Thursday, August 29, 2013

The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers

Book: The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men
Author: Christina Hoff Sommers
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: From Goodreads:

Despite popular belief, American boys tag behind girls in reading and writing ability, and they are less likely to go to college. Our young men are greatly at risk, yet the best-known studies and experts insist that it's girls who are in need of our attention. The highly publicized "girl crisis" has led to many changes in American schools, politics, and parenting...but at what cost? In this provocative book, Christina Hoff Sommers argues that our society has continued to overemphasize the troubles of girls while our boys suffer from the same self-esteem and academic problems. Boys need help, but not the sort of help they've been getting. 

My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion:  I couldn't believe how well documented with short and long term statistics from multiple sources, including the Brookings Institute and DOE this was. It was very clear that they author had done her homework on the topic. On that note, it was a very concise and slower read to ingest the  details and statistics. It took me a good week to read a just over 200 page book d/t absorbing and cross referencing data.

While the author calls it so, I wouldn't call it misguided feminism, but an attack on our young men by feminist groups with their own agenda. Misguided infers that it was done mistakenly or with no ill intent. Author gives many direct quotes from organizations, such as the AAUW, where this is the direct intent of an unapologetic organization to sabotage the educational opportunities for males, including the demasculinization of the education of our young men or how they learn best. We continue to see examples of this EVERY DAY in media reports with no apologies by our public school systems for a zero tolerance crime policy (targeted towards males), such as the flippant use and abuse of school suspension for chewing a pop tart into a gun or the state of Florida. Really? I would hate to get shot with that thing. I may not survive!

I have read other reviews of this book that states the author doesn't take into account a "myriad" of reasons on why boys fall behind. One notes that girls participate in higher numbers or even the selection of a book for required reading. Any excuse can be given, but numbers don't lie. Furthermore, isn't this a teacher and/or school system's job? A job that given numbers isn't taken too seriously. 

This book is a must read for any parent of a son. I would expect a huge number of "masked" 1 and 2 star reviews with little meat to reviews by "feminists" who are being called to the carpet on their not so subtle agenda.
Source:  Simon and Schuester
Would I recommend? : To EVERY parent of a son!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: stand alone

Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons from a Corporate Director by Betsy Atkins

Book: Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons from a Corporate Director
Author: Betsy Atkins
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Boardroom guru and former CEO, Betsy Atkins, lays out critical advice for effective board management to survive any crisis, succession plan your CEO, hire and terminate CEOs among other topics.
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: I had to get into the flow of this book before I really started to appreciate it. It is a collection of articles versus a manual feat. one of the top board directors in areas such as crisis management, the hiring/terminating of CEOs, planning for CEO succession and other topics critical to the effective management of a board of directors.

Although the information was critical and concisely written, I would have preferred to see Ms. Atkins write a manual format of a book vs. the collection of articles. This would have allowed her to expound on some topics that I felt were brushed over. This book came off as very superficial as one would see in journal/magazine articles. Had she chosen the other route, I think she could have gone deeper than what a journal article allows for. The book was only 160 pages (including all sections and "housecleaning" items, if that helps, the reader of this review as to understanding the depth of the book.

Source:  Miniver Press
Would I recommend? : Yes
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroscience to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace by Paul Meshanko

Book: The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroscience to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace
Author: Paul Meshanko
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: From Goodreads:

What does every employee want? In a word: RESPECT The best leaders are the ones who motivate employees to want to perform at the highest level possible--which is never accomplished with an iron-fist style of management. The best results are achieved through one of the most basic human behaviors: the showing of respect.
Organizational change expert Paul Meshanko has studied how the human brain responds in various workplace situations--and his conclusion is astonishing: People perform at their highest level when treated with respect. Conversely, when an employee is emotionally attacked by disrespectful behavior, he or she shuts down. In "The Respect Effect," Meshanko reveals the transformational power of respect in the workplace.
Given the pressures of the workplace, this is sometimes easier said than done. So Meshanko provides a practical action plan you can use to train yourself or others to get on track--and stay on track. His proven strategy helps you understand the initial, biological reactions to what people (This means you!) say and do.
Through his cited research in neuroscience, Meshanko teaches you how to create positive situations, avoid negative ones, and ultimately build a better work environment for everyone. "The Respect Effect" explains: The hard science proving why respect is the most powerful employee motivator How to build a corporate culture based on respect, starting with senior leadership The 12 Rules of Respect--simple but powerful ways to communicate respectfully in any situation The strategy, resource requirements, and tools for sustaining a respectful workplace culture

My rating: 2 Stars
My opinion: This book, which had so many important issues to bring to the forefront of the corporate world, fell very, very short to me and I must admit that I was thoroughly disappointed. Unfortunately, the author chose to go off on both political and social rants (biased in presentation) that were totally inappropriate to the topic and to the business world. He clearly has a grasp on the dangers of disrespect to a workplace. I am not sure why he chose to go off on tangents related to Fox News (of course), Congress (Republicans only), a diversity director's PERSONAL racist event (outside the corporate setting). Could he not find enough examples inside the corporate world because I am sure people would be lining up to tell him their stories? There were other examples, but I am sure any reader of this review will get the gist. It came off as very unprofessional for a business book.

I can't reiterate enough times, how disappointed I am in this book. This book, outside those incidents,  would easily have been a 5 star review from me had he chosen not to divert to examples outside the corporate world OR chosen to write how societal disrespect carries over to the workplace.

Source: McGraw Hill Professional
Would I recommend? : I have to say that I still would. Bypass the tangents because there are some incredibly important points in between the tangents.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts by Valerie Gordon

Book: Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts
Author: Valerie Gordon
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): October 8, 2013

Synopsis: Ms. Gordon takes bakers on a ride of incredible desserts from pies, cakes and individual desserts to mouthwatering confectionery fit for royalty. 
My rating:  A very, very rare 10 out of 5 Stars. It is very rare for a cookbook to earn this rating from me. I actually think this is the first one. This cookbook has accomplished this and beyond! 

My opinion: quickly can you say "In Amazon Cart"?!?! If this woman's stuff is sold up in might actually get me to go there without me having an instant gag reflex!

I seriously didn't know I could love a cookbook so much.  This book contained GORGEOUS PICTURES (that made me drool!) and would definitely take my dessert making up a notch. 

On a technical note, the author gave excellent descriptions of necessary terms and equipment complete with pictures. One must note, however this cookbook is NOT for the novice baker. I would go middle-advanced or advanced baker. I, as an experienced baker, learned new techniques.

On a final note, I am purchasing the book for the confectionery and "mini"/individual dessert sections alone. That doesn't mean I won't be making the cake and pie recipes though.

Source:   Artisan Books
Would I recommend? : I think I made that clear above.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Never List: A Novel by Koethi Zan

Book: The Never List: A Novel 
Author: Koethi Zan
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Sarah and best friend, Jennifer, do something that they promised themselves they would never do. While drunk, they accept a ride from a complete stranger. What they don't know is that their "ride" has a dungeon with their name on it. When Sarah was rescued by a sadistic kidnapper 10 years ago she thought her nightmare was over. Ten years later she still continues to live with phobias and PTSD which leave her in her own mind's prison. She just got word that her kidnapper is up for parole. Sarah decides that she has had enough of it and sets out, with other victims, to face head to head, the lifestyle that tortured them for years.
My rating: 1 Star
My opinion: I must admit that I found this book INCREDIBLY difficult to follow. I had started this book on an ebook and noticed the issue almost immediately. As a result, I stopped and restarted the book with a library copy of a print book once it was released. What I noticed at that point is that the story jumped around or critical points were missing and I had to infer. Second, the writing was not as "tight" or concise in its format or fluidity of the story. As a result, I could never warm up to it.  In my humble opinion, I think that the story concept was excellent. If the author would have "rearranged" some of the storyline to introduce readers to the "story behind the story" it would have flowed much better to me and been a bit darker instead of me having to guess. 

I think there were other aspects of the book, in regards to the criminal justice system, that simply wouldn't have happened in real life, which I can't go into lest I head into Spoilerland. However, as an attorney, I would expect Ms. Zan to have that knowledge. 
Source: Penguin Group Viking
Would I recommend? : I really can't. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone