Category Archives: TMBOA recommended

The reviews for TMBOA (tag my book on amazon) books are provided here!

Book Review – The Road to Grafenwohr

The Road to Grafenwohr – One of my favorite Patterson Novels

Rating: 5 of 5 stars, TMBOA Recommended!

Author: Edward C. Patterson
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Traveling to his unit in post war Germany, Quincy Summerson finds the locals, their heritage, language, architecture, and culture fascinating.  They too, find him of great interest given the unique birthmark displayed prominently on his cheek which legend portends it to be a harbinger for both great evil and good.  Quincy’s journey takes him further and further into heart of Bavaria as visions begin to plague him.  As they increase in frequency and violence Quincy learns he has been called not just to serve the United States but an even higher purpose.

Readers may be initially turned off by the title of Patterson’s latest work.  But I must say, this was one of my favorites from him.  Patterson takes his expert prose and characterization skills and infuses them into an intriguing setting of a young man stationed in Germany during the height of the cold war with an eclectic group of roommates where everyone prays to avoid reassignment to Vietnam—except for one man.  Sprinkle in some fantasy elements and Patterson has created a genre I’ve not previously experienced but very much enjoyed.

The plot is very tight and the storyline moves.  If you already are a Patterson fan, I think you will definitely enjoy The Road to Grafenwohr.  If you’ve never read him and you are looking for something different, give this one a try – you won’t be disappointed.

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Book Review – Blood Opal!

Blood Opal – The Curse of the Blood Opal!

Rating: 5 of 5

Author: Carole Sutton
Format: Paperback
Tags: crime fiction, murder, mystery, Cornwall, Goodreads author
After a long day at work, Pug Germaine returns home only to find it in complete disarray.  Convinced her husband has tossed it during one of his more and more frequent foul moods, she cautiously searches for his whereabouts only to find him in the arms of another woman both of them covered in blood—murdered!  Horrified she contacts the police and soon learns not only has he been cheating but he has leveraged all of their assets on bad investments.  In a heartbeat, she’s lost everything—her husband, home, and business.  Determined to start anew, she sails off.  But Pug’s troubles are only beginning.  Her husband’s killers haven’t found what they are looking for and they are convinced Pug has it.

In Blood Opal, Carole Sutton once again demonstrates her prowess in creating rich characters, describing beautiful settings, and formulating an engrossing and complex plot.  So drawn was I to her unlikely heroine Pug, that I easily felt her fears and frustrations and wondered as she did who to trust.  The legend of the Blood Opal and its curse and back story were fascinating and with the prodding from Celeste—Pug’s friend and confidant—one can not help but wonder if there is some truth to the curse as death  follows in its wake.

Sutton’s knack for storytelling quickly engrosses the reader in this well crafted murder mystery and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned.  Fans of this genre should quickly add this to their shelves.

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Book Review – Libertas

Libertas – An Epic Journey into Roman Hispania

Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended!

Author: Alistair Forrest
Format: Paperback, Kindle

High atop the Iberian Peninsula Mountains in the small somewhat forgotten village of Munda, young Melqart struggles in his sword play practice against the much larger and athletic Arsay.  Though boys will be boys, their early conflicts of brain versus brawn escalates as the two boys age.  Arsay becomes increasing jealous of Melqart who along with the help of a young girl – Leandra – ingeniously trap and kill wild bore for their village infuriating Arsay.  As the tension grows between these two, so does the faraway conflict between generals warring for control of the Roman Empire; Munda suddenly finds itself a very strategic location for these generals.  Melqart, Leandra, and Arsay’s lives are never the same as they all struggle to find their way in a rapidly changing dangerous world.

Alistair Forrest’s novel, Libertas, is an epic journey through Roman controlled Hispania in the First Century BC.  Forrest develops the characters, their desires, their motivations, and all that they are forced to give up as a result of the world events that so disrupt their lives.  One wonders what life would have been like in this quite small mountain village had the bloody Roman civil war not occurred.  Clearly their lives would have been much simpler and less painful, but would they have reached their potential for leadership, ingenuity, love, honor, and in some cases evil?  In this way, Forrest subtly explores a truism that it is in the times of genuine hardship and struggle that one’s true self and character comes forward.

I enjoy historical fiction probably for the same reasons I enjoy traveling.  Both immerse one in the local culture, an experience which greatly impacts one’s view of the world and as such broadens the mind.  Libertas was such a journey for me.  For those who enjoy this genre you will not be disappointed!

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Book Review – Primal Wound

Primal Wound – Engaging, Compelling, Disturbing…

Rating: 5 of 5: TMBOA Recommended

Author: Ruth Fransisco
Format: Kindle

A naked, pregnant, teenage, American Indian girl is found floating face down – dead; detective Val Piccard is brought in to lead the case.  As the investigation unfolds, the pieces don’t add up.  The young girl, though she had a troubled past, was clearly on the path to recovery and making a life for herself.  Piccard finds dead end after dead end while trying to uncover who would commit such a brutal murder.  Was it just fate?  Could it have been simply her being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Across town, Cecily Scott desperately tries to save her father who is in dire need of a kidney transplant.  After having herself tested to see if she is a match, she learns the shocking truth – not only is she not a match, but genetic tests confirm she isn’t even related.  Thus begins her journey to find her biological parents.

Ruth Fransisco Primal Wound is a compelling read of two interweaving stories lines.  Clearly the reader knows that these arcs must at some point intersect – but how?  Fransisco expertly gets the reader into Cecily’s head in her quest to find her biological family.  She slowly shows us how Cecily step by step goes from investigating, to stalking, to interfering, and how all of it could seem quite reasonable as events escalate as the chapters unfold.  Frankly, I could not turn the pages fast enough.

While some actions seem a bit out of character for Cecile, I think this was Fransisco’s point – that the primal wound she endured is so embedded in who she is she isn’t even aware of its impact. The ending was definitely satisfying, but I enjoyed the slow buildup of tension and the unraveling of Cecily’s psyche.  Primal Wound is a gripping, compelling, and disturbingly good tale.

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Review – The Skinny On: The Art of Persuasion

The Skinny On: The Art of Persuasion – I’m Convinced!

Rating: 5 of 5: TMBOA Recommended

Author: Jim Randel
Format: Paperback

What I like about Jim Randel’s The Skinny On books, is that they are like hiring an excerpt consultant to come and spend a couple of hours teaching from their extensive research and experience, all for the price of a couple of cups of coffee.  Written in a power point type fashion with wonderfully simple but effective and well illustrated characters, Randel teaches through fictional case studies.  Peppered throughout these studies are the wisdom of experts who have been well researched and quoted by Randel along with an extensive bibliography for those wanting to delve deeper.  Usually when I attend a conference or listen to an expert speaker, I consider it well worth my time if I can learn one new factoid or item that I can put into practice.  While I have read a number of the references Jim uses in his books, I still found multiple take-aways to use going forward making reading The Skinny On books well worth the time.

In The Skinny On: The Art of Persuasion, Randel uses the example of selling real estate as a way to teach the art of persuasion.   However, the ten rules presented apply to all persuasive settings.  While one can be successful in the short term with false sincerity, the true key to persuasion is integrity and truly understanding what the motivations of the party you are attempting to persuade.  In order to master this skill, one needs to learn to be observant.  Randel uses the phrase “Think big ears, big eyes, small mouth” in order to drive home the importance of really “hearing” the other person through all your senses than talking the to death to drive home your point.  In fact, Randel warns not to go to far once you’ve already persuaded someone – know when to stop talking.  He provides a nice anecdote of a real estate deal almost lost when the persuader didn’t know when to stop.

A few other items he highlights are that people want to be consistent.  In other words, it may be easier to have people agree to small incremental items than going for the big sell all at once.  Once you have someone agreeing with you, the process to move along the “sale” becomes much easier; for this Randel uses a story where people eventually agreed to have giant signs placed in their yard asking drivers to be careful while driving.  Frankly, I found this result fascinating.  The discussion on creating a sense of reciprocity was interesting; while I knew of this concept, I think it may be one of the most powerful opportunities in any persuasive undertaking.  Finally, being persuasive isn’t about manipulation but truly understanding the motivations of others and aligning yours and their agenda together to achieve a collaborative end result.

Regardless of the methods you use, Randel’s book contains a lot of information packed into a small and engaging package.  Perhaps not all ideas will resonate with everyone, but there is so much good content here, everyone will gain a key take-away or two.

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Review – The Skinny On Willpower!

The Skinny On: Willpower – Literally, Where There is a Will There is a Way!

Rating: 5 of 5: TMBOA Recommended

Author:
Jim Randel
Format: Paperback

What I like about Jim Randel’s The Skinny On books, is that they are like hiring an excerpt consultant to come and spend a couple of hours teaching from their extensive research and experience, all for the price of a couple of cups of coffee.  Written in a power point type fashion with wonderfully simple but effective and well illustrated characters, Randel teaches through fictional case studies.  Peppered throughout these studies are the wisdom of experts who have been well researched and quoted by Randel along with an extensive bibliography for those wanting to delve deeper.  Usually when I attend a conference or listen to an expert speaker, I consider it well worth my time if I can learn one new factoid or item that I can put into practice.  While I have read a number of the references Jim uses in his books, I still found multiple take-aways to use going forward making reading The Skinny On books well worth the time.

In The Skinny On: Willpower, Randel uses an example of eating properly (fewer marshmallows!) and losing weight to impart lessons regarding willpower.  Given the number of dieting books, exercise videos, and overall size of this market, use of this example should resonate with many readers.  Randel reiterates common lessons with respect to willpower which include goal setting.  Important in this exercise is the specificity of the goals – how much, by when, etc.  Generic goals – be happier – eat better, etc. are prone to failure because there isn’t anything objective to hold oneself accountable to.

Of even greater interest to me, however, was Randel’s focus on preparing for challenges.  Inherent in needing to exercise willpower is the fact that one’s will will be challenged.  For example, in dieting, one will be challenged with emotional stresses that could trigger unhealthy eating – before setting off on a new goal, one needs to anticipate what the potential challenges to the goal and one’s will will be and create a “willpower plan”.  The idea is to think through these future stresses and how to manage them before they happen.  By making a plan before the issue comes up, one is able to effectively plan a response and practice this response before the challenge comes.  This way, when the eventual challenge comes the stress of the challenge itself does not break one’s will and success is easier to obtain.  Randel provides some research suggesting that this practicing improves one’s willpower similar to training a muscle in athletics or the mind in intellectual pursuits.

Finally, I enjoyed the discussion on self discipline.  Randel’s writes “self discipline is about doing things today that may not be your first choice for the pleasure of experiencing bigger and better things tomorrow.”  Well said.

Regardless of the methods you use, Randel’s book contains a lot of information packed into a small and engaging package.  Perhaps not all ideas will resonate with everyone, but there is so much good content here, everyone will gain a key take-away or two.

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Review – The Skinny On: Time Management

The Skinny On: Time Management – Practices What It Preaches!

Rating: 5 of 5: TMBOA Recommended

Author: Jim Randel
Format: Paperback

What I like about Jim Randel’s The Skinny On books, is that they are like hiring an excerpt consultant to come and spend a couple of hours teaching from their extensive research and experience, all for the price of a couple of cups of coffee.  Written in a power point type fashion with wonderfully simple but effective and well illustrated characters, Randel teaches through fictional case studies.  Peppered throughout these studies are the wisdom of experts who have been well researched and quoted by Randel along with an extensive bibliography for those wanting to delve deeper.  Usually when I attend a conference or listen to an expert speaker, I consider it well worth my time if I can learn one new factoid or item that I can put into practice.  While I have read a number of the references Jim uses in his books, I still found multiple take-aways to use going forward making reading The Skinny On books well worth the time.

In The Skinny on: Time Management, there were a number of items that resonated with me.  First off is the idea of inertia, that is to say an object at rest stays at rest which is why it is many times easier to do nothing because it takes so much effort to get going; but one can also take advantage of inertia in that once something is moving it tends to stay moving.  Therefore, getting things done becomes much easier once one gets started.  One of the keys to getting started is when creating to-do lists is to not just list the item to get done, but also the first few key steps that must be taken to accomplish the task. In this way, it is much easier to begin a to-do item because most of the energy required to start is the forming of the action steps, especially the first, to be taken.  That way when one gets to the fourth or fifth item on the list for that day, instead of staring at the item and thinking through how to attack it – which likely includes remembering what the item was to begin with, it’s implications, etc. – one skips all these steps because that work has already been done and the first few actions to be taken are already there!  On a related note, the author quotes an interesting statistic that one immediately increases their efficiency 25% just by creating a to-do list because of the focus it provides.

The idea of batching similar work is also good because it forces planning, increases focus and as a result increases efficiency; Randel quotes “effective beats busy every time”.  Lessons on prioritization are also good.  What has worked for me is to use index cards for to-do lists: one to-do for each card.  This way I can list the item, its key action steps on the left side of the card, and status on the right side.  Each morning I take my list of index cards and prioritize them in order of greatest importance and impact.  When each one is done, I collect them in an every growing pile of accomplishments which provides positive reinforcement and feedback in the short term (which helps to keep inertia) and for the bigger items these finished cards serve as reminders of what I’ve accomplished when writing my self review at performance cycle time.

Regardless of the methods you use, Randel’s book contains a lot of information packed into a small and engaging package.  Perhaps not all ideas will resonate with everyone, but there is so much good content here, everyone will gain a key take-away or two.

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