The Eye of Minds

The Eye of MindsThe Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, #1) by James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on October 8th 2013
Pages: 308
My Rating: two-stars

An all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure from James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?
But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Too simple. Lacking tech. Those are my two 2-word reviews for this two star book.

My longer review wouldn’t get much better. I enjoyed Maze Runner and it’s not fair to compare, but it’s inevitable.

The middle act proceeding to the final act was weak and repeating the same thing over and over.There was a very bad reveal at the end.

This book continues my love/hate relationship with YA. Either YA is really good, or the really bad. This one went south from my perspective because of poor use of tropes like the matrix, gamer culture, and AI.

I’ve read a lot of cyberpunk and Sci-Fi so I have higher expectations for  technical plot lines. This line was too thin to hold together.

This was book 14/15 in 2016

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Published by Random House on February 28th 2012
Pages: 286
My Rating: four-stars

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed. Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year. An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones. What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.  They succeeded by transforming habits. In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.  Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.  Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

This book has been on my to-read list for years. I’ve seen numerous blogs and podcasts reviewing it and it follows through with an enjoyable an thought-provoking education of what makes a habit (and how to change them).

Take the time to read this slowly, keep notes, and review the notes once you’re done reading. Then work toward changing any habits you might have that you aren’t very fond of. It’s amazing how having a working definition of a thing helps you to become a master over that thing.

This was book number 17 of 52 for 2017.

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning ThiefThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan
Published by Disney Hyperion Books on March 1st 2006
Pages: 375
My Rating: three-stars

Alternate Cover Edition can be found here.
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

I started and stopped this book a few times before finishing it. It’s YA and loved by a lot of people, my youngest niece included.

I had seen the movie at some point in the past and knew what was going to happen. That didn’t help reading the story which was enjoyable, but would have been predictable without knowing the general plot.

Even though I didn’t enjoy the book that much, I am excited for my kids to read it as they are coming into the age range this book is perfect for.

This was book number 20 of 52 for 2017.

The 12 Week Year

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington
on February 17, 2009
My Rating: two-stars

The guide to shortening your execution cycle down from one year to 12 weeks

Most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans; a 12-month execution cycle. Instead, The 12 Week Year avoids the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking. This book redefines your "year" to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn't enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.Explains how to leverage the power of a 12-week year to drive improved results in any area of your lifeOffers a how-to book for both individuals and organizations seeking to improve their execution effectivenessAuthors are leading experts on execution and implementation

Turn your organization's idea of a year on its head, and speed your journey to success.

Other than the point of “redefine your ‘year’ to be 12 weeks” this book doesn’t have a lot to offer. It’s playing word games to try to make you more productive.

I tried two “12 week years” this year and it really didn’t work. I might not have applied what was taught in the book, but I’m okay with that.

I’ll stick to what’s working for me.

This was book number 23 of 52 for 2017.


NeuromancerNeuromancer (Sprawl, #1) by William Gibson
Published by Ace Books on July 1st 1984
Pages: 271
My Rating: four-stars

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .
Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employers crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.
Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century's most potent visions of the future.

I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book. I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk for years, but hadn’t read one of it’s first hits. Terrible.

I read this around the same time as my wife so we got to have couples book club to discuss it when we were done. She wrote a review here.

This is one of those books that have a “that just happened” stun during and directly after reading it, but then follow with a few weeks/months of the story and characters popping back into your thoughts. We went to see Blade Runner 2049 a week after reading so we were steeped in visuals of futuristic cities crawling with genetically modified humans, androids, and future tech.

I’ve always had technophile tendencies which is what got me into computer programming at a young age so dystopian and bleak futures predicted by cyberpunk don’t bother me as long as there is a helping of tech to cover the harshness.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the Sprawl series and some of the other books in the genre.

This was book number 44 of 52 for 2017.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

A Knight of the Seven KingdomsA Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (The Tales of Dunk and Egg, #1-3) by George R.R. Martin, Gary Gianni
Published by Bantam on October 6th 2015
Pages: 355
My Rating: five-stars

Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.
Illustrated by the amazing Gary Gianni who is known for his work on PRINCE VALIANT, the Wandering Star limited editions of SOLOMON KANE and BRAN MAK MORN, and of course for his stunning 2014 ICE & FIRE calendar.

After finishing the available books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series a few years ago, and in the time between seasons of the Game of Thrones television series this book was the perfect extra helping of Westeros that I needed.

The two main characters are extremely likable and I enjoyed following along with their adventures. If you’ve read any other ASOIAF books or even only watched the tv show you’ll slide right in with the world of Westeros with all the heraldry, geography, and social classes.

George R. R. Martin is an excellent storyteller. Don’t miss this fun and short trio of stories.

This was book number 11 of 52 for 2017.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
on October 1st 2013
Pages: 305
My Rating: four-stars

In his #1 bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology, and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, David and Goliath is in many ways the most practical and provocative book Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.

I’ve already talked about a Gladwell book, Outliers, so read that to hear what I think about his books and his podcast.

The book starts with a description of the biblical battle of David and Goliath that I had never heard before even after being a weekly church-goer for over 20 years. Funny enough, I heard the same description in a sermon a few months after reading this book!

This book is more of the same and is enjoyable if you enjoy this style.

This was book number 22 of 52 for 2017.