Review: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

Title: Trust Agents
Author: Chris Brogan
Author: Julien Smith
Pub: Wiley
ISBN: 978-0470743089
Started: 02/05/2010
Finished: 03/11/2010
Source: Library

Social Media is here. Now.
If you have a business you need to have a social presence on the web.
Even if you are not going to be active, others may be talking about your company and product and so you need to be listening.
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith do a good job of showing not only how you can become involved in Social Media but also why.

In order to have a voice in the new media world you need to be seen as someone who can be trusted and not just a shill for company.
If all you do is publish company sales pitches like a carnival barker or a TV commercial then you will be tuned out, which means ignored completely.
To become a part of the community you need to contribute to the community.
You can do this by sharing your expertise in a non-threatening manner and thereby becoming known as the go-to-guy for your field.

The book gives many practical ideas on how to interact in the new medium.
One of the suggestions I have attempted to implement is to interact on various blogs by leaving relevant comments to participate in & create conversation.
This gets my name & website out on blogs that are relevant to my blogs which not only drives traffic to my sites but also introduces me to many more people than if I just stayed at my blog and waited for them to come to me.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who are wondering how to use social media for their business and why.

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Review: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Title: Keeper
Author: Kathi Appelt
Pub: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-1416950608
Started: 04/03/2010
Finished: 04/08/2010
Source: ARC from Publisher

A pot of crabs begin what is to be Keeper’s worst day ever.
Everything she tries to do to make things right only make things worse.
Keeper, a 10 year-old girl, feels she has ruined everything for everyone.

The story rocks back and forth between the present and the past and we slowly see the layers which brought us to this special ‘Blue Moon’ day.
This day which was going to be special to everyone. But Keeper had ruined it. For everyone.
How could she fix what she had done?

Maybe her real mother could help. Her real mother who, when Keeper was 3, had left her to return to the sea because she was a mermaid.
Alone, drifting out to sea in a tiny boat, Keeper realized how foolish she had been.
Her mom had not left her to go back to the sea. She had just left her. Left her with Signe. Who was asleep. While Keeper was adrift at sea.

The story is quite engaging. The sentence structure and even the structure of the chapters draw you into the story.
The characters are all well developed, even the the characters of the two dogs and the seagull.
My only hesitation in whole-heartily recommending this book is due to a display of romantic feelings and hand-holding between two 15 year old boys in two short scenes.
Nothing explicit is described or even alluded to other than the hand holding.
They could have just been written as friends but the story implies more.
I would rather not have that discussion with a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader, but maybe I am just naive since we home-schooled and did not have to deal with many subjects they would have in a public school situation.

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Review: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Title: Girl in Translation
Author: Jean Kwok
Pub: Riverhead Books
ISBN: 978-1594487569
Started: 03/24/2010
Finished: 04/02/2010
Source: Advance Reader Copy (ARC)

It is amazing to imagine sweatshops & child labor in modern America but they do exist. What would it be like to move to a foreign country at age 12 and be surrounded by a strange language? To be sponsored by your mother’s sister only to find yourself living in a roach infested abandoned building and forced to work alongside your mother in your aunt’s garment factory sweatshop to repay her “generosity”?

Kimberly’s only possible ticket out of this stifling poverty is education. She was always the top pupil in her Chinese schools but the rules seem so different here and the language barrier appear daunting. The author uses creative spelling to allow us to hear what Kimberly hears and sense the confusion that she experiences in her new world.

Like Kimberly’s school friend, Annette, it will be hard for the reader to comprehend that such poverty really exists in modern America. We want to see America as the land of opportunity and that the only people who might live in such conditions do so because they have no work ethic. Do ‘normal’ people really live in abandoned buildings with only the oven as a heat source? Building infested with rats and roaches? We see that the answer is yes, people do what they feel they must, especially when they are even more afraid of the imagined alternatives. Out of embarrassment and to preserve her dignity, Kimberly keeps their poverty and the details of their living condition a secret from her school mates for 6 years.

Due to her success in school, Kimberly and her mother will escape a life of poverty but this is a bittersweet victory knowing that this route is not available to many in similar circumstances. The story ends in the second to the last chapter with Kimberly graduating high school and making choices, and like most 18 year-olds, she makes some good choices and some not so good ones. The final chapter skips ahead 12 years to show us the outcome of those choices and the heartache that even the best choices bring.

I highly recommend this book if for no other reason than to help readers be more empathetic when they see others who are ‘different’, whatever the reason. I would also like to thank the publisher, Riverhead Books, for sending me an advanced reader copy of this book and wish the author much success when the book hits store shelves later this month.

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Review: Seized by Max Hardberger

Title: Seized
Author: Max Hardberger
Source: ARC-B&N Sneak Peak

“Seized” is subtitled “A Sea Captain’s Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World’s Most Troubled Waters.” And that it is! The book will be available in hardback on April 6, 2010. I received the book from Barnes & Nobles’ ["Sneak Peak" program](

Back Cover:

Seized throws open the hatch on the shadowy world of maritime shipping, where third-world governments place exorbitant liens against ships, pirates seize commercial vessels with impunity, crooks and con artists reign supreme on the docks and in the shipyards—and hapless owners have to rely on sea captain Max Hardberger to recapture their ships and win justice on the high seas.

A ship captain, airplane pilot, lawyer, teacher, writer, adventurer, and raconteur, Max Hardberger recovers stolen freighters for a living. In Seized, he takes us on a real-life journey into the mysterious world of freighters and shipping, where fortunes are made and lost by the whims of the waves. Desperate owners hire Max Hardberger to “extract” or steal back ships that have been illegitimately seized by putting together a mission-impossible team to sail them into international waters under cover of darkness. It’s a high stakes assignment—if Max or his crew are caught, they risk imprisonment or death.

The 12 chapters of Seized tell amazing stories of Max Hardberger’s adventurers. These are the kind of stories you would love to hear first hand, sitting at a bar or, better yet, at a family get together. ‘Stealing’ a ship out from under the nose of foreign governments is not a job for the average guy. A number of times the author tells of doing these jobs for his ‘day rate’ which is implied to not be excessive. I hope that the day rate he charged was enough to compensate for the risks taken.
How much do you need to offset the possibility of 15 years in a Venezuelan prison?

Although the lines are blurred when the ‘repo man’ is working against a local government, the only story that seemed to cross the line was Captain Hardberger’s assisting a friend buy planes from some East Germans a week prior to reunification by flying them covertly to a shipping yard and then having the planes snuck out of the country in shipping containers.

His marriage finally did fall victim to his lifestyle. Extended absences are never easy on spouses. You might think the stories would include mentioning girlfriends in each port? You would be wrong. I did not know a sailor story could be told without that element. If this is ever made into a movie, I wonder if the producer will have to add some fiction?

Overall this was a good read. It could definitely use a little more editing by a professional writer to smooth the captain’s stories, but if you imagine you are in a bar with a favorite uncle recounting his adventures, you can ignore the occasional rambling.


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