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Pam

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-15

Getting things done—right

This book is an makes for an interesting companion to the time management classic "Getting Things Done," in that it helps you figure out which "things" you actually want to do. It also makes a convincing argument that people who strive to be strategic with their time, rather than simply efficient, are not only more effective at their jobs—they're happier, too. Don't try to do everything, the author says—do the right things to get what you want. The same holds true for companies: don't try to be everything to every consumer. Settle on your true brand, and do what makes you the best at it.

If you haven't read "Getting Things Done," I would recommend reading this first, as it puts you in the right mindset for learning concrete strategies for success.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-15

New cast of instantly beloved characters

Don't get too attached to any of the characters in this series. A funny thing about "Elemental Blessings" is that, while each individual book tells a complex story with many characters, only one or two characters continue from one installment to the next. A minor character in one becomes central to the next. So while the story continues as one long narrative, the reader's perspective changes dramatically, and there are always many new people to meet. (Who's story will form the center of book four? My money's on Leah, or maybe Leah's daughter.) This latest installment is as satisfying as the others, and the mystery is resolved with a few surprising turns. Thoroughly enjoyable!

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-15

Many unanswered questions

While the premise of this series is an excellent one for exploring themes of identity (If a tapeworm takes over your brain, are you still you? Who do you want to be?), the execution of it falls a little flat in this third installment. Some questions have have lingered from the first book go unanswered, while others are tied up in too neat of a bow. I'm left thinking that the story could have been told in one or two books instead of three. Or maybe it should be four or five. (See what I mean? Hard to tell.) I don't want to give the impression that the book is poorly written, because it's really quite well written—just not structured properly, perhaps. The narrator struggles with one character's British accent, and that was quite distracting. Still, I'm optimistic enough to read the author's future works, and see where she goes from here.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-15

Classic Paula Brackston

This book has everything fans of Paula Brackston expect from one of her novels, including a brilliantly described natural landscape that at times becomes a character itself. Very similar to "The Silver Witch," "Lamp Black, Wolf Grey" explores themes of creativity and independence, and the heroine's artistic endeavors (in this case, painting) bring her closer to the supernatural realm—a great metaphor for the unconscious and creative part of the psyche. This book is a little too similar to "Silver Witch," though, and I think that book told the story better. Still, a good read, and suspenseful.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-15

Scary Fun

Like an old-time radio drama, this book puts you in the middle of the action. It's a little over-dramatic, but not terribly so, and by the time I was through the first few chapters, I was hooked. Great voice performances, especially from Tatiana Maslany.

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7 of 22 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-26-15

All Any Woman Wants

There is a moment when Kateryn Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, asks herself what she wants. She thinks that she wants "all any woman wants,"—to be taken care of. Her answer may surprise fans of HBO's The Tudors, for this is a different Queen Kateryn than the self-assured one they knew, and certainly a different one from historical accounts, which cannot channel her inner voice. Gregory creates that inner voice beautifully as Kateryn grows into her role as queen.

Tiny details make the emotions ring true, such as when Kateryn inspects the royal jewels and catches the scent of the queens that came before her. Each of the women's perfume clings to their favorite pieces. In that moment, Kateryn's sense that she's being haunted by the five queens is instinctual, and her reaction natural—she can't help but wonder what she will leave behind someday.

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8 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-26-15

Best book I've listened to all year

"Wherever we go, there we are." -- I can't imagine being born and raised on a starship six generations after it left Earth, but Kim Stanley Robinson can. Unlike their distant ancestors who volunteered for this mission, the space travelers we meet bound for Aurora have no choice but to be where they are, fighting to get to a habitable planet before they run out of food, fuel, and time. We experience some of the psychological burden of a lifetime spent on a spaceship, and come out at the end of the journey appreciating our home planet for the treasure that it is. Like Robinson's other books, this one is rich with both scientific and emotional detail. I grew to care deeply about the characters, and didn't want to stop listening.

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26 of 30 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-04-15

Fits perfectly with Mistress in the Art of Death

This book is written by the daughter of Ariana Franklin, one of my very favorite authors. Samantha Norman captured her mother's voice perfectly, and I didn't want to stop listening to this book. (I was also very happy to find out that Norman is going to continue writing her mother's series, "Mistress in the Art of Death." I very much want to know how that storyline turns out!) As a stand-alone book, "The Siege Winter" doesn't require any familiarity with the "Mistress in the Art of Death" series, but it confronts some of the same societal issues—in particular class and gender equality—in the context of a richly constructed historical narrative.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-03-15

Entertaining story of the life of a scientist

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is curious about life as a scientist. The actual science of behavioral economics is interesting enough if you want to learn more about it, but the author really shines when he describes how he came up with some of his research projects, and how he was able to collaborate with good people and secure funding for his work (which isn't easy!). Thaler makes his life story both informative and funny. This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a scientist, regardless of discipline.

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10 of 12 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-03-15

Valuable ideas, technical presentation

I'm a science writer, so I see great value in researchers explaining science to the public. I don't believe this book is meant for the general public, however, but rather people with some background in science or business who want to learn more about behavioral economics.

The main idea is this: people make better decisions when they consider a variety of points of view. The same with innovation—successful people come up with new ideas by occasionally stepping outside the norm and looking at things in unusual ways. Pentland finds examples where this is true in investing, politics, and business, among others.

He suggests that if you find yourself in a room at a party where you agree with every word that everybody says, you should probably go to a different room—that is, if you want to catch the good ideas he mentions in the subtitle.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful