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THE QUESTION?: A Thriller for the Curious ~R. Breuer Stearns

Monday, December 28th, 2015

“If You Could have the Answer to Only One Question, What Would You Ask?”

“And Who Might Try to Stop You From Asking It?”

THE QUESTION is ideal reading for anyone who is curious . . . for those who gaze into the cosmos at night and wonder . . . for those who look into the mirror and imagine . . . for those whose hearts beat faster when confronting the unknown . . . for readers who enjoy a fast paced, contemporary thriller that inspires them to think.” (From Media Kit)

I was hooked right away into this fast-paced book and reading this book did cause me to think and offer up some of my own ideas.  I realized how so few folks in my life these days are able to hold a discussion about any subject or they rather offer up canned thoughts and ideas and are unable to defend or even understand what they are saying.  I was caught up with the two characters, which were constantly thinking and problem-solving and searching for new solutions within their field of work.

Nate is a grown up football star, who now works for the Navy helping Submarine Crews problem-solve disasters which he designs to test them within a research facility.  He is there to help the top brass figure out how to save lives in an emergency or disaster.  He sees a pattern of success when the Commanders are able to work as a team, take a deep breath and figure out “what” will remedy the situation.  It is a new form of communication system – a mind meld.  The minds in conjunction with each other are finding solutions very quickly and having remarkable success.

I can understand why this book is recommended for high school students as they might be able to still be taught to thinking and reason about this story and rediscover their innate curiosity.  One of my book groups would truly enjoy this story for the good thinking and discussion starters, but they do not read thrillers and several events in the story would turn them off to the read.   My other book group would be unable to discuss this story except on the surface and they do not understand enough history to dive deeply into the possibilities.  The attacks would not be distracting to the story because they know those from recent history.   Because the book is written in a style similar to the various scenes of a movie or TV series, I might be able to pull them into some new thinking or possibilities.  This makes me consider choosing THE QUESTION for them to try on and explore.

How does one save lives when a submarine is attacked or damaged? – How does one prevent the problem? – How does a person prevent a terrorist attack or keep it from happening?   Who will work with you and seek answers?

I give this book very high marks and know it will make a great recommendations for my regular readers who love thrillers.   I did have one problem with this story, one of the attacks and all the thinking I was doing left me awake all night it was so vivid and I wished I could have talked to someone about how to stop such a horrible experience from happening; I was also thinking about the Sandy Hook School Shooting. (I am writing this review on the 3 year anniversary of that act of terrorism).  This scene and this news story stays with me and I keep working on how to stop it from happening ever again.

About the Author

“R. Breuer Stearns is an investor and author.

Mr. Stearns graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover (1970), Harvard University (AB, 1974), University of Chicago (MBA, 1977), and DePaul University College of Law (JD, 1979). He rapidly ascended on Wall Street in the 1980’s, serving as Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at Lehman Brothers and Head of Investment Banking (North America) at UBS Securities.  While living in New York, he founded “Terrific Teachers, Inc.,” a foundation dedicated to identifying and rewarding the best of the best of the city’s public high school teachers.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Stearns launched a private investment bank in the former Soviet Union.  He spent the early 1990’s seeking to marry emerging science, primarily emanating from Russia’s Defense sector, with Western capital.  During this period, Mr. Stearns made a small fortune, albeit from a larger one.  The venture provided a remarkable lesson in hubris, a tremendous reservoir of internal strength, and first-hand source material for Mr. Stearns’ first book, Winning Smart After Losing Big (Encounter Books, Beijing University Press).

Subsequently, Mr. Stearns served as Chief Financial Officer of The Dial Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of Columbia/HCA Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of PacifiCare, Inc., President and Chief Operating Officer of Vascular Genetics, Inc., and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quepasa Corporation (QPSA: Amex).

Mr. Stearns is a Founder of VestaPoint Capital LLC, a family of investment funds focused on real estate development.  He lives in Arizona with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a horse.  He travels extensively and is intensely curious.” (From Media Kit)

R. Breuer Stearns Website

Laura Fabiani of iReadBookTours sent me a copy of this book for review.    It was well worth the read.  Thank you.

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A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD: A Novel ~Anne Tyler

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Anne Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago and I have been a fan of her work since I read SAINT MAYBE .  When I heard that A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD was nominated for a Man Booker Prize I could not wait, I had to purchase a copy and read it right away.

I was not disappointed, it was just a wonderful family story and I cozied into a comfortable chair with a blanket and a big glass of water.   Two whole days of reading, and I hardly moved it was just that good.  Now as I am writing my thoughts about the book, I see that several books of summary and analysis are already on the market to accompany this good read.

We are once again in Baltimore, Maryland and studying the dynamics of an interesting family.  Four children, a mom and dad all within the HOUSE designed and built by paternal grandfather.  Once again it is a story where the house is a focal character and it’s location is important.   It is son Denny who is the original focal point and he is quite a character and concerns his parents mightily.  I have to admit at the start of the story he is worrisome to try and figure out; he is pivotal to the story and reveals the title of the story at the far end.  The back – stories are near the end of the book too and this makes for a grand amount of thinking about each character, how they got into the story and what is the theme that is truly being exposed and expounded upon.   The book group questions included in the book are mostly about this strange order and why it made the reader work harder to figure the family and motivations.  The characters just seemed nicely odd and interesting.

Abby is a retired social worker and the mother of the four children.  She invites lots of needy folks to the family home and feeds them especially for Thanksgiving.  Red is her contractor husband who is patient, kind and gruff who brought them all to live in his father’s incredible house.  The two older girls work at doing the right thing and keeping the family solidly together and try to help Denny remain a part of the family.   Stem is the youngest and he works with Red and will take over the construction business when Dad retires.  Parents are starting to have health scares as they age and support systems make for mirthful occasions and interesting interplay.

I think folks will enjoy this book very much and I think it will make a great holiday gift or a good read to start off a new year.  I give it and Ms. Tyler high marks for this novel novel.

From the book:

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina.  This is her 17th novel.  Her 11th, BREATHING LESSONS, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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