Chasing Excellence – Ben Bergeron

A very interesting book for those into achieving extreme levels of performance in their lives.

Although it’s based in the world of Crossfit (which i have no interest in whatsoever) and written by a top Crossfit coach, this book is suitable for all kinds of people who want to achieve excellence in their chosen path.

I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 on Goodreads because i feel it could have gone deeper, but then that might just be me wanting more of this kind of thing.

Anyways, a great book for the bookshelves of everyone who doesn’t want to live a mediocre life and is willing to actually put some work into their goals instead of looking for shortcuts and life hacks.

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Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Wow! That was a total head trip and a half.

While i’m not a subscriber to the multiverse theory, that didn’t detract from the story at all. I was just totally swept along at an amazing pace, i just didn’t want to stop reading. Every spare moment i had for 2 days had my face glued to my Kindle screen reading this – and that’s quite rare for me as i normally only read at bedtime for an hour or so. Very unputdownable!

Definitely a must read for anyone who likes good sci-fi – even if just a little bit. You won’t be disappointed.

Well worth the 99p i got this for as a Kindle deal. 😀

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Dangerous Gifts (Babylon Steel, #2) – Gaie Sebold

This book follows on perfectly from ‘Babylon Steel’, with all the usual characters we were introduced to in that book. And it’s much the same kind of fantasy stuff that really isn’t for children as there’s a fair amount of sex and some quite graphic descriptions of interspecies relationships – Babylon is a whore house madam after all is said an done.

I have to say, Gaie has created a really interesting universe with The Planes and there’s obviously a much bigger story going on in the background concerning the rifts between The Planes, which i seriously hope Gaie is going to slowly uncover in further books in this series.

Please, please, please, Gaie, get writing more about Babylon and Co’.

So if you’re not offended by adult stuff mixed in with your fantasy stories the ‘Babylon Steel’ series is definitely a place to visit on your reading list. Enjoy!

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

It’s one of those ubiquitous books that’s kept turning up on library shelves, charity shop shelves and bookshop shelves throughout my life and yet i’ve always walked away from it – until now.

I’ve always had quite a deep interest in Zen and it always seemed to me that putting it with motorcycle maintenance just wasn’t something i wanted to know about. But now i have a motorbike that needs some maintenance and this book turned up in Kindle daily deals for 99p i thought the time was right.

But oh, how wrong i’ve been all these years. It’s not a book about Zen or how to fix a motorbike while practising Zen, it’s a wholly different thing altogether.

In fact, it’s a road trip book where our narrator takes his son on a road trip on an old motorbike across the USA. But it’s a road trip with a difference.

At it’s heart, it’s a book about insanity, the condition of society and its relationship to technology, and a fair bit of Greek philosophy as well – and it’s all broken up with the story of the road trip. And it’s simply awesome.

With hindsight i’m happy that i’ve never read it until now as i’m much older and it really blended nicely with my own life experiences – having dropped out of a Philosophy degree course for much the same reasons and now many years later i can look back and see things more clearly.

And the ending in the ‘Afterword’ is what truly completes this book. It really is a masterpiece of writing.

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Babylon Steel (Babylon Steel, #1) – Gaie Sebold

Wow, what a great story. I really enjoyed this book. After reading some YA fantasy lately it was definitely time for some grown-up’s fantasy and this really fit the bill.

The only thing i’m unhappy about is that i’m utterly skint until i get paid on Tuesday so i can’t buy the second book until then, but rest assured, as soon as i wake up my computer on Tuesday morning i’ll be on Amazon buying it.

Great writing, great story, great book, what more can a reader ask for?

If you like fantasy that isn’t afraid of getting it’s hands dirty then i’m sure you’ll like this. If, on the other hand, you like the nice fluffy fantasy stuff then just don’t look.

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The First Adventure: Feyland Series Prequel Novella – Anthea Sharp…

I’m glad i didn’t pay anything for this, the Kindle edition being free, as free is all it’s worth.

I was expecting a lot more about Jennet’s history prior to Feyland #1, which is what this book is supposed to be about. But all it does is gloss over a few things that are already covered in the next 3 books and then when Jennet has her first encounter with the Dark Queen it’s exactly the same, word for word, as the second encounter in Feyland #1. And the bit after that encounter of how she is freed from the Dark Queen by the game’s designer isn’t covered in any depth whatsoever.

I really can’t see the point in Anthea publishing this at all. Total waste of bandwidth and computer memory.

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Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness – Peter Godfrey-Smith

One incredibly interesting book for anyone who enjoys learning about evolution – and cephalopods, of course.

Written by a philosopher, the writing is really accessible and really engages the reader – unlike a lot of scientists’ approach to this subject – and dives deep into the world of the evolution of large brains and intelligence and how they have evolved along completely different evolutionary paths.

It also explores the world and habits of cephalopods, particularly octopuses, but a fair bit about cuttlefish as well. These really are the most incredible creatures.

Well worth a read.

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The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland #3) – Anthea Sharp…

I quite enjoyed that. As i said about the first book in this trilogy, if you can get over the YA thing and just focus on the Faerie mixed up with VR thing then these books are really good.

As i also said, the worse thing about this trilogy was Tam’s back story and family issues that really detracted from the story in book 1, were a much lesser distraction in book 2 and actually worked with the story in book 3. But the annoying thing was that in order for them to work with the story in book 3 there really was no need whatsoever to make it such an annoying part of book 1, or to be so depressing about it all.

I think that in these days of publishers cutting costs, editors are doing a worse job than ever. A good editor would have made sure that Tam’s family stuff was tidied up and tied in better with the overall story. But it is what it is, and the trilogy is still really worth a read if you’re into Faerie stuff and like the idea of the Faerie realm using a super advanced VR system to bridge to our realm.

There is a second trilogy in this series, which i may come back to in the future, but for now i’m having a break and reading some other things.

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The Bright Court (Feyland #2) – Anthea Sharp…

Just like the first book in this series, i had to give it 4 stars, and for similar reasons.

While this book didn’t let Tam’s ridiculous family issues interfere with the story line as much as the first book, i kept finding myself bracing myself for another onslaught of it, which thankfully, this time, was kept to a minimum.

It wasn’t until i finished the book that i felt like i could relax and enjoy the story i had just read. And this was definitely better than the first book.

As i said, Tam’s family issues were kept to a minimum, while the Faerie and VR stuff got turned up a little further with more people entering Feyland.

I’ve just started book 3 and it’s already looking like another great story.

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The Dark Realm (Feyland #1) – Anthea Sharp

I gave this book a go because i got the first 3 books of the series on an Amazon 99p thing and i liked the idea of Faerie being able to bridge through VR.

The good bit was the Faerie and VR stuff, all really well done and really enjoyable.

The not so good bit was the young adult thing, but that is irrelevant if the story is good enough and the young adults protagonists fit well within the story.

The bad bit, and why i only gave this 4 stars, is Tam’s back story. I really can’t see the need in making his life so utterly depressing with such a total chaos of family life. This brought nothing to the story and was, at times, a big distraction from it. It made me think of ‘Ready Player One’ but in that the protagonist’s back story worked with the narrative, whereas in this book it detracts from it as it doesn’t bring anything to the story.

So yeah, 5 out of 5 for the Faerie and VR stuff, but a big 0 out of 5 for the stuff on Tam’s family life.

But well worth a read for anyone interested in folk lore and VR. Tam’s family life has certainly not put me off diving straight into the second book in the series.

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