Review of “Hjärnstark” by Anders Hansen

Title: Hjärnstark (The Real Happy Pill)
Author: Anders Hansen
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 7 hours 14 minutes
Published: 2016, Bonnier Audio
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Is there a foolproof way to reduce stress and anxiety while you boost your memory? Raise your IQ even as you slow down the aging process? Become more creative and train your ability to focus at the same time? The answer is simple: Move! Modern neuroscience and research has shown, more than ever, that physical exercise has extraordinary effects on our cognition.

Physical activity, more so than Sudoku or crossword puzzles, optimizes our mental abilities and health in a way unparalleled by any drug, medication, or food supplement. And exercise doesn’t just enhance your health, energy and mood levels, and cognitive abilities. You will also learn:

  • Why physical training is the best protection against dementia
  • What type of exercise can be used to treat depression as an antidepressant
  • How exercise increases the ability to focus in children, especially kids with ADHD
  • How children with good fitness can become better in math and reading comprehension
  • Why “runner’s high”, the natural chemicals released during jogging, improves your health and mood

With practical and concrete advice for the layman on how to reap these benefits, as well as neuroscientific research from the last five years broken down to accessible findings, The Real Happy Pill urges you to train your body and mind for a whole-body upgrade, and start to move!

MY REVIEW

I’ve heard many good things about this book for quite a while now but haven’t really felt that I wanted to prioritize reading it physically. Audiobooks has opened up a whole new world to me and I wish I would have started with it sooner.

I’ve grown up knowing that exercise is good for you. I may not have been the most active kid during recess at school, but I’ve always performed some kind of after school activity, since I was like 8 or something? But I didn’t know it had a bigger effect on the body than maintaining weight and keeping your heart healthy in the future.

But apparently, the brain benefits a lot from working out and this book explains how and why, in a simple way. He takes study after study and presents the evidence that all point to the same thing. Exercise is helping the memory, creating new brain cells, and helping you in ways that prescribed antidepressants is nowhere near doing. The problem is that no one is gaining any monetary means from promoting exercise.

Hansen is also describing how we have developed very very fast in the last two centuries and our brains have not yet adapted to it. Our brains are still thinking that we live on the savanna and hunting for food. Which is something he writes in more depth about in his next book “Skärmhjärnan” (~Screen Brain).

I have played beach volleyball for fourteen years now. I consider that a cardio workout, but I’ve always preferred lifting weights and gaining muscle (mostly because I have a genetic disorder with my calves) and stayed away from running, which is the form of exercise that Hansen exclusively writes about. I can’t run. But he also said that as long as your heart rate goes up, it’s fine. Maybe I’ll add an extra cardio workout every week in different forms. I have already started walking more, for example to and from work every day (more time to listen to books). I will also be very careful with letting my potential future kids know that exercise is good for them and make sure that they stay active and not just use the screen as a plaything.

It was an inspiring book and I do believe that the world would be a better place if everyone stayed active more. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. Please read it!

Review of “Omgiven av Idioter” by Thomas Erikson

Title: Omgiven av Idioter (Surrounded by Idiots)
Author: Thomas Erikson
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 8 hours 53 minutes
Published: 2016, Word Audio Publishing
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Author Thomas Erikson explains that there are four key behavior types that define how we interact with and perceive the people around us. Understanding someone’s pattern of behavior is the key to successful communication. Erikson breaks down the four kinds of behavior types—Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and precise—and explains how to identify and interact with each type of person. Instead of being bogged down with overly technical categorizations, the simple four color system allows you to speedily identify a friend or coworker and adjust how you speak and share with them.

Surrounded by Idiots is full of practical information for interacting with people based on their color, including the strengths and weaknesses of all the profiles, how to give positive and negative feedback to each, and the best way to word an email when writing to someone with a different profile.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve been meaning to read this book for years now but the time-deprived nerd that I am, I always prioritize a fantasy book before nonfiction. I’ve heard people talking about the different colors and had the basic understanding of them before picking this up. But I’m really glad that I decided that audiobooks actually was something for me. It’s perfect for the books that I don’t want to spend time reading myself. Perfect for squeezing in when I’m out and about. It is however a little difficult when taking tests for example (as in the end of this book), very hard to keep track of the questions and answers. Well well. I’m not here to review the book type, haha!

A while ago, we had an afterwork activity at the office where one girl asked questions, and depending on your answer, you took a step towards each corner of the room. At my management department (and among those who participated), I was the only one down in the blue corner. I’m not surprised. I’m very well-organized, I love lists and being prepared and doing a thorough job. After reading this book, I also think that I have some green in me and in some cases even red. But definitely blue.

In the beginning of the book, the author describes the main defining features of the four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), then moves on to how to handle the different colors depending on situation, how to deliver criticism for example. He also said that we readers most likely got faces in front of us when he wrote the descriptions, but I didn’t really get any. Does that say anything about me as a blue person? That I’m more thing and result oriented rather than relationship oriented?

The book was not as entertaining as Introvert by Linus Jonkman was, but it was very interesting and factful. Easy to follow, lots of examples. It is however a very exaggerated book. And I think that if people think of this book in absolutes, it will not find them right. The author says that being just a single color is very rare and I also think it is hard to make people understand the bigger picture and meaning behind the colors if they are not extremes.

Erikson manages really well to stay objective though. All the colors have their pros and cons and he presents them very evenly and puts an equal amount of emphasis on all colors.

I don’t really agree that you can put labels on people. But I believe that this book’s purpose is to generally give an understanding of different human behaviors and how to handle them. I’m not sure that I’m aware enough of my surroundings and people (who doesn’t really interest me (yes, I’m blue)) to be able to tell who is acting how, but hopefully this book is the start of something new.

I’ve also realized that even if I’m blue, I’m right where I’m supposed to be at work. I have honestly wondered many times if I really fit in as a project manager in the construction sector. The perfect group of people consists of all colors. I don’t know if I’m all alone being blue, but if I am, I have a big spot to fill. Maybe this is when I start to see my own value.

All in all, this book deserves a 4! I look forward to listening to Omgiven av Psykopater (Surrounded by Psychopaths).

Review of “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 3 hours 41 minutes
Published: 2017, Blackstone Audio, Inc
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

 

MY REVIEW

Listening to an audiobook was definitely a new experience for me as I’ve always thought that reading a real book would do more for me. But honestly, I gave up real paper books a long time ago when I discovered the wonders of an ereader. But on an ereader, you are still reading, even if it is on an e-ink screen. Listening to a book is something completely different.

After listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson talk for almost 4 hours about astrophysics 101, I’ve decided to listen more.

First of all, I’m a science nerd. Or rather, I want to know more, but don’t feel that I have the time. This was the perfect book to get that dry sponge inside me to activate and is now eager to learn more. It was a fairly short book, but with lots of information. The right amount of information to get my attention and want to learn more.

It was a very entertaining book, he used several terms that at least I, associated with science fiction worlds. He described everything with images that easily came up in my  head, making it easier to relate to.

I highly recommend anyone who have the slightest interest in space to pick this one up. Either as a physical book or the audiobook read by Neil himself. He did a fantastic job of reading it!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry was a book directed at me and I loved it! Five out of five is my grade.

Review of “Return to Zero” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Return to Zero
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: Lorien Legacies Reborn #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 464
Published: 2019, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

After the battle in Switzerland, the Fugitive Six find their allegiances torn, dividing them into two factions. Taylor, Kopano, and Nigel return to the Academy with Nine, but nothing is the same. As fear and resentment of the Human Garde continues to grow, the United Nations decrees that all humans with Legacies must be implanted with inhibitors. So our heroes will have no choice but to rebel.

And with the Foundation still at large, Isabela, Caleb, and Ran have decided to join forces with their former foes Einar and Five to hunt them down. But when a new threat is revealed, the group may find itself painfully outmatched. Facing capture or annihilation from all sides, the only hope the Human Garde have for survival is to stand together once and for all to fight back against their true enemies.

 

MY REVIEW

Questions were answered. They knitted together the side series with this main one really well. And I feel satisfied after finishing this series and I don’t feel like they left anything out.

There were things happening all the time, the original Loric fought alongside Human Garde. The bad guys weren’t just bad guys, there was a complicated history behind their actions and they felt believable. The main characters were easy to follow, mostly because I remembered most of them from the old series. The events were really cool and it was so easy to read and the story flowed on naturally.

There has been a lot of books in this universe now. I feel like my need for alien superpowers from Lorien and Mogadore is satisfied. But I wouldn’t say no to reading new books, if there ever is any more coming.

I’ll give this ending a four. It was a book worth reading, a little bit of a crooked road to get here with too many characters, especially in the companion series, but the author wrapped it up nicely.

Review of “Killing Giants” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Killing Giants
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #6
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 100
Published: 2019, HarperCollins
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Mogadorians have captured Six and Sam and brought them to Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of their mysterious master plan to get their revenge on the Garde. It’s the opening night of a spectacular new show, and dozens of special guests, the media, and tons of spectators have flocked to Sin City—which can only mean one thing: the Mogs are planning something truly devastating.

Luckily for Six and Sam, they’ve yet to find a prison that can hold them. When they do manage to escape, and finally regain control of their Legacies, they will have to race against the clock to try to stop their old adversaries once and for all. And if they can’t succeed, they—and countless others—will suffer the consequences.

 

MY REVIEW

The last installation in this side story to Lorien Legacies Reborn did not feel like the last. Well, it did. The story ended, the bad guys lost, the good guys won. But there was a cliffhanger at the end. Will there be more? I think chronologically, Return to Zero (the third and last of Lorien Legacies Reborn) is taking place after Killing Giants, and I just started reading it, so maybe there will be answers on how that cliffhanger plays out?

I finished this in one night and that helped me find my love for reading again. Just reading a couple or ten pages each time does not give me as much feeling for a book as longer sittings do. Maybe that’s why I liked this so much that I did?

The setting was Las Vegas and it felt like it was just the one scene taking place the whole novella. Which was great. The story flowed very easily and naturally.

Is it really only one book left from Pittacus Lore?

I give Killing Giants 3.5 out of a possible of 5.

Review of “Raising Monsters” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Raising Monsters
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #5
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 115
Published: 2019, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Contrary to what the government would have the world believe, not all of the Mogadorians are safely imprisoned. A small contingent of the alien invaders has been in hiding, working on a vicious plan for revenge and foiling Six and Sam’s every move. Even the couple’s failed attempt to rescue Ghost was nothing but a trap, and now they’ve been abducted by their old foes.

Held captive in an impenetrable underground bunker, they’ll have to find each other and then somehow find a way out if they’re going to have any hope of survival. But with their Legacies still on the fritz and Mogs out for blood it may be nearly impossible. Luckily, Six and Sam have more than a few allies with powers of their own who can help… if they’re not too late.

MY REVIEW

The fifth out of six in this latest installation of The Legacy Chronicles. It honestly rose a lot from number four. More exciting things happened. In cooler environments. Not too many characters to keep track on. And what I liked most about it was the character development in the mogs. Previously, they felt reasonable and almost like they were good. But the transition they made in Raising Monsters was really good.

Another thing that made it more relatable to the original series was that the Garde was in it more as well. I like them. Nine grew up though.

Action followed the characters in every single one of the ten chapters and it ended like it started, in suspense. This raises the grade to a 4.

Review of “Chasing Ghosts” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Chasing Ghosts
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #4
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 126
Published: 2018, HarperCollins
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Six and Sam feel responsible for Ghost, one of the young Human Garde they’d met back in New Orleans. They’re not sure why the girl turned against them in Mexico, but they are determined to track her down and get some answers. But are they chasing after a friend or a foe? And will they need to rescue her or defeat her?

When the group finally makes contact, it seems like they might be able to convince Ghost to come back to the Academy. That is until then their plans go up in flames, forcing Six and Sam to jump into action. Without any backup from McKenna or the HGA. Without their Legacies fully returned. And without a clue as to who their real enemy is.

 

MY REVIEW

There are two reasons why it can take almost two months to finish a hundred page novella. It’s either because I’m doing something else than reading (=writing, although I haven’t written much lately either), or because it just isn’t good enough to capture my interest. It does though. I love this universe that James Frey among others under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore have made up. It’s amazing! But I think I found it more interesting when there were aliens inhibiting these powers, not human teenagers. They are all so stupid. I guess that is the point though, to show what problems our society would face if a part of our population got super powers.

Since I’m note super invested in this sequel storyline with humans and there are so many main characters, it’s hard to stay focused. Like who is who? Who came to the Mog house with who and who betrayed who and why?

It’s still an enjoyable read and it therefore gets a 3 out of 5.

Flow

Everyone experiences flow differently. And during these years of writing, I’ve learned that flow is different even just when it comes to me. I can’t really say what motivates it, or what type of mood I have to be in. But today it was perfect and felt so right! I wish every writing day could be like this, or similar.

The past month or so have been very slow, I’ve pushed out words when I’ve thought I was in a writing mood or have just blindly stared at my document not getting a single word out. My finish line keeps getting pushed, but I’m also not too stressed about it since I know that anything I force out most likely won’t be as good as when it comes naturally. I also don’t want to dislike writing. That’s why I’m cherishing these days and am extra happy when I get this flow.

Today, my flow looked like this. I didn’t think it would work today, as it hasn’t lately. But once I started, I kept seeing images in my head, just a few paragraphs ahead, which made me poop out words like never before because I wanted to get to that picture, it was so clear. I didn’t know what I wanted to write to get there, the words just showed up on the white background. Unfortunately, I had to stop before I actually got to the visualization of that picture because I had a hot yoga class waiting. But now I believe that it will be very easy to continue to write tomorrow.

Review of “Fugitive Six” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Fugitive Six
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: Lorien Legacies Reborn #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 464
Published: 2018, HarperCollins
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Human Garde Academy was created in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth. It was meant to provide a safe haven for teens across the globe who were suddenly developing incredible powers known as Legacies.

Taylor Cook was one of the newest students and had no idea if she’d ever fit in. But when she was mysteriously abducted, her friends broke every rule in the book to save her. In the process, they uncovered a secret organization that was not only behind Taylor’s kidnapping but also the disappearance of numerous teens with abilities. An organization that has dark roots in the Loric’s past, untold resources, and potentially even a mole at their own school.

Now these friends, who have become known to other students as the “Fugitive Six,” must work together to bring this mysterious group to an end before they can hurt anyone else.

 

MY REVIEW

It took me a while to pick this one up, and the third and final installment in this series about the Human Garde has even been released. I think the reason for that is because I miss the original Garde. They do not take a big part in this new series. I want to know what John Smith is up to! Nine is here, but not as the person he was in the original series.

It is however a very cool continuation with humans getting Legacies but I do not feel as strongly towards this type of magic as for example with Harry Potter. Maybe I’m more fastidious when it comes to magic now than what I was twenty years ago, haha!

It was a year ago that I finished Generation One, the first in this trilogy, and I had honestly forgotten about the characters and it took me so long to get back into it. I don’t know if that has more to do with me than with the book, but also, following so many different characters is difficult. Is it nine?

It is still very good though and I love that we got to continue in this world after the main series ended. But does not quite reach up to that potential so I give Fugitive Six a three.

Chapter milestones

This post is meant to shine a small light on the nerdy side in me (I have to start small, there will be more). I’ve always been very organized and structured as a person, which is probably why I am now working as a project manager. I’ve both read and heard about different authors writing processes and they all vary greatly. Some just write without knowing where they are heading. Some have everything figured out from the start and some are in between. I’m the person in between. I know where I’m heading, I have my place for notes and thoughts (that’s another post coming), but I only have eight major milestones and the details in between just come to me. Literally whenever and wherever. I don’t have a say in it, AT ALL!

To the point. I’m nerdy because I love statistics. I write down every workout I do so I can get a pretty pie chart where I can see if I’m heading in the direction that is aligned with my goal. I am doing kind of the same with my book. From day one, I’ve kept track of when I’ve finished writing a chapter and how long they are.

The first summer, 2017, I wrote a lot and had eight chapters written within the first three months. Then I went to the Book Fair and got a professional analysis of my first chapter and got so inspired that I, for the 15 months, rewrote the first five chapters, turned them into six chapters, and tripled the amount of words. The difference in quality was insane! But after that I decided that I would save any rewriting until I was done with the first draft. So, since December 2018 I’ve been on track again and written approximately one chapter per month. I actually wrote 12 chapters in 2019. So far in 2020, I’ve finished two chapters and it’s not even the end of the first month. That’s boding well. My new and realistic goal is to be finished with the first draft on my birthday in April. That’s definitely doable.

Chapter Twenty-Five was finished this morning on the tram, at 6am on my way to the gym. I think I will get a total of thirty chapters when I’m done. As was what I said from the very beginning. I’m pretty impressed by my early estimations, 30 chapters and 100 000 words. I have 79 000 words and 25 chapters right now.

I will most likely summarize everything I can about this book when I’m done. That will be a nerdy post (If I am not too embarassed to post it, haha!)