Month: April 2014

Book Review: ‘The Intern’s Handbook’ by Shane Kuhn


Rating: 4.5 / 5

John Lago is an assassin.  Though he is only 25, he is on his last assignment, since the company he works for, HR, Inc. specializes in placing assassins in companies as interns.  This is based on the premise that interns are so low on the professional totem pole that they have the ability to do work that will get them close to executives without being memorable.  John has taken it upon himself to write a handbook (which ends up becoming partly a confessional) for the next wave of assassins, filled with tips and tricks, along with journal-like entries documenting his final assignment. (more…)

Book Review: ‘Kill Fee’ by Owen Laukkanen


Rating: 4 / 5

In downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, a billionaire is killed by a sniper.  FBI special agent Carla Windemere and state investigator Kirk Stevens are witnesses, and soon brought on to help solve the case.  While in pursuit, they realize that other random acts of violence across state lines are linked to this, and the killer has multiple identities. When they discover that there is a website where people can pay to have someone eliminated, Stevens and Windemere are pressed for time to prevent the next murder from happening.  Going against them are the fact that they don’t know who the sniper is, where he is from, and who he is working with. (more…)

Book Review: ‘Under A Silent Moon’ by Elizabeth Haynes


Rating:  3 /5

Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith has been tasked with investigating two deaths that occurred in the same night in the same village.  Polly has been found murdered on a farm where she works as a groom.  Polly was stunningly beautiful, but had a reputation for being sexually uninhibited, carefree, and wanton.  Barbara Fletcher-Norman lived on the neighboring farm, and the same night as Polly’s death, she is also killed when her car plunges into the quarry.  As DCI Lou Smith investigates, it becomes readily apparent that things are not what they seem, and while no one knows who would kill Polly, many residents of Morden would have motive. (more…)

Book Review: ‘Flash Boys’ by Michael Lewis


Rating: 4 / 5

Flash Boys is a detailed look at high frequency trading, and the lack of transparency and sense of fairness that is at the heart of the Wall Street vs Main Street debate.  Some keen institutional investors have wondered why they are unable to fill client orders at prices that appear on their screens, but instead of just abstractly thinking about it, RBC’s Brad Katsuyama actually made it his mission to figure out the root cause of the discrepancy and how to fix it.  What he discovers is that flash traders have used speed to muddy the proverbial investing waters, skimming hundredths of a penny here and there.  But those hundredths of a penny has added up to millions upon millions of dollars.  Flash traders have built a system to see what orders are coming in, buy them on another exchange, increase the price, and then sell it back to the original buyer.  This front-running has undermined the markets, but has also generated millions of dollars for high frequency traders, and these traders are not even providing a service. (more…)

Book Review: ‘A Constellation of Vital Phenomena’ by Anthony Marra


Rating: 4 / 5

In the sleepy village of Eldar, Akhmed has tasked himself with Havaa’s safety, after he finds Havaa hiding in the forest, her father abruptly abducted by Russian soldiers and the house set on fire.  Knowing that the soldiers are looking for Havaa, he takes her to the only place he knows where she has a chance of survival, an abandoned hospital run by the only remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina.   (more…)

Book Review: ‘The Weight of Blood’ by Laura McHugh


Rating: 4.5 / 5

Lucy Dane doesn’t know of life outside of small town Hebrane, in the Ozark Mountains.  Her father, Carl Dane, wants Lucy to graduate high school, and leave Hebrane to go to college and lead a better life.  Though Lucy was born and raised in Hebrane, she has always felt like somewhat of an outsider.  This is because her mother, Lila, disappeared when Lucy was just a baby, and Lila appeared in Hebrane overnight.  The residents of the sleepy town all know one another, and Lila’s sudden appearance and mysterious past had people convinced she was a witch.  Carl rarely mentions Lila to her daughter, and the town is divided between believing that Lila ran away on her own accord and believing that something tragic happened to her. Recently Cheri, an acquaintance of Lucy’s was found murdered, and Lucy, with the help of a local boy, Daniel, try to figure out how wanted to kill Cheri.  In the process, Lucy uncovers deep secrets about her family, threatening her father and her own livelihood.  (more…)

Book Review: ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir


Rating: 5 / 5

Botanist and astronaut Mark Watney is one of the few human beings to ever walk on Mars.  Six days in though, a dust storm passes through, and in the chaos, a piece of equipment punctures his suit.  He was thrown away from the rest of his crew, and his suit biometrics readings showed no activity.  The storm is so severe that the mission has been scrapped, and the rest of his crew is forced to evacuate without him.  By a miracle, he does survive, and now must find a way to survive, the will to survive, and means to contact Earth.