Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Winning from Within


Today’s Nonfiction post is on Winning from Within by Erica Ariel Fox. It is 351 pages long and is published by Harper Business. The cover is blue with the title in white and the author’s name in an orange rectangle in yellow. The intended reader is someone wants to be a better business person. There is no language, no sex, and no violence. The book is told from first person with the author giving stories and tips for the business world. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- An expert on managing oneself for high performance presents a proven approach for getting more of what you want, improving your relationships, and enjoying life’s deeper rewards, revealing how winning at work and in life begins by learning how to negotiate with yourself.
Life is a series of negotiations, whether or not you think of yourself as a negotiator. From seemingly insignificant daily decisions to major life choices, you negotiate every time you aim to persuade, argue over a decision, or resolve a conflict. But as the negotiations and leadership expert Erica Ariel Fox reveals, the most important negotiations- the ones that determine the effect of our actions and the quality of our lives- are those we have with ourselves.
Most of us recognize the difference between our knowledge- what we know we should do and say- and our know-how- what we actually do and say in real life when it counts. Fox calls this the “Performance Gap” and she shows you how to close it, turning breakdowns into breakthroughs, whether you are struggling with a difficult client, arguing with a combative teenager, or organizing for community action.
Winning from Within combines insights from Western psychology and Eastern philosophy with practical applications from real business situations and everyday life, Fox shows that the ability to achieve mastery over how we interact with one another comes from within, where desires, thoughts, feelings, and impulses to take action live side by side. Winning from Within offers a profound and highly practical seven-step method for making changes that last, at work and at home. As Erica Ariel Fox demonstrates, we can actually get what we want- and feel good about the result.

Review- This is an interesting book but I am not sold that it is a good business book. It feels more like a self-help book with some ways to bring what you learn into your business life. She has some insights about this but I did not feel that she gives you ways to integrate her reasons and advice into the day-to-day life. Fox has many ideas going on in this self-help book. She pulls from twenty years of teaching and life experience. The writing is good and very readable. But I am just not sure this is what Fox was going for. I think that she is trying to put everything that she knows into one book. The third part of the book does not have advice or ways to integrate her teaching about three overall mental helpers. I think that if I could go to one of her weekend teachings that I have a better understanding of what Fox is trying to explain. If you are looking for a new personality book with a business bent then this book is a good choice for you. Otherwise not really.

I give this Book a Three stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I was given an ARC copy from HarperCollins publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spider Woman's Daughter

Today's post is on Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman. It is a continuation of the series by her father Tony Hillerman. It is 301 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is sun rise in desert with the title in black and author in white. Below the author's name is a stylized woman representing the Spider Woman. The intended reader is someone who has read the series so far.
From the back of the book- Legendary tribal sleuths Leaphorn and Chee are back! The supremely talented daughter of New York Times bestselling mystery author Tony Hillerman continues the popular series with this fresh new Navajo Country mystery-her debut novel-filled with captivating lore, startling suspense, bold new characters, vivid color, and rich atmosphere
It happened in an instant: After a breakfast with colleagues, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito saw a truck squeal into the parking lot and heard a crack of gunfire. When the dust cleared, someone very close to her was lying on the asphalt in a pool of blood.
With the victim in the hospital fighting for his life, every officer in the squad and the local FBI office are hellbent to catch the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations strictly forbidding eyewitness involvement. Her superior may have ordered her to take some leave, but that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter.
Pooling their skills, Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving his former boss and partner, retired Inspector Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key to the shooting. Digging into the old investigation with fresh eyes and a new urgency, husband and wife find themselves inching closer to the truth with every clue . . . and closer to a killer who will do anything to prevent justice from taking its course.

Review-  First of all I must say that I am a huge fan of Tony Hillerman.  I believe that I have read and collected all of his books, so understandably I was skeptical that anyone could capture my attention in the same way.  I am happy to report that "Spider Woman's Daughter" by Anne Hillerman is a winner.  
It is obvious that Anne Hillerman understands her father's characters, and is able to continue writing them in character while adding her own subtle take of their personalites.
She has fleshed out the personality of Bernadette, giving her depth, making her more likeable and more an American working woman, while remaining true to the personas of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.   I have always enjoyed the give and take of the Hillermans' characters;  they portray a richness and understanding of the Navaho way.
 I was happy to see her continue broadening the readers' understanding of the Southwest.  The book's title, "Spider Woman's Daughter", caused me to wonder what that had to do with Myths of the Navajo.   She uses Bernadette to inform us that "Spider Woman's Daughter" helps with life's unexpected complications, untangling messy situations.
All in all, I have put Anne Hillerman on my must read list. 
I give this book a Five out of Five Stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Today’s post is on The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It is 230 pages long and is published by Little, Brown, and Company. The cover is black with a toy Indian and cowboy on it. It is told from the first person point of view of the main character Junior. The intended reader is young adult males and I think that they are the ones who will get the most out of it. There is language, talk of sexuality, death, drunkenness, and the reality of living on a reservation. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone but his best friend. Determined to receive a good education, Junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring town from where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside of himself that he never knew existed. Written with raw emotion by acclaimed writer Sherman Alexie, THE ABOSLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, his first novel for young adults, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one unlucky boy trying to rise above the life everyone expects him to live.

Review- I had to read this book for a grad class. This is not my kind of book, there is little action, to me little character development, and too much talk of teenage boy’s masturbation. It is not a bad book but I think it has a limited readership. One thing that it did do well was talk about how life on an Indian reservation really is. That is why this book is on the challenged lists from the ALA. Life on a reservation is not good and Alexie does not make it light. Junior is seen as a traitor because he has not been broken by the rez. That said I still did not like this book. I was bored. Everything that happened in this book was predictable. Junior does not really grow as a character he just deals with the fact that he is not like his family and friends. For me the real saving grace of this book is that it is short. I read it in two days and was/am done with it.

I give this one Three star out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Damned Busters

The Damned Busters
Today’s post is on The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes. It is 413 pages long including an author interview at the end. It is published by Angry Robot Books. The cover is simple cartoon drawing of the characters and how the plot starts. The intended reader is adult who likes comic books heroes, humor, and it is not offended by mocking of religion. There is no language, mention of sexuality, and the raising of demons but nothing in poor taste. The story is told in third person. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- After accidentally summoning a demon while playing poker, the normally mild-mannered Chesney Anstruther refuses to sell his soul... which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike. Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world- and that actually turns out to be a really bad thing.
There’s only one thing for it. Satan offers Chesney the ultimate deal- sign the damned contract, and he can have his heart’s desire. And thus the strangest superhero duo ever seen- in Hell or on Earth- is born!
Book one of the To Hell & Back saga is a riotous fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Henghis Hapthorn stories.

Review- This is one of the funniest books that I have read all year. It has its moments of laugh out loud humor but mostly it is going to put a smile on your face. The blurb on the back is not bad but Chesney does not sale his soul and that is what causes all the problems in the novel. Hughes is playing the superhero tropes and he does it well. The first two chapters are a little slow but after those the story just gets going. One thing if you are a very religious person then you may find some of the plot points offensive but if you are more like me and know that a story is just a story then you will not care. I give this warning because of the underlying themes is that God is writing a book. That is both the heart of and the solution to many of the problems in the book. I was not offended by anything in this book it was just funny to me. The characters are all pretty interesting, even the ones that are clearly straight from comics that I have read in my past. I look forward to reading more in this world.

I give this one Five out Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Mirrored Shard

The Mirrored Shard (Iron Codex, #3)
Today’s post is on The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kitteredge. It is the last novel in the Iron Codex trilogy. It is 295 pages long and is published by Delacorte Press. The cover has the main character, Aoife, looking at the reader with dramatic makeup on to make her more exotic, she looks older and more confident than on the other covers. The intended reader is young adult female but anyone who like Lovecraft or lovecraftian horror should enjoy this series. There is no sex or language in this book but there is some violence and graphic horror descriptions. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the book jacket- When Dean was shot and killed in the Arctic north, he was ripped not only from the Iron Lands but from Aoife Grayson’s life. Aoife has sworn to bring her love back, even if she must face death to do it. But she can’t get to the Deadlands on her own. And even if she can get there, her foe, Tremaine, will surely block her escape; it is his job to hold her in the Thorn Land, the fairie home of her mother, Nerissa.
Aoife has never shied away from a fight. She’ll do whatever she must to get out of the Thorn Land and to the Deadlands. But to rescue Dean, she must also face the other catastrophe that took place in the north. She must stop the apocalyptic chain of events she set in motion when she opened the Gate to the nightmare realm. Because if she doesn’t, there will be no world to bring Dean back to.

Review- This is the last novel in a trilogy that I have been reading as it has come out. It is a good book but it did not feel like the end of a trilogy to me. I can tell that Kitteredge is gearing up for the next series of novels about this world and Aoife. I have no problem with writing more in a world and this world is interesting and complex but I really wish that she had really ended this series. In the end the Old Ones are still coming, they have promised Aoife that they will get to the Iron Land in her lifetime. So with that as the end I know that the series is not finished. That is not the only way that makes this novel feel like it was rushed or just not finished. The other books are over 400 pages in length and this one is not even 300. Encounters with big, scary things were neither big or scary. I was disappointed with this book. I expected so much from this novel because the others were so good. It was not bad but it was not the best in the series. I will read the next in the series but I am glad that it will be about a year before the next book comes out so that I can get over this disappointment.

I give this one Three out of Five Stars. I get nothing for this review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The United States of Paranoia


Today’s Nonfiction post is on The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by Jesse Walker. It is 418 pages long including 75 pages of intense notes. The publisher is HarperCollins Publishing. The cover has words like White Water, Ku Klux Klan, Flying Saucers, and more on it; black text on white background with the title in a blue box, the subtitle in a yellow box and the author’s name in an orange box. The intended reader is someone who likes conspiracy theories and is an adult. There is no sex but some descriptions of violence and foul language used. The author does not use the language but it is in quotes. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The books editor of Reason magazine explores the origins, evolution, legacy, and effect of paranoia in American politics, and culture, from the colonial era to today.
The United States of Paranoia is a history of America’s demons. Conspiracy theories, Jesse Walker explains, aren’t just a feature in the fringe: they’ve been a potent force across the political spectrum- the center as well as the extremes- from the colonial era to the present. Walker argues that conspiracy stories need to be read not just as claims either to be believed or debunked but also as folklore. When a tale takes hold, as something true about the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe and repeat it is revealed, even if the story says nothing true about the objects of the theory itself.
With intensive research and a deadpan sense of humor, The United States of Paranoia combines the rigor of real history with the punch of pulp fiction. The first half of the book lays out five conspiracy narratives that recur in American politics and popular culture, zeroing in on particular examples from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries: the Enemy Outside, the Enemy Within, the Enemy Below, the Enemy Above, and the Benevolent Conspiracy. The second half of the book looks at how those primal stories have played out in different contexts in the last half century, from Watergate to Waco to the War on Terror.

Review- I was so excited to get and read this book. I am a conspiracy theorist. I find conspiracy theories to be a lot of fun and interesting. I loved this book. It is well written, clever, and the notes in the back are just great. When I was reading this book I had two bookmarks in it. One bookmark for where I was in the book and the other one for where I was in the notes. The notes are very detailed and sometimes you need to read the notes to get the full picture. The writing is strong and very readable. The only thing that I will warn you about is this- I could not read this with anything else going on. I had to be in a quiet place because this is so intense. The writing is so detailed that I could not read it with distractions. So if you are looking for a casual read; I do not think that this is for you. But if you willing to concentrate then this book is very rewarding. But I love conspiracy theories.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book from HarperCollins in exchange for my review.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Dreamspinner (Nine Kingdoms #7)
Today’s post is on Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland and is the seventh in her Nine Kingdoms Series; to understand much of what is going on you will need to have read at least one of the first two trilogies but not both. The cover has the main female character, Aisling, aiming a bow at the reader looking fierce. The intended reader is adult but young adults who love well written high fantasy will enjoy this series. There is no sex, no language, some violence but no gore; nothing to worry parents or weak stomachs. It is told from third person close going from Aisling to Rùnach’s point of view from one chapter to another. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Aisling of Bruadair has lived a provincial life, heedless of the evil creeping over her land. That ordinary existence changes forever, though, when she is sent to the opposite end of the world to find a master swordsman. If she fails, her life--and her country's safety--will be forfeit. She just never expected that swordsman to be a wounded elven prince masquerading as a simple soldier. Powerless and scarred from a long-ago conflict, Rùnach of Ceangail has spent years in obscurity, ignoring battles he can no longer fight.  And although he has been drawn back into the world, he fully intends to live an unremarkable life far away from events he knows he cannot change... Until Rùnach meets Aisling and realizes that she is far more than what she seems, that their alliance has attracted unwelcome notice,  and that some battles must be fought.

Review- Allow me to start this review by saying I love this series. When I discovered it two years ago I fell in love with it. I have read the first trilogy but not the second so there some things that I did not know coming in but things like spoilers do not annoy me. This series is on my To Buy List. (Edit I have now bought all the books released so far in this series 8/12/2013) It is well written, fun, and just plain good. There is just one problems and it is the same problem I had with the first book Star of the Morning and that is it takes about 100 pages before you are really hooked into the story. I do not know if Kurland just needs some time to get things going but I warn you about that. That said do not let that stop you from reading this book because it is wonderful. I cannot wait for the next and I am going to be buying them all from Amazon from here on out. I like both main characters and we see old ones from the other books and they just add to the story. Some romantic tropes are here but do not let that annoy you just part of the show. The plot has me guessing at the moment but I was in the same position at the end of the first book in the first trilogy too but I trust Kurland. This is a wonderful series with inventive magic, clever heroes, and evil villains; what fantasy lover would not love this? I know that I do.

I give this one Four and a Half stars because of the slow start. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Adaptation (Adaptation, #1)
Today’s post is on Adaptation by Malinda Lo. It is 386 pages long and is published by Little, Brown and Company. The cover has a young woman with green eyes looking at the reader as she is floating in water. The intended reader is older young adult but anyone who like conspiracy theories, aliens are among us, and fast paced plots then you will like this. Warning: there is bisexual and homosexual themes and characters in this story, so if that is not your thing move on. There is language, same sex kissing and groping and violence. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Among them are Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David, who are in Arizona when the disaster occurs. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway in the middle of the Nevada night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are- or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction- and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
Adaptation is a bold contemporary science-fiction thriller from the acclaimed author of Ash.

Review- Lo is a good writer and this book is nothing less than a fun, sexy, thrill ride. I love conspiracy theories and she did her research well. It was like reading X-Files for teenagers. The government is not just the bad guy and the aliens are not good guys but like all good novels there is grey; the only ones who are good are the main characters of Reese, David, and their families. I liked that you just do not know who to trust. There is some disturbing scenes in the hospital and when all the bad things start to happen at the beginning of the book but just go with it and you will rewarded with an excellent read. I know that some people will be put off by the same sex themes in this book but do not just not read it because of that. It is not the main theme of the story just an added layer to make the plot thicker. If it was guy in Amber’s place I would not even be talking about it but It does need to be addressed. The love story is just a love story; read it and move on. I hope that Lo plans to write more about these characters and in this world because I would love to read more. I have a problem with the blurb. Reese does not have a crush on David but he has one on her. That is an important difference to the plot.

I give this book a Four and Half stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
Today’s post is on “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman. It is the first in His Dark Materials trilogy, is 399 pages long, and is published by Alfred A. Knopf. The cover is blue with the author’s name and title in a raised golden square, behind that is are constellations of the night sky. There is no language, no sex, but some of the violence is cruel and vividly described. So be warned before reading. It is told from third person close, mostly focused on Lyra but the narration does jump to others at different points in the story. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Lyra is content to run wild among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle- a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold, far North, young Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.
Philip Pullman’s award-winning The Golden Compass is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern fantasy classic.

Review- This is an interesting, twisted, and good plot. The characters grow, are interesting, and they are why you read this story. Lyra is interesting and she grows so much over the course of the novel. Starting out she does not really do much thinking about anything but at the end she is willing to try and stop her very powerful father from doing something, that he think is good, but really does not know. Lyra is willing to face the unknown with just herself and her soul animal, her daemon Pantalaimon because they believe that they can. There is hope in the future, hope that children can make a better world than their parents have made. The mystery of what the Dust is, what Lyra is to do, and so much more. I enjoyed reading this book, I look forward to reading the second volume The Subtle Knife. I do not get why so many people get angry about this book. Yes I can see his religious dislike, I can see where some people do not want to read anything that is so religiously charged but it is just a book in the end. But it is no more than any other book where religion is the villain. To be honest, religions make good easy villains. It does not take much to make a religion, any religion, a villain. So read this book and enjoy the villain because the church in Lyra’s world and those who are hands for it that she encounters, make good, interesting, and evil enough villains.

I give this book Five out of Five Stars. I get nothing for this review and I bought my copy of this book with my little moneys.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Today’s post is on “Mothstorm” by Philip Reeve, it is decorated throughout by David Wyatt and is the third in the Larklight series. It is 387 pages long and is published by Bloomsbury Publishing. The cover has Art Mumby, his sister Myrtle, the sky pirate Jack, and Charity Cruet looking ready for fun and adventure with a sky ship behind them and the planet Uranus… I mean Georgium Sidus. The intended reader is older children and tweens but anyone with a love of the classic pulp novel will love this series. There is nothing in this book or series to make it unsuitable to read, there is no sex, no language, and all the action is fun. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Say it isn’t so! A sinister cloud has appeared on the edge of the Known Universe, and it seems to be moving closer. The nearest planet, Georgium Sidus, has but two human inhabitants: the missionary reverend Cruet and his daughter, Charity. Their last communication? ‘Great danger- imperative that-‘ And then nothing. To determine the nature of the threat and rescue that Cruets, Art, Myrtle and family decide to bravely to bravely go where only one man and his daughter have gone before.
But the mothy evils they discover within the monstrous cloud are far beyond anything their imaginations could concoct (and that’s saying quite a lot). Lucky, then, that Jack Havock is hot on their heels to help in the battle to save the Universe… again.

Review- The Larklight series is so much fun. Reeve is writing in the style of the adventure pulps from the 1800’s. Everything is dramatic, fun, and just full of adventures in the unknown. The characters are not the central point of the story, just like in the pulp novels, but they are interesting and important. The main thing to remember when reading this series is to have fun with it. Reeve is clearly having fun writing it, so do not take anything too serious about the story because he is not. The illustrations are fun and help the reader get a better idea about the strange and wondrous things that Art and company come into contact with. Some of the old plot points like what Ssilissa is and where she came from and how to save Jack’s parents from being trees on Venus are answered. All in all I found this one a very satisfying read and I am still looking forward to the next book. With this series I am always looking forward to the next book. Reeve is an excellent writer and if you are looking for something with Steampunk or humorous over the top adventures then he is the guy to go to.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.