Saturday, November 7, 2020

Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters, by Jared Knott - You Have to Read It to Believe It

Sometimes all it takes for a book to reel me in is a great concept.  And Jared Knott's Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters definitely has that.  This book has it all:

1.  Something for everybody - politics, the military, science, medicine, and loads of history, including one story from 2500B.C.!                             2.  Tremendous research 
3.  Tons of near misses 
4.  Great introduction
5.  Cool pictures (and not too many of them to take away from the stories)
(On a personal note, the 82nd Airborne is mentioned a couple of times. That was my brother's unit.  In fact, he was in a plane on the ground during the Bay of Pigs incident.  The battle ended before he could be sent.)

The book has 30 sections.  But this is misleading because many of the sections have multiple examples of how a tiny blunder led to a big disaster.  I'm going to just give you a couple of them to whet your appetite. These stories, along with so many others, just made my jaw drop.  To whit:

1.  We've all heard how the security guard, Frank Wills, came across evidence that exposed the burglaries at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972.  And, of course, Nixon ultimately resigned because of the fallout.  But do you know how Wills found out what had happened (you're not going to believe this!)?  The burglars put tape in the door from the garage leading to a staircase so they wouldn't get locked out.  But, guess what?  They placed the tape across the lock horizontally instead of vertically.  Wills could see the tape.  Are you kidding me?  And, on top of that, the local police were called but were not available.  So plainclothes detectives, who were shabbily dressed, were sent, and the lookouts on the roof didn't think anything of it because they were not in uniform.  Wow!

2.  We all know that WW1 started because Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry was assassinated.  Did you know that the driver of the car that held the assassin took a wrong turn?  That's what put the assassin in a position to shoot Ferdinand.

3.  It is commonly held that WWII started in 1937 in a confrontation between Japan and China.  What you may not know is that one of the Japanese soldiers left the battlefield to go to the bathroom and got lost in the woods on the way back.  The Japanese assumed that the Chinese had taken this soldier and demanded to be allowed to search for him. The Chinese said no.  This was the start of the second Sino-Japanese War.

And, by the way, Mrs. O'Leary's cow did NOT start the Great Chicago Fire.

You will also be able to read about great sibling rivalries and their consequences on world history; and the time zone that prevented a military victory; and the assassination that took place because a bodyguard and U.S General did not attend a theater production (guess who?); and a Civil War battle that could have changed the outcome if orders had not been dropped in a field; and...

I have to stop here, even though I don't want to.  Every section (and every sub-section) is just so darn interesting.  You will be mesmerized by Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters or my name isn't The Book Sage!


Monday, October 26, 2020

Hi all. Wanted to let you know that I will be working at Recycle Bookstore in downtown Campbell starting this weekend. My shifts will be Friday from 4:30-8:30 and Sunday from 10-6. Come by and say hello. And, if you are interested, I will be happy to recommend some books to buy - both used and new. Recycle is loaded with great books. And if you haven't had an opportunity to see Recycle, I'm pretty sure you will enjoy your visit. It's at 275 E. Campbell Avenue (408-370-3514). See you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Let's Talk, by Art Rios - A Very Important Book

Let me start this review by saying that not only is Let’s Talk a well-written and interesting book, it’s also an important one.  The cover reads:  LET’S TALK…ABOUT MAKING YOUR LIFE EXCITING, EASIER, AND INTERESTING.  Art reinforces this goal repeatedly throughout the book.  He does it in such a way that it’s a  frequent reminder but doesn’t beat you over the head.

What did I like about this book, you ask?  Everything, is the answer.  Let me list the Top 10 reasons (not in any specific order):

1.   It's very readable.  Self-help books can tend to be dry.  Let's Talk is definitely not.

2.   There is quite a lot of humor.  For example, on the first page of the book he says "I'm a trial

      lawyer - no, wait!  Don't close the book!  There are bits like this periodically thrown in.

3.   There are meaningful quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  They set the stage for what

      follows.  And what I found particularly effective was how he quoted such a wide variety of 

      people - from Buddha to John Lasseter to Cicero to Jack Nicklaus…and the list goes on.

4.   I like that his goal is to create dialogue instead of preaching to us.  He does this, in part, by

      reminding us on several occasions that we can click on his website -

5.   He makes a lot of cultural references that are just flat-out fun.  At one point, he says that

      the one wine lunch and happy hour go together like “mac and cheese, Batman and Robin,

      rum and coke, chips and salsa, and Scooby and Shaggy.”  Are you kidding me?  Scooby

      and Shaggy?  How cool is that?

6.   There are 15 chapters in Let’s Talk.  But Art identifies the 2 that are the most important -

      Gratitude and Kindness.  I couldn’t agree more.

7.   I really connected with his chapter on Power Vision.  This is another name for The Law of

      Attraction.  If you are not familiar with this concept, first introduced to us by Esther and 

      Jerry Hicks, take a look.  I think you will find that it just might resonate with you, too.

8.   Art gives us 3 takeaways at the end of each chapter, which act as a great summary of what 

      we just read.  But don’t make the mistake of avoiding the content of the chapters.  You will 

      need that in order to receive the most impact. 

9.   Chapter 13 - Two Ears, One Mouth - hit me hard.  It’s about listening.  When my wife and I 

      have been with people, we always compare notes to see if they asked the second

      question.  Think about how many ask the first question in such a way that they don’t really 

      care about the answer.  They are probably more Two Mouths, One Ear than the reverse.  

      It's so important to listen, not just talk.  But, sometimes, that’s hard to find.

10. In the Kindness chapter, Art gives us 20 ways to show kindness.  I STRONGLY urge you

      and me and everybody to pay close attention to this list.  We all need to be reminded of

      how important this is to us, our families and friends, and the world at large.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I think this is a terrific book.  I am anxiously awaiting

#2.  I will be at the front of the line to pick up my copy.  Do yourself a favor and get your hands on Let’s Talk.  This is a book that actually makes a difference.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Some Mini-Reviews & and Some News Items

First of all, I've got some news reports for you.  I will follow that up with 3 very short reviews.

1.  Warner Brothers has purchased the rights to The Alice Network.  We know that buying the rights doesn't always mean that the project will come to the big or little screen.  But it sure is a good story, and it would be great to see it produced.

2.  Reese Witherspoon's production company is bringing Where the Crawdads Sing to the big screen.  This is one of the few books I've read in recent years that has gotten a thumbs up from everybody I know who has read it.

3.  Kerry Lonsdale's book, Side Trip, has a pretty unique surprise in it. She is going to have a meeting designed to give readers a chance to ask questions...and they/we WILL have questions!  The event is called Kerry's Tiki Bar, and is scheduled for October 1, 4:00PST.  You can go on her website to get the link.

And now 3 mini-reviews:

1.  The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett.  I have liked a lot of Patchett's books (especially Bel Canto) but haven't been crazy about the most recent ones.  TDH has gotten a ton of high ratings.  I liked it well enough but didn't love it.  Interestingly enough, Joni and I started listening to the audiobook (narrated by Tom Hanks) quite a few months ago.  We liked it but turned it in because we wanted to listen to Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill (which we couldn't get through).  We never went back to the audiobook, but I decided to read it based on some glowing reviews from friends of mine.  The best I can say is that I'm not sorry I read it.


2.  Charming Falls Apart, by Angela Terry.  This is a debut novel for Angela.  And I liked it a lot.  I definitely recommend it and look forward to her next one, whenever that hits the circuit.

3.  The Light in the Hallway, by Amanda Prowse.  This is an author that I had never heard of until recently.  And she's written almost 30 novels and novellas!  I discovered her on a FB book group page.  I saw several members raving about her books.  I went back and forth with them and finally decided I would read one of her books and make up my own mind.  I picked this one based on recommendations and Goodreads ratings.  Anyway, although this was a very long-winded explanation, the bottom line is that I definitely liked it.  I would probably read others by her but don't feel the need to run out and do that.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Another Top-Notch Book from Katherine Center

Back in 2018, I read my 1st Katherine Center book.  It was How to Walk Away, and I loved it.  Then why did it take me so long to read another one?  Beats me.  But I finally did.  It's called What You Wish for, and it's darn good.  This one hit me differently than a lot of other books do.  I was rolling along, enjoying HtWA.  I wasn't as emotionally connected as I like to be with the books I read.  But I was certainly engaged and glad I picked it.  And then...BOOM!  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  The last 65 pages I almost couldn't stop crying.  It definitely crept up on me.  So I guess I was emotionally connected after all!  Here's what the book is about:

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and a joy for living.  But she wasn't always that way.  Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.  But he wasn't always that way.  And Sam knows it.  Because she knew him before - at another school, in a different life.  Back then, she loved him, but she was invisible.  To him.  To everyone.  Even to herself.  She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But then Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there. Although it feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school.  Until the opposite turns out to be true.  The lovable Duncan she had known is now a suit-and-tie-wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he's willing to destroy it.  As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love - which is the riskiest move of all.

Katherine not only tell a good story, she also writes well.  Here are a couple of examples of great visuals:

"I could not disguise the bizarre feeling of joy that had just appeared inside my body - like a million tiny, carbonated bubbles.  I felt positively fizzy."

"I'd try to give in just enough to satisfy the urge without actually doing it.  Like biting the corner of a chocolate bar."

She even has a scene in which Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is mentioned.  That's in my Top-12 All-Time.  Obviously a fun reference for me.

I waited a couple of years to read my 2nd Center.  But the 3rd will be making its appearance much sooner.  I've already ordered Things You Save in a Fire.  I daresay that even with the mountain-high books in my TBR pile, I will get TYSiaF near the top pretty quickly.  And there are 5 more after that!  It's a daunting proposition...but a good problem to have.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

New Books in September - along with a HUGE Surprise!

We've got some books coming out next month from big name authors:

Nicholas Sparks -The Return 

Yaa - Gyase - Transcendent Kingdom (her 1st book, Homegoing, was really good                                                                                                                                                                     

                                  Jodi Picoult - The Book of Two Ways  

                                                                                                                                            AND, the biggest one of all...wait for you feel the tension's...Ken Follett - The Evening and the Morning - IT'S A PREQUEL TO PILLARS OF THE EARTH! - I'm sure you all know by now that Pillars, along with The Source and Shogun, are my 3 favorite books of all time  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Independent Bookstore Day

Yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day.  And, not surprisingly, I trekked over to Recycle Bookstore in Campbell to pay homage.  Here are a few pics from my visit:

                                  Good old Recycle!

                They've always got racks of books out in front of the store.

                                        Their front windows are very enticing.

These are my bookshelves, where there are RBC selections and my personal recommendations!

                Racks in the front of the store, this one with children's books.

                                                           And these with current bestsellers.

                                                    Part of their back wall, with literary fiction.

        Here is part of their fantasy section.  Pretty cool, eh?

                                                                How about their mystery section?

This is a section where you know the genre but don't know the book.

                           Do you want to buy a book bag or T-shirt?  Here they are.

                                                          There's Paul, ringing up a sale.

      And, finally, Lauren, buying back books (Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5).