The Empowered Manager by Peter Block

The Blurb On The Back:

When the first edition of this book was published, the United States was in a time of recession, financial crises and growing unemployment.  Sound familiar?  Many companies rose to acclaimed success from these conditions by improving the quality of their products and services by shifting control from top management to employees closer to the work.  This revised and updated edition of The Empowered Manager casts fresh eyes on the theory and practice of optimizing the human system in your organisation in the context of how today’s businesses are changing at the speed of technological innovation.

Business has changed a lot in thirty years, but the philosophies and practices managers use to lead teams are still stuck in a patriarchal mindset.  This brilliantly reimagined Second Edition is for everyone who wants to be a force for change and improvement in a stagnant workplace culture where safety, advancement, control, and the desire to hold someone else responsible is forefront on people’s minds.  The potent blend of theory and actionable practices provides a clear path for embracing the technology eliminating the tedious tasks from employees’ job descriptions and empowering them with the abilities to better serve customers. Whether you’re a manager or an employee, the inspiring guidance inside lets you step out of the negative office politics fuelling the status quo and gives you the skills to act with autonomy and compassion in service of a vision in order to “own” the performance of your team.

Bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in your entire team and get them invested and excited about the work by:

  • creating a unit that exemplifies your deepest personal beliefs about your employees and the organisation and puts in place the systems to make it a reality
  • developing high-integrity strategies for neutralising adversaries, motivating fence sitters and focusing mostly on allies
  • mastering practical tips for aligning your vision with everyday practice, including how to handle meetings, restructure teams, and manage communications.

The Empowered Manager, Second Edition gives you a clear path to becoming the leader your organisation needs to positively impact performance, build accountability and enhance job satisfaction for everyone – including top management. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The Magic Misfits 2: The Second Story by Neil Patrick Harris

The Blurb On The Back:

Do you believe in magic?

With all six of them crowded into the secret room behind the rear bookcase in Vernon’s Magic Shop, they were practically bumping elbows in the dim light.  None of them minded, though; they were practising what they loved most: magic.

This is Leila, escape artist extraordinaire. She shares all her secrets with her magical best friends, The Magical Misfits.  But she can’t escape the mystery that’s heading her way …

You can order THE MAGICAL MISFITS 2: THE SECOND STORY by Neil Patrick Harris from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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War Is Over by David Almond and David Litchfield

The Blurb On The Back:

”I am just a child,” says John.  “How can I be at war?”

It’s 1918, and war is everywhere.  John’s dad is fighting in the trenches far away in France. His mum works in the munitions factory just along the road.  His teacher says that John is fighting too, that he is at war with enemy children in Germany.

One day, in the wild woods outside town, John has an impossible moment: a meeting with a German boy named Jan.

John catches a glimpse of a better world, in which children like Jan and himself can come together, and scatter the seeds of peace. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Mass Starvation: The History And Future Of Famine by Alex de Waal

The Blurb On The Back:

The world almost conquered famine.  Until the 1980s, this scourge killed ten million people every decade, but by the early 2000s mass starvation had all but disappeared. Today, famines are resident, driven by war, blockade, hostility to humanitarian principles and a volatile global economy.

In Mass Starvation, world-renowned expert on humanitarian crisis and response Alex de Waal provides an authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions and why they ended.  He analyses starvation as a crime and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war.  Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine, while the spread of democracy and human rights, and the ending of wars, were major factors in the near-ending of this devastating phenomenon.

Hard-hitting and deeply informed, Mass Starvation explains why man-made famine and the political decisions that could end it for good must once again become a top priority for the international community. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

The Blurb On The Back:

Bath, December 1812.

Lady Helen Wrexhall is finalising the preparations for her wedding, but her focus is on the Dark Days Club.  Time is running out to find the vital answers needed to defeat their unknown foe, the Grand Deceiver.

Lady Helen and Lord Carlston are also struggling to control their new dyad bond, and their illicit feelings for one another. As Helen tries desperately to juggle the demands of her double life, an old enemy arrives in Bath, bringing death and deceit. 

You can order THE DARK DAYS DECEIT by Alison Goodman from Amazon USA Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Still Lives by Maria Hummel

The Blurb On The Back:

Kim Lord’s face looked back at me, disguised in paint and the features of a murdered woman.

Revered artist Kim Lord is about to unveil her most shocking show yet: Still Lives, a series of self-portraits in which she impersonates the female victims of America’s most famous homicides, from Nicole Brown Simpson to the Black Dahlia.

As celebrities and rich patrons pour into L.A.’s Rocque Museum for the opening night, the attendees wait eagerly for Kim’s arrival.  All except Maggie Richter, museum editor and ex-girlfriend of Greg Shaw Ferguson, Kim’s new boyfriend.  But Kim never shows up to her party and the crowd’s impatience slowly turns to unease.

When Greg is arrested on suspicion of murder, it seems that life is imitating art.  Has Kim suffered the same fate as the women in her paintings?  As Maggie is drawn into an investigation of her own, she uncovers dark and deadly truths that will change her life forever …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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White Girls by Hilton Als

The Blurb On The Back:

White Girls is about, among other things, blackness, queerness, movies, Brooklyn, Love (and the loss of love), AIDS, fashion, Basquiat, Capote, philosophy, porn, Louise Brooks and Michael Jackson. Freewheeling and dazzling, tender and true, it is one of the most highly acclaimed essay collections in years. 

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2018 In Books And Onwards To 2019

2018 was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I don’t use this blog to talk about my personal life (and no doubt it would bore the pants off people here if I did) but let’s just say that my one take-away from 2018 is that nothing is forever, never ever say never and take your chances where you find them.

So with that trite lifeism out of the way, I’ll get to the good stuff.

I set myself a target of 125 books to read in 2018 and I actually beat that with 127 (full list is here).  I wanted 20% of the books I read in 2018 to be non-fiction and in the end, I hit 34 in total (so that’s 26%).  I am seriously starting to get into non-fiction, especially politics and social policy and 6 of my books of the year are non-fiction so you can definitely expect to see more of it on my blog in 2019.

I was less successful in reading writers of colour (WOC).  I’d set myself a target of 20% of my list to be WOC but in the end only 16 of the books I read were by WOC (so that’s 12%).  I’m disappointed in myself about that but I did search out more WOC for my To Read Pile and I definitely want to make that 20% target this year.

Gender wise my list was evenly split again – 49% by women and 51% men.  It’s relatively easy to hit that as a target though because I read a lot of children’s and YA and it tends to be female author driven.

Aspirations for 2019 reading wise is to keep with the thrillers and crime novels as I am still working on one in real life and they help me to think about structure, plot and character.  I’m looking at reading 20% of books by WOC and 50/50 male/female.

Because this remains a personal review blog, I’m not going to be scheduling posts and I’m not going to focus on any particular genre or market.  I do appreciate everyone who stops by the blog and many thanks to those of you who have liked my posts or left a comment.

I’ve set out below my favourite books of 2018 (in no particular order):


In Pursuit Of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli – this is a fascinating if at times awful and depressing read about Alzheimer’s and how we’re working towards a treatment for it.

Refuge: Transforming A Broken Refugee System by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier – given how often we see refugees dominating the news cycle, this is a timely and compassionate book about how the refugee system works, the political compromises that have contributed to the crises and looks at a potential way of reforming the international system.

The Gender Games by Juno Dawson – this is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that’s part memoir and part sharp critique on society’s roles on gender and which is hilariously funny and sharply observed.

The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Changes The Way We Think, Live And Die by Keith Payne – is an eye-opening must-read about the social psychology of poverty and income and how it impacts on inequality and discrimination and frankly, if Barack Obama has it down as one of his books of the year, then really who am I to argue?



A Spoonful Of Murder by Robin Stevens – the Wells and Wong mystery series just gets better and better with this book seeing the detective duo head for Hong Kong when Hazel’s grandfather dies and Daisy discovering that, for once, she’s not the most important person in town …

The Legend Of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre – just really tickled me.  It’s a lovely, simple story of the friendship between a young boy and a flying horse but there’s some great humour, the illustrations are fabulous and the sea monkeys are really very naughty indeed.

What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions by Claire Heuchan & Nikesh Shukla – confronts questions of racism, difference and racists straight on in an easy-to-understand way that doesn’t talk down to the reader and doesn’t avoid hard questions while adding personal experiences that help build empathy and understanding.



London Rules by Mick Herron – I am a massive fan of the SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES anyway and this latest instalment is another hilarious and sharply plotted affair about MI5’s embarrassments and how they are each trying to deal with the fallout from the previous book.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – is a brilliantly plotted mash-up of QUANTUM LEAP, GROUNDHOG DAY and Golden Age Detective fiction that kept me thinking long after I finished it.



The 57 Bus: A True Story Of Two Teenagers And The Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater – is an astounding non-fiction book about a real-life crime that looks at both victim and perpetrator with huge empathy and respect.

My To Read Pile for 2019 stands at a horrifying 570 (for reference, I started 2018 with 416).  I am going to cut down what I add to it during this year because I need to get it under control – I’m already almost out of shelf space and am reduced to piling them up around the house.  Anyway, full list is behind the cut for those interested and if there’s anything you specifically recommend then let me know and I’ll move it up the list.

Thank you again for reading and best wishes to you all for 2019.

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