Review: The Art of Warfare (Classics of Ancient China)

The Art of Warfare (Classics of Ancient China)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date read: August 20 to October 02, 2013
Read count: 8

A little background info to put things in perspective:

Sun Tzu was a highly respected general and warlord of his time, and he wrote this book of battle strategies with a purpose and that was to help improve military leaders who came after him. It was never his plan for this book to be spread outside of his “social circle,” let alone to foreigners and foreign lands and foreign affairs/warfare… more than 2,500 years after his death.

I always keep that in mind when rereading this book, which I have done almost every year since I first read it ten years ago, and knowing that this book was never meant for public use, because it’s a secret code among ancient warlords, makes it even more interesting.

So the main issue is how applicable are Sun Tzu’s tactics. That’s really a matter of experience and personality. I don’t think I’ve ever applied his teachings, not purposely or consciously anyway.

* Rest of review to be added later.

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Everyone has an absolute favorite book that he/she revisits once in a while. This book is mine. I try to read a different edition every year. When I run out of editions, which would be never, I will probably go back and reread the older ones. This book transcends time and cultural context.

Original review can be found here.

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Review: Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date read: September 19 to 25, 2013
Read count: 1

So, so good. I’m completely blown away. (It’s probably because I had no expectations whatsoever going in.)

I absolutely love when a story blends genres and bends genre-specific tropes to tell the stories within the story.

* Rest of review to be added later.

Original review can be found here.

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Book series order

Saga, Volume 1 (Saga, #1-6)

Saga, Volume 2 (Saga, 7-12)

Review: Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-5) by Hugh Howey

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Date read: May 27 to September 19, 2013
Read count: 1

Far exceeds my expectations. Howey is one of the few self-published authors who actually know how to write an engaging and believable post-apocalyptic world. Admittedly, there was some hesitation before I before I even read a word. As a rule, I stay away from self-published authors, mostly because I haven’t had a good experience with their books or writing and partly because I wanted to avoid the drama that might accompany a negative book rating/review.

* Rest of review to be added at a later time.

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Series book order Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1):

  • Wool (Wool, #1)
    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
  • Proper Gauge (Wool, #2)
    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • Casting Off (Wool, #3)
    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • The Unraveling (Wool, #4)
    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • The Stranded (Wool, #5)
    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

*  *  *  *  *

I had planned to read the rest of the series (Shift and Dust), but then this happened (DailyDotSlate). And that’s why I won’t be reading anything else from Hugh Howey, even thought I really did like the whole Wool series.

Review: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: September 10 to 13, 2013
Read count: 3

Even though I’ve read this book a few times before, it’s just as good as the first time.

Alice Hoffman has what I call a cinematic style of bringing fairy-tale-like narrations to contemporary story and setting, specifically New England. So it’s no surprise when this book was turned into a movie not long after publication. As a matter of fact, the movie is better known than the book. There are people who still don’t know the movie is only an adaptation.

Book

  • What I’ve always liked about this book is that it stays true to the traditions of fairy tales in that consequences are serious and often times permanent, ugly, and have a way of catching up to you. No action goes unpunished.
  • What I’ve come to like and understand about the characters in this book is that Hoffman writes female characters in her own particular way. Although these characters are grounded in their emotions and repeatedly influenced by mysterious magical entities, they seem most realistic, most relateable, when they are at their most vulnerable moments.
  • What I still don’t like about the story is how Jimmy’s ghost is dealt with so easily just by having the aunts come to Sally’s house and whisking him away. I enjoy the haunting and darker elements of the story up until this point.

Movie

  • Both the book and movie are different enough for each to stand on its own.
  • What the movie has, and the book lacks, is a fun sunny New England atmosphere, whereas the tone and atmosphere in the book are dark, foreboding, though still New England.
  • Sally and Gillian, as portrayed in the movie, lack the depth, devotion, and connection that Sally and Gillian in the book have; however, the movie makes up for it by showing the sisters’ stories as they unfold, instead of telling, which is what the book does in much of the narration.
  • Magic and the Aunts play bigger roles in Sally’s and Gillian’s lives here and adds a closeness and a familial layer to the story that isn’t in the book.

Audio

  • This story translates very well to audio. It’s as though it was written to be read aloud.

Original review can be found here.

Review: Spook Squad (PsyCop, #7) by Jordan Castillo Price

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: September 06 to 08, 2013
Read count: 1

“You, my friend, are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a polyester blend.”

This line perfectly describes Vic and his attitude toward all things in life.

What I like most about these books is that you get a strong sense of Chicago in the background. You can tell the author knows her setting well, and you can feel each street and neighborhood through the writing. There’s both history and life at these locales. No matter how posh downtown Chicago is trying to be these days, it can’t shake off its violent gritty past.

As with each book, Vic’s adventures and powers grow in increments, and at the end of the book, it’s his journey of self-discovery that keeps the stories engaging.

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Love the cover art, btw. Although he’s still scowling, there does seem to be more confidence in his pose.

Original review can be found here.

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Among the Living (PsyCop #1)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date read: May 31 to June 01, 2012
Read count: 1

Criss Cross (PsyCop, #2)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 01 to 02, 2012
Read count: 1

Body and Soul (PsyCop, #3)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 02 to 03, 2012
Read count: 1

Secrets (PsyCop, #4)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: June 03 to 04, 2012
Read count: 1

Camp Hell (PsyCop #5)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: June 05 to 06, 2012
Read count: 1

GhosTV (PsyCop #6)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 06 to 10, 2012
Read count: 1

Review: Performance Anomalies by Victor Robert Lee

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date read: August 29 to September 06, 2013
Read count: 1

A memorable start for a first novel and what can easily become an espionage thriller series. This book is not something I typically enjoy, but for the right kind of (niche) reader, it can easily be a hit.

Cono, the main character, is an international man of mystery (a la James Bond) who also happens to have flairs of prototypical Jason Statham characters, but I think the story’s aim is to portray Cono as a real-world version of Christian Bale’s Batman–cool, reserved, distant, ultimately conflicted heroic anti-hero.

All blockbuster movie references are necessary because this novel is a very made-for-blockbuster-movie kind of novel. Like I said, not something I usually read, but it was interesting.

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* * * * spoilers below * * * *

Continue reading

Review: Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making (7th Edition)

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date read: July 09 to September 05, 2013
Read count: 1

The 3rd edition helped me through a particularly undecided point in life, and picking up the text made a huge difference. So in honor of that 3rd edition all those years ago, this edition gets 5 stars.

It takes a certain personality to enjoy accounting, because there’s a lot of tedious, repetitive work that you just gotta get through. From what I’ve seen, if you don’t have that personality, you’re more likely to burn out early and end up switching careers a few years down the road, or burn out even before you get started. So it’s in your best interest to find out early and decide accordingly if going into accounting is the right way to go, is what I tell undergrads every time a few from my alma mater come a-knocking.

Although a lot has changed between the 3rd and 7th, such as tax and corporate regulations, the concepts and teaching methods in the book are still the same. Balance sheets and income statements are still there to numb your mind. More recent business models and examples, such as Facebook and Google, are used to keep things fresh and up to date. Other than that, it’s still the same textbook, only modified to fit the ever-growing shapes and sizes of businesses.

There’s an 8th edition just released this summer that comes with a modified online program that’s supposed to be the talk of the town. It sounds interesting enough. I think I might seek it out just to mess around with the program, and also to see how much I remember–or have forgotten–without reading the text first.

Recommended for: no one I know around these parts, but of course everyone is welcome to try.