Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 !!!

"Greetings to all our readers, past, present and future! The year is finally closing down on us, with a new one ready to take its place as soon as the clock strikes midnight.

We would like to sincerely thank you all from the depths of our hearts for allowing this website to become what it has, and our only hope is that we will outdo your expectations come January. We wish you happy holidays, and a very happy new year!

“Someone Else’s Love Story” by Joshilyn Jackson – The Threads of Destiny

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (Book cover)Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson is a rather light, cutesy, and still thought-provoking romantic story that goes well with the atmosphere brought unto us by the holidays. The story follows the life of Shandi Pierce, a young single mother who is raising a three year-old genius and trying to make her way through college… all while playing the mediator between her always-warring divorced parents.

As if that wasn’t already enough, life took a rather sharp turn when she ended up in the middle of a stick-up. When the hour seemed darkest, a man emerged like a shining ray of light, putting himself between the gun and the child. At that point, destiny did take a somewhat tragic turn, but Shandi and her savior were seemingly forever bound from that moment onwards. Though Shandi sees him as a beautiful God who can do no wrong, he really does have his share of issues and complications, on top of which his take on the nature of destiny is rather unusual to say the least.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

“The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg – A Life-Changing Connection

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg (Book cover))
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a novel written by Fannie Flagg, and it is completely within her realm of mastery. In other words, it has the same style and humor as one can find in Fried Green Tomatoes, and what’s more, I believe that this novel is on the same level as the afore-mentioned classic. In any case,

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion tells us two stories separated by time but connected by one letter. First off, there is the story of Mrs. Sookie, who just married off her children and wants to travel the world with her husband Earle. Just as her life was getting stale though, Sookie receives a letter that turns everything upside down, connecting her to events that took place during the Second World War, when four young women took charge of running a filling station while the men went off to war. That is the second story, how the four women managed to not only keep the station running, but also brought it back from the brink of bankruptcy and made it the most popular filling station to ever exist.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 35

Good morning, day, afternoon or evening to you all, depending on when you are reading this, and welcome back yet again for what will be the final issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature for the year 2013. You've all contributed to making this year a wonderful one for us, and so we did our best to bring you news that are both entertaining and uplifting at the same time.

We will start by looking at ten famous authors who distinguished themselves also as human beings, followed by an exploration of twelve cases of book thievery, capping things off by looking at thirty rather famous others who saw many of their works rejected in their time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Greetings to all our readers, regular, irregular, and first-timers! Thank for taking the time that you did, let it be seconds or hours, to have visited our website during this amazing year that is about to come to a close.

We are going to slow down a tad for this holiday season, but rest assured, once the new year finally makes its way to us we will return to full gear and just keep on doing what we have been doing for the past years.

So happy holidays to you all, enjoy what’s left of this year, and look forward to the next one!

“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami – Spinning Out of Control

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami - book cover
Haruki Murakami has made quite a name for himself with his unique and engrossing style of writing which at times can be cheerful, thought-provoking, morbid and fascinating.

It can be argued that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of the earlier works by Murakami which gained him some of the recognition he has now, and just like in the spirit of many of his other works, it is quite expansive in its scope, combining numerous elements which generally have nothing to do with each other to deliver a unique and compelling story like none other out there.

Monday, December 23, 2013

“The Gods of Guilt” by Michael Connelly – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly – Book Cover
Mickey Haller has already had a relatively long and tumultuous career at his early age, and with The Gods of Guilt Michael Connelly has extended it even further. Being another entry in the Lincoln Lawyer series, it once again follows Mickey Haller as he takes on a peculiar case. This time though, the involvement is rather personal as the whole thing revolves a former client of his: a prostitute Mickey help put on the straight and narrow. More precisely, this former client is at the center of the case, being a victim of murder. As Haller tries to make sense of the case and retrace the latest months in his client’s life, he comes closer and closer to the realization that in the end, he may very well have been the one to have caused her downfall in the first place.

Though some may have thought that the series may start to get stale after so many outings, Connelly has shown us once again why is considered to be one of the best in his trade. Once again, we are treated to a relatively complex and engaging plot, one shrouded in mystery where the rays of light shine in one at a time. Also, the way I saw it, the main plotline was divided into two sub-categories. On one hand, there is the mystery surrounding the murder and whether or not the right person is being accused for it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

“Severe Clear” by Stuart Woods – Stone Against Terrorism

Severe Clear by Stuart Woods – Book Cover
In recent years it seems that Stuart Woods has lost his touch, with his novels having noticeably dropped in quality. His fans have been yearning for a comeback for some time now, and lo and behold, it seems they might get what they were asking for. Severe Clear is a return by Stuart Woods to the Stone Barrington series, bringing to us virtually the whole case, including Stone’s son, Holly Barker, Mike Freeman, Kate Lee, Herb Fisher, Dino, and some others. The whole plot revolves around the opening of a new ultra-luxe hotel called the Arrington, built on the grounds of Barrington’s deceased wife’s mansion. As it happens, Stone is in charge of overseeing the opening, and he may very well have his work cut out for him for the NSA has information suggesting that the event has attracted the attention of international terrorists.

The last few book released by Woods were complained about by many of his fans, having the impression that they became too formulaic and littered with filler content… in other words, people accused him of simply milking the popularity he created. Though there is certainly some filler content in this book as well as a share of predictability, I have to say that they weren’t noticeable enough to significantly detract from the book as a whole.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

“Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh – Simple Humor made Simpler

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – Book  cover
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh is not the kind of book that is easy to describe, especially when done in a quick book review format… nevertheless, I’ll give it my best shot. To give you the best idea possible of what the book is all about, one can think of it as a compilation of original content, web comics, and basically thoughts that appeared in the author’s head. The book is filled with many humorous and simple illustrations, complemented by short, funny and witty phrases and thoughts which seem to highlight the bright side of life in a rather cynical tone, if that makes any sense.

As I said before, there is plenty of original content in this book (around 50% of it is), but there is also a revisiting of numerous works Brosh has already done in the past. Perhaps the more interesting parts are the ones which deal with depression, as the author herself chronicled her fight against it in two parts. These dimensions of the book don’t simply tell you what she felt and how she reacted; rather, they are well thought-out meditations which tackle on the problem as a whole and provide some valuable insight for those interested in the subject.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 34

Hello to everyone, and welcome back to Gliding Over the World of Literature, our main news program here at Quick Book Reviews. Even in these festive times when all the attention is turned towards friends and family, the world of books still has no shortage of exciting and eye-opening news and teachings for us.

We are going to start off today’s session by taking an in-depth look at the life and death of Mark Twain nearly a hundred years after his death, followed by a look at how technology helps spread history for us to get closer to, and finally we will cap things off by learning about Jerry Capeci, the man who can’t stop writing about the mafia.

“Double Cross” by Ben Macintyre – The Brain Behind the Brawn

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre – Book cover
Virtually anyone who has studied the Second World War is familiar, at least in some capacity, with the events of June 6th, 1944, when the Allies took to the beaches of Normandy in an attempt to start pushing the Nazi war machine at the Western front. Though there were certainly many casualties, on the whole, many consider the operation to have been a resounding success, with the number of lives lost being far less than what was expected.

So what precisely allowed the operation to take place the way it did? As it turns out, the whole thing was such a big success thanks to the efforts of those in the Double Cross system, charged with turning Nazi spies into double agents. Thanks to meticulous misinformation the Allies gained the window of opportunity they needed to invade low-resistance zones and place their mark on history.

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre basically looks at the whole operation in great depth, but this time, from the perspective of those involved in the Double Cross team, whose role has been less and less recognized throughout the years. I have to say that before coming across this book, I had never heard about the Double Cross team and was completely oblivious to their role in the invasion of the Normandy beaches. As you can imagine, this brought a whole new side to a story that has become rather well-known, and Double Cross details the planning and intelligence-related events which allowed history to take the course it did.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

“For One More Day” by Mitch Albom – The Importance of Family

For One More Day by Mitch Albom – Book Cover
As is usual with Mitch Albom, For One More Day is a novel which touches upon a rather heavy subject, following the story of Charley who, from a very young age, was always forced to choose between his father and his mother after they got separated. Things don’t change as he grows up, and one day he decides to secretly go visit his father on a weekend rather than his mother… a decision which doesn’t end well, considering she dies while he is gone.

This event obviously left its mark on him, leading him on a path of alcoholism and depression, something that wrecked his own family. As he is about to take his own life, Charley is somehow given the chance to go back in time, at least for a while, and be together with his mother for her last day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

“The First Phone Call from Heaven” by Mitch Albom – The Power of Belief

The First Phone Call from Heaven” by Mitch Albom – book cover
The First Phone Call from Heaven is a rather unique and peculiar novel written by Mitch Albom, focusing on the citizens of a small town who have allegedly started to receive phone calls from those in the afterlife. As far as the people are concerned, the calls seem real enough and there is not a single indication that it may, in fact, be a hoax.

Finally, someone decides to find out once and for all what is really happening there, and that someone happens to be a single grief-stricken father by the name of Sully Harding. As he sets out on his journey, we come to realize that there may not be a black-and-white resolution to this whole affair, and that maybe, just maybe, the human mind is more powerful than we give it credit for.

Monday, December 16, 2013

“Mrs. McGinty’s Dead” by Agatha Christie – The Dirt of a Cleaner

Mrs. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie – Front Cover
Throughout her illustrious career Agatha Christie has delivered to us many unforgettable and moving classics in the crime mystery genre, but that happens to be a two-sided coin; though nearly everyone may be familiar with her popular works, her lesser-known efforts are overshadowed, and not for a lack of quality. It seems to me that Mrs. McGinty’s Dead is one of those novels, following Hercule Poirot as he leads an investigation inside a small village into the murder of an elderly cleaning lady who wouldn’t dare hurt a fly. Though the police already have a very fitting suspect with evidence and a motive, Poirot knows that there is something bigger going on behind the scenes, leading him on a thrilling investigative trail where the answers may very well lie in newspaper clippings from a few days ago.

As you can guess, this is a classic Agatha Christie novel, presenting us with a clear and well thought-out mystery which simultaneously provides answers and raises new questions, up until the final climax where Poirot reveals the fruits of his labor. As is usual, the reader has a fair chance at guessing who the criminal is, though I guarantee it won’t exactly be easy, especially those who aren’t used to the murder mystery genre. Though there isn’t really anything ground-breaking that changed the face of literature, this book is top-notch as far as delivering entertainment is concerned.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

“King and Maxwell” by David Baldacci – Investigating Beyond the Grave

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci – Front Cover
David Baldacci has already gifted us with an incredible amount of mesmerizing mysteries, and with King and Maxwell comes a new one that no fan of the author should miss. This time around, we once again follow the duo of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, two private investigators and former Secret Service agents. They are tasked with a seemingly innocent case from a teenage boy: though his father is said to have died in Afghanistan recently, the boy received a communication from him after the fact.

In other words, the mystery hinges on whether or not the father is truly dead, but as is always the case, there is much more to it than the surface would suggest. After a bit of digging, our heroes open up a veritable Pandora’s box of secrets, raising many unwanted and uncomfortable questions, with the most important one being: is Tyler, the teenage boy, the next target?

King and Maxwell is a book which can be said to be divided into two parts. The first one is slower-paced and helps to create the atmosphere and bring the setting to life. Though there are some action sequences here and there that will make your blood pump faster, for the duration of the first half they are rather far and few in-between.

There are multiple references to some of Baldacci’s other books, meaning that those who haven’t read them may feel a bit lost on this one. However, through about one-third of the book the action starts to slowly pick up, going into full gear once you’ve reached about half the book, and that’s where it will hook you and won’t let you put it down.

Though the relationship between the two characters was developed a bit questioningly (some of the interactions between them felt like filler content), the story itself advances at a rather rapid pace and bombards us with twists and turns that make us forget everything about the few flaws which detract from the book. The whole web of mystery holds up rather well with very few noticeable holes, if any at all. Baldacci has a very good sense of timing, never giving us more information than necessary, making the revelations in the story numerous and enjoyable without being ridiculous or feeling over-the-top.

In the end, King and Maxwell is a very solid effort by Baldacci and though it may not be the perfect read for new fans of the author, it certainly remains a great conspiracy thriller that will satiate your thirst for government cover-ups and that sort of thing.

You shouldn’t expect anything deep or philosophical out of this book (though if enough effort is given, anything is possible I gather), but pure entertainment in classic Baldacci style. I definitely recommend it to his fans and anyone looking for a good thriller to keep them busy.

David Baldacci (August 5, 1960)

David Baldacci

Personal site

Certainly one of the more famous authors of the 21st century, David Baldacci was always gearing himself to become a prominent writer, beginning his work at a very young age as a child. He gifted the readers with countless classics and bestsellers such as The Innocent and Absolute Power.

More of David Baldacci's book reviews:
The Last Mile
The Guilty
Memory Man
The Escape
The Target
The Hit
Zero Day
The Forgotten
The Innocent

“Miracles and Massacres” by Glenn Beck – The Hunt for Truth in History

Miracles and Massacres by Glenn Beck – Front cover
Though in school most of us thought differently, history is about much more than remembering names, dates and facts. If recounted in the right way, history is basically the true story of humanity, the tale of what happened us and what led us to where we are. Miracles and Massacres by Glenn Beck is basically an attempt to not only correct many of our erroneous beliefs about history, but also to present us with the story of humanity in an epic and entertaining way, or as much as that is possible at least.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 33

Hello to all, and welcome back for what is the thirty-third edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where news from the world of books never cease to flow. In this issue we are going to start things off by learning about Krakow, a city which many refer to as a capital of literature. Following that will be an in-depth analysis of what literary prizes are and who they are really for. Finally, to bring things to an end we will look into the creation of the legendary James Bond, exploring the literature and people he is based on.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

“Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard – Jesus the Regular Person

Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard – Fron Cover
It can be argued that in the grand scheme of things, today there are two different “sides” to Jesus. The first one is the religious Jesus, the pale-skinned white man who came down on Earth to share the teachings of his father, the one who died on the cross and got resurrected three days later. The other one is the real Jesus, a very average Middle-Eastern man who became a cult leader before being brutally assassinated by the Romans.

The existence of the former comes from biblical texts, while the existence of the latter has been proven in countless historical writings. Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is a look into the historical Jesus, detailing his life (or at least, what is known about it) and putting into context his death which, at a certain point, became inevitable.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“1Q84” by Haruki Murakami – A Meditation on Life

1Q84” by Haruki Murakami – Front Cover
1Q84 is perhaps one of the better-known and more popular novels by Haruki Murakami, even though it certainly drew mixed reactions out of the public. For those who are not familiar with the author, Murakami has won a great number of awards for his many works of writing, making a name for himself as a humorous, original and philosophical author whose approach is unique in itself.

What precisely is 1Q84 about? Well, giving you a brief summary really won’t do this book justice, but I’ll try anyways. We follow two narratives surrounding a young man and a young woman who spent a part of their childhoods together.

Though separated by time and space, they both vividly remember each other, and very slowly their stories come together over the course of the book. Before that happens though, the young lady, Aomame, enters a bizarre parallel existence she refers to as 1Q84, and Tengo, the young man, sees his life unravel in unexpected ways after taking on a suspicious and mysterious ghostwriting job.

Monday, December 09, 2013

“Gifted Hands” by Cecil Murphey and Ben Carson – The Biography of a Real Miracle Worker

Gifted Hands” by Cecil Murphey and Ben Carson – Front Cover
Many great doctors and surgeons have come and gone over the past centuries, and it can be argued that today, Ben Carson is the most celebrated neurosurgeon, or at least one of the most revered ones. Basically-speaking, Carson worked miracles day in and day out, saving innumerable lives in the process and even being the pioneer of the surgery used around the world to separate twins who are conjoined at the head.

Gifted Hands is the autobiography of Ben Carson, written by the surgeon himself and Cecil Murphey, a writer who specializes in non-fiction literature. In this biography we learn virtually all there is to about Carson, from his childhood to his current-day activities, taking us through his most memorably and harrowing experiences, both in and outside the operation room.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

“Smoke and Mirrors” by Neil Gaiman – Unreal as Ordinary

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman – Front Cover
Neil Gaiman has a habit of bringing us fantastic and surrealistic stories with a colorful cast of characters, and his rather famous collection of stories, Smoke and Mirrors, may be considered as part of the pinnacle of his craft. In this collection of some thirty stories and poems, we are introduced to a strange world which on the surface seems like ours, but underneath it is very different and in some cases even unsettling.

The many things you will see happen in this world include an old woman buying the Holy Grail straight out of a shop, hitmen advertising themselves nonchalantly and even offering wholesale discounts, a boy forced to barter with a troll under a bridge, an angel bumming a smoke from a teenager, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 32

Greetings to all you readers, and welcome back for what is the thirty-second issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, our little window into the surprisingly exciting world of books. This time around, we will start by exploring a digitalization project led jointly by Oxford and the Vatican, followed by thirteen rather unbelievable book titles, and we will finish things off by having a look at Edgar Allan Poe’s relevance in the modern world.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

“The Two Minute Rule” by Robert Crais – The Past Never Forgets

The Two Minute Rule” by Robert Crais (book cover)
Max Holman has always followed his own rules to the letter, and not for nothing: being that his profession was to rob banks, the slightest deviation from that survival codex means either prison or death. Unfortunately, there was one job during which Holman forewent his rules, resulting in a botched job and years spent in a federal prison.

Upon his release, Max learns that his son has recently been gunned down in cold blood, with the truth behind the matter still eluding those on the case. Heartbroken and distraught, Holman teams up with Katherine Pollard, the ex-FBI agent who put him away, in hopes of uncovering what lies beneath all the smoke screens and deception. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Two Minute Rule, penned by Robert Crais.

When I first picked up this book, to be quite honest, I expected a rather standard and straightforward murder mystery, one where the twist are predictable and most of the characters are cardboard cut-outs. Well, I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but I was at least partially right. The story itself, at certain times at least, develops in a bit of a predictable manner, especially if you’ve already indulged in other books of the same genre. Some of the characters are also a bit under-developed for my taste, but to be fair, they are what they need to be for a murder mystery thriller.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

“The Last American Man” by Elizabeth Gilbert – Being One with Nature

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert – Book Cover
The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert is the biography of Eustace Conway, and an exploration of his philosophy. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Conway is a man who, when he was seventeen, decided to move away from what he sees as an unnecessarily cruel and materialistic world into the Appalachian Mountains, coming as close to nature as is humanly possible. He has been living in the mountains ever since then, feeding off the land and wearing the skins of animals he trapped.

This book looks into his early life, what led him to make such a rash decision, what influenced him in terms of his philosophy, his life in the mountains, and basically his way of thinking he is trying to spread to others.

Though there certainly are some interesting elements in the first part of the book about Conway’s early life, they are a bit superfluous in my opinion and only interesting for those who want to know why he ran away like he did. The part of the book which describes his survival in the wild is also quite interesting, but once again it only scratches the surface of what we really want to know. Things get truly interesting once Gilbert begins to explore things on a psychological level, attempting to explain Conway’s reasoning and why he found happiness in a way of life that is drastically different from most of ours.

Monday, December 02, 2013

“The Monkey’s Raincoat” by Robert Crais – Out of the Frying Pan…

The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais (book cover)
The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais is one of those mystery detective novels that grabs you from the first paragraph and tries to never let you go until the end, and in my opinion, it surely succeeds in that aspect. It starts off as we are introduced to the hard-boiled war veteran, Elvis Cole, who decided to turn to private investigating as a way to make ends meet. However, he isn’t the average sleuth as the wise-cracking detective could give some of literature’s most well-known private dicks a run for their money. Anyhow, he soon gets embroiled in a missing person case as a woman by the name of Helen Lang hires him to find her husband, Mort, and his son.

However, quite soon Elvis finds himself caught in something much worse than he had originally anticipated, finding Mort murdered and his son nowhere to be found. To make matters even worse, his client, Ellen Lang, has gone missing as well, further tightening to noose of mystery around Elvis’ neck. The first thing you will notice about this novel is Elvis’ eccentricity, as he basically lives in his office stuffed with Disney memorabilia, along with an invisible partner who seems to have a bit too much say in how affairs develop. He makes for a very curious character who certainly has a whole other realm to him besides his professional one.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

“Living Big” by Pam Grout – Follow the Life you Want

Living Big by Pam Grout – Book cover
Living Big by Pam Grout certainly isn’t your traditional novel, nor is it your run-of-the-mill self-help book, filled with obvious pointers and downright cheesy tips and tricks. Rather, this self-help book aims to teach you how to turn around a dead-end life into something you will truly enjoy and be passionate about.

In order for this to happen, the author realizes that there are numerous hurdles or barriers that need to be eradicated from our lives, but the problem is that we are the ones who put them there in the first place. Through various examples of people who have drastically changed their lives in some ways as well as rather simple philosophical discourse, Grout demonstrates how it is possible to live life to its fullest and enumerates all the values and morals that come along with having such an outlook on life.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 31

Hello to all, and welcome back for yet another informative session in what is the thirty-first edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature. Today, we are going to start off our exciting journey into the world of books by taking a look at the first and most expensive book in the United States, we will follow with an exploration of how rare books are targeted by criminals more than we imagine, and finish things off with some tips and tricks from Richard Davies, a rather successful book collector.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom – The Value of Time

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – book cover
No one goes through life knowing the concept of time without spending some time thinking about it. Does time truly exist, or is it merely a human construct which we use to measure our lives? Because the question is rather philosophical in its nature, I have yet to find an answer which conclusively supports one side of the debate over the other. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting subject which deserves to be explored deeper at any given opportunity, and it’s the grand theme The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom revolves around.

Monday, November 25, 2013

“Agent Zigzag” by Ben Macintyre – Playing Both Sides of the Fence

Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre – Book Cover
The Second World War has given rise to countless tales of heroism that will hopefully be carried on for centuries and centuries to come. As a matter of fact, there are so many of them that one would be hard-pressed to discover them all in one lifetime. At this point, those who studied the war know that a huge part of it was not fought with guns, but with information and espionage tactics.

In many situations, one piece of data could turn the tides of a coming battle or save hundreds, if not thousands of human lives. Eddie Chapman is without a doubt one of the most famous double agents to have ever lived, and though he was not exactly James Bond, he put is life at risk innumerable times to accomplish his missions. Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre is basically Chapman’s biography, but what sets it apart from the ones written before it is the fact that a number of files in regards to Chapman’s time as a secret agent were recently declassified. In other words, this is truest picture we have come to elaborate of Chapman’s life.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

“Sycamore Row” by John Grisham – The Power of Will

Sycamore Row is yet another legal thriller from John Grisham, and for this one we return to the courthouse in Clanton, previously seen in A Time to Kill. This time around, Jack Brigance finds himself in the middle of a rather peculiar case, certainly no less strange than the last one. Everything began when Seth Hubbard, a wealthy man dying from lung cancer, decided to hang himself on a sycamore tree. It wouldn’t all be so bad if it wasn’t for the new will he hastily left behind in his departure.

Needless to say, that little piece of paper with words on it turns everything upside down, as he suddenly decided to leave virtually all of his fortune to his maid (who is black, which is important in this book’s context) rather than his own family. This rash act raises many questions and pulls Hubbard’s family, his maid and Jake Brigance himself into a very convoluted web of events where every answer gives birth to two new mysteries.

To begin, I’d like to address the John Grisham fans out there who are wondering whether or not this is really a sequel to A Time to Kill. To be frank, this depends on how you define what a sequel is. In my opinion, it is more of a spiritual sequel than anything, using some of the same characters and geographic location. However, the two stories are not related to each other and each one stands on its own as a separate case.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 30

Greetings to everyone and welcome back to Gliding Over the World of Literature, for what today is the thirtieth issue of our little online news delivery. This time, we will start off by looking at some recently-discovered ancient books which may contain the earliest portrait of Jesus known to man, after which we will have a glance at six writers who accidentally birthed masterpieces, and finish thins off by checking out the ruling in regards to a collection of works by Franz Kafka.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki – A Life in a Lunchbox

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – Book Cover
Though perhaps those who are used to the Western way of living sometimes crack jokes about the prevalence of suicide in certain Asian cultures, such as the Japanese one, the truth is that it is a very real problem on the other side of the pacific. Countless people of all ages and all types of lives put an end to their existence on a very regular basis, believing that it is by far the best solution to any problems they may be experiencing.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is basically set in motion by this phenomenon, as a Japanese teenager living in Tokyo decides to end her life of bullying and loneliness. However, before she does so, Naoko decides to chronicle the life of her Great Grandmother who was a Buddhist monk who managed to live more than a hundred years. However, that is only part of the story as on the other side of a Pacific lives Ruth, an author suffering from writer’s block and praying for some kind of intervention. She finds in the form of a lunchbox that washes up on a shore, containing the story of Nao’s life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“The Light in the Ruins” by Chris Bohjalian – Desolating Beauty

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian – Book Cover
The year is 1943, and the Rosati family is safely tucked away into their villa standing in the lush hills south of breathtaking Florence. The war is of no concern to them as the walls keep them protected and they are way out of harm’s way. However, their idyllic life is soon ruptured as two soldiers approach and demand to use their villa as refuge. Needless to say, more Nazi soldiers start pouring in, and the villa slowly turns into a nightmarish prison from the safe haven it once was. Fast forwarding twelve years later, it is now 1955, and though the war is over, the Rosatis still aren’t out of the woods; there is a serial killer who is methodically finishing them off one by one. Serafina Bettini is the gorgeous investigator tasked with finding that killer, but in the process she must also face the scars the war left on her and fight her inner demons before she can move on to the real ones.

Such is the rather complex premise of The Light in the Ruins, a novel by Chris Bohjalian who has never failed to commentate on one social issue or another, having seemingly written most of his novels for that very purpose. For starters, I have to say that this novel lacks a bit in structure and rigidity, jumping back and forth between 1943 and 1955 at every chapter. Though it would sound like a nice arrangement, the two timelines are quite different in their events and at the end of one chapter it is easy to forget what was happening in the last one.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

“Necessary Lies” by Diane Chamberlain – Fear of Difference

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain – Book Cover
In Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain we are introduced to a fifteen year-old girl named Ivy Hart, living on a tobacco farm in North Carolina during the 1960s. She lives in a shack, and what’s more, she must take care of her aging grandmother, her mentally ill sister, her small nephew, and all the while contend with her own epilepsy. Quite soon, Ivy realizes that her situation is simply overwhelming, and that’s where Jane Forrester, a recently-married social worker comes into play. As Jane gets increasingly involved in Ivy’s life, she learns dark truths she could have lived without, and in an age where being mentally ill meant being institutionalized, she puts it all on the line to try and save the Hart family as best she can.

Though Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain may be a fictional tale, it certainly touches on topics that were and still are very real, having broken countless peoples’ lives. In this specific case, it is dysfunctional families and the institutionalization of mentally-ill people and the rampant discrimination against them… a phenomenon which is still all too present to this very day. The book shoves us into the harsh rural lands of 1960s North Carolina from the very first pages, and the atmosphere is set for a realistic and grizzly novel, one in which we see in great detail the functioning of a rather disabled family, and the system designed to provide them with help.

Monday, November 18, 2013

“A Dirty Job” by Christopher Moore – Death’s Successor

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore – Book Cover
The story of Charlie Asher is a rather average one. He is a successful young man living with the love of his life, and he’s expecting his first child to pop out soon. One day, however, a strange phenomenon manifests itself around Charlie, and simply refuses to leave: people around him simply start to drop dead without any reason.

As the dark phenomenon explains it to Charlie, he has been recruited as a sort of death merchant, tasked with retrieving the souls of dead people by appropriating their most valued possessions. Of course, the job doesn’t come without a catch (other than all the death), as the souls happen to be quite valuable and desirable commodities for other demons, devils and whatnot, forcing Charlie to spend his working days fighting the forces of darkness all while putting stop to murderous schemes to murder his family. I present to you, A Dirty Job, by none other than Christopher Moore.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

“Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – Rapture’s Mutiny

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – Book Cover
The Rapture is about to come to Earth, and everything is set in position, with the Antichrist being confided into the caring hands of Crowley and Aziraphale, a demon and an angel respectively. However, what the forces of Heaven and Hell do not suspect is that across the eons, the demons and angels have gotten to know each other pretty well, and what’s more, they have come to care for the humans more than for their bosses. In other words, they aren’t exactly happy with the rapture happening in the first place, and that’s when Crowley and Aziraphale are found to have somehow misplaced the Antichrist, delaying the whole thing and basically giving their masters the finger.

Indeed, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is far from being your ordinary story, being akin to a grand comedy of errors and a satire which touches upon a lot of religious beliefs and popular culture. There are plenty of jabs taken at Christianity (quite understandably), just like there are many references to movies such as The Exorcist. Though it is possible that some people may be offended by it, I would urge you to remember that it is, after all, simply a comedy and not meant to be taken as gospel, or even seriously in the first place. If you hold the belief that religion is something to be always be taken with utmost seriousness and not to be joked around with, then I would urge you to steer clear of this particular novel.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 29

Greetings to all, and welcome back to Quick Book Reviews for the twenty-ninth edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where we always have worthwhile news from the world of arts and letters to discuss. This time we are going to start by looking at how Isaac Asimov was investigated under the suspicion of being a Soviet spy, what critics voted as being the best criminal novel ever written, and fifteen new revelations coming from the recent biography written on J.D. Salinger.

Friday, November 15, 2013

“Winners” by Danielle Steel – No Quitting in Life

Winners by Danielle Steel – Book Cover
Statistically-speaking, it is safe to say that most of us will lead rather average and relatively easy lives, always being pestered by mild inconveniences and perfectly solvable problems. However, there are also many out there to whom life gave the finger, encumbering them with greater challenges than a human can be expected to face. Though some wilt under the pressure, many find ways of thriving and making the best of their poor situation, and that’s what Winners by Danielle Steel is all about.

To give you a brief idea of the plot, it tells the story of multiple people, each one of them facing tremendous difficulties and how they manage to overcome them, in one way or another. Amongst others there is a ski champion whose hopes are crushed to the ground by a tragic accident, a scarred breast cancer survivor, and a financial manager whose career is in ruins due to betrayal. There are six of them in total, and from the desolate ruins which their lives have become they rise as phoenixes, refusing to let their destiny get the better of them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

“The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert – An Extraordinary Family’s Journey

We may have the impression that our lives are long and full of adventure, the truth is that they are mere singular parts in comparison to the great journeys traveled by entire families throughout the centuries. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is partly based on that concept, telling the story of the Whittaker family throughout two centuries (the 18th and 19th) and the journey they travel, going from rags to riches all while making countless extraordinary encounters and living through many historical events. During the first century, the family is led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker who started off as a poor-born Englishman, but soon became the richest man in Philadelphia through the Quinine trade.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

“S.” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst – The Unison of the Letter

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst - Book cover
S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst presents us with a rather simple premise which nevertheless has infinite potential. In this story, brought to life by the famous silver screen personality and a very talented short story writer, we are presented with three main “actors” so to speak: Jennifer (a college senior), Eric (a disgraced grad student), and the book which connects them, Ship of Theseus, written by the peculiar and enigmatic V.M. Straka.

Though the two students have no idea the other one exists, Jennifer one day picks up the book, only to find Eric’s notes, which seemingly indicate that he is enamored with it, its world and its characters. The young lady then adds her own notes to it, and so begins a very long and thoughtful conversation between the two, all of it conducted in the margins of the book. Through it, they not only discover about each other, but also about themselves, who they might become, their passions, loves, fears and the degree of trust they are willing to give a complete stranger.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“Life Inside the Bubble” by Dan Bongino – Behind the White House Scenes

Life Inside the Bubble by Dan Bongino – Book Cover
We, the normal folk, can only really imagine as to how things work on the higher echelons of politics, and how the decisions which guide the country are really taken. Are politicians just pushing their own agendas? Is it a power contest? A free exchange of ideas? Are they all in cahoots? The truth is that we can only keep guessing, and the more dedicated of us will simply jump on the opportunity to find out more on those rare occasions when someone from the inside goes out and tells us how it is. Dan Bongino is one such a man, being a former member of the Presidential Protective Division and having left the service in favor of a political career. In Life Inside the Bubble, Dan Bongino details his own life, going all the way from his childhood, passing by his stint with the secret service, and ending with his current political efforts.

As the book started I began to have thoughts of regret creeping in my head. Though Bongino certainly had some noteworthy events to discuss in regards to his childhood and very early career, most of the stuff found here can be classified as autobiographical anecdotes that can be entertaining, but at the end, forgettable. All of my feelings of doubt dissipated however once the part about his time in the secret service began. From there on out, we get to see the inner workings of not only the Presidential Protective Division, but also the White House politics behind closed doors. In other words, it’s as if we are taken to the world’s greatest backstage where we can get a glimpse of how things actually work on such a level.

Monday, November 11, 2013

“E-Squared” by Pam Grout – Seeing Reality

E-Squared by Pam Grout – Front book cover
Out of all the mysterious and endless topics of discussion which philosophers have touched upon over the centuries, it can be argued that determining what is true reality is one of the most interesting ones ever brought to our attention. There are countless theories as to how the world truly works and why, each one having its benefits, drawbacks and counter-arguments.

In the end, it seems that we are left with an undisputable answer and must search for it ourselves. E-Squared by Pam Grout would be best-described as an attempt to help us find that coveted truth. E-Squared is a rather peculiar book, and it was written as an attempt to help us see for ourselves that there is some sort of cosmic force in the universe that is superior to us and plays a role in guiding the flow of life. Perhaps even more intriguingly, the book promises that the knowledge found within will help us see actual proof that reality can indeed be manipulated with the help of our consciousness.

In other words, Pam Grout wants us to see that we can indeed have power over where our life goes, and that the world itself can work in our favor if we act appropriately. More concretely, the book promises to provide proof of there being an endless energy field of infinite possibilities, that we are part of it, and that we can control it in a large number of different ways. The thoughts and ideas presented here will perhaps be familiar to those who have already researched on quantum mechanics, the power of your will, imagination, intention, and so on and so forth.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

“The Lost Years” by Mary Higgins Clark – Murder Sanctified

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark – Book Cover
With The Lost Years Mary Higgins Clark creates yet another addition to her vast repertoire of novels, and this time around she decided to try her hand at writing a serious historical crime fiction. To give you a brief idea of what it’s all about, the story follows Mariah, the daughter of a biblical scholar, Jonathan Lyons.

One day, Jonathan is found murdered in his study, with his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife hiding in the closet and holding the gun. The police are quick and eager to close this case, but Mariah knows deep inside of her that something is wrong, and that there is a bigger game being played here. More specifically, she knows it has something to do with her father’s obsession: a letter written by Jesus Christ himself and stolen from the Vatican’s Library more than six hundred years ago.

What we have with The Lost Years is, in my opinion of course, a solid murder mystery with a historical and religious context to it, one that doesn’t seek to push any boundaries in favor of providing guaranteed entertainment. The story itself is relatively straightforward and simple, for we follow Mariah linearly as she unravels the web of truth little by little. Guessing where the story will go is at times a bit too easy, and seasoned murder mystery readers will find this to be an easier challenge than other reads.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 28

Hello to everyone, and welcome back for another edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature. In this twenty-eighth iteration we are going to start off by looking into the Scottish book of the year, followed by an exploration of six books with very unexpected authors, and finish things off by seeing what John Walsh has to say on the subject of Hemingway’s mysterious suicide.

Friday, November 08, 2013

“The System” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian – The Rise of College Football

The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian – Book Cover
When it comes to how popular sports are, it was always assumed, at least by most people, that casual fans are only interested in the highest professional levels, while the more hardcore fans watch a sport at lower levels as well. Perhaps this was true for a while, but with the meteoric rise in popularity college football has seen in the United States, it no longer is.

Hundreds of thousands of stadium seats are filled on Saturday college football games, with the final’s viewership only being trumped by the Super Bowl. From the outside, it would just seem like the public developed a deeper interest into what many refer to as America’s game. However, things are looking rather different from the inside, something Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian aim to show us in The System.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

“We are Water” by Wally Lamb – The Family Connection

We are Water by Wally Lamb – Front book cover
Anna Oh, mother of three and artist, has spent twenty-seven years in marriage, and has now fallen in love with a wealth art dealer by the name of Vivecca. Though it may be a bit late by some peoples’ tastes, Vivecca and Anna Oh decide to get married in her hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut.

However, as the wedding starts the winds of change begin to blow. This rather unconventional marriage produces many mixed reactions from the family as well as the people, and what’s more, this turn of events inadvertently opened up the Oh family’s Pandora’s box, unleashing into the world all of their dreadful truths they have kept secret for so long. This is how We Are Water by Wally Lamb starts off, and it continues onwards as an exploration of how different people face the big challenges and tragedies of this life.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

“Phantom” by Jo Nesbo – Innocence Lost

Phantom by Jo Nesbo (book cover)
It seems that there is no stopping Jo Nesbo, who has penned one Harry Hole after the next, encountering great success in the process of bringing to life one of modern literature’s most recognizable detectives. Phantom is yet another chapter in Harry Hole’s legacy, this time around being centered on the death of Gusto, a local junkie, and perhaps more importantly, the man who was accused of the murder: Oleg, a boy Harry helped to raise a while ago.

Being understandably dear to him, Harry sets out on a personal investigation to find out what truly happened to Gusto and who is to blame for it. In the process, Harry is drawn into the macabre underground world of drugs, sex and violence which lurks beneath Oslo, going face to face with not only the most vile drug to hit the city’s streets, but also with numerous elements of his own past.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

“Wonder Boys” by Michael Chabon – The Thin Line Between Young and Old

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon – Front Cover
The world of literature is a complicated one to live in and navigate, mostly because one has to find his or her own direction autonomously. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon explores that world through two quite unforgettable characters. First, there is Grady Tripp, a former prodigy in the world of publishing who spends his days in a hazy cloud of marijuana trying desperately to finish his interminable second book. Alongside with him there is James Leer, a student and budding writer who is trying to make a name for himself and find his direction all while being obsessed over the idea that Hollywood is self-destructing, eventually leading to its very own demise.

If you look at the many reviews people have given Wonder Boys, then chances are that you will be compelled against reading it. It seems that a large number of readers don’t take well to his simple writing style, believing that the topics and themes Chabon discusses go over his head. Well, I am not going to say that they are all wrong (after all, who am I to make such definitive statements?), but I will say that most, if not all of them, aren’t experiencing the book the way it was meant to be. Though Chabon does use a simple writing style, it does have its benefits and its charms. Namely, his character descriptions are always very easy to understand and relate to, painting a vivid picture of all the participants in his story.

Monday, November 04, 2013

“Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford – In Search of Hope

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (Book cover)
Hope is perhaps one of the most powerful emotions we humans are capable of feeling, for it has helped countless carry on through conditions which they couldn't logically survive. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford touches on that subject quite heavily, as it tells the story of a twelve-year old Chinese American orphan boy living in Seattle during the depression, who one day sees a woman by the name of Willow Frost on the silver screen.

Becoming mesmerized by her abilities, the boy comes to believe that Willow is indeed his real mother, alive and well. In hopes of proving his suspicions to be reality, he escapes the orphanage with his friend Charlotte and embarks on a journey through the streets of Seattle where he not only makes many strange acquaintances, but discovers many mysterious connections from his past to the exotic movie star. Willow Frost, however, is far from what the boy expected, with her life mirroring nearly nothing from the Hollywood fantasy created around her.

The story created here by Jamie Ford is a two-pronged one in my opinion. On one hand, it aims to truthfully depict the colorful and hopeful lives of countless people, adults and children alike, who waded through the depression in search of meaning and connection. On the other hand, it is also a heartwarming adventure and meditation on the power of hope, and how it can give people the drive they need to endure anything.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

“The Redeemer” by Jo Nesbo and Don Bartlett (translator) – Gun Salvation

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo (book cover)
Christmas is on the horizon, and inspector Harry Hole is a bit weary of all the extraordinary cases he has been on recently, meaning he is looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet, at least for once. However, it seems that the curse of all great detectives has now struck him too: rest is the last thing he will get.

During a Salvation Army concert which took place on the streets of Oslo quite innocently, the singer was mysteriously and brutally murdered for all to see by a point-blank shot to the face. Surprisingly enough, no suspect could be identified, no motive for the murder could be found, nor was the murder weapon discovered. With all of these revelatory clues at his disposal, Harry pushes onwards and quite soon finds himself going as far as Yugoslavia on his quest for the truth. However, what he doesn’t suspect is that the true evil and darkness that lurks behind the hearts of men awaits for him back is Oslo, amongst the homeless junkies, vagrants and Salvationists that have claimed the streets.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 27

Greetings to all who are reading and welcome back for yet another edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature. In this twenty-seventh edition we are going to kick things off by exploring an interesting book written by Randi Zuckerberg on the way social media affects our lives. We will keep on going with a look at an attempt to encompass the complex life of Norman Rockwell, and finish things off by learning about the many books stolen from the Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Friday, November 01, 2013

“Dear Life: Stories” by Alice Munro – The Moment of Change

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro - book cover
Life keeps on going forward, and too often we find ourselves looking behind us for moments, days, weeks, months and years even, trying to find out how we got to where we are. In other words, we often try to reconstruct our actions to find out where we have crossed the point of no return, perhaps in hope of finding at least some kind of sense in a situation that makes none.

Dear Life: Stores by Alice Munro is a collection of numerous short stories which are, in one way or another, centered on the concept of the point of no return, that one moment where things became different. These thematically-linked stories include that of a soldier who becomes emotionally isolated from his fiancée, a young teacher suddenly abandoned by her employer, a mother who is both cheating and neglecting her children, and a father whose life is torn apart by the guilt inside of him.

What can I say about Alice Munro that hasn’t been said already time and time again? She truly is a wordsmith at the pinnacle of her trade, weaving together smooth rivers of colorful and vivid words which convey exactly what she wants to, no more no less. Her sense of timing and flow are impeccable; there are no imperfections, with events always advancing at a speed that simply feels appropriate for them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

“Confessions of a Scary Mommy” by Jill Smokler – The Truth Behind Motherhood

Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler - book review
When those of us who aren’t parents are asked to imagine what motherhood is like, most of us think of emotionally-fulfilling moments between a mother and her baby. We may imagine the baby sleeping soundly in her arms, or perhaps laughing cutely and learning to speak his/her first words. However, as Jill Smokler would have you know in Confessions of a Scary Mommy, these stages of motherhood are very few and far in-between… most of the time is actually spent in a peculiar purgatory. In her book, Smokler tries to explore the whole concept of motherhood and what it really is like for a mother to be raising children, and not to mention a husband, who, according to the book, is perhaps the biggest baby of all time.

Smokler dispels virtually all the imagined ideals we had in regards to motherhood, showing us that even the best of mothers struggle quite often, and perhaps even sometimes wonder what on God’s green Earth drove them into such a life, despite loving their children above all else. Jill doesn’t exactly complain though or try to put the reader in his or her place, claiming that she knows the truth while others do not. On the contrary, her approach to the whole ordeal is quite humor-centered, admitting that all the successes and failures during that part of life are nothing but human nature, and one would be hard-pressed to find parents for whom all went smoothly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

“The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo – The First Snow Victims

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo – book cover
In the very recent past Jo Nesbo has established himself as a very interesting mystery writer, especially with his penning of numerous Harry Hole novels. He has brought us one solid murder thriller after the next, and with The Snowman he makes no exception. Being another Harry Hole novel, we now follow our beloved hero as he looks into a rather strange disappearance.

After the first snowfall, a boy woke up only to see his mother gone, with her only trace being her pink scarf tied around a snowman which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. To make matters even more intriguing, Harry receives a mysterious letter, and quickly sees the pattern: for the past eleven years, a woman always disappeared on the first day of snow. However, the serial killer Hole is chasing is a far cry from your average madman; being aware of himself and the game he is playing, he has no qualms with breaking his own rules to gain an advantage, or at least prevent things from going stale.

As is always the case (so far at least) the story in The Snowman is very solid and put together with a lot of care and attention, even to the smallest details. The first half of the book is basically dedicated to setting the various plotlines in motion, and in the second half they truly start developing, picking up, and eventually, intertwining. There are always superb and unpredictable plot twists and turns that will keep you guessing as to who the killer is, until the very end where all is revealed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

“Orr: My Story” by Bobby Orr – The Making of a Modest Legend

Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr – The Making of a Modest Legend
If you would ask random people on the street who they believe the best hockey player in the history of the sport to be, chances are that an overwhelming majority of them would answer with the name Wayne Gretzky. However, the man’s grandiose exploits may very well have overshadowed the accomplishments of superb players who could be equally-deserving of that title, with one of them being Bobby Orr.

Due to the fact that he played as a defenseman, Orr never could match Gretzky in terms of sheer points, but he was, and some believe still is, head and shoulders above all other defenseman in the game’s history. He received countless trophies for his play and set so many records that some of them are still standing today. Even though he was a superstar, Orr never really opened up about his own person and the person behind the player, until recently that is, when he wrote the only biographical book on himself, Orr: My Story.

Monday, October 28, 2013

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy – The Path Never Traveled

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - book cover
Cormac McCarthy is quite popular in literature circles for his unforgettable novels exploring either the post-apocalyptic world or the dark side of life in Southern places. It can be argued that The Road is his one of his more successful novels, and for such a title, its premise is quite simple: a father and son crossing a post-apocalyptic world in hopes of reaching the coast.

They have a pistol, some clothes, scavenged food, and each other. They do not know what awaits them once they reach the coast, nor do they know how far they will make it on this journey, for the cold and desolated wasteland known as Earth is patrolled by a brutal, cruel and lawless gang of “raiders” (for lack of a better word). There are no rules, no guarantees, just a very long road on which the unexpected and the unknown await all those who want to cross it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

“Police” by Jo Nesbo – The Price of Failure

Police by Jo Nesbo (book cover)
In Police by Jo Nesbo we once again see the return of our beloved and charismatic hero, Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad. This time around, the action takes place in Hole’s home, Oslo, and he finds himself face to face with one of the most dangerous enemies he could ever fathom: a serial killer who targets police officers. As is always the case though, there is more to this killer’s logic than an unbearable disdain for authority; each police officer was murdered at a scene of a crime they failed to solve in the past. Considering the fact that Harry Hole found himself at the center of virtually every major investigation in the past few years, the question must arise as to whether or not he is also in danger, and if he has enough time left to put an end to the killer’s spree before he disappears for good.

Contrary to what we saw in the first Harry Hole novel, Jo Nesbo spent more of his time focusing on the story itself rather than character development, which is what we got last time (for a large part at least). As far as the plot goes, I have to say that even though it doesn’t contain groundbreaking elements to it, it nevertheless remains extremely solid, polished, and satisfying. The mystery behind the killings is fun and interesting to figure out on your own as there are clues here and there as to who the murderer is and why he does what he does… it’s just up to the reader to put it all together.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 26

Good day to you all, and welcome back for yet another edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where news from the book world flow endlessly forevermore. This time around, we are going to start things off by looking at how a solution to a Shakespearean mystery may have been found, followed by an exploration of some sci-fi titles that flew below the radar, and finishing things off by learning about a more brutal and exciting side to Arthur Conan Doyle.

Friday, October 25, 2013

“The Reason I jump” by Naoki Higashida – Understanding Autism

The Reason I jump by Naoki Higashida (Book cover)
Autism is perhaps one of the most mysteries conditions people on this Earth happen to be afflicted with. Though it certainly doesn’t take away one’s ability to live a life and function in society, it does affect him or her in various ways which can turn life into quite a difficult and painstaking labyrinth. From a medical point of view, the more unfortunate thing is that we do not really know much about the condition, precisely how it affects the human mind, and perhaps more importantly, how autistic people perceive the world. However, we are slowly progressing for the best, and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida may help us to push things much further and faster.

To give you a bit of background knowledge, Naoki Higashida is a teenager who is afflicted with severe autism. For many years he did not know how to communicate with the world, falling into isolation and despair. However, with time he was taught a system of communication, to the point where today he can, although somewhat painstakingly, write entire books. The Reason I Jump is basically, at least from what I gathered, Higashida’s attempt at helping the world understand how he and those afflicted with autism perceive the world. In the process of showing the differences between us, Higashida is also trying to demonstrate how in the end, autistic people are perfectly capable of understanding others’ words and emotions, empathizing with them, having dreams, hopes, desires, and more.