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.