So in the first installment of what hopefully can be a regular thing (Seriously, I think Amy got a little concerned that you guys might like me more than her. Make sure you give her a <virtual> pat on the back and remind her that she is good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like her) we laid important ground in my self-directed addiction recovery program.
Todd Greer, Chief Catalyst of The Exchange
I laid out how I like books (another insight, that made me drop into “I Like Big Books and I Can Not Lie”. I have been known to fall for “weaponized song lyrics.”), lots of books. Outside of romance and a few other genres, I pretty much like anything that is well-written and has something that I can take away from it (even if that is just amusement – I see you Evanovich and Goldberg and your Fox and O’Hare series. I have books 4 and 5 on standby right now).
So, without further ado, here is the list of just finished (or at least mostly finished).
Coup D’Etat by Ben Coes
My take: So the first book in this series, Power Down, sat on my “to read” slot in my Audible files for quite some time. Only after I had demolished a number of other genres and was looking for a break that I finally tapped into what I learned was an entire series on Dewey Andreas.
In the second book in the series, Coup D’Etat, we follow our hero (the aforementioned Dewey Andreas – seriously, I had a hard time with a uber-manly, former Special Forces, hero named Dewey. Seriously, no disrespect to anyone with that name, but I don’t envision you as the guy that can kill me 40 different ways with your bare hands) deeper on his adventures that lead him both to flee America again and once again defend her (and her ally’s) honor when confronted by violence perpetrated by a regime or terrorist network.
The author, Ben Coes, has created a fast-moving series that doesn’t ask for a lot of deep thinking. We have a family (the Fortunas) that has become more wealthy than the gods, who is funding any form of violent jihad they can stand behind, Dewey – the quintessential wrongly disgraced military hero who has to balance love for country with a desire to escape to places that he is neither known, nor needed for his military capabilities. Beyond the battle between these two families (and the network of agents the Fortunas are funding to bring down the United States), we have an interesting affair between Dewey and a National Security Advisor (who somehow is in every important meeting with the President and is able to largely dictate the President’s decision making – yeah, that seems like a stretch), and we have a few other ancillary characters thrown in for good measure.
Summary: The series is (relatively) fast-paced, the storylines feel very post-9/11-ie, and the character development (so far) is weak. That said, if you like beat-em-up, blow-em-up action particularly in the (para)military style you will probably find this series to be worth a look.
3 Out of 5 Stars
The Misfit Economy by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips
So this is a book that had my attention well over a year ago before it was even released. I had the pleasure of getting to know one of the co-authors, Alexa Clay, through the BLK SHP network and even was able to spend a few days getting to know her talent for asking great questions and framing intriguing (and often overlooked) vignettes.
One of the things that bothers me, as an entrepreneur, is the concept that every startup or idea is based around technology and will suddenly become this massive success (seriously people, we need to understand what survivorship bias is…). Clay and Phillips drive conversation around camel milkers (yep, it’s a thing), Somali pirates (imprisoned ones), hackers, and other non-traditional economic models.
Within the frame of the book, they recognize five things that these misfits seem to bring to light that we can actually be useful for anyone that is seeking to be more creative in their approach to business: hustle, copy, hack, provoke, and pivot. All the while, we begin to recognize that there are real human stories at play that can’t be overlooked.
4 Out of 5 Stars
Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
This was the Daily Deal on Audible.com one day and I will admit it both intrigued and confused me. Frankly like a lot of audiobooks when the author is new to me and the narrator is not a voice I am familiar with, this one got a shot as part of my bedtime routine. After a few nights, I was able to get enough of a feel for the book that I decided to keep going with it (which isn’t always the case – seriously I tried SOOOO hard to like the No. 1 Women’s Detective Agency, but it just never caught me).
The premise of this otherworldly affair, is that cryptics (imagine hybrid creatures like Minotaurs, Warewolves, and the like) are a reality in the world that we know and love. These shapeshifters, changelings, and (previously only) mythological creatures are living amongst the rest of us.
In the 1980s an event occurs in which human babies are switched out for “surrogates” thus leading to a massive slaughter. From this point on, cryptics are no longer part of the general population but are instead confined to circus’ tents and carnival runways.
This is an interesting tale that caused me to ask some deep questions about how we treat others, particularly those that are different than us. I am not sure that is what the author was driving at, but frankly the power dynamics at play between the staff and the caged performers makes me think about what people are forced to resort to when they are powerless.
(Note: I had no idea going into this, that it was a planned trilogy. I am not certain that I will pick up the 2nd book in the series when it comes out in 2017, but this certainly was a worthwhile read.)
4 Out of 5 Stars
Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation by Amy Edmondson and Susan Reynolds
I kinda have an academic crush on Dr. Amy Edmondson. We follow each other on Twitter and I have been working to try and schedule an interview program with her, on and off, for about a year and a half. Edmondson’s research is on “teaming” (the idea that instead of permanent teams, the future is built on working arrangements that are both shorter term and adaptive), and frankly it is so spot-on to the changing landscape that I see in the world of the new economy. Due to my previous interest in her first book, I didn’t even hesitate when I pulled the trigger on this one.
This one is a little different and frankly I wasn’t always thrilled with the book at first, given I was expecting more conversation around teaming and how the Living Planet group was developed, how it worked, what it looked like in the trenches with major lessons from prior research and examination of it in practice.
Once I came around to the fact that this ultimately was a book about a company’s journey with more of an anthropologists’ framing, I settled in to enjoy the book (I do really enjoy “out there” concepts like building the city of the future, so this gave me some pretty amazing ideas).
I wouldn’t recommend this book to individuals who don’t have a high interest in the way that innovation occurs, or doesn’t, within the fabric of truly city/community development. I was struck often by just how hard it is to truly upend the way that we do much of our building in both this country and throughout the world. While the technology is present now to allow us to do audacious things, this book illustrates that many municipalities and organizations still are unready to bring it to bear.
3 Out of 5 Stars
The Pale Horseman and Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell
What can I say, other than that I am hooked? Honestly, this series is right up there with the Game of Thrones pantheon of books (though this one is a little easier to follow, given the consistent narrator, and the manageable band of characters). These books allow the reader to travel back to an England of the 9th Century. A time in which war was the norm, kingdoms were fluid, and very few people could read (seriously, outside of priests, monks, and a few elites no one could read…so sad).
Uhtred, is like the Steve Austin of the dark ages (ok, if you don’t understand this, you obviously weren’t a teenage male in the 1990s). He is the preferred sword of King Alfred, yet the two rightly can’t actually stand each other. On one hand, King Alfred is an extremely pious Christian who is as cerebral as they come, on the other hand, Uhtred is a pagan (his amulet of Thor’s hammer is the ever present reminder of this) who is both emotional and headstrong. The two, while at odds with each other find themselves pulled together by the need for the other to reach their desired outcomes.
Look, I don’t want to waste any more of your time or my time so, if you like Historical Fantasy in the least bit (e.g. you watched or read Game of Thrones), READ THESE BOOKS!
New Books on My Shelf
In other news, due to the backlog of books that one compiles when they are addicted to books (both the collection of, and the reading of), I thought I would provide a glimpse of what got added to my shelves (both physical and virtual) recently. I hope to be able to share on these in the weeks to come.
The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang
The Leader’s Guide by Eric Ries
The rest of the Saxon Series by Bernard Cornwell
House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge by Lenny Dykstra
Oh, and last but not least – I have 56 posted books being completed on Goodreads. That means that the Editor of this blog is feeling me getting close on her heels (she tries to tell me she has a bunch on standby that she is going to review soon…but I think that might just be her coping mechanism).
Editor’s Note: As you can see, Todd is VERY good at trash-talking. As someone who loves trash-talking, I find it to be one of his best qualities. Unfortunately for him, I’m off to log in 8 more books on my GoodReads account. Oh, snap! I hope you didn’t miss those reviews this week. You might need to pick up your pace, Todd!