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review 2018-12-11 18:06
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late - Michael Ellsberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What sound better, my friends? To be pushed ahead in business life by nepotism, by family connections, by friend connections, by political or corporate agendas, or being a self-made millionaire? I believe that what sounds better is being self-made millionaire, for being self-made millionaire means that you have to work hard, have to have a certain amount of persistence and discipline, and most importantly have to have an immense desire to work hard and put in a whole lot of effort, even when the times are tough for you, and you have to face several failures and adversities, for ultimately you learn from those failures and adversities, and especially from your own mistakes and not from the mistakes of others, and it's those mistakes that you make and learn from that eventually make you a well-deserved self-made millionaire.

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review 2018-12-11 01:46
The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia - Michael Booth

This is basically the world’s longest magazine article. I kept reading because the author had a great idea for a book: we in the English-speaking world are always idealizing the Nordic countries, but we don’t actually know much about what it’s like to live there, nor do we visit them very often or learn their languages. So the author, a Brit married to a Dane and living in Copenhagen, proposed to travel around these countries and report on, as the bookjacket claims, “how they may not be as happy or as perfect as we assume.”

Which could have been great, if it weren’t so light and frivolous. Aside from giving a brief overview of the history of each of the five countries included (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland), chapters cover topics such as a visit to a sauna; a visit to Santa’s Village; traditionally-dressed revelers celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day; and a visit to a supposedly dangerous housing project occupied by Muslim immigrants in Malmö, which turns out to be pretty quiet and unremarkable when the author visits in the middle of the day and doesn’t actually talk to any immigrants other than the elderly Macedonian who heads the local mosque.

The book does briefly explore various issues – immigration, the rise of right-wing politics, high levels of taxation and government involvement in society, the causes of Iceland’s economic woes – mostly through talking to a small group of writers and professors who give rather fuzzy impressionistic answers. But he never does really get “behind the myth” in the way I expected. After his stroll through the housing project, he observes that its Swedish neighbors, said to resent the immigrants, “probably faced precisely the same problems as their immigrant neighbors in Herregården – poor education, few opportunities, little hope, and no money – yet each was fearful and resentful of the other.”

Wait. Stop the presses. This is it – this is “behind the myth.” Sweden isn’t supposed to have people, especially native-born ethnic Swedes, with “poor education, few opportunities, little hope, and no money.” Isn’t that the entire point of the welfare state? Isn’t that the heart of the “myth”? And yet Booth just keeps tripping blithely along, talking about views on immigration and even including a chapter entitled “Class” that turns out to be all about the weirdness of the Scandinavian monarchies. In another baffling omission, he observes that a Norwegian museum “featur[es] the usual Nordic tiptoeing around the subject of their oppressed indigenous minority,” then proceeds to describe the exhibit, note the Sami’s territory and numbers, and never mention them again. I checked the index just to make sure and yep, this is the only mention in the entire book. How you can think you’re writing a book about a region’s negative aspects and not include its generational poverty or oppressed indigenous minority, I have no idea. But on to Legoland!

The book is very focused on the author’s own experiences and observations, while some of his theories are just wacky. For instance, he theorizes that Finnish men drink too much because their country has a long history of foreign rule and military defeat, never mind that this does not appear to affect modern-day Finns in any way. He even writes about floating this theory to others, who all shoot it down, which doesn’t stop him from devoting a full two pages to defending it in the book.

Now sure, if you are looking for a lighthearted travelogue that will introduce you to a few cultural concepts, and fill you in on a bit of history and politics, this may be the book for you. I didn’t find it as funny as others did, perhaps because it relies heavily on pop culture references that don’t mean anything to me (“Swedish unemployment figures are about as reliable as Joan Collins’s age”). The book is just so long, without achieving any real depth, that at times I considered not even finishing it. I did learn some things from it, but I would have appreciated it more if it had been pared down and marketed as the lighthearted travelogue that it is.

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review 2018-12-03 19:45
When Harry Met Renee
Dark Sacred Night - Michael Connelly

So this was the match-up that I never knew I needed. I am now wishing that Connelly had decided to match-up Harry with a strong female non-romantic lead before. I am not counting the books with him and Rachel Walling (see the Narrows, Echo Park, The Black Box, and The Burning Room). Fingers crossed that Connelly resists the urge to put them together. It is mentioned many times that Bosch is as old as her father (Renee) but Connelly also heavily implies that Renee has issues over the death of her father. That said, the only reason why I gave this four stars, is that I had a hard time with the ending.

 

"Dark Sacred Night" takes place a year after the events in "Two Kinds of Truth" and a couple of months after the events in "The Last Show." Just a quick recap, Harry is now working as a volunteer closing cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department. He has somewhat burnt all of his bridges with the LAPD due to some of his own actions and lawsuit against them which he won. Renee is still on The Late Show, however, she seems more content with her place in that group now. 

 

Renee is working late when Harry Bosch "invites" himself to go digging through a detective's drawer looking for some index cards on a cold case. Renee is initially mistrustful of Harry (not blaming her) but then becomes intrigued when she finds out he is looking for the murder of a young woman who is related to a friend of his. Harry is also dealing with a cold case in Sen Fernando that is taking up some of his time as well. We also get to see Renee working some routine and not routine calls while working solo on the Late Show. 

 

Harry seems more mellow in this one. I think he's a bit burnout because the woman he meets in the last book (Elizabeth) is now living with him. I maybe went "Error, Error" when Connelly reveals that. Though Harry and Elizabeth are not romantic partners (yet) she is cooking and keeping house for him while he is out chasing down leads on her daughter's cold case. I definitely believe in redemption, but I am still shaking my head at Harry taking on so much with Elizabeth because she resembles his ex-wife Eleanor. And of course he and Maddie are partially estranged over this nonsense. If Bosch realized that Elizabeth looked like his dead wife, I am sure Maddie realizes she resembles her dead mother. 

 

Harry seems separate from prior characters in this one except for Lucia Soto, his old partner and his partner so to speak at San Fernando, Bella Lourdes. We have no mention of him reaching out to his brother, Mickey Haller (I am guessing Bosch is still ticked about what went down in "Two Kinds of Truth") or to anyone else. He does call J. Edgar for some information and then just hangs up on him (still being treated like crap by Harry). I did laugh when Harry had the nerve to tell Renee to ask about him, that he was always a good partner. Ahem, I think that David Chu (who hasn't been mentioned since The Burning Room) and Iggy Ferras (last appearance was "9 Dragons") would argue with his comment. 

 

Renee is still feeling pretty great about solving the case in The Late Show. She has seemed to make more friends in the department, and once again Connelly shows us how smart she is when she walks into a scene and deduces how an older woman was killed. I felt very a ha my dear Watson when she walks the officers through what happened. The same thing occurs on another call of Rene's in a missing person case. I like the contrast between her and Harry. Harry would have went in guns blazing, but Renee is more methodical about things.  

 

We get some call-backs to earlier Bosch cases and of course long-time characters resurfacing. I did have to say that I was surprised at the who done it in this book on the cold case involving Elizabeth's daughter. The case Bosch was tied up in felt like a weird distraction after a while. 

 

Connelly switches from Renee and Harry's perspective throughout the book. We get a kindly reminder of who is "speaking" too just in case you get confused. I don't think readers will, but it's a nice call-out to those listening to on Audible. I liked all of the writing in this one and you can feel the difference between Renee and Harry's sections. Connelly knows both of their voices. The flow was good between chapters and I maybe had a panicky moment when it looked like our fair heroine and hero were looking to end things on a sour note. Connelly pulls things together though in a kind of Hail Mary I am not sure about. 

 

The setting of this book is LA after hours. We have Renee and Harry doing a lot of leg work at night and around dawn. And at one point, Harry is going on very little sleep doing day shifts, coming home to sleep (eh) and eat and then meeting up with Renee. I am glad the book didn't have this going on for that long since it was making even me antsy after a while. 

The ending shocked me (in a good way) and I wonder at the implications for future books. I don't know how Connelly is going to do this, but I have faith he will do it well. 

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text 2018-12-03 00:14
24 Festive Tasks: Door 14 - Hanukkah, Book
Two Kinds of Truth - Michael Connelly,Titus Welliver

I'm claiming Michael Connelly's Two Kinds of Truth, which I read in November, as my book for the Hanukkah square (the word "two" in the title). Review HERE.

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review 2018-12-02 18:49
The Black Ice
The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

This is the second book in the Harry Bosch and what can I say: I absolutely love to read these novels. They are so engaging, at some point early on in the story I just have to continue reading. Add to this the excellent descriptions of Los Angeles and Harry´s intersting life story and I become one happy reader.

 

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