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: 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: 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: 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: 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It took me a while to get through this one, it’s just long. And yet, it’s still Murakami at his most simple and spare. Some people might complain about the lack of resolution for the supernatural elements of the story, or the sometimes clunky language, but the most important thing was to resolve Tengo and Aomame’s stories, which I ultimately thought he did quite well.

Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ernest Cline took my childhood, threw it into a blender, turned it on high, and spit out the most awesomest book ever written. Video games, quoting Monty Python word for word, pop culture trivia: these are all important PLOT POINTS. And it works too! The whole thing is just amazing, and if you are any kind of child of the 80s, you will go read this book right now. I mean, I get all my books from the library, so I don’t buy hardly any books ever. But this book is getting purchased and is going on the shelf in a place of honor.

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love StorySuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A lot of authors have tried to write near-future fiction that ends up falling into sci-fi too much (hint: we still don’t have flying cars and jet packs, get over it!). Gary Shteyngart writes near-future fiction that is downright scary, because it seems so close to coming true. He totally nails what could be the downfall of the US, and does it without delving too much into techno-babble. It’s entirely possible that this book will actually hold up over the coming years, and wind up being far too prescient as well.

The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays

The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven SundaysThe Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays by Ron Jaworski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Are you a geek? Do you also love football? Then boy, oh boy, is this the book for you. If you’ve ever seen Ron Jaworski breaking down film on NFL Matchup or one of his other many ESPN shows, you know there’s no one better. In this book, he takes a look at seven games featuring seven groundbreaking approaches to coaching in the NFL. There’s no understating how much fun it is to read about how innovation rules in the NFL even though most of us can’t see it on a game-by-game basis. Jaws has a good one here. It’s accessible to the average fan, but gets deep into the game for the real football geek too.