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Permanent Makeup

Permanent Makeup - Terra Ziporyn My first task after reading Permanent Makeup is to thank Ms. Ziporyn for an enriching reading experience. It's not the kind of story I usually read, which makes it even more precious for me. The writing is brilliant. I doubt if I ever had the vocabulary Ms. Ziporyn does, but if I did, I've forgotten most of it.

I was impressed with the character-building in Permanent Makeup. I didn't like any of the characters as people, yet I was fascinated by their inner worlds. In the end, I guess that's what the book is all about: playing out the lives of three generations of women and how they struggle but fail to change their lives from one generation to the next. I guess it's the story of what I call Weinberg's Law of Twins: Most of the time, no matter what we do, nothing much happens.

Permanent Makeup is a subtle, literary story, with many intertwined threads. For me, though, the central thread of the book was expressed in this sentence:

"And whatever color her hair or however smooth her skin, she was still going to die."

Perhaps mine is simply the naive male reader's point of view, though I suspect Permanent Makeup won't have many male readers of any kind. Maybe it's because I don't have the female experience, but Permanent Makeup's story-telling of a man's life seemed way off target, even as its stories of women's lives seemed right in the center of the bullseye. But that's perhaps just a man's blindness to his own life story. And to women's.

I can honestly say that if I were not writing a review, I would have been thrown out of this story dozens of times by some extremely long paragraphs and sentences. I had to reread many of them several times before grasping their sense. Eventually, though, they did make sense. And so did Permanent Makeup, though I'm afraid it will make far more sense for its female fans than even for the bravest male reader. I hope lots of women read it—and so will at least a few men who are more evolved than I.

One O'Clock Hustle

One O'Clock Hustle - Joanne Pence On her website, author Joanne Pence says, " I hope you'll enjoy my stories." That sentiment is worth noting. because nowadays, many mystery writers don't seem to share that hope. Instead, their writing seems to be saying. "l hope you'll find my stories disgusting, shocking, and far-fetched." Not so Ms. Pence. Her stories, and in this instance, One O'Clock Hustle, feel real and worth spending your time reading.

First of all, the settings are seem real—even to a former resident of San Francisco. The tale itself seems perfectly plausible—no need for unlikely serial killers who dine on the body parts of their victims. But most of all, Ms. Pence's characters are real and—whether good or bad—sympathetic, with plausible personal problems.

I suspect that most of her readers, like me, will have had personal experience of attraction to a person with whom they have little in common, on the surface. They may even, like the protagonist, Inspector Rebecca Mayfield, experience that attraction to a person who is supposed to be taboo. Readers who've had such experiences will find themselves unable to stop reading about Inspector Mayfield's coping with that very situation—while simultaneously attempting to solve a tangled web of murders.

I love mystery detectives who solve crimes using logic. I particularly love the ones who, in order to solve those crimes, must expand their personal definition of "logic." Inspector Mayfield does just that, and I love her for it. You will, too.

The Death Lottery

The Death Lottery - Gerald M. Weinberg The stories in Weinberg's Residue Class Mystery series keep getting better and better, as the team of young genius mathematicians grows more experienced at dealing with villains. Still, they're more than capable of making mistakes, usually caused by outsmarting themselves.

In this episode, they pursue a professional killer who has challenged their abilities by committing "random" murders. Once again, theire ability with numbers and formulas leads the way to the killer. It's a mystery, so you can be pretty sure they'll solve it in the end, but it's the fits and starts of the trip that make the journey interesting. It's not your run-of-the mill mystery.l

Envy the Night

Envy the Night - Michael Koryta Noir, with no light to relieve the empty plot. I quit after 120 pages, believing the good reviews must have meant something. But those reviewers must have different taste than mine.

Maybe if I had liked one of his self-pitying characters, even a little, I would have kept reading to find out what happened to them, but no such luck.

The Concrete Blonde

The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly Fine job by Connelly

The Edge

The Edge - Dick Francis I generally love Dick Francis, but The Edge disappointed me. I got lost in irrelevant asides, and after 19 chapters, I decided I didn't care whodunnit or what they'd done. I guess I'll never know, and I don't care at all.

Touch & Go

Touch & Go - Lisa Gardner nice example of teamwork between two very different detectives

The Black Ice

The Black Ice - Michael Connelly Enjoyed it. What I've come to expect from Connelly

Readings for Problem-Solving Leadership

Readings for Problem-Solving Leadership - Johanna Rothman, Esther Derby, Gerald M. Weinberg, Don Gray Many of theses articles are essential reading for any current or would-be leader of a technical team or division, whether or not that reader carries the official title of leader or manager or director.

Easy to read, but stimulates deep thinking about the role of leader.

The Confession

The Confession - John Grisham Beautifully written, but I hated the story. I wish I'd never read The Confession, but I couldn't put it down.

Feebles for the Fable-Minded

Feebles for the Fable-Minded - Gerald M. Weinberg I love it, but not just because I wrote it. I still find it funny or enlightening, or both.

Agile Impressions

Agile Impressions - Gerald M. Weinberg If you're at all interested in Agile processes, whether you practice them or hope to, read this book. It will stimulate your thinking, which in turn will improve your results.

Trunk Music

Trunk Music - Michael Connelly Another fine Connelly book.

Strangelets With a Side of Grilled Spam: Episode One

Strangelets With a Side of Grilled Spam: Episode One - Michael Angel How good is Michael Angel's Strangelets...? Here's what it did to me:
I was reading the latest Jack Reacher novel when I received a tweet announcing the publication of Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam. I had read and loved several of Michael's stories (Adventures of Amanda Love and The Detective and the Unicorn), so I interrupted my reading for a moment to take a look at a sample of Strangelets...
I never got back to Jack Reacher, not until I'd read all four volumes of Strangelets... It's the kind of fascinating science fiction that satisfies an entire spectrum of fandom. There's aliens, of course, but their half bio and have mecho. There's warfare, but the humans are losing and very much on the brink of extinction. There's plenty of brand new, innovative near-future tech, and not just weapons.
But that's not all. We meet an artificial intelligence with personality and a heart, and she's not the only romantic element. There's scientists whose experiments start all the trouble then struggle to contain it, military brass both good and bad, and non-commissioned grunts whose dirty hands win real wars.
There's movement, lots of movement. The heroes move physically around the familiar Midwest, which as been transformed into a most unfamiliar and deadly wasteland. They also move intellectually, as they attempt desperately to understand these most puzzling of aliens. And, best of all, as my "moment to look at a sample" shows, the story moves the reader–right out of the present into a future whose outcome is always in doubt.

Phantom Prey

Phantom Prey - John Sandford Nice

Mind Secrets

Mind Secrets - Chris   Reynolds Mind Secrets is a novel in the best of all science fiction traditions. It makes one contrary-to-today's-science assumption and then shows us the consequences. I love such stories in general, and I love this one in particular.

The contrary-to-today assumption is mind-reading—of a sort. It's begun to spring up among teenagers, much to the chagrin of the graybeards. In the book, the conflict is played out on the full London stage, but especially in the life of Michael, who wakes up at the start of the story with his memory wiped, while he's being pursued by a big man with evil intentions.

Without a memory of his own life, Michael is at considerable disadvantage in the chase, but he manages to escape, live on the streets, and eventually wind up living with a couple of "Perceivers"—that is, mind-readers. From then on, his life is an ongoing series of pursuits, captures, escapes, and more pursuits. Through all these adventures, he manages to assemble parts of his jigsaw-puzzle past.

But all his new knowledge does is create more trouble, culminating in an all-out war between the Perceivers and the Norms. As for the book's reading appeal, I literally couldn't put it down—and not just because of the non-stop pursuit. Author Chris Reynolds provides plenty of deep stuff for the reader to ponder. Will the world really be like this when a minority of the population can read the thoughts of the majority?