Book Log – Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next Hot Spot

Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next Hot Spot by Roger Fields

We recently invested in a start-up restaurant, so I wanted an overview of the business. There’s some good detail in here on budgeting and other numbers games, which was what I’m interested in.

I think if I were actually the one starting and running the restaurant, this book would be inadequate. But, as a beginner’s intro, it’s pretty solid.

Also, people who work in restaurants are paid terribly, if his sample budgets are to be believed. So, remember to tip your servers! I’ll be here all week!

Book Log – Catching Fire & Mockingjay

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

They’re good, these books.

I should have waited until April and May, when I could “borrow” them for free from the Amazon Lending Library. But sometimes you just need to know how the story turns out.

The story has great rhythm, never dilly-dallying with useless preamble. The plot flows smoothly from point to point, maintaining tension, plausibility and unpredictability.

Imagine my surprise when I found out this was a Young Adult series. I fell for this with Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, reading along thinking myself an Old Adult.

It’s Harry Potter that’s done this… blurred the line between Old Adult and Young Adult. Now I’m reading Slam and Hat Full of Sky and not even realizing that my development has been arrested. Or something.

Or maybe it’s just time that Young Adults got something worth reading. Something Adult, but only just.

And now I’m just looking to fill that end-of-a-good-series inner void with something decent. I’m not up to switching gears suddenly back to Dickens. Will the Game of Thrones series suffice? For some reason I’m associating the two.

We’ll see.

Book Log – The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

So, I discovered the Lending Library of Amazon. There’s over 100,000 titles you can just read for free with a Kindle and a Prime membership. You can borrow one at a time, once a month.

I haven’t figured out how to return it though. I expect that will be made clear at some point. Maybe it just disappears off the Kindle.

But I hadn’t found a book to read, until I was thumbing my wish list and noticed The Hunger Games. I’m usually skeptical of bestsellers, because of what I’m calling the “Clive Cussler Syndrome”, which is when authors put out a lot of really crappy books that just get magnetized to the NYT Bestseller list for an unknown reason.

I’m willing to accept that the crappiness may just be my perception. But only just.

At any rate, I figured I should check it out before the movie comes out. There were enough raves of The Hunger Games from people I actually know that I took a chance. A small chance, since… it’s free.

It’s a good book. Well crafted, not sentimental, not overly dramatic… just right. It draws you in and there’s no real good point to take a break and stop reading.

I just watched the trailer for the movie. I don’t know how it’ll fly… there’s a lot of inner thought going on that may just not translate to the screen.

We’ll see.

Book Log – Snuff

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

A Commander Vimes book from the Discworld genre. And really, I think it can be called a genre, since there are like 30 Discworld novels.

The Commander Vimes books really respect being a “copper”. We hear about how being a copper is in your blood, blah blah blah about every third page. The themes of justice are heavy-handed (“Goblins are people, too!”).

But Discworld stuff isn’t hard literature. It’s just silly, easy reading. And a bit addictive.

Don’t start, kids.

Book Log – A Hat Full of Sky

A Hat Full of Sky: A Tiffany Aching Adventure by Terry Pratchett

This is the second of the Tiffany Aching series, set in Discworld. Like it’s predecessor, The Wee Free Men, it’s aimed at a younger audience. But it’s still a Discworld novel. Granny Weatherwax makes an appearance, and I like that character from the “grown-up” Discworld books.

I think I say this about every Discworld book, but why re-invent the wheel: This is an amusing piece of mind candy.

‘Bout time he started pulling his weight around here.

Last night, Rocketboy put together a cover letter and resume, and applied for a job at PopCap, makers of “Bejeweled” and “Plants Vs. Zombies”. So, I guess we’ll be moving to Seattle soon, depending on how much sway an almost-third grade education has in today’s job market.

I’ll be interested to see how (or if) PopCap responds.

What he really wants to do is give them suggestions for new plants in Plants Vs. Zombies II. “Technical Program Manager” seemed to be the closest job that might be able to do that.

He has expressed concern about school, and he’s not sure he wants to move to Seattle. I told him there’s always Cisco telepresence.

He listed his school newspaper, cub scouts, drama club, chess club and game programming camp on the resume. It’s a better resume than *I* had at his age.

Book Log – The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Shop clearly didn’t have the impact on me that Copperfield did, or even Nickleby. Perhaps that’s why I waited 3 or 4 weeks to record it here.

I hate to write “Welp, this was another fine novel by Dickens. Uuuuyup.” But that’s what I’m going to do. I enjoyed the read, but it didn’t resonate like other of his works. The heroine Young Nell is a virtuous and noble character, but in the end, sort of un-interesting. Everyone was just too immediately taken with her, and I didn’t really get why. I guess she was just that cute.

Also, I was a bit uncomfortable with just how detestable the dwarf character was. I couldn’t fathom how such an absolutely un=likable, intolerable character could attain the level of power he had. It was just… too much.

Book Log – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I like Mindy Kaling on the The Office, and I think they use her character juuuuust enough. I did not know she was a writer… I never read the credits.

In the Funny Women Memoirish Book category, it’s not quite as strong as Fey’s Bossypants, but she’s funny. What’s good is good; the only weakness is there are some sections that really, really feel like filler. (e.g. several photos downloaded from her mobile demonstrating her tendency to use it as a mirror).

There’s some interesting commentary and storytelling about her journey to becoming a writer for The Office. I did not know she co-wrote and toured a two-woman show about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, where she played Ben Affleck. So I’ve learned that, at the very least.

Book Log – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

It’s one of those sad things when you come to the end of a good series, and know there likely won’t be any more because the author has passed away.

There’s rumors of a 5th book on the laptop of the writer, held prisoner by the sort-of-wife as part of a custody battle with the rest of the family. A fifth book, because he skipped the fourth for some reason?

Mr. Larsson reputedly planned 10 books total, and it’s a loss he couldn’t make that happen. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most engaging characters I know of, fun like other almost superhuman, eccentric genius characters… Sherlock Holmes, The Doctor, and to some extent, Dr. House.

The three books are commendable in the way they weave a complex but believable plot, while producing some memorable scenes and characters. Larrson’s quirky (perhaps almost aspergerish?) tendency to provide copious detail about the technology in the story (down to the model numbers of cellphones used) was jarring at first, but later just became an unintentional running gag in my head.

This third book ties things up reasonably well for what was supposed to be a third of ten novel, so we’re not left hanging with anything more than “what would Lizbeth Salander get up to next?”

It seems a bit pointless to give a worldwide bestselling book a rave… but there are a lot of bestsellers out there that I’ve found essentially unreadable, especially in the thriller/mystery category (e.g. anything by Clive Cussler). So.. in essence, I’m saying this deserves to be a bestseller.

On a side note, this book is an example of why I shouldn’t have a Kindle. It was a classic example of my almost-worst-case scenario. I felt like reading it, it cost $13 as an eBook, I could have found it used for much less, but it’s So Easy to just buy it and read it right then. And thus I did.

At least it didn’t suck. That would have been the real worst-case.