Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book 18 of 52: Fathermucker by Greg Olear

Another huge gap between books, I know. But marathon training is almost over and I hope I won't be falling asleep with the light on every night.

Another reason why finishing the next book took so long: I wasn't sure if I was going to hang with Fathermuckerby Greg Olear. I had the same issue with this novel as I had with Book 2 of 52, Truth in Advertising, the "wheeeee look at what I can do with these words!"

But instead of an advertising guy, here we have a stay at home dad. He has two children, Roland and Maude. Roland has Asperger syndrome, and it isn't until Olear dives into the history of autism and Asperger, starting with when these children were thought to be demonized, that the novel settles down and gets on with it, and Fathermucker becomes less about an attempt to put dazzling words around parenting, but a story about a family that might be coming apart, and how they fit in with the other less than perfect families in town (no, I'm not giving it away, dear readers). The book is also about what happens when two create people settle down and have a family - and what ambitions were lost, and if that's a good or bad thing.

I ended up liking the book in the end, which was surprising given the start. I still think the beginning could have used a good, hard edit, but the book was published in 2011. Too late for that.

I must have met Olear at Book Expo America - my copy is a galley, and it's signed - and I lugged this book through not one but two moves. I found it when I unpacked my books. I'm glad I held onto it.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book 17 of 52: Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich

I know it's been a few weeks since I posted a review, and I'm even having a hard time believing I've gone this long since finishing a book for the blog, but I've been on the run - literally. I'm in the height of training for the New Jersey Marathon, and I'm exhausted. I've been falling asleep before 10 p.m. every night, and since I do most of my reading before I fall asleep, that leaves a lot less reading time.

I'm still...cranky with my reading material. I keep picking books and then changing my mind - one being a romance novel bought at CVS because my hotel mate decided to go to bed early, and since I was running the next day (Ocean Drive 10 miler), I couldn't go out and drink. It worked in a pinch, but after five chapters, I just didn't care enough anymore to follow through because the main character annoyed me.

I had started Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire--and How It All Came Crashing Down . . .by Ben Mezrich while in Vancouver, and put it aside for Book 16 of 52: Theo Pauline Nestor's How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed because Nestor's book fit in my purse while Mezrich's did not. I was also less interested in internet gambling than break ups, so I didn't have a huge incentive to keep reading, but I did want to get back to it after I finished Nestor's book, and here we are.

Straight Flush is about the University of Montana fraternity guys who launched Absolutepoker.com - a pipe dream that started by playing poker in bars near college, then set up shop in a rented house in Costa Rica on its way to becoming a billion-dollar company. But, as the first chapter, which is about one of the key members turning himself in to U.S. authorities, all did not go well.

Then the narrative jumps back to these guys in college, and the story unwinds from there. There's plenty of stories about young men with lots of money living it up in another country. I found that less interesting than the business aspect, of how they did manage to put together a legitimate business that, overnight, the U.S. made - possibly - illegal.

This is definitely a Mezrich topic. He also wrote The Accidental Billionaires about Facebook and became the film The Social Network, and Bringing Down the House, which was about MIT card counters and was turned into the movie 21. I've read parts of Bringing Down the House, but found this story much more interesting if not exactly exciting enough to keep me anchored to my chair to finish the story.

Still much better than a romance novel with a wishy washy heroine, though.

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