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Less Than Zero

by

This book ranks a solid 3.5 stars, but I bumped it up due to the conversation about determining if he truly loved his ex-girlfriend at the end. It just helped show so much more of where Clay was coming from.

Other than that, the book can be summarized as "Everybody does everybody. And drugs."
Lolita

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One of the more frequently "banned" books in modern times; 'Lolita' is written from the perspective of Humbert, a man who is fixated on... let's be charitable and leave it at "young" girls.

The book is in kind of a diary/confession format, and goes through how he came to be with a girl named Dolores Haze, who sort-of kind-of reminds him of a girl he knew back when he was very young. While it's all written past-tense (in fact, the entire manuscript is written in a "looking back over events of a few years ago") the dairy/confession is very lush in detail.

There are a few "eww" moments in the book as it follows his doomed relationship with Dolores, and there is pretty accurate portrayal of how young teens are simply in a different emotional place than adults with behavior and maturity.

The book is well-written, and portrays Humbert's unraveling very well. Even with the subversive subject matter, the book isn't actually about the scandalous naughty bits as people who haven't read the book would lead you to believe.

It almost earned four stars- save for one detail:

Humbert speaks French. A lot. I don't.

French isn't a problem if you either:
a.) translate for the reader
or
b.) write the book with French-speaking audiences as your primary target.

The book does neither.

Yes, he speaks French because he's from Europe. He also teaches it when he tutors. But you know, when you're driving in a car down old-style American highways going from small-town to small-town, you can't have a few lines of inner dialogue that the reader can only somewhat piece together what you are saying.

So if you've read this much: I recommend this book to people who choose one or more.
a.) like the idea of reading "banned" books because it's a book and nobody should take that from you.
b.) like the idea of carrying around a book that will shock people, since lots of people heard from "someone" that this book is evil evil evil.
c.) possess at least an elementary grasp of French; because like changing a tire on a car, it's going to come up at some point.
Life of Pi

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I almost gave this book 4 stars, it's solidly a 3.5 star read.

Kind of like "Cast Away", but on a lifeboat.
Kind of like "Calvin and Hobbes", but with a real, man eating tiger.
No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

by and

Ok for a quick read. The author says he is writing to inspire a future kid to want to become a SEAL, and the writing style shows.

The book is interesting, and possibly no less factual than any news report seen or read before.
Super Sad True Love Story

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I think this is probably the first book where I've actually either disliked or hated just about every character in it. It is also a major downer.

I think the main themes on this book are
-social media makes people needy drones
-corporate government is evil
-dating women 20 years younger is probably not the best idea you've ever had
-except for trying to live forever. That's a worse idea than the younger women one

So be warned. I still gave it four stars because it was reasonably well-written and mostly interesting. I just wouldn't recommend it as easily as I would "Gone Girl".
The Uninvited

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I read this book a number of times as a teen.

Fun book, kind of horrible. Guilty pleasure.
Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide

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This book is pretty good for learning more about the nuts and bolts of pen-testing (like if you do security for a company and don't actually get to do the sexier pentest stuff.

Covers how to set up your own virtual lab, getting as complex as you need (including firewalls and all other fun stuff.)

If your spouse or SO is into security too, this is a great book for "together" projects.

Yep, I'm a dork.
The Fault in Our Stars

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Hazel is 16 and living with cancer. She's finished her GED and is taking college classes, but her main social interactions are her parents and a cancer survivors group.

And that's where she meets Augustus. A boy she shares a book that means more to her than anything else in the world.

This book was amazing. I'd originally given it five stars, but on reflection reduced it to four because the dialogue was just a little too unbelievable. It doesn't really detract from the story, but all the characters are just a little *too* witty and able to reference obscure tangents to connect to their ideas.

It works, but wouldn't in real life unless everyone you know majored in literature and philosophy at the same time.

I would recommend this book though. It will hold your interest the whole way through.
A Dog's Journey: A Novel

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A continuation of "A Dog's Purpose", Journey picks up and continues following the life of Buddy, who is a Good Dog. Buddy watches over his people, and has the same observations of life such as:

"People like dogs so much, sometimes they give people dog names."

A very bittersweet book as Buddy learns all about what a dog's journey actually is.
A First-Rate Madness

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Disclaimer: I won this book. I'm reviewing it, even though I didn't pay for it. Beyond the nice people at Penguin Publishing mailing the book to my house in a white, padded envelope (sadly *not* reusable) there was nothing else implied by me or the publisher in my reading it. No promise of any more white envelopes stuffed with more books, no promise of more white envelopes stuffed with $100 bills (which would have been nice, actually). It is what it is.

*********

Did some of our best leaders in times of trouble suffer from mental illness?

That's the premise of "A First-Rate Madness", which looks at historical accounts of past world leaders and contrasts the ones that were more successful with people who are more footnotes in history.

In addition to the Kennedys and Lincolns, the book also delves into Hitler (to which the author makes no defense of Hitler's actions, only if he was actually "mentally ill" or simply in a drug-induced psychosis), Ghandi, MLK, and for reasons that I'm still not 100% clear on, Ted Turner (also the only living person he examines for illness.)

The book compares the war struggles of the past, and compares some with the current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spoiler arert: Bush is *not* crazy, and actually quite normal (if there is such a thing) compared to the population at large.

It's all a very interesting view, and the book really only was a little slow in the first couple sections between looking at historical people (Sherman and Lincoln) as the thesis was starting to be laid out. Four stars, because parts of it read more like a textbook than something you would willingly read, although the book as a whole was quite good.

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