For entrepreneurs with little or no experience, this basic overview offers a smattering of everything about operating a business.
There’s no shortage of people with entrepreneurial spirit looking to start a business. Maher, who has started several businesses, has written a guide that should be useful to those who’ve never owned or run a commercial operation. He offers a potpourri of information covering the gamut of business operations but only in a cursory way. Each short chapter addresses a specific topic—e.g., “Contracts,” “Intellectual Property,” “Payroll”—which would be an aid for readers in need of a quick overview of a certain area but is less helpful for anyone searching for depth. For example, the “Business Plan & Financing” chapter falls short, as Maher quickly skims over the elements of a business plan, referring instead to other sections of the book rather than describing the business plan in any detail. After all, entire books have been written about business plans. He then provides, in abbreviated form, a rudimentary introduction to financing that focuses on primary sources of cash. While the information is useful as an introduction, it leaves so much unsaid that readers will undoubtedly need to reference other sources for additional details. Most chapters are similarly light on content; for instance, what can be said about “Taxes” in two pages? The structure of the book is problematic as well. Maher chose to organize the content strictly in alphabetical order, and as a result, subjects that should be linked together in an integrated fashion, such as “Branding,” “Marketing,” “Publicity” and “Sales,” are separated. The alphabetical order also pushes “Vision Mission & Value Statements” to the end of the book; logically, this topic might be better addressed at the beginning. Even with these shortcomings, the broad content and concise writing style have some value, especially for those who have limited knowledge of business operations.
Broad in reach and shallow in depth, this primer is more of an expanded index of startup topics.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.
Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.
Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?
With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.