"Dammmmn, Sam." Explosive opening with a smooth finish. As remarkable as discovering a hidden safe in your house -- at first startling, followed by a"Dammmmn, Sam." Explosive opening with a smooth finish. As remarkable as discovering a hidden safe in your house -- at first startling, followed by a huge grin with no shortage of eyebrow-raising. 4/5...more
"If I could do anything... I would share the secret of life with the world. And I just figured it out a few months ago." The secret? (view spoiler)[To"If I could do anything... I would share the secret of life with the world. And I just figured it out a few months ago." The secret? (view spoiler)[To love yourself with the same intensity as if you were pulling yourself up from a cliff. (hide spoiler)] This book gives me warm fuzzies, or more accurately, has led to such feelings. There are a handful of passages which will inadvertently make you go, "Awwww." One of the exercises, for example, is so hokey that I burst out laughing in amusement -- it has you stare inches away into a mirror saying, "I love myself." "So naive," I thought. Then I turn the page and read the sweetest thing: "If anyone ever looked in your eyes, knowing that you loved them, this is what they saw." My heart melted. This book is a good bit about using psychology techniques to rewire your brain to make your neural pathways for love so strong and deep that those for fear or suffering slowly become amusing in comparison. Time will tell if it's snake oil or not and it's worth revisiting this review later down the road. For the time being, I cannot comment on its effectiveness, but the content by itself is an interesting and sentimental read you can finish over a cup of tea. A few heart-melting quotes sweetened it for me. 3.5/5...more
A deliciously addictive read. The writing has matured considerably since Frontier Justice and the quality and diversity of the situations our characteA deliciously addictive read. The writing has matured considerably since Frontier Justice and the quality and diversity of the situations our characters find themselves in is impressive, ranging from moral gray areas to (view spoiler)[cannibalism (hide spoiler)]. The plot also flows very well, especially considering that 3 storylines are simultaneously being weaved. While the Tanner storyline in the prequel felt like disruptive interludes to the main Mason storyline, it has now evolved into a full-on Last of Us-style narrative. The series maintains its sense of humor and some hilarious scenes (e.g., p.63) provide comic relief to fast-paced "Oh shit." moments (e.g., p.122).
Where Frontier Justice was a love letter to the spaghetti western, Anarchy Rising is a full-blown survival thriller. Thoroughly entertaining. 4.5/5
Judgement Day, the third book in the Survivalist series, is slated for an early 2014 release. While Anarchy Rising is enjoyable on its own and all characters are recapped, you really do need to read Frontier Justice to appreciate the back story -- Mason does not rest on his laurels and there is very little revisiting of the past....more
The Good - Bloody hell, what a climax. - Mason's knowledge, ingenuity, and preparedness is instructive and a nod to preppers everywhere. - Graphic in itsThe Good - Bloody hell, what a climax. - Mason's knowledge, ingenuity, and preparedness is instructive and a nod to preppers everywhere. - Graphic in its violence, but humorously so, a la your favorite Tarantino film. There were a couple moments where I had to put the book down: 1) (view spoiler)[zombies? really? (hide spoiler)], 2) (view spoiler)["Man, Mason's getting good at rolling bodies down that hillside." (hide spoiler)], and 3) (view spoiler)[overripe cranberry! (hide spoiler)].
The Bad - "This is a western! This is a western!" Mason exclaims as he repeatedly slams a reader's head into a register. - The Presidential chapters, where the dialogue is unrealistic and the characters are generic. - There are romantic bits. Yes, they are as cheesy as they are out of place. Yes, you will wince, probably twice.
The Ugly - The pages practically drip with testosterone; every antagonist is a huge linebacker dying (literally) to prove their machismo and those that aren't (e.g., Slim) are ridiculed. The portrayal of women as utterly weak or helpless and delegated exclusively to support roles in post-apocalyptic society will rub some readers the wrong way.
If you're looking for something serious, grab the author's survival manuals. If you're looking for a pulpy thriller about urban survival (as opposed to bushcraft or Les Stroud-type survival), then you're in for a treat. 3.5/5...more
300 pages of dog stories featuring a raucous ~100-pound Labrador retriever. The stories range from amusing (The Audition) to sad (Matters of the Heart300 pages of dog stories featuring a raucous ~100-pound Labrador retriever. The stories range from amusing (The Audition) to sad (Matters of the Heart) or cringe-worthy (A Postpartum Ultimatum). Aware that these are only 20-some anecdotes over a 13-year period, the selection will still elicit anger during moments of undeniable animal abuse and frequent lapses of judgement. "He [is] immune to pain." (view spoiler)[While it's one thing to run into walls of your own accord, it's another to be beaten without restraint. (hide spoiler)] John and Jenny need to get their shit together. And that they did, it seems, as they (view spoiler)[care for him in his old age, collectively mourn at his passing and expound the devotion of man's best friend and the simple joys of life, and how they later replace him with a doppelganger (hide spoiler)]. Wait, what.
Overall, the book is light and bittersweet, but fairly plain, like an unpainted dark chocolate M&M. 2/5
Special thanks to Jade for loaning this book....more
An eye-opening collection of wisdom for small businesses and startups. No boring essays or vapid anecdotes (e.g., Execution: Discipline of Getting ThiAn eye-opening collection of wisdom for small businesses and startups. No boring essays or vapid anecdotes (e.g., Execution: Discipline of Getting Things Done), but page after page of insight. My favorite topics: how focusing on learning from your successes is better than learning from your mistakes (p.16), how you're protecting your ego by making excuses such as "I'm too busy" or "I have no time" (p.40), and how inspiration has an expiration date (p.271). I do not agree with everything they advocate (e.g., p.202), but this is as close to a business coach or mentor as you can get from a book.
Due to the broad range of topics, the book's only downside may be perhaps in maintaining its cohesiveness. Fortunately, it's never as bad as reading a Quote of the Day book, but rather like you're picking the authors' brains over a cup of coffee, topics casually flowing from one to the next. Based on the outstanding content, though, Rework still gets my highest recommendation. 5/5...more
Contains 25 illusions ranging from lazy duds (e.g., (view spoiler)[the words "CARNAGE" or "SPIDER-MAN" (hide spoiler)]) to one or two impressive 3D moContains 25 illusions ranging from lazy duds (e.g., (view spoiler)[the words "CARNAGE" or "SPIDER-MAN" (hide spoiler)]) to one or two impressive 3D models. Unless you have difficulty seeing the illusions, the book will surprise you in its brevity. You may find yourself visiting some of the pages repeatedly, particularly the non-illusion stereogram on page 24. Nostalgic fun, like drinking a Squeezeit. 2.5/5...more
What a rush. The back-story is that you're a student living in a lunar colony on the brink of declaring independence from Earth a la "The Moon Is a HaWhat a rush. The back-story is that you're a student living in a lunar colony on the brink of declaring independence from Earth a la "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress". The paths are diverse, ranging from mechanical nightmares to the beginnings of a political space. The first fork asks whether to accept an expedition to the dark side of the moon or to play tour guide to a special group of diplomats.
On my first run through doing what I'd naturally do, I went for the expedition and ended up (view spoiler)[saving everyone on the bus from falling off the cliff side (p.28) (hide spoiler)]. On the second run through acting as tour guide, I ended up (view spoiler)[suffocating in the mines after fleeing from the assassination attempt (p.88) (hide spoiler)]. Favorite ending was when (view spoiler)[you receive all the knowledge of the ancient alien civilization, but decide not to change humanity's future (p.63) (hide spoiler)]. Nice philosophical touch.
Loved these books when I was younger and this one was so much better than expected. An hour or two of great fun. 4/5...more
Welcome to a universe obsessed with religion, gloves, and tea. Good golly, do they love their tea. A slow-building political space opera that leans slWelcome to a universe obsessed with religion, gloves, and tea. Good golly, do they love their tea. A slow-building political space opera that leans slightly to the former, the chapters alternate between Breq's past and present, slowly converging like a zipper tied to an hour hand. The persistent political discussion, while important to the plot, I found to be as enthralling as evening deliberations in the Senate -- you just want to be somewhere else (such as the next chapter). It is also at times unconvincing that so many individuals would keep bringing up the same topics (in particular, (view spoiler)[the incident at Ime (hide spoiler)]). Radch dress is discussed at length and comes off as gaudy, but the surveillance aspect of their civilization (and its acceptance) is thought-provoking due to its similarity with the technological aims of today's surveillance research (and indeed, what today's home-aware systems are already trying to become).
While epic in implied scope, the climax comes off as unsatisfying, in part due to (view spoiler)[Breq's aiding (and finally joining with) some portion of Anaander Mianaai where it was first implied she was taking the leader down completely. Shooting down clone-type bodies is very unexciting (hide spoiler)]. Regardless, Breq, One Esk, or Justice of Toren, whatever you call her, is a surprising and subtly charming character with a calculated sense of speech which is quite amusing, e.g., "Lieutenant Awn tried to relax her too-tight jaw. I could tell from the increasing tension of her facial muscles that without intervention she would soon have a headache" (p.59). Her peculiarities, admittedly, are what make the book shine, and I'm thankful the book introduced me to shape note singing. While I would not consider this book "essential for the modern science fiction fan," there's still a fun ride underneath the political drama and more so if that's your cup of tea. 3/5
Ancillary Sword, the second in the Imperial Radch series, is slated for an October 2014 release....more