Month: December 2013

Book Review: Then They Came For Me by Maziar Bahari


Rating: 5 / 5

Maziar Bahari left his pregnant fiancee Paola in London to cover the Iranian presidential election, assuring her that he would return in a few days.  As an Iranian citizen, this election is important to the country, but also hits Bahari on a personal note.  His father and older sister had previously been imprisoned in Iran due to political unrest, and the general consensus is that reformist and popular candidate Mousavi will defeat reining president Ahmadinejad.  The day of the election, however, there are rumors that Ahmadinejad will win due to corruption, lost ballots, and other ploys devised by Ahmadinejad’s party.  The unrest caused by Ahmadinejad’s re-election has caused Iranians to gather in the streets for peaceful protests, however, journalists such as Bahari are soon arrested and imprisoned, accused of being a spy for Western civilizations.   Bahari spends the next three months in Iranian’s most notorious prison, Evin, subject to daily beatings and torture, while his fiancee, family, friends, and media acquaintances work tirelessly to free him. (more…)

Book Review: Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.


Rating: 4 / 5

Bill Dedman notices a mansion on sale, and upon further investigation, discovers that it has been uninhabited for the past six decades.  The owner is Huguette Clark,a reclusive heiress, and what is even more fascinating is that she has multiple properties, all empty, while she lives in a Manhattan hospital.  But who is Huguette Clark? And how is she a millionaire heiress that the public has never heard of before?  As the authors investigate, they uncover her family’s past, as well as Hugette’s personalities and hobbies.  As she outlived her immediate family , has not been seen out in public in decades, and has gifted millions of dollars to her nurse and other acquaintances, her distant relatives wonder if she is mentally competent or being manipulated.  (more…)

Book Review: Lexicon by Max Barry


Rating: 3 / 5

Emily Ruff is homeless teenager, relying on petty scams such as Three-Card Monte for a few quick bucks here and there.  She is recruited into a super secret school that teaches the power of words.  Graduates are called poets, and have mastered the ability to manipulate others.  The other half of Lexicon is centered on Wil Parke, who has apparently been kidnapped for information he does not know he possesses.  An unknown group has been tasked to find Wil because he is immunity to persuasion by the poets. While the two story lines seem separate and independent, Emily and Wil’s lives are intertwined, and through flashbacks, the reader comes to understand the relationship between the two and their fates. (more…)

Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri


Rating: 4.5 / 5

Subhash and Udayan are two brothers, separated by 15 months, who are inseparable in India.  Subhash is the older brother, and is quiet, determined, and many times defers to his younger, more rambunctious and outgoing brother, Udayan.  Their paths diverge in college, and eventually Subhash continues his studies in America.  Udayan, on the other hand, is equally intelligent, but his passion lies not in academics, but in the communist movement.  Tragedy strikes Udayan, and when Subhash returns to India, he changes the course of his own life in trying to help Udayan’s wife. (more…)

Book Review: If You Were Here by Alafair Burke


Rating: 3.5 / 5

McKenna Jordan is slowly trying to piece together a respectable career as a journalist.  Ten years ago, she was an up and coming ADA, but rushed to judgment too quickly, which ended up costing her legal career, as well as the career of the police officer she accused of corruption.  Jordan is reporting on a local story of a woman who saves a teenager on the subway tracks in Manhattan, and as she views the cell phone footage of the incident, she realizes that the woman is likely her friend, Susan, who mysteriously disappeared a decade ago.  Nobody believes her, and with her credibility shot, Jordan decides to investigate on her own the identity of the mystery woman.  (more…)

Book Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


Rating: 5 / 5

Chava is a golem, made of clay, and made to have a master.  Her master, however, died on the ship over from Poland to America, and Chava finds herself alone with in New York City, with no where to go and nobody to turn to for help.  Ahmad is a jinni, a being made of fire, and after spending thousands of years locked up, has finally been set free by an unknowing tinsmith in New York City.  The Golem and the Jinni is the tale of Chava and Ahmad, their lives separately and their adventure together when their paths cross. (more…)

Book Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout


Rating: 4 / 5

Growing up in a shaky and unstable family environment, Amanda Lindhout coped by getting lost in National Geographic magazines, imagining herself traveling to exotic cities and villages that were highlighted in the glossy pages.  When she leaves home at nineteen to work as a cocktail waitress, she makes more money than she thought she would, and thus begins saving money to travel around the world. Once a year she’ll take (more…)