Category: Book

Book Review: Junktion By Matthew Farrer

Posted on by 5WC in Book

Having re-entered the world of Necromunda through, apparently, the wrong door with Outlander by Matt Keefe and, with over half a dozen other stories still waiting in line, I thought I really should find some sort of correct order. Google turned up nothing, an email to the Black Library customer service was little help either but, I realised, the zip file the omnibus downloads as had differing modification dates for each title and, while based on no actual truth or logic, it was all I had to go on. So, with that as my guide, I turned to the oldest modified book: Junktion by Matthew Farrer and started reading.

Instantly, I was taken away from the expansive sand dunes that had plagued my enjoyment of Outlander and instead, placed into a shanty town of corrugated metal and rationed utilities which again, didn’t quite live up to the mental image of the tough underground world I so desperately wanted, but it was much, much closer than I’d previously found. Read more

Book Review: Outlander by Matt Keefe

Posted on by 5WC in Book

Spend a few minutes looking through the book reviews or reading about my creative history and you’ll quickly realise I’m a fan of the worlds created by Games Workshop. I may not roll dice, or spend hours holding a paintbrush anymore, but I still draw great enjoyment from delving into the sci-fi and fantasy imaginations of the Warhammer worlds through the books they publish.

When I was younger, and did actually play the games, the one I was into most was Necromunda. Skewed from the lore of Warhammer 40,000; it involved small gangs of street fighters struggling to survive in the harsh urban sprawls of a hive world. It appealed to me as the games were shorter and more narrative. Fights were between equal numbers and tactics were simple – it’s last man standing. Your gang developed as it gained experience, one fight helping narrate the next. Winning or losing didn’t really matter; Necromunda rewarded experience. Read more

Book Review: When the Shooting Stops The Cutting Begins by Ralph Rosenblum

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I think it’s fair to say I like a movie or two, the film category of this blog alone will attest to that, and I firmly believe in misquoting Frank Kappa. “Too many films, not enough time”. But I am just passionate about what goes on behind the camera, in the shadow of the shot as it were. I find the individual pieces that go together to make a movie just as fascinating and engrossing as any on screen action. I have books detailing costume design and storyboard mock-ups, film posters on my walls, and while I don’t do it enough, I adore editing raw footage (mainly of balloons) searching for that tone and emotion that is hidden within each scene.

I also listen to podcasts. I believe that a love of the moving image goes hand in hand with a love of the spoken word. The image is accented by the word and for me, simply listening to people speak can be as enlightening and enjoyable as any film. Obviously, combining the two is even better and so, one of my favourites, is the BBC flagship film show – Wittertainment (or Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review to give it its proper title). Read more

Book Review: The Secret Life Of Pronouns by James W. Pennebaker

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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You’ve probably guessed from the fact that I write a blog and read books that I like words. There is something magical about finding a synonym you’ve never seen before or how emotions and feelings can be so richly and vividly brought into being through simple expression and context alone. How language, whether used poorly or perfectly, can reveal so much about both reader and writer is something I find truly fascinating.

In the last of the book recommendations taken from a fellow blog, The Secret Life Of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us,  James W. Pennebaker takes a look through how the words we use, whether written or spoken, act almost as powerfully as fingerprints in being a definable marker to individual identity. Specifically how different types of word can reveal our mental health, our personality and even our location. The book is a demonstration that the power of words, and how the amount, order and structure in which we use them can reveal so much more about a person than you could ever realise. Read more

Book Review: What Makes Your Brain Happy by David DiSavlo

Posted on by 5WC in Book

It was bound to happen eventually, that I would find a psychology book that I just didn’t get on with. That my reliance on a stranger’s blog for book recommendations would turn up something that left me as bored as it did disinterested. And sadly, that book was What Makes Your Brain Happy And Why You Should Do The Opposite by David DiSalvo.

The title is quirky and fun, and the idea behind the book seems sound. Our brains’ long to be happy, that they will, where possible, swerve to the route leading, ultimately, to “their” increased pleasure and how, actually, that may not be what is best for “us” as a whole. The problem, though, is with DiSalvo. To quote him, he’s “not a psychologist or psychiatrist [or a] …neuroscientist and would not claim to possess a grasp of neural dynamics”. What DiSalvo is, as he goes to on state, is a “science writer”. And that is the fundamental flaw in the book he’s an interested amateur rather than an academic authority. Read more

Book Review: The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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There is probably something ironic and researchable about choosing to read psychology book based upon a blog post by someone you’ve never met. That because they say “here are the books I like” you accept them as gospel and read them without question. You may have noticed that over the past few months, as a side effect of starting a psychology degree, I have been reading more books about the mind and, confession time, the way I have chosen those books has been exactly the scenario I just described. I’ve essentially stolen recommendations from a blog. I’ve let somebody else choose for me.

One of those entries was The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar and, as is beginning to happen more and more, it overlapped massively with many of the other psychology books I’ve read, especially: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and The Compass Of Pleasure by David J. Linden. This meant that a lot of the studies and examples it cites I’ve come across before and while great for reinforcing their ideas also meant in total the book lost a pinch of interest due to its lack of originality. Read more

Book Review: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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In my mind Stephen King is to writing what Steven Spielberg is to film making. He is “A-List Royalty” and, whether you like his work or not, you have to accept him as being at the very pinnacle of his industry. He, like Spielberg, simply commands respect through what he has achieved.

I’m not the biggest horror fan – I don’t really like scary movies and I try not to read scary books –  so the musing’s of King are not a natural draw for me. I think the reason for my slight dislike towards all things “scary” is due to a TV mini series in the mid 1990s called The Langoliers. Ironically, it was an adaptation of the King’s novella and it scared the heck out of me! Since then I have just never seem why people would actively go out of their way to be frightened for enjoyment and so, have always shied away from it as a genre. It wasn’t until I read King’s On Writing that I felt even the slightest draw back to the area. And then it was only because I wanted to see King “praise what he preached” more than the story itself. Read more

Book Review: Fermat’s Last Theorem: The Story Of A Riddle…

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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At the same time as I was given Simon Singh’s The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, I was also presented with his book on Fermat’s Last Theorem (The Story Of A Riddle That Confounded The World’s Greatest Minds For 358 Years). Fermat’s Last Theorem is the idea that xⁿ + yⁿ ≠ zⁿ when n > 2 or in other words, that there is only a solution to Pythagoras’ theorem, any power greater than 2 and the formula that would give you the length of the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle falls totally apart.

This may sound like a really boring topic for a book. And in one respect you’d be right, however, it’s a problem that has plagued the mathematical work for over 350 years. It’s an itch that refused to be scratched. In maths an idea isn’t true until proof categorically provided. It has to be universal to be accepted. Pierre de Fermat, who created the theorem and gave the world the problem, simply stated that he had the proof it was true but not enough space to explain it in the margin of his book. In other words, he claimed it as fact but refused to divulge how he knew. Read more

Book Review: Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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The human mind is a fascinating thing. Or at least I think it is. My intrigue and interest was sparked when, many years ago, I read that the human mind can’t feel pain. And that, during brain surgery, patients are fully conscious often engaging in physical activity or conversation. I was mesmerised and it is one of the main driving forces behind my love of psychology. I want to learn more about the ball of fat, the wiring of billions of cells, and how it somehow comes together, with a power we cannot comprehend, to give us “life”.

As a result I’ve started to read more and more non-fiction and  this is another example. While the title of the book gives away little as to what it actually contains Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman is more than just a look at how the brain “thinks” and instead covers the way our brain processes the information and requests we give it. The book, essentially, is based around the fact our brain can be split into two distinct processing paths (or systems as Kahneman refers to them throughout). The first, an impulsive pathway that initially reacts to everything the brain processes and secondary, a slower reflective pathway that arrives when the first gets a bit out of its depth. Read more

Book Review: The Compass Of Pleasure by David J. Linden

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I am certainly no expert, in fact, I expect to spend portions of this review referring back to lecture notes and text books to ensure I get my facts straight where necessary; over the last few months I have been introduced to a broad, but generalised, world of neuroscience as part of my psychology degree. ERP, MRI, the prefrontal cortex; action potentials, synaptic responses, neural pathways I been told about it all, and hopefully, understood some of it.

It’s extremely scientific and took more than a few moments to get my head around the scale of everything involved. The idea of single cells, individual neurotransmitters and resultant systems designed purely for their use seems logical when drawn to fill an A4 sheet of paper, but when you start to reduce that back to reality, and realise it’s one entity within 100,000,000,000, the epic infinitesimal scale of the structure involved in something so power is truly mind-blowing. Read more