34 amazing first lines of famous books.

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ever wonder how to get your book reviewed?

Ever wonder “How to get my book reviewed”?

So you’ve published your book. Its been edited and published, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get to your potential readers. While starting your marketing campaign usually happens well More »

‘People are hungry for real bookstores’: Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are growing

At 78, the multimillion-selling author has begun a new career, opening her own bookshop and joining a business sector thats flourishing again in the US   She might be a beloved and More »

Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new Internet

Cryptocurrencies are booming beyond belief. Bitcoin is up sevenfold, to $2,500, in the last year. Three weeks ago the redoubtable Vinay Gupta, who led Ethereums initial release, published an essay entitled What Does Ether At $100 Mean? Since then it has doubled. Too many altcoins to name have skyrocketed in value along with the Big Two. ICOs are raking in money hand over fist over bicep. What the hell is going on?

(eta: in the whopping 48 hours since I first wrote that, those prices have tumbled considerably, but are still way, way up for the year.)

A certain seductive narrative has taken hold, is what is going on. This narrative, in its most extreme version, says that cryptocurrencies today are like the Internet in 1996: not just new technology but a radical new kind of technology, belittled or ignored by by most, which has slowly and subtly grown in power and influence over the last several years, and is about to explode into worldwide relevance and importance with shocking speed and massive repercussions.

(Lest you think Im overstating this, I got a PR pitch the other day which literally began: Blockchains 1996 Internet moment is here, as a preface to touting a $33 million ICO. Hey, whats $33 million between friends? Its now pretty much taken as given that were in a cryptocoin bubble.)

I understand the appeal of this narrative. Im no blockchain skeptic. Ive been writing about cryptocurrencies with fascination for six years now. Ive been touting and lauding the power of blockchains, how they have the potential to make the Internet decentralized and permissionless again, and to give us all power over our own data, for years. Im a true believer in permissionless money like Bitcoin. I called the initial launch of Ethereum a historic day.

But I cant help but look at the state of cryptocurrencies today and wonder where the actual value is. I dont mean financial value to speculators; I mean utility value to users. Because if nobody wants to actually use blockchain protocols and projects, those tokens which are supposed to reflect their value are ultimately well worthless.

Bitcoin, despite its ongoing internal strife, is very useful as permissionless global money, and has a legitimate shot at becoming a global reserve and settlement currency. Its anonymized descendants such as ZCash have added value to the initial Bitcoin proposition. (Similarly, Litecoin is now technically ahead of Bitcoin, thanks to the aforementioned ongoing strife.) Ethereum is very successful as a platform for developers.

But still, eight years after Bitcoin launched, Satoshi Nakamoto remains the only creator to have built a blockchain that an appreciable number of ordinary people actually want to use. (Ethereum is awesome, and Vitalik Buterin, like Gupta, is an honest-to-God visionary, but it remains a tool / solution / platform for developers.) No other blockchain-based software initiative seems to be at any real risk of hockey-sticking into general recognition, much less general usage.

With all due respect to Fred Wilson, another true believer and, to be clear, an enormous amount of respect is due it says a lot that, in the midst of this massive boom, hes citing Rare Pepe Cards, of all things, as a prime example of an interesting modern blockchain app. I mean, if thats the state of the art

Maybe Im wrong; maybe Rare Pepe will be the next Pokmon Go. But on the other hand, maybe the ratio of speculation to actual value in the blockchain space has never been higher, which is saying a lot.

Some people argue that the technology is so amazing, so revolutionary, that if enough money is invested, the killer apps and protocols will come. That could hardly be more backwards. Im not opposed to token sales, but they should follow If you build something good enough, investors will flock to you, not If enough investors flock to us, we will build something good enough.

A solid team working on an interesting project which hasnt hit product-market fit should be able to raise a few million dollars or, if you prefer, a couple of thousand bitcoin and then, once their success is proven, they might sell another tranche of now-more-valuable tokens. But projects with hardly any users, and barely any tech, raising tens of millions? That smacks of a bubble made of snake oil one all too likely to attract the heavy and unforgiving hand of the SEC.

That seductive narrative though! The Internet in 1996! I know. But hear me out. Maybe the belief that blockchains today are like the Internet in 1996 is completely wrong. Of course all analogies are flawed, but theyre useful, theyre how we think and maybe there is another, more accurate, and far more telling, analogy here.

I propose a counter-narrative. I put it to you that blockchains today arent like the Internet in 1996; theyre more like Linux in 1996. That is in no way a dig but, if true, its something of a death knell for those who hope to profit from mainstream usage of blockchain apps and protocols.

Decentralized blockchain solutions are vastly more democratic, and more technically compelling, than the hermetically-sealed, walled-garden, Stack-ruled Internet of today. Similarly, open-source Linux was vastly more democratic, and more technically compelling, than the Microsoft and Apple OSes which ruled computing at the time. But nobody used it except a tiny coterie of hackers. It was too clunky; too complicated; too counterintuitive; required jumping through too many hoops and Linuxs dirty secret was that the mainstream solutions were, in fact, actually fine, for most people.

Sound familiar? Today theres a lot of work going into decentralized distributed storage keyed on blockchain indexes; Storj, Sia, Blockstack, et al. This is amazing, groundbreaking work but why would an ordinary person, one already comfortable with Box or Dropbox, switch over to Storj or Blockstack? The centralized solution works just fine for them, and, because its centralized, they know who to call if something goes wrong. Blockstack in particular is more than just storage but what compelling pain point is it solving for the average user?

The similarities to Linux are striking. Linux was both much cheaper and vastly more powerful than the alternatives available at the time. It seemed incredibly, unbelievably disruptive. Neal Stephenson famously analogized 90s operating systems to cars. Windows was a rattling lemon of a station wagon; MacOS was a hermetically sealed Volkswagen Beetle; and then, weirdly beyond weirdly there was

Linux, which is right next door, and which is not a business at all. Its a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees, and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned, cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army tanks. Theyve been modified in such a way that they never, ever break down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away for free.

Customers come to this crossroads in throngs, day and night. Ninety percent of them go straight to the biggest dealership and buy station wagons They do not even look at the other dealerships.

I put it to you that just as yesterdays ordinary consumers wouldnt use Linux, todays wont use Bitcoin and other blockchain apps, even if Bitcoin and the the other apps build atop blockchains are technically and politically amazing (which some are.) I put it to you that the year of widespread consumer use of [Bitcoin | Ripple | Stellar | ZCash | decentralized ether apps | etc] is perhaps analogous to the year of [Ubuntu | Debian | Slackware | Red Hat | etc] on the desktop.

Please note: this is not a dismissive analogy, or one which in any way understates the potential eventual importance of the technology! There are two billion active Android devices out there, and every single one runs the Linux kernel. When they communicate with servers, aka the cloud, they communicate with vast, warehouse-sized data centers teeming with innumerable Linux boxes. Linux was immensely important and influential. Most of modern computing is arguably Linux-to-Linux.

Its very easy to imagine a similar future for blockchains and cryptocurrencies. To quote my friend Shannon: It [blockchain tech] definitely seems like it has a Linux-like adoption arc ahead of it: Theres going to be a bunch of doomed attempts to make it a commercially-viable consumer product while it gains dominance in vital behind-the-scenes applications.

But if your 1996 investment thesis had been that ordinary people would adopt Linux en masse over the next decade which would not have seemed at all crazy then you would have been in for a giant world of hurt. Linux did not become important because ordinary people used it. Instead it became commodity infrastructure that powered the next wave of the Internet.

Its easy to envision how and why an interwoven mesh of dozens of decentralized blockchains could slowly, over a period of years and years, become a similar category of crucial infrastructure: as a reserve/settlement currency, as replacements for huge swathes of todays financial industry, as namespaces (such as domain names), as behind-the-scenes implementations of distributed storage systems, etc. while ordinary people remain essentially blissfully unaware of their existence. Its even easy to imagine them being commoditized. Does Ethereum gas cost too much? No problem; just switch your distributed system over to another, cheaper, blockchain.

So dont tell me this is like the Internet in 1996, not without compelling evidence. Instead, wake me up when cryptocurrency prices begin to track the demonstrated underlying value of the apps and protocols built on their blockchains. Because in the interim, in its absence of that value, Im sorry to say that instead we seem to be talking about decentralized digital tulips.


Disclosure, since it seems requisite: I mostly avoid any financial interest, implicit or explicit, long or short, in any cryptocurrency, so that I can write about them sans bias. I do own precisely one bitcoin, though, which I purchased a couple of years ago because I felt silly not owning any while I was advising a (since defunct) Bitcoin-based company.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/28/double-double-cryptocoin-bubble/

Elmina’s Fire by Linda Carleton

Story Summary:

What happens when a troubled young woman dares to follow the stirrings of her soul in turbulent times? Elmina begins life with a troubled childhood in a medieval French town-a childhood that turns her into a spiritually seeking young woman who dares to follow the stirrings of her soul. Her idealism and love lead her to leave a Cathar school and follow the man who will become Saint Dominic. As the world around her erupts into the Albigensian Crusade, Elmina finds herself complicit in its horror, and her spiritual and emotional life begins to unravel. With the aid of the counsel of her wise prior, Brother Noel, Elmina learns to paint her experiences within a sacred circle- a practice that helps her discover the origins of her lifelong fears and wrestle with questions that are as divisive today as they were eight centuries ago: the nature of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility of reincarnation.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2qfb4eA

 

YouTube Link -https://youtu.be/1PB5TSsdd5w

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5 Star Good Reads Review- https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1975193677

Historical fiction at it’s best! Women of Medieval times had few options, marry, or be a nun. As a troubled child of an impoverished family Elmina found the Cathars, a sect that supported her idealism and the seeking of her soul. Her love and devotion for the man who would become Saint Dominic led her to follow him and help him start his own monastery, setting the stage for division in her family. Her sister stayed with the Cathars. Elmina watched helplessly as the Albigensian Crusade rolled onward, she lost her sister and her spiritual and emotional life began to unravel. Elmina learns to paint her experiences within a sacred circle ȉ a practice that helps her discover the origins of her lifelong fears.

Read this book if you wrestle with questions about the nature of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility of reincarnation.

Taiwan’s same-sex marriage ruling could cement its place as Asia’s liberal beacon

Landmark court case this week is likely to determine the success or failure of draft laws currently before parliament

Chi Chia-wei will find out on Wednesday if his decades long fight to make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage has been a success.

Chi, 59, a pioneering Taiwanese gay rights activist, is the celebrated face behind one of the most controversial legal cases the island democracy has seen in recent years, where 14 judges must rule if the civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The constitutional courts landmark ruling will not only determine the success or failure of draft new parliamentary laws to introduce marriage equality, but could cement Taiwans reputation as a beacon of liberalism in a region where the LGBT community faces increasing persecution.

Chi, an equal rights campaigner since he first came out as a gay teenager in 1975, remains pragmatic about making civil rights history. If it doesnt work out this time, Ill keep on fighting for the people, and for human rights, he said in an interview with The Guardian.

But he is determined that one day, the fight will be won.

Somebody has to do it. I dont want to see any more people commit suicide because they dont have marriage equality, he said.

Last October the suspected suicide of French professor, Jacques Picoux, who was unable to marry his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao, became a rallying call for Chi and other LGBT activists.

His struggle is also personal. Chis lawsuit, launched two years ago and supported by the municipal government in the capital, Taipei, is the latest of several attempts to get legal recognition for his 30 year relationship with his partner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

In 1986, when the nation was still under martial law, Chi was imprisoned for five months after submitting his first petition asking for gay marriage to be recognised.

As a flag bearer for equality, he hopes to inspire other LGBT activists fighting a crackdown across Asia.

On the eve of Taiwans court ruling, two gay men face a public caning in Indonesia. In South Korea, the military has been accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against gay recruits. In Bangladesh, 27 men were arrested last week on suspicion of being gay, a criminal offence.

Back in Taiwan, the political stakes of Wednesdays decision are also high.

When President Tsai Ing-wens ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) passed the first draft of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in December, it prompted a fierce conservative backlash.

The issue has split Taiwanese society and vocal protests from a coalition of religious and right-wing family groups have caused many legislators to have second thoughts.

The fate of the legislation, soon to face a second reading, now lies in the hands of the court, believes Yu Mei-nu, the DPP parliamentarian who drafted it.

If the court ruled clearly in support of same-sex marriage and President Tsai offered her unequivocal support, it would embolden wavering legislators to vote in favour of the new laws, she argued.

If the grand justices make a decision that is not very clear, and it depends on a legislative yuan [parliament] vote, then it will be difficult. I think most legislators will abstain, she said.

We want her (Tsai) to be braver. If she can come out and say yes I support it then it will be passed.

Ahead of her election last year, Tsai voiced her support for marriage equality in a Facebook video. In the face of love, everyone is equal, she said.

But as she marked the first anniversary of her inauguration this weekend with low public approval ratings, Tsai faced criticism from all sides over her handling of gay marriage.

Its a little bit depressing for us. Before the election, she was really pro-gay rights. But now she has kind of disappeared, said student Vic Chiang, 23, at a Taipei rally last week on the International Day Against Homophobia.

Meanwhile, Robin Chen, a spokesman for the Coalition For Happiness of Our Next Generation, which links support for gay marriage with increased HIV infections, criticised the government for rushing the laws through.

The majority of the population does not know whats happening, he said. We need to discuss things on different levels because family is the foundation of society.

His fears were shared by Father Otfried Chan, secretary-general of the Chinese Regional Bishops Conference, who believes the court will likely back gay marriage. There is no debate, he said. Its a one-sided game.

Nerves are frayed ahead of the ruling, with both sides intending to demonstrate outside the court.

But for

Chi, the choice is simple.

To legalise marriage would mean that Taiwans civil code and constitution will say that gay people are people, he said. If the law can be changed, Taiwans gay community will have human rights.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/22/taiwans-same-sex-marriage-court-ruling-asias-liberal-beacon

She Came From Afar – Courtney Lindberg – New Book

5 Stars From San Francisco Book Review – https://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/she-came-from-afar/

Each family is different, and this is especially true for families who have adopted children. Not only do they have to deal with all the typical struggles of raising a child (sometimes from infancy), but they also need to face questions from the people around them and from their own children. It is a trial, but a common enough one that there are many adoption stories, several of which are beautiful and filled with the grace of parents who manage to pass through the trials and keep their heads held high. She Came From Afar is one such story.

The book begins with the author dreaming that she holds a dark-skinned baby as a voice tells her that this child is hers. The author wakes with the certainty that she will adopt a child from Africa, though her husband is less certain. After all, they already have two children, Seamus and Nolan, and when their third child is born, they learn that she has holes in her heart that require surgery. Still, the author is gripped by the idea that she is meant to adopt a child from Africa, and although her husband disagrees, she does research into various countries that she could adopt from. When her husband admits that he is ready to adopt, the author pushes forward with her plan.

Not everything goes perfectly, as one might expect. The author’s dream featured a baby boy named Ndume, but the child who comes to her home is a little girl whom she calls Eden. When the author’s husband goes to Ethiopia to meet Eden, he finds that she is malnourished and ill, and just before he is able to return home, he falls ill as well. When he does bring Eden home, the family faces all the uninformed questions and remarks any white family adopting an African child would. Through all that, and through the trials of raising four children who are close in age, the family carries on, displaying a grace that would make anyone proud.

She Came From Afar is a short, beautiful book that will appeal to anyone who has looked after children. I was deeply moved by the author’s story, and though I am not a parent myself, I’ve helped look after some younger kids, and I found myself smiling knowingly at the little descriptions the author gave of how her children interacted with each other. I’m glad I read this book, and I would happily read it again.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rP6mWe

The Uncanny Valley by S.W. Campbell – New Book

Story Summary:

We all know a Paul. A person who seems to see stuff that isn’t there. The type the polite call quirky and the blunt call nuts. Conspiracies? He’s got a few. He’s got his finger on how the world really works. He knows what kind of shit is coming down the pipe. Flee across the West Texas desert to Mexico? Makes sense to him. Feel like you’re being watched? You bet your ass someone is watching. Best turn off your cell phone. Troubles? Of course, that’s just part of life. Doubts? No time for doubts. Shit is getting real. Get in, buckle up, crack open a beer. The only real question is, how far down the rabbit hole are you willing to follow? Paul is an every man gone off the rails. Fearing the tightening noose of government surveillance he sets out with his family on a twisting psychological jaunt to break free of society’s restrictions, no matter what the cost. Hero and villain. Culprit and victim. Paul is stuck in a world he wants no part of. Sacrifices are made and connections are severed. As his world collapses around him, Paul perseveres in his quest, unsure about his way forward, but increasingly feeling that there is no way for him to turn back.

5 Stars Seattle Book Review https://seattlebookreview.com/product/the-uncanny-valley/

[The Uncanny Valley] is far more complex than it appears at first. It’s a magnificent, gripping tale, one which you will find yourself hard-pressed to put down.”

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rfCeGx

Tim Pigott-Smith obituary

Stage and screen actor best known for his role in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown

The only unexpected thing about the wonderful actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died aged 70, was that he never played Iago or, indeed, Richard III. Having marked out a special line in sadistic villainy as Ronald Merrick in his career-defining, Bafta award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Granada TVs adaptation for ITV of Paul Scotts Raj Quartet novels, he built a portfolio of characters both good and bad who were invariably presented with layers of technical accomplishment and emotional complexity.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III at the Almeida theatre in 2014. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He emerged as a genuine leading actor in Shakespeare, contemporary plays by Michael Frayn in Frayns Benefactors (1984) he was a malicious, Iago-like journalist undermining a neighbouring college chums ambitions as an architect and Stephen Poliakoff, American classics by Eugene ONeill and Edward Albee, and as a go-to screen embodiment of high-ranking police officers and politicians, usually served with a twist of lemon and a side order of menace and sarcasm.

He played a highly respectable King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, but that performance was eclipsed, three years later, by his subtle, affecting and principled turn in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III (soon to be seen in a television version) at the Almeida, in the West End and on Broadway, for which he received nominations in both the Olivier and Tony awards. The play, written in Shakespearean iambics, was set in a futuristic limbo, before the coronation, when Charles refuses to grant his royal assent to a Labour prime ministers press regulation bill.

The interregnum cliffhanger quality to the show was ideal for Pigott-Smiths ability to simultaneously project the spine and the jelly of a character, and he brilliantly suggested an accurate portrait of the future king without cheapening his portrayal of him. Although not primarily a physical actor, like Laurence Olivier, he was aware of his attributes, once saying that the camera does something to my eyes, particularly on my left side in profile, something to do with the eye being quite low and being able to see some white underneath the pupil. It was this physical accident, not necessarily any skill, he modestly maintained, which gave him a menacing look on film and television, as if I am thinking more than one thing.

Born in Rugby, Tim was the only child of Harry Pigott-Smith, a journalist, and his wife Margaret (nee Goodman), a keen amateur actor, and was educated at Wyggeston boys school in Leicester and when his father was appointed to the editorship of the Herald in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962 King Edward VI grammar school, where Shakespeare was a pupil. Attending the Royal Shakespeare theatre, he was transfixed by John Barton and Peter Halls Wars of the Roses production, and the actors: Peggy Ashcroft, with whom he would one day appear in The Jewel in the Crown, Ian Holm and David Warner. He took a parttime job in the RSCs paint shop.

At Bristol University he gained a degree in English, French and drama (1967), and at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school he graduated from the training course (1969) alongside Jeremy Irons and Christopher Biggins as acting stage managers in the Bristol Old Vic company. He joined the Prospect touring company as Balthazar in Much Ado with John Neville and Sylvia Syms and then as the Player King and, later, Laertes to Ian McKellens febrile Hamlet. Back with the RSC he played Posthumus in Bartons fine 1974 production of Cymbeline and Dr Watson in William Gillettes Sherlock Holmes, opposite John Woods definitive detective, at the Aldwych and on Broadway. He further established himself in repertory at Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith as the avuncular businessman Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles Enron at the Minerva theatre, Chichester, in 2009. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He was busy in television from 1970, appearing in two Doctor Who sagas, The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976), as well as in the first of the BBCs adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskells North and South (1975, as Frederick Hale; in the second, in 2004, he played Hales father, Richard). His first films were Jack Golds Aces High (1976), adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriffs Journeys End, and Tony Richardsons Joseph Andrews (1977). His first Shakespeare leads were in the BBCs Shakespeare series Angelo in Measure for Measure and Hotspur in Henry IV Part One (both 1979).

A long association with Hall began at the National Theatre in 1987, when he played a coruscating half-hour interrogation scene with Maggie Smith in Halls production of Coming in to Land by Poliakoff; he was a Dostoeyvskyan immigration officer, Smith a desperate, and despairing, Polish immigrant. In Halls farewell season of Shakespeares late romances in 1988, he led the company alongside Michael Bryant and Eileen Atkins, playing a clenched and possessed Leontes in The Winters Tale; an Italianate, jesting Iachimo in Cymbeline; and a gloriously drunken Trinculo in The Tempest (he played Prospero for Adrian Noble at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in 2012).

The Falstaff on television when he played Hotspur was Anthony Quayle, and he succeeded this great actor, whom he much admired as director of the touring Compass Theatre in 1989, playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Salieri in Peter Shaffers Amadeus. When the Arts Council cut funding to Compass, he extended his rogues gallery with a sulphurous Rochester in Fay Weldons adaptation of Jane Eyre, on tour and at the Playhouse, in a phantasmagorical production by Helena Kaut-Howson, with Alexandra Mathie as Jane (1993); and, back at the NT, as a magnificent, treacherous Leicester in Howard Davies remarkable revival of Schillers Mary Stuart (1996) with Isabelle Huppert as a sensual Mary and Anna Massey a bitterly prim Elizabeth.

In that same National season, he teamed with Simon Callow (as Face) and Josie Lawrence (as Doll Common) in a co-production by Bill Alexander for the Birmingham Rep of Ben Jonsons trickstering, two-faced masterpiece The Alchemist; he was a comically pious Subtle in sackcloth and sandals. He pulled himself together as a wryly observant Larry Slade in one of the landmark productions of the past 20 years: ONeills The Iceman Cometh at the Almeida in 1998, transferring to the Old Vic, and to Broadway, with Kevin Spacey as the salesman Hickey revisiting the last chance saloon where Pigott-Smith propped up the bar with Rupert Graves, Mark Strong and Clarke Peters in Davies great production.

He and Davies combined again, with Helen Mirren and Eve Best, in a monumental NT revival (designed by Bob Crowley) of ONeills epic Mourning Becomes Electra in 2003. Pigott-Smith recycled his ersatz Agamemnon role of the returning civil war hero, Ezra Mannon, as the real Agamemnon, fiercely sarcastic while measuring a dollop of decency against weasel expediency, in Euripides Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004. In complete contrast, his controlled but hilarious Bishop of Lax in Douglas Hodges 2006 revival of Philip Kings See How They Run at the Duchess suggested he had done far too little outright comedy in his career.

Tim
Tim Pigott-Smith as King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Television roles after The Jewel in the Crown included the titular chief constable, John Stafford, in The Chief (1990-93) and the much sleazier chief inspector Frank Vickers in The Vice (2001-03). On film, he showed up in The Remains of the Day (1993); Paul Greengrasss Bloody Sunday (2002), a harrowing documentary reconstruction of the protest and massacre in Derry in 1972; as Pegasus, head of MI7, in Rowan Atkinsons Johnny English (2003) and the foreign secretary in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

In the last decade of his life he achieved an amazing roster of stage performances, including a superb Henry Higgins, directed by Hall, in Pygmalion (2008); the avuncular, golf-loving entrepreneur Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles extraordinary Enron (2009), a play that proved there was no business like big business; the placatory Tobias, opposite Penelope Wilton, in Albees A Delicate Balance at the Almeida in 2011; and the humiliated George, opposite his Hecuba, Clare Higgins, in Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Bath.

At the start of this year he was appointed OBE. His last television appearance came as Mr Sniggs, the junior dean of Scone College, in Evelyn Waughs Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall. He had been due to open as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in Northampton prior to a long tour.

Pigott-Smith was a keen sportsman, loved the countryside and wrote four short books, three of them for children.

In 1972 he married the actor Pamela Miles. She survives him, along with their son, Tom, a violinist, and two grandchildren, Imogen and Gabriel.

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, actor, born 13 May 1946; died 7 April 2017

  • This article was amended on 10 April 2017. Tim Pigott-Smiths early performance as Balthazar in Much Ado About Nothing was with the Prospect touring company rather than with the Bristol Old Vic.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/apr/09/tim-pigott-smith-obituary

Leadership Reflections by Dr. Lisa Aldisert – Self Help Book

Book Summary

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Leadership starts with a mindset, not a title. Leaders influence. They share keen insight. They command respect without demanding it. Leaders inspire achievement of successful outcomes, whether leading people, projects, or processes. You’ll relate to the real-world vignettes in this book as they represent typical challenges leaders face as they navigate the wilds of the workplace. This book is a collection of short essays on leadership and relationship management written by Dr. Lisa M. Aldisert, a seasoned management consultant. Not only has she advised hundreds of clients on these issues, but she has faced these situations directly in her businesses. This book will provide you with anecdotes and examples that you can apply on the job every day.

Amazon link – http://amzn.to/2ryP7uN

Leadership Reflections: 52 Leadership Practices in the Age of Worry

Gringo By Dan “Tito” Davis

Story Summary:

Dan “Tito” Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that’s so small everyone knows their neighbor’s cat’s name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week. After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a MedellIn cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai’s madness, and much more.

Tito has lived a fascinating life, one well worth reading about, and I was enthralled by every page. Tito’s ambition and know-how lead him far past his humble Midwestern beginnings, and his rise and fall made a tale well worth reading, one which I would recommend to anyone.

5 Stars San Francisco Book Review – http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/gringo/

Harold Hardscrabble by G.D. Dess

Harold Hardscrabble, by G. D. Dess, captures the feelings of frustration and helplessness that many of us experience in our daily lives. These sentiments are embodied in the contemplative, quietly charming protagonist, Harold, who, like Walter Mitty, lives largely in his own world of thoughts and dreams. We follow Harold’s transformation from a dreamer to a man of action as he struggles to discover how to live a meaningful life in a materialistic world.

Harold copes admirably with the many disasters and injustices that assail him on his life’s journey; but when he is finally overcome by circumstances beyond his control, he is forced to take matters into his own hands to attain justice for the all the misfortunes he has been made to suffer. This is a story of a quest for self-realization that unfolds slowly as it builds to its explosive climax.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rfIayX

5 Star Review Manhattan Book Review – https://manhattanbookreview.com/product/harold-hardscrabble/

Harold Hardscrabble met the love of his life in college. Her name is Carol, the attraction, of a physical and intellectual nature, is immediate. Harold sees Carol as having a controlling personality, but he also sees an endearing quality to her vulnerability. They leave college and get married, moving to New York City and to cramped surroundings in an apartment. Harold is an artist within, who is looking for an outlet to unleash the art in his soul, but practicality and his bride push him to the corporate world. Harold works a variety of temp jobs, but his brilliant mind leads to offers of a full time job in a analytical position. Harold still feels insecure but pushes on with the prodding of Carol. The birth of their two children, Jake and Sarah, makes a move to the suburbs an eventuality. Harold thinks back to his time growing up, his propensity to daydream being the fondest of memories. As his children grow, Harold’s mind turns to the pitfalls of commercialism, materialism, and the lack of reality that haunts his existence. He attempts to explain his feelings to Carol but is met with indifference. His thoughts start to take a toll on his home and career. His life takes a tilt toward the mortal when he is diagnosed with prostate cancer. His battle and its unpleasant effects take a backseat to Carol’s departure. Harold emerges weakened from the cancer, drinking more and looking to de-clutter his existence. Will he ever find happiness? Will he ever overcome his own questions and doubts?

Harold Hardscrabble is an excellent, philosophical tale that explores the life of a brilliant, troubled man and his ups and downs. The reader can identify with many of the quandaries that tax the mind of Harold. The existential crises that haunt the titular character make him sympathetic and worth rooting for. The story bobs and weaves but never fails to hold the attention of the reader. A fine read.

The Hunter: Awakening by Nicholas Arriaza

Story Summary:
The Hunter: Awakening, is the first of a series of novels that will explore the nature of good and evil and the question of redemption: Is it available to those who have perpetrated great evil? Not long after the theft of a leather-bound book from a hidden hillside tomb in LA, a young hiker inadvertently awakens something fearsome that has been laid to rest some two hundred years ago. Soon after an emaciated, amnesiac man falls from a cliffside trail into the backyard of young, pregnant, neurosurgeon Melisa Castro. The young doctor feels compelled to help the “John Doe” regain his memory. Meanwhile a vampire who no longer has a hunger for blood comes seeking to rectify the awakening only to find himself in the middle of a power struggle within the family Melisa’s fiancé Chris leads. Chris has yet to tell Melisa of his true nature and the fact, she is carrying a werewolf’s baby.

5 Stars San Francisco Book Review

In The Hunter: Awakening, we are introduced to Melisa Castro, a doctor who helps a man who falls onto her property and seems to have amnesia. As she is four months pregnant, she tries to be careful around him, but she finds herself needing to help this mysterious man. Even stranger, when she touches him, she sees visions of things that happened to him in the past, which he can’t even remember. Melisa is slowly drawn into a world of vampires and werewolves and those that hunt them. She discovers that the battle between the Hunter and his prey has been going on for centuries. Melisa begins to realize that the child she carries might not be normal at all and that she might possess some supernatural powers as well. Because of the child she’s carrying, she is in danger from the Hunter. But things aren’t always black and white. The Hunter has been awakened, but he wasn’t supposed to be, and now no one knows how the story will end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. The plot was great. Who doesn’t love a story about werewolves and vampires? If you don’t, you should. Even though Melisa was the main character, I actually liked Aaron, her future brother-in-law, and Ranald the best. Ranald, the sarcastic vampire, was an enjoyable character to read about. I hope that if I ever become one of the undead, I can still keep it light like he does. Aaron makes his brother, Chris, who is the father of Melisa’s child, just look bad. He’s willing to go as far as needed to protect her and her unborn child.

http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/the-hunter-awakening/

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2poA9Tc

Author Website: https://www.thehuntersaga.com/

Author Bio
Nicholas Arriaza has worked as a pizza maker, an electrician, a carpenter, a luxury home electronics salesman, and an owner operator of a successful luxury custom home theater design company. He is now a stay at home dad and fantasy writer. He lives with his wife, their infant son, and Pit-Bull Basil in Los Angeles, CA. THE HUNTER: AWAKENING is his first published novel. He is currently working on the second novel of the saga.

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