Monday, March 29, 2010

Fantasy in Death – Book #26


|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Title | Fantasy in Death |
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| Author |JD Robb (Nora Roberts) |
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| Genre |Mystery |
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| Pages |356 |
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| Publisher |GP Putnam |
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| Copyright |2010 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
In the latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb, it is game over for the criminals pursued by NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Bart Minnock, founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world, to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king, in his company's latest top-secret project, Fantastical. The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. It is the most puzzling case Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game. . . . NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a problem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks-as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U- Play's competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one. Eve and her team are about to
enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death. . . .

Why I read It
This is one of Nora Roberts’s ongoing series and I believe she is up to book 30 now. Her usual pattern is to write 3 at a time, and then while she returns to her other books the publisher will release the three over the course of two years. This is book two of the latest set. Now you can read each book for the mystery in any order, be aware there are ongoing characters and relationships that have been developing since book one. My advice is to start as early in the series as you can.

What I Thought About It
Eve Dallas is a police detective in a futuristic New York City. In an homage to her romance writing Eve also happens to be married to the world’s richest, most considerate, good looking, desired man who also happens to be a former Irish street criminal gone straight. This guy gives women orgasms just by looking at them. All that silliness aside the mysteries are straightforward and solid – somebody killed somebody else for usually pedestrian reasons. Through determination and cleverness Eve’s team of investigators usually get to the bottom of the case.
The only drawback to these books is the sameness on the big picture elements. So while it may seem tempting after enjoying a couple of them to read her backlist straight through, I would highly recommend breaking it up with other authors. If you don’t those basic outline points will really jump out at you and ruin your reading experience.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Nora Roberts has published more than 130 novels, which has been translated into more than 25 languages. She writes romances under her own name and futuristic crime novels under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb. She has been given the Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.

When Will There Be Good News? – Book #25


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| Title | When Will There Be Good News? |
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| Author |Kate Atkinson |
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| Genre |Mystery |
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| Pages |388 |
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| Publisher |Little Brown & Company |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |2008 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever... On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound... At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

Why I read It
I enjoyed Case Histories and I am now slowly working my way through Kate Atkinson’s back list.

What I Thought About It
Followed the same pattern of bring several seemingly unrelated cases together in a unifying finish. Solid writing and the mysteries were pretty good. The pacing was a little slower than Case Histories, but in that book it was phenomenal.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster. Her latest novel, the Richard & Judy Book Club and Galaxy British Book Awards 2009 shortlisted When Will There Be Good News?, also features Jackson Brodie and is out now in paperback.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lady Gaga Christmas

My Commute is ...

almost identical to this :-)





If you have never seen this Danny MacAskill video before please watch it. Absolutely amazing and it changed his life. He had his mates film him as he rode to work at the bicycle shop - he now is an international (fully sponsored) rider.

Black Water Rising – Book #24


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| Title | Black Water Rising |
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| Author |Attica Locke |
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| Genre |Mystery (Houston, Texas) |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Pages |427 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Publisher |Harper Collins |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |2009 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|

Synopsis (from web-site)
When Houston lawyer Jay Porter responds to pressure from his wife and jumps into the bayou to rescue a drowning white woman during a birthday dinner cruise he'd planned, he has no idea of the hell he's about to enter. There's a murder nearby that same night. Jay suspects that the drowning woman was involved. Ominous threats convince him that it's bigger than just a simple murder and that the players go all the way to the top of Houston's business and political elite. Only by facing down the racially charged past that's been haunting him for years can Jay find it in himself to overcome his long-standing belief in keeping quiet instead of speaking up. Despite a slow start and a measured pace that fail to give the narrative the expected intensity, Locke's debut thriller ends in a satisfying whirlwind of drama. Deftly exploring social and economic themes during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, she balances Jay's current situation with flashbacks to his past as a student activist fighting for racial equality.

Why I read It
It was on every short list for Mystery of the year (for new authors) that I saw. Plus it was written by a woman (Always trying to read more female authors).

What I Thought About It
It was okay and made Houston seem like a hot and depressing city (maybe it is – so job well done). While I enjoyed it I did not connect with the lead character, which is not surprising given it was a first novel. I will be interested to see if she develops him more with subsequent books. I also realized how few books I read by black authors, or with black protagonists. It hasn’t been a conscious decision and I had never noticed before. I think I will try to correct that going forward.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Attica Locke is a writer who has worked in both film and television for over ten years. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has written movie scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and Jerry Bruckheimer films, as well as television pilots for HBO, Dreamworks and Silver Pictures. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab and most recently completed an adaptation of Stephen Carter’s The Emperor of Ocean Park. She is member of the Writers Guild of America, west, and is currently at work on an HBO miniseries about the civil rights movement, based on the writings of historian Taylor Branch. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Child 44 – Book #23


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| Title | Child 44 |
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| Author |Tom Rob Smith |
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| Genre |Mystery (Russia) |
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| Pages |436 |
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| Publisher |Grand Central Publishing |
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| Copyright |2008 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
A propulsive, relentless page-turner. A terrifying evocation of a paranoid world where no one can be trusted. A surprising, unexpected story of love and family, of hope and resilience. CHILD 44 is a thriller unlike any you have ever read. "There is no crime." Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals. But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty-owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time-sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov. A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow , even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated. Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal-a murderer-is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer-much less a serial killer-is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.

Why I read It
I saw it on a lot of “Best of” lists and decided to give it a try.

What I Thought About It
While the mystery was quite good (and it is the second book I have read this year with the same theme – cannibal serial killer), I actually enjoyed the historical aspect of the book more. It is set in newly communist Russia shortly after WWII and how the secret police treated crime and its citizens. For example, you couldn’t say you had a murderer, let alone a serial killer on the loose because such things did not happen in a perfect society comrade. To do so, even as a cop figuratively standing on a stack of bodies, would be a crime against the state and earn you a trip to the gulag. I spent a lot of time contemplating societies (and by default organizations) that enforce a strict compliance to a set of arbitrary rules, and how that ultimately leads to abuse of power and self destruction. A lot to read into our modern society there, from terrorists to religion to families; good stuff.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and lives in London . Child 44 is his first novel.

The Case of the Missing Servant – Book #22



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| Title |The Case of the Missing Servant |
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| Author |Tarquin Hall |
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| Genre |Mystery (India) |
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| Pages |310 |
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| Publisher |Simon & Schuster |
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| Copyright |2009 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|



Synopsis (from web-site)
Vish Puri's New Delhi detective agency has never been busier, often doing background checks on persons selected for arranged marriages. With his keen skills of observation and deduction, a network of personal contacts, and some modern communication devices, Punjabi Puri claims to be his country's top detective, citing his Super Sleuth award from the World Federation of Detectives for solving the Case of the Missing Polo Elephant in 1999. (He also has an appetite for pakoras and 30 excess pounds and is known to family and friends as Chubby.) A prominent lawyer who asks Puri to find a missing servant is arrested for the young woman's murder when her body is found, requiring complex work by Puri's staff. Meanwhile, he must check out the squeaky-clean fiance of the granddaughter of a revered war hero. And Puri's visiting Mummy-ji undertakes her own search when her son is shot at.

Why I read It
It was in the new section of my library as I was browsing. A mystery that takes place in India was enough for me to pick it up.

What I Thought About It
It was pretty standard fair and nothing really stood out. I will be interested in the author’s second effort to see if it improves, but I am otherwise uncommitted to the book.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Tarquin Hall is a British writer and Journalist. He was born in London in 1969 and has livied in the United States, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey, and traveled extensively in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. He is the author of three books and dozens of articles that have appeared in many British newspapers and magazines. He lives in the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand.

The Way It Should Be

Very Cool Bike Parking in Japan. This is distantly related to the way we store pallets at work (6000 pallet bays).



And the shear size of this Dutch bike garage. I think I saw elsewhere that it holds 10,000 bikes and is full every day - ALL YEAR ROUND!


The possibilities are there if only we would do it. My bike rack at work is buried under snow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I Learned Today


The Canola in Canola oil is actually an acronym.**

Canola stands for CANadian Oil Low Acid.





**close enough for alliteration points for me.

Thirty-Three Teeth – Book #21



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| Title |Thirty-Three Teeth |
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| Author |Colin Cotterill |
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| Genre |Mystery |
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| Pages |238 |
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| Publisher |Soho |
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| Copyright |2005 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
Dr. Siri Paiboun of Laos-"reluctant national coroner, confused psychic, [and] disheartened communist"-employs forensic skills and spiritual acumen to solve a series of bizarre killings in Cotterill's quirky, exotic and winning second novel, set in 1977. Could an old escaped bear be mauling Vientiane citizens? Or is it something more mystical-say, a weretiger? When Paiboun is summoned to the capital to identify the nationality of a pair of charred bodies, he quickly flags them as Asians killed in a helicopter crash, and his ability to connect them to the royal family annoys Communist Party leaders. As Paiboun learns of an effort to get the remaining royal family members out of town, he's arrested, accused of damaging government property. But the witness's testimony is questionable, and Paiboun, representing himself in court, escapes this scrape as handily as he's escaped others before. Paiboun's droll wit and Cotterill's engaging plot twists keep things energetic; the rather grisly murders are offset by comedy, including a scene in which a Party member attempts to impose regulations on the spirit world.

Why I read It
Book two in the series. Slowly catching up on the adventures of the
geriatric pathologist in 1970’s communist Laos.

What I Thought About It
Another fun read; short and sweet with solid mysteries. The history lesson about communist society as it is blended with religious history is just icing on the cake.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Colin Cotterill is a London-born teacher, crime writer and cartoonist. Cotterill has dual English and Australian citizenship; however, he currently lives in Southeast Asia, where he writes the award-winning Dr. Siri mystery series set in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

If You Are Not Watching Craig Ferguson

YOU ARE AN IDIOT

Between the end of Letterman and the start of his show their is a little dead time so Craig, his puppets, and a few stagehands lip sinc songs. This is my favorite but a more complete list (plus other highlights) can be found here.






This one is quite good too

I open the scriptures for you

So today in Elder's Quorum we discussed JST of Matthew 3:24.

24 And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.

My comment was people often overlooked an alternative, but just as valid interpretation of this scripture. That is we must remember Jesus grew up as a carpenter. So when it said he "waxed strong" that could very well be referencing his skills as a furniture refinisher.


And now you have seen the written word in a different way - your welcome.

I am so proud

My oldest made the local paper today. Here is the picture.


His excuse for being the only one dancing was "It was a break and nobody was doing anything; and I do NOT SIT DOWN for the chorus of Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus."

**If you read the article it says 9th graders. Gunnar is in 11th grade and is a student leader for them so he is actually setting the example, allegedly.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It turns out I am not as pervy as previously thought

A few weeks ago I saw a trailer for the movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians. In it I saw something that reminded me of a literary idea I have been wrestling with and before I proceeded I wanted to check it out. Just making sure I wasn’t walking down an already worn path. Anyways all was well and the books were really fun. I told my family about them and most read all five in the series as well.

I also decided (look at me – the powerful man who will be obeyed!!) we should go see the movie as a family. Here comes the pervy part. In Harry Potter book 1 the kids were written as being 11 years old. Here is a picture of Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in the first movie.

Pretty good representation of a 11 year old.

In book one of Percy Jackson the kids are written as 12 years old. Here is a picture of Annabeth Chase(Alexandra Daddario) in the first movie.

Either 12 year olds have really changed or I have totally got my creepy uncle vibe going on. Luckily IMDB is there to set the record straight as the actress is 24 years old. The movie went with an older portrayal of the kids to sell it as a teen movie (I guess). So no need for me to start growing facial hair, this Annabeth is acceptably hot and that only makes me mildly creepy. Just like all you Taylor Lautner fans ladies (except he is like totally underage you bunch of perves!)

Night Work – Book #20


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| Title |Night Work |
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| Author |Steve Hamilton |
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| Genre |Mystery |
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| Pages |294 |
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| Publisher |St. Martin’s Minotaur |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |2007 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|

Synopsis (from web-site)
Joe Trumbull is not a man who scares easily. As a juvenile probation officer in Kingston, New York, he’s half cop, half social worker to the most high-risk youth in the city. And when he’s not pounding the streets, trying to keep his kids out of jail, he’s pounding a heavy bag in the gym to stay in shape.

But tonight Joe Trumbull is scared to death.

It’s been two years since his fiancĂ©e, Laurel, was brutally murdered. Two years of grief and loneliness. On this hot summer night, he’s finally going out on a blind date, his first date since Laurel’s death. He’s not looking for love, just testing the waters to see if it’s possible to live a normal life again. The thought of it is turning his knees to jelly.

Marlene Frost is a beautiful woman. She’s warm and funny, with a smile to match. After the first awkward minutes, Joe finally starts to think this isn’t such a bad idea after all. In fact, maybe this blind date will turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to him.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Because somehow, for reasons Joe can barely understand, this one evening will mark the beginning of a new nightmare. A nightmare that will lead him to the faceless man in the shadows, and to the most terrible realization of all...

For Joe Trumbull, the past is never past. And the worst is yet to come.

Why I read It
Steve Hamilton writes a nice series of PI books based in the UP (You-Pee). The UP stands for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, an area famous for snow, trees, copper, and more snow. Anyways my parents used to live up there so I have had occasion to visit and enjoy the many sights (snow). This is why I began reading the books. This book though is his first stand alone and definitely does not take place in the UP.

What I Thought About It
It was okay. Maybe it was because I was not invested in the characters, or some of the plot points were a little much to accept, but I was not that into it. I find I am pretty jaded to exaggeration (or Hollywoodesque showiness) in my crime fiction lately.

Mormon Mentions
None – and aren’t we all glad that crime fiction is free from it :-)

Author Biography

Born and raised in Detroit, Steve Hamilton graduated from the University of Michigan where he won the prestigious Hopwood Award for fiction. In 2006, he won the Michigan Author Award for his outstanding body of work. His novels have won numerous awards and media acclaim beginning with the very first in the Alex McKnight series, A Cold Day in Paradise, which won the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin's Press Award for Best First Mystery by an Unpublished Writer. Once published, it went on to win the MWA Edgar and the PWA Shamus Awards for Best First Novel, and was short-listed for the Anthony and Barry Awards. The awards didn't stop there but he's too modest to crow about them. Hamilton currently works for IBM in upstate New York where he lives with his wife Julia and their two children.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Last Six Million Seconds – Book #19


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| Title | The Last Six Million Seconds |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Author |John Burdett |
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| Genre |Mystery |
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| Pages |385 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Publisher |William Morrow & Co. |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |1997 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
A plastic bag containing three rotting heads is discovered near the Chinese mainland. The British seem to be keen for the investigation to drag on until after June 1997, the powerful Mr Xian wants a swift conclusion to the case, and the NYPD are taking a curious interest in events.

Why I read It
I was first introduced to John Burdett with his masterful Bangkok Police detective trilogy starring the multiracial Sonchai Jitpleecheep. In the reviews online I see Burdett has written a new book so I went on-line to see if my library had a copy yet. They didn’t but I saw this early work by him that I had not read yet.

What I Thought About It
As books/mysteries go this was okay. The real interest of the book is the development of Burdett as a writer. Featuring a multiracial police detective in Hong Kong (6 million seconds before it is turned over to China) you can see the seeds of Sonchai and Bangkok. It seems Burdett knew where his character was going; he just was initially not sure how to get him there. Fascinating stuff.

The other part of interest is the subtext that you cannot have control without corruption; whether that be the Chinese or the Americans. It is a difficult road to balanced power and I would guess most people fail at it. It is a fine line between what we want and what we need, and if you can figure out how to walk it and show others the way, power will take care of itself. Just don’t let it push you off.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Burdett is a former lawyer who lived and worked in Hong Kong for twelve years. For a time, he was employed by the Hong Kong Government. He later worked in private practice. Eventually, Burdett decided to abandon law and pursue a career as a detective novelist.

Burdett now splits his time between France and Bangkok and spends a lot of time researching in the red light areas of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.

He is divorced and has one daughter.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Getting Unstuck – Book #18



|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Title | Getting Unstuck |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Author |Timothy Butler |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Genre |Nonfiction – Business/Self Improvement |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Pages |172 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Publisher |HBS Press |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |2007 |
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Synopsis (from web-site)
Using his work as a social scientist, psychotherapist, and career counselor, Butler (career development, Harvard Business School) outlines strategies for getting "unstuck" at work, home, with colleagues, or family. He describes the state of psychological impasse and how it is a sign for change, how to create a clear vision, and the stages of the process of moving through the crisis: arrival, emergence of unresolved issues, opening up to new information, shifting to a new understanding of the situation, recognizing personality patterns, and deciding to take action, with a lot of information on career choices. He uses exercises from classes and workshops he teaches.

Why I read It
The subject interests me and I saw it mentioned online somewhere.

What I Thought About It
Meh. It was about a topic I liked and focused on anecdotes (which I prefer), but still I never really got into it. We grow by recognizing/accepting things as they are suck. We then make changes, grow, and eventually start over again. Ultimately we will not be happy if we let someone else call the shots. You must make changes; or something like that. I mean, that is what I got from it. Don't get me wrong, it was not a bad book; it just didn't do it for me. Much like Charles Dickens, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Gwynneth Paltrow.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Timothy Butler, Ph.D., along with James Waldroop, is director of career development at the Harvard Business School & the developer of the Internet-based interactive career assessment program, CareerLeader, currently used by more than ninety-five corporations & MBA programs worldwide. They are the authors of "Discovering Your Career in Business," as well as articles that have appeared in the "Harvard Business Review" & "Fortune." They live in the Boston metropolitan area

In The Woods – Book #17



|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Title | In the Woods |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Author |Tana French |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Genre |Adult Mystery (Ireland) |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Pages |429 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Publisher |Viking |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|
| Copyright |2007 |
|-------------+----------------------------------------|

Synopsis (from web-site)
A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox?his partner and closest friend?find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past. Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

Why I read It
A highly regarded mystery from Ireland, plus my library had it.

What I Thought About It
I am of two minds. First of all the book was excellent in both writing and plot. I enjoyed the characters and found the mystery believable. On almost every other scale this book would have been a homerun. Here is the rub, or the second part. This book told two mysteries centered around the lead character, which in and of itself is fine, but it only solves one of them at the books end. That is especially grating given the sequel revolves around a secondary character so I do not expect an answer from it either. I get it is the author’s right to tell the story as they see it, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling frustrated. That said book 2 is in my to read pile at home right now.

Mormon Mentions
None

Author Biography

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as a professional actress at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked in theatre, film and voiceover.