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Blink: Not Your Everyday’s Book Review

Read Blink, Steve commented after I shared on Facebook that many of my right-on-target life decisions were made intuitively. Blink is a nonfiction written by Malcolm Gladwell. His subjects are based on science, reproducible and proven but oh, so dry and tedious. Normally, such subjects will not earn an author household readers like me. In Gladwell’s case, however, written in light prose easily decoded, his books offer hard scientific treatise to readers of adequate cognitive ability without ruining the reading experience.

So I pull Blink off my shelf and fulfill the promise that one day I will read it–too many good books too little time has been my perpetual problem. As Gladwell walks me through the many aspects of “thinking without thinking”, one term keeps coming back: thin-slicing–our brains’ method to instantly prep rough microscopic slides from life’s moments to diagnose viability. In other words, we intuit life’s decisions, the kinds attributed to destiny or fate, based on those blurry images seen through inferior, clumsily-adjusted school instruments. Decisions like,

Is this man my life partner?

Is it our dream house?

Should I trust this babysitter?

Blink Think isn’t fool-proof, Gladwell cautions us, not because the method is faulty, but more because of the biological nature of our brains that is subjected to fatigue, easily overloaded, cross-wired, influenced, or distracted.

Blink Think works only in life-impacted instances, when one asks oneself, should I engage in this dark alley at this time, should I brake or swerve, or should I accept this too-good-to-be-true job offer, etc.

IMG_4682Blink Think works best when given more time; any bit of extra time would help reduce the error factors. Remember the decision Pete Carroll, Seattle’s Seahawks’ coach, made to take away the team’s football from Marshawn Lynch and trusted it to Beast Mode? It was his gravest Blink Think failure. In those quick moment when the dynamic of the game was most volatile and intense, Carroll might have thought too much. He might have relied heavily on his logical thinking rather than his gut feeling. He had opted to compute instead of compulsively listening to his heart.

Blink Think can be trained, Gladwell promises. Page following page, I anticipate that moment when his gift will be delivered in my hands. His afterword blows away that hope; I put away the book without learning how to Blink Think better, more than what I already know. Should I intuit that knowledge from reading the book cover to cover? It isn’t part of the deal.

Nonetheless, Blink is a decent read. My curiosity and hunger for knowledge were aroused throughout. As the chapters advance, Gladwell constantly nudges me on by reminding me what I have read. By reciting the case examples he has used to illustrate his points, Gladwell has done well to keep me afloat with him. Now I understand that intuitive thinking is not the product of imagination, nor my blink think a lucky guess or statistical coincidence. It’s this; our knowledge about the power of thinking is still limited, because human is more than the formation of chemicals into physical masses. We possess that elusive, God-like quality that is our unique, non-imitable power.

May we use it wisely!IMG_4683

PS: A receipt from Borders Bookstore fell out from within the pages of my book. Is it another proof of failed blink think? You tell me!


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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

81WO-Yv80BL._SL1500_Gone Girl is Gillian Flynn’s third book, a New York Times bestselling psychological thriller about the suspicious disappearance of a housewife and her husband’s attempts to find her. It was published in 2012, with a movie version released in October. If creepy, self-involved psycho-thrillers are your thing, I heartily recommend this book, but if you’re looking for a traditional mystery or a straight-up thriller, you may want to give it a miss. Continue reading


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Review of SciFi Novel Lieutenant Henry Gallant by H. Peter Alesso

In an era of genetic engineering, Lieutenant Henry Gallant is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. Many of his superiors, including rival Anton Neumann, have expressed concern he is not up to the challenge. However, his unique mental abilities have proven essential to the defense of the United Planets in its fight against the Titan invaders.

Serving on the first FTL prototype, the Intrepid, on its maiden voyage to Tau Ceti, Gallant finds a lost colony on the planet Elysium. Cyrus Wolfe and his son, manipulate planet politics against the democratic opposition led by James Hepburn and his granddaughter Alaina. Wolfe has allied himself with an ancient Artificial Intelligence which had lain dormant on the planet for millennia, but is now willing to protect the colonists against the Titans.

With Alaina’s help, Gallant discovers the ancient AI has a sinister ulterior motive and he matches his unique and exceptional mind against the complexity of machine intelligence to escape the ultimate trap and prevent the extermination of humanity.

In Lieutenant Henry Gallant, one man pits the naked human mind against the perspicacity of machine intelligence.

My Review

Lieutenant Henry Gallant is an action-filled speculative adventure with good premises and ideas behind its science fiction. Both mystery and conflict drive the story of Henry Gallant as his mission to save himself and his crew from the alien Titans transforms into a larger threat.

H. Peter Alesso weaves generous setting description with hard science to paint a new space-exploring society. He seems naturally comfortable narrating from a military officer’s perspective, which added a nice realism to the story. The author’s strengths clearly lie in speculative science, but he is also skilled with foreshadowing. In the Mohs scale, I’d say this story attempts to follow true speculative science along the lines of Larry Niven.

However, passive voice fills every scene, dulling the reader’s experience. Narrative summary cuts out action that could have drawn me in. The dialogue often feels cliche, and despite the vivid descriptions of setting and science, there’s little emotional connection to the characters. The characters themselves lack a level of inner conflict would have made them compelling. Lastly, the sci-fi sometimes felt a little like the author threw every theory he knew in, plus the kitchen sink (particularly in the med bay). The result was some thin spots in his otherwise strong worldbuilding.

I’m giving this story 3.5 stars despite its flaws because I felt that Alesso’s pacing, suspense, and scifi elements were strong. I believe he’s an author to watch out for in years to come.

I recommend this book to fans of speculative space fiction, space opera, and perhaps trekkies. 😉

gold stargold stargold starhalf-star= Good story with obvious flaws in craft or editing

MEDIA KIT pete2As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of computer scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of seven books.

You can visit his Web site at: http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Author Social Media:

Author Web site at: http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Goodreads Address: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/413852.H_Peter_Alesso

YouTube trailer for Henry Gallant Saga: SciFi Book Trailer: Midshipman Henry Gallant

Facebook for Henry Gallant Saga: https://www.facebook.com/MidshipmanHenryGallantInSpace

Author Blog Address: http://cosmologysymmetrybreaking.blogspot.com/

Amazon link for Volume 1 of the Henry Gallant Saga: http://www.amazon.com/Midshipman-Henry-Gallant-Space-Volume/dp/1482640325/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Volume 2: http://www.amazon.com/Lieutenant-Henry-Gallant-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B00MOLJ4Y6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407955491&sr=1-1

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter, and a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host between this tour and the Excerpt Tour, here.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: Goddessfish Promotions Blogs


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Book Review: If I Say Yes by Brandy Jellum

 

Elizabeth Lewis was the child of Hollywood’s darling couple, until her father murdered her mother.

Six years later, she has traded her flashy, luxurious lifestyle for one of safe anonymity as a literary agent. With a different name and appearance, Liza Winter is living the life of her dreams—one where she’s known for who she is instead of what her father did. Except her apartment should be condemned, her car only starts when it wants, she hates the romance genre she has been assigned, and the CEO’s deliciously attractive nephew is out to ruin her carefully laid plans.

Reid Harder has never met an obstacle he couldn’t overcome. When his new position in the romance department comes with a benefit his uncle didn’t mention, he decides to wage a war against the intelligent, beautiful Liza to destroy every argument she has for turning him down. Still, the closer he gets to winning the prize, the more he realizes that the woman is keeping secrets that may endanger not just her life but his.

Will Liza overcome her mistrust of Reid to reveal her secrets before he learns the truth and walks away? Or will a grudge-wielding apparition from her past make her the next deadly Hollywood headline?

Our Review

Our reviewer Kathy Smith received a free copy of If I Say Yes in exchange for an honest review. Here’s what she said:

If I Say Yes is the classic “girl with troubled past who has written off men, falls in love with Mr. Stud” romance – with a suspense/thriller twist.

I found the book generally well written and the prologue kept me intrigued enough to read the whole thing.  I am generally not a romance reader, and found parts of it very unbelievable, but that being said I did read the whole thing, waiting for what originally pulled me in.

I found myself wishing that the writer had just focused on the suspense thriller part of the book and less on the romance.  I felt that if that level of romance was necessary, it needed to be built more, because that part of it left me feeling like the heroine was weak  – she fell off her “I’ve written off men” pedestal way too quickly- and the hero’s immediate intensity for her came off kinda creepy.

I would love to see more character development; I really wanted to like them.

The twist in the book came out a little confusing because there was not enough background, too many characters were quickly introduced without a past and it could have worked, but I felt it did not.

The general idea for the book was fantastic, but I really felt it needed more storyline and character development in order to pull the reader through and leave them wanting to read the second book.   Unfortunately I did not feel that connection to the characters. I really did like the story idea and the writing, but I felt so much more could have been done.

gold stargold stargold star

 

An Excerpt from If I Say Yes

Dull. Boring. Pathetic.

I exit out of the email screen on my computer and push away from my wooden desk. A frustrated groan escapes my lips. It’s the same thing, over and over again. An author wishing and hoping to land an agent, to be published, to become the next big thing. Them and about a million other people in this world. If one thing is lacking from being involved in the world of books, it’s imagination. No one has it anymore. Most books are all the same out there. The only books that can both thrill and excite me are the books that belong in the Horror/Thriller genre. That is where the real art form of writing lies, the books that truly hang on the verge of being genius. Everything else is wretched, worthless. Simply put, it is mundane.

And the reason why being forced to work on the Romance floor of Harder’s Literary Agent House is the worst job I can possibly have.

I shouldn’t complain, I’m lucky to even have such a prestigious job fresh out of college, especially with little experience, except for the last year I spent interning here. When I interned here, I was able to work alongside one of the biggest agents who represents authors in the Horror/Thriller genre. Nothing like a good thriller book keeps me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page, trying to figure out what is going to happen next, and who is behind it all. Trust me; it’s a much better alternative than sitting in the dark, wiping away tears, rooting for the guy you want to win the girl’s heart, and waiting for that happy ending. Nonetheless, when Lawrence Harder hired me on full time, it came with one condition– “I had to spread my wings and fly.”—his words exactly. Either work in Romance or try my hardest to land a delivery job at another agent company and work my way to the top. Which could takes years, if I succeeded at all. It is something I couldn’t risk since it doesn’t fall in line with my list. So I took the job, regardless of how much I despise it.

It’s been three months since I took the coveted agent position here, and I haven’t signed a single author yet. Mr. Harder assures me that it takes time to shift into a new genre and that I will eventually adjust and find the perfect author. Let’s be real for a second; not many authors are flooding the email of a twenty-four year old agent just starting out in world. Then my other problem–Viola Harder–Mr. Harder’s most recent wife, which according to gossip is his seventh. She is a problem in the most ridiculous of senses. The only things she has going for her is that she is strikingly beautiful and in the best shape any woman of twenty-five can be. Other than that? Nothing, absolutely nothing fills the stupid, bottle blonde head of hers. She walks around the floors, strutting around like she is God’s gift to earth, and she is large and in charge. All because she is married to the man who owns the company. Viola’s had it out for me since my first day at orientation over a year ago, for who knows whatever reason, and she has been trying her best to get me fired ever since.

Viola’s newest arguments are that I bring absolutely nothing to the table and that my place in the company is a waste of space, time, and money. I’m easily replaceable. As if she can hear my thoughts from six floors above, my email screen pops up on the computer, flashing with a new message from the devil herself.

From: hotblonde69
To: LWinter@hlah.com

Ms. Winter,
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Do you know what that is the sound of? That is the sound of the clock ticking, a reminder that your time here is quickly running out. You still have yet to sign anyone, and it’s only a matter of time before LJ takes notice and rids the company of you, once and for all. I, unfortunately, cannot say that it would be with the utmost sadness to see you leave Harder’s Literary Agent House (HLAH). I will be absolutely thrilled when that day comes. Believe me, that day will come. Sooner than you think.

Signed,
Viola Harder
Vice President of HLAH

I shake my head and laugh at the sheer lack of professionalism in her email. First of all, who has an email account with the screen name hotblonde69? Seriously, how old is she again? Sixteen? Her threat, however immature as it may seem, is quite valid, though. I hate to agree with the woman, but I have only a matter of time before Mr. Harder decides to get rid of me. But am I going to sign an author anytime soon. Especially if I can’t even get through a single sentence of a query letter. I have to do something to fix this. I have to get out of here and back to where I belong–in Horror/Thriller. I quickly grab the phone resting on top of my desk.

“Heidi,” I say into the receiver. Heidi is my assistant, a year younger than myself, and an intern with the same aspirations I have. She has been a godsend. “I need to talk with Mr. Harder. Can you see if he is available?”

“Right away, Ms. Winter.” Her voice still holds a trace of a southern accent. I look up from my desk, out the panel of windows in front of me, to see her sitting at her small oak desk and shake my head.

“How many times do I have to remind me to call me Liza?” I hate being called Ms. Winter. It sounds too formal and makes me feel older than I am.

Heidi runs a hand through her long, strawberry blonde hair and releases a sigh into the phone. “Yes, Ms. Win-, I mean Liza.” I smile and see her return the smile through the window. “I’ll call up to his office now.”

“Thank you.” I hear the receiver click, indicating that she hung up, and watch her dial Mr. Harder’s secretary. A few seconds later a smile spreads across her face, she nods, and hangs up the receiver. I pick up my phone on the first ring.

“Mr. Harder can meet with you for a few minutes. But you must hurry,” Heidi says quickly. I nod my head, acknowledging her through the window, and hang up the phone.

About the Author

Author Pic Brandy JellumBrandy’s passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun).

At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.

Social Media Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterAmazonBarnes and Noble

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