Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Bites

It’s that time again! Time for me to give you my mini-reviews or "book bites" of the latest batch of books I’ve read. I’ve been reading from a strange assortment of genres over the last couple of weeks, so there should be something here for everyone.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (5 Stars)

Remember the childhood days of being painfully bored and cooped up at home during the summer break? Ever wished you could get away to someplace where everyone understood you? Ever got so annoyed with your parents you wish you had different ones? The main character, Coraline, wishes those very things and we get to see what happens when they all come true. A false door in her new house opens up onto an parallel world, where everything is just perfect…too perfect. The story is equal parts fairy tale and horror, with a dash of “Alice in Wonderland” thrown in for good measure. I loved it and devoured every single word. It’s a haunting story and if you read it, I guarantee, you will never look at buttons the same way, ever again.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job (A Fable for Managers and Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni (5 Stars)

I’m not sure how to classify this book. It’s an educational, business/career advice type book, but the majority of the book is actually a parable that Lencioni uses to teach you his theory about what makes a job situation rewarding or miserable. The three signs of a miserable job don’t have anything to do with the actual tasks you perform. They are anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurement. His theory seems like basic common sense, yet at the same time it is so revolutionary because no one does it. It was a quick, fun read and completely changed how I view my job, and how I will examine potential jobs in the future.

If You Can’t Lose It, Decorate It by Anita Renfroe (2 Stars)

God bless Anita Renfroe. I really like her stand-up. (Renfroe is a Christian comedienne, known on YouTube for her “Mom’s Overture”, sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture.) She’s hilarious, but reading a joke is not the same as someone telling you a joke. It leaves something to be desired. The theme of this book is the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. In other words, if you can’t lose it (change it), decorate it (change your attitude towards it). It’s a nice idea, but she doesn’t delve very deep into it, but then again I think it is supposed to be a light, encouraging read, so I shouldn’t have been expecting a heavy spiritual dissertation. I tried to take it for what it was, but ended up just wanting something more substantial. Then, to make matters worse, I actually got offended, when she disdainfully ridiculed the Christian financial advisors and what they suggest you do to manage your money and get out of debt. Speaking as someone who has gone through one of these courses and found life-changing freedom from debt, it really rubbed me the wrong way. In short – skip the book, see her stand-up show instead.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Ba, colored by Dave Stewart, cover art by James Jean (5 Stars)

If you read that title and wondered why so many people are listed as contributors, then you are more than likely not a comic book geek. If you are a comic book geek, then you probably recognized a couple of those award-winning names. Yeah, this is a comic book series, but reading it is just as rewarding as reading any other form of literature, so I’m including it in my “book bites”. However, I’m not going to do a full review of this one just yet, because the series isn’t complete. We’re on the 3rd installation of a 6-part series. I just wanted to explain why it’s already getting a “5-star” rating (because I love the story so far) but won’t be getting a full review until later, when the full arc of the story is complete.

I can’t wait to see how the story ends and I absolutely love that feeling of anticipation. It’s what good fiction is all about.

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