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Book Review: Fool Moon Jim Butcher

Book Review: Fool Moon Jim Butcher

Genre

Mystery, thriller suspense

Synopsis

“One of the most enjoyable marriages of the fantasy and mystery genres on the shelves,”(Cinescape) the Dresden Files have become synonymous with action-packed urban fantasy and nonstop fun. Fool Moon continues the adventures of Jim Butcher’s most famous—and infamous—reluctant hero…

You’d think there’d be a little more action for the only professional wizard listed in the Chicago phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work: magical, mundane, or menial.

Just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise. There’s a brutally mutilated corpse, and monstrous animal markings at the scene. Not to mention that the killing took place on the night of a full moon. Harry knows exactly where this case is headed. Take three guesses—and the first two don’t count…

Heidi’s Hot Take

This is the second book in the Dresden files series by Jim Butcher and I absolutely loved it! I am a huge fan of werewolf mythology and I love how  they added a fun bit of extra world-building by pulling from several different mythos and treating them as separate entities. I also loved the continued tension being built between Dresden and Detective Murphy and how his assumptions of what is causing it keep running him afoul. While I love the flawed hero aspect, I did find it beyond frustrating that he had a lot of self-realizations (I know my being closed off and not sharing information is getting people I care about hurt. I’m gonna do better, I swear!) never actually turned into self-actualization. There were several times where he even acknowledged that Murphy would want to know this but then consciously chose to leave her out of it, to both their detriment.

If the author plays this angle right and we see Harry actually attempt to be better (not perfect, he is human after all, but at least BETTER) then I will be so very happy. But if he pulls a Gibbs and sticks to his bad habits, I might just have to drop him on his head.  I have high hopes it will be the former, and not the latter. If so, I will recommend this series to anyone struggling with personal self-development as a template on how to do it. First, we have to know what is broken and process how we can do better. But then we have to do better!

I also want so much more about werewolves. I loved the sneak peek into these three complex werewolf societies, but that was really all we got. It was totally needed to feed the main plot (IE keep the reader and Dresden guessing on who the big baddies are.) but it didn’t give me enough of a look into each type to be satisfied. I hope to see Dresden come up against different werewolf types in the future so we can see more into the different legends and lore.

All in all, a very fun and satisfying read that I highly recommend to anyone interested in urban fantasy mysteries and alternative lore. Looking forward to getting the next books in the series! Want to give it a try? Check it out on Amazon today! Fool Moon Dresden Files

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Storm Front Jim Butcher

Genre

Mystery Thriller/ Suspense

Synopsis

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I’m a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I’m the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under Wizards. Believe it or not, I’m the only one there.

With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt. Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters to vampires, while he himself is under suspicion of the crimes.

Heidi’s Hot Take

I absolutely am loving The Dresden Files, but was surprised to see it was not included in paranormal mystery. My guess is because it created a new genre. It’s a genre I am a big fan of and even wrote my own series for the paranormal thriller/ suspense genre with Clear Angel Chronicles! But Harry Dresden is a trope maker, the self-aware curmudgeon, the sinner with a heart of gold. The guy who could have it all if he would just step on others to get it. Reading the first book in the series has been a delight. I have a hard time connecting him to the Harry Dresden of Legends of Tomorrow or even the Dresden Files TV series (both of which I experienced before reading the books.) I definitely love the author’s version so much more. We get a deeper look into this character who often comes of flippant and tortured, but getting to see his inner thought process is fascinating.

And that was far more interesting than the actual plot, with a magical serial killer on the loose. While that moved the story along, figuring out the killer was just not as interesting to me as trying to figure out our protagonist. That, to me, is so different from the TV series where the plot drove the story more for me. It could be the difference in age from the time I watched the series to the time I read, but honestly I suspect it is more to do with the format as I wrote Clear Angel Chronicles about the same time the TV series came out and yet my focus in the stories is much more on understanding the protagonists and solving the crimes is just a back story to guide the interactions of the MCs.

If you’ve not read the Dresden Files and you are a fan of paranormal thriller/ suspense and deep characters you really want to understand then I highly recommend you give this series a go. I am loving it and have already started on the next book in the series. Keep an eye out for that review coming soon!

You can get a sample read of Storm Front sent to your Kindle reader via Amazon.

 

 

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Book Review and Analysis of The Oz Principle

Book Review The Oz Principle

As many of you know, I am an avid reader. While my primary reading is fiction to unwind and escape, I will also read nonfiction books that strike my fancy. One such book that I came across recently was The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, and Roger Connors. This book is an interesting lesson on corporate and personal accountability.

“Since it was originally published in 1994, The Oz Principle has sold nearly 600,000 copies and become the worldwide bible on accountability. Through its practical and invaluable advice, thousands of companies have learned just how vital personal and organizational accountability is for a company to achieve and maintain its best results.

At the core of the authors’ message is the idea that when people take personal ownership of their organization’s goals and accept responsibility for their own performance, they become more invested and work at a higher level to ensure not only their own success, but everyone’s. Now more than ever, The Oz Principle is vital to anyone charged with obtaining results. It is a must have, must read, and must apply classic business book.”

So, full confession, I picked this book up after interviewing for a sales enablement position for a local SAAS company. The interviewer mentioned that the executive suite was really big on The Oz Principle and creating a team based on accountability. They even had one of the authors come out and teach the whole team a seminar on the principles. It sounded like a great place to prep for my second interview.

I really struggled with the first half of this book. It seems like principles that are so obvious and which I was raised to practice in my life. I have always looked at every situation, whether personal or business and asked myself three key questions.

1. What went well?

2. What didn’t go well?

3. What can I do to make things go better next time?

I guess it was something my mother taught me as a self-reflection tool for building strong communication and accountability. But honestly, I cannot recall being “taught” this. Perhaps I just learned it through observing her? Hard to say.

Around 1/3 of the way into the book, with a bit of reflecting, I realized I do know people for whom being accountable is not the norm. I had dealt with people who were always blaming others for what went wrong. It had not occurred to me that this behavior was the norm or that it could get built into company culture.

Now, on the other side of reading and reflecting on The Oz Principle, I actually see it ALL. THE. TIME. Especially with the crisis hitting just as I was finishing reading it. Companies complaining because they couldn’t afford to be closed. Laying off employees because they would rather take a wait and see approach. Many people who were furloughed fell into the same wait and see pattern. I watched people take to the streets protesting and blaming the government for not being able to work.

I also watched people take on the Oz Principle quite quickly and adapt to this crisis. Change their business model to meet the public’s needs during lockdown. Individuals starting new businesses online, focusing on their side hustle and treating it like a real job rather than just waiting for their steady check to come back. The difference in the outlooks of each group is quite striking.

So what is the Oz Principle? In a nutshell, it is 4 basic principles done in a specific order.

Step 1- See It

The book lists a ton of examples of companies who did not acknowledge that there was a problem until they were already flying off a cliff. I watched a bunch of companies who had no contingency plan for when COVID-19 struck and were not prepared. They didn’t know what to do except close their doors. But there were a lot of companies who were prepared. For example, my husband works for a global corporation. They saw how this was spreading through their non-US communities. They knew that when it hit the Americas where the bulk of their businesses were, they needed to be prepared. A week before New York went into lockdown, corporate sent out a notice to all offices to encourage staff to work from home.

They have always allowed 1 day a week that staff could work from home. The network was originally only designed to support 20% of the team. After IT did some major rework, they estimated it could maintain 80-100% of the workload but were not sure. Without wanting to panic the teams, they encouraged a greater number of people to work from home specifically so that they could test the system. When New York was required to go to lockdown, my husband’s company was ready and confident they could handle the whole corporation’s workload. They saw the potential problem and they followed the steps recommended by their teams to keep their employees operating.

Step 2- Own It

So often we see problems in the world, in an organization, in our relationships. We know the problem is there, but we blame others for the problem. By blaming others, we (according to the book) allow ourselves to be the victims. As victims, we have no responsibility. But we also have no power to change anything either.

This section was really hard for me because I am an over-owner. To the point that I feel guilt and responsibility for things for which I have little ability to control or change the outcomes. It leads to me offering advice unsolicited, developing programs to try and help others, and spending entirely too much of my time trying to solve major problems alone. I then get angry when others feel no responsibility to try to solve them. For example, for over 4 years I have listened to friends and loved ones complain about the political divide in this country and how the other side blames all the ills on them…. and then watch them do the same thing.

Over and over and over.

I point out when people are doing it, suggest non-biased articles to “fact-check” opinion bias, and try to get either side to see the other’s point. In return, I am called a Libtard by one side and an Alt-right “snowflake” by the other.

Oh Really now

I can’t fix how people choose to communicate, however, I can choose how to invest my time. If my previous approach one-on-one is not working, I can choose to take a different approach. In my case, rather than telling people why they are wrong, I refer them to Fighting Disinformation. I suggest that they take a look at some of the tools and recommendations to aid in fighting disinformation.

Step 3- Solve It

This is the natural progression of seeing the problem then owning the problem. If you own it then you empower yourself to take the next step, solving the problem. When I got to this section I realized that perhaps I had experienced this more than I thought. When everyone is implementing the Oz Principle, then everyone welcomes input on how to address problems. When you operate in a siloed management style where X department is responsible for Y then having someone not from your department pointing out a problem that exists and making recommendations to address said problem could feel like blaming or finger-pointing instead of that person taking ownership of helping to address a problem. No matter how much “we” language that person coaches the suggestion in. The same in your personal relationships. When someone asks for advice and you provide concrete steps for them, often they justify and shut down the advice you offered because for them your advice may feel like blame. What they really are looking for is someone to tell them it is not their fault.

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Step 4- Do It

It is impossible to get to Do It if you cannot agree that there is a problem. Then take responsibility for solving the problem. You must also come up with a solution to the problem. Yet, once you establish those elements, it is not guaranteed that the “Do it” part of the equation will happen or continue to happen. It is easy to slip back into old habits or ways of doing things. Creating systems to help remind one another to continue operating with The Oz Principle is key to keep moving forward.

The suggested way to do so using The Oz Principle is to look at actions and behaviors that “separate success from failure”. “Above The Line” represents the area of “accountability and success”. “Below The Line” represents the area of “self-victimization and failure.”

Using those terms allows everyone to support and monitor themselves and the organization in the path to improvement and growth.

Those were the big takeaways from the book. The rest of the book is made up of hundreds of examples of companies and people. Many of whom the authors had coached or worked with. Discussing how they get stuck below the line and use the principles to bring themselves above the line to have massive success.

The Downside of The Oz Principle

And that is one of the problems I have with both the book, and the principles expressed in the book. The authors used Enron as an example repeatedly. And yet, I think their problem was not that they didn’t see the problem, own the problem, solve the problem, and do it. As a matter of fact, the biggest problem was that they did exactly that to an unethical degree.

The examples of people reaching success are always tied to people doing whatever it takes to achieve the goals and needs of the company. One example was of a company that was shipping a new product. They were so invested in success that there was a party as the trucker who was contracted to deliver the product was leaving. He was so swept up in their excitement at completing on time that he went above and beyond when his truck broke down and he ran into issues with the delivery. He did not want to be the reason that they did not achieve what they had hoped.

It is awesome that the trucker went above and beyond. I do fully agree that there are times when going above and beyond is needed. However, one must be cautious not to get so caught up in the optimizing process that setting unrealistic expectations becomes the norm. Going above and beyond every day is the norm. That is a quick path to burnout and turnover.

This is a concern that can be addressed using the “see it, own it, solve it, do it” approach. Yet, I know the press and exhilaration of doing more than just a job. Of getting caught up in the delight of “building something”. The pain of not realizing until I was already burned out that burnout had hit.

I do see the value of The Oz Principle. I think that as a management tool, managers also need a book like Start with Your People by Brian Dixon to keep the right mindset and balance.

Is the Oz Principle Useful Personally

As I mentioned at the beginning, I struggled reading The Oz Principle because I have always been one to look at things and ask:

1. What went well?

2. What didn’t go well?

3. What can I do to make things go better next time?

I am very much in control of my life. I hate when I feel like I am not. Reading the Oz Principle made me realize that a lot of people do not have that empowerment. I cannot fathom how trapped that must make people feel.

If you often feel like you have no control over your life. If you find yourself caught in a pattern where everything that happens is somehow because of someone else. When you find yourself constantly just reacting to what life throws at you. You may very well find a deep benefit in adopting my questions or practicing the Oz Principle.

However, a small warning. Be careful that you do not over-practice these principles to the point that you constantly blame yourself. I have found myself caught in that trap. You can look at what went wrong, ask yourself what you could’ve done better, and then hold that for your future. But dwelling on it for too long turns into a form of self-masochism. Once you’ve done that analysis let it go.

As an example, I was part of a start-up a few years ago. Things fell apart. I beat myself up for too long about it failing. The reality is that there were 25 other people involved. It was not all on my shoulders to make it succeed. When I finally stopped beating myself up for it, I took from it expectations of what worked and what didn’t. When I was invited to be part of another start-up, I was able to look at what worked and what didn’t from the previous start-up. Then I could determine how invested I wanted to be with this start-up and plan an exit strategy that did not leave me so deep in the start-up that my own dreams went to the wayside. I set clear boundaries so that I wouldn’t become so invested that if it failed, I was a failure.

All that to say, while I appreciate the Oz Principle, as with anything there must be a balance in life. Find your balance and empower yourself, without making yourself accountable for everything that happens in the world. Set realistic expectations of yourself and others.

What are your thoughts on The Oz Principle?

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Book Review: New Hope by Steve Hobbs

Book Review New Hope

Hello Lovelies,

Hope everyone has had an awesome summer. We are just getting back into the swing of school and I am happy to share my latest read, New Hope by Steve Hobbs.

Genre:

Urban Fantasy/ Mystery

Synopsis:

DESPERATE EVIL descends on a quirky Maine town in Steve Hobbs’s gripping debut thriller, New Hope.Seventeen year old Miri Jones has always wanted to be a detective. When she discovers mutilated human remains during her morning run, she’s found her case. But the bizarre nature of the crime will shake everything she believes in and might just get her killed. The town of New Hope is about to make its last stand in a war Miri never knew existed.

Only the brave will survive.

My Take:

All the feels! This book takes me back to my childhood. Quite literally, as it’s set in the 80s. With all the charming nostalgia of Stranger Things, the Nancy Drew Heroine, and the campy group of kids fighting vampires that’s reminiscent of Lost Boys, there really wasn’t much not to love about this book.  
If you are looking for a fun read with all those feels, then you will love New Hope. There weren’t any deep questions, and I figured out a lot of things pretty quickly, but it still was a nice break and a fun read. 
If that sounds fun to you, then take a peek inside.

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Anaerfell by Joshua Robertson

Aenerfell Book Review

Hello Lovelies,

Happy New Year and let’s start it off right! I have an exciting new review for you!

Genre: High fantasy

Synopsis: The Blood of Dragons: Book 1

2017 International Award-Winning Novel in Epic Fantasy

Drast and Tyran might be considered a bit black-hearted, or even immoral. Drast is cunning but reckless, hunting for admiration. Tyran is calculating but tactless, searching for affection. When the two brothers set aside their ambitions to fulfill their father’s desire for immortality, they readily discover many opportunities for redemption. Now, while wielding a powerful magic that drains their life, Drast and Tyran will embark on a maddening quest, facing skin-switchers, dragons, and the God of the Dead.

My take: Anaerfell is a delightful introduction to the Thrice nine Legends world. The same world where Kaelandur series takes place and man, Robertson once again grabs you by the guts, twists, and rips them out. The characters you want to love and care for, you end up hating and the ones you love end up being not the characters you should. (Except Erzebeth. SQUEE!!!) This is not a story for people who want heroes and clear cut good and evil. This is not a story for those who want a happy ending or who want a satisfying wrap up to a story. But I really understand even more why Robertson lists George R.R. Martin as one of his inspirations. Anaerfell has beautiful world building that is not so daunting as Martin’s work, and action scenes that play just like a movie in your head as you read. For those who are lamenting the end of GoT, this is definitely a very satisfying replacement to that series with characters that I think are just as fun to love and hate and long for their deaths.

Take a peek inside on Amazon

If you want to learn more about the Thrice Nine Legends world, or the Blood of Dragons series, or Joshua Robertson, or just to see some fantastic fantasy geekiness then visit his website RobertsonWrites. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Don’t miss my review of Book 2 in the series, Dyndaer and book 3, Maharia 

 

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Moss and Clay by Rebekah Jonesy

Book Review Moss and Clay

Hello Lovelies,

I’m here today as part of the Moss and Clay tour. This is a delightful look into the blending of Fae legends between the old world and new to create a very exciting urban fantasy series.

Moss, clay, and blood–that’s how Gillian began.

A doll, crafted and given a mission by Danu. Given life by human and Fae blood.  First daughter of Mab, Queen of the Fae, Gillian must track down the rogue fae in the Americas and bring them back under Fae Law with only a volunteer kelpie to travel with her.

And no one knows what they’re in for. Not even the gods that sent them.

Dive into the world of the Aos Si Fae today. Get the free prequel story here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/g7cjknwe9p

My take:

I am actually pretty good friends with Rebekah Jonesy and as such, I was privileged to see the birth of this series when she shared a peek of the opening scenes through The Troll King back in July last year. I was completely hooked! Gillian was delightful, her birth was intriguing, and her mission grabbed me. But I absolutely died giggling at the troll king. I can’t ruin it, but seriously, if for no other reason, you should read it to read the troll king! 


Yet, the continuation of the story is just as delightful, though in a somewhat darker way. Yet, there are still some moments of humor, particularly when Gillian finds herself at odds with strange American customs like our weird dressing behaviors and our interactions with one another. 

I absolutely recommend this enjoyable escape from the ordinary to get a look at the dark underbelly that makes urban fantasy one of my favorite genres. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series which releases later this year! 

You can follow author Rebekah Jonesy at Twitter,  join her Facebook reader’s group, and don’t forget to grab the free prequel to Mab’s Doll .

Take A Peek Inside on Amazon

See other awesome stops in the Moss and Clay tour.

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!