Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5)Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While it feels like I just read Alloy of Law, I was surprised to see that it was actually last April… nine months ago! Thankfully, I enjoyed those characters so much that I picked up right where I left off.

Wayne is still awesome, the pace is great, and Sanderson is still capitalizing on a superb setting he has created, and is still developing. I struggled a little with the plot in this one, simply because it hints at a larger conflict, but didn’t give me enough clues to feel like it is going somewhere solid. It feels too muddy. I’m not against a good plot twist, something that Sanderson always delivers (and does again in grand fashion in this one), but give the reader something of a teaser to keep them focused on the next steps. The twist at the end IS the teaser this time, and it is hard to see exactly how that is going to tie in to the bigger plot.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that it will. I trust Brandon Sanderson to provide everything I want in a novel and more, I just think he left me a little TOO much in the dark this time.

I should admit that I might be way out of line here. I finished this while half asleep on an airplane, so perhaps it was all there, and I missed it, but this is where I sit with it today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

What the Most Successful People Do Before BreakfastWhat the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So at first glance, it may look like I’m cheating with this one. It almost more of a pamphlet than a book. However, if I’m counting the Wheel of Time books one at a time, averaging around 800 pages per book, I’m certainly entitled to a few shorter additions as well.

So as for content, this book is very predictable. Here comes the spoiler: Successful people get up early and have good habits, like exercising, meditating, and religious worship. They do the most important things first.

So now that you know what the entire book says, here is why you should still read it. In its own strange way, written by journalist, it works as a motivational piece. I think it would be impossible to read this and not think about what you do in the morning and set your alarm a little earlier the next day. It is just too direct, and the benefits too appealing. I don’t even know that the author is “selling” the concept, it is just obvious when you hear the data that taking control of your mornings is a good idea. I think most of us would come to that conclusion without reading the book, but we lack motivation. This is the recipe for adding something good in your life, and a great January pick.

Now, while I like good motivation, I can’t give this more than 3 stars. There just isn’t enough there, but I still think you should consider it. It will take less than an hour to read, I promise. I would also suggest following this up with Influencer, a book about making lasting change. The connection there should be obvious.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Book List

Another year is in the books. (Ha ha, that was funny.)  How did I do?  Well, overall, I made it exactly halfway to my goal of 52 books per year with a nice round 26.  And what about my second goal of at least 26 fiction books?  I got 14 out of 26. So also about half.  If I stated that goal as a ratio (50% of all books read would be fiction) then I would have made it by one book.  This year I started keeping an audiobook going most of the time, and that really helped me fit reading in my schedule. Halfway through the year I recommitted to adding in fiction, and that was important for me as well.  

I’m also finally starting to get back my desire to write, partly due to one of my sons, who has aspirations of writing as well. He actually has roughed out 3 or 4 chapters in several different books already, so he is winning that one. I’ll admit, with school and work this last year, the dream of being a published young adult fantasy author was fading to the point where it was just about gone, but it is amazing what encouragement from a loved one will do.  So this year, I will add to my list of goals, despite not having actually attained either of them last year.  In 2016, I will read 52 books, at least 26 of which will be fiction, and I will write at least 12 chapters of a book of my own.  That is one chapter per month.  As a friend used to say: “Good luckers to me.”

Here is my 2015 list:
1The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful BusinessesEric RiesJanuary 7
2Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn 1)Brandon SandersonJanuary 26
3The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer ConversationMatthew DixonFebruary 3
4The Well of Ascension (Mistborn 2)Brandon SandersonFebruary 9
5Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and SuccessNapoleon HillFebruary 11
6The Hero of Ages (Mistborn 3)Brandon SandersonMarch 2
7The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational AccountabilityRoger ConnorsMarch 27
8Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don'tJames C. CollinsMarch 27
9The Alloy of LawBrandon SandersonApril 11
10Artemis FowlEoin ColferApril 14
11The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieAlan BradleyMay 20
12The One-Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way to Be Smart About Your MoneyCarl RichardsJune 8
13The Weed That Strings the Hangman's BagAlan BradleyJune 18
14The Illustrated Guide to Selling You: Custom Design Your Work LifeJohn BoydJune 23
15Winning Every DayLou HoltzJuly 2
16The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes EverythingKen RobinsonJuly 22
17Wake up and Live!Dorthea BrandeJuly 29
18The Eye of the WorldRobert JordanAugust 19
19The Great HuntRobert JordanAugust 23
20The Five Dysfunctions of a TeamPatrick LencioniSeptember 2
21The Dragon RebornRobert JordanSeptember 5
22The Shadow RisingRobert JordanSeptember 15
23The Fires of HeavenRobert JordanOctober 9
24Lord of ChaosRobert JordanNovember 16
25The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of ConflictThe Arbinger InstituteDecember 21
26SteelheartBrandon SandersonDecember 30