Thursday, August 30, 2012

"No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden" by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer

No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer - book cover
Release date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: 316
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Have you heard of Osama Bin Laden? Of course you have. Did you know that somewhat recently he was allegedly killed and had his body burned at sea before a camera lens could even be pointed at it? Of course you did. However, how much do you know exactly about that operation shrouded in secrecy which allegedly led to the demise of one of America’s greatest enemies?

Well, just like you, I had a truckload of questions about the operation, but nobody to answer them… and then Mark Owen, with the help of Kevin Maurer wrote his book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden.

Before going into talking about the book itself, it should be noted that at the moment, it's author who goes by the pseudonym of Mark Owen, may be prosecuted by the U.S. Government for not clearing the book with the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA.

There are many who believe that his book contains some sensitive information, some of which may actually be classified. In other words, Mark Owen is risking much, if not everything of what he has to bring us the truth, a first-hand account of what happened during the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound. (Watch the video at the end of the post)

Who is Mark Owen? Well, he was none other than an operator of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team Six. This is a team that has become somewhat legendary within the army for conducting an untold number of special operations, and as you can guess, they were tasked with eliminating Bin Laden from this world.

Mark Owen was one of the men sent on the mission, and he takes us on a tour from the streets of Iraq all the way to Osama’s compound where he finally fell.The narrative itself is sharp and at times brutal, even starting with a helicopter crash that could have claimed Mark’s life. None of the important bits are left out, and any questions you may have are going to be answered in this first-person account of the planning and execution of Osama Bin Laden. To cap things off, the book also looks into the war on terror, what it really is, how it it’s being fought, and what the future looks like for it.

All in all, this is a moving, eye-opening and mesmerizing book which I believe everyone should at least read once… after all, this operation has finally put an end to the wild goose chase the U.S. has been on for years since thousands died in the 9/11 attacks… it will be remembered in history.

Owen, Mark

Owen, Mark


Mark Owen is the pen name used by Matt Bissonette, a former member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, for his military memoir titled No Easy Day, chronicling the mission which led to the demise of Osama bin Laden. For safety reasons, the amount of information disclosed about him by the Department of Defense is rather limited.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut - book cover
Release date: May 11, 1999
Publisher: Dial Press
Pages: 303
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When Kilgore Trout had finally bit the dust, his tombstone was marked with a phrase which achieved somewhat of a legendary status: "We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane".

This brings up a number of questions, such as "what is humane in this context?", what does "healthy" imply, and what exactly happens when our ideas cease to be humane? How does it come to that point? While these are the kinds of questions you usually won’t get a concrete answer to, Kurt Vonnegut decided to explore the concept of falling into madness in his novel, Breakfast of Champions.

Before going into the book, you should know that Kurt Vonnegut is one of America’s most influential writers, daringly exploring complex and sometimes controversial themes in his works. He used the medium of writing to share his unique and interesting ideas about the world, often giving philosophies and ideas priority over the story. He wrote numerous masterpieces, including Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle.

In any case, Breakfast of Champions tells the story of Dwayne Hoover, a run-of-the-mill auto dealer with nothing of note about him. However, it seems that the general breakneck pace and pressure of life are getting to him, as slowly but surely, he starts a descent into madness. It seems that his ideas are becoming less and less humane, and we are thus presented with an exposition of what happens to someone when they go through the process of losing their mind.

Also, Vonnegut takes great care to explore how the condition affects Dwayne’s surroundings, friends, family, and any other character he comes into contact with. As you can guess, the story takes a back seat in this one in favor of a deep and thought-provoking character study, and is usual with Vonnegut complete with thoughts and philosophies about war, sex, politics, America, and other things I’ve surely missed.



Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)

Kurt Vonnegut
(November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)


Personal site

Kurt Vonnegut was an American writer, a great pioneer and titan of literature who managed to profoundly move people from all corners of the world. His satirical humor is something sacred uniqueness in the world of literature. His most famous works include (but are not limited to) Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five, and it should be mentioned that he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Prisoner of War Medal.

More of the Kurt Vonnegut's book reviews:
Cat’s Cradle
Slaughter-House Five

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"The Presidents Club" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy - book cover
Release date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 656
Buy:
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Even though many of us don’t pay too much attention to politics, the fact of the matter is that they have played a ginormous role in forming our world today. Practically every important decision taken, whether we are talking about the assassination of Julius Caesar or America’s decision to invade the Middle East, has been mostly rooted in politics.

How exactly do politics affect our daily lives? Well, to put it bluntly, politicians are the people who try and pass new laws, put in place healthcare plans, financial plans… they are even the ones who start wars, and I’m sure you can figure out how such a decision can impact a person’s life.

In any case, if you are a fan politics, or perhaps prefer to simply take a look into them from time to time like myself, then you will probably find The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy to be an extremely interesting read. If you’re into politics, then you have definitely heard of the ex-presidents club, which was started by Hoover and Truman at Eisenhower’s inauguration (back then it was the President’s Club).

If you have ever wondered what a president does when the cameras aren’t rolling, and more importantly, what he or she does with other presidents, then you’ll get a blast out of this, just like I did. It looks at more than just the history of the club and its previous members… it focuses also on their interactions, on the concept of presidency itself, how the club affects what is happening in the world, and more importantly, it answers the question as to whether or not politics is really filled with betrayal and conspiracies at the highest level.


Nancy Gibbs (January 25, 1960)

Nancy Gibbs (January 25, 1960)


Nancy Gibbs is an essayist and managing editor for Time magazine of American nationality. In addition, she is also a political commentator and a bestselling author, with some of her more renowned works being The Presidents Club and The Preacher and the Presidents. She won the 2013 Chautauqua Prize for the former of the two books mentioned above.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
There was a time when alchemy was considered to be a science only for the wisest and most ambitious of men; the prospect of turning lead into gold has captured the imagination of many, one of whom is Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who seeks to travel around the world to find a treasure unlike any other. In The Alchemist by Paulo Ceolho, we are told the story of this Santiago boy as he journeys from his humble home in Spain all the way across the Egyptian desert to finally see his encounter with the alchemist come true.

Of course, as is with all soul-searching journeys, the story is more about the process of getting to the goal than it is about the goal itself, although that shouldn’t take away any importance from the moment when the goal is finally reached.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Man’s Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Release date: June 1, 2006
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 168
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Suffering is something which most of us work day and night to avoid… but in the end, are we as successful as we would like to think? Is the work to prevent suffering not a kind of suffering in itself?

Well, according to Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist who was held in four different concentration camps during the Second World War, including Auschwitz, there is no way for human beings to avoid suffering. However, it is within our power to choose to cope with it, find some kind of meaning in it, learn from it, and move onwards with more purpose than before.

Frankl is known for the development of logotherapy, a theory which basically states that unlike what Freud believes, man isn’t driven by pleasure, but by the pursuit and discovery of things we find meaningful.

In Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor chose to dedicate the first part of his book to his experiences in the concentration camps, where he lost his parents, his brother, and his pregnant wife. He spends more time not talking about life in the camp as it was, but his point of view towards what was happening, his mental state, and how he chose to face the suffering which was brought down upon him.

The other part of Viktor’s book is used to discuss logotherapy, although he chooses to only talk about it "in a nutshell", seeing as how he already wrote full and comprehensive texts about his theory, which you can check out for free I believe (you can find them using the search engine of your choice). I’m not going to discuss his theory much here because, honestly, I still haven’t got a good grasp of it yet.

However, rest assured that every single idea given life in this book is worth anyone’s attention… it’s one of those works that makes you think for days, weeks, months, years even after you have read. There is also a postscript added after 1984 to this book which talks about tragic optimism, which is the idea that a human being is naturally capable of remaining optimistic, even in the most dire circumstances.

The experiences suffered in the concentration camps by Viktor are used as a basis to make a case for tragic optimism, although, as is always when it comes to the human psyche and philosophy, there are no clear answers… just paths that lead into a darkness yet to be uncovered by us.


Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March, 1905 – 2 September, 1997)

Viktor Emil Frankl
(26 March, 1905 – 2 September, 1997)


Viktor Emil Frankl was a Holocaust survivor, a neurologist and a psychiatrist of Austrian origin. He founded the concept of logotherapy (a type of existential analysis approach), perhaps from his experiences during the war. His most well-known book is without a doubt Man’s Search for Meaning, detailing his thoughts and experiences in the concentration camp.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"The Drop" by Michael Connelly

The Drop by Michael Connelly - book cover
Harry Bosch yet again finds his way into a Michael Connelly masterpiece in The Drop. This time around, Harry is faring a little better as he has been accepted back in the L.A.P.D. and given three years before he retires, which only lights his hunger for more cases to solve (because what he went through in The Last Coyote was just so much damn fun for him).

Finally, he finds something to satisfy his appetite when the DNA of a 29-year-old rapist matches that from a 1989 rape and murder… which would make the man eight years of age at the time… or mean that a mistake has been committed at the lab, which would compromise all of the DNA cases that are currently in court.In the meantime, while all this bedlam is getting sorted, Harry and his partner are called to another death scene where councilman Irvin Irving’s (whose parents apparently weren’t very creative) son was pushed or jumped from a window.

Despite being Harry’s nemesis, Irving asks the he be the one to handle the investigation, an offer which Harry obviously accepts, like every good nemesis should.Instead of deciding which case is more important, Harry decides to handle them both at the same time, plunging himself into a dark and seedy underworld where he makes some shocking discoveries; a killer that has been having fun in the city for over thirty years, and as usual, a conspiracy involving his police department that takes him deep into the past.

Will Harry be able to untie all the knots and manoeuver through all the twists and turns that have been set for him? Will he find the culprits and be able to bring them to justice as a simple cop in the L.A.P.D.?

The Drop is a novel which smells of Michael Connelly miles away, in the sense that even though it may lack some kind of philosophical and deeper meaning, it still makes for a very interesting, thrilling and entertaining murder mystery which you won’t be able to stop reading until it’s over. I find it to be the perfect pastime for lazy days or whenever I have free time which I don’t know what to do with.


Michael Connelly (July 21, 1956)

Michael Connelly


Personal site

Michael Connelly is perhaps one of the most popular modern writers, starting has career when he discovered Raymond Chandler’s writings at his university. To support himself, he worked at the local newspaper while specializing in crime, which shows in virtually all of his works touching on criminal subjects, such as The Black Box and The Lincoln Lawyer.

More of Michael Connelly's book reviews:
The Crossing
The Lincoln Lawyer
The Gods of Guilt
The Brass Verdict
The Black Box
The Poet
The Last Coyote
A Darkness More than Night

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"The Last Coyote" by Michael Connelly

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly - book cover
While many of us have been in situations where we considered our lives to be sh*t, our plights simply cannot compare to what Harry Bosch has to go through. For starters, his home got ravaged by an earthquake, after which it was condemned, basically leaving him homeless.

As if that wasn’t enough, his girlfriend decides to leave him (possibly having something to do with the fact that he is homeless), and he’s hitting the bottle like never before. Not content with having something left, Harry Bosch then attacked his commanding officer and subsequently forced to relinquish what little he had left: his L.A.P.D. detective’s badge.

As a result of his shenanigans, Harry gets suspended, and finally having some free time on his hands, he decides to investigate an unsolved crime from 1961. The crime in question is the brutal and inexplicable murder of a prostitute, who is also Harry’s mother. As any good detective would, Harry starts asking questions which cause some of L.A.’s most notorious politicians to start fidgeting. Slowly but surely, Harry unravels the truth, only to get closer to the person who would have it shrouded forever. Harry’s enemy is one of the most powerful, cunning and deceiving men in L.A. who has been keeping secrets and forging a future of blood and corruption for many years now.

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly is certainly an entertaining thriller which brings you a somewhat classic, noir detective story, opposing a broken cop who is facing down the abyss against a seemingly-unstoppable and uncontainable doom. To be honest, if you are looking for some kind of incredibly deep story with multiple layers of meaning, metaphors and philosophies, then maybe you should pass on this novel; as great and entertaining as it is, it’s just a detective story… and an amazing one at that. If you have free moments in your busy life and don’t know what to do on rainy Sunday afternoons, then you should definitely check this story out.


Michael Connelly (July 21, 1956)

Michael Connelly


Personal site

Michael Connelly is perhaps one of the most popular modern writers, starting has career when he discovered Raymond Chandler’s writings at his university. To support himself, he worked at the local newspaper while specializing in crime, which shows in virtually all of his works touching on criminal subjects, such as The Black Box and The Lincoln Lawyer.

More of Michael Connelly's book reviews:
The Crossing
The Lincoln Lawyer
The Gods of Guilt
The Brass Verdict
The Black Box
The Poet
The Drop
A Darkness More than Night

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Release date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 336
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I’ll admit it, I never cared for Oprah’s Book Club. The times I took a look at her recommendations, I was just looking at books that I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy. However, a few people around me just kept nagging me, and basically letting me know how much I was missing out on. Following their recommendations I gave Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail a try, seeing as how it was one of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection (she has two book clubs?!). In any case, enough about Oprah’s as I’m sure you know about her a lot more than I do, so let’s have a look at the book.

The story in this book is a memoir of Cheryl’s life, and how she went on an 1100-mile hike all by herself, changing her life forever. When she was only 22 years of age, her mother had died, her family ended up scattering itself across the country (and the world), without forgetting her marriage which fell apart faster than a castle of cards.

Four years later, being driven to the edge by her life, she made a sudden and unexpected decision: hiking 1100 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert all the way to Washington State. As if that wasn’t extreme enough, she decided to go on her journey alone… despite having no experience whatsoever as a long-distance hiker.


When she set out on her journey, she only had a vague idea of where she was going and how she was going to do it. Letting nothing discourage her, Cheryl pressed onward contending with rattlesnakes, black bears, unbearable heat waves and snowfalls stronger than what she had ever seen… not to mention the solitude of the trail. Filled with thrills, laughs, and, of course, the occasional philosophical rant, Wild is a marvelous book filled with as much terror as it is with warmth as you are following the story of a woman who has lost it all and decided to go to her extremes to piece it back together.

Cheryl Strayed (September 17, 1968)

Cheryl Strayed (September 17, 1968)


Personal site

Cheryl Strayed is an American writer who likes to focus on novels, essays, but most importantly, memoirs. Her works have been published extensively in The Best American Essays, and she most notably won a Puschart Prize for the essay "Munro Country". Her second book, Wild, was perhaps one of her more notable efforts, spending many weeks as the number one bestseller on the New York Times list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself" by Michael A. Singer

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
Release date: October 3, 2007
Publisher: Noetic Books
Pages: 200
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During the time humans have spent on this planet many questions have been answered, such as "what are stars?" and "Is Tom Cruise as crazy as he seems?". However, for all the thinking great philosophers of the past and present have done, one question remains largely unanswered: who am I? And I’m not talking specifically about me. I’m talking about the question everyone asks themselves at one point or another. The more you look into it, the less you understand. How can you define yourself? Are you a physical entity? A spiritual one? A combination of both? A collection of memories? Most of us choose to define ourselves with a name or occupation, but doesn’t the essence of being a human go far beyond that?

In The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer offers a somewhat different discussion from what most are used to about personal consciousness. He doesn’t have a set of ideals that he constantly tries to shove down your throat. Instead, it is more of an open-minded discussion (published by the Institute of Neotic Sciences, by the way) as to how a human can develop his or her own consciousness. He offers no definitive answers… instead, he offers you the road to take if you want to find them for yourself.

The first part of the book is devoted largely to determining what is "the self" and the inner dialog every one of us has permanently going on. The second part of the book is devoted to the concept of energy, how it works, how it flows through us, and more importantly, how one can open his or herself to that energy. The third part of the book explains what you can do in order to overcome your habits and tendencies. The fourth part talks about enlightenment and universal consciousness, and finally in the fifth part is dedicated to the daily pursuit of real, unconditional and ever-lasting happiness.

The best thing about the book is that it isn’t filled with any kind of dogma or propaganda… heck, Michael himself knows that the information in this book may or may not be true. He wrote the book on the subject of what he has discovered about the world from his personal experience, and how he believe things work.

Don’t get into this book looking for undisputable answers, not only because the book doesn’t have them, but because there really is no such thing. In the end, The Untethered Soul is really a very interesting approach to life and how the world works, but personally, I’d only recommend you read it if you have an open mind; if your views about the world are set in stone, then the book will only seem like a bunch of b.s. and wasted money, although I don’t recommend taking that approach to life.


Michael A. Singer

Michael A. Singer


Personal site

Michael A. Singer is an American author who holds a Master's Degree in economics from the University of Florida. During his regular practice he had some sort of spiritual awakening, and after spending much time in seclusion he came to be the founder of the Temple of the Universe, a place where all can experience inner peace and relaxation regardless of any characteristics. His grand success in terms of literature is (so far) The Untethered Soul.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - book cover
Release date: August 17, 2004
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 528
Buy:
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Writing a good book is not only about making good characters, an interesting story and exploring some mysterious themes… it is also about how the events unfold and their connections to each other.

Take for example Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (yes, it has been made into a movie with Tom Hanks), a long narrative which touches upon the lives of six main characters. Each one of these characters has their own story, but in the end, as it usually happens, the stories intertwine in one way or another to make for a grand finale where all is revealed.

What exactly makes Cloud Atlas compelling? Is it the characters? Perhaps. The story itself? Could be. What really makes it such a great read is the kaleidoscopic structure of the story. Each of the narratives is taking place in a different time and place, each one of them is written in a different style, and each and every story is cut at a certain moment in the first half of the book, and they all end in the second half.

Also, I have to mention that reading this book is almost like trying to solve a giant, complex and intricate puzzle where every piece has its own identity and place in the grand scheme of things… which is nice if you are into reading novels as a puzzle.

All in all, Cloud Atlas is a real (and long) adventure filled with puzzles, mystery, attention-grabbing characters, an examination of various worldly philosophies and scientific suppositions and speculations. A brilliant story about infinitely different people separated by both time and space, and how their lives and fates end up coming together… how the souls of the dead ones keep on moving in the sky high above.


David Mitchell (January 12, 1969)

David Mitchell (January 12, 1969)


Personal site

David Mitchell is an English novelist who has, so far, written six novels, two of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Those two novels are number9dream and Cloud Atlas. In 2013 both he and his wife worked to translate a book written by a 13 year-old Japanese boy about autism, titled The Reason I Jump.

More of the David Mitchell's book reviews:
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" by David Mitchell

"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - book cover
Release date: March 8, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 512
Buy:
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1799, Dejima, Nagasaki: The Japanese Empire only has a single port that keeps it open to the rest of the world, and one day a man by the name of Jacob de Zoet arrives there. His purpose? He has exactly five years to earn a fortune in the East and then come back to Holland in order to win the hand of his beloved fiancée. Being only a young clerk, Jacob starts to try and scrape whatever money he can, hoping to climb the pyramid from bottom to top. However, he one day meets Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured wife of the magistrate.

As Jacob spends more and more time with Orito he starts to develop doubts about not only what he is doing, but about whether he should pursue pleasure or wealth in life. Day after day Jacobs vision becomes increasingly clouded, and being the young fool he is he gets himself into a promise he can’t back out of.

Unfortunately for him, the rash promise he made is broken, and when it comes to breaking promises, well let’s just say that the Japanese tend to tend to take it somewhat more seriously than in the West. The consequences of Jacob’s action begin to unfold, and he sees that regardless of how bad things may seem right now, they will get much worse before the end… before his end.

While David Mitchell is known to write books such as Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten where multiple stories are told in parallel, this time he went for a much more traditional approach to things, writing a historical novel about a pious clerk’s troubles with the deceitful trading culture of the Nagasaki harbor. Every single page is overflowing with precise descriptions that don’t drag on, with interesting events and remarkable characters; every word has its own place and meaning in the story… and what a story it is.


David Mitchell (January 12, 1969)

David Mitchell (January 12, 1969)


Personal site

David Mitchell is an English novelist who has, so far, written six novels, two of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Those two novels are number9dream and Cloud Atlas. In 2013 both he and his wife worked to translate a book written by a 13 year-old Japanese boy about autism, titled The Reason I Jump.

More of the David Mitchell's book reviews:
Cloud Atlas

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"The Yiddish Policemen’s Union" by Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
When in 1948 the fledgling state of Israel had collapsed many safe havens were created for the Jews, one of is located in the Sitka district. There, the Yiddish have gladly isolated themselves from the rest of the world (possibly having something to do with the fact that most people still want them dead), creating their own colorful and vibrant community. But every good thing is meant to come to an end, and soon the district is to return under the control of Alaskan authorities.

While all of this is happening in "The Yiddish Policemen’s Union" by Michael Chabon, detective Meyer Landsman is reflecting on his life, the choices he made, and where he ended up. Naturally, Meyer is far from having the ideal life… as a matter of fact, he couldn’t be further away from it. Profession-wise, he is little more than a sad old joke everyone is tired of (that’s being generous) and his marriage is the definition itself of catastrophe; all in all, he has little left to live for.

That is until one day a murder is committed in the cheap hotel he is staying in. Regardless of his age or failures in life, Meyer simply can’t stand having a murder happen right under his nose, and takes on the case. The victim: a former chess prodigy. However, before Meyer can even get started with his investigation order comes from the suits high above him to abandon the investigation immediately. Knowing that this may be his only chance to save himself and leave a worthy heritage, Meyer embarks on a dark and twisted journey where he understands the true meaning of faith, obsession… and evil.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon - book cover
Often regarded as being the pinnacle of Michael Chabon’s work, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an amazingly-diverse story which begins in New York, 1939, right at the beginning of the Second World War, when an escape artist with his magician friend, Joe Kavalier, arrive on the doorstep of Sammy Clay, Kavalier's cousin. Even though Hitler is leaving his mark of hatred on chaos on Europe, things are quite different in America as the comic book craze is taking over everyone by storm… and Sammy seems to have an idea for how to make some money on it.

As you could have probably guess from the title, Sammy finds Kavalier to be the perfect partner for his scheme, especially considering how artistically gifted the latter is. From there on out their adventure begins, and even though it revolves around how the two boys spin the tales of the heroic and fascist-killing escapist and the charmingly mysterious lady, Luna Moth, what they learn from it extends far beyond that. From a dark corner in Brooklyn the boys manage to find their way all the way to the top of the Empire State Building, with nothing but their determination keeping them going.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

"The Racketeer" by John Grisham

The Racketeer by John Grisham
Perhaps one of the toughest jobs on the planet is to be a judge, especially when they have to make really tough decisions, such as: "Do I put him in prison for the rest of his life or the electric chair?". As a matter fact, when taking into consideration that thousands of judges have passed on countless sentences, many of which ruined lives, it is sort of astonishing to learn that only four of them have died… or at least, that is the premise of John Grisham’s The Racketeer.

More precisely, the story touches on the life of Judge Raymond Fogletree, or more precisely, his untimely death. One day, he was found in the basement of his lakeside cabin along with his secretary, both having died from assassination. However, there was no sign of a struggle or a forced entry; the murderer was someone close… but on the other hand, there are probably hundreds who wouldn’t mind hearing such news. There is however one man, a lawyer who knows what happened and why it happened… even though he doesn’t know Judge Raymond. As a matter of fact, that someone happens to be in prison… as well as the narrator.

The Racketeer is John Grisham’s latest effort and is due to come out on October 23rd, 2012. Does it look like it will be good? Well, let’s forget for a second that John Grisham is one of the best-established authors of our generation and focus on the story itself. This looks like a somewhat unusual take on the murder mystery genre, and actually reminds of The Man Who Wasn't There, a movie where the main character is actually narrating the whole story as a flashback from a prison… it almost feels like a Noir book.

All in all, this promises to be an entertaining, dramatic, thrilling, emotional and no-nonsense story about a very curious murder from the perspective of the man who knows who did it and why it happened.


John Grisham (February 8, 1955)

John Grisham (February 8, 1955)


Personal site

John Grisham is an American lawyer, politician and author whose works have always been largely centered around the legal world. Many of his novels have been adapted into films, including The Firm, The Rainmaker and A Time to Kill. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

More of the John Grisham's book reviews:
Rogue Lawyer
Sycamore Row
The Partner
The Firm
A Time to Kill
The Litigators

Friday, August 03, 2012

"How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran - book cover
Release date: July 17, 2012
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 320
Buy:
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Even though officially women are equal to men in many parts of the world, one would have to be blind not to see all the double standards which have been put into place.

In other words, life is far from being a walk in the park for many modern women, but not for the reasons you would expect. As it happens, they are constantly tormented by various mysteries and social conventions, including existential questions such as "Do men hate us?" and "How come bras hurt?". According to recent estimates, there are about 3,456,782,396 men on Earth, which makes for 3,456,782,396 people who don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.

Fortunately, Caitlin Moran is here to fix that with her book titled How to Be a Woman.In her book titled suspiciously like a guide, Caitlin Moran basically observes the many challenges a modern woman has to go through in a developed country, without forgetting the few benefits that come along with them. Caitlin uses personal examples from her life in order to illustrate her numerous provocative observations on women’s lives, depicting impossibly funny scenes from her life as a woman, writer, wife and mother.Whether she is talking about children or strip clubs, Moran always finds a way to bring the truth to the reader with a touch of class and a brand of humor only she is capable of putting on paper.

All in all, while How to Be a Woman may be a humorous book, there is certainly a point debated in it, and it’s that fighting for women’s issues, such as equality for example, is not only something which proponents of women’s rights must do… it is something that will help society in general… it will help it move forward.

Caitlin Moran (April 5, 1975)

Caitlin Moran (April 5, 1975)


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Caitlin Moran is an English broadcaster, columnist at The Times, a TV critic and an author. She was awarded in 2010 the distinction of being the Columnist of the Year and in 2011 the Critic of the Year awards from the British Press Awards. Feminism is a topic in which she takes interest, as her bestselling book How to Be a Woman quickly reached its famed status.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

"Something Blue" by Emily Giffin

Something Blue by Emily Giffin - Book Cover
Release date: March 21, 2006
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 368
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Most of us have an idea as to what our ideal life would be. In some rare occasions, we actually make that dream become a reality in one way or another… and in some cases, this dream breaks even before you’ve had the chance to live it out. For example, you could get the job of your dreams, only to have the company close two weeks after… or you could be getting married to the spouse of your dreams, only to have the wedding called off at the last moment.

Such is the story of Darcy Rhone in Emily Griffin’s Something Blue; her fiancé, Dex, calls off their dream wedding because he… committed an act of unforgivable betrayal, for lack a of better words.Feeling all alone with everything she has been working on in ruins, Darcy sets off to London in order to build for herself a life of fame and glamour using the tools she has always relied on: charm and beauty.

However, she very quickly realizes that this time around, she can’t get by on her usual skills; fresh out of luck, she sets off on a journey which is as literal as it is metaphorical. During this trip, she meets a number of interesting characters, with each one having something to contribute to her understanding of life. Her convictions and courage are put to the test time and time again as she experiences true love, learns what forgiveness really is and finally achieves her redemption.

All in all, this is a very moving story regardless of whether you are reading it for the metaphors and philosophical layers on life in general or simply to entertain yourself on your free time. The story unfolds at a decent pace, the events which take place in it are quite relevant to the story, adding another dimension to it. All things considered, a great work of art which will cater to most readers out there, for one reason or another.

Emily Giffin (March 20th, 1972)

Emily Giffin (March 20th, 1972)


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Emily Giffin is an American author who already penned several novels which are best-classified as being chick literature. In other words, her stories are mostly dramas and romances. Some of her better-known novels include Heart of the Matter and Where We Belong.

More of the Emily Giffin's book reviews:
Heart of the Matter
Where We Belong