes, Cara speaks a lot about her successes and how far she has come in growing her own business, but she doesn’t really talk about the downsides of it all. People like rooting for an underdog, a person who has built something up from nothing and beat all the odds. Girl Code just seems like a book about a blogger turned life coach who had no problems reaching her success. She had the money, resources, and network to make the switch to a professional businesswoman without a hitch.

In fact, at certain points during the book, she discusses “problems” she encountered during her progress, but all of them seem a little fabricated. They seem a little fake. She tells a story about how she is driven in the wrong direction by a lyft driver when she was meant to be live on tv, but calmly handles the situation by not getting angry and instead reassuring the man that it’s fine and she won’t be late. Earlier in the same story, she says she leaves about twenty to thirty minutes earlier to allow for traffic. At the end of her anecdote, she arrives at the studio an hour later, but still manages to make it just in time to go on air. The whole thing just seemed a little contrived, and not realistic. Because if I were in her position, I would totally be overcome by panic. I would be sweating. I would be making all the phone calls and snipping at the man who made the mistake. I’m sorry, but that’s what most of us would do. That’s realistic. Who would calmly sit there and say “this is fine”. Negative emotions are ok to feel, and I felt like this anecdotal example paints her to have acted in a saintly way when really she was probably just as flustered and panicked as anyone else would have been.

It also seemed a lot to me like she was bragging about all she had accomplished, or…maybe not bragging, but…defending? It felt like she was trying to prove something. “Look at all the books I wrote. Look at all the stuff I’m doing. Look, haters, look at my success. Witness me!” Did she really go into business because she had a passion for it? Or did she do it just for the money or because it seemed like the easiest path? Sure, I can sit up on a podium and tell woman that all they need to be successful is to believe and think positively. I’m not saying all life coaches are just nonsense. I’m saying that her stuff just seemed a little superficial.

I feel like that is just ragging on her, but it honestly didn’t sit well with me as a reader. She talks about needing to be ruthless as a businesswoman, but then talks only about she is always calm, unquestioning, and confident in her work. Is that realistic? No, everyone has bad days. It’s ok to be panicked sometimes, or disappointed when something doesn’t work out the way you want. Girl Code just seemed to be filled with the positives and not many negatives. That, along with the focus on high end luxury fashion just didn’t jive with me and my lifestyle. If you are the kind of woman who lives for fashion designers, anything stereotypically female like sparkles, the color pink, and champagne, then this book is for you. I’m not so much into that superficial stuff. I’m much more into the spiritual self growth, so naturally this book just wasn’t a good fit for me.

The interviews incorporated into this book also seemed very surface level. The answers were generic and lacked depth. I appreciate the idea she was trying to go for, but it seemed lacking in actual content. It’s like the women interviewed said what they thought they should say, not what they actually felt.

I actually skipped the last two chapters of this book, and I can assure you, I probably didn’t miss much.

However, moving on from that, I did like the layout of the book. It was very interactive, which I LOVED. She encourages the reader to highlight, write in, and dog-ear the book, to make it into a sort of compendium for success. There are end of chapter reviews too. I did not write in my book, or highlight it, because I don’t really do that to my books, but I did like that the option was there, and I did fill all the spaces out in my head and think about the reflective questions.


Should you read it?

Eh, you could probably pass on this book and your life would be just fine. Honestly, I’m a little miffed I actually paid full price for it. I mentioned it sounded like a blog post. I can forgive that sort of shallowness from a blog post, because it’s free content that I can read and process and move on from without much effort, but a book that a person pays money for should have a little more depth of content to it than this. I wanted action plans, real advice, step by step processes, or red flags to watch out for when going into business.

Book Review | Circle of Friends

 

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Everyone needs to drop what they are doing and go order a copy of this book here. It’s a book you are going to want to read over and over. Yes, that is how much I love this book. As soon as I finished Circle of Friends, it skyrocketed to the very top of my favorite book list. Allow me to get into the reasons why I love this book so much.

Written by the ever so talented, Maeve Binchy, Circle of Friends focuses on a group of college students living in Dublin and surrounding areas. The book was written in the 90’s and takes place in the 50’s. I found it listed on Goodreads as “Chick lit”, “Romance”, and “Period Pieces”, and while it is a period piece, there is almost nothing of this book that dates it. In a word, it is timeless. It could have been a book about any group of friends, in any time period, and in any part of the world. I also don’t feel like “Chick lit” does it justice. Although it is a chick lit novel, and a romance as well, it is also so much more than that.

Every character in this story came to life. That includes the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary characters. Even the character who dies at the beginning of the book has his own little story to go along with his character (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler alert, his death is the catalyst that brings our circle of friends together). Nothing in this book was meaningless or without purpose. Every single detail tied into the next, flawlessly.

Let us begin with the character of Eve Malone. She is the friend everyone wishes they had; honest, witty, and fiercely loyal. She is part of a duo of main characters (the other main character being named Benny Hogan who we will get to next) and if Benny is ice–calm, nice, friendly–then Eve is fire–bold, fearless, and hot-tempered. So rarely do you see a character written as truly and honestly as Eve, let alone a female character! I found myself cheering her on with tears in my eyes several times during this read.

Benny Hogan is truly the main character of the story, and second to Eve is an adorably relatable character. A dumpy girl from the country, big boned and awkward, she captured my heart almost immediately. Throughout the novel, her connection to food hit home for me, as I’m sure it did for many other readers. She is the awkward little girl in each of us, vulnerable, genuine, and affable, Benny is well liked by every person she encounters, and no doubt by every reader as well.

These two girls go off to study in Dublin, leaving their small town behind (or at least during the week when they have class). They soon form a circle of friends with Jack Foley, one of the most sought-after boys on campus, and Nan Mahon, a deviously gorgeous girl who is always used to getting her way. Throughout the story, we follow this circle of friends through bumbling romances, heated arguments, personal grief, and selfish vices. Each character must bare their own crosses; Benny must endure the creepy Sean Walsh who is trying to become a partner in her father’s business and who has a penchant for most unwanted advances on Benny; Eve Malone must settle some business with Simon Westward, an estranged cousin from a family who abandoned her; Jack Foley must learn that his actions have heartbreaking consequences; Nan Mahon must try and fix her selfish plan gone wrong; and Mr. Flood must battle with his visions of nuns in trees, nuns that are not actually there!

Will Benny thwart the creepy Sean Walsh and stand up for her family business? Will Eve’s temper get the best of her and ruin the only connection she has to a true family? Will Jack learn from his mistakes? Will Nan solve her problem? Will Mr. Flood stop seeing the nuns in the tree?!

Find out!

Should you read it:

Um yes. 110%. Yes. Yass. Si. Ja. Hai. Da. Oui. Do it. You will enjoy it! It’s such a good novel you could write essays about the character development and intertwining plot lines.

Book Review | You Are A Badass


Author Information

Jen Sincero is the author of several books, including You are a Badass, The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks, You are a Badass at Making Money, and Don’t Sleep with Your DrummerShe is also a life coach, motivational speaker, and bonafide badass who went from an ordinary woman making pennies at a job she hated to being everything she wanted to be, just by taking the risk to actually do it. And if that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. (Of course, what would be even more motivational is if she wasn’t a middle-aged white female, because let’s be honest: success for that demographic never seems like much of a struggle.)


Review

This was a delightful little book to read on my vacation, as I am currently in a phase of my life where all I can think of is “MANIFEST, MANIFEST, MANIFEST!” Anyone who has read any self help blogs or articles that promote radical self love, manifestation, or life improvement might feel like they are having déjà vu reading this book. It concisely covers just about every one of those topics, but not in a way that had me rolling my eyes and saying “get on with it already”. She added a lovely layer of depth to each of the points, and always maintained a positive, inspiring voice throughout. She incorporates meditative and cognitive exercises that you can do anywhere anytime in order to change your thought process to be more positive. She consistently encourages self love, even to the point of ending each chapter with “love yourself, because…” and then goes on to list a reason based on the previous chapter.

The book did an excellent job of pepping me up, giving me a moral boost that I so desperately wanted while on vacation. I was pleased that the book was exactly what I thought it would be, and after putting it down, I felt better about myself.


Should you read it?

Sure! It covers many redundant self-love manifestation topics, but does so in a concise and refreshing way. It was a quick read and the exercises were fun to do along with each chapter.

 

Book Review | The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

 

Author Information

Mark Manson is a writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. He has published two books as well as being the author of his own blog, MarkManson.net. Other things I know about him? Apparently he travelled the world a lot and then got sick of it and decided to settle down, find a wifey, crank out a few books, and live a somewhat normal boring existence. Ahhh yes, the American dream.


Review

I bought this book as one of my several beach reads and found that the length and writing style suited my vacation nicely. I was able to read it quickly and still take away some valuable points and Manson’s subtle humor as well (yes, that “subtle” was absolutely thrown in there on purpose).

What I enjoyed most about this book was the conversational tone in which is was written. Manson begins the book lightheartedly, although the subjects he discusses are, in themselves, not lighthearted. However, I found that as the book went on, the humor faded, and by the end of the book, I was left not having felt inspired, but rather overwhelmed by a feeling of existential crisis. After reading You Are A Badass, I was hoping this book would follow a similar vein to pump me up like the cheerleaders at a pep rally on how to better handle my life when I got back home. It was nothing like any other self help book out there. But to be fair, he did warn readers about that in the first few pages of the book.

Despite its emotional twist at the end, I found myself agreeing with–and taking away–valuable lessons, or at least a new way of looking at things. The book explains precisely what it says it does. It tells you how to not give a fuck, but in a way that helps you cultivate the sort of life you’ve always wanted to live instead of just being a raging asshat.

“As a teenager, I told everybody that I didn’t care about anything, when the truth was I cared about way too much. Other people ruled my world without my even knowing. I thought happiness was a destiny and not a choice. I thought love was something that just happened, not something that you worked for. I thought being ‘cool’ had to be practiced and learned from others, rather than invented for oneself.

When I was with my first girlfriend, I though we would be together forever. And then, when that relationship ended, I thought I’d never feel the same way about a woman again. I thought that love sometimes just wasn’t enough. And then I realized that each individual gets to decide what is ‘enough,’ and that love can be whatever we let it be.

Ever step of the way I was wrong. About everything. Throughout my life, I’ve been flat-out wrong about myself, others, society, culture, the world, the universe–everything.

And I hope that will continue to be the case for the rest of my life.

Just as Present Mark can look back on Past Mark’s every flaw and mistake, one day Future Mark will look back on Present Mark’s assumptions (including the contents of this book) and notice similar flaws. And that will be a good thing. Because that will mean I have grown.”

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson, Pg. 116

What I took from this book was the story of a man who had spent his life living the way everyone wishes they could. And through his story, I took the lessons that he learned along his way to getting to where he currently was when he wrote this book. Mark Manson was a playboy. He was a rich kid who had the whole world as his playground. He fucked anyone he wanted, did anything he wanted, because–and as he states himself in his own book–he was a privileged white male in American society and felt that he was entitled to everything. And to be fairly honest it was refreshing to see someone admit this about himself. We so often skip over the stories of this demographic with no explanation as to why these people are the way they are. As Mark explains in the book, he had a bad childhood, and so spent most of his twenties rebelling against this poor past experience with no care for whose feelings he stepped on in the process. It was interesting to see the reasoning behind it. Of why he acted this way.

Of course that was not the sole focus of the book. It was, after all and in a way, a self help book. The advice presented was not advice that focused on the things we lacked, but rather the things we had that we needed to let go of. Stop thinking you’re special, because you’re not. Stop caring about what others think about you. Stop being afraid to take risks. Stop thinking everything has to be super positive all the time, and accept that negative events and emotions are going to happen to you in life. Stop overthinking. Stop sabotaging yourself. Stop trying to be exceptional when you might only have ever been born to be just plain normal. Stop blaming everyone else for your problems and take responsibility for your life. Stop waffling over decisions and just choose already. Stop looking for excuses for everything and just do it. Stop thinking you know everything because that makes you a little shit that no one likes you don’t. Stop being afraid of failure. Stop being afraid of pain and discomfort. Stop being afraid to die. Stop being afraid to live.

“We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.”

– The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson, Pg. 151

See, as the list goes on, it becomes more existential, and by the end of the book I was left in a mental fog, thinking about life and death and the meaning of it all. Becoming aware of your existence is a painful thing in and of itself, but he states all of his points very well. He cuts right to the chase for each and every point and doesn’t sugar coat it for the weak-stomached.

In fact, I experienced my own bout of guilt and shame when he got to the part about taking responsibility in the relationships you share with other people (partners, friends, family). He spoke particularly about victim/savers relationships, where one (the saver) tries to fix the other while they (the victims) create unnecessary problems from which they need to be saved in order to feed their compulsive need for attention, which can escalate at an alarming rate. Instead of the victims taking responsibility for their own problems, and the savers allowing the victims to solve their own problems, they create a toxic co-dependant relationship that they both feed off of like deranged little parasites. It was damn uncomfortable for me to read, because it was so painfully honest and accurate. (I often consider myself a saver, as I am mainly attracted to people I feel that I need to fix, instead of focusing on my own problems which need my attention much more than the victims I try to save…But that’s a whole blog post for another day).

I digress.

All of the advice he gives really does sound like it comes from someone who has been there and done that. From someone who has lived that life and has regretted many poor decisions. For this reason, I lapped up his wisdom. To be fairly honest, if he were to publish an autobiography, or even a relationship advice book, I think he could be very successful. It seemed he had a profound amount of knowledge and experience about the social workings between humans. And he would have made a fair anthropologist as well.


Should You Read It?

Yes! It was a quick read and easy to grasp the concepts. The conversational tone makes it a fun read and it makes you think about some of life’s most terrifying questions at the same time. However, is this a case of a songbird who can only sing one song? I suppose we shall just have to wait and see what else he publishes. And if you don’t like it, hey, it was only three hours of time you’ll never get back.

Go grab a copy over on amazon and tell me what you think! 

Book Review | American Psycho

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here…

If you don’t approach this book as the most wicked of dark comedies, it’s easy to understand why there are so many people who find it offensive. This book, however, had me cracking up. From the chapter-long rants about music to the gratuitous gore and pornographic smut that grace some of the later chapters, this book was a roller-coaster of fun. As Mike Elgan said“Don’t tell jokes. Expose the humor of reality and truth…”. I think that’s exactly what Bret Easton Ellis did with American Psycho. He didn’t bother being polite, he wasn’t worried about being offensive; he wrote about the issues that we all secretly face – trying to fit in, shitty coworkers, relationship problems, the fact that most of us want to kill a lot of people around us…and really, when you read this book, you have to ask yourself did Patrick Bateman really kill anyone? Or was it all in his head…

The book begins with the line Abandon all hope ye who enter here, which is the supposed inscription at the entrance of hell, and ends with This is not an exit, which is a reference to Sartre’s No Exit (which you can read for free here), wherein several individuals are trapped in hell. If you missed it, these lines add a whole other layer of depth to the meaning of this book. In Sartre’s No Exit, one of the characters exclaims “Hell is other people!” because he is trapped in a room with two people he hates. By reading the first line of the book, one assumes that they are entering hell, and when they read the closing line, there comes the terrifying notion that you can never leave, and you, like Patrick Bateman, are trapped in this hell forever. (“This hell” being 80’s New York, surrounded by a bunch of Wall St. yuppies)

Technically, this book had a unique way of telling the story. It starts normally enough, but the farther in you get, as you begin to see Patrick’s sanity slowly slipping, the author too seems to break down the structure of the book. Sentences that trail off into nothing, incomplete thoughts, missing punctuation; it all helps to add to the growing conclusion that Patrick Bateman is losing his mind, slipping further into madness. Other than that, it was rather enjoyable to read because it was fast paced, didn’t linger on descriptions, and what I really really liked about it was the fact that it used a stream of consciousness approach to tell the story. And that stream of consciousness just happened to belong to Patrick Bateman, our dear narrator. As far as characters go, Patrick Bateman is my favorite kind, but I’ve always been a real fan of antiheroes, assholes, and morally dubious brats, so that may be a bit bias.

Should you read it?

If you can’t appreciate dark humor, get squeamish easily, get offended easily, or don’t like books about men sitting around talking about suits, don’t read this book. However, if you are a fan of all of these things, read it. If you are a horror fan, read it. If you enjoy the character Hannibal Lecter or the Silence of the Lambs books, chances are good you will enjoy this book, so read it. If you like rich bratty characters who are really mean, read it. And if you are into sadism/masochism, you will love it; read it.