Jan 192015

The Death of Corporate Reputation: How Integrity Has Been Destroyed on Wall Street (Applied Corporate Finance) by Jonathan Macey 
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone reading this book, but corporate reputation is at an all-time low. Once upon a time, a company’s reputation was a prized asset, guarded jealously. In this book, Jonathan Macey shows how that time is long gone, that companies who have lost their reputations have not lost business and sometimes even gained because of wrong-doing or even illegal activity. He picks apart everything from companies, brokerages, banks, the people who run them, even the regulatory agencies tasked to make sure they play by the rules. It is a disheartening look into just how corrupt commerce and government has become. Who loses? The consumers. Who do we trust? Who can we depend on to help make decisions? The simple answer is no one. And that is the saddest commentary of all.

The book is not an easy read. Macey does a good job of explaining the complex strategies employed. I understand junk bonds for the first time in my life from this book. But unless one is very interested in this topic, it will be a hard slog. I admit I used this book as a sleep aid more than one night. It is one of the best documented books I have read. I think the footnote references were half as long as the chapters.

Mar 302012

Increase in Learning – Spiritual Patterns for Obtaining Your Own Answers by David A. Bednar   

David Bednar was ordained as an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2004 and has become one of my favorite speakers. His insightful and gentle teachings give me hope, encouragement and a desire to be better. Prior to his full-time Church service, he was the president of Brigham Young University – Idaho and professor of business management at Texas Tech and University of Arkansas.

In Increase in Learning, he shares an approach to studying scriptures and other topics that has caused me to reexamine my own methods. Coupled with a companion DVD, he teaches in his usual gentle and firm style the importance of bringing ourselves closer to the knowledge God has placed in the scriptures for us. Unlike other books on scriptures study, he does not teach tactical methods of underlining is certain colors for particular topics or cute ways of linking scriptures together. Instead he teaches underlying principles of study that can be applied however the individual desires, that will bring the student closer to the Master.

There are only four chapters to this book, with each chapter followed by supplemental reading from various scriptures and talks given. In the first, he explains our responsibility to learn and why it is important for us to gain knowledge of spiritual things in this life. Chapter two covers the subtle differences between knowledge, understanding and intelligence and the ways to obtain each level. Chapter Three challenges the reader to prayerful inquiry, daring to ask God questions and seeking the answers He has placed in the scriptures. The final chapter provides a framework for gospel learning, explaining ways to take study to the next level and distinguishing between doctrines, principles and applications.

Regardless of personal religious affiliation, I believe this book can be useful to all Christians who share a desire to come closer to the Word of God and find the truths placed within the scriptures by our loving Heavenly Father. Yes, there are numerous references to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as Bednar is an apostle with the calling of being a special witness of Christ, but I don’t believe there is anything included that would deter a student of the scriptures and disciple of Christ from gaining a desire to examine the scriptures more closely. His vast knowledge and experience as a teacher is valuable to all. Highly recommended.

Mar 292012

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells  

My son recommended this book. I believe he heard about it while listening to the Writing Excuses podcast done by Dan Wells and other popular authors. I knew Dan Wells wrote horror novels, which I don’t like, but this was a teen book. How bad could it be?

What a ride! What a horror ride. I should have been better prepared. The premise immediately caught me with a death grip. The main character, John Wayne Cleaver, is convinced he is destined to become serial killer. Believing he was named for the serial killer John Wayne Gacy and not the actor as his mother tells him, even his research topics for school reports show his fascination with serial killers. He isn’t shy about it, either. He tells his therapist everything. He feels he completely understands the mind of a serial killer. I know teens like this, completely convinced they are something they are not once the smallest suggestion is placed. As an adult, it is hard not to scoff at them. Dan Wells captures this from the adult point of view very well through the eyes of the therapist and John’s divorced mother, who happens to be a mortician. It’s all beginning to add up for this kid.

The book begins by showing the inner struggle of John, trying to figure out who he is in the world, frustrated that no one believing he is who he thinks he is. He is completely convinced he is a killer. He builds a set of rules for himself to keep the monster locked within. Of course, everyone, especially adults, think he is just a teenager. And then the killings begin.

It seems there is a serial killer on the loose in their small town. John is the first to recognize it, given his fascination with the serial killer mentality. Of course, he wants to investigate and the rest of the book is off to the races. How can John expose the killer without releasing his inner drive to become a serial killer himself?

Very well written and extremely engaging, this book grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go until the very line on the last page. Dan Wells knows how to write horror and he knows teens. I originally thought my wife would enjoy this book for the psychology of a teenager, but as the descriptions of the murdered bodies started piling up, I knew she would not enjoy the graphic nature. I’m torn between recommending it and being repulsed. I guess that makes it a really good horror novel. I won’t suggest any teen read it because I wouldn’t want those thoughts and descriptions running around in their impressionable minds. But they will. It is just the kind of book they are looking for in their search to identify themselves. I just hope they manage to keep reality and fiction in their proper places.

My son asked we get the next book in the series, Mr. Monster . I may be nuts for this, but it arrives tomorrow.