Vineet Singh Hukmani builds his short story collection Nine around his songwriting output over the past year. It’s been a banner year for the Indian sVineet Singh Hukmani builds his short story collection Nine around his songwriting output over the past year. It’s been a banner year for the Indian singer/songwriter and, despite being several months into 2022, it feels like he’s closing a specific chapter in his musical career with this book. It likely points the way toward Vineet’s future and, if so, the skyline ahead is bright indeed.
Each of the book’s nine stories uses his song of the same name as its jumping-off point. They are not arranged in any discernible order, akin to an album, but coherence emerges from the running order, intended or otherwise. One quality about Vineet’s writing that steps out loud and clear from each story is his penchant and gift for depicting action.
His sense of craft in songwriting translates well into prose. “Nine”, the opening story, introduces readers to his style. Vineet’s prose isn’t given to long-winded interior reflections from its characters and, instead, prioritizes the story above all else. “Nine” is a particularly urgent tale brimming with desperate characters and he portrays their interactions and motivations with palpable urgency.
“Dreaming Out Loud” adds a science fiction element to Vineet’s storytelling. A common theme running through his stories is seemingly ordinary people being placed in extraordinary circumstances. His protagonists, ultimately, discover their own extraordinary qualities while responding to the moment. “Dreaming Out Loud” will be a specific favorite for many.
He moves into a fantasy vein for the story “Turning Back Time”. This story about a man who prefers living in his memories through a new device and the off the wall situations resulting from friends and family attempting to bring him back to reality has a thin though intriguing premise. There’s still the same vibrant and optimistic spirit permeating “Turning Back Time” and Vineet ends it on an optimistic note.
Vineet understands fantasy’s appeal in these perilous times and “Hurry” is another story with an imaginative premise. Technology plays an important role in many of Nine’s stories, and they often find his protagonists at odds with its power over their lives. Humanity ultimately wins out, however, and Vineet’s characters are as vigorous as ever.
There is an unpolished quality to the stories, that’s true; this is the first collection Vineet has published. It’s never amateurish, however. “So New”, for instance, is an example of his writing tackling substantive themes while still entertaining readers. Some literary debuts might find the author approaching themes with a cudgel instead of a lighter touch, but he spares us such fates. “So New” weaves its themes into the story’s action centered on a psychology student who utilizes social media algorithms to manipulate a friend’s behavior and it’s one of the book’s best tales.
The subject of precognitive premonition is an important part of the story “I Pray” and this continued use of popular devices and genres doesn’t run any risk of wearying readers. Vineet generates tremendous suspense in this story built around a child aboard a breakthrough aircraft who foresees looming disaster and spiraling from there. Characterizations are sketched out rather than belabored. These are only a few highlights from the collection; the accompanying stories for each of the other songs measure up and provide abundant entertainment. The multimedia experience of Vineet’s talents isn’t an one-off. Everything about him says this is an artist destined to be with us for decades to come. ...more
This book won't have to be written again. Beevor's account of Berlin's fall is riveting, comprehensive, and even-handed. It's a model of historical coThis book won't have to be written again. Beevor's account of Berlin's fall is riveting, comprehensive, and even-handed. It's a model of historical condensation; a lesser writer would take many more pages to accomplish what Beevor does in a relatively compressed narrative. The secret is a prose style that focuses on significant detail and avoids needless digression or sideshow. ...more
The Suicide Run will be invaluable for some readers. It will work as a poignant coda to William Styron's output that, at its best, reminds us of his cThe Suicide Run will be invaluable for some readers. It will work as a poignant coda to William Styron's output that, at its best, reminds us of his considerable powers. Many posthumous collections cull their selections from a long period of the author's life and, as a result, are sometimes chaotic reading experiences. Style and thematic concerns can transform over time, talent can deepen, and the lack of any overall design for a collection can be its death knell.
The composition of these stories spans the bulk of Styron's life yet avoids many such pitfalls. Longtime readers will likely agree Styron was a savant of style and his rich, rolling sentences and literate yet accessible lyricism found their footing from the start. Styron's first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, remains a breathtaking debut. His gift for subtly varying his narrative voice without veering too far afield is evident in each story.
He has a tendency for chasing his own tail with digressions. "Marriott, the Marine" is a good example as Styron arguably tries telling too many stories and dilutes its impact. "My Father's House", composed in the wake of fame following Sophie's Choice and nearing the first breakdown that produced Darkness Visible, labors under the same burden, but Styron allows himself a much larger canvas here and deleterious effects aren't as noticeable. It is the strongest story included in The Suicide Run.
The final story "Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco" isn't a disaster, even a diminished Styron is too good for that, but this late piece from 1995 is far more vignette than story. Its inclusion does not enhance the collection and feels perfunctory. The Suicide Run is a lesser entry in Styron's oeuvre but gives readers a priceless understanding of the forces that shaped him as an author and a human being. ...more
Where to begin? Ford's eye for detail, hardscrabble or otherwise, is breathtaking. There's scarcely a thing his people say or do that isn't somehow reWhere to begin? Ford's eye for detail, hardscrabble or otherwise, is breathtaking. There's scarcely a thing his people say or do that isn't somehow revealing of character; even the smallest gestures take on unexpected significance in the end. Masterful, particularly the title story. ...more
Offill has a distinctive voice. It's what captured me from the outset. If you are a reader who needs to come away from a novel having nothing but goodOffill has a distinctive voice. It's what captured me from the outset. If you are a reader who needs to come away from a novel having nothing but good thoughts about the protagonist, this isn't the book for you. Life is messy. Offill's narrator comes off sometimes like daily life is much more of an emotional tightrope walk than it is for most, but Offill renders each of the novel's characters with a steady hand and focusing on illuminating details. Books are filled with choices for their authors and Offill makes interesting ones.
I may revisit this review and add more. It's an interesting novel and warrants re-reading. ...more
The journey of Eastern spirituality into the mainstream of Western life has been documented, directly and otherwise, by countless pundits and writers.The journey of Eastern spirituality into the mainstream of Western life has been documented, directly and otherwise, by countless pundits and writers. It has worn many faces and undergone several evolutions. Some pivotal “movements” in particular, such as several Beat Generation writers “converting” to Buddhism or Alan Watts’ writing on the subject, are familiar to most. Another pivotal moment came with the rise of the Mindfulness movement which has permeated many levels of society. Practitioners are scattered across the world.
Author Ora Nadrich is one of the biggest names promoting the practice. Her latest book "Mindfulness & Mysticism: Connecting Present Moment Awareness with Higher States of Consciousness" is her fourth book on the subject and delves deep into one of modern spirituality/philosophy’s most popular concepts. Nadrich’s exploration of our relationship with higher consciousness leaves no stone unturned, her inquiry is exhaustive without ever being exhausting, and the writing is invigorating from beginning to end.
There isn’t much in the way of visual material. The book has some supplementary content supporting the text and lovely artwork included as well. Nadrich, however, relies on her writing and the power of her ideas to carry the day. It’s a wise decision. She approaches the material with wide-ranging scope. An artistic sensibility drives much of the text alongside a rigorous intelligence that never reaches shallow, short-cut conclusions.
Thirty-five chapters may seem like a lot, but Nadrich has a talent for condensing her ideas into digestible chunks. There’s no overkill. Her philosophical, religious, and artistic influences are synthesized with personal experience in a style no other writer can claim. It has self-assurance, as well, backing every chapter. She never comes across as strident, however, and the personable and loose-limbed tone of the text will appeal to many readers. You like her immediately and want to keep reading on.
It unfolds in a natural way. There is a clear structure underlying "Mindfulness & Mysticism" but it never seems like clockwork. It reads as an organic work instead of planned out. There are times reading the book that it feels like a memoir of sorts, but it never gets in the way of its other substantive content. It’s a pleasure hearing Nadrich riff, however, on how she relates to the world. "Mindfulness & Mysticism", like many works of this ilk, says as much about its author as it does its subject. It’s an often rewarding look within.
"Mindfulness & Mysticism: Connecting Present Moment Awareness with Higher States of Consciousness" deserves consideration as one of the best works on this subject in recent years. Ora Nadrich is one of the most important contributors to this school of thought and shows no signs of slowing down. Her eternally youthful exploratory spirit will never rest and the yearning to grow, push into the future, and connect with life is omnipresent throughout this book. It will cast a spell over many readers and it’s the sort of book you start anywhere and get something from the experience.
Johnson goes out on a high note. It's a thoughtful, well-written, and emotionally affecting voyage throughout. None of the stories are duds though theJohnson goes out on a high note. It's a thoughtful, well-written, and emotionally affecting voyage throughout. None of the stories are duds though the first, "Triumph over the Grave", and "Strangler Bob" are its best moments. ...more
Author and sociologist Sabbithry Persad faces a familiar dilemma with her book "What Is Coronavirus? How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay SAuthor and sociologist Sabbithry Persad faces a familiar dilemma with her book "What Is Coronavirus? How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay Safe" – explicating the seemingly inexplicable. Her mission, more specifically, is to explain coronavirus to children, how its contracted, how to deal with it, despite the steep learning curve the virus imposes on us all.
She isn’t a novice. Her creation of the Garbology Kids waste management series for children establishes a proven track record for this work. Introducing children to adult concepts in an enlightening and non-threatening way is a skill we don’t place a high premium on in our society; Persad possesses this rare gift.
Persad wisely observes some time-tested rules. She keeps the book brief. Tailoring its length to the limited attention span of its target audience is essential for its success and Persad makes several smart decisions about her focus that pay off for readers. The prose maintains a conversational air and she limits her vocabulary without ever dumbing down the subject matter.
The colorful presentation makes it even more digestible. It isn’t gaudy by any measure, but Persad understands her likely readers will appreciate an eye-catching product rather than one reliant on text alone. It doesn’t cheapen the subject’s seriousness. Instead, the book’s visual aspects enrich the reading experience without diminishing its informative value.
It has the necessary urgency. There’s an underlying seriousness in the book appropriate for its audience and this is one of the areas where Persad shines brightest. Her intuitive skill for achieving the right tone helps "What Is Coronavirus?" stand out and betters its chances of making a genuine impact on readers.
She takes on a heavy load bearing responsibility for both the written and illustrated portions of the book. The former is a model of objective writing; Persad prizes supportable data rather than opinion. This, however, is where the book runs into potential issues. Some readers, even adults, will stumble over many of the names and medical terminology – for instance, reverse transcriptase viruses, gapped +/-dsDNA-RT, etc. Perhaps such stumbles are unavoidable considering the subject matter. Many will, however, crave a more digestible method for conveying such information.
You cannot help but applaud her illustrations. They are lush without ever appearing overwrought. She favors a realistic portrayal of facial features, bodies, and so forth fitting for the book’s purpose. Another strong suit is how Persad places coronavirus in its proper context with other pandemics and viruses humankind has suffered from over the centuries.
Her decision to avoid any political agenda is welcome. The politicization of human life over the last eighteen plus months has left lasting scars on the social order and Persad doesn’t inflict any additional injuries. "What Is Coronavirus? How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay Safe", instead, tries filling the continuing and ever-growing information gap wreaking as much damage as anything else during this period. The fact that it does so in an eye-pleasing, polished, and condensed manner is a bonus for us all. ...more
Dr. Toby A. Travis’ book is far more than extended promotion for his TrustED methodology. His prescription for improving schools places enormous imporDr. Toby A. Travis’ book is far more than extended promotion for his TrustED methodology. His prescription for improving schools places enormous importance on leadership development and "TrustED – The Bridge to School Improvement" is, likewise, a testament of faith. Few, regardless of their political stance, would argue that American schools are more fractious than ever before but where Travis and others may differ is the former hasn’t abandoned all hope. In the end, whatever you may think of his ideas, Travis communicates his passionate concern for our educational experiences throughout "TrustED".
The same systematic approach fueling Travis’ program informs the book’s structure. He develops his ideas over nine chapters revealing his detailed path toward school improvement. Mixing objective and subjective observations are a key component of the book’s success – Travis can give you well-reasoned and academically supported reasons for pursuing the TrustED program, but they are supported, as well, by his application of personal experience. He breaks his examination of the subject up into individual sections within each chapter that transition well from one topic to the next.
It is far from a choppy and/or disjointed reading experience. Even a brief examination of his TrustED program shows Travis has worked hard establishing a working language for the program, concepts, and how to use it for many years before composing this text. "TrustED", consequently, has a sleek and focused presentation. You’ll find little evidence of the stereotypical from this author. Anyone expecting Travis’ writing to suffer from academic excesses like colorless prose or ornate language will be relieved. His ease with the material is obvious early and his conversational tone will appeal to many readers.
The book has a minimalist look. If you are expecting an assortment of visual aids accompanying the prose, look elsewhere. His writing carries the day for "TrustED" and his only concession to “eye candy” opens each chapter. The book is, perhaps, longer than some readers might expect, but Travis' relaxed writing should mitigate any issues readers may have with its page count. There’s no bloat weighing down "TrustED".
It is, instead, a complete work attempting to cover all relevant bases. It isn't exhaustive. Travis, without question, makes a convincing case for how his program provides modern education with one of its most promising regimens for improvement in decades. We need it more than ever, no matter what side of the ideological fence you fall on, and Travis likewise conveys a sincere and non-dogmatic passion for improving this key part of our society. Sympathetic readers will likely fall into the category who, like myself, believe our school years, along with our parental relationships, form the bedrock of our lives. It is crucial we support them thoughtfully and enthusiastically.
It’s never a strident nor preachy volume. Travis has missionary zeal, there’s no doubt of that, but it’s conspiratorial rather than adversarial – he wants to enlist you in this movement rather than belaboring why you are wrong for not yet swearing allegiance. Dr. Toby A. Travis’ "TrustED – The Bridge to School Improvement" is the definitive roadmap for his program and will remain relevant for many years to come....more
It is obvious Richard Vague believes, with good reason, that the history of American business reveals much about our national journey. The confluence It is obvious Richard Vague believes, with good reason, that the history of American business reveals much about our national journey. The confluence of capitalism, human nature, and democracy has and continues powering one of the wealthiest civilizations in the history of the species. Including photographs, artwork, and other informative and eye-catching graphics throughout "An Illustrated Business History of the United States" further underlines the dramatic trajectory American business has taken.
Vague’s wealth of professional experience informs his observations. The current Pennsylvania Banking and Securities Secretary has occupied several other high-profile roles such as chairperson for The Governor’s Woods Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization, as well as co-founding two successful businesses. He matches his subject matter with vigorous writing that attempts to capture each significant turn, the circumstances birthing that moment, and providing appropriate context. Some may think this book has the feel of a textbook but Vague’s writing saves it from being a staid reading experience. His lively prose, thorough research, and polished presentation come together to ensure many readers will return often to this book.
He tells the history in a linear fashion. It spans fourteen chapters condensing the evolution of American business periods that ring true with the historical record. Vague never adopts a strident position; his writing, however lively, has a contrasting dispassionate point of view. He isn’t any sort of academic by training and this background has a profound effect on the book. It fuels his erudite yet conversational tone, takes stands, and draws conclusions without ever browbeating readers with his reasoning.
Vague’s masterful handling of the illustrations is one of its greatest strengths, but it's his selections that show the highest degree of discernment. He shows exceptional care making choices for this book rather than relying on the same pictures in other books. The blocks of text scattered through the book, often either lists or other informative sidebars, are balanced well with other facets of the book. The illustrations, overall, never dominate the book.
His writing leads the way. Richard Vague’s intent is writing a definitive chronicle of the businesses who helped build America and, without even a sliver of pretension, he succeeds. You cannot say, reading this book, that he wrote it with potential academic use in mind, but it would make a valuable primary or secondary classroom text. It has the unique flexibility, as well, to be accessible across the board. Anyone can read An Illustrated Business History of the United States and finish it far more knowledgeable about American history, business and otherwise, than before they began.
It is a considerable accomplishment. Many fine books serve a single purpose but Richard Vague’s new book possesses wide potential. "An Illustrated Business History of the United States" is part reference book, part history book, and part treatise on the American experience as seen through a business lens. It, likewise, is home to an assortment of character studies in miniature. It marshals an enormous amount of knowledge into a digestible package without ever risking self-indulgence. ...more
Matthew Moseley’s "Ignition: Superior Communications Strategies for Creating Stronger Connections" is the result of experience inform theory. Moseley’Matthew Moseley’s "Ignition: Superior Communications Strategies for Creating Stronger Connections" is the result of experience inform theory. Moseley’s long journey through the corridors of political power, the world of celebrity, the legal realm, and the corporate world has taught him many lessons about communication. The link between success, in all its forms, and communication may seem obvious to some. It may come as a surprise, perhaps, to many readers of Ignition how pervasive it is that the proper relationship between these concepts is far from well understood. Perhaps we have a cozy soft-peddled arrogance allowing us to miss the obvious.
Outlining proven principles that guide communication strategies towards grasping their goals is the primary purpose of this book. Moseley delves into his own personal and professional experiences over the course of Ignition, but the practical application of what’s learned extends past the professional world. Communication is key to any successful relationship and the methodology Moseley lays out for interested parties is intelligent and clear. Several strengths contribute to the book’s message.
Moseley’s interviews with business leaders, members of the scientific community, politicians, military figures, and artists, among others, contribute an enormous amount to the book without ever drowning out his own voice. His decision to incorporate substantial swaths of his own personality into the text is an often standard component of any book in this style. Authors are eager to avoid sounding like a how-to manual. The success or failure of such an approach ultimately hinges on the quality of the writer’s prose.
Readers are well-served here. Moseley has storytelling gifts few other authors in this vein share but never allows those talents to overwhelm the central focus of his book. It never fails to impart useful information to readers and lower the chance of the book being a wearying reading experience. He holds readers’ interest with little effort and inspires their confidence in his observations from the beginning. His organizational skills are also an essential part of the book’s success and help make it more digestible.
Building it around three parts condenses his ideas for readers. It isn’t a lengthy text and Moseley has a wont for succinctness that focuses each section. No one should be surprised when they read Moseley lives in the Boulder, Colorado area. There’s something of the exploratory spirit of the Wild West running strong through his point of view, an endless sense of possibility that, if we understand how to achieve what we want, even greater success awaits us around the next corner.
It isn’t rose-colored Pollyanna optimism. It’s an affirmative book, however, and Moseley makes a convincing case. The assortment of illustrations/graphics contained in the book are stylish in a low-key way and straight-forward. Many readers will enjoy the loose confidence present on each page of this book, and it is easy to imagine this text can be revisited over time for additional insights. Matthew L. Moseley’s "Ignition: Superior Communications Strategies for Creating Stronger Connections" should prove to be a definitive volume on this subject for many years to come....more
DeStefano's King ot the Godfathers is the definitive, thus far, account of Massino's trial and eventual cooperation with Federal prosecutors. It ratesDeStefano's King ot the Godfathers is the definitive, thus far, account of Massino's trial and eventual cooperation with Federal prosecutors. It rates high, as well, as an overview of the Bonnano Crime Family's history over the last half-century. He writes with journalistic clarity throughout the entirety of Godfathers, eschewing novelistic flourishes in favor of concrete detail, and the wealth of research supplying the book's facts reflects his dedication as an author. The "narrative" isn't linear and the jumble of events, rendered out of sequence sometimes, squanders the book's potential in some respects. I understand why he adopted this approach, but DeStefano's talents are great enough to accommodate a different slant. ...more
Chris Cicchinelli’s business is, ultimately, self-realization. He has worked alongside his mother many years to turn her successful start-up, Pure RomChris Cicchinelli’s business is, ultimately, self-realization. He has worked alongside his mother many years to turn her successful start-up, Pure Romance, into arguably one of the globe’s foremost in-home party companies. The strength of Pure Romance’s corporate structure lies with their thousands upon thousands of consultants. They are empowered through design to operate with a high degree of independence; financial rewards accompany that independence for many. The company’s results and the philosophy underlying Cicchinelli’s management/motivational style helps people grow as individuals and his book "The Secret Is YOU: How I Empowered 200,000 Women to Find Their Passion and Change Their Lives" covers what he sees as critical components in his own success. It never asks you to adhere to any belief system beyond putting practices in place that will help you get the best out of your skills and ambitions.
It does so through practical advice and self-revelation. Cicchinelli delves into his various professional journeys during the book and focuses on more than just his time with Pure Romance. He describes his voyage in plain-spoken language, direct, and never falls prey to the pretension that other authors might have embraced. Cicchinelli even incorporates dialogue into his memories and it gives the book storytelling attributes that serve it well. It even has a linear thrust that many readers will enjoy.
He does a top shelf job of mixing his ideas about motivation, structure, and human nature itself. Cicchinelli’s insights into human nature are particularly distinguishing elements of "The Secret is YOU". While many of them fall under the purview of deceptively common sense, there are others illustrating his keen skills for being in the moment and observing the world around him. He incorporates equal parts experience and research into his conclusions and there are few visual aids supporting the material.
Cicchinelli does, however, make use of some key features. He spotlights Pure Romance consultants to help buttress his concepts and closes each chapter with a “takeaways” section that encapsulates what he’s just covered. These small but crucial additions to the book are not needless affectations and reinforce its strengths for readers. The lack of bells and whistles isn’t a drawback; The Secret Is YOU is a book that gets down in the trenches with readers instead of affecting any sort of authorial distance. His voice is what carries you through.
It’s a great vehicle for conveying his message. Cicchinelli affects a cool, affable demeanor throughout the entirety of "The Secret is YOU" and never strains to hold reader’s attention. His focus is unwavering and the clarity he achieves from beginning to end will inspire many readers to tackle the text and return to its as needed. It is a book whose uses are not easily exhausted. You’ll be able to return, again and again, to this book and glean something new from its contents. Chris Cicchinelli’s "The Secret Is YOU: How I Empowered 200,000 Women to Find Their Passion and Change Their Lives", despite its short length, has an abundance of information and personality....more
Leonetti should have written this book long ago. We're far removed from the murderous heydey of his uncle's reign over Philadelphia organized crime anLeonetti should have written this book long ago. We're far removed from the murderous heydey of his uncle's reign over Philadelphia organized crime and Nicky Scarfo's name never rated as high as his contemporary John Gotti. Other writers have penned accounts of this era, but Leonetti has held back revisiting his story for the public outside of a few interviews. Mafia Prince provides him an extended opportunity to examine that part of his life.
It is an opportunity he and his co-authors exploit to the fullest. This is easily one of the best books about late 20th century organized crime I've read. The chief highlight of its structure is the juxtaposition of the narrative with Leonetti's personal reflections. It gives the book dueling but nevertheless consistent voices. Both voices share a conversational tone that allows readers to digest a considerable cast of characters and events.
Leonetti's recollections are often telling. Perverse yet genuine pride peeks through some memories despite his visceral hatred for Uncle Nicky. His nephew and former underboss Leonetti never meets a chance to blast his uncle that he doesn't like, but his disgust for Scarfo never dominates the book. A wealth of research and solid writing are the driving forces behind this book's success. It will stand for years, if not decades, to come as an authoritative account of "the life". ...more