Category Archives: Reviews

A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep: Review of Michael Crichton’s Next

Next, by Michael Crichton.

Next, by Michael Crichton.

In Next, Michael Crichton delivers another fun, intellectually stimulating read as he explores the topic of today’s completely unregulated world of genetic science and genetic engineering. The story takes the reader from the wilds of Borneo to the NIH’s primate research campus to corporate labs and boardrooms, where careless researchers and financially-driven biotech CEOs play Russian roulette with the human genome and our collective future. Well researched, with a vaguely drawn line between what is and isn’t real, Next tantalizes as it terrifies us with the unimaginable consequences that can, and probably do, occur regularly, when reckless hubris, unbridled greed, out-of-step courts, absentee legislators and human frailties collide. The book’s depth, however, does not match its breadth. In his effort to keep the pace of the book galloping forward, Chrichton misses an opportunity to create more multidimensional characters and a far richer reader experience. Still, a fascinating and intriguing read.


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Review: Gather ‘Round The Campfire for a Howling Good Time … of Horror, Fear & Fantasy

Flash O'Lantern: 13+ Stories
Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories by Todd Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you loved sitting around a campfire, as a kid, and spinning quick yarns to scare the ‘bejeezus’ out of your friends, then you’ll really enjoy Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories, a collection of flash fiction tales by horror writer/novelist Todd Russell.

Flash O’Lantern presents 13 Flash horror stories interspersed with Russell’s own thematically-related commentaries about memorable October events and trivia. The stories deliver quick, light, entertaining reads, and the commentaries provide plenty of great water-cooler conversational grist. Together they make Flash O’Lantern particularly good reading for people on the go. Here are my four favorite flash fiction offerings from the book:

Brush is the creepy story of a homeless guy who, let’s say, bites off more than he can chew, when he hijacks a kid’s Halloween goody bag. ( I think the National Dental Associationshould purchase reprint rights to this one and distribute them in dental offices nationwide.)


Graveyard Crazies offers a fun, yet spooky, take on working the mid-night (graveyard) shift in a supermarket. (Great atmospherics, and some well-done tension-relieving humor.)
Remdee Gate won me over immediately with the imaginative concept of the gate itself – an altogether new idea that I’ve never come across before in sci-fi/horror fantasy writing.
And finally, I found Rachel’s Number to be a quick, but haunting, story.

Todd is currently offering Flash O’Lanterns: 13+ Stories for FREE at Smashwords . I’d quickly grab a copy before his mercenary tendencies take over!

Other Important Todd Russell Links:


Mental Shrillness – An earlier collection of Todd’s short stories

Fresh Flesh – Todd’s debut psychological thriller, horror novel


Connect with Todd Russell Online

Official Website




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Book Review: “Rework” by Jason Fried & David Hansson

Book Review: “Rework” by Jason Fried & David Hansson.

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Review: Rework is Not Your Daddy’s Business Start-up Book

"Rework" by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Published March 2010 by Crown Business a division of Crown Publishing, NY.

Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, is a great book for anyone who either owns, or is contemplating starting, a business. The authors founded 37Signals, a Chicago-based software development firm that created the website development software Ruby On Rails and the popular Highrise contact management program — among others. The book expresses their successful business development philosophy which distills down to:

(1) create a product/service that you would like to use
(because it solves a problem you have experienced)
(2) start it now
(3) learn from your successes (as opposed to other
people's failures) and
(4) continuously rework your business in response to
market signals to make it better.

Along the way, they provide invaluable advice designed to disabuse people of commonly accepted business practices that they have found to be counter-productive. These include everything from building extensive mission statements to seeking outside investment capital and working from written business plans. (As you can see, Rework is no ordinary business book!)
The authors are creative minimalists who believe in distilling and developing a core business idea without encumbering it with non-essential frills (see Chapters “Be a Curator” and “Throw Less at the Problem.”) They also believe in a new entrepreneurial work ethic that includes a 10- to 40-hour work week.
They practice what they preach. Rework, they write, began as a 57,000 word book which they then edited down to 27,000 words. Consequently, the book provides a quick, entertaining, thought-provoking read on pages peppered with insightful quotes and great, game-changing ideas.
Highly recommended.

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