Book review: Aspho Fields (Gears of War)

Gears of War: Aspho Fields – Karen Traviss

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

As a regular read this would get a 3-star as it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Being a game-based book that’s entertaining and gives more depth and background to the characters from the Gears of War games in a good way it gets an extra star. I would love to see the character Bernie (or “Boomer Lady” as Cole calls her) in the games. The book started by confusing me profoundly. It states clearly “prequal” on the cover page, yet the first chapters are about what happens between Gears of War 1 and 2. It starts alternating chapters a bit in, with one chapter about binding GOW 1-2 and then several years before GOW1 (and E-day for that matter). It’s interesting to find out more about Phoenix, and Dominic’s brother Carlos. Also some of the mystery of daddy Phoenix is poked into, maybe there’s more in GOW3 or the other book (Gears of War: Jacinto’s Remnant). I’ll be reading the next book soon though!

Conclusion: Read it If you’re a Gears of War fan and liked the story(!). Otherwise read something else.

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Book review: The Game

The Game – Neil Strauss

(Note: I read this book in 2007, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

Contrary to popular belief this is NOT a handbook on picking up girls. It’s a chronicle of his life in the “pick-up community”. He starts with the simple reflection that he’s a nice guy, he’s good at writing (bibliography before The Game includes: “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell with Marilyn Manson”, “The Dirt with Mötley Crüe” and “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale with Jenna Jameson”), yet he goes dateless through his life. Hearing about a “pick-up artist” called Mystery he starts his journey by joining the mans training camp.Together they start Project Hollywood where they rend a house in Beverly Hills, where all kinds of crazy stuff happens. The book details that journey and along it he’ll use the vocabulary of his peers as well detailing things he tried. It’s that last part that makes everyone think it’s a handbook when it isn’t.

Conclusion: Read it. It’s an awesome read! I couldn’t put it down, I just needed to know what would happen to Neil and the guys as they create corporations, backstab, party, and try to find the one true girl.

Book review: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living – Dale Carnegie

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

A nice book on how to conquer worry. There are so many tips here I actually have a hard time remembering what to do when I worry! The book says two things about itself: to read it twice (second time underscoring and highlighting interesting texts) and not to consider it a “reading book” but more like a manual. I’ve done the first and I’m still confused by all the great tips. Basically it says not to worry… then there are a lot of ways to achieve that. If I would read it again I would probably just read it through once, and then look up the index once in a while. Let’s see if I ever go back to it, I might even update this review then. (don’t hold your breath)

Conclusion: Read it, on a holiday or some time relaxing.

Book review: Rich Dad Poor Dad 2: Cashflow Quadrant

Rich Dad Poor Dad Part II – Cash Flow Quadrant – Robert T. Kiyosaki

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

It’s an alright book. Gives you a bit to think about but nothing revolutionizing. The last 40 pages or so are just blatant propaganda for his first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and his CASHFLOW games. If you’re going to read one of Kiyosaki’s books then you might as well read the original: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (and be aware that Kiyosaki’s only successful venture is the Rich Dad franchise).

Conclusion: Skip it.

Book review: Snow Crash

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

I was warned about the last part of the book being bad but I found it satisfying. The hard part for me was the beginning, with all the cheasy 14-year-old-cool-stuff like the hero being a samurai-sword using pizza “delivirator” called Hiro Protagonist (I mean.. really?). The tone and language are very cooky-childish too, but it all comes into place. It does set the tone for the world in which the book is set.

The book was really good and presented a lot of new interesting ideas for its time. Today you can see a lot of the Metaverse things in Second Life, but still it deserves merit.

Conclussion: Read it, if you’re prepared for some extremely corny writing. It has a Da-Vinci-Code feeling to it when the book builds up to explain things in the middle and you kinda go “eh really?” and then moves into solving everything. Have the right expectations and you’re going to love this book!

Book review: Losing My Virginity

Losing My Virginity – Sir Richard Branson

It’s well written and it’s hard to stop reading once you start. The second half of the book feels a bit slower as each chapter covers less time. Richard has done an incredible amount of things in a relatively short time. When he puts his mind to something he’ll find a way, and it’s really interesting how he was able to pull some of the things off (like buying Necker Island for a tenth of what the real estate agent wanted). Inspiring in a lot of ways.

Conclusion: Read it.

Book review: Going Postal (Discworld)

Going Postal – Sir Terry Pratchett

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

This was my first Terry Pratchett book so I can’t compare it to the others. I really loved his way with words. Terry uses the English language to it’s full use to bring hilarious sentences to life. The story of Moist Von Lipwig is extremely entertaining as he goes from con-artist to entrepreneur, and the wonderful similarities. Terry has some funny insights, and critiques, to society and business and portrays it wonderfully in this book. The characters are entertaining in themselves and it’s hard not to sit there giggling while reading what they say and do.

Conclusion: Read it.

Book review: Making Globalization Work

Making Globalization Work – Joseph Stiglitz

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

Joseph presents the harsh reality of globalization, especially trade and IP management and how the industrialized rich countries has used their size and influence to tip the global market their way – making the developing and poorer countries suffer unnecesserely. He details how and why the global market is broken, but also how it can be fixed. One of the most eye opening and enlighting books I’ve read.

Conclusion: Read it. I highly recommend everyone to read this book.

Book review: Free

Free – Chris Anderson

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

As with The Long Tail that I reviewed about last week, Chris does a wide and deep search on the topic. One can read the introductory chapter and feel that’s all there is to say on the subject, but they’d be wrong. Chris has a nice writing style and uses a lot of examples. There are some very interesting examples on how “free” has been applied, such as popularizing Jell-O in the USA and music bands in Brazil.

Conclusion: Read it, if you like the economic side of software development.

Book review: The Long Tail

The (Longer) Long Tail – Chris Anderson

(Note: I read this book in 2007, and back then it didn’t have “Longer” in the title. This is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook.)

When this was written, back in 2006, I can imagine it being highly interesting. Today I don’t think most people would raise an eyebrow as the concept is so common: digital distribution is so cheap you can have an almost infinite amount of products in your catalog. So many in fact that even if you only sell one copy of each one the total sales from these “long tale products” adds up to a considerable increase in revenue for the company. Still it’s very interesting. He still has some valid points that most business hasn’t quite handled that well: by having an almost infinite variety of products, how do the customers find what they want?

Conclusion: Read it, if you have some extra time. Definitely a must-read for anyone starting or running an online service with a very large product catalogue. (2011 update: Today his new book Free might be more interesting.)