After Steve – How Apple Became A Trillion-Dollar Company And Lost Its Soul By Tripp Mickle @trippmickle @HarperCollinsUK #Apple #Biography #NonFiction

After Steve

How Apple Became A Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost It’s Soul 

By Tripp Mickle

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have a review about a book that may well interest people who are into their Apple Products or interested in technology or growth of companies and how they change from humble beginnings as well as what happens… I also think it’ll interest UK readers, certainly, who watch series on tv like “How do they (company name) do that and Inside (company name).

Below I have the blurb and my review and a bit about the author. I also thank Harper Collins UK, Non-Fiction for allowing me to review.

Blurb

From the Wall Street Journal’s Tripp Mickle, the dramatic, untold story inside Apple after the passing of Steve Jobs by following his top lieutenants—Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer, and Tim Cook, the COO-turned-CEO—and how the fading of the former and the rise of the latter led to Apple losing its soul.

Steve Jobs called Jony Ive his “spiritual partner at Apple.” The London-born genius was the second-most powerful person at Apple and the creative force who most embodies Jobs’s spirit, the man who designed the products adopted by hundreds of millions the world over: the iPod, iPad, MacBook Air, the iMac G3, and the iPhone. In the wake of his close collaborator’s death, the chief designer wrestled with grief and initially threw himself into his work designing the new Apple headquarters and the Watch before losing his motivation in a company increasingly devoted more to margins than to inspiration.

In many ways, Cook was Ive’s opposite. The product of a small Alabama town, he had risen through the ranks from the supply side of the company. His gift was not the creation of new products. Instead, he had invented countless ways to maximize a margin, squeezing some suppliers, persuading others to build factories the size of cities to churn out more units. He considered inventory evil. He knew how to make subordinates sweat with withering questions.

Jobs selected Cook as his successor, and Cook oversaw a period of tremendous revenue growth that has lifted Apple’s valuation to $3 trillion. He built a commanding business in China and rapidly distinguished himself as a master politician who could forge global alliances and send the world’s stock market into freefall with a single sentence.

Author Tripp Mickle spoke with more than 200 current and former Apple executives, as well as figures key to this period of Apple’s history, including Trump administration officials and fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour while writing After Steve. His research shows the company’s success came at a cost. Apple lost its innovative spirit and has not designed a new category of device in years. Ive’s departure in 2019 marked a culmination in Apple’s shift from a company of innovation to one of operational excellence, and the price is a company that has lost its soul.


Review

Apple is a company that’s a huge deal in the tech world. Most people own or have owned an Apple product of some description or been an onlooker. It’s a hard company to ignore with its technological advancements and widespread advertising. Even today, with my laptop needing a bit of fixing, I’ve turned to an Apple I-pad, my only Apple product, but a significant one, to use to write this review. As we all know though, there are multiple generations of the Mac, I-phones, I-pads, with major stores in cities, plus online. It’s a global trillion dollar company, and here, the author lifts the lid on it with a number of revelations.

Steve Jobs seemed creative with a vast get up and go attitude and vision, coupled together with that important know how as well (inspiration and vision is after all only part of what you need for anything), that is also hard to ignore.

There are recollections of meetings with Steve Jobs, referred often to Jony in the book, by staff. Steve Jobs, it seems, was well aware of his own mortality and it’s interesting how he looks at other companies such as Disney and Sony and what initially happened to them after the death of their original creators, as well as attempts to solidify his team for its future CEO.

I remember when it was announced in the UK about Steve Job’s death and everyone was shocked, from the tech geeks to the dabblers. The book gives a momentary glimpse into just how big a figure he was.

It’s fascinating being able to read about the staff, not all of it is in a business sense and you get a bit of a feel for their personalities, as well as seeing the ups and downs, some of the conversations had. It shows passion and encouragement as well as tempers and attitudes come to the fore at times. The direction of Apple itself is also interesting, with all the huge personalities and ideas, before and after Steve Jobs died in 2011. It shows the difference between Jobs time and post Jobs and the controversies and politics that followed.

The book’s sub-title is “How Apple Became A Trillion Dollar Company and Lost it’s Soul”. Within the book, you can see how this happened and why that is so apt. It also quickly becomes clear, the amount of substantial research that was done.

Interestingly the book a little goes into 2016 when a shocking incident happened with a gun wielding person getting into a meeting room. It certainly captures attention again, or at least in a way when in a country where that is not any type of norm. It then takes the company to 2019 when business-wise it gets interesting.

The book shows how powerful Steve Jobs was and those who surrounded him became. It shows how technology moved on in droves and the cracks that appeared and a glimpse into how amongst all the glitz and glam of new product launches, it’s still a company that, whilst still powerful, is still having issues to present day, especially 2021. It’s fascinating to read the impact staff taking over in top jobs have after the original founder leaves or in this case dies. Sounds like Apple and probably many others are lucky to still be around, but have increased turbulent times to navigate. The insight the book gives can be profound at times, as well as generally interesting.

It is a book that was better than I thought and piqued my interest in a way I had not expected it to. I was glad to take a punt on this book, even though it’s far from what I’d normally read, but Steve Jobs and Apple and the subsequent CEOs are, as I eluded to, are all around us and hard to ignore, as they all seep even further into the public consciousness, many use their products everyday or most days in some form or another. It feels an honest account of where Apple is and where it’s been heading. It’s surprisingly not all business-like, sometimes it has a raw emotion and other times, reflective. This certainly adds to the readability and accessibility, even if it piques your interest just a little.

About the Author 

Tripp Mickle is a technology reporter for The New York Times covering Apple. He previously covered the company for the Wall Street Journal, where he also wrote about Google and other Silicon Valley giants. He has appeared on CNBC and NPR, and previously worked as a sportswriter. He lives with his wife and German shorthaired pointer in San Francisco.

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#Review by Lou of #Memoir – Over The Hills And Far Away – by Nikky Smedley @StoryNikky @sandstonepress #Autobiography #NonFiction #Teletubbies

Over The Hills And Far Away
My Life as a Teletubby

By Nikky Smedley 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the 1990s, the latest obsession for pre-school children was Teletubbies. I was on work experience in my final years at school, in a nursery and I still remember to this day the majority of children wanted a Teletubby  cake and Tubby Toast for their birthday celebrations. It is to be reincarnated on a streaming channel, but Nikky Smedley, who appeared as herself on the morning news programme – Breakfast recently, talking about its global appeal and reminiscing of the phenomenon, was the original LaaLaa, the yellow Teletubby . I have a review of her fascinating memoir of this time.

Blurb

Say ‘Eh-Oh’ to the performer behind the beloved Teletubby Laa-Laa in this candid and entertaining book.

Lifting the curtain on what it was like to be Laa-Laa and experience the astonishing success of the Teletubbies phenomenon, Nikky Smedley’s enchanting story is warm, affectionate and as lively and funny as the Teletubbies themselves.

Unique in its use of educational theory, child psychology and revolutionary linguistics, Teletubbies achieved global viewing figures of three billion a year. Airing in 120 countries in 45 languages, it was one of the most internationally successful television programmes ever.

Review

Teletubbies as I said, was a global phenomenon as Nikky Smedley recalls. It also turns out, which I think is nice and respectful, that she is to be a consultant for its rebooted version. There were Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who were these funny characters who lived over the hill and far away.

The book is insightful into what the author is doing now for the reboot, but also in her memories of what it was like to be part of the production and some of the things behind the scenes, such as a certain clause makes for stark reading and makes you feel sorry for the cast of actors. It’s a real eye-opener into what one would assume was something that happened pre-90s.

She reminisces about what it took to get the part and then to be Laa-Laa, to create that character and truly embody her, costume and all on set in the countryside. She lifts the lid on what looks easy and perfect on-screen had its challenges to make it look accomplished. Then she regales the merchandise, of which there was loads.

With the success came extended contracts in 1999, which is when I first heard about it. It had been filmed for 3 years and at the end of the run, more series were wanted, despite some criticism along the way.

There is also an interesting look into life after Teletubbies for Smedley and the others who played the other Teletubbies and what became of them as it all came to an end in 2002.

It’s also interesting what being in Teletubbies meant to her and her lifestyle. The book is so down to earth, with concerns, happiness, sadness that is relatable on some level to people in and out-with show-biz. If you’ve heard of The Teletubbies or watched it in your youth, this is actually worth reading and more so than I originally anticipated.

#Review by Lou of #Memoir – Over The Hills And Far Away – by Nikky Smedley @StoryNikky @sandstonepress #Autobiography #NonFiction #Teletubbies

Over The Hills And Far Away
My Life as a Teletubby

By Nikky Smedley 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the 1990s, the latest obsession for pre-school children was Teletubbies. I was on work experience in my final years at school, in a nursery and I still remember to this day the majority of children wanted a Teletubby  cake and Tubby Toast for their birthday celebrations. It is to be reincarnated on a streaming channel, but Nikky Smedley, who appeared as herself on the morning news programme – Breakfast recently, talking about its global appeal and reminiscing of the phenomenon, was the original LaaLaa, the yellow Teletubby . I have a review of her fascinating memoir of this time.

Blurb

Say ‘Eh-Oh’ to the performer behind the beloved Teletubby Laa-Laa in this candid and entertaining book.

Lifting the curtain on what it was like to be Laa-Laa and experience the astonishing success of the Teletubbies phenomenon, Nikky Smedley’s enchanting story is warm, affectionate and as lively and funny as the Teletubbies themselves.

Unique in its use of educational theory, child psychology and revolutionary linguistics, Teletubbies achieved global viewing figures of three billion a year. Airing in 120 countries in 45 languages, it was one of the most internationally successful television programmes ever.

Review

Teletubbies as I said, was a global phenomenon as Nikky Smedley recalls. It also turns out, which I think is nice and respectful, that she is to be a consultant for its rebooted version. There were Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who were these funny characters who lived over the hill and far away.

The book is insightful into what the author is doing now for the reboot, but also in her memories of what it was like to be part of the production and some of the things behind the scenes, such as a certain clause makes for stark reading and makes you feel sorry for the cast of actors. It’s a real eye-opener into what one would assume was something that happened pre-90s.

She reminisces about what it took to get the part and then to be Laa-Laa, to create that character and truly embody her, costume and all on set in the countryside. She lifts the lid on what looks easy and perfect on-screen had its challenges to make it look accomplished. Then she regales the merchandise, of which there was loads.

With the success came extended contracts in 1999, which is when I first heard about it. It had been filmed for 3 years and at the end of the run, more series were wanted, despite some criticism along the way.

There is also an interesting look into life after Teletubbies for Smedley and the others who played the other Teletubbies and what became of them as it all came to an end in 2002.

It’s also interesting what being in Teletubbies meant to her and her lifestyle. The book is so down to earth, with concerns, happiness, sadness that is relatable on some level to people in and out-with show-biz. If you’ve heard of The Teletubbies or watched it in your youth, this is actually worth reading and more so than I originally anticipated.

#Review By Lou of Indoor Green – How to care for your houseplants for beginners By Joe Swift @Collins_Ref #IndoorGreen #NonFiction #Hobbies #HousePlants #GardenersWorld

Joe’s Expert Gardening Guide
Create Your Own Indoor Green
How to care for your houseplants
By Joe Swift

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bring a bit of the outdoors, indoors with this new book that has everything you need to know about indoor plants. Joe Swift is well known on our tv screens for Gardener’s World and many other programmes, and books, imparting his garden expertise. In this book, he encourages, even beginners, to create their indoor green space with house plants. Thanks to the publisher, Collins Reference (Collins), I have a review for you.

Blurb

Transform your home with tips from expert gardener Joe Swift.

Indoor plants brighten our homes, connect us with the natural world and improve our physical and mental health. If you want to turn your living space into an Indoor Green haven, expert gardener Joe Swift shows you how with practical, easy-to-follow advice.

Joe’s no-nonsense approach covers everything you need to know from choosing and buying plants to placing them where they’ll be happiest. He then guides you through caring for them including watering, feeding, re-potting, and combatting common plant problems.

In this book Joe covers a vast range of wonderful, varied and exotic plants from all over the world including flowering and foliage plants, palms, succulents, cacti, bonsai and citrus.

He demonstrates how to put them together in impactful and innovative ways whether they’re grown in an old tin can, a classic pot, a glass terrarium, or part of an ambitious interior green wall!

Joe also explains how to propagate plants to save you money, increase your collection and transform your home further into an Indoor Green paradise!

Joe Swift is an author, TV presenter and garden designer. He makes regular appearances on BBC’s Gardener’s World and the RHS Flower Shows.

Review

Creating your own indoor green, using this book as a guide, is not as daunting as it first may seem, even for beginners. It is an easy to follow book with full instructions and tips for various plants. I feel this would be the book to guide people into becoming more confident in growing indoor plants, whatever their space is. It is so well laid-out and with demonstrations to show off your plants in the best possible way and how to get creative with them, in their pots. Whether you consider yourself green-fingered or not, Joe Swift in this book shows that people can learn something new and makes it easy and inspiring to give it a go, with practical advice and solutions for when there is a problem.

It feels like Joe Swift is almost holding your hand and gently easing you in and guiding you through, so it is far from daunting and instead something for a new project/hobby that can become enjoyable very quickly as well as making your home look lovely and being good for your health. It doesn’t need to be expensive either as he demonstrates within the book how to get more plants from one for your buck/money.

This book, even though, aimed at beginners, could also be useful for those who have already started to create a green indoor space because it is also packed full of ideas and there’s always something new that can be learnt.

This is an exciting and wonderful book that I recommend as it really does cover everything you need to know in an easy to follow, easy to understand way.

#BookReview By Lou – Mother of the Brontes By Sharon Wright #SharonWright @penswordbooks #NonFiction #Biography #Brontes #MariaBranwell #TheLifeOfMariaBranwell

Mother of the Brontes
The Life of Maria Branwell
By Sharon Wright

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mother of the Brontes is a highly interesting account of Maria Branwell. Thanks to Pen and Sword for gifting me the book. Discover what the book is about and my opinion in the blurb and my review.

Mother of the Brontes cover

Maria Branwell has spent 200 years in the shadow of her extraordinary children, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë. Now the first biography of Mrs Brontë appears as a beautiful bicentenary paperback edition in October 2021, with a commissioned portrait of Maria at 38 based on the only two existing images in the Brontë Collection. Sharon Wright’s critically-acclaimed biography reveals Maria’s fascinating life as a Regency gentlewoman who went looking for an adventure and found one. A sudden passion and whirlwind love affair led to the birth of the most gifted literary siblings the world has ever known. From a wealthy home in Penzance, Maria was a contemporary of Jane Austen and enjoyed the social status of a prominent family with secrets. So how did Maria fall for the penniless curate she called ‘My Dear Saucy Pat’ hundreds of miles from the home she loved? And what adventures lead lover Patrick Brontë to their fateful meeting in Yorkshire? What family scandals did Maria leave behind in Cornwall? How did wealthy and independent Miss Branwell of balmy Penzance adjust to life as Mrs Brontë in Yorkshire during the industrial revolution? And what was her enduring legacy in the lives of those world famous daughters and troubled son?

Review

It is well documented about lives of the Bronte sisters – Charlotte, Anne and Shirley, through the novels and poetry they wrote and biographies other people have written, even more is known about their brother – Branwell Bronte and their father – Patrick Bronte than the matriarch of the Bronte family – Maria Branwell. This book goes some way to rectifying this biography of her life in this treasure of a book that uncovers her life and her part as an individual and as part of the family she created.

Really delving into history and setting the scene to create background to how things were in the time of Maria’s life, it goes into detail about the backdrop of socio/economical/political scenes. This I felt was necessary to people now and into the future to understand how things were and also puts her life into context. You really get under the surface of how the world looked when she was alive, not just in broader terms, but also the families she may have known or seen around Penzance in Cornwall, the houses that were there and religious beliefs. It provides a focused texture and understanding in the first few chapters.

The book becomes even more compelling to discover why Patrick, so penniless, left Ireland and Maria leaves Cornwall for Yorkshire and how they courted each other and fell in love, even though there was class division of him being poor and her being wealthy, with social standing, but attraction and love won out, however unlikely that would initially seem, but they did and created a life and family together.
There are letters of this period of time, which were later handed down the family. There are extracts of her letters in the book, that feels really special to read and gives readers a glimpse into her letter writing style and means the book is able to retain some of her “voice” for present and future generations. It heightens providence and a real care of the Bronte family. The research is meticulous and the passion of its author – Sharon Wright to ensure this part of the family’s history can be read about in this way, really shines through.

There’s a look into day to day life within the Parsonage that really brings the place, that is still standing, located in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, (now a museum), to life. It shows life within those walls of husband and wife and their children, who, especially their daughters, were to become literary giants, whose work is still popular and is now shown in many media forms. Lesser known however, is that Maria could also write and there is a little bit of this within the book.

The book takes readers right to the end of Maria’s life and the impact her death had on how the family then behaved in their day to day living and continuing of their own lives.

This is an absolutely fascinating read and to be able to read it in her bicentenary year makes it somewhat even more lovely.

1922 – Scenes From a Turbulent Year By Nick Rennison #NickRennison @OldcastleBooks #NonFiction #History #1920s #1922 #TheRoaringTwenties

1922
Scenes From A Turbulent Year
By Nick Rennison

Rating: 4 out of 5.

1920’s or the The Roaring Twenties is a prominent decade. 1922, especially, was a period of a lot of change, musically, film making, politically, prominent people coming to light and some reaching the end of their lives and much more in this interesting look into 1 busy year. Thanks to Old Castle Books for gifting me the book. Check out the blurb and then my review to find out about the book of the year, 1922.

1922 cover1922 was a year of great turbulence and upheaval. Its events reverberated throughout the rest of the twentieth century and still affect us today, 100 years later.

Empires fell. The Ottoman Empire collapsed after more than six centuries. The British Empire had reached its greatest extent but its heyday was over. The Irish Free State was declared and demands for independence in India grew. New nations and new politics came into existence. The Soviet Union was officially created and Mussolini’s Italy became the first Fascist state.

In the USA, Prohibition was at its height. The Hollywood film industry, although rocked by a series of scandals, continued to grow. A new mass medium – radio – was making its presence felt and, in Britain, the BBC was founded. In literature it was the year of peak modernism. Both T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses were first published in full.

In society, already changed by the trauma of war and pandemic, the morals of the past seemed increasingly outmoded; new ways of behaving were making their appearance. The Roaring Twenties had begun to roar and the Jazz Age had arrived.

1922 also saw the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi, the death of Marcel Proust, the election of a new pope, the release of the first major vampire movie, and the brief imprisonment in Munich of an obscure right-wing demagogue named Adolf Hitler.

In a sequence of vividly written sketches, Nick Rennison conjures up all the drama and diversity of an extraordinary year.

Review

1922 was a busy year. Nothing stood still. Great change was on the horizon and new ways of thinking, new art and music forms were breaking through, the film industry was pushing through its scandals and experiencing growth. It wasn’t only in the arts that things were changing, the shape of countries was also changing as well as their politics as well as leaders who had ideals, inspired from the past and their 1922 present. Nick Rennison in his book about this year informs in an interesting snippets that make me think of newsreel articles in some ways. Each part isn’t overly long and yet has enough depth to pique interest and there are many events that occurred that readers may not know about this period of history. Each part, as well as being short is split into each month of the year.
This is a book that people ought to read as the impact is everlasting. By impact I don’t mean it is all negative, there’s positives too. It shows more that each year doesn’t live in isolation of the year previous or what comes after.

There is clearly a lot of research in documenting a lot of what happened in 1922 and then to write it in a way that doesn’t feel too text book like and is actually interesting enough to make you continue reading past the first pages to find out what else happened from the well-known and the perhaps lesser-known.

The book tells a bit of The Spanish Flu and its effects, which no doubt will bring people to think about the present times (at time of writing this blog post). It also documents the deaths for many reasons – from illness to assassination, of prominent people such as Shackleton, Alexander Graham Bell and more. There are people who I certainly haven’t heard of and yet made an impact on the world and there are many people who I have heard of who also have made a lasting impact on the world. The book respectfully tells the truth about them and means people aren’t forever forgotten about, whether they were good people or not.

There are a number of murders woven into months where there was better news such as the emergence of people who were to become sportstars and film stars of their time and their achievements as well as all the above in the blurb and so much more…

There is also political turmoil in a few countries in the world, including Russia, China, Italy as Fascist (far right) and Communist (far left) had emerged and getting stronger, especially Communism. It’s interesting for those who don’t know some of the smaller details that had a huge impact and both exist today, sometimes strong and powerful, some politicians on the edges and getting closer to far right or far left politics in the world. The countries still don’t stand still as the fall of empires occur and near the end of the year, the formation of the USSR.

Jazz had emerged and the Roaring Twenties was starting to really flow and The Jazz Age had well and truly arrived and the changing dancing styles as older figurations of dancing started to completely transform into something more energetic and, considered by some, quite outrageous.

This is a book that will interest people who like history, are interested in the 1920’s or just wondering what was happening in 1922 to expand their knowledge. There’s something in it for all adults as so much was happening that lots of wider topics such as music, film, politics, famous people are covered and so much more… There is much people of any age can learn about.