Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Shadow of Gotham

I recently finished "In the Shadow of Gotham," by Stefanie Pintoff. This is an excellent historical murder mystery with a wonderfully developed main character. Simon Ziele, formerly a detective in New York City, is working in Dobson, NY just north of the city when a murder with ties to a Columbia University research group brings him back into the city. Despite his recent loss in the city Detective Ziele carries on ultimately uncovering deception, blackmail, and two more murders on the way to apprehending the true culprit. The story and language are wonderful, particularly if a reader has any interest in New York City at the dawn of the 20th century. I found that the main character was likable and relate-able, a sign of the author's strength of character writing. The past he was avoiding by moving to Dobson never seemed far from his mind much like anyone who suffered a real tragedy. Ziele's skill and honesty about his errors and strengths made him a real and tangible character. I was hoping for a somewhat more twisted ending as I had assumed the true killer from the start but the story kept me involved throughout regardless. I recommend this to anyone looking for a little history and a good murder mystery.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dead Until Dark

I just buzzed through Charlaine Harris' first Sookie Stackhouse book, "Dead Until Dark." I'm not sure what I thought of the book, although it was a simple and quick read it was not quite what I expected in regards to plot. Although the Rene Lanier story line allowed for introduction of characters it seemed just too easily put together to me. I decided to read the book because I watched a few of the True Blood seasons. Which is a completely different post as I believe the show has jumped the shark. However while the book did present a different singular perspective, that of Sookie, it lacked that cool mysterious off the map Louisiana feel that True Blood used to have. If you are looking for a very quick read this may be the book for you but there are better and deeper stories out there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

What a great little story! In keeping with his previous stories Mitch Albom tells us a story with the ultimate lesson, to celebrate the life that we have and stop letting external constraints get in the way of our most valuable gift, our lives themselves. The basic story line is that Dor, our main character,invents the measurement of time in direct violation of God's will. Dor pays the ultimate price not by dying but rather by living in solitude, never aging or getting ill. He never gets hungry or thirsty, and all he can do in his solitude is listen to all the voices pleading for time in one fashion or another while failing to recognize the gift that their lives already are to them. Mitch Albom's imagination is second to none. If you've never read any of Mitch Albom's books I recommend you do.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A couple more academic books

I just finished "Soar with your strengths; a simple yet revolutionary philosophy of business and management" by Clifton & Nelson for my current course Executive Management and Leadership. While the book gave a fresh perspective on how to embrace one's strengths it seemed to lack solid data to really sway me 100%. I believe in positive psychology but this book left me wanting data to back up its various posed thoughts rather than the endless parables. The concept is great, applying strengths and managing weaknesses and paring strengths with internal and external expectations for full satisfaction in employment and in life but the book itself wasn't quite 200 pages and left me wanting content and supporting data. I also completed "Organizational Management and Leadership: A Christian Perspective" by Anita Satterlee. I found this book to be a nice simple management and leadership concepts reference with not quite enough substance. It served the course purpose well however it provides just enough reference data to inspire more questions and not quite enough road signs to find the answers. I found the glossary a little thin however the distinction between management and leadership in the book was insightful and helpful. I do recommend Clifton & Nelson, but be prepared to go looking into further works on strengths, expectations and the power of positive psychology. Satterlee works well for the Executive Management and Leadership course but again needs more substance and more glossary definitions for the non-finance or non-business minds to help figure things out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Graduate Degree

One of the reasons my posts are few and far between is of course being a Dad. Of course my day job, an hour away from home, and finally my school work. I am in my fourth course towards a Master's Degree in Management and Leadership through Liberty University and I love the coursework. However it is time consuming and limits my recreational reading. I have a stack of books to finish and I am open to suggestions as well.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

I recently finished Katherine Howe's work, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. This is a great book for anyone interested in Salem, the Witch Trials, New England history, and just a wealth of descriptions and viewpoints on women's status in pre-revolutionary America. I found the book in the bargain bin and decided it looked interesting enough, but it wasn't long till I was hooked by the wonderful descriptions of Salem Town and Salem Village and Harvard among other things. The details on life in 1692 and the various figures and events were intriguing. And the perspective of magic and witchcraft really brought home a sense of what these people faced and their mindset. The main character was easy to like, given her initially myopic view of her life in that her Doctoral studies were everything. And then she is introduced to a little intrigue, family history, love, and as such re-weights certain aspects of her life. She learns to see her mother through a different lens and comes to appreciate the unexplained and her own personal family history. This is a wonderful book in general but particularly excellent for those interested in history and New England.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


What started out as a great good verses evil human struggle story evolved into a more complex psychological and emotional action story. In the end the entire series was great and worth reading. The author, Suzanne Collins, hits on so many issues and concepts and keeps the characters moving so well and still reveals their inner battles. The main character and all those around her add depth to their story and the book(s)and truly exhibit the fact that no issue or person is black and white. These three books are a fantastic read.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Catching Fire

Just finished Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. It's the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. This book was great, as good as the first if not better. I highly recommend to anyone that wants a fun, fast paced and thought provoking read.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Hunger Games

I completed The Hunger Games and am well into Catching Fire, both by Suzanne Collins. I must say I am impressed! The Hunger Games wasn't contrived, at least in my opinion, and seemed genuine. The main character, Katniss, is flawed yet complete. Her internal struggles and external persona are both so real and intertwined I found it hard not to root for her. This book is intended for young adult readers, yet I found it was better written and paced than many adult books. The story and details within are thorough yet no overdone. Compared to another young adult sci-fi type series-into-movie (Twilight) this story isn't just some teenage girls romantic mellow drama. This has action, human emotion, detail, and realistic personalities. Unlike many books, the main protagonist learns to pity enemies and feel for them, even those she hates. This is a great read!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Alexander Cipher

I finished The Alexander Cipher, by Will Adams, a few days ago. I'm of two minds on the book. It was not a bad book at all. The story is fun, simple, and moves along at a decent pace. The characters and their connections are buttoned up nicely in the end. I suppose I'm undecided because nothing really stands out. There aren't any poor loose ends or unfinished side stories however there isn't anything that sets the story apart from others in the same genre. I do have a question as to references of disease made by the main character about a deceased character with influence over two people in the book. But that's more curiosity than anything. Overall it's a good read for a summer vacation or a rainy day. It just doesn't deliver the impact of a David Hewson or Steve Berry.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cross Border Commerce

I just finished a course on international business. The required reading,.... Cross Border Commerce by Brian Satterlee. I don't think I have ever read a textbook cover to cover. I read each chapter diligently. Lets be honest, I read it because I had to read the book. Although I did learn some from the content I found the book to be non-reinforcing. Is that a word? It is now. The primary concepts and facts the author wanted the reader to take way were not reinforced or given depth in the chapter. At the end of each chapter there were helpful review exercises however with no answer key the reader could never quite be sure they answered everything correctly. Overall, the book is a success in that it the chapters and sections are parsed well with the right coursework, thereby making complete reading a possibility. I recommend more in chapter reinforcement points, perhaps definitions in the margins of each page and insert stories that help define concepts.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Codex by Lev Grossman

I finished Codex yesterday. I kept reading because the concept of finding a book from the past had to lead to some kind of decent story, right? Wrong. Even the pseudo-romantic concept that the whole mystery was a ploy to get the main character out of his workaholic world and into a romantic relationship would have worked better than this story-line. In the end the whole plot went no where and the ending wrapped nothing and everything up. It was in a word uneventful, much like the whole book. The story essentially was meaningless and in that sense the ending justified the means. I don't recommend Codex, unfortunately, despite it's promise it simply isn't worth the time to read.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Tiger's Wife

Recently, I finished the Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. The author certainly has a way with words, that I for lack of a better way to say it, consider flowery. At times the stories within the book are addictive and her descriptions keep you coming back to see the end of the piece however at other times the descriptive nature of things were distracting. I found the concept of the Deathless Man interesting, and the mute at her grandfather's village an interesting tale. But overall I felt disappointed at the end of the book. It felt I was being lead on a journey and in the end I wasn't brought anywhere. Overall I do recommend reading the book as it is certainly a nice change from the ordinary however if your looking for a fast paced adventure or an otherworldly mystery you may be a little let down. Just my opinion.

The Lost Throne

I recently finished The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski. It was pretty good, in fact I prefer this book to the Paul Christopher Templar series by far. Although I don't believe it's quite up to Steve Berry, in my opinion, it's still a worthwhile read and I am sure to look for more in the Payne and Jones series. Despite the contrived convergence of the characters and events the story kept moving and didn't dwell on needless detail or side story. The main characters were likable and mostly believable. The book inspires more interest in Greek islands, Turkey, and the Orthodox monasteries. Overall I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an enjoyable, historical, fast paced book as a great escape from reality.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire

I have a 120 mile round trip commute to work most days and some weekends. During the ride I recently completed books 1 - 5 in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R.R. Martin. I downloaded them from I loved every minute and listening made the drive so much better. Roy Dotrice read all but the 4th, "A Feast for Crows" and was simply amazing throughout, not that John Lee's rendition was poor by any means however once you've listened to Mr Dotrice's voice and intonations you do become entranced. There are some unnecessary lengthy descriptions and some over the top sexual content throughout the series but the stories and characters are fantastic and I'm looking forward to the eventual release of the next book, "The Winds of Winter." And yes I realize its been about 7 months since the last post!