johnpierce.us Blog

October 10, 2013

Pleading Guilty

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 7:20 pm

Pleading Guilty, downpour.com

Deal of the Week audio book at downpour.com

Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow

Read by Robert Petkoff

Kindle County, where skies are generally gray and the truth is seldom simple, is one of the most renowned and fascinating locales in contemporary American fiction. In Pleading Guilty Scott Turow takes us there again, in an edge-of-the-chair story rife with indelible characters and riveting suspense.

Our guide is McCormack A. "Mack" Malloy, fiftyish ex-cop, almost ex-drunk, and partner-on-the-wane at Gage & Griswell, one of Kindle County’s top-notch law firms, who has been charged by the firm’s Oversight Committee with a highly sensitive task. Bert Kamin, G&G’s gifted, erratic, impossibly combative star litigator, has been missing for weeks. Also missing is $5.6 million from a fund established to settle a massive air-disaster class-action suit against TransNational Airlines, the world’s largest carrier and G&G’s biggest client. The Committee needs Mack to find Bert and the money. Immediately.

His search takes us into the inner sanctums of G&G, where Mack’s close-to- the-vest partners, among them his good friend and sometime bedmate Emilia "Brushy" Bruccia, jockey and plot. He ventures into the dark heart of the city itself, to the Russian Bath in the far West End, where the mysterious Kam Roberts has left tracks. Before long he runs up against his former beat partner and long-time nemesis, the odious Pigeyes. And a cold corpse.

Mack is foul-mouthed, expansive, and sensual, weighed down by a profound familiarity with the, ways of the world and his own ineradicable weaknesses, yet blessed with an incorrigible black-Irish sense of humor. He carries secrets of his own and knows that, as the police are fond of saying, there are no victims. Lovable, unreliable, a master sleuth, and an inimitable guide to an ominous and enthralling world, he may well be Scott Turow’s supreme fictional creation to date.

August 19, 2013

Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 4:43 pm




Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review, hardcover, amazon.com

Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review, hardcover, amazon.co.uk

Fascinating stats… useful tips… entertaining topics

This interesting new book is scheduled for release on October 15, 2013.

Did you know that to make a task seem easier, all you have to do is lean back a little? Or that retail salespeople who mimic the way their customers speak and behave end up selling more?

If you like stats like this, are intrigued by ideas, and find connecting the dots to be a critical part of your skill set—this book is for you.

Culled from Harvard Business Review’s popular newsletter, The Daily Stat, this book offers a compelling look at insights that both amuse and inform. Covering such managerial topics as teams, marketing, workplace psychology, and leadership, you’ll find a wide range of business statistics and general curiosities and oddities about professional life that will add an element of trivia and humor to your learning (and will make you appear smarter than your colleagues).

Highly quotable and surprisingly useful, Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review will keep you on the front lines of business research—and ahead of the pack at work.

–Harvard Business Review, at amazon.com

July 19, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 3:54 pm


The Cuckoo’s Calling, Kindle edition, amazon.com

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, pen name of J. K. Rowling

Detective Cormoran Strike is having a difficult time as a private investigator with only one steady client. He wears a prosthetic device to replace part of a leg that he lost to a land mine when he was a soldier in Afghanistan. He has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. A new secretary has arrived from a temporary agency, and Strike, already in debt, is not certain he will be able to pay the bill.

Then Strike is hired by a lawyer to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death a few months ago of the lawyer's adopted sister a famous supermodel. The police had ruled the death a suicide, but it may have been a murder. Strike conducts an investigation among some rich and glamorous people and some not at all rich and glamorous.

The story is well written but is nonetheless merely a competently plotted story of the sort one might encounter on any television mystery series. It was only when I was about 25% of the way into the book that I began to develop any interest in the story or the characters. The book was a pleasant one to read, but at no point in the story did I feel any sense of suspense or any eager anticipation to find out what was going to happen next. Many of my guesses about what had happened turned out ultimately to be correct.

As a side note, I shall say that I have no problem at all with any author’s choosing to use a pen name, but I find it reprehensible to falsify an author’s brief biography, especially if it claims, as does the one in this book, military experience or any other experience that the author does not in fact have.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, hardcover, amazon.com

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Kindle edition, amazon.com

The Cuckoo’s Calling, hardcover, amazon.co.uk

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Kindle edition, amazon.co.uk

July 3, 2012

J. K. Rowling’s new book

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 10:06 am



amazon.com

The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, is scheduled for publication on September 27, 2012. The publisher Little, Brown and Company has released the cover design today.

Book description:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

amazon.com

November 18, 2011

Odd Bits

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 10:57 am

Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal by Jennifer McLagan

Book description:

In a world of costly prime cuts–stately crown roasts, plump pork chops, and regal racks of lamb–it's easy to forget about (and steer clear of) the more economical, but less lovable parts of the beast–bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles.

Historically, these so-called odd bits have had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. In fact, many are considered delicacies and routinely appear in regional specialties. So why do we eschew and waste valuable protein? When have our sensibilities become so squeamish? In short–when did we decide offal had become awful?

Jennifer McLagan, award-winning author of Bones and Fat, is on a crusade to bring the nose-to-tail style of cooking and eating out of the closet and back onto to our dining tables. Her mission: restoring our respect for the whole animal, developing a taste for its lesser known parts, and learning how to approach them in the kitchen as confidently as we would a steak or a burger.

Serious food lovers will delight in the sheer variety of the dishes that await, ranging from simple to challenging:

Headcheese for the Unconvinced

Veal Cheeks with Swiss Chard and Olives

Cheese and Just a Little Brain Fritters

Lamb Neck with Quince and Turnip

Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions and Chile

Sweetbreads with Morels and Fresh Fava Beans

Moroccan-Style Braised Heart

Minted Tripe and Pea Salad

Wild Boar Shanks with Cranberries and Chocolate

Bone Marrow and Mushroom Custard

amazon.com

Hardcover, amazon.com

Hardcover, amazon.co.uk

“Offal is back in vogue,” says John Walsh at the Independent.

October 25, 2011

Pirate Latitudes

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 6:11 pm

After the death of author Michael Crichton, the novel Pirate Latitudes was found on one of his computers. He had been working on it, possibly over a period of years, while also working on other books, books that were published. One can assume that Crichton would have done more work on Pirate Latitudes before having it published.

The book, set in the seventeenth century, tells of a fictional Harvard-educated privateer who, at the request of the governor of Jamaica, leads a raid on a Spanish island fortress in the eastern Caribbean. I bought the book from the limited selection available late at night in Pennsylvania Station, New York. The book, though not really very good, is good enough to while away the time in a waiting room or on a long train ride. But it is more like a good preliminary draft than a finished work.

June 19, 2011

June 19, 2011

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 8:11 am

June 16, 2011

Memoirs of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 12:52 pm

Wait for Me!: Memoirs by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, is a pleasant book to read to pass the time. Deborah, née Freeman-Mitford. devotes part of the book to telling of her childhood with her parents, one brother, and five sisters. Readers familiar with the works of one of the sisters, Nancy Mitford, will already have some knowledge of the family. Nancy went on to write novels and biographies. Jessica, somewhat left-wing for a member of that family, went on to live in California and wrote a famous book about the American funeral business. Unity, a follower of Hitler, lived in Germany until she shot herself, not fatally, when war between Britain and Germany was declared. Another sister, Diana, married Sir Oswald Moseley, the leader of fascists in England.

Deborah married Lord Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. The elder son, who married Kathleen Kennedy, died during World War II, and Deborah’s husband Andrew eventually inherited the dukedom in 1950 upon his father’s death. Large amounts were due in estate taxes, but Andrew and Deborah managed to preserve the family seat, Chatsworth, and had success in having it open to the public with various shops and other money-making features. The most interesting chapters in the book describe the Duchess’s involvement in the management of Chatsworth. She has little to say about her own children, perhaps out of respect for their privacy, perhaps out of an awareness that they are not people who have made themselves celebrities of general interest.

May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 9:06 am

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May 28, 2011

The Guest List

Filed under: Books — Administrator @ 6:09 pm

The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication–from the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote's Ball by Ethan Mordden has interesting moments but I did not find the book entirely satisfactory. If the word “when” were substituted for “how” in the title, the title would be less misleading. If the book tells how Manhattan defined American sophistication, I missed it, perhaps through careless reading, since there were many pages that I skimmed over quickly because I did not think I would find them interesting. The book covers the period from the 1920's to the 1960's in twelve chapters that tell about people such as Dorothy Parker, Charles Lindbergh, Fiorello La Guardia, Ethel Waters, Cole Porter, and Truman Capote. The book is not very much more than a series of more or less interesting anecdotes. The presentation is similar to that of Mr. Mordden’s books about various decades of the Broadway musical, but represents a movement away from the author's field of expertise. I have the impression that Mr. Mordden wrote the book for the sake of writing another book, since writing books is what he does, but it demonstrates more competence than inspiration. The book is worth borrowing from the public library for summer reading, but I would not recommend buying it.

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