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Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

If the name E.L. James is not high on your list of authors as the seasons are about to change by the time you reach the end of the season, you will. James has written the "Shades of Gray" trilogy.

It is a trilogy based on a simple premise: an author receives and assignment to interview a billionaire entrepreneur. That seems like a simple enough assignment but it is far more than that.

Working closely with the subject of her interview, Christian Gray, Anastasia Steele, a person who is very innocent in the ways of the world and the ways of love, finds herself wanting Gray more and more.

Gray, acting aloof, finally admits that he, too, wants Ana and they begin a physical affair where Gray's addiction to an individual style of sexual encounter may seem to some like a giant step backward in the writing world. Gray has an obsession with rape and the willing Steele succumbs to his domination.

Interestingly, though many would have it otherwise, the Fifty Shades of Gray has been atop the New York Times best-seller list for weeks.

Indeed, it is a very quick read as the scenes are vivid and they move quickly from one point to the next.

Gray, a driven entrepreneur billionaire is a man with special tastes and it takes a woman with similar tastes to last with him. In this case, the more-than-slightly naive Steele is that woman. Indeed, Steele finds that she is attracted to the sexual lifestyle that Gray advocates.

The writing is good, description is excellent and if James, a London-based writer, keeps her slightly irreverent, yet searching voice then she will be on the NYT's bestseller list again and again.

Her writing style is simple and direct and her scenes, though quite graphic, also work with the story she has crafted. It would seem that James' work has actually touched on a nerve that many people would like to think has been cleaned from society, but it seems like it hasn't.

James' work is quite good and she deserves the success she is creating.

If you are looking for a good quick read for an afternoon or evening or a long weekend, the you may find Fifty Shades of Gray is that work.

As it stands now, James' work has not only drawn the attention of the reading world and the NYT bestseller list, but she has also captured honors for from GoodReads as 50 Shades has won an award for Best Romantic novel.


How Will You Measure Your Life?

No one could have known, on listening to a commencement address, that the speaker was battling demons no one should have to fight, yet he was doing it and the battle was helping him to form ground-breaking insights, answering many questions that have troubled people for many years.

When Dr. Clayton Christensen stood in front of an audience of Harvard Business School graduates two years ago, no one - unless they were very close friends or family - could have known that he was waging a battle that he ultimately won against personal demons.

The key demon he was fighting - a form of cancer that had already claimed his father - set Dr. Christensen on a path of discovery. Indeed, it is funny how a one's battles with demons like cancer or other serious life issues leads one to question even the fundamental assumptions they have made during their lives.

Usually, one finds that the deeper the questioning, the more assuring are the answers one finds, though one can never be 100 percent certain. In Dr. Christensen's case, his battle with cancer, which most of his students and many, if not all of the parents attending the graduation, probably didn't know of the internal battle and daily worries that he faced.

He used the speech as a chance to deliver to his audience, drawing on his own long experience with business, some guidelines that would help those in the audience to find meaning and happiness with their lives. His speech, which was to become the basis of his book "How Will You Measure Your Life?", also describes the stovepipes of negativism one can easily fall into. They are traps that lead to unhappiness and if one finds oneself in them, there is only one sure cure, changing your life so that they are no longer part of your life.

One thing that Dr. Christensen found, as his battle against cancer deepened, was that the question: "How Do You Measure Your Life?" became more and more urgent and he believed it was very important to share his insights with family, friends and students.

His ground-breaking work, a work that forces us to look inward so that we can become more successful looking outward, tries to answer such questions as: "Will my job be satisfying?;" "Will my relationships be enduring?;" "How can I avoid compromising my integrity?"

Dr. Christensen, who did beat his demon, may find that his work could be seminal as more and more people look at their lives and try to determine whether the course they have chosen or may be choosing is the right one? At the very least, Dr. Christensen's work will help to ensure everyone from a freshman to long-term professionals to the freshman's parents - who are dealing with their own life issues - that the choices they have made are the right ones and, if they are still dealing with issues, Dr. Christensen's work will likely point them in the right direction.


Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

Imagine a President of the United States attending a black-tie event at Ford's Theater, waiting for the comedy to begin, only to have an actor sneak pull back the curtain of the Presidential box, cock and firing a single round into President Abraham Lincoln.

The actor, John Wilkes Booth, then leaped to the stage shouting "Sic Semper Tyrannous" - "this is what happens to tyrants" - only to miss his landing and break his leg.

He was spirited out of Washington by a series of Confederate sympathizers, many of whom were highly placed in the government or who had vested interests in seeing the south brought low after the war (making it effectively a northern colony) so they could dump their shoddy merchandise at inflated prices on the South.

If you aren't familiar with the history of the United States, you might have considered this just another story. However, when you stick the name Bill O'Reilly on the book, it suddenly develops "gravitas," as people recognize him. O'Reilly is already an accomplished author and host of the "O'Reilly Report." His name and that of Martin Dugard assure that the book is based on good history and research.

That O'Reilly can take history, look at it closely and turn it into good, solid entertainment is just a plus for the writing team. O'Reilly's skill as a historian and commentator, plus Dugard's skill as a researcher, has taken what is likely the most egregious act of cowardice in the last 147 years and has turned it into a first-class police story.

That the work also includes a fiery gun battle, the arrest of some high-ranking Union officers and officials, just adds to the work. O'Reilly and Dugard have a right to be proud of the work they have done. They have refocused the public's eye on one of the most cowardly acts in US history. Who knows what would have happened had Lincoln lived out his term? Would Johnson have been the next president or would another pragmatist? How about Seward? In other words who knows and to think that it took a TV show host to get us thinking about ourselves in a new way.

One thing that Lincoln's shooting was to change forever was the security service surrounding the president. A new "Secret Service" was established whose sole function is protection of key Washington players and the Presidential family. If the Secret Service (or even just the Pinkertons) had been on duty that night our history might have changed for the better because Lincoln likely would have survived, as would have Seward and several other lower level members of the Lincoln team. As O'Reilly posits it would have been a different country, wouldn't it?


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