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One Big Thing - Phil Cooke

August 30th, 2012

One Big Thing by Phil CookeWithout a clear sense of identity, vision, and purpose, all of us tend to wander aimlessly from plan to plan, from project to project, from hopeful beginning to unfulfilled promise.

It need not be so. You hold in your hands a roadmap for a different, better path. From start to finish. One Big Thing will guide you with:

Practical strategies to help you find your true purpose -- and share it with the world

Keys to discovering the difference between a mere job and a passion-fueled dream

Tools for cultivating the focus necessary to rise above scattershot mediocrity and excel at your true calling

Up-to-date parallels and deftly mined case studies from the field of branding

Ideas for deflecting "what if?" questions that threaten to derail your destiny

Insights for connecting your calling to a cause bigger than yourself

Reassurance that pursuing a single-minded dream makes perfect sense -- despite how crazy it might look to everyone else

Intuitively, we know that faking it won't work; we must discover our unique, highest-and-nest pursuit. And it must be linked to who we are and what we value most.

Phil Cooke invites you to encounter the wisdom that he has shared with major organizations and the hundres of thousands that follow him through his blog at His aim? To ignite the creative spark that can become a flame when you grasp the core of who you were meant to be...your one big thing.

Phil Cooke breaks down the now-cliché book about career freedom into more manageable pieces. Find out what you're good at, exploit those strengths and outsource your weakness. Brainstorm what you like and even what you don't like to help narrow the field. Other books focus on pushing you to start once you have the idea. This book helps you look inside yourself to find the idea.

I read One Big Thing after I had already read The $100 Startup and The 4 Hour Work Week (both books that I recommend reading). One Big Thing arguably should be first on your list chronologically because it encourages you to find your path and makes it feel more attainable. Worry about starting your business and then cutting back on your hours later.

Cooke seemingly humanizes this process whereas some other books make it seem like something that only happens to other, super people. He has great insight and shares it on many other topics as well. This is a quick read, which will benefit you over time as you plan to read it over and over.


August 29th, 2012
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThe separation of twins is no ordinary separation. Imagine surviving an earthquake. When you come to, you find the world unrecognizable. The horizon is in a different place. The sun has changed color. Nothing remains of the terrain you know. As for you, you are alive. But it is not the same as living. It's no wonder the survivors of such disasters so often wish they had perished with the others.

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2012 Man Booker Prize Longlist

August 28th, 2012

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.

The Yips by Nicola Barker

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

Philida by André Brink

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Skios by Michael Frayn

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Umbrella by Will Self

Narcopolis Jeet Thayil

Communion Town by Sam Thompson

August 27th, 2012
Eldest by Christopher PaoliniThere must be a solution hidden amid my knowledge, if only I'm creative enough.

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The Columbus Affair - Steve Berry

August 24th, 2012

The Columbus Affair by Steve BerryHe was called by many names—Columb, Colom, Colón—but we know him as Christopher Columbus. Many questions about him exist: Where was he born, raised, and educated? Where did he die? How did he discover the New World?

None have ever been properly answered.

And then there is the greatest secret of all.

From Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author, comes an exciting new adventure—one that challenges everything we thought we knew about the discovery of America.

Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan has written hard-hitting articles from hot spots around the world. But when a controversial report from a war-torn region is exposed as a fraud, his professional reputation crashes and burns. Now he lives in virtual exile—haunted by bad decisions and the shocking truth he can never prove: that his downfall was a deliberate act of sabotage by an unknown enemy. But before Sagan can end his torment with the squeeze of a trigger, fate intervenes in the form of an enigmatic stranger with a request that cannot be ignored.

Zachariah Simon has the look of a scholar, the soul of a scoundrel, and the zeal of a fanatic. He also has Tom Sagan’s estranged daughter at his mercy. Simon desperately wants something only Sagan can supply: the key to a 500-year-old mystery, a treasure with explosive political significance in the modern world. For both Simon and Sagan the stakes are high, the goal intensely personal, the consequences of opposing either man potentially catastrophic. On a perilous quest from Florida to Vienna to Prague and finally to the mountains of Jamaica, the two men square off in a dangerous game. Along the way, both of their lives will be altered—and everything we know about Christopher Columbus will change.

Eight years ago, Tom Sagan's career as an investigative journalist came to an abrupt end around allegations of fraud.  He knows that the allegations are false, but despite his talent for uncovering the truth, he was never able find any evidence to prove his own innocence.  When he cannot take his ruined existence any longer (literally has gun in hand), a well-timed knock at the door disrupts Tom's plans.  Zachariah Simon, the man-who-knocked, is a very powerful man who believes that something he needs can be found only if he has Tom's help.  Zachariah turns out to be a very dangerous man who will stop at nothing to locate a treasure that has been lost for centuries and, if it is found, would have incredible political and historical impact.  What was that secret cargo that sailed with Christopher Columbus?  And will Zachariah Simon's blackmail attempt be enough to get Tom Sagan to help him find it?  

For a man (arguably) worthy of an eponymous holiday, there are many mysteries that still surround Christopher Columbus.  Author Steve Berry chose to take advantage of how little is actually known about Columbus with this novel.  Berry typically writes historical fiction and is well-known for his serial character Cotton Malone.  The Columbus Affair is not a Cotton Malone book.  

I have read other books by Steve Berry, though only a few.  I liked his other work, but The Columbus Affair was a little flat.  I found that too much of the history (the actual history combined with the fictional history created by the author) was simply repeated over and over.  The story moved slowly because every time it was set to progress, the same details were hashed out yet again.  The characters were all pitiable and despicable for their own reasons, but none was likable.  It is always hard to really enjoy a book when you don't have someone you like.  Berry is talented enough to have still made this book entertaining at times, its just not his best work.  


August 23rd, 2012
Brandon Sanderson - MistbornKelsier snorted. "If you're always on time, it implies that you never have anything better you should be doing."

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Lenovo Ideapad Z570 1024DAU 15.6-Inch Laptop

May 18th, 2012

The stylish yet affordable IdeaPad Z570 is packed with loads of cool features to make your day more fun. Bring your multimedia experience alive on your high-definition widescreen display; optimize audio-visual settings with OneKey Theater II; and get top quality audio with SRS Premium Surround SoundTM. The IdeaPad Z570 is built for convenience too. It supports WiDi technology; features a comfortable AccuType keyboard making typing easier; and Lenovo Energy Management provides longer battery life. This laptop is powered by the smart performance of a 2nd generation Intel CoreTM processor. Plus, with Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows 7 with RapidBoot technology, you can start your PC up to 20 seconds faster than a typical Windows 7 computer. And you can enjoy the best possible multimedia experience too.

I needed a new laptop. I always find it hard to balance the specs needed in a laptop against cost so I lapsed into my usual analysis paralysis. Enter the Z570. Many people are becoming familiar with the Lenovo brand, which is predominantly known for "work" laptops. This laptop can go toe-to-toe with the other major manufacturers in the consumer market. When asked for recommendations, I have always steered people to HP or Toshiba. The Lenovo Z570 has certainly entered the conversation for machines at this price point. The hardware in this laptop won't knock your socks off, but it has everything that I need and it should last me awhile if I treat it well.

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3-2350M processor
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows® 7, with RapidBoot technology
15.6" HD widescreen (1366x768)
Integrated Intel® HD 3000 Graphics
6GB DDR3 memory, 500GB HD
Integrated high-speed 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Integrated DVD reader/writer
USB 2.0, eSATA connectors & 5-in-1 card-reader
Integrated 0.3M webcam for clearer video chats
5.7 lbs
Up to 5 hours (with 6-cell battery)

The screen is great and watching videos is a rewarding experience. I am bummed that the resolution is capped at 1366 x 768, but the important thing is that the video is always crisp. The touchpad is super sensitive and I am still working to retrain myself, but I think I will just get an external mouse. The DVD drive opens maybe too easily, but learn to maneuver your laptop from the left and you can work around that.

Other than that, this is a great laptop at a great price. I am happy with mine and have recommended it to a few others already.


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2012 Edgar Award Winners

May 1st, 2012
Edgar Awards

Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre...

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce ... the Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced.

- Best Novel -
The Ranger by Ace Atkins
WINNER! Gone by Mo Hayder
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
1222 by Anne Holt
Field Gray by Philip Kerr

- Best First Novel -
Red on Red by Edward Conlon
Last to Fold by David Duffy
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen
WINNER! Bent Road by Lori Roy
Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder

- Best Paperback Original -
WINNER! The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle
The Dog Sox by Russell Hill
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley
Vienna Twilight by Frank Tallis

- Best Fact Crime -
The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins
The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English
WINNER! Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender by Steve Miller
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposte by Mark Seal

- Best Critical/Biographical -
The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of our Time by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making by John Curran
WINNER! On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda
Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film by Philippa Gates
Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick

- Best Short Story -
"Marley’s Revolution" by John C. Boland
"Tomorrow’s Dead" by David Dean
"The Adakian Eagle" by Bradley Denton
"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" by Diana Gabaldon
"The Case of Death and Honey" by Neil Gaiman
WINNER! "The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train” by Peter Turnbull

- Best Juvenile -
Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger
It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett
Vanished by Sheela Chari
WINNER! Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

- Best Young Adult -
Shelter by Harlan Coben
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
WINNER! The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser

- Best Play -
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club by Jeffrey Hatcher
WINNER! The Game's Afoot by Ken Ludwig

- Best TV Episode -
"Innocence" - Blue Bloods by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor
"The Life Inside" - Justified by Benjamin Cavell
"Part 1" - Whitechapel by Ben Court & Caroline Ip
WINNER! "Pilot" - Homeland by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff
"Mask" - Law & Order: SVU by Speed Weed

- Mary Higgins Clark Award -
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron
Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick
WINNER! Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely

April 30th, 2012
Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull"Can you see the power emotion has to distort our outlook? Makes you wonder, did you have a bad day, or did you make it a bad day?"

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Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson

April 17th, 2012

Mistborn by Brandon SandersonThe Mists rule the night.

The Lord Ruler owns the world.

Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.

He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.

There are many things that Vin knows, thanks to her brother. She knows that she is no one, that she can trust no one, that no one cares about her and that everyone will betray her in the end. She also knows, however, that she is different from everyone else; she has this...ability. And it may be that ability that has kept her alive this long. And then she meets some people. Or more accurately, then some people come looking for Vin and they will challenge everything that her brother taught her and offer her a chance to be a part of something important. But can she learn to trust them?

Mistborn is book one in a trilogy of the same name. Brandon Sanderson takes us to his sci-fi/fantasy world where people are either the low-class skaa or of noble birth. And everyone fears the Lord Ruler, who saved the world and enslaved it in the same act of epic bravery over one thousand years ago.

The characters in Mistborn and its plot are refreshingly unique. I enjoyed seeing this genre differently as it was presented by Mr. Sanderson. Some parts were difficult to read, but...they needed to be. I cannot go into more detail without revealing information you should find out on your own when you read, but due to the nature of the story line, some action sequences may leave you dizzy from repetition.

This book is so complex I feel like it is a trilogy itself rolled into one book. I cannot imagine how much more ground can be covered in two more books, but I am more than curious enough to find out. Mistborn is well-written and engaging. I look forward to book 2.