Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Timeless Classic for Jobseekers

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017 – A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers – Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press)
There are a handful of authors/books that become the epitome of timelessness and influence. For self-improvement and interpersonal skills, there is Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People. For growing your business/developing your team, Jim Collins offered up Good To Great. For personal development, Stephen Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. All hold a special place for ability to impact the reader if they choose to implement the skills and insights these books have to offer.

When it comes to jobs search and career development, one book stands head and shoulders above the rest, and has for more than four decades. That book is What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017 – A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers, by career guru, Richard N. Bolles. A Harvard trained physicist, Bolles has made it an annual right of passage to update and expand this handy guide to include the latest in job search trends and techniques, alongside tried and true skills for selecting or changing a career path, interviewing and salary negotiation.

Bolles brings a dynamic level of passion to the advice he offers to both seasoned job searchers and to those who are just setting sail on their career path. Bolles doesn’t shy away from offering up his advice on choosing to start your own business; which is clearly a very real career path for many folks.

Linkedin? Yep Bolles is on it and offers up suggestions on how to best utilize the business networking site to your advantage in a job search. If you find yourself on the beach, as my colleagues dubbed back during my days in radio, Bolles offers up some useful advice for your mental health during the job search. No pop psychologist, is this chapter Bolles serves of practical advice, based on time and experience.

What Color Is Your Parachute? Is one of those timeless guideposts that can offer up useful advice for those in the work force at any stage of their career. It stands up to the test of time due in large part to the driving force behind it all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Making First Books Look Easy

Nothing Short of Dying: A Clyde Barr Novel – Erik Storey (Scribner)

First books are hard and when the goal is to create a continuing series, it becomes a fine balancing act. It is the literary equivalent of building a house; you want to have a solid foundation, then a strong frame and along the way you start to add the finishing touches that will turn the house into a home.

Novelist Erik Storey has walked that tightrope with his debut, Nothing Short of Dying: A Clyde Barr Novel. Barr clearly has what can only be described as a checkered past that includes time in a Mexican prison, work as a mercenary and to borrow a line from Liam Neeson, a “particular set of skills,” honed to a sharp edge.

The trick for Storey is to give the reader enough of Barr’s backstory so we know who this guy is and what he’s all about, without giving us information overload. Storey manages this well, teasing out Barr’s story to put some meat on his bones and serve us up what’s behind his selfless dedication to family and friends.

Pair this process of giving depth and dimension to the Barr character, with a storyline that moves at a break neck pace fueled by adrenaline and you’ve got a winning formula for a successful series. Barr, fresh from the Mexican prison is looking for a return to the mountain wilderness he loves and the simple life he craves, when a phone call from his sister brings things to a screeching halt.

From there, Barr leads us on a beat the clock adventure to rescue his sister all at a break neck clip. 

Nothing Short of Dying delivers the goods and sets us up well for more to come from Clyde Barr and ranks as my favorite debut novel thus far in 2016.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Down Home Eats

Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, With Recipes - Ronni Lundy – (Clarkson Potter)

When does food become more than just something you put in your mouth when you seek/need nourishment? It’s when you add things like family, friends and traditions to the mix; when that happens, food becomes a celebration of life.

In Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, With Recipes, restaurant and music critic and longtime food and cookbook writer Ronni Lundy moves food writing in a new direction, spinning tales not only about the food/recipes but of the people and stories behind the eats.

She offers up a travel log highlighted not only by the tastes, textures and smells, but also the people she encountered along the journey. These are folks who wouldn’t have the first clue about what a foodie is and quite frankly I don’t think they’d give two shakes! The recipes highlight what some might call down home comfort food, but these folks just call it, what’s for supper.

The offerings aren’t highbrow gourmand worthy, just simple, easy to make things that don’t concern themselves with healthy or vegan or gluten free; but focus on delivering big flavors in unique and different ways. Beautifully illustrated with photos from Johnny Autry, this one is a slam dunk for folks who want to conjure memories of Nana’s apron and the intoxicating sent of down home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reads to Keep Summer Alive!

While the calendar and back to school sales make it clear that summer is on the wane, a stack of great reads gives me hope to keep summer alive.

Ice Station Nautilus - Rick Campbell (St. Martin’s Press)

The late great Tom Clancy put the submarine thriller on the fiction road map with the classic The Hunt for Red October. Stepping into the breach to take control of the sub-genre is retired Navy Commander Rick Campbell, who had over twenty years of submarine tours under his belt before he retired.

He follows up his earlier outings The Trident Deception and Empire Rising with his latest Ice Station Nautilus. This one was one of those reads that just hit the perfect groove for me; I have been fascinated with the whole frozen tundra military thing since I first watched Ice Station Zebra as a kid. Add to that Campbell’s been there done that writing style combined with his ability to set the hook on the thrills and this one ends up cool enough to bring a chill and a thrill to a ninety degree day.

Breaking Cover – Stella Rimington (Bloomsbury)

Okay, full confession up front; while I had come across Stella Rimington books in the past, I had never picked one up and did know what her background was. Much like legendary British espionage writer John le Carre, Rimington signed on with the British Security Service, MI5 and spent decades tackling counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter terrorism before being named Director General in 1992.

So when it comes to been there, done that writing, I can’t think of too many folks with her list of qualifications. Breaking Cover is Rimington’s ninth Liz Carlyle novel, which finds the protagonist back at MI5 with an assignment that will allow her to recover and mourn the loss of her lover and colleague. That’s when the best laid plans get derailed and news that the Russians are trying to silence those critical of their incursions into Ukraine and Carlyle is launched headlong to the hunt for Russians spies.

Aside from the plausible storyline ripped from the headlines, Rimington ratchets up the authenticity as the story pounds along a steady pace. While I may be late to the game, Breaking Cover convinced me that this won’t be my last foray into the writing of Stella Rimington.

The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear – Stuart Stevens (Knopf)

I must be on a fiction authenticity streak here; Stuart Stevens, a guy who earned his keep running political campaigns draws on that experience for his second novel, The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, in which protagonist J D Callahan finds himself hip deep in a political campaign and neck deep in family issues when his estranged brother crawls out of the woodwork and squarely back into his life at a critical juncture.

Stevens draws up an oddly familiar sounding challenger squaring off against his sitting Vice President candidate; an anti-immigrant, right-wing populist. While the novel may not be about the 2016 Presidential race, Stevens serves up a well balanced mix of caustic commentary, insider knowledge, and often surprising sense of humor that makes this one worthy of your buying vote. Based on the fact that one of Stevens most recent political forays was to guide the Mitt Romney campaign, put up against his skills with a pen, he might want to ponder a permanent move away from politics. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stop Hillary…The Future of Our Country Depends On It

It seems almost impossible to believe that after all of the books that have been written about Hillary Clinton, not to mention Bill Clinton, over the years, that there could possibly be anything left to say or that we don’t already know. Yet as the Presidential campaign winds to it’s inevitable conclusion on election day, Hillary Clinton continues to be the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to the pure volume of scandals, lies, outright and unfettered greed and unlawful behaviors. The result is a raft of new books that make the case why Hillary Clinton needs to be stopped!

Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary – Dick Morris and Eileen McGann - (Humanix Books)

The line goes something like this; Dick Morris is a longtime campaign strategist and former advisor to Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary; then you inevitably will hear something to the effect of, disgraced, prostitution scandal and if you are a flaming liberal there will be some reference to toe-sucking in an effort to disparage or discredit Morris.

But the bottom line remains; Dick Morris was a very successful campaign strategist who worked inside the Clinton operation and knows intimately how both Bill and Hillary operate. The polling, the focus groups, the spin, the lies, the spin, and oh id I mention the spin. With his new book Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary, Morris has carefully crafted a strategy for how the Republican nominee, Donald Trump can defeat her this fall.

In Armageddon Morris breaks things down piece by piece; first he outlines the case for how Hillary has really eliminated and disqualified herself to be President with her serial lying, paranoia, manipulation of the system, greed, flip flopping, her bubble-like existence that makes her out of touch with reality and real people. In part two, Morris lays out a strategy to take her down; her failure to lead on terrorism and it’s growth on her watch, electing her amounting to Obama’s third failed term, the outright destruction of of the U.S. healthcare system under Obamacare. Then throw into the mix trade and the failure to protect our borders and immigration; something that Liberals and the media don’t seem to grasp is a HUGE issue with working class Americans.

I think that this book offers a thoughtful roadmap and I can already see the Trump campaign utilizing bits and pieces of this strategy.

Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel - Chuck Dixon, Brett R. Smith, and Peter Schweizer (Regnery Books)  

Bestselling author and master researcher Peter Schweizer clearly laid the GREED of Hillary and Bill Clinton in his book Clinton Cash, which is now available in paperback. Schweizer utilizes what I can only call a lead a horse to water method of investigation as he connects the dots in a step by step manner showing quite clearly how the Clintons use their position of power and influence to steadily enrich themselves and often the sycophants around them.

While Schweizer takes readers through the examples in an easy to understand fashion, there are still some folks who apparently can’t quite grasp the concepts he lays out…or could it be they choose not to? Well in a ongoing effort to help the ignorant (Liberals!) understand what is going on here; Schweizer has created a movie version of Clinton Cash, and in a true effort to help Liberals he has made the movie available for FREE, streaming online.

If that wasn’t quite simple enough to help Liberal grasp what out and out crooks the Clintons are (the infamous Bonnie and Clyde pale in comparison) now Schweizer and artists Chuck Dixon and Brett R. Smith have created a comic book (okay graphic novel for you highbrow types) in the form of Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel.

All Liberals have to do is read the simple text and look at the pretty pictures and maybe, just maybe, then they will understand what greedy, shameless, scumbags the Clinton crime family really are. Or at least we can hope.

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party – Dinesh D”Souza (Regnery Books)

Bestselling author, blockbuster filmmaker, pundit and public intellectual, Dinesh D’Souza has spent his recent history dissecting the Democrat party in the guise of Barack Obama’s Presidency and Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and Presidential candidate in a series of books and movies.

In his latest outing, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party delves beyond Obama and Clinton, going deeper in to the party’s history and the role that these to play not only in the continuation of long held party beliefs, but also in the never ending attempts to spin the truth about the party of the KKK, the party of slavery, and the party of socialism.

Clearly for Democrats, the truth can be an extremely painful thing and D’Souza utilizes truth, after truth, after truth to tie the Democrats up into a nice little gift wrapped package. While they claim an inordinate dominance of African American voters every election cycle and paint Republicans as the party of racism, the truth is it is the Democrat party the has created the ongoing plantation mindset that has kept blacks squarely under the thumb of government.

D’Souza smashes the myths of what Democrats claim to stand for and makes the case for a seismic shift towards black voters moving to the Republican party and away from the damage inflicted upon them by the likes of Obama and the Clintons, among many, many others. While D’Souza continues to be a perennial bestseller, I think it’s unfortunate that he is preaching to the choir and his message is being diluted at best and distorted at worst by the liberal, sycophants in the media.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Don’t Be In the Dark and Fed a Line of…

Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California – Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz (Ten Feed Press)

While enjoying a few adult libations with friends, I was cornered into a conversation with a friend’s college professor husband who proceeded to launch into a lengthy dissertation about of all things his mushroom hunting blog! Apparently he is among a group of nationally recognized and renowned fungi experts.

With my knowledge limited to the handful of readily available ‘shrooms of the cooking variety that are available at the local grocery store, I was not aware of the large variety of mushrooms that call our wonderful county home and that there was what I can only describe with tongue planted firmly in cheek as the bloodsport of mushroom hunting.

Well for those interested in learning more about the fungi that can be found along the northern most reaches of the California coastline, then Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz have served up the most encyclopedic tome that I can imagine to deliver chapter and verse on that corner of the world entitled, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California.

Siegel and Schwarz serve up the minutiae of mushrooms, cataloging some 700 varieties and offering up stunningly detailed descriptions and photography. They deliver the geography of where to track down these often rare breeds of the fungi world. Is this for everybody? Probably not, but for those who want the get their hunt on this is the perfect book to guide the way.

Ali…Live at Budokan

Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment – Josh Gross (BenBella Books)

June 26, 1976, the place, Tokyo, Japan’s famous Budokan Arena; half a world away in the United States it was still June 25 and at over 150 closed circuit television locations, fight fans gathered to witness a spectacle never before witnessed in the world of sports. The event was so big, fledgling professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, Sr. sold nearly 33,000 tickets to a closed circuit broadcast at Shea Stadium. The event matched WBC/WBA heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 15 round fight with Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki. It was an event like none other up to that point.

I was a teenager at the time, (yes, I am old) and a crazed sports fan I desperately wanted to see this showdown that paired a straight up boxer with a bare knuckled, wrestling martial artist. Like many thing time had erased this from my memory, but now Josh Gross as brought back not only memories of the event and the attendant bacchanalia that went with all thing Ali, but delves deep into the back story behind the fight in Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment.

Gross details the back and forth that went into organizing this event and really highlights not only the history of the event, but the impact that it had many years later in spawning the sports entertainment juggernaut of mixed martial arts. Gross brings back memories of Ali’s showman’s banter being matched, albeit through interpreters, by Inoki, who also knew a thing or two about putting on a show.

I found Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment, not only to be a blast from the past, but a very entertaining tale.