Monday, January 26, 2015

Wolf in White Van

by Alida Hanson, Librarian

A unique and thought provoking piece of fiction about a strategy game conducted through the mail, a few of the players who took the game too seriously, and the creator of the game, Sean, who started the game when he was 17 after a disfiguring accident. You don't know the why of the accident until the very end.

Although short, it is dense and enigmatic. The plot would seem to be evenful, but somehow when you're reading it takes a back seat to beautiful language. One point of resistance for me was a pervading feeling of an oddly flat and one-dimensional world. The flap copy told me that the author is a famous lyricist. Could that be informing his fictional style? And is that a bad thing?

My favorite parts of the book were about the creation and maintenance of the game. We learn about the flow chart Sean used to make the game, and how infinite possibilites from the players' perspectives are in fact predetermined, limited choices. This is a major theme of the novel: what do we do with our choices?

Wolf in White Van doesn't remind me of anything I've ever read, but I am not a big fantasy reader and perhaps there are some comparisons there. I recommend this to readers who like to be challenged by literary fiction as well as those who have an interest in gaming (who doesn't like to play games?). Shortlisted for the National Book Awards, it has gotten a lot of critical attention this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

by Peter Noonan

This book tells the tale of the hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. As you read you will watch Bilbo change from quiet and cautious to adventurous and outgoing. Tolkien immerses you in an unearthly world as Bilbo journeys with thirteen dwarves and a wizard. Watch as these fifteen brave creatures skillfully avoid trolls, goblins, wolves, dragons, and giant spiders. Overall, this book outstandingly places the reader in a world that is full of rich and vivid details.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read books with rich descriptions and exciting adventures. This book has a strong and exciting plot. The Hobbit also has rich characters, but it can be difficult to keep track of all thirteen of the dwarves. If you are a person who does not like having to remember a lot of characters, this might be frustrating for you.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Erica Williams

The Beautiful and Damned is a story of privilege, love, gluttony, and tragedy in the roaring 20’s. Set in New York City in what is now known as the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald tells the tale of a wealthy man named Anthony Patch. Although orphaned over the course of his childhood, he spends his early years travelling around Europe and eventually attends Harvard, where he is a successful student.

At the time that the story is set, Patch is 25 years old and living in the great city. He is idly waiting for the death of his rich grandfather, a businessman who made a fortune in the early railroad industry. Patch is the only living heir and moves to New York to await this amazing inheritance. Meanwhile, he has enough money to live comfortably and lacks the motivation to rcreate or do anything productive, despite his insistence that he is working on a historical novel about medieval Europe. He occupies much of his time socializing and drinking with fellow young elites living in the city.

He soon meets Gloria Gilbert, famous among New York’s upper social stratum as a woman so beautiful “men have desired since she was sixteen.” In a similar way to Anthony, she lives in a state of lavish, luxuriant boredom. Her main occupation in life is to be physically beautiful and to attract a rich, financially secure, upper-class young man as a husband. She accomplishes just that after Anthony courts and marries her. But can their marriage last after their attraction to each other is confirmed and acted upon, and they have nothing better to fill their time with than to stay out late every night and slowly become more alcoholic?

The Beautiful and Damned is a cautionary tale about the dangers that opulence brings to those who are over-accustomed to it, and especially to those who were given it, rather than earning it. Read the novel that first brought F. Scott Fitzgerald to popular recognition as he tells the tragic satire of his own early marriage, and what made it fall to pieces.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

by Sera Sidhom

I loved this book. The first hundred pages get boring because it sets up the scene for the big plot twist that comes in the middle of the book. However if you endure these pages and pay attention to them you will be able to make connections throughout the rest of the book.

I liked how this book had multiple plot twists and was written in the opposing points of views of both protagonists. I liked how different this book was from other books I usually read as it combines mystery, drama and murder. In addition, this story seemed real (although horrific) and not as far-fetched as The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner.

I recommend this book to anyone who is willing to dive into a good mystery and drama. Get ready for the plot twists--this book keeps you guessing!

Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink

by Alexandra Barry

This is one of the most gripping accounts of a natural disaster I have ever read. I loved that the book tackled a controversial issue of assisted suicide and lack of preparation when emergency hits. Hurricane Katrina will always be remembered by the shocking footage of people standing on the roofs of their houses waving for help, but perhaps the most controversial news of Katrina was the scandal of Memorial Hospital. The nation went into a frenzy after allegations of murder went public against three of the hospital's doctors. Five Days At Memorial is a riveting account that shows the many different sides of a story and exposes the true air of desperation at Memorial during the week Katrina hit.

This book didn't remind me of any other book I had ever read before, because of its honest and raw portrayal of the thoughts behind the three doctors' actions of lethally injecting patients to aide them into a peaceful death. It is a unique account that shows the opposite side of a scandalous story that was not portrayed by the media. Five Days At Memorial humanizes the doctors at Memorial Hospital and shows their true good intentions to help patients in need. 

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a different story that shines a light on the controversial questions society often asks and who wants to question their own opinions as well as the basis on which they were founded. A must read!

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

by Kym Darby

Lies We Tell Ourselves follows the life of Sarah Dunbar, an African-American girl who, along with a few other students, integrates an all-white high school in 1950 Virginia. It was interesting to get a view of what the life of a young African-American woman might have been like, which kept me interested in the book. The author's writing style was also incredibly intriguing and kept me engaged through the whole novel.

I recommend this book to anyone who is simply looking for a good read! It's filled with a rollercoaster of emotions and events that keep the reader on their toes and wanting more! Definitely read it!!

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James

by Andre Chang

Dead Man's Grip
 is an entertaining novel. Although the plot wasn't that original, it captivated my attention from the very start and I did not put it down until it was finished. Peter James paces the story well and inserts pop culture references to help the readers connect with the characters and narrative. His style of writing is clear, new, and refreshing for me so I'm looking forward to reading more of his works. 

Dead Man's Grip is actually the 7th book of a series and I didn't realize this until after I finished the novel. Because of this, the only gripe I had with the plot was a small side story which probably would have been easier to understand if I had read the previous books in the series. Other than that, Dead Man's Grip is compelling and I recommend it to anyone looking for a simple, predictable, yet ultimately entertaining novel.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

by Ally Anderson

This book was compelling, enlightening and empowering. It discusses two different childhood stories and outcomes of two different guys with the same name who grew up close to each other but never knew one another until the book was written.

One Wes Moore is imprisoned for life while the other is free and experiencing things he never dreamed of as a kid. This book is an easy read while being very encouraging and interesting; it contains good and bad memories to which many people can relate. 

I personally liked the book because, growing up in a similar situation (but not the same) and hearing about different experiences through my brother, I could empathize with many of the stories and reflections. It reminded me of A Girl Like Me by Ni-Ni Simone because the boys in both books seem relatable and go through similar situations. 

I recommend this book to anyone who can handle it. It has some strong and vivid memories and can be sad at times but also very quotable and inspiring. Anyone can read it but everyone should.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

by Ryan Doorandish

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell dives into the world of your subconscious and rapid cognition. It reveals when and when not to rely on your snap judgments. Gladwell uses many examples from racism to success of married couples as case studies in rapid cognition. Coming in to this book I knew very little about rapid cognition, but after reading this, my future decisions and my worldview will be impacted. 

The main thing that fascinated me about this book was Gladwell’s exploration of racism. Gladwell beautifully explains through statistics and examples that most of us are subconsciously racist. This changed my whole view on racism. People have often put blame on certain people for being racist. Gladwell reveals that this is not necessarily the case. Everyone, to different levels is subconsciously racist based on society’s portrayal of minorities. Therefore it is not important to identify racism, but to fix society’s portrayal of minorities. Readers will definitely be fascinated by Gladwell’s discussion on racism, and if more people have this knowledge than racism will definitely decrease. 

I would highly recommend reading the afterword because it books the entire book into perspective and outlines the lessons of the book. Without the afterword, the book is sort of incomplete, and just lists a bunch of examples without summing them up together. All in all Blink is a fascinating book that will definitely change your view of society.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

by Drew Goulart

Brave New World was honestly incredible. If you are at all interested in books like The Giver, regarding utopian societies and the interesting themes and concepts that come along with them, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. The book was written in 1932 by Englishman Aldous Huxley, a renaissance man of literature who was a playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer, travel writer, essayist, critic, philosopher, mystic, and social prophet. At the time of release the book was not popular because of it's uncensored and radical ideas that did not fully align with the global problems of the time. However his predictions of the future, to many's disbelief, are becoming more and more accurate, and the world that he envisioned six hundred years from now is terrifyingly coming far sooner.

The book is enlightening because it speaks about matters that you will most likely not hear elsewhere. I was completely captivated by his writing, and have never been so eager to reach the end of any other book as I was for this one. (Trust me the ending does not fall short in absolute brilliance!) There is not much else I can say about the book because I truly believe it puts you through a philosophical maze, and I don't want my ideas to interfere with your own discoveries of the meaning of it.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in philosophy, science, politics and true uncensored uniqueness.

Enjoy it!

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

by Emma Rodgers

Adventure, romance, murder and revenge...oops. Wrong book!

How about, rowing, poverty, school, rowing, WWII, rowing, Hitler, rowing, rowing, dating, WWII, rowing.... Well if that sounds like your kind of book then The Boys in the Boat is for you! The book follows Joe Rantz through his struggles of growing up in poverty and isolation from his family, motivating himself through school and into college. Once in college, The University of Washington, the tale of Joe's time on the Washington rowing team, the fight to improve, to continue attending school, and to grasp the true meaning of rowing captivates the reader and has him/her holding their breath during each race! The ultimate goal: to row in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, under the ever present eyes of Adolf Hitler.

This wonderful novel struck a personal string for me. Being a rower myself, I understood many of the struggles Joe and his teammates face; competition, frustration, boat rankings, and all the other the demanding aspects of this unique sport.

The Boys in the Boat is an excellent choice for all who enjoy a heart warming and wrenching tale. A story of triumph and failure, of love and hardships. It is especially suited for those who row, as it will teach them much rowing history and many incredible insights on this challenging sport.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

by Nick Camp

I really liked this book because not only was it a mystery (my favorite genre) but it also was a true story, which made it much more interesting. Also, the way the story of the murder mystery worked was very new to me, as the author chose to tell the story differently than your typical story. In this book, you found out who the murders were very early in the story, making one wonder, what kind of mystery is this? The real thrill of the book is following the detectives as they hunt for clues as to who did it, because they don't know, as well as following the killers themselves and looking into the minds of the murderers to really understand how they were feeling, their motivations, and their plans.

The story is filled with real people being quoted, as the author actually went to the town where the murder took place and talked to the townspeople, getting their side of the story. The author also was able to get the murderer's side of the story, which allowed for the author to write the book in the way he did. The way Capote did his research for his book meant that this book was able to document a national news story while at the same time write a thrilling story where you find out what mistakes were made and what clues were found in order to catch the killers, making this book one of my top five.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Rachael Crunkleton

This book is an interesting read because it walks you through the daily life of a woman prisoner. Being a huge fan of the television series, I was expecting the book to be about drama and fights between the inmates, but to my surprise the book really focused on positive relationships and eye opening moments that Piper experiences first hand. From her former middle class life to roughing it in prison, Piper tells a story of perseverance, questioning society's tendency to label others and its fear of the blatant truth.

While reading the novel, it almost feels like a diary because of the specific events and personal details that make the story so real. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13 or 14, just because of the language. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I loved how truly honest it was.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

by Elise Wirth

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is great because it makes you want to continue reading. Not once during the book did I feel bored. The thing I liked most was the language and writing style. Stockett chose to use improper grammar, spelling words in a way that creates a southern accent when reading. This made the book more fun to read because you imagined yourself down south watching the events happen and giving each character a defined voice, something you usually only get in movies. Another great quality of the book were its descriptions. They were not overdone or dragged out. They were to the point and created imagery where you could have your own interpretation of what everyone and everything looked like but you also had a good deal of detailed descriptions with which to work.

Another reason this book is so fabulous is its structure. Each chapter is in the life of a different character just like a movie is sometimes structured. There is no single perspective from which you experience the story. Of course you mostly get the main character, Aibileen's perspective. However you also get a feel for everyone else’s emotions and lives. Last, this book is great because it is historically accurate without being a boring nonfiction book. You get to see many different views on black people during the early 60s in the South, bringing light to the fact that not all white people were horrible during this racially oppressive era.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

by Sophia Daphnis

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer tells the story of Christopher McCandless and his travels throughout America. McCandless left home during the summer, without leaving a trace. His parents hired private investigators to locate him, but he could not be found. McCandless hitch hiked to the West where he worked odd jobs before continuing his travels. Many people felt a strong connection with him, letting him stay with them. His goal was to have a great Alaskan adventure, the kind Jack London wrote about.

His presence left a meaningful mark on many people, who told Krakauer about them. The book also contains McCandless’ own journal entries, which depict someone who isn’t sure what he is doing in the world, but wanted to find out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

by Zane Cassum

When most hear the title One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, they aren’t quick to associate it with Ken Kesey; if anything, the first name to come to mind is Jack Nicholson, the actor who portrays the protagonist in the film adaptation of the novel. After seeing the movie, most would dismiss reading the book as unnecessary. Perhaps it’s because I experienced them in the opposite order, but I’m one of the few who will insist that the book puts the movie to shame. Kesey himself agrees with me; in fact he was so frustrated with the film that he walked off the set--and if you take the time to read and then watch, you’ll understand why.

But on to the book. The story is told from the perspective of Chief Bromden, a half-Indian man believed to be deaf and dumb by his fellow inmates in the mental ward in which he’s institutionalized (although early on, we find out it’s merely an act). Through the eyes of the silent Chief Bromden, Kesey paints the world with the images of a man brought to insanity by constant trauma and abuse from society, which he nicknames “The Combine”, from things like over-analysis of human tendencies to outlandish night time hallucinations.

The humdrum life of the mental institution is disrupted by the arrival of Randall McMurphy, a rowdy troublemaker who doesn’t appear to be insane as much as he does out of place. The challenges that McMurphy poses to the autocratic rule of Head Nurse Ratched, the director of the ward, are exactly the troubles that Chief Bromden wants to see the Combine face. Kesey uses Bromden to reflect his analysis of the systematic American society through the simple, mind-numbing procedures of the ward, while building a cast of characters in the institution that a reader can become personally invested in.

Apparently there’s all sorts of allegory between Kesey’s characters and psychological identity, but, to be honest, I don’t know about any of that stuff and I’m not going to act like I do. The book is great, the movie’s also worth a watch, and if it doesn’t make you think too much you’ll at least enjoy seeing the characters interact in the ward. I recommend One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to any reader, particularly those who feel like they’re having issues with their identity.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich

by Brendan Garfinkel

The Accidental Billionaires turned out to be a great read. Through the depth of analysis explained through the book, I was able to tell that the author, Ben Mezrich, put much research into the telling of the founding of Facebook. This research clearly pays off as Mezrich describes the beginning and growth of the most popular social networking site on the Internet today.

Mezrich paints a clear picture of founder Mark Zuckerberg's relationships on both a business and personal level. He gives great detail of the setting in which the story takes place, and living in Massachusetts and having been to many of the places around Harvard he writes about, I could visualize many of the scenes in my head. Also I row crew for the school team and really enjoyed Mezrich’s unique detail as he describes the Winklevoss twins practicing for rowing and actually competing in a race. I could clearly pan out each rowing scene in my head as well. The book is a fairly easy read as the realistic writing style can be quickly read through and understood.

I have not read any other books about the startup of popular companies or popular businesses so it does not really remind me of any other books that I have enjoyed.

Although Mezrich tells the story through the point of views of people he has interviewed (Eduardo Saverin, Cameron/Tyler Winklevoss, Sean Parker), the book can be categorized as both nonfiction and fiction. Mark Zuckerberg declined to be interviewed by Mezrich while writing this book. The book can be classified as both nonfiction and fiction because while some of the events did indeed occur, some of them were only told through one person’s point of view and not two, so the full story can never be told, the reader is limited to one point of view, depending on the character and scene. 

If you are a fan of nonfiction like me, you will enjoy the content of the book, and maybe not the realistic writing style. If you are into rowing, Facebook, or entrepreneurship I also recommend this book to you. The book clearly reflects the start and growth of Facebook in a compelling way, and also shows the struggles of becoming an entrepreneur and the risks it takes personally and professionally to start a business. If you are an everyday Facebook user, this book clearly explains the start of the social networking tool you use everyday. If you saw the movie, it has some similarities, but I would say that the book is much better, as the movie stretches out the truth in some scenes unlike the book which goes into much more depth.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

by Catherine Argyrople

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a futuristic American society that has prospered and cultivated total control by censoring information from the general public. The purpose of government forces like the police and fire departments are altered from their current position in our lives today, solely present in the book for the purpose of cultivating universal conformity. To restrict knowledge, firemen in  burn books and ignite flames on the homes of those who disobey the rules additionally. Although firemen are supposed to extinguish flames, Bradbury twists their obligations to promote fear and conformity within society. The ironic firemen paradox is Bradbury’s underlying warning to the future of America, alluding to his belief that people should develop an identity of their own and not rely solely on official forces to control their lives. By burning books, Bradbury suggests that future Americans will try to hide knowledge and keep the greater population ignorant to the real problems going on.

Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is acknowledged as an American classic and I was surprised that I had never read it before. It is a short book compared to other classic novels, but Fahrenheit 451 in my opinion is much more interesting to read than other American literature that is required to read in school. If I were a teacher, I would take other books off of the required reading list to add Fahrenheit 451 on because it is a really deep and symbolic book.

This book reminds me a lot of The Hunger Games, not really for the plot but regarding the whole idea of a futuristic society with total control over its people.  I think that everybody should read this book every 20 years or so....  Fahrenheit 451, similar to Catcher in The Rye in this sense, is a timeless book that alters your perspective and makes you think about your life and society in general.

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

by Nathan Luu

West by West was a great read. I learned new things about Jerry West and found out that celebrities like him, did not live the life everyone expected him to live. He went through many hard times but became successful in the end. His flaws on and off the court strongly affected the way he lived.

Jerry West is known for being a very quiet guy but in this book he expresses his feelings and pours out everything that’s been bothering him since he was a kid. If you are a huge basketball fan like I am, I strongly recommend this book as Jerry West is known for his silhouette image on today’s NBA logo.
Highly regarded as one of the greatest all-time basketball players to ever play the game, Jerry West does a great job of guiding you through his harsh life. Jerry West played on the Lakers for his whole career (14 years) winning an NBA Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, and being named fourteen times to the NBA All Star Game. Not only was he a great player but he was also well known for his achievement as an executive being a six time NBA Champion and winning NBA Executive of the Year twice. 

Throughout this book Jerry West takes you on his life’s journey and describes all the challenges that he went through. This book is perfect for anyone who loves the game of basketball and enjoys reading about one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

by Nick Miller

Mark Haddon's mystery novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is written from the perspective of a 15 year old autistic boy by the name of Christopher John Francis Boone. When Christopher's neighbor's dog is murdered, he sets out to discover the truth about what happened. 

This novel, told from the perspective of a person with autism, is very different from any book I have ever read. It is filled with patterns, maps, illustrations and many other things that differentiate it from the standard mystery novel. In addition, this novel allows you to see into the brain of somebody with autism. This perspective reveals a completely different way of looking at the world. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

by Celine Zhu

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is all about family. Although it's a family drastically different from many other families, it's a family nonetheless. What begins as a how-to guide for western parents to tailor their parenting to produce prodigies transitions into an authentic human story of a unique collection of lives. I enjoyed the realism of the story and how the growing tension between family members escalated subtlety and realistically. The book also shows you the inner workings of Asian family dynamics, which from the exterior may appear robotic and factory-like, but suffers (or enjoys) the same mushy sentimentality of all other families. Although it may be veiled within appreciative grunts or permission to events that all other parents would accept with the blink of their eye, Amy Chua is able to display the esoteric language of love in a Tiger family.

I’ve never read a book quite like it. The transforming voice of the author was an interesting element to pick up on. Chua’s reaction and change in writing depending on the action of her daughters was able to paint the image of the push-and-pull relationship between parents and their children. I would strongly recommend this to parents and children alike. Parents, because they can relate to the perils of adolescent angst and rebellion. Children, because it’s enlightening to realize the humanity of your own parents. Needless to say, the book is an eye opening experience for any member of the diverse family dynamic.

Unfortunately, if you have a rigid parenting philosophy and a narrow mind, this book will be infuriating. Translating seemingly appalling actions into their loving messages can be a challenge to the monolingual. However, if you’re willing to listen and learn, the book will tell you a tale you already know: a tale of ignorance, realization, love, family, and of course--Tigers.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Maddie Hayes

Taking place in the mid to late 1920's, Tender is the Night brings the splendor, passion, and culture boom of the period to life. It is an account of a love affair between a young actress, Rosemary Hoyt, and an established doctor, Dick Driver. Showing the views of both, it illustrates the freedom one feels in love and the emotional suffocation that indifference brings in relationships. Not only is it a love story, but a cautionary tale of what happens when in love, one forgets who they are for the sake of the other person.

Those who enjoy romance, foreign backdrop, and emotional honesty, give it a read!

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich

by Austin Critchlow

Bringing Down the House is a non-fiction thriller about the MIT blackjack team in the 90’s as they use team card counting to reap rewards from Las Vegas casinos. If you have seen the 2008 movie 21, this book was the inspiration for the screenplay. While Mezrich takes several liberties with the “true events” that inspired the story, including the use of composite characters and the embellishment and fictionalization of major events, the book is mostly based in truth. One unique aspect of the book is that it reads like a fictional novel. This keeps the story very engaging and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I was reading. I also found the premise of the story fascinating: MIT students using math algorithms and statistical analysis to make thousands of dollars every night from a system designed to make the player lose. Equally interesting was the aspect of secrecy and intrigue that the students had to use to evade casino managers and constant video surveillance. They not only had to be able to keep track of all the cards in a six-deck shoe, but also be a skilled actor to fit the part of "high rolled" forking down thousands each hand, and deter the suspicions of dealers and casino management.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a relatively quick, interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking read. Don’t feel like you need to have any prior knowledge of blackjack or card counting, speaking from personal experience, the story is easy to follow. Mezrich’s detailed descriptions, fast-paced dialogue, and suspenseful peaks of action put the reader into the shoes of Kevin Lewis, the main character who is drawn into the captivating world of card-counting.

American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Jim DeFelice, and Scott McEwen

by Henry Hall

American Sniper is an autobiography by Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. While it isn't the most elegantly written book, the amazing and breathtaking stories from this soldier's time in service makes up for the writing style. The general public is often sheltered from the true details and atrocities of war and in his book Chris has no filter when describing the battles in which he fought.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how modern warfare works or simply wants to know more about what our soldiers overseas are doing in the wars to which we send them.

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

by Dan Rafla

I enjoyed Pirate Latitudes because it has a lot of elements that I hadn’t encountered in fiction before. It was historical fiction, which made it very interesting, since I haven’t read a lot of books from that genre. It was gripping and I found myself reading tons of pages in one sitting due to the fact that I simply couldn’t put it down. It had a lot of action, mystery, and an incredible climax that ended with a twist. A thrilling read for sure.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction of any kind. The historical elements are well woven into the storyline, and Crichton’s use of sensory details brings the book to life. Also, Crichton’s expert look at the complicated, dangerous life of pirates and privateers gives a glimpse into the lives of some of the greatest seamen of that time period.

A great book written by an incredible author, and without a doubt, I give it five stars.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

by Alisha Ukani

 “'You mean there's a catch?'
'Sure there's a catch', Doc Daneeka replied. 'Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy.'

'There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to.'"

Catch-22 is a satire that explores the lives and relationships of U.S. pilots stationed in Italy as they fight in WWII. Stuck in bureaucracy, the number of missions the men need to fly before leaving keeps increasing, due to a colonel that's obsessed with being the best. The story follows Yossarian, one of the bombardiers, who's goal is to not get killed in combat. It also explores the other characters, letting the reader see their histories and how that affects their actions.

The novel is like The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, as it shows what war is like from the soldiers' point of view, and is non-linear; the story jumps around and revisits scenes with more information, a parallel to how characters revisit important memories. The best part of the book is the character development, and while each character has a unique situation, they all share similar goals. This is a good book for those who like exploring the effects of war on soldiers and human nature.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

by Hunter Meyer

This is a great read for people into real life historical events. The book is about the 1991 Perfect Storm and the sword-fisherman on the Andrea Grail. Junger goes into depth to explain and analyze life as a fisherman on the Grand Banks and what it was like on the boats in the Perfect Storm.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

by Julia Metraux

I loved Much Ado About Nothing because it is comedic, a little serious, has many subplots, and is rather easy to read. As Shakespeare is Shakespeare, this play has many innuendos and jokes. One character is named Benedick, and he is can be described as a dick. Featured in this story are war heroes, a royal father, an innocent daughter, a sassy woman, deceiving villains, and an idiotic police force. I am not going to spoil the ending, but I absolutely loved it.

This play very much reminded me of the play “The Inspector General,” as they are both comedic, have serious elements, have outlandish characters, and have happy endings.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good laugh and can somewhat understand Shakespearean language.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

by Ailsa Taylor

My mom recommended Garth Stein’s novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, to me. When I started the book, I was skeptical because I do not normally like the books she recommends, but I figured I would give the book a shot. After the first chapter, I was hooked. The book is written from the point of view of a dog, which is an interesting change from books I normally read.

This book is good for anyone who is looking for a story that tugs at the heartstrings. I was unable to bring the book to read at school because the story was so sad, and I often cried or felt like crying when reading it. This book is also great for anyone interested in racing because Stein uses a lot of racing analogies.