Thursday, February 25, 2016

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

You'll want to read this book.

You'll want to read it because all your friends will have read it at some point, and because it will become a movie, and everyone will talk about it.

But mostly, you'll want to read it because it is just quite good.

But my label says, "fiction / suspense / fantasy." What's up with this fantasy thing?  What if you're not a "fantasy novel, unicorns and X-men" kind of person? Not to worry. The novel's setting is a different place than ours and also features folks with odd powers. But that's not really the story, or at least not all of it. Mostly it is the setting, and after just a few pages you won't notice that there are oddities here.  The story is about love and honor, revenge and greed, and the complex plot twists that amuse a reader.

It is just super fun; really a wonderful novel.  And great news: there will be a sequel!

Six of Crows

Sunday, February 21, 2016

We Learn Nothing, by Tim Kreider

I must become more particular concerning taking advice about books to read. Case in point: Mr. Kreider's collection of essays. One was insightful: "Lazy: a manifesto" does a good job arguing against over-scheduling one's time, and that the phrase "I'm so busy" is nothing about which to be proud.

Mr. Kreider is also a cartoonist. I'd not known that. Had I seen his drawings first, I'd not have read the book; I enjoy them even less than his writing.

There's a blurb on the cover of the paperback edition of this book. Judd Apatow (whose movies I don't love, so wasted on me, but still...) exclaims: "Heartbreaking, brutal, and hilarious." Bah, it was none of the above.

We Learn Nothing: Essays

Friday, February 19, 2016

Little Sister, by Giles O'Bryen

What a quirky little spy novel! The hero is the typically absurd brilliant PhD inventor slash special forces operator now retired and causing stress for the British secret service. The spy masters are believably cast as venal. A prototype device that enables heretofore unimagined levels of surveillance was mistakenly sold to an arms dealer, and our hero goes after it on his own in the clumsiest of ways. Meanwhile, the sales placement person who organized the deal also goes after it, hoping to sell it at a profit to the US NSA. Nothing goes well.

It was a pretty good novel, but not great. If you see it on the sales rack, pick it up for a long airplane ride or for the next time you're in a doctor's waiting room.

Little Sister (A James Palatine Novel Book 1)

End Game, by John Gilstrap

This is another novel starring Jonathan Graves as a wealthy special forces type, now in private security, focused on helping kidnap victims.  It was good, held my attention, but... was awfully complex in terms of communicating its complicated plot lines effectively.  It isn't his best work. Still, I'll keep reading Mr. Gilstrap's novels.

End Game (A Jonathan Grave Thriller Book 6)

The New Strategic Selling, by Robert Miller

This book addresses complex sales situations: where many approvals to purchase may be required, where there's a complex power base at your client's shop that must be navigated. It is not about how to close a deal so much as how to pursue a deal.

I found the book to be moderately interesting but long: it would have been better at half the pages.

The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World's Best Companies

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

This little book comprises three littler books, each of which would make for a fine magazine article. The first identifies "resistance" -- the underlying energy sucking force that is behind procrastination and failure to attempt. The second is about fighting resistance, mostly through accepting oneself as a professional versus amateur at whatever it is one wants to accomplish. The last is least clear to me, about allowing one's muse to guide one artistically.

This is absolutely worth reading for free. It probably is worth reading at deep discount.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles