I found "This Beautiful Life", by Helen Schulman, to be a riveting, edge of your seat, but only partially satisfying novel. The main plot line is gripI found "This Beautiful Life", by Helen Schulman, to be a riveting, edge of your seat, but only partially satisfying novel. The main plot line is gripping, and the way it unfolds is truly a page-turner. A happy, seemingly perfect, rising middle class family, that moved from Ithaca, NY to New York City, unravels when Jake, the 15 year old son receives a lewd video from Daisy, a 13 year old girl who attends his school. Daisy hosted a party that Jake attended by chance, got drunk at and gave Daisy the impression he liked her but thought she was too young. She sends him the video in an attempt to impress him and get him to return her affection for him. Jake, shocked by the video, forwards it to his best friend, who forwards it to a couple of other friends and soon it goes viral.
I am divided as to whether to give this book 3 stars or 4 stars. I found the build up and the character development to be excellent, but I was underwhelmed by the end result. Not because it was insignificant, but because I was not convinced that it really would have happened. Although the main characters (Jake and his parents) have flaws that are subtly revealed early in the story, those flaws, in my view, led too quickly to a denouement that seemed to me to be a little too dramatic and a little too forced.
The book wins high marks for telling an important story about the lack of confidentiality with today's technology and the dangers of the internet. It was also a book that kept my interest all the way. My wife loved it and doesn't agree with my ultimate view of the ending, so, although I give it 3 stars, I would still recommend it to parents of teenagers and pre-teenagers. It has good, strong messages and you just might like the end more than I did....more
Goldfinger, Ian Fleming's 7th 007 book, is so far the best of them. The characters are fabulous -- Goldfinger, Oddjob, Jill Masterton and her sister TGoldfinger, Ian Fleming's 7th 007 book, is so far the best of them. The characters are fabulous -- Goldfinger, Oddjob, Jill Masterton and her sister Tilly, Pussy Galore, and the collection of other gangsters assemble by Goldfinger to try to pull off one of the biggest crimes ever. Goldfinger is one of the few Bond films that I have seen. I like the movie, but I love the book. Even knowing how the characters were depicted in the film did not detract from my being able to construct my own image in my mind based on how Fleming portrays them in words. I could not put this book down from start to finish. ...more
The Tipping Point is my first Malcolm Gladwell book and I am looking forward to reading more. This book is filled with anecdotes and stories, all woveThe Tipping Point is my first Malcolm Gladwell book and I am looking forward to reading more. This book is filled with anecdotes and stories, all woven together to make the point that the accumulation of little things, with the aiding and abetting of certain types of people, can have large effects on things that matter in the world. i had multiple moments of "wow, I never knew that", as well as "that is so obvious, but why hasn't anyone put it together before?" This book is well-written, fast paced and incredibly interesting. Even if you are not normally a reader of non-fiction, I highly recommend this book. it will open your eyes, and make you think....more
Doctor No, the 6th of Ian Fleming's 007 series, is a page turner all the way. It is a bit less violent than the books that preceded it, and, as with aDoctor No, the 6th of Ian Fleming's 007 series, is a page turner all the way. It is a bit less violent than the books that preceded it, and, as with all the others, I have found them to be more tantalizing than the films and less reliant on futuristic gadgetry. Fleming's writing style is clearly getting smoother with each book. I give this one only 4 stars because the ending let me down slightly with the speed with which Bond managed to get out of the mess he found himself in. Nevertheless, Doctor No is a worthy member of a fine series that keeps you craving for more....more
In Defence of Dogs is a book that should definitely be read by anyone who owns or wants to own a dog, as well as by anyone who ares about dogs. It isIn Defence of Dogs is a book that should definitely be read by anyone who owns or wants to own a dog, as well as by anyone who ares about dogs. It is an attempt to bring science to the forefront of the way people think about dogs -- from evolution through to domestication. The author's starting salvo against entrenched thinking about dogs is that although they are descended from wolves, they are not descended from the wolf that prior experts have used as the model for trying to interpret dogs' behaviors. Moreover, the habits of wolves that dominated dog theory for many years were based on wolves in captivity, not wolves in the wild. Animals in captivity behave quite differently. In the case of wolves, this is most evident in alpha dog.dominance behavior exhibited by wolves in captivity. Once we realize that wolves don't really behave that way, then it is obvious that our belief that dogs behave that way is wrong. This leads to a whole different approach to training and raising dogs as pets. The author also attacks the breeding industry for focusing on trying to breed dogs that look good rather than dogs that would make good pets. In fact, most of the purebred dogs that typical pet owner ends up with are dogs that were bred for show, but weren't good enough for one reason or another. Add to this that the inbreeding that is necessary to keep a pure-breed pure results in weak genetics, disease and harmful mutations and pretty soon the whole world of how humans think about dogs is turned on its head.
My only criticism of the book is that a number of the points are repetitive and the author's writing style could be improved. However, given that this is really a science book at its core, these criticisms are not harsh and the book is a very worthwhile read....more
Not without reason, this book was named one of the best business books of the year when it was published. It gives an incredibly insightful perspectivNot without reason, this book was named one of the best business books of the year when it was published. It gives an incredibly insightful perspective on poverty in the world and new ways to go about tackling this global problem by focusing on the people who are in it rather than the organizations trying to throw money at them. It is written in a very accessible style and stays with you long after reading it, which is unusual for this type of book....more
The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. But it was ver difficult to followThe Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. But it was ver difficult to follow once you get past the first half of the book. It is described as an accessible and relatively easy to understand book on a very difficult topic, but I felt that it was still too difficult for even the above average reader. I guess it is impossible to understand quantum physics without an intense math background. And although I was very good in math in school, and was very open to trying to follow all the formulas, I ultimately ended up skipping over a lot of them and felt that I was missing out on much of what this book had to offer.
The authors are humorous, down to earth and excellent writers. I think they took on an impossible task -- making quantum physics understandable for the non-scientist....more
After reading two biographies (Shakespeare and Churchill), I decided to dip back into lighter fare and picked up the 5th book in the 007 series, FromAfter reading two biographies (Shakespeare and Churchill), I decided to dip back into lighter fare and picked up the 5th book in the 007 series, From Russia With Love. The best ob the Bond books so far, I found myself unable to put the book down, despite nothing really happening in the first 100 or so pages. The rich character background, particularly of the villains, Donovan Grant and Rosa Klebb of Smersh, is excellent. Bond's budding friendship with Darko Kerim, the head of station in Istanbul, is another high point. And the whole train ride on the Orient Express was taut with just tension and suspense. Another example for me of the book being better than the film. Bond is just so much more real as a person as his heroics are less gadget-dependent and (almost) entirely plausible. I thoroughly enjoyed this book....more
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure is an excellent story that makes some complicated math topics understandable and fun. The main characters aThe Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure is an excellent story that makes some complicated math topics understandable and fun. The main characters are a little boy named Robert, who doesn't like math or his math teacher, and the number devil, who visits Robert at night in dreams. The number devil, through clever stories and visuals shows Robert how math can be used in a variety of situations, and how numbers can be magical. The book covers concepts such as infinity, exponents, fractions, square roots, prime numbers and pi. I think this would be a great gift to give to a child between the ages of 11 and 16, to show them some of the more fascinating aspects of math that they might not learn in school, but might help get them interested in looking at math in a new light....more
If you ever would have asked me "Joel, when are you going to read a novel about a fictional city in Ireland that takes place in the future that tellsIf you ever would have asked me "Joel, when are you going to read a novel about a fictional city in Ireland that takes place in the future that tells the story of a fading gangland family's control of the city and their battles with fallen rivals who have returned and new rivals from the other side of town and from within their own organization," my answer would have been a swift "Never!" Yet I was fascinated by a book review of City of Bohane, so I put it on my To Read list and I am glad I did.
This book by Kevin Barry won an award for great debut novels. Although I am sure a fair bit of the book went over my head because I am not Irish and missed a lot of the humor and satire that a native would surely have not missed (hence my 4-star rating instead of 5-stars), the story is fascinating, the characters are rich and writing style is superb. This book entertained me from start to finish and brought me into a world I never would have come close to encountering. I highly recommend it....more