Friday, September 28, 2012

Recommended Read - The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The Cutting SeasonThe Cutting Season by Attica Locke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is dark and thick like a swamp at night - very haunting and creepy! The characters have depth and the emotions portrayed the true conflicting attitudes present in the south regarding its tumultuous history. The ending contained a surprise that I didn't see coming! When a book starts off with a corpse in the first chapter it can either be really good or really bad. This was really good!

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Flop - Building the Learning Organization by Michael J Marquardt

Building the Learning Organization: Achieving Strategic Advantage Through a Commitment to LearningBuilding the Learning Organization: Achieving Strategic Advantage Through a Commitment to Learning by Michael J. Marquardt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a required reading in one of the courses I took while obtaining my Master's degree. While I liked that it wanted to cover best practices in some of the most successful companies in the world, I think that it just plain dragged along and was incredibly dry and boring. It could have easily been gleaned down to fewer pages, and have been reorganized to read a little more interestingly. While I agree that every organization should strive toward being a more flexible, learning-based organization, I don't necessarily recommend reading this book because it is so uninteresting.

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Sorta Recommended Read - The Character of Organizations by William Bridges

The Character of Organizations: Using Personality Type in Organization DevelopmentThe Character of Organizations: Using Personality Type in Organization Development by William Bridges
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a required textbook for a course that I took while obtaining my Master's degree. I enjoyed how it compared individuals to organizations and was well laid out with a steady flow. It would be a recommended read for any manager or person in charge of an organization in order to tap into the potential of all employees, thus utilizing the most important part of an organization. There were still many boring parts, as with any book utilized in a university classroom, but this was one of the better books I've read.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recommended Read - The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques

The Bellmaker (Redwall, #7)The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Join the brave creatures of Redwall as they venture out into the world in another great adventure! This novel had a lot of great firsts in it - a mole that didn't speak with a "rustic" accent, a rat that was actually one of the "good guys," and wolves. But it also had that same wonderful familiarity of all the other books in the series - some recurring characters, wonderful feasts, and dangerous adventures. Brian Jacques and his Redwall series should be added to any reading list for children for their fun, whimsical tales filled with important lessons - and quite a bit of poetry, so they can develop a love for poetry as well as prose!

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Another Flop - Research Design by John W Creswell

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Flop - How to Measure Anything by Douglas W Hubbard

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business by Douglas W. Hubbard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a required textbook in a research methods course that I took for my Master's degree. I found it to be quite a bit dry, and not as helpful as I was hoping. I was hoping it would help to break down the world of statistics a little more, but it felt mostly full of over-complicated scenarios and difficult language. I am sure that had I picked this up in an attempt to read outside of the classroom environment that I would not have made it past more than the first couple of chapters before moving on to something better.

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Flop - Lockets and Lanterns by Janet Syas Nitsick

Lockets and Lanterns: A Time RememberedLockets and Lanterns: A Time Remembered by Janet Syas Nitsick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love to meet and showcase Nebraska authors, but unfortunately this was not my kind of book. The characters were a bit one-dimensional, there were some editing errors, and it just had a very predictable air about it. If you are into Christian historical romance, you might like this - but if you are someone who prefers a fast paced novel that will keep you guessing, this isn't for you.

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Recommended Read - Salamandastron by Brian Jacques

Salamandastron (Redwall, #5)Salamandastron by Brian Jacques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If the title didn't already attract you (which let's be honest, most of us book nerds LOVE titles like this that contain amazingly fun made up words), the storyline would definitely draw you in! We finally get to follow along with a daughter (adopted, but still a daughter) of a badger lord to see what it's like to grow up in the shadow of greatness! This is the first time Mr. Jacques shows the point of view of a child of a badger lord, and he does an excellent job making a relatable character. I also love the reemergence of the sword of Martin the Warrior!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recommended Read - Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques

Mariel of Redwall (Redwall, #4)Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a swashbuckling adventure of animal proportions! Follow the brave mousemaid Mariel as she goes from a memory-less storm survivor to a brilliant heroine, recovering memories along the way. Her story intertwines with some familiar characters we've met before, while also introducing us to new favorites. Once again the Redwall series provides a fantastic fantasy novel for all ages.

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Recommended Read - Mattimeo by Brian Jacques

Mattimeo (Redwall, #3)Mattimeo by Brian Jacques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Follow a young mouse as he learns that everything he wants won't always just be handed to him due to a family legacy! This third book in the series follows the son of a warrior as he grows up fast, and makes new friends along the way. There is plenty of adventure, and as with any Brian Jacques book in this series a wonderful cast of characters. Out of all the books, I think this one really showcases coming of age and going from spoiled to smart.

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Recommended Read - Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors

Beside a Burning SeaBeside a Burning Sea by John Shors
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was attracted to this book because of its setting during World War II (a time I think we should all remember for the lives lost on every side), but after only the first chapter I became even more drawn in due to the complex and beautiful characters and the vivid writing. The emotions expressed by the characters were raw and real and you could almost taste and feel the lush yet treacherous surroundings. The story flows quickly and this was a book that I couldn't put down so I read it all in one setting. A truly beautiful work!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recommended Read - Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)Abandon by Meg Cabot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know Meg Cabot is a respected and well-loved author in the YA genre, so when I stumbled upon this book on sale at a local bookseller I just had to pick it up. I wasn't disappointed!
The story is a re-imagining of the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, set in a more modern time and with the perspective of Persephone (played by Pierce).
Sure, parts of it were uber-cliche, the sort of typical thing you find in YA fantasy/romance genre. Sure, there were times I wished the characters had more depth. But overall this was interesting enough not to put down, and I look forward to continuing to read this series.

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Freebie flop - Flat Fax and the Book of Doors by P.S. Wright

Flat Fax And The Book Of Doors Flat Fax And The Book Of Doors by P.S. Wright
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love the idea behind this book, but the story itself was rather disappointing. The world was like a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz, but there wasn't a lot to keep my attention and the story often just dragged along. I didn't connect with the characters, and had difficulties finding the main theme. There were a few editing and grammatical errors as well.
I didn't really get this work, and it was just ok.

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Book Club Flop - The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

The Tiger's WifeThe Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This story was rather jumbled and did not maintain my attention very well. I was excited to check it out because NY Times named it one of the 10 best books in 2011, but it did not live up to that award and I really disagree with it. The story dragged on at many parts and often felt weighed down by overly prosaic language and stories without any seeming point or purpose. I felt like the three primary stories didn't always flow together very well, and that there was no climax but just a constant chatter with no real begining or end.
I definitely didn't see what the hype was about, and it wouldn't make my top ten list personally. However, I brought up this view to a local book club and my opinion was not fully shared, so I think that this is either one of those books that you are going to love or going to hate.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The loss of a great man

Last night at approximately 10 pm, the world lost a great man - my grandfather. At 94 years old, he had witnessed so many amazing pieces of history and made plenty of history himself as the father of 6 children. I have many found memories of spending time with him and my grandmother as a child in their large house. When my grandmother passed away, he moved forward by selling his home and continuing to live life to the fullest, eventually even finding himself a lovely girlfriend whom I fondly looked at as a second grandmother.

For many of his years he was very healthy, and only within the last few years did he really show any signs of age complications. I am thankful that I had plenty of time to perfect my goodbye and that I am able to mourn his passing with no regrets and only a sadness at the loss and a sense of happiness that he is no longer suffering.

When I was younger, I believe around 10 to 12 years old, I wrote a poem in his honor. It was a bit of a stretch, as I was never really interested in fishing, though he was in all truth a great fisherman and even made money on the side by selling nightcrawlers (and let me tell you, I can still remember the first time he opened up his basement fridge and it was full of buckets of worms - not a pretty sight lol!). But he inspired it, so it's always been "his."

Here's to you, Grandpa, and I hope you've found peace.

Dear Grandpa, by Jessica Buike. 
This morning it was so very nice
that I decided to go fishin’.
I didn’t have a pole, so
I took yours without permission.
I wasn’t trying to be bad, and
I didn’t mean you any harm,
I just wanted to go fishin’
in that pond behind the farm.
I was being very careful as
I slowly set the pole right
in its special fishing place
that you showed me just last night.
Then suddenly I heard a great splash
and up from the middle of the lake
came a gigantic fish, and guess what?
Your fishing pole it did take!
I would’ve fought the fish for it
(I’m sure I could have beat him!)
but you see, my dearest grandpa,
I don’t know how to swim!
And so now as I am walking up the lane
I’m writing you this note
to tell you I lost your fishing pole, and that
next time I’ll take you and your fishing boat!

*** Please note that this is a work that is copyrighted and the property of Jessica Buike only. Any reproductions or duplications will be considered copyright infringement. Thank you. ***