Extremely simplistic (and in one of those dreaded parable formats with cheesy dialogue), but the basics are worthwhile. The moral of the story is thisExtremely simplistic (and in one of those dreaded parable formats with cheesy dialogue), but the basics are worthwhile. The moral of the story is this: to be a good manager, do 3 things:
1. Have your people (and you) create written goals for what they want to accomplish 2. Give small praises for good performance along the way 3. Give immediate feedback when people screw up.
#3 made me uncomfortable, because the language is "the one-minute reprimand". I'm not a child--I don't need reprimanding. If I try something and it doesn't work, give me feedback. But "reprimand" rubbed me the wrong way. Overall it felt very patriarchal (and it is 30 years old), but the basic theories of letting everyone know your expectations, giving positive and negative feedback immediately, and writing down goals so everyone (manager and direct report) is on the same page is great, intuitive (but not often used) advice. Good principles, cheesy delivery. ...more
**spoiler alert** I couldn't put this down...but that's necessarily to say that I thought it was one of Robotham's best. I'll give him this--he's grea**spoiler alert** I couldn't put this down...but that's necessarily to say that I thought it was one of Robotham's best. I'll give him this--he's great at writing a compelling suspense novel (although I still missed his books with Dr. Joe O'Laughlin--he's the best!), but the characters were muddier. Audie is just too saintly to be believed. He's in prison 10 years, they think he stole millions of dollars in a robbery gone wrong (so everyone and anyone beats on him to make him give up the money), but he stays Christ-like is his ability to be unbowed...for a reason that is explained at the end, but just didn't work for me unless you believe his absolute and unswavering devotion to the lovely (but kind of morose and tortured) Belita. I just had a hard time believing Audie wouldn't crack in prison, and I didn't see that being possible (and frankly didn't see a lot of his bad side--he was mostly heroic throughout). And then the Sheriff character--I couldn't get a bead on him. So...he's evil? But had good intentions? But not really? But he's trying to be a good family man? But not really? I felt Robotham didn't know how to sketch him. He had a lot of characters, a lot of moving parts, so some of their motivations didn't come through. Mostly I felt the final act to be unfocused...what was Audie going to do once he escaped from prison? His plan was muddled and I think Robotham's was too. I wasn't sure about the grand plan of the escape, and Audie's ideas felt half-baked (which, in all fairness...Audie kind of acknowledged. How very meta, Robotham!)
Did I enjoy it, and was it hard to put down? Definitely. But I kind of missed Dr. Joe--I appreciated the psychological suspense that character brought to the story....more
I, uh...yeah--I finished this book in one sitting. That's pretty unusual for me. I don't think I ask too much of my books--regardless of their contentI, uh...yeah--I finished this book in one sitting. That's pretty unusual for me. I don't think I ask too much of my books--regardless of their content, I want them to be engaging. And this book was COMPLETELY engaging. I saw it on the homepage of my Kindle, and while I'm usually skeptical about those (I have no idea how they get on the homepage, but usually I've never heard of the author), but the description so captured me that I decided to purchase it (and the low price didn't hurt!)--a lowlife gets into a wreck, discovers a bagful of money ($350K to be exact), and before he can leave town, hears a ringing phone, answers it, and finds out the money is for a ransomed 6-year old who just wants her daddy to bring her home. Come on--that's a great premise! And Hankins got me from the get go and didn't let me go. The interesting things about his protagonist, Stokes, is that he's a piece of work. Not evil, just a piece of work. And he doesn't stray from that fact (and neither does his writer). He's used to being screwed over, screwing people over, and doing bad (but not usually violent) things. So Stokes spends the entire story asking himself why he's bothering to help a little girl he's never met when he could take the money he found and run. But he doesn't. And the plotting and pacing just didn't let up as Stokes tries to get this girl back. I guessed one plot point at the very beginning, but I enjoyed knowing Stokes had to get from Point A to Point G, and watching him go through B-C-D-E and F to get there. I was pleasantly surprised by a variety of plot points, including the ending--it wasn't as neat and tidy as these kinds of books usually are--and how enjoyable the mangy cast of characters were. But this is Stokes's story, piece of garbage that he is, and hanging out with him for 24 frantic hours of his life was simply a lot of fun (if "fun" is the right adjective for a kidnapping story involving missing fingers, psychopathic sons, a few murders, and a few more attempted killings). Highly entertaining. I'm going back for Brothers and Bones next!...more
Hallelujah! I finally finished a book--it feels like the first one in MONTHS. Victory in our time!
I'll give more thoughts after book club Thursday, buHallelujah! I finally finished a book--it feels like the first one in MONTHS. Victory in our time!
I'll give more thoughts after book club Thursday, but I seriously liked this book. I was going to go with 5 stars, but I had a few issues with some of the plot points, so it's down to 4. But the writing was beautiful, the characters' stories all came together in a very satisfying way, and it wasn't predictable (at all--I really don't enjoy dystopian fiction, but this subverted my expectations). I really enjoyed reading it, so that's something worth celebrating....more
I'm always wary of Christian books as popular as this one--often they're treacly, poorly written, or a bad combination of both. But this book REALLY mI'm always wary of Christian books as popular as this one--often they're treacly, poorly written, or a bad combination of both. But this book REALLY moved me, in a way that surprised me, and I think I know a couple of reasons why. One, the story alternates between the lives of the two people involved in it, giving full voice to Denver Moore, a homeless black man who was basically a sharecropping slave until his mid-20s when he hopped a train to California and eventually ended up in Texas. Often stories like these have some white person telling Denver's story, or talking about their interactions with Denver, without hearing his voice in the room. That was powerful (and told in his natural dialect as well). 2nd, Ron Hall is kind of a sexist entitled rich white guy, but one who expresses his prejudices and entitlement in a way that I could understand. I think he stands in for many people who want to be helpful, but often come across as judgmental, uncomfortable, or that they're trying to "fix" those who they're helping. Having the two men share their stories, explain how they got to the place where they met and developed a friendship, and how that friendship changed both of them, was, well--powerful. That's the best word I can use. I think also having Ron's wife be the go between, of sorts, between Ron and Denver moved away from the tone of "white guilt" that this story could have had. And then there was an entire story revolving around cancer, and I just cried a lot. Since reading it, I've been thinking about it a lot--always a good thing for a book to do....more
I really, really loved this. Kondo is a little kooky (I think even she might admit that), and definitely obsessed with tidyness, but she had some realI really, really loved this. Kondo is a little kooky (I think even she might admit that), and definitely obsessed with tidyness, but she had some really great ideas and I just want to put them into practice RIGHT NOW. I read a variety of feng shui/organization/decluttering books/websites regularly, but she said things I hadn't seen before.
1. Don't do a little at a time. Do it all at once (even if it takes 6 months, don't repeat yourself).
2. DON'T SORT BY AREA. Sort by category. Not "the kitchen, the master closet, the bathroom", but clothes, shoes, books, kitchen stuff, miscellany (she has an order...I'm pretty close with this list).
3. Take out EVERYTHING in a category, pile it on the floor, and TOUCH IT. Touch everything. Touch it and see how it makes you feel. She made an interesting distinction between throwing things away and deciding what to keep. The latter is much more positive. So when deciding what to keep, touch it and see what emotional reaction you have to it. If it's not joy (or exist for sheer purpose, like your car title), get rid of it. That seems so obvious, but I have held on to books (she says this is normal) for years because I think I'll read them, but in my heart I don't really care about them that much. Or clothes (and I'm wearing a sweater as we speak) that make me self-conscious because they either don't fit right, or I SHOULD like them but I don't, or I paid a lot of money for them, etc. I have a pair of black heels that I dread putting on because they always slip off my feet. Always! They need to go!
Kondo believes that once you do this entire process, you won't have to do it again. You'll KNOW what speaks to you and what you really want to own. You'll appreciate what you have because everything you own is exactly perfect and not too much. And you won't shop/purchase mindlessly because you won't really want to. You'll be more aware of how you really feel about something and whether it belongs in your home or not. And best of all, everything will have a place to go because you put it there consciously. She also believes that things want to be useful, to be used. If you're not using something, it's not living out its purpose, so give it away to someone else. Or maybe it's already lived out its purpose (a greeting card, a broken coffee machine), so let it go. Not everything is meant forever--just like people. And you can't do this for others, just yourself because everything is personal to you. I don't know, it just moved me. Your stuff is a composite of your life, and says things about you. I think my life will be quite transitional this year...do I want to haul things around to new places that I don't even like? Do I want to merge with someone else's stuff when some of mine doesn't matter to me? No! I want to feel joy from my things. I really want to get started...I just need a little time to do so!...more
Oh, wow. Pick this up IMMEDIATELY. No seriously--go buy it on Amazon. Don't wait for the library! It's THAT good. I read this review in EW, and it wasOh, wow. Pick this up IMMEDIATELY. No seriously--go buy it on Amazon. Don't wait for the library! It's THAT good. I read this review in EW, and it was very complimentary, and then I saw a flurry of reviews that said it was fantastic, so I had to get it. They did not lie. It's a mixture of Gone Girl, Rear Window, The House of Sand and Fog, and...it'll come to me. But I simply couldn't put it down.
Rachel, a complete sad sack, rides the train to and from London every day. The train always stops on the tracks right at the house she used to live in, before discovering her husband cheated on her, two years ago. He now lives there with his new wife, Anna, and four doors down live a young couple that fascinate Rachel, even though she's never met them. They are beautiful, happy (per Rachel), and successful--everything Rachel is not, and she has an entire narrative about their lives, their happiness, and their place in the world. They are everything she wished she and her husband could've been.
When she sees something suspect occur, she gets involved in their life in a way she shouldn't, and the whole thing is so twisty and fascinating, it's hard to describe. The book follows Rachel, her ex's new wife Anna, and the young female neighbor Megan. Rachel is the most fleshed out storyline, and Hawkins did an exceptional job writing her. She's a hot mess, an alcoholic, a liar (to herself and others), and not terribly sympathetic, but I still wanted her to be ok. Hawkins also does a terrific job weaving these three stories together, and the book itself is a meditation on memory, honesty, truth (is it relative?) and the high expectations of being a woman in this current culture (pretty, thin, put together, and domestic). Rachel was SUCH a mess, that even when she was trying to pull it together, no one really believed her. The book is wrapped around a mystery that gets solved at the end, and the "bad" character who's revealed at the finale has a big speech that's a little too on the nose, but I'll forgive it for everything else leading up to it. SO GOOD. Really tricky and fantastically plotted....more
4.5 stars, but I had a few issues with some of the plot points, so I'm rounding down. Atkinson is such a clever writer. I'm rereading Case Histories w4.5 stars, but I had a few issues with some of the plot points, so I'm rounding down. Atkinson is such a clever writer. I'm rereading Case Histories which I read many years ago (but don't remember) and there are similar elements in that book that she repeats/improves in Life After Life. Her ability to weave her characters and story bits into multiple timelines is impressive, and in fact I had to flip back to some of Ursula's "earlier" lives because I'd missed something (I'd definitely recommend this on print versus an e-book). This book is pretty hard to spoil--Ursula is basically reincarnated over and over again as her life happens mainly between WWI and WWII in rural England. She dies numerous ways at different ages, and each time she starts over, she has a glimpse of de ja vu that she's been in that situation before, and sometimes it's enough to avoid that certain death and sometimes not (falling off the roof; succumbing to the Spanish flu; getting shot after killing Hitler, which opens the book, etc.) Atkinson's gift isn't this party trick--it's making her characters real, flawed, and interesting while keeping these various stories of Ursula's lives flowing seamlessly (and still making sense--not an easy thing to do).
At about 200 pages into it (which yes, is a while to stick with a book before it picks up the pacing), I really empathized with Ursula and was fascinated by the situations she found herself in--marrying someone she didn't know and seeing what he turned into to, being part of a rescue squad in the Blitz, finding herself in Germany before WWII erupts, making an impossible choice with her sick daughter--in different versions of her many lives. I always adored the movie "Sliding Doors" because the concept is so fascinating to me--if Ursula made a different choice (kissing that boy, getting on that train, not going to London when the War ended), her entire future changes. How would our lives have changed with a tiny different decision that we might have made? It's a fascinating premise for a book. My biggest complaint is as much as I liked Ursula, I didn't feel that the plot really affected me, like her being in wartime. Awful things happened to her, but I didn't necessarily FEEL them. Not sure if that's Atkinson's writing style or not, but I wanted to be drawn in more. But her writing is impeccable. She deserves all the kudos for this interesting, unique, and well written book....more
Not what I was expecting, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was structured differently than most romance books. The romantic conflict happened throughoutNot what I was expecting, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was structured differently than most romance books. The romantic conflict happened throughout the book, and the reconciliation didn't happen until the end with lots of dancing around the attraction of the two leads--would he leave to sail around the world? Would he marry her? Who did she write that letter to? I was expecting a more straight-up Beauty and the Beast tale (and also it also initially reminded me of Kathleen Woodiwiss's A Rose in Winter, just less dense), and while this was not that, it still kept my attention with two interesting leads--a reclusive scientist and a painter--that made it work. My biggest issue was that there was too much modern language/phrasing/characterization. And maybe that's wishful thinking on the author's part, to make the heroine a (successful) painting feminist, but it took me out of the story a bit. But overall I enjoyed it and think the author has promise.
...but I never need to hear the word "hoyden" again. I'm good, thanks....more
Wow--a simple but incredibly challenging book about loving reality. I heard about Byron Katie through Lissa Rankin, who wrote Mind Over Medicine: ScieWow--a simple but incredibly challenging book about loving reality. I heard about Byron Katie through Lissa Rankin, who wrote Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, and was so intrigued by the concept of "The Work" that I picked this up from the library. The Work is:
"Judge your neighbor, write it down, Ask four questions, Turn it around", and the four questions are:
1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.) 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought?
Whenever we are unhappy with the way things are, or how someone treats us, and how unfair things are, do The Work. It's simple, but the stories we tell ourselves are so deep and complex, and it can be so challenging to take responsibility for our part in our stories (and a situation), that The Work is really tough. Unraveling the thoughts that lead us to continue suffering is TOUGH. We've all been there. Thoughts like: Why doesn't he love me? Why is she so messy? Why does that coworker continue to annoy the crud out of me? He's responsible for my unhappiness--why does he keep doing that? Anytime we're unhappy about the way things actually are, Katie wants us to do The Work. The book is organized in an interesting way, because it's mostly a series of scenarios between Katie and someone from the audience (she does this in large groups) has a dialogue with her that's transcribed in the book. I tried to play Katie in my head and see how I would steer the conversation or what questions I would ask, but I get caught up in my OWN story about OTHER PEOPLE'S story, and I didn't always have the skills to know where to go. It's like coaching on speed.
You can Youtube "Byron Katie the work" the see some examples from Katie's account--it's pretty incredible stuff--very powerful, very difficult for the participant (often lots of tears). But she really gets it, and the point is by doing The Work, you can release yourself from suffering because you're not expecting things or people to be anything other than what/who they are, even if that's unpleasant. She also discusses boundaries: your business, their business, and God's business ("God" being nature/the weather/etc.) Stick to your business. let them do their business. Don't get in their business. She's tough, but compassionate, and what she promises is by doing the work, you can free yourself.
I'm still not sure how The Work looks with someone who's been raped, or a victim or war, or a veteran suffering from PTSD--it's too layered for me to dig that deep. But I trust Katie to know, and for all of us to get better at our own inquiry with more practice. Pretty incredible....more
I love Kidd's writing, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this, but by how MUCH I enjoyed it. I loved that it was based on historical fact--about twI love Kidd's writing, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this, but by how MUCH I enjoyed it. I loved that it was based on historical fact--about two abolitionist and suffragette sisters from Charleston, SC before the Civil War. I love that Kidd alternated between the oldest sister and her slave "gift" Handful. I loved how colorful the setting was, and how well drawn the main characters were (and a few supporting characters as well). I found the story very satisfying without tying everything up in a happy bow at the end. Handful was tough as nails and smart; her mother Charlotte was bold, brash, and brave who understood the consequences for some of her actions (as stupid as they might have seemed); Sarah Grimke has to make hard choices all throughout the book and makes sacrifices to become the person she was meant to be; the Mother Grimke was awful--but not so different from many other Southern slave-owning matriarchs in the Antebellum south. I just enjoyed the story so much, I wasn't looking forward to it ending. Beautifully written, as usual, and captivating (and not particularly predictable, which is a welcome change!)...more
This book supremely bothered me, and I'm sure that was intentional by the author. Fowler has a very odd writing style--very conversational, pretty disThis book supremely bothered me, and I'm sure that was intentional by the author. Fowler has a very odd writing style--very conversational, pretty disjointed, with lots of asides to you the reader--and it worked in the context of this story as she's trying to ease you into the effed-upness of this tale (yes, that's a word). But the story itself was just so...upsetting. There's no spoiler here--a girl is raised from infancy with a monkey as her sister by her psychologist father (anything the chimp, Fern, is allowed to do, the human, Rosemary, is allowed to do) until the chimp is mysteriously taken away at 5. Rosemary feels like she lost a twin, and that she's responsible but she doesn't know why (the family doesn't talk about it) and it's completely screwed her up. I can't say the book wasn't well written (it was nominated for Man Booker, which I thought was a little overkill, but it's been well established I have bad taste), but I just did not enjoy it. I know Fowler is making a statement about animal testing and animal psychology--but seriously, who raises their kid alongside a chimp (and apparently the scientist Winthrop Kellogg did it in the 30s) and thinks this is a good idea? What do you think that's going to do to the kid, and indeed the entire family dynamic? I just couldn't get past that. Unsettling....more
Frustrating. After enjoying his first Scudder book so much, I probably shouldn't have jumped straight to his last book (#17, written about 30 years laFrustrating. After enjoying his first Scudder book so much, I probably shouldn't have jumped straight to his last book (#17, written about 30 years later), but it was the only one available at my library branch. That'll show me. I waffled between 2.5 and 3 stars, but it ended ok, so I gave it 3. I'm not sure what hit me the wrong way, but I think it's because the dialogue was off. Not Scudder's, because he doesn't talk much. But the people he spoke to had a rhythm that felt unnecessary (they all talked too much and in this weird jokey way) and unrealistic, and most of the characters sounded the same--they had the same patter. It just felt off to me. I like that Scudder is flawed, and in this book he's exploring his sobriety in AA after years of drinking, casual sex, and blackouts (he's still dabbling a little in the casual sex). Combining his AA with a murder mystery seemed a little convenient for me, but I guess it tied two plots together. I just wasn't that engaged by the mystery, and the dialogue irritated. I'll go back and read #2 to see if it's just a been-writing-this-character-too-long thing. I was just expecting more....more
Whoa...Block, you're dark. But not in that "torture porn" way, just in an incredibly world-weary way that feels like Block the writer used to be a copWhoa...Block, you're dark. But not in that "torture porn" way, just in an incredibly world-weary way that feels like Block the writer used to be a cop. He knows a lot about that world.
I heard about Block from the new Liam Neeson movie that's coming out, and is part of the Matt Scudder series. I explored book 1 in the series, was intrigued by the premise, the cost (hey, $4.99 kindle!) and the positive reviews. Now I'm kinda hooked on the series. I think this was written in the 70s, and the setting was in 1974 (so it's not "historical")-- that was kind of wild. Paying $400 for an apartment was apparently hella expensive back then. But the plot was tight, Scudder is a fascinating character (he reminded me a little of JK Rowling's PI character Cormorants Strike from her Robert Galbraith books), and I ripped through it in about 3 hours. Block knows how the police work, how the game is played, and he doesn't mind Scudder having some dirt and grime to him. I figured out the killer about halfway through (it's not too difficult if you look closely), but the story really hung together. Dark but not disturbing, which is my kind of cop story. Well done....more