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Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Book Review: Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Genre:

Teen/ YA LitRPG

Synopsis:

From James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes the first book in the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your-seat cyber-adventure trilogy that includes The Rule of Thoughts and The Game of Lives

Includes a sneak peek of The Fever Code, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Maze Runner series—the novel that finally reveals how the Maze was built!

The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun it is. Why bother following the rules when it’s so easy to break them? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid, to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and it’s possible that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Praise for the Mortality Doctrine Series:

“Dashner takes full advantage of the Matrix-esque potential for asking ‘what is real.’” —io9.com

“Set in a world taken over by virtual reality gaming, the series perfectly capture[s] Dashner’s hallmarks for inventiveness, teen dialogue and an ability to add twists and turns like no other author.” —MTV.com

“A brilliant, visceral, gamified mash-up of The Matrix and Inception, guaranteed to thrill even the non-gaming crowd.” —Christian Science Monitor

Heidi’s Hot Take:

I struggled to get into this story as the parallels to Ready Player One were so painfully obvious. From the hanging out in virtual worlds to the trio team of one girl and two boys, the big win goal that will “change” the MCs life , and the secret underlying plot that throws a wrenching the MCs goals. It was almost enough to make me put the book down.

But Dashner tells a tight story and is excellent at driving you forward even when you are pretty confident you’ve already figured the story out. I did enjoy some of the elements of worldbuilding that is why I enjoy a lot of LitRPG, the fantastical game worlds within worlds, the over-the-top quirky characters that you can only get away with in spec fick, But at the end of the day, the creative twist I was counting on did not quite play out the way I’d hoped and was left hanging that it *might* in later books, but probably not. I am honestly so divested from the trio dynamic that I don’t really care to find out.

This kind of content that follows such predictable story beats is a large part of why I generally don’t enjoy reading mainstream and trad published books.  While I think some formula is required to a certain extent, the more formulaic it is the less excitement I feel reading. That is why I was so excited when more and more authors began mixing genres because it gave a wider room for blending formulas and less predictability to the story.

If you like that (and a lot of people do, no judgment from me!) then be sure to check out Eye of Minds on Amazon and see if it’s for you.

But if you like LitRPG which isn’t so formulaic and lets you get lost in the story and the world-building, then I have some great review recommendations for you!

Check these out:

Conquest by RM Mulder

Realms Unreel by Audry Auden

Of for a cool Book about building those types of worlds, don’t miss The Man of Cloud 9 by Adam Dreece.

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

 

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Book Review: Night Rounds by Helene Tursten

Book Review: Night Rounds by Helene Tursten

Genre:

International Mystery and Crime Thriller

Synopsis:

The fourth investigation in the nationaly bestselling Swedish detective series

Irene Huss is a former jujitsu champion, a mother of twin teenage girls, the wife of a successful chef, and a Detective Inspector in the Violent Crimes Unit in Göteborg, Sweden. And now she’s back in the gripping follow-up to Detective Inspector Huss. One nurse lies dead and another vanishes after a local hospital is hit by a blackout. The only witness claims to have seen Nurse Tekla doing her rounds, but Nurse Tekla died sixty years ago. Irene Huss has the challenge of disentangling wandering ghosts and complex human relationships to get to the bottom of this intriguing case.

Heidi’s Hot Take:

I absolutely love international detective thrillers. They have a different flow than most USA based detective thrillers. There is a lot of fun details about the culture that bleed through. That is all the case for Night Rounds as well. I can’t say that I adore Irene Huss. I actually kind of struggled with liking most of the detectives in the book, TBH. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but it was interesting to see that women in Sweden seem to run into similar struggles of how their roles are being shifted in culture and that there is kickback there just as we experience here. I will say that Helene Tursten’s red herrings were really quite good. Right until the end, I wasn’t sure who the killer was and she clearly set it up to mislead the average reader into falling into the same trap that most of the male detectives in the book kept falling into, underestimating what women can and will do and why.

While I wasn’t super won over by the detectives, I absolutely loved Tursten’s writing. How she mixes the mundane struggles of balancing life with being a detective, how we get as much of a look into Huss’s family life as her policework, and the ever-relatable feeling of struggling to balance personal and self-care around all the responsibilities of being a woman in modern society. I also felt like one of the reasons the red herrings really stood out is that Tursten makes a very solid effort to show how real police work is not getting a suspect early on and then digging into all of it to prove that they were guilty, but looking at the whole of the evidence and following up a lot of potential leads that would never quite resolve enough evidence to completely dismiss them but also ran cold on being able to follow up further. Like life, the police work wasn’t as linear as we often get in US-based detective thrillers and I really enjoyed that aspect to it.

Want to learn more about Night Rounds? Check it out on Amazon.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Icefall By Matthew J. Kirby

Book Review: Icefall Matthew J. Kirby

Genre:

Children’s Action and Adventure

Synopsis

Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig–along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors–anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Heidi’s Hot Take

Based on the cover, I thought there would be magic in the story. Though there isn’t, I still absolutely loved this historical fiction story. I really related to Solveig’s struggle as the middle child who felt out of place and not as important in her family dynamics. I loved watching her grow from just a shadow trying to fit in by helping where she could, to blossoming into a heroine who inspired others to be greater than they thought they could be.

The Nordic setting and the story were also fascinating and well-researched. The teases of mysticism and prophecy as well as the question of whether it was real or whether people’s belief was enough to make it seem like it could be real are pretty heavy concepts for a book aimed at pre-teens and teens. I’ve been on kinda a nordic kick with my entertainment lately and really appreciated the level of research the author did, given this was written 10 years before most of the stuff I’ve been enjoying.

An excellent coming-of-age tale with real depth for the right readers and a lot of interesting action and suspense for the average reader. Highly recommend.

 

Until Next Time, 

Keep Reading!

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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: The Devil’s Sea by Clive Cussler

Book Review: The Devil's Sea by Clive Cussler

Genre

Suspense Action Fiction

Synopsis

Fearless adventurer Dirk Pitt must unravel a historical mystery of epic importance in the latest novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling series created by the “grand master of adventure” Clive Cussler.

In 1959 Tibet, a Buddhist artifact of immense importance was seemingly lost to history in the turmoil of the Communist takeover. But when National Underwater and Marine Agency Director Dirk Pitt discovers a forgotten plane crash in the Philippine Sea over 60 years later, new clues emerge to its hidden existence.

But Pitt and his compatriot Al Giordino have larger worries when they are ordered to recover a failed hypersonic missile from Luzon Strait. Only someone else is after it, too…a rogue Chinese military team that makes their own earthshattering discovery, hijacking a ship capable of stirring the waters of the deep into a veritable Devil’s Sea.

From the cold dark depths of the Pacific Ocean to the dizzying heights of the Himalaya Mountains, only Dirk Pitt and his children, Summer and Dirk Jr., can unravel the mysteries that will preserve a religion, save a nation…and save the world from war.

Heidi’s Hot Take

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge Dirk Pitt Fan, which is why when my husband saw this new Dirk Pitt while he was shopping, he had to pick it up for me. Talk about true love! The Devil’s Sea is a fantastic addition to the Dirk Pitt series. But I am struggling with Dirk Giordino’s seeming lack of aging, lol. I think my age is just catching up to me and making me more self-conscious. Cussler’s books do a fantastic job weaving real-world politics into their tales and this one is very focused on China and the conflict with Tibet and the Dalai Llama as well as how China is very much in a tech war with the US and possibly an arms war as well.

It is a fun light read full of ocean and mountain adventures, which are my favorite adventures, and plenty of action. If you are a Dirk Pitt fan, you will absolutely love this addition to the series!

Take a sneak peek on Amazon by listening to an audio sample or having a  sample sent to your Kindle.

 

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

 

 

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Book Review: 1st to Die by James Patterson

Book Review: 1st to Die by James Patterson

Hello Lovelies,

Been a minute since I got to post a book review. But I am getting back into a reading schedule and am excited to post a review for 1st to Die, a Women’s Murder Club novel by James Patterson. This has been on my bookshelf for FOREVER as a friend got it at  garage sale and knew I loved cop thrillers so gifted it to me when they couldn’t get into it. I know Patterson has a reputation for being… problematic so there was always something else I’d rather read. But I was in a mood towards the end of February so decided to give it a go.

Genre:

Serial Killer Thriller

Synopsis

Four crime-solving friends face off against a killer in San Francisco in the Women’s Murder Club novel that started James Patterson’s thrilling series.

Each one holds a piece of the puzzle: Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle.

But the usual procedures aren’t bringing them any closer to stopping the killings. So these women form a Women’s Murder Club to collaborate outside the box and pursue the case by sidestepping their bosses and giving each other a hand. The four women develop intense bonds as they pursue a killer whose crimes have stunned an entire city. Working together, they track down the most terrifying and unexpected killer they have ever encountered–before a shocking conclusion in which everything they knew turns out to be devastatingly wrong.
Full of the breathtaking drama and unforgettable emotions for which James Patterson is famous, 1st to Die is the start of the #1 New York Times bestselling series of crime thrillers.

My Take

Man…. I don’t know where to start. I actually finished this book 3 weeks ago. It took me a couple of weeks to choose which of those three to read and then another week to finally open the sucker up. But only a week to devour this 462-page book. There were some plot points that even when I was deep in the thick of it had me rolling my eyes, but despite that the story kept me moving in part because of the nonstop action and in part because of the team-up of women in male-dominated professions supporting one another.

This book was published in 2001. I was in the thick of college and experiencing sexism on a previously inexperienced scale in my life. This book is problematic, but it was addressing a real issue that happened to women back in the day. While there is still gender bias today, obviously; it was much more blatant and far less policed in the 1990s and early 2000s. (Despite there being tons of laws already in place to address it.) I remember dealing with the “casual sexism” the same way Lindsey did. A caustic teasing remark or brush-off and aggravation to rage depending on the number of times it happened that day.

I remember having to fight twice as hard to be acknowledged as my male counterparts.

I remember having a long conversation with my female manager who was going to promote a male colleague to trainer over me and having to spend far too long to convince her I was the better choice and why.

So yeah, that felt real. The camaraderie between women struggling in male-dominated professions also felt real. It wasn’t just about that, there was some real development of why they liked and connected beyond that they were all slighted by men.

But the eye roll moments are spoilers so here is your spoiler alert warning.

Why did she fall for Raleigh? It is obnoxious how they get caught up in a whirlwind relationship in the middle of the biggest case of her career. And then her response to how it ends? I mean…. so problematic. IDK, maybe it would ring true with other women, but for me it was such an eye roll. I get that romance in the workplace happens. My marriage is a product of it. But I was 21 not 34. It was a temp job, not my career job, and I hadn’t been diagnosed with my degenerative disease yet.

In my 30s when I was diagnosed I had no bandwidth for romance with my partner. Admittedly, mine didn’t have a high chance of death at a young age and I was in a very established relationship so perhaps that accounts for the differences, but IDK. it jut really rubbed me the wrong way because in so many ways I really connected with Lindsay so to have this be so different from how I think I would respond is just… it was weird for me. And the prologue also seemed so incongruent.

Also, it had the perfect Gotcha with the villain and then it proceeded to screw it up. What had the potential to be a very women empowerment story ended up falling flat for me.

Which is a shame because it really gripped me. I could not put it down. I caught myself reading during breaks and pretty much any chance I got.

If you like a good thriller that makes you think, and you can overlook these problems, then this might be worth checking out.

 

I still haven’t decided if I am going to get the next books in the series. Gonna give it time to settle while I read some other books and if I still long to know what happens to the women’s murder club then I will give the next book a try.

 

Have you read 1st to Die? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review Uninvited by Amanda Marrone #OctoberFrights edition

Hello Lovelies,

I am participating in #OctoberFrights this week and today is the first post. A review of a fun quick Halloween read, Uninvited by Amanda Marrone. Let’s get to it!

Genre:

Paranormal dark romance? Amazon has it under YA teen horror.

Synopsis:

When rejection comes back to bite you…

Jordan’s life sucks. Her boyfriend, Michael, dumped her, slept his way through half the student body, and then killed himself. But now, somehow, he appears at her window every night, begging her to let him in.

Jordan can’t understand why he wants her, but she feels her resistance wearing down. After all, her life — once a broken record of boring parties, meaningless hookups, and friends she couldn’t relate to — now consists of her drinking alone in her room as she waits for the sun to go down.

Michael needs to be invited in before he can enter. All Jordan has to do is say the words….

 

My Thoughts:

I had a stalker in high school. He was nowhere near as charming as
Michael. He also never lurked outside my home (though I certainly had nightmares he would) and we didn’t have a romance before he became my stalker. However, I still really connected to a lot of her experiences and the feelings behind them. This book only deals with a vampire on the surface. It is really a deep look into teen abusive relationships, teen social struggles, and is a darkly beautiful coming of age experience for Jordan.

It feels like a light read, at only 204 pages. I read it in one day. But it clings to you after. My favorite thing about this book, unlike a lot of paranormal romance *cough cough Twilight cough cough* which shall not be named, we see Jordan recognizing what is happening, recognizing the abusive nature of her situation. Hating herself for being attracted to it, resenting how it was impacting the rest of her life, really taking stock of her situation and demonstrating the climb back to self-love and self-care. This is a book every teen should read as it is a perfect example of toxic teen romance and why you don’t want that kind of relationship.

Want to learn more?

Visit Uninvited by Amanda Marron on Amazon

Be sure to come back Wednesday and Friday as I am going to have some fun stuff for you: a sample of Las Immortales, part of The Hunters Saga, and some fun DIY Halloween decorations on a shoe-string budget.

And I have hand-crafted stakes for sale for those who want one!

#OctoberFrights

If you missed the kick-off with 4 of the participants of the hop, check it out:

Don’t miss the other awesome events happening as part of #OctoberFrights. There is a bookshop full of awesome books on sale, a giveaway with fantastic reads, and lots of fun stops like this one!

Visit the other blogs here:

Nickronomicon

GirlZombieAuthors

Always Another Chapter

Angela Yuriko Smith

carmillavoiez.com

Frighten Me

Hawk’s Happenings

James P. McDonald

Blood Red Shadows

The Unicorn Herd

Creative Quill

Curiosities

Welcome to Avalon

Until next time,

Keep Reading! 

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Book Review: Winners Dream by Bill McDermott

Book Review Winners Dream by Bill McDermott

Hello Lovelies,

Welcome back! It has been such a long time since I read and reviewed a new book that I’m thrilled to get back into the groove by writing a book review of Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office, the memoir of Bill McDermott with Joanne Gordon.

 

Genre:

Nonfiction/ Biographies of Business Professionals/ Motivational Business Management


Synopsis of Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office:

A leadership and career manifesto told through the narrative of one of today’s most inspiring, admired, and successful global leaders.

In Winners Dream, Bill McDermott—the CEO of the world’s largest business software company, SAP—chronicles how relentless optimism, hard work, and disciplined execution embolden people and equip organizations to achieve audacious goals.

Growing up in working-class Long Island, a sixteen-year-old Bill traded three hourly wage jobs to buy a small deli, which he ran by instinctively applying ideas that would be the seeds for his future success. After paying for and graduating college, Bill talked his way into a job selling copiers door-to-door for Xerox, where he went on to rank number one in every sales position he held and eventually became the company’s youngest-ever corporate officer. Eventually, Bill left Xerox and in 2002 became the unlikely president of SAP’s flailing American business unit. There, he injected enthusiasm and accountability into the demoralized culture by scaling his deli, sales, and management strategies. In 2010, Bill was named co-CEO, and in May 2014 became SAP’s sole, and first non-European, CEO.

Colorful and fast-paced, Bill’s anecdotes contain effective takeaways: gutsy career moves; empathetic sales strategies; incentives that yield exceptional team performance; and proof of the competitive advantages of optimism and hard work. At the heart of Bill’s story is a blueprint for success and the knowledge that the real dream is the journey, not a preconceived destination.

 

My Take on Winners Dream:

I struggled at first, as I expected this book to be less memoir-like and more of a guide to success like The Oz Principle. IDK why, perhaps the “A global CEO’s life lessons in sales, motivation, and leadership” just felt like the book would be more focused on how to achieve success and not so much on the stories that shaped this man’s life in particular. That’s what happens when you grab a book at random from a book trade.

While this is a classic tale of rags to riches and starts with a lot of stories from his childhood that shaped who he is today, there were a lot of great nuggets of wisdom throughout that one can use to guide one’s own journey of success.  Each chapter starts with a quote from a famous person that sets the tone for the chapter. I appreciated a lot of his childhood experiences and can relate to the struggles.  The messages of optimism he experienced with his mom are fantastic. His shared experiences with his first jobs are relatable to an older generation. The drive to improve is a message that really resonated with me.

I am curious how much of the greatness of this book is because a certain generation can relate to it and anyone in sales/ marketing for more than 10 years would be able to relate. I cannot help but wonder if a younger generation could glean much from it and what they would get. Definitely encouraging Little Man to read this next and see what he gets from it as he is in his senior year of high school and at a different level.

My favorite message in the book is that you have to enjoy the journey to success and keep adapting and adjusting your goals as you go through life. That really struck a chord as I am going through my own priority shifts.

Have you read Winners Dream? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. If not, go ahead and take a peek inside and see what you think.

 

Until next time,

Keep Reading!  

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Book Review: Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game by Travis Steffen

Book Review Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game

Today, Travis Steffen is a well-known business guru. As a successful serial entrepreneur and author of the book Viral Hero, he has helped different enterprises in fine-tuning their growth and marketing strategies. But before he rose to prominence in the world of business, Steffen was a professional poker player and strength and conditioning specialist. And back in 2010, he wrote arguably the most useful book on the game of poker, Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game.

While primarily a book about being the best poker player you can be, Peak Performance Poker doubles up as a self-help book for anyone looking to cultivate either physical or mental fitness. Steffen believes that achieving peak performance as a poker player entails being able to enter a ‘flow state’ of relaxed intensity and focus. And achieving this state requires being in the best physical and mental shape that you can be.

Action Points

The true value of Peak Performance Poker is in its Action Points and their supporting appendices. In between explanations of poker basics and strategies, these Action Points contain detailed instructions on both physical and mental exercises that readers can perform immediately. This includes stamina-focused exercises, time management tips, nutrition data, and knowing how to rest for refreshing the mind. Meanwhile, the appendices include food comparisons, instructions for equipment-less exercises, and even an extensive bibliography of references – for those who want to go even deeper into the Action Points.

Indeed, 2010’s Peak Performance Poker is in many ways a glimpse into the full-blown serial entrepreneur and strategist that Steffen would later become. In many instances, he writes more like a motivational speaker than a poker strategist. But don’t be fooled by the motivational tone of the book – Steffen is an academically-trained fitness expert. Even if his Action Points are more than 10 years old, they’re actually backed by the most recent and comprehensive research on physical and mental fitness.

Evidence-Based Approach

The relationship between physical activity and increased brain function is well documented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In an umbrella review published by the NIH.gov, data from 76 articles collated from 2013 to 2017 revealed “moderate-to-strong support” that cognition is enhanced by exercise. In particular, researchers found that physical activity can improve cognitive performance in neuropsychological tests measuring memory, speed, and executive function.

These are the primary brain functions needed for understanding poker strategy, which are based on mathematical elements. As the ranking chart of poker hands by Poker.org shows, mastering these elements can allow players to much more easily calculate odds on the fly and predict other players’ hands. These elements include the statistical probability for poker hands to show up and the number of each hand’s possible combinations. A ranking chart summarizes this information and arranges hands by how rarely they occur. But while the ranking helps, staying on top of these numbers – while assessing opponents’ physical tells and other factors – require significant cognitive effort. And as the science reveals, being physically healthier can actually improve your speed and memory in terms of implementing sound poker strategies.

Final Thoughts

Despite being more than a decade old, Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game is still one of the best poker books out there. And because of its deep and practical insights on physical and mental fitness, it’s also a useful book for anyone pursuing self-improvement. Whether you’re looking for sound advice on poker, general fitness, or optimizing your Keto lifestyle, Peak Performance Poker is a good read.

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Blogger, book hound, and online counselor Jenny Allen believes that wisdom can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places and situations. When she’s not rummaging through online and offline thrift shops for books, antiques, and trinkets, Jenny is either chasing deadlines or resisting the urge to go back to bed with her 3 cats.