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Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

Our Iceburg is Melting

Summary:

This charming story about a penguin colony in Antarctica illustrates key truths about how deal with the issue of change: handle the challenge well and you can prosper greatly; handle it poorly and you put yourself at risk. The penguins are living happily on their iceberg as they have done for many years. Then one curious penguin discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home - and pretty much no one listens to him. The characters in this fable are like people we recognise, even ourselves. Their story is one of resistance to change and heroic action, confusion and insight, seemingly intractable obstacles and the most clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles. It is a story that is occuring in different forms around us today - but the penguins handle change a great deal better than most of us.

Based on John Kotter's pioneering work on how to make smart change happen faster and better, the lessons you can learn from this short and easy-to-read book will serve you well in your job, in your family, and in your community. And these lessons are becoming ever more important as the world around us changes faster and faster.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

For being a short read, I found this book tedious and felt like I was taking some idiot-proof training.  Frankly, while I understand the principles and good-intentions, the information presented in the fable is self-evident to anyone who has worked in the corporate world already.  Since it was highly recommended to me by a colleague I was a bit surprised.

Though there may be some pragmatic recommendations in the book, I’ll be shocked if I see anyone who uses them as a practical skill.  All that being said, if this book helps folks break down how to work with their colleagues during transformational change: power to them.

Rating: 2 stars!

Who should read it? Folks new to business who are looking for some background on corporate change, but otherwise I’d give it a skip

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Summary:

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

While I absolutely adore Heinlein, this was the weakest in his books as far as I’m concerned.  I found it a very slow build (not that divergent from other Heinlein books), but without the fascinating characters to make the build all worth it to me.  Frankly, I found Valentine just plain weird.  I can see how folks in the 60’s who were into all sorts of things would adore this book, but it just didn’t work for me.

There are certainly redeeming factors.  At some points, I found the thought-experiment fascinating and an interesting project in the sense of challenge long-established beliefs and structures in our “normal” world.  That being said, once I got to the ending I had the shell-shocked “what the heck???” moment that left me feeling discontent and not a fan of this one in the end.

Warning: Contains a little bit of everything to offend anyone the least sensitive.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Heinlein devotees, but otherwise I’d say skip or try a different Heinlein first.  I think if this was your first Heinlein it could be quite off-putting.

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

The Rose and the Dagger

Summary:

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who has found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with “The Wrath and the Dawn” takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

In this sequel to “The Wrath and the Dawn” we follow Shahrzad in the fall out of the dramatic actions by her father than resulted in utter devastation of her beloved Khorasan.  The book picks up right away and quickly moves into non-stop action as Shahrzad tries to utilize all resources available to her to break a the curse and also prevent pending war. 

While I enjoyed this book much more than the first in the series, I didn’t like that the first book had such a slow build and this one was almost overwhelming in the nonstop action.  I loved seeing Irsa come into her own character, however, and she complimented Shazi’s capabilities as a younger sister.  As in the first book, the story is beautifully written with some strong female characters who kicked butt and took names.  Overall, I really enjoyed this series and think it is worth taking the team to give it a read.

I also have to say, it was refreshing that the series wasn’t extended into a third book as many publishers push for that these days!

Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of fairy tale retellings and who have read the first in the series.

Want to read the whole series?

The Fate of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #3)

The Fate of the Tearling

Summary:

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed... (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is going to be a difficult review to write without revealing any plot holes so I’m going to do my best by describing my general feelings about the series at the end.  I really liked that Kelsea is a strong, but not infallible leader and that she is mature enough to identify which choices are being made for herself and which for her kingdom.  My biggest frustration at the end is what I perceive to be some solid plot holes that leave me with a lot of questions unresolved. 

I initially really didn’t like the ending feeling like it was too convenient, but have warmed up to it slightly.  I just wish that some of my questions were answered.  The main let down is that I thought the series was building up to something a little more intense and it didn’t quite deliver for me.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the series, but I believe it’s unlikely that I’ll reread it.  Much of the “big reveal” drove my motivation to finish the series and without that mystery I think the book may have dragged on a bit more.

Warning: Contains repeated violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Only folks who have read the first two in the series, otherwise there is going to be a lot of complexity lost.

Want to read the whole series?