I enjoyed the Tales of the Otori trilogy. The story has good pacing, interesting characters, and just a bit of magic that doesn't put it too far into the fantasy genre.
Of the three books, I thought the last, Brilliance of the Moon, was the weakest. Good action to be sure, but the book tried to cover too much ground. There was some plot resolution by Deus Ex Machina. Perhaps my preference for the first book is that I first learn about a strange new world and characters that live larger than life. By the third book, it's less about showing us this strange world and more about tying up loose ends.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I'm not usually a fantasy fan, but Lian Hearn's trilogy introduces just a bit of magic to spruce up an otherwise pseudo-historical Japanese setting. The characters are strong and we follow the training and awakening talents of the protagonist, Takeo. Throw in the most beautiful girl in the three countries, ninja-like espionage, samurai and a vivid setting. The audiobook has good performances and keeps you riveted.
This is a fascinating account of the formation of Israel that puts the current Middle East crisis in some perspective. In short, this period of time was remarkable due to the clash of cultures, widely different approaches to war, superpower influences, and incredible stakes. The prelude to the British pullout was very interesting as each side positioned themselves for the start of a certain war. The narrator used to play Tevya in "Fiddler on the Roof," so his voice provides a strong reading with pronounciations that I'd never get on my own in the book format. Highly recommended.
This was a funny, thought-provoking, well-constructed audiobook from the reverb sound effects of God to the actual clips of Limbaugh shows. [Was amazed they could include right-wing clips legally] It uses the audiobook medium to its full advantage. Al Franken presents a damning fact-filled argument against the notion that conservatives are fair and the media has a liberal bias. The chapters on anti-terrorism efforts under the Clinton vs Bush administrations is particularly troubling.
I have recommended this audiobook to other friends but must also append a caveat: Al goes overboard occasionally and it hurts the acceptability of his important message. One example is his comparison of John Walker Lindh and confederate army soldiers. Franken says anyone who fought on the confederate side of the Civil War was a worse traitor than John Walker Lind (the American Taliban), but unfortunately, such reductionist ways of looking at complex issues is similar to the conservative mindset that Franken skewers. Was the Civil War a simple black-and-white racial struggle or were there at least elements of state/local outrage against what they perceived as heavy-handed federal intrusions? Is there any difference between a few who plot against the many versus millions who want to secede and form a new state? There were other examples of Franken being a bit dogmatic or too flippant, and this detracts and possibly prevents this work's consumption by Americans who *should* get Franken's message.
This is a wonderful collection of short stories that riveted my wife and I during a car trip along the East Coast. As mentioned by another reviewer, "The Astronaut From Wyoming", is worth the price of this collection: deep, vivid characters; occasionally emotional and hilarious prose in a near-present time setting.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to eBoys. The audiobook doesn't attempt to be a treatise on Venture Capital. Instead, it gives you a glimpse at a new "democratic" VC firm, Benchmark, and describes some of the more interesting ventures like Ebay and Webvan. It gives you the venture capitalist perspective on those ventures, and how the standards of investing changed during the dot-com mania. This is not a textbook on venture capital, but it is an entertaining peek at how some of the big internet deals went down.
As a former long-time resident of Charlottesville, I'm all too familiar with the rise & fall of the area's only billion+ $ net venture. So it was very interesting to get an insider's look at Value America through David Kuo's eyes.
First and foremost, this is a case study of a fast-moving dot.com with a "flexible" business plan. Value America was heralded for its inventory-less business plan, but eventually the major flaws in the model were revealed, especially on the B2C side. This book provides mostly cautionary tales. It describes the infighting and power struggles among the executives. It details the inability of the CEO to rein in the founder Craig Winn, the "visionary" promise-now/deliver-later salesman. And it touches on the operational failures that led to thousands of delayed orders and a general technology break down. Because Kuo was in PR and bus dev, we don't get an in-depth look at the information technology infrastructure, supposedly the crown-jewel of this company's assets. Instead we see the excessive and sometimes irresponsible deal-making that occured with little executive knowledge of the technological requirements.
It is an entertaining book that depicts how a company can blow through hundreds of millions of dollars that result in little salvageable value. Like the "startup.com" movie, dot.bomb also shows the emotional fallout at the executive level.
I liked this book enough that I've bought multiple hardcopies for friends and myself. The book provides a blueprint for personally managing a small number of stocks. This stock portfolio should be hedged by other diverse investments including safe money (i.e. fixed interest) and mutual funds.
There is a lot of good advice throughout the book. They cover, in part, (1) why you should concentrate on a few stocks and know them inside and out, (2) metrics for determining an appropriate value for a stock, (3) effective screening tools in finding the gems, and (4) some no-nonsense views of how the stock market really operates with respect to analysts.
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