07.28.16

Waste Not: And Other Funny Zombie Stories by Rhonda Parrish

Posted in Review at 8:29 pm by Amber

Title: Waste Not: And Other Funny Zombie Stories
Author: Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: Poise and Pen Publishing
Source: Author

Book cover of Waste Not: And Other Zombie Stories

Full disclosure: I’ve been online friends with Rhonda for several years and I tend to think anything she does is pretty great.

Waste Not is a very small collection; it contains a total of three stories. You can either drag it out over several days or buckle down and read it all in one sitting.

The first story is a realistic look at the limitations placed upon a farming family when zombies are out and about. It’s about payback with a chuckle.

The second story is a cat’s eye view of what happens when a pet’s owner doesn’t come home. The cat’s observations are wry. How fitting for an aloof cat!

The final story involves a drunk munchkin who thinks the Wicked Witch may not be as dead as everyone thinks. Or is it the alcohol which has his nerves on edge?

I was expecting more stories but sometimes what you want is just a little taste of something different to tide you over until you can jump into something which requires a time commitment. This is going to be one of those short story collections to fit the bill.

07.19.16

Keep Calm by Mike Binder

Posted in Review at 10:27 pm by Amber

Title: Keep Calm
Author: Mike Binder
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Keep Calm

When a bombing at 10 Downing Street wounds the Prime Minister and tests Great Britain’s resolve, American ex-cop Adam Tatum must confront a conspiracy in the highest halls of power

Former Michigan detective Adam Tatum receives an unexpected offer, a golden opportunity that seems almost too good to be true. He travels to 10 Downing Street to participate in a high-stakes conference. Immediately after his visit, a bomb detonates, wounding the prime minister and placing Adam Tatum squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion.

Sensing a setup, Tatum flees with his family, desperately fighting for survival in an unfamiliar country. The lives of his children, the future of his marriage, and the fate of a nation depend on Tatum exposing the conspirators who pegged him for a fall.

Georgia Turnbull, the chancellor of the exchequer, and Davina Steel, the lead investigator, both stand to gain from the successful manhunt of Adam Tatum. But, as motives emerge and desires ignite, each must decide what they’re really after.

Layered plots, crackling dialogue, and propulsive action mark Keep Calm, the riveting debut thriller from award-winning actor, director, and screenwriter Mike Binder.

I had high hopes for this but it just didn’t work for me. There were switches between points of view which took me out of the story.

The plot was well-paced. Some characters fell flat but for many of them their motivations rang true to me. I finished this a few months ago and thought the main motivation for the bombing was spot on.

07.02.16

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home by Laura Vanderkam

Posted in Review at 8:28 am by Amber

Title: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home
Author: Laura Vanderkam
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library

Three powerful mini e-books about high productivity, now together in paperback

Laura Vanderkam has combined her three popular mini e-books into one comprehensive guide, with a new introduction. It will help readers build habits that lead to happier, more productive lives, despite the pressures of their busy schedules. Trough interviews and anecdotes, she reveals . . .

  • What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast—to jump-start the day productively.

  • What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend—to recharge and prepare for a great week.

  • What the Most Successful People Do at Work—to accomplish more in less time.

I read this so you won’t have to! Just kidding. I was on a big self-help kick towards the end of last year and it petered out. I finally finished this a few weeks ago. Everyone is going to get something different out of this collection. I put post-its on items I wanted to remember.

From What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast… minimize the have-to-dos. The key thing with chores and weekends is not to focus so much on easily seen and measured goals, such as scratching everything off the grocery list, that you divert energy from your highest value projects: nurturing your relationships, nurturing your career, nurturing yourself.

One way to do this is to set aside time for small chores. You feel less guilty about not doing something right then because you know you’ll do it during the small chore time.

Schedule in hours for top work priorities like strategic thinking or creative work. This makes these priorities seem like a commitment. Do the same for leisure activities. If it’s written down it’s more likely to get done.

Schedule something fun or meaningful for Sunday night. It stretches out the weekend and gives you a good way to start off the week. This really hit home because so many people I know hate having something scheduled for Sunday; they want to set aside the entire day to gear up for the next week. To me that’s wasting an entire day being mopey.

From What the Most Successful People Do at Work one of the hardest things for me to do is to increase my capital with others. Your next opportunity can come from an unexpected place. For example, I told one friend I would want to volunteer for events at a mutual friend’s business. The next day I was helping Simon Mujamdar with a cooking demo.

Create a log for a week or so to find out what can be eliminated or cut down. This is one of the first things to do in the weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo. It can show a better time to do a task. For example, taking a walk around the block or building every 45 minutes instead of working in 2 hour blocks is great! When powering through I can get restless. But taking a short walking break is refreshing. It clears the mind and lets me get in some steps.

The appendix includes 50 time management tips. A lot of these I can get behind such as: take naps, work from home a day or two a week, lower your housekeeping standards, and if you plan something fun go ahead and do it (even if you’re tired).