Review of The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Tor_Complete_MBotF_ebook_2014It was exactly what it had to be.

The Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen is over 3.5 million words. It took me 8 months to read these 10 books, and at many times along the way, I cursed them and grew frustrated at the story lines. There was an entire book that I questioned the existence of–why was this necessary, and what did it add to the plot? There were names used that would then disappear for a thousand pages, only to resurface in a single sentence. I happened to remember the name, so the tie-in blew my mind, but I suspect many readers skipped right past it and didn’t catch the significance.

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I would definitely recommend traditional publishing over self-publishing

Early on in college, I had a love affair with self-publishing. I loved the idea of putting everything online under the Creative Commons license, sharing what I wrote freely, and self-publishing so people could print my work out if they wanted. I loved the idea of information being free, and I figured that if my work was good, people would give me money for it out of the good of their hearts.

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Review of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa AdkinsAs part of my current job, I’m expanding my study of project management from traditional PMI practices to agile methodologies and the Scrum framework. Being the academic I am, I turn to books for a lot of my education and exploration, and reading through blog posts and reviews pointed me to Coaching Agile Teams as a good place to start. I’ve been reading this book for about two weeks, and it has resulted in adding two other books to my wishlist, but that’s for later.

The sub-title of this book is, “A companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition.” I was exposed to agile at least a year or two ago, but I’ve only really begun to study it over the last six months, and only received some formal training in it a month ago. I’m nowhere close to being a ScrumMaster, let alone an Agile Coach, but I think “Project Manager in Transition” might work for me.

This book was truly excellent, but I think that sub-title is really important. It identifies a target audience, and if you’re not part of that audience, Coaching Agile Teams may have limited benefit for you.

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Review of The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford

The Trusted AdvisorOn Tuesday of last week, I was exchanging some emails with a person who has done some awesome things in her career, and I asked her if there were any subjects or books she recommended I study. She wrote back that The Trusted Advisor had recently been recommended to her, and while she hadn’t gotten far into it yet, it might be worth taking a look. The book took only a few seconds to download on Kindle and only a few hours to read, and I think it was worth the time invested.

The three men who collaborated on this book write that the lessons they’re sharing were hard won through years of making mistakes and doing things the wrong way. They’re all very successful in their careers as speakers, advisors, and consultants, but they got that way by attending the school of hard knocks, and their book The Trusted Advisor is full of both great recommendations to help the reader avoid making those mistakes and also stories of how they offended or alienated people and lost business because of it. The combination of good advice with examples of what happens when you say the wrong thing is very effective.

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Review of The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks

Mythical Man Month book coverThe Mythical Man-Month was recommended in a master’s class on project control systems. You don’t need to be a graduate student to understand this text, though, nor do you need to be a programmer. Originally written in 1975, Mr. Brooks draws from his experience guiding the development of an operating system, as well as a tremendous amount of research conducted by a number of individuals, to talk about a variety of challenges in management. In the 20th anniversary edition, four additional chapters are included where Mr. Brooks reviews what he wrote and talks about whether he feels it still applies or not. In almost every case, he stands by what he wrote, and I do too.

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And you thought Wheel of Time was long: A review of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings

I just finished reading a 1000 page prologue.

That was my first thought when I completed The Way of Kings last night. It took a long time for me to get into the book and to start liking it, but by the end I was not only hooked, I was deeply invested. The best fantasy fiction is not just entertaining, it is also enlightening, and Sanderson’s first novel in The Stormlight Archive is a perfect treatise on deontology. I don’t use that word lightly, but after finishing the novel last night, I went back through each character’s story and reflected on their internal and external struggles, their decisions, and how each character was balanced against one another. Sanderson does not employ the heavy-handed philosophizing and sermonizing that has come to define Terry Goodkind, but still manages to guide the reader in engaging the complex subjects of duty, honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and utilitarianism.

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