Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Being a Go-To Tech by Warren Zabloudil- 4 stars

Zabloudil, Warren, Being a Go-To Tech. Universal Publishers, 2012. pgs. 138

Warren Zabloudil’s Being a Go-To Tech is a book every technology/IT person needs. Using his experience in the field as well as practical examples and suggestions, Warren shows readers what it takes to be a multi-tasking, go-to tech person in any kind of situation. He presents to the reader 4 aspects that are essential to being an season expert people turned to versus a novice: Courage, Clarity Focus, and Sense of Scope. He talks about the role of the IT person, how to deal with the stress of failures, demanding bosses, and how to get a problem fixed right the first time. He also emphasize the importance of preparation, focus, breaking problems down to a granular level, realizing one’s limits, being a to the point communicator, and constantly learning and improving one’s skills, knowing your computer systems as well as learning to properly delegate. Without these, IT people will most likely form bad habits such as being a Whiner, a Know-it-All, a Fraidy-Cat, and more. Bad habits will stand in the way of becoming a Go-To Tech.

The best aspect of Warren’s argument is that he provides a balanced, experienced view of the rigors of being a IT person. His stress techniques and handling end-user problems are simple, but they work. My favorite part of the book was Warren’s his emphasis of balancing the needs of the company with one’s personal health. It provided a great reminder to me that you can be the job, be what they need, but don’t sacrifice what you need to be able to keep doing the job. He also provides good advice for addressing management when a more permanent, expensive fix is needed. Although he drags on a bit in places, he undoubtedly provides great advice not only for IT people, but also any professional that works in high stress environments.

Adult, 4 stars

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pirates to the End by Susan Troutt-4 stars

Troutt, Susan, Pirates to the End. Author House, 2008. Pgs. 265.

When he and his men get captured and tried for piracy, Briney McDoogal starts to doubt how good of a captain he is. They manage to escape and begin following cryptic clues to find Blackbeard’s treasure. His naiveté, however gets Briney into some nasty encounters with cutthroats, ththeieves, and worse. Is Briney fit to be captain or should he accept a pirate’s pardon and give up his dreams of riches? 

An fun, entertaining story filled will with swashbuckling action and adventure. The characters are loveable and enjoyable. The story is well-written and well-paced. Readers who like pirates, treasure,  and fantasy will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

4 stars, Grades 5 to 9

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain-5 stars

Rosado-Machain, Julian, Guardians, Inc.: The Cypher. True BA Interactive, 2010. Pgs. 222.

When Thomas Byrne opens the newspaper, he discovers an encoded message that invites him to apply for an Assistant Librarian job at Guardians, Inc. He calls and sets up an interview for his grandpa, but when he and his grandpa go to interview, Thomas gets hired instead. One day while working the information desk, a man comes up looking for a book that is considered unreadable and alarms go off, but the guy disappears before they can catch him. When members of Guardians, Inc. go to Thomas’ house to get his grandpa so the two can go into hiding, they find Thomas’ grandpa gone and monsters there trying to kill him. Soon, Thomas discovers that he is a Cypher, a guardian who has the sole job of finding the Book of Concord. Out there, there is an evil Warmaster who wants to control the book, so he can bring back ancient creatures that have been know to cause catastrophic destruction. Can Thomas find his grandpa and the book before the Warmaster kills him?

A fun, action-packed mystery for fans of mythology. The characters are loveable and memorable. The plot is fast-paced, entertaining, and engaging. Readers who like books like the Percy Jackson series or who like fantasy and adventure will enjoy reading this book.

Grades 4 to 9, 5 stars

Monday, June 3, 2013

GodWar: Hell Rising by D.K. Cherian-5 stars

Cherian, D.K., GodWar: Hell Rising. CreateSpace, 2013. pgs. 545.
D.K. Cherian’s God War: Hell Rising will be a treat to fans of books like Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan or such movies as Clash of the Titans. Bacim and Abbas are two teenaged street rats living in Egypt who steal food and goods in order to help a lady they call “auntie” provide food for her three children. In the wrong place at the wrong time, the two boys overhear a mysterious red-haired man hiring thugs to steal from a newly discovered pyramid. Seeing an opportunity for great riches, the two head to the police station in hopes of getting a reward. Chased out, the two decide to go steal some treasure for themselves. Following the bandits, they end up crossing paths with Dana, an archaeologist exploring the pyramid. Trying to find another way out other than the way the bandits came in, the three accidentally trigger a trap door. Winding up in a sealed room filled with treasure and a dead body, their only way out is to solve a bejeweled puzzle on a wall. When they do so, Dana, Bacim, and Abbas get pulled through a portal that takes them back in time to end of Tutmosis II’s reign as pharaoh. Unbeknownst to our heroes, there’s a cult that has raised from the dead Unas, a past pharaoh bent on starting an Egyptian god war in order to take over Egypt and gain ultimate power. Soon, he has demons and other creatures from the deepest parts of the underworld (Tuat) appearing throughout the kingdom killing villagers. Not knowing who they can trust, the trio uses Dana’s history background to balance a throne-seeking queen, a power-hungry vizier, and a politically motivated architect, all while trying to stop an all-out God war. Will they succeed in getting back to their own time? Will they be able to stop Unas and his army of creatures?

One great aspect of Cherian’s novel is the excellent integration of background information about the Egyptian Gods without overpowering and deterring from the wonder of the novel. All of the characters are well-rounded, likable, and entertaining. The author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the world of Ancient Egypt with his mix of seriousness, humor, action, magic, and adventure.

The only problem with this novel was the names of some of the minor characters’ names were similar, but it seems to add to the whole mystery of which people the trio can trust. A truly engrossing fantasy adventure, this book is a must-have for any readers who enjoy mythology, magic, time travel, and page-turning plots.

5 stars, Grades 9 through Adult

Angeliks by W.J. Madsen-4.5 stars

Madsen, W.J., Arkeepers #2: Angeliks. Little M Books, 2012. Pgs. 206.

In their newest adventure, Inspector Moustachio (aka Jake), his sister, Alexa are from a long line of Angelik ancestry. They and their two pets, Rex and Sandy, have been sent through a magic mirror to try and find some missing cows. Their suspects include a bungling farmhand named Bob Billy Bob, a girl with a tiara-wearing, Pig Latin-speaking pig, who is jealous of the cows’ owners, and some treacherous ranchers. To make matters worse, Mrs. Smythe, the thief from the first book, has escaped prison and her and her boss, Baron von Snodgrass are still after Jake’s magnifying glass. Can Jake and Alexa solve the mystery and make it home?

This humorous mystery has all the elements of a great fantasy. All of the characters are well-developed, funny and likable, whether good or evil. The plot is well-written and holds the reader’s interest while still keeping the air of mystery. Readers who like fantasy, mystery, humor, and adventure will enjoy reading this book.

4.5 stars, Grades 4 to 8