Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death by Robert Lanza
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a review copy of this from the publisher through BookSirens. I requested it because it was listed under the Science category (more on that later, too), and the description told me it ran counter to my understanding of, well, everything… The world is clearly much simpler if one only reads what fits one’s confirmation bias, but also narrower. I will read Coulter, Beck, Tolle, various New Age,… once… to offer me a different perspective, though I often have to take mental showers afterwards. Plus one shouldn’t diss without actual knowledge, right? Well… I am not Lanza and Berman’s target audience…
These types of books present challenges. They sound like they make sense. They’re cleverly bathed in real science. That does pose those challenges…”Is the science the authors pose as contrasts correct?” For this book, the answer is, well, yes and no; and sometimes it is misrepresented, whether deliberately or genuinely misunderstood is another challenge to unravel. I’m leaning toward the former, given the misinterpretations are too fitting of the “theory”. As to theory, and I see this more as the hypothesis rather than a scientific theory, for in this case, no scientific theory is presented (just a lot of untestable statements.) Robert Anton Wilson’s Quantum Psychology comes to mind. Anything by Deepak Chopra. And the logic? Clever. But flawed. Continue reading
I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following by Jon Rennie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a review copy of this from the publisher through BookSirens. The title caught my eye, then the cover. As it turns out, Mr. Rennie and I have a coupe of things in common. He was a Navy nuclear officer on a submarine in charge of the Reactor Controls Division and I was a nuclear reactor operator (reactor controls was our division) before becoming an officer myself, another, if different, commonality. Now he was on submarines and while I grew up around subs – maternal grandfather, father, younger brother – and was a sub volunteer the day I enlisted, I saw the light while in hands-on training at a reactor prototype and realized that reactor operators on submarines had less than no life (even the officers got to go home, but the reactor, operating or shut down, always had to have a reactor operator on watch), so I moved up, so to speak, and was assigned to a couple of nuclear aircraft carriers. And Rennie and I are both mechanical engineers. He left the Navy after five years (it’s not for everyone, and a nuke life is harder than most) and parlayed his experience into design and manufacturing; I became an officer in the Civil Engineer Corps, finished a 20 year career and parlayed my experience into facilities construction management and operations. So, the title spoke to me – those words carry a strong meaning – and the cover definitely attracted.
To use a term I learned in the Navy, the BLUF*: This book is not about the Navy. Not even Navy leadership, save for a couple of anecdotes. But it is about leadership, and is a pretty good capsule of many of the traits and methods I’ve adopted over the years. I am always looking to add to the toolbox on that subject, for ways to improve myself, and for good sources to recommend to aspiring leaders. The book is short, and the sections short for the leader who claims to have little time to read – an excuse in my vocabulary because a good leader always makes time to read. There is some overlap and repetition, but that’s because Rennie composed this from “a curated collection of articles [he had] written over the past five years.” The articles are to the point, which is good and I appreciate that. They are conversational, even if there are some statistics peppered throughout – but no citations in case you go looking. There is nothing new here that any good student of leadership hasn’t already seen; any good leader hasn’t tried, implemented. But it is in a compact, easily digested form. There are stories, and they are real, not parable-ized like the Blanchard or Johnson of Lencioni books usually assigned that I am not fond of. What I am fond of is people first, and Rennie nails that. Continue reading
Guns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a review copy of this from Book Sirens.
I find the older I get, the less forgiving I am of fantasies that take a long time, if they ever do, to provide the context and framework of the universes in which the fantasies take place. That’s one reason I still have not finished Neuromancer…(that and sometimes neologisms annoy me.) Despite the breakneck pace of this debut novel, the pretty much nonstop action needed quite a bit of description, but Mauchline doesn’t really provide that framework and context of that universe. Hints are teased and spread over that action. Just what is an Inquisitor in this world? What is the religion, and the dynamic of the Liberty Empire? Oh, some things are clear – flintlocks (and revolvers), cannons, airships, and…radio? Airships captained like a Hornblower novel or a Sabatini novel, with excellent sailing details that are nonetheless a wee distorted because …well, no ocean. Mauchline has a grasp of what it takes to man a cannon, and the damage balls can do, but the (anti)hero ship gets repaired rather quickly.
I don’t think the characters develop enough, nor that world. Nor the backstory, but… it is still quite engaging and I understand there will be at least another book. I look forward to more background next time, and appreciate the opportunity to read a review copy of this one.
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Legacy by Michelle E. Lowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received an electronic review copy of this from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for a review. Disclosure: I like visual steampunk – creations of a largely amateur following (though there are some that are quite professional in their imagining), and haven’t been too moved by movies or shows that purport to be steampunk. I’ve listened to and acquired some of a taste for the aural incarnations of genre. What I find lacking is written forms that I can enjoy. So I requested this because the description called it “An unforgettable steampunk fantasy novel set in Victorian England.” Well… I must have missed something because there were only slight hints at steampunk. Fantasy? Yes. Steampunk? Not really.
I did not know this was published in 2016, but that’s the copyright on my review copy, though on Goodreads, there is a note of “first published March 16th 2015”. When I logged it, I saw “The Legacy #1”. Turns out there are five more in the series (so far?) This is good because I found this one to be a little light. Light on the fantasy, though better than average on the story. And I thought it was light on development and backstory. At times it seemed as though I’d missed a first book, but that would be this, so that wasn’t it. [As a rule, I don’t like to summarize fiction in my reviews because I don’t want to spoil for any potential reader. There are usually plenty of plot summaries out there is one is so inclined.] The villain is over the top without that backstory, and the fantasy elements are few. Some are so vague – I expect those to be resolved in the sequels, but if a reader didn’t want to continue? There was a surprise that was completely unanticipated…I’ll leave it for the reader to learn when it appears.
[Edit: I forgot to mention…]…there are some alternate history items that are interesting to me. Enough said there.
So…not what I expected, not as advertised (I do not know if that was publisher blurb or some reviewer who really doesn’t know steampunk), but intriguing and engaging enough that I will check out the next. I appreciate the opportunity to review.
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