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review 2017-03-27 20:52
An inspiring and enlightening book on the topic, not a fast read or a practical manual.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK/Cornerstone for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily choose to review.

I don’t read many self-help or how-to books although recently I’ve been reading some that intrigued me and this was one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to be smarter, go faster and do things better? We all want to be productive, so the title was a big hook for me, and I imagine I’m not alone.

Charles Duhigg is the author of a very popular, well-liked and positively reviewed book, the bestseller The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change. Although I noticed that many of the reviewers mentioned his previous book and drew comparisons, I haven’t read it and I won’t be able to add to that debate. (In short, a few of the reviewers felt that this book wasn’t as good or as useful, from a practical point of view, as the previous one). After reading the comments, now I’m curious about his previous book.

But, as for Smarter Faster Better, it is a book where the author explains how he started wondering about the different levels of productivity people obtain. We all know individuals whose days seem to last more than 24 hours if we’re to judge by the amount of activities and achievements they manage to pack in. In an attempt at trying to find out how they do it, Duhigg collected studies, reviewed theories, interviewed people, checked stories… The book, which is divided into a series of chapters (Motivation, Team, Focus, Goal Setting, Managing Others, Decision Making, Innovation, Absorbing Data, Appendix and Notes), consists of the discussions of some cases that Duhigg then uses to illustrate a point or theory about the particular item and its importance. On talking about motivation, Duhigg uses the case of a young man who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and eventually decided to join the Marines. He explains how their training focuses on making them attach a meaning to their chores, ask questions that remind each other of what their goal is and what they are trying to achieve, and also the importance of feeling one has a choice. In the chapter about goal setting, he asserts the importance of having two types of goals, SMART goals (we’ve all read about those) but also stretch goals, overarching goals that look at something bigger, as, otherwise, we might end up with a list of tiny little achievable goals that don’t build up to anything. I enjoyed the examples used (that include, among other: the Toyota way of running a factory, focused on making people feel free to report mistakes and also share their ideas for innovations, teachers’ creative use of data about their students to transform a failing school into a successful one, and also include the use of mental images by airline pilots that help them make the right decisions when things go wrong), and the hypotheses and advice make sense to me. The book is well written, and although some examples and cases will feel more relevant to some people than others, there is a big variety and I personally thought they all made interesting points and some were fascinating, to say the least.

Some of the reviewers complained about the fact that the book is not very practical. The author includes, in the appendix ‘A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas’ (I wonder if this is in response to comments or it had always been there) that summarises the concepts in the book, and applies them to the author’s difficulties finishing this book. This summary sets up some of the points as more relevant to individuals, and some to companies or teams. I’ve noticed that there’s a summary of the book available for sale separately (here), and I wonder if it might consist mostly of this part of the book (as it says: ‘in less than 30 minutes’). Although I guess the advice can be found there, what makes the book memorable, at least for me, are the stories and that ties in with one of the points in the book about absorbing data. The absorption and understanding of data can be increased by creating disfluency, by having to work with it and making it less accessible. That obliges us to engage with the data and to make it ours, to make it matter to us and to find ways of using it that might not be evident or interesting to others. Therefore, if you have to read the book and go through the case studies, you might appreciate other points of the stories and remember the cases as they are relevant to you, rather than trying to remember a point as a headline with no context. So yes, if you can and are interested in the topic, I would advise reading the whole book (and it isn’t quite as long as it looks like, as there are detailed notes about the studies at the end that take up the last 33% of the book). If you have doubts, you can always check a sample of the book. But if you just want a taster, I share a quote:

Productivity is about recognizing choices that other people often overlook. It’s about making certain decisions in certain ways. The way we choose to see our own lives; the stories we tell ourselves, and the goals we push ourselves to spell out in detail; the culture we establish among teammates; the ways we frame our choices and manage the information in our lives. Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently.

I’m not sure if this book will make a massive difference to my productivity, but it has made me reflect on a number of things and I’m sure I’ll keep thinking about it for a long time. If I had to choose a point in particular, I’d say  it has made me think about team and group dynamics, and I particularly liked the concept of ‘psychological safety’ (a “shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks”). If only…

In summary, an inspiring book, full of cases and stories that deserve to be read in their own right and concepts and suggestions that will mean different things to different people. It’s not a quick read or a ‘follow these few steps and you’ll be more productive’ kind of book, but it’s a well-written, researched and thought-out book that might help us understand better what makes us tick.

 

 

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review 2017-03-19 21:31
Electric Singularity by Debrah Deumont
Electric Singularity - Debrah Deumont

This didn't work for me. Theo, the master and the ship owner, was too dull, too slow for a successful smuggler and unnecessary brutal. And horny. Like all the time. Leon did all the work getting Theo out of trouble, and turned from I hate you to can't live without you in a span of an hour (tho based on what, I am not sure. Maybe his brain got fried too much.) I am that one spoilsport, sorry, but I can't give the story more than 1.5 stars. I am not sure yet if I want to round it up or down. Gonna sleep on it.

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review 2016-10-31 22:20
Good Story and Characters
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: A Pilots Hockey Novel - Sophia Henry

Kristen is on a cruise her parents gave her upon graduation. She ends up on a Greek singles cruise. Kristen has cystic fibrosis , so she never thought she would find love as it wouldn’t be fair as she knew her life would be shorter than most people's. But Kristen always believed she should never let an opportunity pass her by. Then Kristen runs into Spiros - a boy from her childhood and who her parents think Kristen should marry. Kristen wants nothing to do with Spiros. Then Kristen Literally runs into Pavel/ Pasha . Pasha wants to keep everyone at arm's length as he had been abused in his past. So Pasha is a player but also on the Detroit Pilots hockey team. Pasha basically got any girl he wanted. Pasha ended up on the same cruise as Kristen and there is an instalove/lust but that does change. Pasha ends up acting as Kristen’s fake boyfriend so Spiros will stop stalking Kristen. But as Kristen and Pasha get to know each other things change for them both and they really start to care about each other. Pasha does heal and changes as he  had been a no relationship guy.

I really enjoyed this story. I hadn’t read the previous books so was a little confused for a couple of pages but that was okay . Once I got into the story a little I didn’t want to put it down. My heart went out to both Kristen and Pasha and rooted them on as if they were real so this is a nod to the author. I loved how Kristen and Pasha came together and grew to truly care for each other and I choked up a couple of times. While reading this. I truly enjoyed the characters and the ins and outs of this story. I recommend.

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review 2016-10-26 08:05
Virtual Tour w/Review - Unsportsmanlike Conduct
 
Discover why Kelly Jamieson calls the Pilots Hockey series 
“fun and flirty, warm and sweet.”

 

 
UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
Pilots Hockey #4
Sophia Henry
Releasing Oct 18th, 2016
Flirt
 
 
The author of Delayed Penalty returns with the story of a free spirit who believes she’s found forever with a playboy on a singles cruise. Discover why Kelly Jamieson calls the Pilots Hockey series “fun and flirty, warm and sweet.” 
 
Kristen Katsaros wants a life full of adventure and laughter. After a difficult childhood, her motto is to live each day like it’s her last—because it just might be. So when Kristen’s parents send her on a post-grad singles cruise in the Caribbean to meet a Greek husband, she promptly hooks up with the hottest guy she’s ever met. Pasha’s decidedly not Greek, but Kristen gives him a pass because he’s got fun written all over his rock-hard abs.
 
Pavel Gribov, the cocky playboy of the Detroit Pilots hockey team, can score any girl he wants. But when a teammate drags him on a singles cruise, he can’t resist the chance to help out a drop-dead gorgeous damsel in distress by pretending to be her boyfriend. Before long, the fake fling turns intimate, fueled by something much deeper than lust.
 
 
Kristen and Pasha both agree to walk away once the cruise is over, but reality hits like a slap shot when Kristen finds out Pasha lied about everything. Just when she’s ready to start living again, the two stubborn survivors must decide if they can bear to lose the best thing that ever happened to either of them.
 
BUY NOW:
 
 

So, what’s your story?” I asked.

 

My story?” He lowered his head and gazed at me over his sunglasses.

 

My heart flittered fast, waiting for him to tell me to move or ask why I had chosen to sit next to him, given all the open seats surrounding the pool. But he didn’t.

 

Had I really chosen this spot because these were the only three empty chairs next to each other? I could have dragged another lounger next to two others.

 

You’re not Greek. I can tell that by your accent.” Under the ruse of trying to figure him out, I twisted my torso and leaned toward his chair. Subconsciously I relished the opportunity to study his features more closely. “So you can’t be one of the Detroit-area Greek singles I’m supposed to be hanging out with.”

 

I am. I came here with a friend.”

 

Who’s your friend?” I asked, tucking my hair behind my ears.

 

Blake Panikos.”

 

I didn’t recognize that name. And after spending the majority of my life around people in the Greek Orthodox community, I pretty much knew anyone close to my age, whether we went to the same church or not.

 

How do you know Blake?” I settled back into the lounge chair, flicking back a corner of the towel that had fallen onto my shoulder.

 

Adonis’s lip curled into a smirk. “Panikos worked with me when I lived in Detroit.”

 

Where do you live now?”

 

North Carolina.”

 

Really?” I sat up. “My best friend just moved to Charlotte.”

 

Charlotte. That is where I live.”

 

What a small world. She lives downtown, in the Avenue condos.” I paused to correct myself. “Well, I guess you guys call it uptown instead of downtown.”

 

Why did she move to Charlotte? Did she get a job there?” Adonis leaned sideways and picked up a plastic cup from the ground next to his chair. He took a sip of his drink.

 

No. She moved in with her fiancé. He’s a hockey player.”

 

Adonis didn’t respond, but he choked on his drink and diverted his eyes toward the pool.

 

His name’s Aleksandr Varenkov,” I added. “Do you know him?”

 

No,” he answered quickly, and adjusted his aviator sunglasses, which had slid down his nose. “I never heard of him. Maybe if I saw him, I’d know his face.”

 

If the Internet worked here, I’d show you a picture on my phone.”

 

The ship has Internet,” Adonis corrected me.

 

Yeah, but I can’t afford the hundred dollars a minute they charge to access it.” A hundred dollars a minute was only a slight exaggeration—the ship charged enough that I didn’t feel the need to waste my money. I’d wait until we docked somewhere with a restaurant or a bar that offered free Wi-Fi. “So what do you do?”

 

His gaze veered from my lips to my eyes before he answered. “I am a Pilot.”

 

Really? So you’re always traveling, eh? Do you love it?” I reached over and grabbed my water bottle off the tiny table next to my lounge chair.

 

I like to fly. To travel. It is, um, a good job for me.” Adonis took another swig from his drink, something clear with a cluster of crushed ice floating in it. “Where do you work?”

 

I leaned back in the chair and bent my knees slightly—perfect position to soak up the sizzling sunshine. “I’m the assistant to one of the owners of Motor City Bar Management. It’s a company that owns a group of bars around Detroit. I coordinate all the volunteers and employees for events that our bars host or sponsor.” I finished my water and set the empty bottle on the table.

 

What kind of events?”

 

Concerts. Bar crawls. Promotional events before games,” I said, rattling off a few of the things I’d helped plan recently.

 

Wonder if I’ve seen you around,” he said. “I go to a lot of concerts.”

 

Probably not,” I said. “I just started two months ago. Before that I was at Central State.”

 

Adonis’s eyes darted toward something behind me. “You like the party life?”

 

Sure. It’s fun right now while I’m young.” I wiggled my toes, watching the pink glitter polish sparkle in the sunlight. “My goal is to learn the ropes of event planning, then turn it into something more professional in a few years when I don’t want to be immersed in the bar scene anymore.”

 

Suddenly he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the chair, planting them on the ground facing me. Then he leaned close, his face inches from mine.

 

Was he going to kiss me?

 

My heart hammered, excited and eager to accept a kiss from this stranger. I licked my lips and closed my eyes. But instead of feeling his mouth on mine, I felt his breath against my face.

 

The guy you are trying to avoid is behind you,” he said.

 

My eyes flickered open. “Huh?”

 

The guy you ran from.” Adonis nodded. “He is behind you now.” He leaned back, resuming his original lazy, reclined position. Then he tilted his cup and drained his drink.

 

How did this guy already have my heart pounding and my mind begging for his lips on mine? I figured the salty ocean air must be permeating my brain and breaking down my common sense.

 
 
 
Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Pilots Hockey, #4)Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Sophia Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book # 4 in the Pilots Hockey series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. But, why miss out on such an amazing series if you don't have to? For reader enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading the series in order.

Kristen & Pavel meet on a singles only cruise. The bad news for Kristen is an old friend is stalking her with her parents permission. The good news is Pavel is there as well.

Pavel AKA Pasha, honestly wants to get to know Kristen better. He is just certain his past will come in between them and wipe any happiness out. Little does he know, Kristen has a secret that may do that all on it's own........

What a terrific series this is! This book was stunning and amazing all on its own. The characters pull you in almost immediately. The heat between them is so HOT! I had such a hard time putting this book down. Who needs dinner anyway? A good book is food for my soul.


***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with a BS in English from Central Michigan University, she moved to the warmth of North Carolina for the remainder of her winters.

She spends her days writing books featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings and rocking out at concerts with her husband.
 
 
 
 


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review 2016-10-26 06:24
Time to love
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: A Pilots Hockey Novel - Sophia Henry

This is book # 4 in the Pilots Hockey series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  But, why miss out on such an amazing series if you don't have to?  For reader enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading the series in order.

 

Kristen & Pavel meet on a singles only cruise.  The bad news for Kristen is an old friend is stalking her with her parents permission.  The good news is Pavel is there as well.

 

Pavel AKA Pasha, honestly wants to get to know Kristen better.  He is just certain his past will come in between them and wipe any happiness out.  Little does he know, Kristen has a secret that may do that all on it's own........

 

What a terrific series this is!  This book was stunning and amazing all on its own.  The characters pull you in almost immediately.  The heat between them is so HOT!  I had such a hard time putting this book down.  Who needs dinner anyway?  A good book is food for my soul.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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