Friday, June 27, 2014

Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos

This is the sequel to Terms of Enlistment.  I enjoyed this novel too.  It is about an interstellar war with seemingly indestructible aliens.  The hero is Andrew Grayson, who is an interesting enough character that I am planning to read the inevitable sequel.

Lines of Departure (Frontlines)

The Descendant, by Kelley Grealis

Initially, we see our hero, Allison, as either a hypochondriac or a burgeoning vampire whose doctors seem unable to diagnose her disease.  It turns out to be sort of the latter.  She has to decide if she will give her soul for eternal life, of a sort, or end her life.

There's a series here, but it isn't for me.   Yet, as of this writing, 89% of the customer reviews on Amazon are four or five stars.  So clearly there is an audience for this.

The Descendant: The Descendant Vampire Series Book 1

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Noble Beginnings, by LT Ryan

This is the prequel to Noble Intentions, and I'm surprised that I read it given my impression of that novel.  But, it was free on Kindle when I downloaded it.

The story explains how it is that Marine Jack Noble finds himself in a mess with the CIA in Afghanistan, leaves government service, and ends up as an independent consultant.

Noble Beginnings: A Jack Noble Thriller (Jack Noble #1)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Into the End, by Bonnie Paulson

After a number of natural disasters hit the USA, an unknown force invades in this confusing, first in a series, novel.  Our hero, Rachel, is a psychologist who worked for the US government on how to frighten people, and some of the scenarios that occur in the invasion map to her work.  So what's going on?  Apparently only those who read the next book in the series will find out.  I, therefore, will never know.

Into the End (Into the End Series)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Foer

This book was recommended to me by a friend who enjoys Mr. Foer's novels.  In this account, Mr. Foer, about to become a parent, decides to figure out if vegetarianism makes sense.   He undertakes an investigation of the factory and local farm industries which he reports with lots of autobiographical seasoning.  As such, it is pretty interesting.


It becomes clear after even his initial investigation that factory farming is simply horrid for the animals involved.  If you have any interest in how livestock is treated, you won't have to read far before you say, "enough, message received."

What I enjoyed even more was Mr. Foer's conversation about the decision to eat some meat products but not others.  He writes specifically about dogs in this context, but not enough to get the point across. Why do we eat (intelligent) pigs but not (somewhat less intelligent) dogs?

Eating Animals

A Patriot's Betrayal, by Andrew Clawson

Imagine you want to write a book with a plot line similar to that of The Da Vinci Code .  You might end up with this novel.  But it is a pretty weak imitation.

A Patriot's Betrayal

Monday, June 23, 2014

Supreme Justice, by Max Collins

In this mystery / suspense novel, our hero is a former Secret Service agent who now runs an upscale security firm.  He's recruited to be a consultant to the FBI as they investigate what becomes a sequence of assassinations of Supreme Court Justices.

The book was okay, and would have been better had some of the more unlikely scenarios been edited out. For example, the hero's access to the President, his unfettered access as a consultant, etc.

Supreme Justice

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, by Lindsay Nixon

The only bad news about this wonderful little book is that it is available only as a Kindle edition.  Still, since one can read it with a free Kindle reader on almost any platform, that isn't an insurmountable problem.

The first part of the book provides an overview of the science-based health reasons for one to eat a whole food, plant based diet.  This is similar in content to Rip Esselstyn's My Beef With Meat, is slightly more of an overview than deep dive when compared to Dr. John McDougall's Starch Solution, and is far easier a read than T. Colin Campbell's Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.  (I highly recommend all of these books.)

The next section goes through what to expect if you switch from the Standard American Diet to a whole food, plant based diet.  Then, a great section of helpful tips for making this transition.  There's a section on travel and eating out, one on how to address challenges you might encounter, and how to deal with family and friends.

Then a section on cooking, including replacements for traditional ingredients.  This is followed by a troubleshooting section, and finally, a good appendix of additional resources.

If you're thinking about making the change, this is a great reference -- it has everything from your initial grocery list to the answers to questions that will come up in the first few days and weeks.

The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Imperial Connection, by Edward Charles

This was an "enjoyable enough but it isn't literature" suspense novel.  The hero, Mike, travels to find an injured former military teammate who is homeless.  He happens upon Andy and of course they instantly fall in love.  She has extraordinary skills that complement Mike's.

In Mr. Charles' world, FBI agents are helpful to the point of repairing broken doors for their victims. The military is helpful to the point of retargeting drones and firing missiles on random property inside the USA.  The intelligence agencies are helpful... oh, heck, let's just say that I'm skeptical.

The Imperial Connection (The Connection series)

Monday, June 2, 2014

10% Happier, by Dan Harris

This is a surprisingly interesting book! Mr. Harris is a TV reporter / anchor who at the time of this writing works on Nightline. I've never seen him on TV (I try to stick with NPR and PBS for my non-financial news). But the title was interesting. 80% of the book is an amusing auto-biography that orbits around Mr. Harris' search for a means by which to quiet the critical and annoying voices in his head - those of his inner mind telling him unhelpful things.

I'm reminded of the book Crucial Conversations .  It describes a process by which we observe events and tell ourselves a story to map to the events, one which dictates our response.  That book, serving business people by helping them to have more productive conversations with colleagues, bosses and subordinates, points out that the story we tell ourselves about a situation is often unreasonable, and that if we consider that another story might map to the facts just as well, we can defuse an otherwise explosive encounter.

Along the way, Mr. Harris was exposed to a number of self-help folks.  It is worth reading the book if only for his honest and amusing description of some of these people.  Meanwhile, he stumbles into meditation.  His approach is really that of "I am uncomfortable with the idea, with the people who promote it, with the promises, and with the associated spirituality, but fine, I'll try it out."

The title comes from his realization that he could avoid getting "oh, now you're weird" reactions from folks who learned about his meditation if he just described it as a way to get 10% happier.

Mr. Harris describes how he first heard the RAIN acronym: recognize, allow, investigate, non-identification, as part of his meditation practice.  This resonates with me as an addendum to the Crucial Conversations notions of re-thinking the story.

Mr. Harris is very open about his struggles, his drug use, and his panic attack on air while doing Good Morning America.  These descriptions don't seem contrived, but rather support the tone of his book as authentic.

I recommend this book even if you have no intention of meditating.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Choose Yourself, by James Altucher

I don't want to say anything bad about Mr. Altucher's book. So I'll stop right here.

Choose Yourself!