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

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

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

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

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

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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