Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern

Mr. Halpern's dad is a foul mouthed, insensitive, and hilarious father. This collection of really horrible things he said to young Mr. Halpern made me occasionally laugh out loud, and feel better about my own parenting.

Growing Up Amish: A Memoir, by Ira Wagler

This was an interesting memoir of Mr. Wagler's troubled childhood, a rebellious young man who was never quite comfortable with the structure of his Amish community, and never quite comfortable outside of it. Unfortunately, the memoir misses a punchline: how did it end up, what's he doing now, etc. That defect, in my view, makes it not worth reading the book at all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ring of Fire, by Brad Taylor

Here's the sequence: I'm at the library, I see a novel that looks like fun (action / thriller), so I borrow it. As I start reading, I recognize the characters and the writing and realize that I don't like these books. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, I keep reading.

And now you understand why I read Mr. Taylor's latest book even though I'm not a fan of his main character, Pike Logan, nor of how close the plot gets to a deus ex machina problem solving approach.

Sigh. I skimmed through many pages of this book; it wasn't as fun as I'd hoped.

Shaken, by Tim Tebow

I like Mr. Tebow, because he seems authentic and decent. The NFL doesn't seem to mind hiring thugs, felons, and drug users, and I like that Mr. Tebow appears unlikely to ever be any of those things. Then again, he's also unlikely to ever again play in the NFL.

Still, a likable guy about whom I only ever see good reports: helping special needs kids, helping kids with serious illnesses. So when I saw his book, I thought, why not?

And it was an enjoyable read. I'd recommend it to some folks. But even as I was reading, I found myself wondering what the book is really about. At the end, there was no unifying theme or message. Or maybe there was, about Mr. Tebow's faith, that I just wasn't resonating with.

So all-in-all, for me it was a donut: tasty but not really filling. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Beat the Crowd, by Ken Fisher

Mr. Fisher is a good writer. I enjoyed reading this short book until I finished it and asked myself what I had learned. At that point it was clear to me: this book is a donut: fun to eat, but not nutritious.

Trend Following, by Michael Covel

I got suckered into buying the 2017 5th edition of Mr. Covel's book, primarily because I listen to some of his podcasts and I thought I'd learn from it. Clearly, I should have done more diligent research first. Then I'd have known that much of this painfully long (688 page) text is articles from other authors. Since it wasn't marketed as an edited collection, I didn't expect that.

Perhaps the problem is that this was the extra advanced version of the class and I need the entry level overview course. It was okay in that I did learn a few things. But it was painful, tedious, and not an efficient use of my time.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Power Game, by Christine Feehan

Had I known before taking this novel off the library shelf that it was a paranormal romance, I'd not have read it. Which would have been unfortunate, since it wasn't bad. Could use about 75% less romance and 75% more action though. Turns out it is part of a series. No, I didn't enjoy it enough to want to read more.

The Obsidian Chamber, by Preston & Child

I really didn't know what I was getting into with this book, part of a series featuring a bizarre FBI agent and his associates. It seemed as though it would be a modern Sherlock Holmes style mystery. But no. There is the arcane and the occult, mysterious treatments to extend life. I didn't enjoy this one bit.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rewinder, by Brett Battles

This was a terrific story. In a strange world where the British rule North America, a low caste teen named Denny is selected to join a select group of time travelers. The idea is that he observe and report on historic events as a validation of historical documents, but he finds there's more to it than that. I won't say more to avoid spoiling a really good read.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Game Changer, by Douglas Richards

This was a very interesting story. The concept is that a brain's neural net can be affected so as to introduce new information -- as in the movie, The Matrix. Hero Kevin Quinn experiences this, and (obviously beautiful, single, brilliant -- the genre requires it!) scientist Rachel Howard helps him save the world.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Lies of Spies, by Tim Tigner

I jumped into the second volume of this series because it was a free Kindle read. It was interesting but nothing special. Hero Kyle Achilles is the ex CIA lead character who is troubled by personal sadness, resolute, in love but not ready to acknowledge it, and devastatingly effective. Like many of the books in this genre.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Laws of Wealth, by Daniel Crosby

The full title is, "The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the secret to investing success." Dr. Crosby is a behavioral psychologist, and this is his take on how investors can avoid being their own worst enemy. The material is not new nor groundbreaking. Rather, this is a compendium of materials on the topic. For example, advice to not try to forecast the markets, and to avoid getting emotionally excited about market events.

This is an interesting book for folks who have a particular interest in the topic. But for the typical individual investor, I'd recommend Peter Mallouk's, "The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How to Avoid Them," and then Wes Gray and Jack Vogel's, "DIY Financial Advisor," instead.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss

The full title of this book is, "Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers." Mr. Ferriss hosts a very popular podcast and this is an edited and annotated collection of interview comments from his successful guests.

On the plus side, there are tons of interesting thoughts to be found.
On the negative, if someone reads this with the expectation of finding a formula to help them succeed, they're in for a tough time. Not because there aren't great ideas and solid advice, but because there's too much.

Probably better indexing would help the reader seeking an "answer."
The happy reader will either enjoy all the comments from Mr. Ferriss' very interesting guests, or if they are pursuing a self-improvement goal, will pick and choose a crisp clear path, and be willing to leave many great ideas on the side lest they be a distraction.

As for me, I don't want self-help advice. I don't seek out entrepreneurial ideas. But I really enjoy reading this stuff and looking for leads to new ideas or practices, and cool twitter feeds or web sites that I've not heard of. So for me, this was a very enjoyable read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Any Minute Now, by Eric van Lustbader

This promised to be a spy novel, but had traces of voodoo or other un-named para-normal ideas running through it. It was also confusing, in that many of the characters seemed to show up inadequately defined. The plot was heavy on conspiracy and coincidence. Our hero, Whitman, was interesting enough though. The book was okay, although I understand why fans of the author's previous novels would be disappointed by it and its departure from his more normative narrative style and themes.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ghosts of War, by Brad Taylor

Another in Mr. Taylor's series featuring his unsympathetic, unlikable, annoying hero, Pike. I keep reading these books in spite of how much this character irks me.  Because I like the action, I guess.

Well, surprisingly, he was a touch less despicable in this novel. Yay. Small joys. Let's face it: I read these for the action, they are cowboy stories plain and simple, not fine literature. This one is better than the other of Mr. Taylor's novels, so I'm pleased as punch.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stiletto, by Daniel O'Malley

Only when I looked up the title to link to its Amazon page did I learn that this terrific novel is a sequel; it was perfectly fine as a stand alone read. It is also a weird take on things.

There are supernaturally powered people working for the British government in their defense. Our hero, Odette, however is a normal human. And a surgeon of sorts. Bas as to the normal part: she's a member of a group of scientists (Wetenschappelijk) founded in the late 15th century. These folks are really into seemingly unnatural human augmentation. Which they foolishly shared with their King's governor-general in 1677 leading to the command that they invade the British Isles. Where upon the augmented folks were completely routed by the supernatural defenders. And nearly wiped out.

Which brings us to modern times, in which the scientists decide to join forces with the supernaturals. Odette is a part of the diplomatic mission.  Oh, and another, splinter group, wants to kill them all.

This is just a terrific story.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Frost Line, by Linda Howard

This could have been a pretty good book. Sadly, note my use of the modal verb indicating possibility but not reality.

The concept is cool enough: the figures of Tarot cards inhabit some plane of existence, along with Hunters who freely traverse these planes. The card Strength is accidentally summoned by a child in need who has accidentally come across a special Tarot set. She shows up and seeks to help the child.

A Hunter, Caine, is sent to help Strength make her way back, and other Hunters are dispatched by a more troublesome figure to capture the deck and perhaps do away with Strength.

Okay, once we're past that setup, things get interesting. Strength and Caine team up to help the child and fight their enemies. This would have been an enjoyable story line.

But no. The authors at this point decided to minimize plot development in favor a placing their book in a romance genre as well. Yada yada yada.

Not worth reading, but it might be a good stepping off point for a talented suspense writer to take the possibilities further.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Living with a SEAL, by Jesse Itzler

This is a terrific, fast -reading book. The background is that Mr. Itzler (a successful, wealthy entrepreneur who is also a distance runner) entered a team race where runners take turns over a 24 hour period. He saw an individual running the race as a one-man team, doing over 100  miles, and was intrigued. (It turns out this person is a Navy Seal who doesn't want his name used, so Mr. Itzler refers to him only as SEAL throughout the book.) Net is, Mr. Itzler hired SEAL to train him for a month, living with Itzler and his family.

This book documents the training. Wait! Don't go -- this isn't a fitness training book! It is more of a journal, a peek into the life of a billionaire family through this experience. But it really isn't that either, it isn't really voyeuristic at all. I guess I don't know how to describe it except to say that I laughed out loud five times while reading. That's a lot for a 251 page book about doing pushups and running.

I recommend this for anyone, athlete or not, because it was just plain amusing. Oh, language warning: there is some foul language used, but no other concerns about reading it aloud to your toddler at bedtime.