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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

NC Mermania 2017

Sunday, December 4, 2016

You're A Leader, Charlie Brown

You're a Leader, Charlie BrownYou're a Leader, Charlie Brown by Carla Curtsinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a bullet point rang out!

I can imagine Snoopy being told to write a business book, and sitting on top of his doghouse writing this. I grew up with Peanuts. I've also read a lot of business books. This is the first time I've seen them together. It seems an odd combination. Charlie Brown was described as "wishy-washy" in the comics. How could he be a leader?

The book uses not only Charlie Brown, but also a lot of the other characters, such as Linus, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, even Snoopy. It is sprinkled with classic Peanuts cartoons and illustrations. There is a helpful summary of the bullet points at the end of the book. A lot of them are ones that have appeared elsewhere. Some of them are "Learn from failures." "Know what kind of leader you are." "Write in a concise but conversational style." (Although, if anyone starts any memos or reports with, "It was a dark and stormy night," they picked up the wrong message.)

It's a short read. That can actually help business readers, since they won't worry about a lot of details. I also liked the cartoons. Very enjoyable, which you rarely hear about business books.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Think Better, Live Better

Think Better, Live Better: Deleting Negative Thoughts, Labels, and AttitudesThink Better, Live Better: Deleting Negative Thoughts, Labels, and Attitudes by Joel Osteen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the latest book by Joel Osteen. For those who don't know him, he is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He took over in 1999 when his father died. In 2003, the church moved into the former Compaq Center, where the Houston Rockets of the NBA used to play basketball. His sermons are broadcast every week on various cable channels.

This book, like his others, is a collection of his sermons. This concept by itself is not new. Priests and ministers of all religions have been publishing collections of their sermons for many years. I focused on the content of the sermons. To me, they felt like something I would read in The Secret, only with Bible references. The themes are eliminate negativity, you have possibilities, good things are coming your way, God wants you to have abundance, just believe. It's good to believe all these things. It's just not enough.

First, there are some things that will never happen, no matter how much you believe. I am 52 years old with major health problems, and have never been very athletic. I will never play professional sports. The Vikings will never call me to replace someone in their starting lineup. I can believe, I can tell myself it will happen, but it's not happening. It's not meant to be. That needs to be there.

Second, there's nothing in here about taking action. For many years, I wanted to write a novel. I could think about it, I could believe, but until I sat down at my laptop and actually started writing, it wasn't going to happen. It did happen, and I published my book, Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident, late last year. The inspiration helped, but not without action.

Third, he talks about abundance. I wonder what he thinks of this Bible story. I'm paraphrasing Mark 10:17-27. A rich man went to see Jesus, and asked, "What must I do to gain eternal life?" Jesus told him, "Keep the commandments. Don't lie, don't steal, honor your father and mother." The rich man said, "I've done all these things. What more must I do?" Jesus looked at him with love and said, "Sell everything and give to the poor. Then you can follow me." The rich man walked away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven." On the one hand, Joel Osteen is saying God wants you to have abundance and be rich. On the other hand, Jesus is saying it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. How do you reconcile those two?

The book is OK as far as it goes. It's just incomplete.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Kiss That Changed Me

As two brothers reach the final phase of their plan to seize the stolen powers of a God made flesh, the Psirens lay claim to the debris of the Occulta Mirum. With this, a race against the rising blood moon begins.
As the seconds tick away, Callie and Orion must journey to the farthest corners of the earth, learning to balance devotion and duty whilst reuniting the segregated Kindred of the Circle of Eight. If this is not enough the function of the conduit is still unknown, meaning Callie and Orion must learn democratic flare in multicultural waters to convince others to risk their lives as well. With their foretold future together in the balance, their unity has never been so crucial and one’s willingness to sacrifice the other for the greater good never more necessary.
Can the journey of an immortal lifetime hold answers to salvation, or will it only bring the mer to their final resting place as their race is threatened with extinction?
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Friday, September 9, 2016

The American Girl

The American GirlThe American Girl by Kate Horsley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

This book is the story of Quinn Perkins, an American exchange student living in France in 2015. One night, she is found by some German tourists stumbling around outside after being hit by a car. She winds up in the hospital. Video of the accident goes viral on the Internet, drawing the attention of a TV reporter, Molly Swift. As the investigation unfolds, it is discovered that Quinn's host family has disappeared, with no explanation. Suspicion falls on Quinn, that she may be responsible for this. Is Quinn a victim or a villain? Or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

I don't want to give away too much, because of spoilers. It was an intriguing novel. The point of view shifts back and forth between Quinn and Molly. Early on, Molly is taken as Quinn's relative, which gives her more access to the story. Quinn's story is told in flashbacks, with a video log and her own blog. This works to add to the suspense, to keep you guessing. There are some details to keep this going. For example, Molly goes out to the house to find a creepy old caretaker out there. Part of me thought that this is how Scooby-Doo cartoons usually started. "I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!" But that was a minor distraction. All in all, this was a good book.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mystic Tides

Mystic TidesMystic Tides by C.J. Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

I've always been fascinated with mermaid stories. Most people now know the Hans Christian Andersen story The Little Mermaid, or, more precisely, the Disney version of that story. The premise of the book is that the Hans Christian Andersen story was true, and that mermaids exist. The story starts out with Aden in Alaska. He has just turned 17, and is given a necklace with a mysterious moonstone as a birthday present. He's moving to Florida, to be with his aunt and his cousin. There are quite a few people who are interested in him, and have been watching him for some time. While in Florida, he discovers some unusual powers. He also meets Kat and Kailani, twin sisters with something special. I don't want to say too much more, because of spoilers.

I thought it gave a good backstory on mermaids, and why they were the way they were. Full disclosure: I am the author of Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident, another novel about mermaids, so I know how important the backstory can be. She doesn't try to overwhelm everyone with the backstory all at once, but reveals it piece by piece as needed. I like how Aden's story (1st person) and the mermaid story (3rd person) are alternated, with Aden's story in regular type, and the mermaid story in italics. This made it easier to follow. I've read other books that don't do this, and it can be easy to get lost. I couldn't help think about Disney's version, though. In one scene, Aden picks up a crab, and part of me thought the crab would start singing "Under the Sea." In another, Aden plays his guitar and sings to Kailani. I thought for sure the song would have been "Part of Your World," which would be an ironic commentary on their situation. (Read the book to find out why.) I also felt a little bit of the Australian TV series H20: Just Add Water and Mako Mermaids. Both of these series deal with mermaids in high school. The end of the book suggests that this is the first of a series. It's like Marty McFly getting the Western Union letter that Doc Brown is alive and well in 1885. The series aspect also explains all of the exposition in this book, to avoid a lot of this later. All in all, a good book. I look forward to reading book 2.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Little Black Dress

Little Black DressLittle Black Dress by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the Bookshots series by James Patterson. Short books of less than 150 pages, priced at less than $5 each. In another world, they would be called novellas. They're designed for quick reading. You can finish it quickly.

This was the story of Jane Avery, a magazine editor who usually spends her nights alone with Netflix and Oreos. One day, she buys a little black dress. Suddenly, she releases her inner sexual desires. At first, she is somewhat reluctant, but that soon passes. This leads her in to some dangerous situations.

Obviously, this is designed for a quick read. There's not much character development, except for Jane. It seems a little unrealistic. A woman gets a black dress, and suddenly she's a nymphomaniac. I didn't buy that. Granted, an outfit can give you a different attitude. I feel different in a suit than I do in a t-shirt and shorts, but it's not that dramatic.

I picked this edition up at Target. The Target edition had an epilogue just for this edition. It felt tacked on, like it wasn't part of the story. This may be so that non-Target readers wouldn't feel too left out.

I think this is a good concept for a series. Shorter books might encourage more people to read. You also have to tighten up the plotline. I just think this book had some shortcomings to it.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Army of the Winter Court

Army of the Winter CourtArmy of the Winter Court by Ali Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Army of the Winter Court is about a battle between Aurelian and Nolan for control of the Winter Court. Their sister, Lilith, has set rules so that neither one will have an unfair advantage.

Evvie is a college student who meets a man named Ian. After one date with him, she suddenly feels strange. She takes a skeleton key and unlocks the door to another world, where she is the prize in the battle between Aurelian and Nolan.

This is a novella, not a full length book, so the story moves along quickly. I won't say too much more about the story, to avoid plot spoilers. I thought it was a good story. I wanted more development, but that's not in a novella. The author focuses on the 4 main characters, which is good for a novella. Too many cooks spoil the broth. When they mentioned it was winter all the time, I couldn't help but think of Frozen. Granted, there was no talking snowman named Olaf. but there were some similarities, especially compared to The Snow Queen, which is the original tale on which Frozen is based. Again, I can't say too much because of spoilers.

This is part of the Skeleton Key series. I look forward to reading other books in the series.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

New Goodreads giveaway for Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Operation Mermaid by Joseph McGarry

Operation Mermaid

by Joseph McGarry

Giveaway ends July 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway