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Book Review: Women With Super Powers

When Elton John sang, "The Bitch is Back" he certainly couldn't have been privy to the "Bitch in Black" that Keith Kornell would bring to life more than 35 years later. Had he known, he wouldn't have made such ado about nothing, for Kornell's character in his novel, Super Born: Seduction of Being, is fierce. She was fierce well before her exposure to the "Epsilon Radiation" that will not only change Scranton, PA forever, but super-size her sexual fervor.

In this in-your-face extravaganza of hard-nosed, tough talking reportage, the reader sees what a "Bitch in Black" can become given no small quantity of radiation exposure, and superpowers. Yes, superpowers. A super-powered single mother who must decide how to disguise, yet utilize, her newfound powers runs us through this Kornell romp with aplomb. Did I mention superpowers?

All nickels have two sides, and on the other side of this Geiger Counter offending coin is the radiation's effect on the men folk. One could argue, and many women would still argue, that men couldn't become any more dim-witted, more full of folly, or just dumber, they would be wrong. Look it's happening to me.

O'Malley's sounds like my kind of refreshment center with its cheap beer, recently empowered women, and the anchor to Kornell's story. This pub, frequented by our narrator, presents nothing less than a perfect backdrop to the biting dialogue and raucous ramblings borne from this flunky newsman.

The dialogue is wonderful, the stream-of-consciousness observations by Seduction of Being's quirky narration, welcome. It's as though James Joyce discovered Quaaludes before "Finnegan's Wake." While not for the faint of heart nor the easily offended, this is a must read for those who have ever bit their tongues rather than let them fly. Oh, did I mention superpowers? A gripping, compelling, roller-coaster read!


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One day, a while ago, a major computer company held a two-day seminar in how to become a more effective resource for the company and the funny thing was that the conference focused on just seven items.

How, we all wondered, could someone become successful using just seven items? We all asked - at the start of the seminar, anyway - how it was possible. Why, one could think, there must be at least 10 or 15 measures and ways to become effective.

That was before we were introduced to an international bestseller "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", a highly perceptive work by Stephen Covey. Covey spent hours studying the interactions of individuals and groups and found that, believe it or not, that there were seven key habits that, when workers made them part of their lives, made them better workers.

Covey, widely respected in leadership, has found that effective leadership cuts across professional and personal life and those who are best able to integrate the habits he has found for success, are usually not only the leaders of a particular group, but also always called upon to help with projects as they arise.

One secret that Covey does share is what he calls the "paradigm shift." He believes that before you can become effective in your work or home life, you must realize how the world actually works and that is the "paradigm shift" you must make.

The shift affects how you look at work and work time and how you look at your home life and your home time. In order to make each better, you must work to your fullest potential in the office. The same is true at home; before you become a better father or husband, you must learn how to use your time much more effectively. Time use is one of the seven key habit changes we have to make.

Another is just two words "positive thinking." For example, a seminar leader may ask after taking a drink of water "Is this glass half-full or half-empty?" Usually, that elicits a few laughs or coughs but then some brave soul will answer "It's half empty, of course, you've just drunk half of it" The instructor then replies: "You can look at it the other way, there's still half-a-glass of water available for you to drink so isn't the glass half-full?" It's just that little shift in thinking the positive versus negative view that makes Covey's work important because it shows you that just a simple change in perception can change the outcome of anything, provided you are ready to make the leap and say: "You know, he (the instructor) is right." And, once you've made that shift, nothing can stop you from achieving success.

This is not an easy book to understand and may take you two or three passes through it to understand and make the changes you must make in your time management skills or your power to be proactive, however, once you've mastered all seven (we've only touched on a couple here) parts of your life, you'll find your work and home life should be much better.


Mission to Paris: A Novel

Alan Furst, a master story writer and best-selling author, has returned to World War II as the setting for his work Mission to Paris: A Novel. Indeed, the setting for Mission is in the run-up to World War II as the Nazis begin working their mind-games against the French.

An American star, Frederic Stahl, is on his way to make film for Paramount and the Nazi propaganda machine's secret department is cranking itself up to use Stahl - or so they think - as part of their plan to destabilize France from within and its will to win.

What they don't know about Stahl is that he, too, is an agent, working for the American Embassy against Germany. Stahl is aghast and horrified by the Nazis and what was to become known as "the final solution." In 1938, though, the Nazis could not reveal their true agenda to the world or they would have quickly been cut off by the rest of society so they had to work behind the scenes to do their deeds.

The key to his novel, though, is Furst's ability as an author. His works are called "page-turners" by the trade. Some have called him the best spy novelist in the business this generation, on a par with the master spy novelist John LeCarre. After reading him, we would have to agree.

The list of characters that Furst's fertile imagination creates and the reality you feel is amazing. Take, the Baroness von Reschke, a famous beauty, a deeply committed Nazi who is also deeply committed to the operations against France. As noted, the intimate scenes in which she is involved are well drawn and believable. Indeed, each character, as noted, is just that believable, including the Nazi thugs, Janoz and Lothar, who, though they seem just from the trees, are also quite creepy as assassins.

This work must have taken a great deal out of Furst because of the way he details the film cast and crew; members of the diplomatic community and Stahl's lovers. Like a puzzle, not only is each piece a small work of art that is meant to fit into a larger work, the whole of Mission to Paris is greater than the sum of its parts.

Whether you read it the old-fashioned way, as a standard book, or you download the Kindle version, you should be glad you did.

Hopefully, Furst will remain as prolific as other writers of this genre, as reading his work is something you should not miss.


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