Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard BachThe internet is a fascinating place. It can be both scary and amazing at the same time. Scary because it can be an echo chamber where one’s views, no matter how extreme and radical, can be validated and amplified. But it’s also amazing because put to the right uses, it is a fountain of knowledge. I prefer to take the latter approach to the internet rather than the former.

Here is a case in point. Last year, I chose to search out inspirational readings and motivational stories on the web. As part of my search, I landed on a blog started by Chiao Kee Lim called the The Dirty 30’s Club. While the blog has gone a bit stale (no new posts since May 2013), there are many great readings and stories there.

In one of the readings, The Creatures at the Bottom of the River, the book Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach was mentioned. I found the reading very interesting and thought it might be worthwhile to investigate the book. When I saw the overwhelmingly positive reviews the book received on Amazon, I decided to let it jump the queue in my 2016 reading list. By the way, if the name Richard Bach sounds familiar, his more famous book is Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

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Book review: The Big Short

The Big Short by Michael LewisWhen I was putting together my reading list for last year, the movie The Big Short was just hitting the theaters. It had a great cast which included Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, and Ryan Gosling. I had heard about the book and knew it was written by Michael Lewis. I had been wanting to read another one of his books ever since I read The Blind Side, which, by the way, is much, much better than the movie. Anyway, I wasn’t sold on adding it to my 2016 reading list until I read a post from Brad Feld where he raved about how well the movie portrayed the events of the book. It was a done deal after that, and it finally bubbled to the top of my list within the last month or so.

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Book review: Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) - James S.A. CoreyDespite being my book recommendation nemesis, Amazon can come in quite handy sometimes. I was trying to figure out how I found out about the James S.A. Corey novel Leviathan Wakes. Luckily, Amazon archives all of your orders, so I was able to trace the purchase to May of last year. My best guess tells me that it came from either an Amazon Daily Deal or one of their email book list recommendations. Either way, being a science fiction novel, it fit neatly into one of my reading genres and, since I had already purchased it, I had it on my 2016 reading list.

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Book review: UX Strategy – How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want

UX Strategy by Jamie LevyBetween my recreational, science fiction reads, I like reading books to brush up on product and business development, software development techniques, management and leadership skills, and business strategy. Strangely enough (tongue in cheek), the emails I get from Amazon are either full of sci-fi books or business books. Therefore, I was not surprised when UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want by Jamie Levy showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Since I work with clients on product development strategies, as well as potential product ideas for my business, UX Strategy looked like it had a lot of potential. The strong reviews on Amazon certainly didn’t hurt its cause, so I added it to my short list of books for 2016.

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Book review: The Wayward Pines Trilogy

Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake CrouchEven though I have a reading list that has grown to out of control proportions of 150+ books strong, I’m always on the lookout for book recommendation sources. I have a few friends and blogs that have become trusted sources. There’s my ever present nemesis – the infamous Amazon recommendation engine. For my latest read, I decided to try a new recommendation source –  Gizmodo, one of the tech blogs that I follow. One of their must reads from a while back was Pines from the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. Since I follow the site primarily for tech gadget news, I was a little concerned about the potential quality of their book recommendations, but I figured it was worth at least a shot.

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Book Review: No Better Time – The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet

No Better Time by Molly Knight RaskinWhile I was a General Manager at Vitesse Semiconductor, traveling to our office in Woodstock, VT was always an interesting adventure. The town of Woodstock is your stereotypical quaint New England town that looks like it came straight off a postcard or out of the set of a Hollywood movie. The office there was a converted ski lodge off Route 12 on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t a big building. There were 2 offices upstairs, and a meeting area, break room, and space for about 10-12 cubicles spread across 2 rooms downstairs. From one of the upstairs offices, you could see the old rope tow that took you up the slight incline that had once serviced a single run ski slope.

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Book Review: The Gift

The Gift by Dave DonovanI’m not 100% certain how I found my latest read, The Gift by Dave Donovan. My best guess is that my old nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, suggested it. The description looked promising, the reviews were generally positive, so I added it to my reading list. After that, I believe it showed up as an Amazon daily deal, so I snagged a copy for my Kindle. According to my Amazon purchase history, that was back in October 2014. OK, so I let it set for almost two years before getting around to reading it. At least it finally made it to the top of my queue unlike some other books that I fear will be buried on my reading list for years to come, or possibly even decades.

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Book Review: High Output Management

High Output Management by Andrew S. GroveGiven how often management theories change and evolve, there are very few “classic” management books. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove qualifies as one. For those who are unfamiliar with Andrew (Andy) Grove, he was one of the founders of Intel Corporation, became its CEO in 1987, and served as Chairman of the Board from 1997-2005. He was an instrumental figure in many of Intel’s business strategies, particularly the decision to change Intel’s focus from memory chips to microprocessors. In other words, Andy Grove is synonymous with Intel. Even today, a lot of the business practices, strategies, and culture of Intel are a reflection of his philosophies of building and running a successful company.

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Book Review: I, Robot

I, Robot by Isaac AsimovNow, look, let’s start with the three fundamental Rules of Robotics – the three rules that are built most deeply into a robot’s positronic brain.

One, a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Two, a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Three, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These are Isaac Asimov’s easily recognizable and famous Three Laws of Robotics as laid out in his collection of short stories – I, Robot. For science fiction aficionados, these are easily identified and, most likely, committed to memory. Unfortunately for me, I just recently learned these laws. Sure, I’d heard them paraphrased many times and referenced in numerous books, but I never knew the true context in which they were used by Asimov. Now that I know the context, the rules are even more poignant and relevant in my mind.

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Book review: Kill Process

Kill Process by William HertlingWilliam Hertling is one of my favorite authors. When he sends you an email saying his latest book is available, and you have over 160 books on your reading list, what should you do? Of course, you put Kill Process at the top of it.

Kill Process is Hertling’s first book since he finished the Singularity Series last year, which is a series you must read if you haven’t already. The good news is that you don’t need to have read any of the Singularity Series books to enjoy Kill Process. Kill Process stands on its own. As Will put it in his email, with Kill Process:

I’ve returned to the present day to explore data ownership, privacy, and analysis, as well as social media, computer hacking, and the world of tech startups

The hook was very intriguing, and I was anxious to jump into his latest work.

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