Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Rigged

It was good enough to keep me reading, but unlike Mezrich’s other more famous book (Bringing Down the

House), Rigged wasn’t nearly as exciting and didn’t have quite the same effect of surprising you when you realized it was a true story. That being said, it was ok, but worth the read if you are looking for something easy.

The story follows a young recent MBA graduate who stumbles into what is probably the most financially rewarding industry in the country – trading energy futures.  He has to deal with all of the people standing in his way and prove himself as not just a stuck up Harvard boy.  He quickly gains the respect of his peers and his superiors which allows him to undertake an unlikely business venture in the Middle East only about a year after 9/11.

I would say give it a shot if you are looking for something light – although in my mind, it is definitely a better book to get from the library than to spend your book budget on.

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Netherland

The way I see it, there can be three problems that arise in a novel and make it fall short.  First, the plot can just be something that is not interesting to you so no matter how well it is written and how artistic and creative is, you are just simply disinterested.  Second, the grammar and writing style can be so frustrating to the reader that it makes the reader hate the characters and/or the author.  And third, the character development just isn’t there.  For Netherland, the last issue was the one that got to me.  When you sit down to read a book about a person and their experience for almost 300 pages, you better like the person.  Joseph O’Neill (the author) never gave me any reason to really care about Hans van den Broek or his problems.  The idea behind the novel was a decent one.  It follows the story of a dutch banker and how he is enmeshed in the multicultural city of New York, mainly through meeting people on the cricket field.  However, I felt it never really got all the way into the story, and I never actually cared what happened to the protagonist or his friends.

IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

rating: 1 of 5 stars

Even though it was a quick, easy read, it was somehow not worth the few hours on the train it took me to read it. Unless you are very into obscure bands or knowing everything that there is to know about musicians from rock bands (like van Halen, KISS, or Morrissey), I wouldn’t recommend it. The entire book is just like reading a 400 page magazine (because it actually is just a collection of magazine articles that he wrote with a short commentary before each one).  All this means that it is the equivalent of watching the love child of VH1 and Entertainment Tonight.

I know from the author’s other books, he has potential and can be much funnier.  So maybe don’t write off Klosterman altogether, just this book might not be your cup of tea if you are anything like me.

The Power of One

41vntzdbflFrom the first page, the reader is drawn into Peekay’s story.  Written with the innocence of a child when he is first learning of the very adult issues of German National Socialism and Apartheid, it seems like this one boy will be able to change the entire world, or at least all of South Africa.  Even when he gets older, the story remains uplifting despite the bad luck that continuously befalls him.  The power of one is a theme that is so strongly woven into the story that at times it becomes impossible to actually apply it to real life; however, the story is always good, always motivational, and always a page-turner.  The writing style will make you want to keep reading more and the 500 pages will fly by with joy.  There are few books that I actually enjoy reading every page of (especially when they are long) and I did not get the anxious feeling of wanting to finish the book at any point.  The actual story deals with Apartheid in South Africa, but more than that, it shows the power of one person being able to influence thousands of people around him purely through example and the power of the spirit.

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

oscar-waoOscar Wao is not your typical protagonist.  He is fat, loves comic books, sci-fi, and everything else nerdy.  He is also Dominican and his world in New Jersey is so unlike my own it can’t help but be intriguing.  Oscar loves often and fully.  He falls head over heels for almost every girl or woman that he comes into contact with.  Mixed into that story, is the story of his sister’s struggles with their mother and her attempts to rebel against everything that reminds her of her mother, including her beauty and intelligence.  Add to that the problems Oscar’s mother encounters when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is almost completely without compassion and motherly love, but she is not lacking in humanity.  When the three main characters come together for this brief and wondrous tale, you will experience a story that is intertwined with history (whether true or not) and a sect of society that is completely forgotten in the world of literature. 

Thunderstruck

thunderstruck“Thunderstruck” proved to be yet another good read by Erik Larson.  Last year, I read “Devil in the White City” and loved it so, when I saw this on the shelf I didn’t think twice about picking it up and reading it.

“Thunderstruck,” as in his previous works tells an intertwined tale of what is technically historical fiction but based fairly accurately on actual events.  This story told of a murder and the development of wireless communication in the early 1900’s.  These seemingly unrelated events come together in the end.  Larson does an excellent job of tying together events with dramatic stories coinciding holding my interest from the first page until the end.

I was not at all familiar with Marconi and his contributions to wireless communication and being the nerd that I am was immediately drawn to the technological developments he contributed to the scientific community.  I was also unaware of the Crippen murder in London and reading this story brought me in to quite a few pop culture references that I was previously clueless about.

Overall, a very interesting story and a very quick and easy read for anyone.

Sarah’s Key

51vc-l5es1l_sl500_I got this book for Christmas (mainly because it has my name in the title, I think…or at least that determined which daughter it went to) and when I read the back cover I was a little bit skeptical because it mentions the main character finding romance in the midst of her research of the Holocaust in France.  Seems unlikely.  However, I was pleasantly surprised and really pulled into the story.  The point of view switches back and forth every chapter in between the story of the American reporter researching the Vel d’Hiv roundup in 1942 and a little girl’s personal story of being taken with her family by the French police.  Once their stories catch up with each other, it switches to just the story of the reporter.  It was interesting and at least loosely based on actual historical events.  Albeit ones that I had never heard of and I would imagine most Americans haven’t.  Towards the end of the book, the story gets a little weak but by that time i was already interested in the characters so it wasn’t hard to finish.  It’s an easy read with short chapters but you won’t find yourself stopping at every chapter for a break like most books.