April 16th, 2012
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldEmmeline didn't call me anything. She didn't need to, for I was always there. You only need names for the absent.

The Columbus Affair

April 5th, 2012

The Columbus Affair by Steve Barry

The Columbus Affair by Steve BarryHe 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.

This book will be available on May 15, 2012.

Pre-order your copy.

April 4th, 2012
Stephen King - On WritingTabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was a constant, one of the few good tings I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, There's someone who knows. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don't have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting - Al Pittampalli

April 3rd, 2012

Read This Before Our Next Meeting - Al PittampalliSomeone asked me the other day, what I do for a living. I found myself hard pressed for an answer. If he wanted to know my job title, or what industry I work in, then all I had to do was to recite what's on my business card. But he seemed sincere. He honestly wanted to know what I do most of the day, so I was honest too: What I do for a living is attend meetings. Bad meetings.

One mediocre meeting after another quietly corrodes our organization, and every day we allow it to happen.

If an operating room were as sloppily run as our meetings, patients would die. If a restaurant kitchen put as little planning into the meal as we put into our meetings, dinner would never be served. Worst of all, our meeting culture is changing how we focus, what we focus on, and what decisions we make. But there is an answer. A new kind of meeting -- the Modern Meeting. Starting today, that's how we're going to do business.

Culture change occurs when a transformational idea spreads to enough people. Like a virus that makes its way from person to person, spreading exponentially faster, so can the Modern Meeting.

The status quo must go. Now. Before it's too late.

Like so many others, I have first-hand experience with inefficient meetings. A meeting is called and little to no information is given for what it is about. The wrong people are invited and then sit silently in the meeting as their time is wasted. The key people show up to the meeting without having prepared anything to offer and simply expect to bring value. In no time at all the conversation is derailed and the scheduled time elapses with no results. The meeting ends and nothing has been accomplished.

I think that more businesses are plagued by meetings-for-the-sake-of-meetings than would care to admit. I believe the topic is on the forefront of every initiative to gain efficiency in modern business. The "correct" structure of meetings was certainly an issue for many of the businesses that Al Pittampalli visited in his years as an IT Advisor, which prompted him to lead the charge for better meetings. He has studied various aspects of what could make an effective, efficient and successful meeting and his findings are laid out in this book.

This book serves to reinforce my frustrations with so many of the meetings that I am invited to attend. I would wager that the people who will be most drawn to this book are those of us who would like to see a change in their meetings. The irony is that we are the ones who are trying to make the change we wish to see. Perhaps I just need to make some anonymous gifts...

There are a lot of "business books" that have a good message and I will say that most are not very well-written. I found the message of Read This Before Our Next Meeting to be poignant and I thought the writing was clear, concise and engaging. The book is short, but consider that a strength instead of an issue of value; I am sure he could have written more, but is it worth it to dilute his message? I enjoyed this book and recommend that you pick up a couple copies make a few anonymous gifts of your own.

Amazon

April 2nd, 2012
Brandon Sanderson - MistbornBreeze raised an eyebrow, then laid a hand on Yeden's shoulder. "You should try not to talk so much, friend," he suggested. "You'll sound far less stupid that way."

The Innocent

March 29th, 2012

The Innocent by David Baldacci

The Innocent by David BaldacciAmerica has enemies--ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can't stop. That's when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target.

But Will Robie may have just made the first--and last--mistake of his career . . .

THE INNOCENT It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.

Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway-her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can't walk away. He needs to help her.

Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he's convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents' deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.

Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl's life . . . and perhaps his own.

This book will be available on April 17, 2012.

Pre-order your copy.

March 28th, 2012
Stephen King - On WritingLet's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. You job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.

Fablehaven - Brandon Mull

March 27th, 2012

Fablehaven by Brandon MullFor centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite. . .

Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

Kendra and Seth must spend a week with their grandparents when Mom and Dad are called away unexpectedly. They do not know these grandparents very well and the kids are beyond annoyed that they are being left with them. The house is beautiful and the yard is amazing, but there is something strange about this place. The kids learn that they are spending this week on one of the most important preserves for magical creatures and their grandfather is the caretaker. In the woods beyond the yard live creatures great and small, good and evil. After a series of dangerous events, Kendra and Seth need to take chances on which creatures they can trust to help them while avoiding those that will hurt them.

I absolutely love to drift off into a world of young-adult, fantasy fiction from time to time. They are the perfect remedy after a long, drawn-out read. It is hard to find a series that has a good balance of worthwhile writing and youthful creativity. I was directed to Fablehaven awhile back, but had my doubts. Once I finally got started, I flew through the book and was entertained throughout (I did take one exception with the constant and blatant disregard for authority from Seth, but I see it was necessary to move the story along). I am excited about this magical world created by Brandon Mull. I do not like to read any series back-to-back, but I look forward to reading book 2 soon.

Amazon

March 26th, 2012
Brandon Sanderson - MistbornLife as a human being is about posturing and influence.

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel

March 15th, 2012

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen KingFor those discovering the epic bestselling Dark Tower series for the first time—and for its legions of dedicated fans—an immensely satisfying stand-alone novel and perfect introduction to the series.

Beginning in 1974, gaining momentum in the 1980s and coming to a thrilling conclusion when the last three novels were published in 2003-2004, the Dark Tower epic fantasy saga stands as Stephen King’s most beguiling achievement. It has been the basis for a long-running Marvel comic series.

Now, with The Wind Through the Keyhole, King has returned to the rich landscape of Mid-World. This story within a story within a story finds Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, in his early days during the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Book of Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” he says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.”

Sure to captivate the avid fans of the Dark Tower epic, this is an enchanting introduction to Roland’s world and the power of Stephen King’s storytelling magic.

This book will be available on April 24, 2012.

Pre-order your copy.