Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing

Overview: Mr. Bradbury has collected eleven of his essays, and additional one for the preface, as well as a collection of poems for our benefit as writers.

Story Telling: Mr. Bradbury has found an entertaining way to pass some important lessons that an aspiring author should focus on.

Likes: What I like the most is the fact that we are listening to the remembrances of an older man, advice that can make our lives easier if we will just pay attention.

Favorite Scene (Essay): My favorite essay here was ‘Zen in the Art of Writing.’ It answered a lot of questions for me.

Conclusion: This book is good for both encouragement as well as a chance to pick up some tips from the Master of the Short Story. I enjoyed this book.

Barry Jones’s The Garbage Sifter

I received this book courtesy of Dr. Jones for a fair review.

Overview: It is the year 1999 when Camila Sanchez, a policeman’s widow with a son and ailing mother, finds the rough draft of an operation known as ‘Wild Ferret.’ IN desperation, she sales the information to the Argentina government. Why would the United States want to read the e-mails coming through Argentina’s security lines? And what is Rosario-5?

Story Telling: I believe Dr. Jones may have taken some writing tips from Mr. Tolkien in regards to his chronology. The story was told in three parts. And each part was told in chronological order, without the need of flashbacks, even if the second part bridges the time frame of midway point of part one to the events of part three.

Likes: I like how Camila had her allies in part one, and how both America and Argentina had to work together to stop the Rosario-5 production.

Dislikes: I didn’t care for how few honorable people there were in this book. America’s CIA was willing to spy on foreign countries, and not to prevent war either. Argentina was as corrupt of a nation as you can find. And while I’ve never trusted politicians, some of these guys could make Presidents Nixon and Clinton look like gems.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part was when Rodriguez was around. He did what he could to help Camila and then Elina.

Conclusion: This is a different style of book. I prefer more honorable characters than those who showed up here. Perhaps, it is more your style. I hope you enjoy this one.

Ken Poirot’s Mentor Me: GA=T+E A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement

I received this book for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mr. Poirot wants to help us reach our greatest achievement in life. Using this book, he tries to be the helping hand that you will need on your journey.

Story Telling: This is a very motivational book with the focus on personality types and time management. Also, Mr. Poirot advocates making a life-long goal, as well as year-long goals designed to get you to your greatest achievement.

Likes: Mr. Poirot has made this book interactive. Each chapter, and just about every section, has an area where you can do the activities that are strongly encouraged throughout the chapter. My opinion though, use the notebook suggestion for the e-book owner. Maybe then another can benefit as well.

Dislikes: The only real examples given were from the financial circles (banks, mostly). This left me feeling as if that was who Mr. Poirot is more comfortable speaking to. While I, mostly, understand the underlying idea, the examples didn’t work for me.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part here was when Mr. Poirot’s boss was willing to help, and not only send the order down the line.

Conclusion: This is a helpful book. But the only way it can help you gain your dreams is if you do the work.

Craig Johnson’s Spirit of Steamboat-Walt Longmire 9.1

I received this book for a fair and honest review.

Overview: While waiting out the last of the Christmas Eve shift at the office, Sheriff Walter Longmire meets a young woman who claims to know both him and, his predecessor, Lucien Connalley. With one word, Longmire is reminded of another Christmas Eve in the late ‘80’s that was a more frantic paced night.

Story Telling: Mr. Johnson has done here what many writing books advise that you never do. And he did it gracefully. The story was framed in a flashback. This made for a comfortable semi-Christmas tale.

Likes: Longmire and Lucien were some brave individuals. On that note, so were Juli, Mrs. Oda, and Isaac. None of them, with the possible exception of Isaac, had to do anything for Mrs. Oda’s granddaughter. But all that they could see was how Amaterasu needed to get to the hospital in Denver, and no one else was brave–or crazy–enough to fly her there.

Dislikes: I thought that the helicopter pilot and the med-tech were more concerned with their own skins. I understand fear, but be man enough to admit it. Every one should respect you more. And most will.

Favorite Scene: My favorite parts were anytime someone told Lucien that he couldn’t do something (usually, he proved them wrong), and when Longmire had to face a terrifying drop just to close the door.

Conclusion: This is a great story. I think it’s a good addition to the thriller fan’s library (it made mine), or for those who want a different kind of Christmas story.

Michael Phillip Cash’s The After House

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Cash for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: After a rough divorce from her husband, Remy and her daughter move into a cozy cottage in a sleepy seaside town. Remy believes that her yoga studio will take off here. But then these odd incidents start happening. Their cottage is trashed, and cold drafts start in certain areas of the cottage. But when odder, and even threatening, things start happening, Remy is left to wonder who is behind it all.

Story Telling: This is really two tales in one. We have Remy and Olivia’s new life in a small town. And we have Eli’s story. Both were interwoven into a beautiful tapestry.

Likes: Eli’s attempts taunting Olivia were hilarious. He was freaked out by her. But, she was stalking him, you understand. Most of the book was funny, but, as with any ghost story, there were the spooky situations. Oh, and Mr. Cash didn’t really absolve anyone of his/her actions. It was always his/her choice (perfect).

Dislikes: I despised the way Scott left Remy. But there wasn’t much that I liked about that man.

Favorite Scene: Where to begin? We have Bill facing his fears to bring his daughter some protection. How about Olivia’s reaction to the mess in the house? Or, even better, when Eli decides he has to protect Remy. The good here never quits.

Conclusion: This book has officially found it’s way into my library. I enjoyed it as hope you will as well. This is an excellent ghost story, unless you don’t believe in ghosts. I am never calling anyone a dork again.

Kari Sherman and Carey Laubenberg’s True Tales from the Dog Park

I received this book courtesy of Miss Sherman and Ms. Laubenberg for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Max and Luther spend a lot of time at the dog park, or at a dog beach. Their owners wish to share some of their favorite stories as well as some tips for dog park/beach etiquette.

Story Telling: this book is mostly composed of anecdotes and tips.

Likes: The tips, for the most part, do provide basic understanding of dog ownership.

Dislikes: I saw some worrisome items in this book. The foremost was Luther’s ‘Splatter, Smother, and Cover’ trick. This is a sign of dominance. The fact that it hurts him notwithstanding, he is saying “I’m top dog.” Knocking people over, jumping on tables, even mouthing on the back of another dog, all of these are signs of dominance assertion. And just because you’re at a dog park, that doesn’t mean you can check your manners at the gate (I’m looking at you Max).

Favorite Scene: My favorite part was Luna’s attempt to help a yellow lab she thought she knew.

Conclusion: I don’t think I’ll be going to a dog park any time soon. Maybe you’ll like this book. At least you’ll learn how not to act.

Milo Swanton’s Fealty to the King-The Children of Cain 1

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Swanton for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Brutez has a dream. A dream to se the tribes of the Snarshyim collected under one banner. In his mind, they are all related, there is no reason for all the fighting. This is his story, of course he gets some unexpected help.

Story Telling: Mr. Swanton has a gift for world building. The tribes are well developed. And the characters’ thoughts were easy to follow.

Likes: A story leading to peace is something to celebrate. Brutez is determined to find peace for all there is of the Snarshyim.

Dislikes: This is a rather bloody book. Not exactly one of my preferences. And then there is the aspect of these characters being related to Cain. Granted they aren’t shown in the worst light. I just see it as a dangerous precipice. Using Biblical characters, or–as in this case–their descendents, is a slippery slope.

Favorite Scene: My favorite parts had to be Jorgis’s journey to understand the scrolls that he and his friend found, or when God’s word came to the Snarshyim.

Conclusion: In my opinion, this book should be read by those firm in their faith. For the most part, it’s an okay story, just too bloody for me.

E. Marie’s Avoiding Dodgeballs…At Work, A Young Woman’s Guide to Succeeding At a First Job

I received this book courtesy of Mrs. Marie for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mrs. Marie has had years of experience in the business world, everything from an entry position to that of a supervisor. I’d agree that she can help many with their first jobs. So, let’s follow “Katie,” our avatar into the world of cubicles, bosses, and coworkers.

Story Telling: Mrs. Marie has used humor, as will a few gentle admonishments to cultivate a professional attitude, for the new employee.

Likes: I appreciate the fact that Mrs. Marie urges the new employee to not sink towards the use of profanity at work. Mostly, I believe, for the unprofessional shine it casts upon the user. Also, Mrs. Marie explains the difference between true volunteering and other styles of volunteering in regards to Human Resources.

Dislikes: My only problem with this book is the fact that I think both men and women could use this advice. Even though it’s a woman’s guide, men, too, can benefit from it.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part would be each time the author has to remind Katie that life isn’t fair.

Conclusion: This is a fun, entertaining, and informative read. Anyone heading into the job circuit should read this first.

Edward G. Brown’s The Time Bandit Solution

I received this book for a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mr. Brown takes us into the idea of saving time. Not by telling us to get more organized, though that always helps, but by utilizing a technique he calls time-locking. Who would have thought that the basic “Quiet Time,” so many of us are familiar with, could be so important?

Story Telling: This is a good way to explain anything. Mr. Brown includes bullet points, charts, and a clever chapter naming scheme.

Likes: I like how Mr. Brown used himself as an example of how his ideas can and will work. Nothing like being an example of your ideas, especially since that proves that you truly believe in your policy.

Dislikes: I didn’t care much for the scripted sales pitch idea. There has to be a way to inform someone you need time to think without reading or memorizing a script. But then again, some people might need this aide. Other than that, there were a few things that I didn’t understand, but as they don’t work for me now, I have time to gain that understanding.

Favorite Scene: My favorite parts of this book were the Spanish and Irish sales people’s points about business meetings.

Conclusion: This is a very helpful book. One that will benefit most if they can let go of the idea of “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Chris Reardon’s Breaking Rules

I received this book for a fair and honest review.

Overview: What happens when someone, who is used to getting away with some serious crimes, decides to teach a couple a good lesson? If that someone is the teenage witch Salina, trouble for both the couple and her.

Story Telling: I’ve never read a present-tense book before, though I have heard of them. The only other one I know of is “The Hunger Games,” and that was a first-person present. This is a third-person present. Interesting idea.

Likes: The idea of another realm, one very much like ours but with magic, was interesting. That world’s laws, and prejudices were well put down. Kenny and Trish were well fleshed out, as well as was Salina.

Dislikes: I didn’t care much for Salina’s attitude. She might have tried to fix things, but she lied so often I don’t trust anything she has said.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part I the book was when Max broke at the kitchen table. It was perfect.

Conclusion: While I don’t care much for the present-tense writing, this story was a good one. I hope you like it.