Review: Thick as Thieves

March 28, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: Thick as Thieves 

Thick as Thieves
Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As quickly as I finished my last book (quick because it was a simple YA novel), I finished this one just as quickly because it really gripped me. Sure, it's the sort of story you've heard a bit before, or seen in the movies (The Italian Job, Ocean's whatever, The Town), but Peter Spiegelman ups the ante by making his novel smarter than all those ones combined (I imagine it will be made into a movie soon too). Spiegelman's Wall Street background no doubt helps with this, but he really puts a lot of work into the other details of the job as well. Plus, there are plenty of memorable characters: Carr, Declan, Valerie, etc. In the end, as Carr wonders who he can trust, you find yourself uncertain of who he can trust as well, which makes the payoff ultimately very satisfying. Riveting.

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Review: The Tiger’s Wife

March 26, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: The Tiger’s Wife 

The Tiger's Wife
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really didn't think this book would be of any interest to me, but I had seen it on so many "best of" lists, I determined to give it a shot. And I was not disappointed. Maybe if the title had been "The Deathless Man," it would have triggered my interest sooner, but no matter, I finally got around to reading it last week.
So apparently "magical realism" is one of my favorite kinds of literature to read. From Marquez to Murakami to Obreht, I sometimes struggle through it, but ultimately love it. This was no different. I enjoyed the exploration of myths, and even found the main plot thread of the granddaughter's own journey to be rather interesting. Obreht has some stiff competition for my favorite book this year (Art of Fielding, Swamplandia!), but it will certainly rank right up there.

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Review: Article 5

March 26, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: Article 5 

Article 5
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting read, but it probably ended up short in my eyes because it reminded me too much of too many other books I've read in the past. I just didn't feel like it added anything to the whole teen dystopia genre, unfortunately. The writing and plot were just okay, but I didn't love the characters (nor did I particular understand why they loved each other), and really, everything just ended up being so predictable I kept reading to confirm my predictions. Oh well, I didn't expect much from a YA novel, and didn't get much. No biggie.

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Review: The Art of Fielding: A Novel

March 13, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: The Art of Fielding: A Novel 

The Art of Fielding: A Novel
The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I plow through the last 120+ pages of a 500+ page novel in one night, I guess that means I liked it. I was a bit slow in getting through the first 400 though, mainly because I could see the train wreck coming, and I didn't want it to come, to turn these characters' lives upside down. But inevitably, things happen. Unfortunately for this group (but fortunately for the reader), they keep on happening in interesting ways. Sure, one could quibble over the way the author chose to resolve a major plot point as it came to a head, but ultimately, I thought it actually worked pretty well. Plus, he gets the baseball parts right. Extra points for that.

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Review: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

March 9, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: A History of the World in 6 Glasses 

A History of the World in 6 Glasses
A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cruised through this one fairly quickly. I felt like Standage could have written individual books about each drink he talked about, but I was grateful that he didn't. There were times when I thought he just kind of let his thoughts trail off at the end of the chapter, but then I got excited as he started up on a new drink. Very interesting and obviously well researched.

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Review: The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto

March 9, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto 

The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto
The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book, if you have a sense of humor about it. Obviously, DeVoto takes shots at all sorts of targets, and you can argue whether he hits the mark or not. But to me, I was laughing all the way through. Funniest book I've read in a while. Just don't take it too seriously, and you'll be fine. Except for his recommendations on how to make a proper martini. That's serious as a heart attack.

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Review: The Sisters Brothers

March 9, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: The Sisters Brothers 

The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is the Western novel on its way back? Maybe. This one is a pretty interesting one. Maybe not quite up to True Grit standards, but certainly one that revives the genre.

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Review: Swamplandia!

February 9, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: Swamplandia! 

Swamplandia!
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took a little while to get into this book, but once I really sat down and got into it, I really bought in to the characters and felt for them. The novel really drives toward a particular scene that you know is coming, but hope against all hope it doesn't, but when it does, it hits you all that much harder.
Karen Russell does a masterful job of setting scenes and describing them in a real, but somehow mystical way. The writing truly is superlative. Definitely a new favorite.

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Review: Luminarium

February 7, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: Luminarium 

Luminarium
Luminarium by Alex Shakar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really wanted to like this one more than I did. But there were just too many strange and unconnected things that I didn't "get" so much. Oh well.

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Review: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

January 3, 2012 · Posted in 12 Books · Comments Off on Review: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything 

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This could have been a snoozer, but Joshua Foer actually takes an interesting historical look at memory, doesn't delve into too much silliness about Google replacing our memory, and even makes memory competitions sound more interesting than they deserve to be. Fun read for non-fiction.

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