I am not in the mood to blog about the events of my wonderful week, which means Charlotte, my journal, got lucky again because she got to house all of them. Instead, let me share the latest books I bought. I wish to have more island vacations like what I recently had in Palawan so I would have a really decent reading time.
Here are the additions to my brood:
Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark J. Penn. In 1982, readers discovered Megatrends. In 2000, The Tipping Point entered the lexicon. Now, in Microtrends, one of the most respected and sought-after analysts in the world articulates a new way of understanding how we live. Mark Penn, the man who identified “Soccer Moms” as a crucial constituency in President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, is known for his ability to detect relatively small patterns of behavior in our culture-microtrends that are wielding great influence on business, politics, and our personal lives. Only one percent of the public, or three million people, is enough to launch a business or social movement. Relying on some of the best data available, Penn identifies more than 70 microtrends in religion, leisure, politics, and family life that are changing the way we live. Among them:
- People are retiring but continuing to work.
- Teens are turning to knitting.
- Geeks are becoming the most sociable people around.
- Women are driving technology.
- Dads are older than ever and spending more time with their kids than in the past.
You have to look at and interpret data to know what’s going on, and that conventional wisdom is almost always wrong and outdated. The nation is no longer a melting pot. We are a collection of communities with many individual tastes and lifestyles. Those who recognize these emerging groups will prosper. Penn shows readers how to identify the microtrends that can transform a business enterprise, tip an election, spark a movement, or change your life. In today’s world, small groups can have the biggest impact.
The Religion by Tim Willocks. May 1565. Suleiman the Magnificent, emperor of the Ottomans, has declared a jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist. The largest armada of all time approaches the knights’ Christian stronghold on the island of Malta. The Turks know the knights as the “Hounds of Hell.” The knights call themselves “The Religion. In Messina, Sicily, a French countess, Carla La Penautier, seeks passage to Malta in a quest to find the son taken from her at his birth twelve years ago. The only man with the expertise and daring to help her is a Rabelaisian soldier of fortune, arms dealer, former janissary, and strapping Saxon adventurer by the name of Mattias Tannhauser. He agrees to accompany the lady to Malta, where, amid the most spectacular siege in military history, they must try to find the boy—whose name they do not know and whose face they have never seen—and pluck him from the jaws of Holy War.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Jude Coyne, an aging rock star, buys himself a dead man’s suit. He acquires it online, lured by the promise that the dead man’s ghost will be included in his purchase. Jude thinks this is a joke, of course. He also assumes the seller is a stranger. We soon discover that he’s wrong on both counts, however, and from this point on the story moves with an exhilarating urgency. Jude wants the ghost gone; the ghost wants Jude dead.
This was an impulse buy. Growing up reading Stephen King, nothing could probably encourage me to buy a brand-new horror-mystery novel since I can always get it in Booksale; well, except this one. It’s only 299 so I gave it a try.
Politics: Observations and Arguments by Hendrik Hertzberg. Hertzberg collects 121 of his published essays on the American political scene, nearly half drawn from his “Comment” pieces for the New Yorker. Styling himself a social democrat of the European variety, as well as a liberal Democrat of the American breed, he comments on a broad range of political events, figures, and processes, including the “Child Monarch” (Ronald Reagan), the controversy over the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, presidential elections and campaigns, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the bigotry at Bob Jones University, the Senate Watergate hearings, capital punishment, and the “War on Drugs.”
I can finally delete this in my Amazon Wishlist. I’ve long wanted it but for some reason I did not find it worthy of my 795 since the issues, even if his were op-ed pieces, can easily be Google’d or Wiki’d. I got lucky one night in Midtown when I saw it for 299, buried under tattered hardcovers in Powerbooks.
Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme “Other” will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?
Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. The second book in the internationally bestselling fantasy series, Day Watch begins where Night Watch left off, set in a modern-day Moscow where the 1,000-year-old treaty between Light and Dark maintains its uneasy balance through careful vigilance from the Others. The forces of darkness keep an eye during the day, the Day Watch, while the agents of Light monitor the nighttime. Very senior Others called the Inquisitors are the impartial judges insisting on the essential compact. When a very potent artifact is stolen from them, the consequences are dire and drastic for all sides. Day Watch introduces the perspective of the Dark Ones, as it is told in part by a young witch who bolsters her evil power by leeching fear from children’s nightmares as a counselor at a girls’ summer camp. When she falls in love with a handsome young Light One, the balance is threatened and a death must be avenged.
Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. In Dusk Watch, the Others face their greatest threat yet. A renegade Other, his identity as yet unknown, has absconded with a fabled spell-book of untold power and appears bent on attacking the entire earth. Now forces of the Light and the Dark — the Night Watch and the Day Watch — must cooperate to stop him. Anton, the hero from Night Watch, is back, but when the culprit turns out to be none other than his partner, the race against time becomes more urgent than ever. In a world where reality and magic commingle, and where different degrees of existence are layered one atop the other, nothing is ever quite what it seems.
The previous three are all on loan to Erwin. He said that Day Watch totally paled in comparison to Night Watch. I told him most second installments are disappointments but we have no choice but to get through them in order to jump to the third. Just take New Moon, for example.
The Ministry Of Special Cases by Nathan Englander. From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina’s Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won’t accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence–and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, the refuge of last resort.
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray. Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain. The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .
Finally, I found a trade copy after three years! I’ve always seen it on hardcover and since it’s first, A Great And Terrible Beauty, is a trade copy, I didn’t buy it. Now I can read it, and wait for a trade print of its third installment, A Sweet Far Thing. YA books are great in-between reads!
Ah, I hope I get to read them in the next months. Hundreds are waiting on queue though, no kidding. I wish the next president would declare an official reading month, where people would only do nothing but eat, sleep and read. It may be death for most but it will be utter heaven for many of us.
Images from Barnes & Noble. Synopses from Zoomii.