Leland Castillo

Joined a year ago

Leland's Favorites
Think Like a Titan: Lessons from Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett
Think Like a Titan: Lessons from Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett
This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.
Think Like a Titan is a self-improvement book that uses the stories, anecdotes and quotes from the lives of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett,
There are 30 attributes split 10 among each of the titans. Given the short length of the book that means we don’t spend much time with any given attribute. If there is any criticism in the writing it would only be that I wish we got to go deeper with each of the titans but this serves as an excellent introduction to each and will hopefully encourage you to learn more about these remarkable men.
The narrator was clear, energetic and easy to listen to.
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
The subject of this classic is disruptive technology.

With the help of many examples from industry (disk-drives being his main workhorse) the author explains what technologies are likely to disrupt, who is likely to be disrupted, why they are likely to be disrupted and what the choices are that the established players have when presented with disruption.

The most important point is that disruption generally comes from the practice of repackaging and marketing already existing, straightforward technology at a lower price point to a new customer base that is not economically viable for the established players.

For example, QuickBooks was marketed to mom-and-pop stores who could not afford to pay an accountant and it was the el-cheapo version of Quicken. It is of no use to a proper corporation. JC Bamford got started with hydraulic backhoes that were good enough for small contractors looking to dig a small ditch but wholly inadequate for the purposes of a miner. 5.25 inch disk drives were marketed to the nascent market for personal computers and were of no use to minicomputer manufacturers.

Disruptive technology is cheaper per unit, but its price / performance ratio is much worse than that of the established technology. It’s not good enough for the clients of the established players. Ergo it must be sold on its (lower) price alone, meaning that its purveyors must seek new markets. Flash memory, for example, was first used in cameras, pacemakers etc. Not in computers!

There is a large number of reasons that established players will frown upon the new technology:

1. Good companies listen to their clients. Their clients will tell them they don’t want it. They will demand performance and they will pay for performance.

2. Profitability will be lower in the lower-margin disruptive technology. Profit margins will typically mirror cost structures and will thus be higher for the higher-end product. Established players will in the short term make more money if they allocate their resources toward not falling behind their immediate competition for the higher-end product. (i.e. “sustaining” their competitive edge in the higher margin / higher tech market)

3. The processes used by the established players to sell and support the established technology may not be the right ones for the new tech.

The main thing to realize is that the technology does not live by itself. It is embedded in a “value network.” A car serves a commuter, a digger serves a mine, a disk drive is screwed down somewhere in a computer etc.

The seeds of disruption lie in the fact that the technology itself and its value network may not necessarily be progressing at the same speed.

If the technology is improving much faster than the trajectory of improvement of the “value network” (for example, if the desktop PC users demand extra disk storage slower than the industry is capable of delivering extra disk storage), then

1. The point comes when the value network of the established technology does not need the incremental improvements on which the established players are competing with one another to deliver.

2. More importantly, a point comes when the performance of the disruptive technology becomes good enough to be embedded in the value network of the established technology. So 3.5 inch disks developed for laptops can do good enough a job for a desktop, for example, without taking up the space required for a 5.25 inch disk.

It gets worse: sure, disruptive technology is deficient in terms of features / performance, but the price sensitive customers who do not care so much about performance often care a lot about reliability. (A small contractor who buys a single backhoe digger cannot afford a maintenance team.) Similarly, the unsophisticated customers of the disruptive technology may care a lot about ease of use. (Mom and pop using Quickbooks have no idea what double-entry book-keeping is!) What this means is that when the performance of the disruptive technology has become good enough for it to be embedded into the value network of the established technology, it often brings with it an advantage in reliability and ease of use.

So at that point the disruptive technology is cheaper, more reliable and easier to use than the established technology, all while delivering adequate performance.

And that’s how purveyors of the established technology (who have been at war with one another to deliver on the ever-increasing performance their customers have been demanding) find themselves at a disadvantage versus the disruptors when it comes to reliability and ease of use right about when their customers tell them they won’t pay for extra performance or features any more.

The disadvantage of the lower-tech disruptor has created an advantage and it’s game, set and match!

What’s an established player to do? If I’m running a super successful company and I spot a new technology what am I to do?

One thing I should not do is listen to my underlings. The dealers who sell my cars will not want a customer who just walked into the dealership to buy a V8 to drive out in a small electric car. The salespeople will keep asking me for the most expensive product because they will be paid a commission on their margin and will keep pushing me “north-east” on the price / performance chart. Resistance to disruptive technology often comes from the rank-and-file.

I also should not listen to my shareholders. Small markets (and all disruptive technology starts small) do not solve the growth problems of large companies.

First and foremost, I must understand that the challenge I face is a MARKETING challenge. The tech I’ve got covered. The resources too.

If my company’s processes and my company’s values (defined as “the standards by which employees make choices involving prioritization”) are aligned with the marketing challenge, I’m in luck: chances are that for my company this new technology will eventually become a “sustaining” technology.

I can get my wallet out and buy EARLY a couple of the new entrants. Early enough that my money is not buying process or values or culture, but merely assets/resources and ideally walking and talking resources (the founders) who will adopt the processes and values of my organization.

Alternatively, I can carve out some great people from my organization and:
1. Give them responsibility for the new technology and assign to them the task of identifying the customers for this new technology
2. Match the size of this new subdivision to the current size of the market.
3. Allow them to “discover” the size of the opportunity, rather than burden them with having to forecast it: “the ultimate uses or applications for disruptive technologies are unknowable in advance”
4. Let them fail small, as many times as necessary
That’s what IBM did when they ran their PC business out of Florida and what HP did when they realized ink jets would one day compete with laser printers!

If, on the other hand, my company’s processes or my company’s values are not aligned with the marketing challenge, then I need to buy a leader in the new technology, and have a finger in every pie. And I need to protect my acquired company from my organization. This is, obviously, a bigger challenge (and one my shareholders may not embrace, as their dollars are as good as mine, but the author stays away from this discussion!) As the succession in technologies plays out, I will then eliminate large parts of my current organization. The author cites an occasion on which this is exactly how things played out.

And there you have it! I think that’s the author’s answer to “The Innovator’s Dilemma”

Obviously, that’s a very quick sketch. You’ll have to buy the book to see the complete story (and to be convinced, I suppose). Be warned that in the interest of keeping the various chapters self-consistent you may find some repetition, but overall this is a very quick read.

I’m aware of people who really dislike Clayton Christensen. I’ve even come across a Twitter account that’s dedicated to trashing him. But I, for one, was convinced that he’s describing a valid concept with many applications.

Also, as a guy who established a disruptive business within an established player I totally experienced both the dismay of my superiors when they realized that “small markets don’t solve the problems of large organizations” and the discomfort of trying to shoehorn my project into the rather baroque established processes.

So I have lived through many of the steps the book describes and I reckon they are described very accurately. The research shows!
All Along the Watchtower
All Along the Watchtower
Besides the other songs mentioned in the heading, this is my favorite song by Jimi Hendrix. I think this performance captures his true genius and would be a enjoyable listening experience to even those who don't consider themselves Jimi Hendrix fans. I guess I finally got around to replacing this song that I had on a original 45rpm vinyl record from the '60s that melted on a hot, sunny day in the backseat of a car I had years ago, ha ha! A masterful performance!
Aretha Gospel
Aretha Gospel
Aretha Franklin was only 14 years old !!! when this absolutely terrific album of gospel music was recorded live,at her father's church,the Reverend C.L.Franklin.There was never such an amazing voice in the gospel field,and the live recording gives to this gigantic music a special,dramatic,intense feeling that could never be reached at a studio session.This extraordinay voice,which surely will make you cry,was the voice of a young girl who was on her way to glory.This may be one of the most important albums ever recorded in the history of great black music,wether it is jazz,blues,or gospel;I'll allways treasure this record as one of the highest masterpiece of singing.Aretha is bewildering,and maybe NOBODY ever sang with such emotion and perfection.This music is so intensive,so emotionnal,so rich,so unique that it will make you shiver and cry.You can't imagine what's in this CD,even if you listened to a lot of gospel.That's simply terrific.
"there's a fountain filled with blood" is sung almost a cappella by Aretha,with only piano and organ background,and exhortations by the members of the church.Her absolutely perfect voice marvels here."Precious Lord" is a masterpiece,a very great moment in the history of singing;there is an unbelievable dramatic intensity here,that was rarely equalled.This music is so intense that I can't find my words to describe it."You grow closer" is another great tune,somptuously sung by Aretha.And so are the other tunes.
You,jazz,blues or gospel lover,you have to own this exceptionnal record.If you don't like the music Aretha FRanklin did later,just listen to "Never grow old" and you'll have to admitt that you're listening to some of the most essential minutes of the music you like.This is,forgive me if I'm repeating this,an extremely important record.Don't miss it.
Murder Most Foul
Murder Most Foul
This song has a very haunting melody and words cannot do justice to the lyrical genius that can only be the Bob Dylan that shaped the music world of the past 60 years. It brought me back to November 22 of 63 and the memories of a "Murder Most Foul", as a day etched in my my life as a old familiar heartbreak. In my humble opinion, this is Bob Dylan at his very best. Genius never ages. I was stunned, moved and grateful for this gift to the music world. Bought me back to age 15 and to tears.
Slow Train Coming
Slow Train Coming
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE PROPHET BOB DYLAN: Sexy and sophisticated music! I listened this CD this Friday evening while occupied on a project of mine so I didn't give this album full attention. It intrigued me very much so the following evening I REALLY listened to it the second time while watching "Twister" on ABC the second time in two weeks & put the TV on mute. It starts off with "Gotta Serve Somebody" that was not new to me, but is a beautifully-done piece of music that won him an award. #2 "Precious Angel" is reminiscent of a long ago Dylan--beautifully executed song w/his typical intonations. If #3 disappoints you somewhat because Bob lacks his usual fullness of voice and has a hard time holding on to a note, please HANG ON VERY TIGHT because you will be totally BLOWN AWAY by #4, #5 & #6 as they are a WHIRLWIND of powerful songs sung with ABSOLUTE MASTERY and in total DYLAN STYLE. The total music mix--vocal, instruments & sound make these songs pieces of great art. These three songs--ESPECIALLY (along with Gotta Serve Somebody)--are superb and superbly sung to perfection. I really want to highlight Bob's AMAZING VOCAL ABILITIES because this album REALLY NEON LIGHTS his unparalleled vocal skills as a singer. He may not have the best sounding voice (I love it) but no one can do what he does with his voice (AND always on key). It took me a while for this realization to REALLY sink in, (I noticed his great singing abilities, but failed to FULLY REALIZE him as a GREAT SINGER BESIDES a composer and poet) but that is the truth. "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" is a children's nursery song, but it is sure the coolest nursery song I ever heard--his voice and vocals are great in this one, too, and I love it!

There is no reason to be upset by Dylan's religious fervor if that irritates you. (Really!!, he has ALWAYS been known for his lyrical and singing fervor on whatever subject he dedicates himself--THAT'S EXACTLY what makes him so interesting!!!) Some lyrics may seem a little bit strong (but really these lyrics are pretty mild), but don't forget that when he was young and bursting with talent, he was taken advantage of by those who saw in him their profit while others saw in him their prophet. In "Modern Times" he tells of how he was almost worked to death--which means he had his share of bitterness and abuse and wants to let you know. (I happen to agree now and then with some of his observations of these modern times even if I am NOT a bible fan in the least). Bob Dylan is a S U P E R B musician, composer, poet AND an EXCEPTIONAL MASTER SINGER and that is what you should get out of this!! This is top grade music. I listened to this album all Sunday long while still in love with Oh Mercy.

MOST DEFINITELY A MUST BUY!!!

See my recently edited review of Oh Mercy!!!!!!!!
Bob Dylan - Triplicate [LP] (Vinyl/LP)
Bob Dylan - Triplicate [LP] (Vinyl/LP)
I grew up with Dylan, and throughout his career have bought most of his albums as soon as they were released. Back in the 1960s, I would have been shocked at Dylan recording a triple album of popular crooning numbers: singers like Sinatra were definitely of my parents' generation. Time has mellowed me and I have long recognised that standards are as important part of America's musical legacy as jazz, blues, country and gospel. I love the way Dylan has taken these songs and, using that unique voice of his, made them his own. Love the instrumentation as well. Although more famous for his own compositions, Dylan is a brilliant interpreter of other people's songs, as he demonstrated on his first album back in 1962 as well as on some of the tracks on "Self Portrait" and on his two acoustic collections of traditional numbers in the 1990s. Still after this and its two predecessors I think we're ready for an album of new material.
COOLA Organic Sunless Tan, Body Dry Oil Mist Self Tanner, Piña Colada, 3.4 Fl Oz
COOLA Organic Sunless Tan, Body Dry Oil Mist Self Tanner, Piña Colada, 3.4 Fl Oz
Coola is awesome for a few reasons- it's so easy and quick to apply it's fool-proof, the color is natural while noticeable and it builds quickly, it doesn't stain white sheets or clothing, it's cruelty free, and it smells pretty good- my boyfriend loves the way it smells!
However, there is no perfect product, and this is no exception. The three strikes against Coola are as folows: 1. After a few applications, if you scratch your skin, the color comes off, which looks pretty silly and screams "this tan is fake!" 2. After a few uses, the tan starts to flake off and take on a speckley appearance in my inner elbow folds and the area between my breasts (I don't have cleavage, I don't know how things would go down if I did... probably not good). This phenomenon only happens to these two locations on my body though, and it's a mystery why this is- maybe I'm just sweatier there. 3. It's expensive and lasts no longer than any product.
I've seen other products flake a lot more and have other problems that Coola does not, but because the flaking is indeed a thing even a little bit, to me this makes it not worth the price. I wouldn't not recommend it though, you just have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
300W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter with 4.8A Dual USB Car Adapter with LED Display
300W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter with 4.8A Dual USB Car Adapter with LED Display
I bought this unit to operate my heating pad and use as a back up when commercial power was down. My first test was the heating pad with inverter plugged into my car's cigar lighter, as with the other reviewer, the inverter would not stay on line. Next I hooked the inverter directly to the car's battery using an adapter and left the engine running with a voltage of 13.0 to 13.6 volts. I plugged my Dish Network box into the inverter and it worked. I unplugged the Dish box and plugged my refrigerator into the inverter and the inverter would NOT start. Lastly I unplugged the refrigerator and plugged my small freezer into the inverter and the inverter would not start. The refrigerator and freezer nave running wattage of 75 watts I cannot measure the starting wattage. I will keep the inverter and use it for lower power applications.
The Cell
The Cell
Got for my cell physiology course gotten through the first 4 chapters so far. Hoping to get through some more before school starts. Nice detailed text.
Diamond Drill Bit 1.5mm Set 20 Pcs Jewelry Beach Sea Glass Shells Gemstones 20 Pieces Twist Bits Kit Pack by Drilax
Diamond Drill Bit 1.5mm Set 20 Pcs Jewelry Beach Sea Glass Shells Gemstones 20 Pieces Twist Bits Kit Pack by Drilax
I use these to make stained glass earrings, and have purchased several times. The first time I ordered these, I’d say 90% of the bits worked wonderfully and I got a lot of use out of them. The next time I’d say about a quarter of them were unusable, the tips were not fully coated so they wouldn’t even bite into the surface of the glass to begin drilling- a little frustrating but for the price I couldn’t really complain. My most recent purchase only 4 of them were of decent quality, and even then they did not last for more than 20 holes. I’m hoping this last purchase was a fluke as far as quality, and am taking another chance and am purchasing again as these bits are exactly what I need, just wish they were more consistent.
Deadpool 1+2 2-Pack [Blu-ray]
Deadpool 1+2 2-Pack [Blu-ray]
Super Filme und in 4K kommen sie noch besser! Es ist so detailiert, dass man die feine Struktur von Deadpools Anzug erkennen kann. Je nach Fernseher hält sich der HDR Effekt aber in Grenzen. Ich habe keinen OLED TV, deshalb fällt mir höchstens auf, dass das Rot von Deadpools Anzug besonders saftig aussieht, aber sonst fällt mir der HDR Effekt nicht weiter auf.

Wenn man im Internet recherchiert erfährt man, dass der erste Teil sogar in einer besseren Qualität gedreht wurde, als der zweite Teil. Das Rohmaterial lag beim ersten Teil zwischen 3,4K und 6K vor. Beim zweiten Teil war das Rohmaterial wohl "nur" 3,4k. Aber ich erkenne keinen Unterschied. Beide Filme sind sehr detailiert.

Das einzige was ich unschön und am Anfang auch verwirrend fand ist die Anzahl von Disks die man bekommt (6 Stück insgesamt). Dadurch, dass diese nicht klar Beschriftet sind, musste man kurz überlegen.

Man bekommt den ersten Teil in zweifacher Ausführung (4k und als normale Blu-ray.)
Deadpool 2 bekommt man in 4-facher Ausführung. Zweimal den Extended Cut und Zweimal die normale Fassung, aber dann halt jeweil einmal in 4k und als Blu-ray.

Die Disks sind unterschiedlich bedruckt, der Aufdruck vom ersten Teil gefällt mir besser. Der Aufdruck des zweiten Teil ist eher unbeeindruckend. Den Extended Cut erkennt man daran, dass da "superduper cut" draufsteht, brauchte ein paar Sekunden um das zu entschlüsseln.

Ansonsten bin ich total zu Frieden auch vom Preis.
Marvel Comics Video Library Volume 2: Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom - Meet Doctor Doom
Marvel Comics Video Library Volume 2: Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom - Meet Doctor Doom
I love these videos and have been collecting them since I was in grade school. Each video contains at least two episodes and for the most part they are centered around the character on the cover. The first episode involves The Fantastic Four and the first time they encountered Dr. Doom. Unfortunately this is not the Hanna Barbera cartoon series from the 60's but the DePatie/Frieling cartoon from 1978. But it is one of the better cartoons from that series (its not a bad series I just like the 60's one better) and is followed up by an episode from the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon entitled "Canon of Doom." Now don't be fooled this is not the immortal classic series "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" but the cartoon before it.
These large clamshell cases with their beautiful artwork look great on the shelf and hopefully you can find one that has been taken care of and a VCR to watch it on, then you could have a wonderful evening. Oh and each one comes with the signature of Marvel Comics Great, Stan Lee! Excelsior!
Thoreau's Animals
Thoreau's Animals
Thoreau’s Animals, edited by Geoff Wisner, brings together in a handsome presentation, many beautiful and striking portraits and passages that the great essayist and informal environmentalist wrote about animals he encountered during his lifelong encounter with natural environments.

One compelling element of the book is the warm, vibrant glamor of Thoreau’s world of animals. Although Henry David often ambles in solitude, he never seems lonely or uneasy. He has such a deep rapport with the natural environment that he seems at home in it. His love of wild animals seduces the reader. Through the auspices of Thoreau, we cultivate unlikely affinities for animals like tortoises, frogs, all kinds of birds, and even snakes that we would never have otherwise imagined.

In one passage, Thoreau remarks insightfully that the bonds of humans and animals can be greater than those between humans. This was surely true of Thoreau, himself. One afternoon, he wades into a pool in the middle of an orgy of 100 copulating toads. At another point, he engages in “baby talk” with a woodchuck, which responds amicably. When he finds a kitten in the woods that has cried out to be rescued after cruel abandonment, Thoreau writes admiringly about the small animal’s survival instinct.

Thoreau was a visionary who saw humans as participants in nature, not lords over it. To foster this sense of oneness among the species, he identified poetic connections between animal and human behavior. “The music of all creatures has to do with their loves, even of toads and frogs. Is it not the same with man?” he writes. Early in this book, he laments the loss of many wild animals from the landscape. He writes, “I cannot but feel as if I lived in a tamed and, as it were, emasculated country…I listen to a concert in which so many parts are wanting.”

For many readers, Thoreau is the writer of Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” In addition to providing a mosaic of Thoreau’s encounters with wildlife during the cycle of four seasons, Thoreau’s Animals is a sampler of the essayist’s journal writing. If you like what you read here, you may want to delve further into the more private writings of Thoreau’s oeuvre.
The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau
The Essays of Henry D. Thoreau
When Professor Hyde set out to use selected Thoreau essays in his seminar at Kenyon College, he found no book that contained the writings he wanted. So he created one that did. The result is this handsome book, made up of 13 political and / or nature essays: Natural History of Massachusetts ~ A Winter Walk ~ Paradise (to be) Regained ~ Ktaadn ~ Civil Disobedience ~ Walking ~ Slavery in Massachusetts ~ Life Without Principle ~ Autumnal Tints ~ The Succession of Forest Trees ~ A Plea for Captain John Brown ~ The Last Days of John Brown ~ and Wild Apples.

Some of these titles are more familiar to us than others, because writings such as "Civil Disobedience" and "Walking" appear in dozens (if not hundreds) of compilation volumes. I found two gems in this book. The first is Hyde's own introductory essay, "Prophetic Excursions," which provides a personal and unique perspective for approaching the genre. The second is "Paradise (to be ) Regained," in which Thoreau reviews the 1842 book, "The Paradise within the Reach of all Men, without Labor, by Powers of Nature and Machinery. An Address to all Intelligent Men" by J.A. Etzler. Talk about FUNNY! Mr. Etzler evidently proposed to use the energy produced by the wind, the tide, the waves, and sunshine in order to power all the machinery needs of mankind. And Henry shoots him down at every turn! One wonders what either man would think of our current solar energy efforts and those proposals to put wind farms on Cape Cod. Of additional interest here are the annotations to the text, in which Hyde lets us in on many of Thoreau's inside jokes and references -- the kinds of remarks that would have been obvious to his contemporaries and to anyone with reading knowledge of classical literature.

Even the cover art was well-chosen for this volume. It's "Water Lily," a painting done by American John La Farge in the early 1860s. The inspiration was obviously taken from "Slavery in Massachusetts," when Thoreau stops in the midst of railing against the injustices of the Fugitive Slave Law to talk about the scent of a water lily:

"It bursts up so pure and fair to the eye, and so sweet to the scent, as if to show us what purity and sweetness reside in, and can be extracted from, the slime and muck of earth. ... It reminds me that Nature has been partner to no Missouri Compromise. ... The foul slime stands for the sloth and vice of man, the decay of humanity; the fragrant flower that springs from it, for the purity and courage which are immortal." (p. 193)

Even in his political essays, Thoreau couldn't avoid making analogies with the natural world. That's one of the points Lewis Hyde makes with this volume: you can't separate the natural from the political when you're dealing with Thoreau's writings. It's impossible to focus on just one or

the other.
Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness (SRLT)
Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness (SRLT)
This collection of essays is a deeply engaging, extremely interesting study of black identity in Pushkin inherited from his African great-grandfather Abram Petrovich Gannibal, godson and associate of Peter the Great – an amazing story in its own right. Russian social inclusion of black people is contrasted to American discrimination, exclusion and slavery.

Pushkin’s own awareness of his ethnicity, his critical self-judgment of ugliness, gave him an alterity which fired his perceptive insight into Russian society. It also accentuated his acute sensitivity to personal acceptance in romantic and erotic love, and ultimately to his death by duel. This generates a fascinating interpretation of Pushkin as Russian literary social figure.

Liza Knapp shows Marina Tsvetaeva hugely inspired by Pushkin’s resistance, even in firing back when wounded in his fatal duel, which she compared to the feeble compliance of Orthodoxy. Alexandar Mihailovic documents Paul Robeson’s Russian and Pushkin encounters which typified black American hope in the Soviet Union. Caryl Emerson tells the story of Artur Lourié’s opera of Pushkin’s ‘The Blackamoor of Peter the Great’, his correspondence with Anna Akhmatova, and Vladimir Nabokov’s critique which guards against a romantic exaggeration of Gannibal and Peter as wholly Enlightenment figures.

It’s all very readable, very interesting, and fascinating – a major contribution to the study of Russian literature and black identity.
Sharks Never Sleep: A Novel Featuring the Black Mask Boys : Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner (Black Mask Mystery Series/William F. Nolan)
Sharks Never Sleep: A Novel Featuring the Black Mask Boys : Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner (Black Mask Mystery Series/William F. Nolan)
The gimmick (Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler solving a real mystery together) is entertaining enough, and Nolan eventually builds a enough of a plot to keep most readers going, but I must say I found the book a big disappointment. Despite the little lectures on California missions, the changing editorship of Black Mask magazine, and so forth -- and the pointless cameo appearance of cardboard cutouts labeled Mae West, John Barrymore, etc -- there is no sense at all of life in the '30s. At first I thought the flatfooted style was meant to be a comment on narrator Erle Stanley Gardner's writing, but at his worst Gardner wasn't this banal, cliche-ridden and tautological (again and again, a character's speech will be tagged with a clause summarizing its contents or explaining its already-obvious intention.) But okay, we don't always look for any kind of style in a certain kind of whodunit, and Nolan does deliver a decent mystery. What I couldn't stand -- I wouldn't even have finished the book if I hadn't been stuck in a hotel room with nothing else -- was the constant stream of anachronistic language. The whole point of this entertainment is that it takes place in the '30s, but again and again, the stock phraseology comes from the '70s or later. The Bing Crosbyesque character is "laid-back", someone keeps a "low profile", a celebrity funeral is a "media event" attended by "death freaks." Once would be an irritating but forgiveable slip-up, but when it keeps happening page after page, the carelessness of it becomes downright insulting.
Summer Mahogany: Maine (The Americana Series Book 19)
Summer Mahogany: Maine (The Americana Series Book 19)
Oh, my goodness, someone should write a parody of romance novels. It would feature older guys with great tans and broad chests, young girls who are jail bait, a Shades of Grey early romance without the manacles, then a resurgence one decade later when it is revealed that the older man was deeply in love with the teeny-bopper and obsessed with her to boot. What does this say about the female psyche? All these books are the same. The characters are wooden but long on meaningless conversation. The action derives from the man and woman constantly being separated, either by space and time or by personality quirks. They fight ALL the time. At last all is resolved in the clinch. Really, gals.

As far as this book being about Maine, well, there are some interesting bits about boats and fishing. Very few bits.
"Taste" and Other Tales (Penguin Readers: Level 5)
"Taste" and Other Tales (Penguin Readers: Level 5)
Dahl is perhaps best known for his Children's books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Enormous Crocodile, et al - but he truly shines when allowed to take the gloves off and swing at will. His view of the flawed but hopeful human spirit provides each story with a similar theme - fate rewards the deserving and punishes the flawed (except when the deserving get punished, and the reader is left to contemplate the injustice).

And of course, his initial story "Taste" is my favorite wine tasting stories. Dahl craftily creates high tension between an insufferable wine snob and his social-climbing host, with the former getting his just desserts in the last paragraph (no, do NOT read it first!)

Each story is short enough to read in those few minutes between hitting the sheets and turning off the lights. One of my favorites.
Case Closed, Vol. 27
Case Closed, Vol. 27
Don't want to give anything away but these books are brillaint. What more can I say - well worth the read! Love them all!
End Game (Will Robie Book 5)
End Game (Will Robie Book 5)
I have been a fan of the Robie and Reel series from day one and was looking forward to this latest addition. I was however totally disappointed.
As other reviewers have indicated, after few chapters I had to check the front to make sure I wasn't reading a Jack Reacher story.
What shocked and disappointed me most, however, was the way in which David Baldacci has, in this book, completely changed the characters of Reel and Robie. Although both of them are government assassins, David Baldacci has always given the characters a strong personal sense of morality which made it possible to like and even admire them in spite of what they do. In 'End Game' Jessica Reel, always shown as a brave, capable, and independent woman, is turned into some sort of Mills and Boon heroine, creeping into Robie's room to leave meaningless notes, and coming out with lines like 'I love you Will, but you can't fix me'!!!
Robie, becomes a second class Jack Reacher. Lee Child has always depicted Jack as a fighting hero with a rather casual attitude when it comes to women, so we expect and accept it. In this book, however, Robie, previously shown as a disciplined, focused and loyal person. becomes a contemptible character who, in the middle of what is supposed to be an urgent search for a man he likes and admires, leaves the he woman he says he loves to go and have sex with a woman he hardly knows. He uses Malloy and walks out when he's done - at least Jack Reacher shows some respect for the women he sleeps with.
The plot of this book is also completely flawed. Too many bad guys popping up all over the place, too many conveniently staged rescues, too much sloppy characterisation and too little adequate motivation for what's happening.
I definitely won't be buying any more Robie and Reel books and as someone who has every book David Baldacci has written I am a bit wary of buying any of the others now.
Is he going to sabotage John Puller, Amos Decker, Shaw and the Camel Club next?
You Only Live Twice (James Bond (Original Series))
You Only Live Twice (James Bond (Original Series))
Contains plot spoilers.

First published in 1964, this is the twelfth print outing (eleventh full length novel) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. It was the last of the Bond series published in Fleming's life time.

Following the calamitous events at the end of `On Her Majesty's Secret Service', Bond is a wreck. He is drinking too much, he is gambling and losing too much, and even worse he is making mistakes on assignments that are putting lives at risk. M is on the verge of firing him from the service, but is persuaded by an eminent psychologist to give Bond one last chance, with an assignment so tough that it might shake Bond up and bring the old, dedicated and dangerous agent back to life. M sends him on a seemingly impossible mission to Japan, not to kill or investigate anything, but to schmooze the chief of Japanese intelligence into letting the British have access to a solid gold intelligence source they have in Russia. Bond is indeed shaken up and the assignment proves to be a tough one as he uses all his wits and judgement to get Tiger Tanaka on side. He gains the trust of the Japanese intelligence man, who agrees to hand over the intelligence, but at a price. He needs a deniable operative to perform an assassination, and it seems as though Bond fits the bill. One murder by Bond and the British can have all the access it wants. So Bond undergoes a transformation into a Japanese coal miner and is sent off to slay the mysterious Dr. Shatterhand in his garden of death. But it turns out that as well as the opportunity to fulfil his mission, Bond also has the opportunity for a personal revenge.

The book falls into three main sections, Bond's breakdown and the early stages of his mission in which he schmoozes Tanaka, a journey across Japan in which Tanaka immerses Bond in Japanese culture, and finally the mission itself in which Bond is on his own in an alien landscape. The first section is a well written and interesting study of a man taken to the brink and slowly pulling himself back from it. It holds the interest, and Fleming's usual excellent prose is used to good effect. The second section of the book however is a different story. Fleming often worked in a detailed description of something crucial to the plot (for example, guano farming in Dr. No, gold smuggling in Goldfinger, Heraldry in OHMSS) and made it utterly adsorbing. Here he attempts to sum up Japanese culture, and though mildly interesting to see it from the point of view of a middle aged man in the early 1960s, this whole section of the book is a real struggle for me to get through. It could have been trimmed to half, even a quarter of the length and the book would have still made sense and been a lot better for it. It is in the final third of the book, where Bond actually starts on his mission and realises who he up against that things really take off. Fleming uses all his descriptive powers to great effect to describe the garden of death in all it's alien horror, and the final showdown between Bond and his would be nemesis is an absolute cracker.

The book has a strong theme of character development and rebirth in it. Bond is transformed from a drunken gambler back to a man of action, then into an instrument of vengeance and finally into a normal human being living a contented life. Blofeld is shown as moving from a disciplined authoritarian evil genius into a raving lunatic (though no less of an evil genius), no longer in control of himself. Fleming also takes time to explore the state of the nation, with the exchanges between Tiger and Bond revealing how Fleming saw the position of the UK on the world stage at the time. There is also an interesting interlude at the end which leaves us on a bit of a cliff hanger, and gives us an opportunity to read Bond's obituary from M in the papers. That s a neat touch, and a great ending to what had been an only intermittently good book.

I wanted to like the book a lot more than I did, mainly because of the slow middle section. The opening, and the action packed finale are excellent, as is the philosophical depth that Fleming manages to bring to the piece. But that long tedious slog as Bond is trained to be Japanese just mars the whole thing. Three stars for the book.

The unabridged reading by Martin Jarvis is excellent. He manages a range of voices and accents with ease, and never slips into patronising or absurdity with his Japanese accents, as would be so easy to do. Over the course of seven and a half hours his excellent reading, with just the right pitch, intonation and pace, keeps the listener hooked, even through the sections of the book that are heavy going. So for the audio book I have to give it four stars, with Jarvis's excellent narration responsible for the extra star.
Forgotten Passion
Forgotten Passion
Five years after their marriage, Rorke shows up on Lisa's doorstep. His father is ill and wants to see the heroine. An accident and concussion made Rorke forget that they'd made love before they were married. He didn't believe that the son she had was his. Lisa ran away during the honeymoon and made a life for herself away from him, raising her son.

Lisa had always loved Rorke's father, who is her stepfather and so she agrees to go back with him in order to convince the man to have a life saving surgery. They'll pretend to be back together again but as soon as the surgery is over, they'll go their separate ways.

First of all, the writing is a mess. That surprises me for Penny Jordan, even when her stories aren't that great, her writing is usually pretty solid.

Lisa is 16 years old when she and her stepbrother hook up. But she never said she was 16. All age questions were answered with nearly 17 or almost 17. So just be warned about the age.

Rorke has a girlfriend who sleeps with whoever she wants whenever she wants. While he's visiting this girlfriend with Lisa in tow, they confess their feelings for each other and are going to get married. What happens with the girlfriend? Nothing. She's still hanging around visiting the private island owned by his father and walking into the house and Lisa's room whenever she wants to.

Now, I'm not supportive of major jealousy being a plot, but Lisa basically didn't care at all that his girlfriend is still in the picture.

The girlfriend convinces him that Lisa is getting it on with the local doctor and he believes it. When Lisa tells him the truth of what happens he denies it.

Years later they meet again and every time she tries to tell Rorke the truth, he says there's no way it could be true because he wouldn't be able to live with himself if it was. So never mind his son growing up with his dad ignoring him and Lisa being an outcast as long as he doesn't have to question his judgment the world can keep turning. Heaven forbid he feel bad about what he did.

And when they come back together, guess who is still in the picture? If you guessed the girlfriend you would be correct. She's still there, and Rorke tells Lisa that she doesn't get to say anything about the other woman. This woman still has freedom on the entire island and can still walk into the house and Lisa's room whenever.

I ended this book wanting Rorke to get eaten by a shark. I didn't like him and I didn't like the fact that he really didn't care about anyone but himself. I usually like amnesia stories but this one was just frustrating. There was too much backstory to be handled in the flashbacks and not enough explanation about the girlfriend at the least.
French Toast Girls' Two-Tab Pleated Scooter Skirt
French Toast Girls' Two-Tab Pleated Scooter Skirt
I’ve been utilizing children’s place (CP) for my children’s school uniforms, until recently my youngest 2yr old started an academy and I couldn’t find not one skirt to fit. I ended up finding the CP brand online and purchased them( super cheap)! HOWEVER!!!!! You get what you pay for.. fast forward a month later and her skirts are faded, linty, shrinking tremendously, and god awful to iron without those iron prints. Because she has to wear uniform daily, I needed better quality and durability to the washes. So when these bad boys popped up across amazon, I made the switch and I’ll never go back! The style and material are durable, breathable for hot Florida weather, and more uniform style. The skirt doesn’t get wrinkled, and she comes home from being at school looking like she did when she left. No faded look after washing, no wrinkles, minimal ironing needed, and they even come with a cute buckle style to the side. These fit right at knee level, and since it’s a skort, they have nice discreet shorts underneath. My daughter is tall, wears a 3T now and I bought these in 4T. My choice to size up, since I read it comes with an adjustable band. The band allows for you to size up and your child to grow into; super important and one reason I like CP. For the price and quality, these don’t break the bank over CP, these like a few bucks more (not even a big deal lol) and are really worth the bucks! Will definitely be buying again.
New York Puzzle Company - Harry Potter Half-Blood Prince - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
New York Puzzle Company - Harry Potter Half-Blood Prince - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
This is a fine quality puzzle if you’re really, really, really, really, really good at doing puzzles, but otherwise it’s pure torture. Imagine 900 swirly greenish pieces and 100 slightly more distinct, other pieces. I would work on it for less than an hour and then have to lie down due to the low grade frustration and feelings of hopelessness. It felt as if the puzzle was sucking life force energy out of me like a dementor. Exactly like that. I ordered a 300-piece colorful donut puzzle to do next—just to rejuvenate my energy and make me feel like a viable human again.
The Historic Expedition of Lewis & Clark
The Historic Expedition of Lewis & Clark
It's listed here on Amazon as being from 2018, but it sounds like it was made in the middle of the last century. The narrator's voice gives that idea, and one of your eyebrows keeps wanting to scrunch in weird directions because of him saying things like (to paraphrase) "before this, the west was mostly just unexplored wilderness" and referring to the explorers' slave as their "servant."
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Seasons 1-3
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Seasons 1-3
As someone who grew up with the original in the 1980s, I admit to being skeptical about this remade version. After giving it the old college try, I have to say this was much better than I expected it to be.

First, the characters all have different looks to them, making them easy to identify. No offense to the Filmation fans, but when all the characters' faces look almost exactly alike, it can get confusing at times. (Remember, Filmation was known for making hit animated series on a limited budget.) Second, the stories here are more complex than the original, making for great storytelling and people able to truly identify with them. The original had basically the rebellion vs. the Horde every time. Here, it's not always straightforward, which I actually find enjoyable. Finally, I am actually fine with She-Ra NOT being associated with He-Man here. Yes, they are kids and teens and have the typical angst, but they're facing issues based on what many face in the real world.

The only downside I have is there aren't more episodes, but then it's streaming, not on TV, which is fine.

The original will always be near and dear to me, but I have room for this updated version, as it is well done.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) - Space Grey
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (64GB) - Space Grey
I Love the iPhone Pro Max, purchased from Amazon IN, on Oct 14th 2019. This space grey 64 GB base model was delivered to me on Oct 19th. Here are my objective views about this phone:

What I didnt like:
1. Obviously the price tag. At Rs. 1,09099.00 is a major deterrent when it comes to decide on buying a phone.
2. The base model should certainly begin at 128 GB or higher. 64 GB is not gonna be enough when storing 4K videos.
3. Optical zoom in camera is still 2X, where as Android phones already have 5X zooms.

Now about what I love in this phone:

1. The Camera. That is the main reason I upgraded from iPhone X to 11 Pro Max. The Ultrawide lens, the improved telephoto lens, night mode, improved portrait options, all give exceptional results. The snaps taken by this phone could compete with some of the most professional DSLRs. 4K video recording support on front camera is an additional bonus.
2. Battery Life. All the reviews have been right about this. I used to charge my iPhone X every night, whereas for the same amount of usage, now I have to charge the 11 Prod max once in 2 nights.
3. Display. I was already a big fan of the 5.8' OLED display on the iPhone X. At 6.5' , 11 Pro Max offers the best OLED display I have come across smartphones.
4. Face ID is faster. The apps and the interface work smoothly as ever.
5. iOS 13, though still needs fixes, is a wonderful operating system. Dark mode is a welcome change.

Overall, this is a beast. Admire Apple for catching up with its android counterparts on several of the features. The 11 Pro Max is definitely a phone for amateur & professional photographers.
AmazonCommercial Ergonomic High-Back Bonded Leather Executive Chair with Flip-Up Arms and Lumbar Support, Black
AmazonCommercial Ergonomic High-Back Bonded Leather Executive Chair with Flip-Up Arms and Lumbar Support, Black
I have actually purchased 4 of these chairs just because of the comfort level of them. However, I am now noticing the first two (Black ones) I purchased is starting to bubble up and peel. Be very wary of everyday use, because apparently, the cover wears out quickly. I have never been so disappointed in a product or a company. Especially when they DO NOT STAND BY THEIR PRODUCT! A chair should not be peeling like this at barely 4 months old. 1 was purchased November 14, 2019 and the other November 20, 2019. The first picture was when it started bubbling on February 18th, the 2nd picture is that bubble today. I have had to put tape on it to keep it from getting worse. Do yourself a favor DO NOT BUY IF YOU PLAN TO SIT IT IN REGULARLY!!!!!
Pompadour - Infusion Boldo - 20 bolsitas
Pompadour - Infusion Boldo - 20 bolsitas
Infusión con un sabor peculiar, pero para nada desagradable diluyéndola en un tazón o vaso grande de agua. Los efectos depurativos en el hígado se notarán con el tiempo, supongo. Tras veinte días de utilizar el producto no hay ningún efecto adverso.
fuerte ruptura de regaliz 10 g palillo 250 g
fuerte ruptura de regaliz 10 g palillo 250 g
No me ha gustado.
No tiene el mismo sabor que que las otras veces que les he comprado este mismo producto, seguramente no es
el mismo regaliz, o han cambiado algo que le cambia el sabor.

Recent posts by Leland Castillo
Message Leland Castillo