Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

Hey everyone! I've got my Teaser Tuesday this week, it's from Dissolution, the first in the Matthew Shardlake series. Since I started with Lamentation, which is the latest in the book, the characters here are quite different from the same I encountered. Still enjoying the story though.

"That morning, for all I sat behind the stinking coffin of a murdered man, I found myself lulled along by the monks' beautiful, polyphonic chant. The psalms, and the Latin readings from Job, struck a chord." (page 255)
So, what is your teaser this week?

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

This is another one of those books that was deeply discounted in Popular. And since I've heard of it a few times (I'm not sure from where), I decided to give it a read.

To summarise The Gift of Fear, listening to your intuition can help save your life. That's the basic message. The other 327 pages (not including appendixes), are full of examples, as well as lists of what the author calls "Pre-Incident Indicators" or PINs. For example, he provides four general elements that can be used to predict the possibility of violence - JACA or (Perceived) Justification, (Perceived) Alternatives, (Perceived) Consequences and (Perceived) Ability. If a person feels that there is no other alternative to violence, and that he is justified and has the ability to carry it out, the odds that violence is used is much higher.

The latter half of the book deals with specific situations, such as aggressive employees, domestic violence, date stalkers, violent children and attacks against public speakers. These incidents are still remote to me, but they could be useful in the future, and in addition, it shows that even what we feel is the a scary threat can be managed.

Personally, I found the first half of the book the scariest, and the most informative. The talk about how people can used strategies such as forced teaming (using words like "us" and "we" even though I don't know them) to make me want to cooperate, plus the whole "girls must be nice" idea that's drummed into us, made me realise that in an attempt to be polite, I could be exposing myself to more danger. I like talking to people, and while I'm not going to become standoffish (it's too much a change for me), I will be more careful not to give out personal information in the future.

All in all, this was a very informative read, and I don't regret buying the book at all. When I go back to university, I will probably be leaving this book at home, for my younger siblings to read.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Black Star Canyon (The Complete First Season) by Creep Creepersin

I don't really have much experience with serials. So when I heard Creep Creepersin (CC) on a podcast, I asked him about it (I think it was something like, how do you write a serial? It sounds cool), and CC very generously offered me a copy. This was sometime ago, but because I was having school, I was a bit afraid to start, lest I couldn't stop.

Until one day, I was stuck on a plane. So I cracked open the ebook and began reading. When the first episode finished, I was a little hesitant as to whether I should continue, since the style of writing felt different to me. But then I saw the first hint and was hooked. I read on, and as the story got more and more melodramatic, the hints got harder and harder to figure out. I finished the first season not knowing anymore than when I started, but very intrigued as to what was happening.

Black Star Canyon starts with a murder, but unlike most mystery series I watch, things do not get clearer. Instead, as we get to know these over-the-top characters, things just get murkier. Who is hiding what? And then, another body is found. And the mayor's daughter is severely attacked. Who is behind all these mysterious crimes?

What I liked about this serial were the hints, which hooked me, then drove me crazy because I couldn't guess what was going on. The characters are definitely over the top, especially the mayor, and whether or not you like them is a personal preference. Personally, I like the cops, while the mayor and his family kind of grates on me.

Another thing that you'll either love or hate is the writing style. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's a very exaggerated feel. Kind of like a TV drama. It's very, very vivid, and I think because I was reading something that wrote in the opposite style (I think it was a non-fiction business book), it felt a little strange to me, at least until I got used to it.

All in all, this is a fun novel. You'll either love or hate the vivid prose and over-the-top characters, but one thing that'll probably hook you will be the serial format, with the hints at the end of every episode.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author. I was not asked to give a review, but since I finished reading it, I figured I might as well give my honest opinion.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash by Brad Glosserman and Scott A Snyder

When I picked up this book, I was expecting a long, thoughtful discourse on how Japanese and South Koreans viewed themselves, and how that influenced their relationship. What I got, was not quite that.

The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash seems to have devoted more space to interpreting various polls on how the countries view each other and themselves. I like the fact that they have data, but I was expecting more than just a book explaining the different poll results. There might have been other aspects, but this was my main impression of the book - that it's basically poll results.

For me, the most interesting part of the book would be the last two chapters, when the author took poll findings and tried to apply them to policy. Basically, the author thinks that Japan should take steps to improve relations by getting rid of what the polls says is the biggest obstacle in their relationship. Yup, that's the Takeshima/Dokdo islands. We actually discussed this in JLC, although my main takeaway was that this video existed.

Yeah... the debate I was expecting didn't really materialise, although that wasn't the fault of the teacher. He invited the Korean students to speak repeatedly, but they were all really diplomatic about it (I'm guessing they didn't want to risk their grades, even though this teacher was one of the most relaxed teachers in the school - those kids were serious about getting into Todai).

Basically, this book is not meant for beginners to Japan-South Korea politics (so, people like me). I appreciate that there was a lot of data, and that the authors took the time to explain it, but it felt dry to me, and the policies a bit too idealistic to come true.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.