Book Review- The Stanford Law Chronicles

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Title- The Stanford Law Chronicles, Doin’ time on the Farm
Author- Alfredo Mirande
Published-  2006
Genre- Non-fiction
Length- 352 pages
Rating- 2/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- In the midst of a long and distinguished academic career, Alfredo Mirandé left his position as professor of sociology and chair of ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside, to attend law school at Stanford University. This book is both an extraordinary chronicle of the events in his life that led him to make this dramatic change and a comprehensive, first-person account of the law school experience, written by a person of color. Mirandé delivers a powerful and moving critique of the obstacles he encountered and of systematic attempts to strip him of his identity and culture. He also reflects on the implications of an increasing number of women and minority law school students for law and legal education.

Covering all three years at Stanford, Mirandé describes the elitism and rigid hierarchies he encountered in the classroom and his resulting alienation and frustration. He also discusses law review, the Immigration Clinic where he successfully represented his first client, and the alternative Lawyering for Social Change curriculum that became a haven in an otherwise hostile environment. Interspersed with his account of law school are autobiographical snapshots and experiences, including that of the death of his brother, Héctor, which was the catalyst for his decision to pursue his childhood dream of attending law school and becoming a lawyer. This controversial book is certain to spark lively debate.

Review- I actually gave up on this book about 40 pages from the end because I just couldn’t take the whining anymore. The first few chapters were ok, hence the 2/5 rating rather than something lower, but as the book went on it just got worse and worse until it became unbearable. Read More »

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Book Review- Where She Went

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Title- Where She Went
Author- B.E. Jones
Published-  March 2017
Genre- Crime, mystery, thriller
Length- 304 pages
Rating- 2.75/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- TV journalist Melanie Black wakes up one morning next to a man she doesn’t recognise. It’s not the first time – but he ignores her even though she’s in his bed. Yet when his wife walks in with a cup of tea he greets her with a smile and to her horror, Melanie comes to realise that no one can see or her hear her – because she is dead.

But has she woken up next to her murderer? And where is her body? Why is she an invisible and uninvited guest in a house she can’t leave; is she tied to this man forever? Is Melanie being punished in some way, or being given a chance to make amends?

As she begins to piece together the last days of her life and circumstances leading up to her own death it becomes clear she has to make a choice: bring her killer to justice, or wreak her own punishment out to the man who murdered her.

Review- I received an ARC of this from the publisher so thank you to them.

This book has a few problems but the one that really bothered me, and is the main reason for the low rating, is the main character’s personality. She (Mel) is a bitch, an absolute bitch. She is also whiny and immature. The wife in this is clearly being abused and Mel is not only unsympathetic, but she blames her and deliberately causes her problems thus putting her in danger, as she knows her husband is a murderer. Only a psychopath does that, and that isn’t what this book is supposed to be about. I find this issue really concerning, Mel’s response to the abuse is not normal for the western world, and it makes me wonder if these are the views of the author, if she is deliberately trying to be controversial, or if she is just a bad writer? This personality issue nearly made me stop reading the book pretty early on, I have never hated a fictional character the way I hate Mel. The personality is actually also a little inconsistent. It’s pretty heavy going for the first half but then softens a little before worsening again. It’s not even as a result of any of the “events” in the book either, it’s just bad writing. The husband’s personality is a little inconsistent too but that’s less obvious.Read More »

Book Review- What They Teach You At Harvard Business School

4306637Title- What They Teach You at Harvard Business School
Author- Philip Delves Broughton
Published-  2009
Genre- Non-fiction
Length- 283 pages
Rating- 3.75/5
Synopsis (Amazon)-  When Philip Delves Broughton abandoned his career as a successful journalist and enrolled in Harvard Business School’s prestigious MBA course, he joined 900 other would-be tycoons in a cauldron of capitalism. Two years of Excel shortcuts and five hundred of HBS’s notorious business case studies lay ahead of him, but he couldn’t have told you what OCRA was, other than a vegetable, or whether discount department stores make more money than airlines.

He did, however, know that HBS’s alumni appeared to be taking over the world. The US president, the president of the World Bank, the US treasury secretary, the CEOs of General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Proctor & Gamble – all were bringing HBS experience to the way they ran their banks, businesses and even countries. And with the prospect of economic enlightenment before him, he decided to see for himself exactly what they teach you at Harvard Business School.

Philip Delves Broughton’s hilarious and enlightening account of his experiences within Harvard Business School’s hallowed walls provides an extraordinary glimpse into a world of case study conundrums, guest lectures, Apprentice-style tasks, booze luging, burn-outs and high flyers. And with HBS alumni heading the very global governments, financial institutions and FTSE 500 companies whose reckless love of deregulation and debt got us into so much trouble, he discovers where HBS really adds value – and where it falls disturbingly short.

Review- So, this is not the type of book I would normally read and I only picked it up because my husband left it lying around, I have no desire to ever get an MBA! I did however, enjoy the book.Read More »

Book Review- The Cider House Rules

51mIqtmmJ6L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title- The Cider House Rules
Author- John Irving
Published-  1986
Genre- Literary fiction, contemporary
Length- 684 pages
Rating- 5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Raised from birth in the orphanage at St. Cloud’s, Maine, Homer Wells has become the protege of Dr. Wilbur Larch, its physician and director. There Dr. Larch cares for the troubled mothers who seek his help, either by delivering and taking in their unwanted babies or by performing illegal abortions. Meticulously trained by Dr. Larch, Homer assists in the former, but draws the line at the latter. Then a young man brings his beautiful fiancee to Dr. Larch for an abortion, and everything about the couple beckons Homer to the wide world outside the orphanage.

Review- After reading and loving A Prayer for Owen Meany I was a bit scared to read more John Irving in case I didn’t like it, I didn’t want John Irving to be ruined for me! Anyway eventually I gave in and picked this up, and I loved it. Read More »

Book Review- Sold

201114Title- Sold
Author- Patricia McCormick
Published-  2013
Genre- Literary fiction, YA
Length- 278 pages
Rating- 4/5
Synopsis (Amazon)- Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though they are desperately poor, Lakshmi’s life is full of simple pleasures: playing hopscotch with her best friend, looking after her black-and-white speckled goat, having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when Lakshmi’s family lose all that remains of their crops in a monsoon, her stepfather says she must leave home and take a job in the city. Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India full of hope for her new life, proud to be able to earn, daring to hope that she will make enough money to make her mother proud too. Then she learns the unthinkable truth: for 10,000 rupees she has been sold into prostitution.

Review- Only after reading this did I realise it is considered YA. At first given the subject matter I was horrified, but actually, it is written in a fairly “tame” way. Provided you have no issue reading about the subject matter, the delivery won’t be a problem. This book isn’t graphic. It is very clear that forced prostitution is going on, it couldn’t be more clear, but there isn’t really a lot of description about it. Instead, how the main character feels about it all is the focus.Read More »

Book Review- Little Deaths

33911791Title- Little Deaths
Author- Emma Flint
Published-  January 2017
Genre- Crime, literary fiction
Length- 307 pages
Rating- 3.5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman–and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance–or is there something more sinister at play?

Review – This book is, in many ways, deeply upsetting, and I don’t just mean because of the dead kids.Read More »

Book Review- Crazy Rich Asians

17027880Title- Crazy Rich Asians
Author- Kevin Kwan
Published-  2013
Genre- Contemporary
Length- 416 pages
Rating- 3.5/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

Review- This book is ok, it has some funny moments and mildly surprising moments, but it’s nothing to go nuts over.Read More »

Book Review – Shiny Broken Pieces

27617333Title- Shiny Broken Pieces
Author- Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Published-  July 2016
Genre- YA
Length- 384 pages
Rating- 3.25/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

Review – So for those that don’t know, this is the second book in this series. I read the first one earlier in the year and quite liked it so thought I would pick this up. The first one, oddly enough (you will understand if you have read it), actually inspired me to take up adult ballet! I am, as it turns out, terrible at ballet, but I still enjoy it! I reviewed the first book here  for those that are interested.Read More »

Book Review- The Lie of the Land

34349197Title- The Lie of the Land
Author- Amanda Craig
Published-  June 15th 2017
Genre- Contemporary, mystery
Length- 432 pages
Rating- 2.75/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.

Mud, mice, and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.

Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.

A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling novel in its depiction of the English countryside and the potentially lethal interplay between money and marriage.

Review- I received an ARC of this from the publisher so thank you to them.

I expected a lot more mystery/thriller elements to this story and was left disappointed. This book basically has you following a bunch of characters as they go about their pretty mundane lives. If these characters were real, and you stalked them, the information in this book is exactly what you would come away with. Read More »

Book Review- Hidden Figures

25953369Title- Hidden Figures
Author- Margot Lee Shetterly
Published-  December 2016
Genre- Non-fiction, History, Science
Length- 349 pages
Rating- 3/5
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.

Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellects to change their own lives – and their country’s future.

Review- I think how much you enjoy this book will depend on how many sittings you read it in. I think most people would struggle to read it in one sitting, but three or four would be ideal.

The book covers parts of history that most people know nothing about, despite the entire world knowing about the moon landing. The story itself is interesting, and eye opening in terms of the extent of segregation, and particularly the behaviour of the Virginia school system. Personally I wouldn’t have dealt with things as well as these women! There is a lot of discrimination where I work and it makes me incredibly angry but these women just got on with it and managed to change things!Read More »