“The Father: Made In Sweden”–Review

51IfzRnXajL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Based on a true story, The Father is part one of a two-novel series of three brothers who committed numerous bank robberies throughout Sweden, in the 1990s.  With no criminal records, and their being under 24 years old, these brothers would eventually be known as criminal masterminds amid the glare of the international media.

Written by the fourth brother and a television journalist who reported the crimes at that time, this story shows how a father led his sons from being innocent children to being Sweden’s most wanted criminals.

This was a great read for me and the dialogue was well-written.  Once I got toward the middle of the book, I couldn’t put it down.  Towards the end, it was even better.  In some ways, I did feel bad for the main characters, who were young boys who only wanted to be a family; however, years of dealing with their violent, overbearing father wound up leading them all to a life of crime.

I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.  In fact, my reading this book may have inspired me to learn Swedish.

As always, feel free to comment.  Happy reading!

The Father will be available in hardcover on April 5, 2016.

*I received this Advance Reader’s Copy from Quercus Books and Shelf Awareness, in a giveaway, for a honest review.

About the author: Anton Svensson is a pseudonym for Stefan Thunberg and Anders Roslund.  Stefan Thunberg is one of Scandinavia’s most celebrated screenwriters.  His work includes the TV series Henning Mankell’s Wallander and Håkan Nesser’s Van Veeteren.  While Thunberg achieved success as a screenwriter, his father and brothers were Sweden’s most notorious bank robbers, known as Militärligan (The Military League), by the media.  The Father is Thunberg’s debut novel.  Anders Roslund is an award-winning investigative journalist and one of the acclaimed Scandinavian writers of our time.  He is part of the New York Times bestselling author duo Roslund & Hellström, who are recipients of the CWA International Dagger, the Glass Key and the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award, and who boast sales exceeding five million copies.  The Father is Roslund’s seventh novel and the first time he has co-authored with Stefan Thunberg.

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“Jane Steele”–Review

612JGgVEC0L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A tenacious orphan takes Jane Eyre as her idol, and justice into her own hands.

“Reader, I murdered him.”

When she was a child, Jane Steele suffered at the hands of her spiteful aunt, including her predatory cousin.  Then she is sent off to a boarding school, where she has to fight to survive more torment, until she decides to escape the school and flee to London.

Years later, Jane is informed that her aunt has died and her childhood home, Highgate House, has a new master, Mr. Charles Thornfield—an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars—who is seeking a new governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.  Determined to find out if she is the rightful heiress of the house, Jane takes the position and learns of the new residents in Highgate House—Mr. Thorfield and Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield seems far deeper and darker than it appears.

As Jane gets to know the two, she becomes aware of their violent history.  When she begins to fall in love with Mr. Thornfield, Jane faces a dilemma: Can she make him hers without having to reveal her own, murderous past?

This is a satirical romance based on Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.  I’ve not yet read Jane Eyre; however, I’ll get around to it.  I’ve heard positive things about it, after all.  As for Jane Steele, I wasn’t too crazy about the story.  It wasn’t all that bad, I’ll admit.  I liked the dialogue.  The characters were were convincing, but the book just didn’t excite me.  Perhaps you’ll like it, though, especially if you’re a fan of Jane Eyre.  

As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

Jane Steele will be available on April 12, 2016.

*I received this Advance copy in a giveaway, from Penguin Random House, for an honest review.

About the author: Lyndsay Faye is the internationally bestselling author of Dust and Shadow; The Gods of Gotham; Seven for a Secret; and The Fatal Flame.  She lives in Queens with her husband, Gabriel.

“The Productivity Project”–Review

25733994In The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey shows us how to be more productive in any part of our lives—work, school, meetings, etc.  If you’re looking to become more productive, to make any simple changes in your life, this book provides helpful tips.

Chris Bailey talks about how he’d turned down lucrative job offers in order to pursue his lifelong dream: to spend a year performing an experiment into the pursuit of productivity, which has been his area of interest since he was a teenager.  After obtaining a business degree, he created a blog that talked about his yearlong productivity project he conducted on himself, including where he continued his research and interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts, from Charles Duhigg to David Allen.

Included in Bailey’s experiments were: getting by on little to no sleep, for several weeks; cutting out caffeine and sugar; living in total isolation for ten days; using his smartphone for just an hour a day, for three months; and, stretching his workweek to 90 hours.  Because he was usually a late riser, he forced himself to rise at 5:30 a.m., every day, for three months.  He did all this while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work.

Throughout this book, Chris will teach you:

  • Slowing down to work more deliberately
  • Shrinking or eliminating the unimportant
  • The Rule of Three
  • Striving for imperfection
  • Scheduling less time for important tasks
  • The 20-second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions
  • The concept of productive procrastination

Somewhere near the middle of this book, I made a goal to start rising, every day, at 7 a.m.  Even 7:30, at the latest.  I set my alarm every night.  I don’t remember when I started the goal—I have a bad habit of not keeping track of certain things—however, it’s been working out.  Whether I have to be somewhere early or not, I just like the idea of appreciating a nice morning.  Oversleeping got me nowhere; I’d just miss out on a good morning.  So far, so good with rising early.

Although I love a good cup of coffee, including soda, Chris Bailey has a relevant point on the constant consumption of caffeine and sugar: it slows you down and ruins your productivity, especially depending on the time of day you consume it.  I’m doing my best to cut back.  After all, Bailey suggests we consume caffeine strategically, not habitually.  I’m glad he mentioned how our health can make a big difference with our productivity.

Here’s one passage I did like from the book: Working deliberately and purposefully throughout the day can make or break how productive you are.  But having a purpose is just as important.  The intention behind your actions is like the shaft behind an arrowhead—it’s pretty difficult to become more productive day in and day out when you don’t care about what you want to accomplish on a deeper level…Investing countless hours becoming more productive, or taking on new habits or routines, is a waste if you don’t actually care about the changes you’re trying to make.  And you won’t have the motivation to sustain these changes in the long term.”

Bailey also points out: Productivity is about how much you accomplish.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this book.  I still have a long way to go with making some changes in my life.  It’s helpful to know that productivity isn’t about having so much to do on a daily basis; it’s about how much you accomplish on a daily basis.  I encourage you, readers, to check out this book.

About the author: Chris Bailey, a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa, wrote over 216,000 words on the subject of productivity on his blog, A Year of Productivity, during a yearlong productivity project where he conducted intensive research to discover how to become as productive as possible.  He has written hundreds of articles on the subject and has garnered coverage in media, such as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, New York magazine, TED, Fast Company, and Lifehacker.  For more info, click here.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

THE FESTIVAL

Hello bloggers!  This event is one of my favorite times of the year.  If you live in L.A., or will be in L.A. in April, be sure to check out the Festival of Books.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest book festival in the country. The festival will be held April 9 -10, 2016 at USC and feature celebrities, famous authors, music, film, comic books, cooking demos and more.

Source: THE FESTIVAL

“Double Switch”–Review

51Zp6zShDPL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Blackmail.  Bullets.  Deception.  It’s time to play ball.

Johnny Adcock—the aging major-league relief pitcher who also works as a private investigator—is back in a follow-up thriller to The Setup Man.

Johnny has the bullpen as his office.  The bullpen is where he’s sitting, shelling out sunflower seeds after a game, when he is approached by Tiff Tate—the career-making stylist behind the most highly marketable looks in Major League Baseball.  Tiff needs Johnny’s help with her new client, Yonel Ruiz, a rookie phenom who had risked his life to flee his native Cuba for fame and fortune in the MLB.  Now that Ruiz has a signed contract with the League, the Venezuelan cartel that smuggled him out has sent out a ruthless assassin, known as La Loba, to collect.

Although the front office wants to shut down Johnny’s side work, Johnny takes on the case—with the corporate fixer and “director of security” keeping a close watch on him.  This new case leaves Johnny in more deadly situations that not only threaten to end his baseball career, but may be the end of him.

I was definitely satisfied with this book.  With excellent narration and dialogue, the story had one surprise and twist after another.  The ending wasn’t what I expected, either, but I liked it.  Johnny Adcock is clever and sexy, in my opinion.  I don’t know much about baseball, but I do enjoy a good mystery.  Also, Reader, this book is not for children.  Feel free to post your comments.  Double Switch is now available.

Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Doubleday for an honest review.

About the author: T.T. Monday is the pseudonym of novelist Nick Taylor, author of The Disagreement and Father Junipero’s Confessor.  Double Switch is his second novel to feature Johnny Adcock, following The Setup Man.  For more info, click here.  Follow him on Twitter.