Book Review: Playing For Pizza by John Grisham
3 Stars , Fiction / February 6, 2011

I bought this book. My rating for Playing For Pizza –3 About: “Playing for Pizza” by John Grisham is a fictional book mostly set in Italy. This fish-out-of-water story is perfect for the reader/sport lover and could be read in one sitting. Those fast enough will probablly be able to read most of it during today’s Superbowl half-time show. Get a discount on “Playing for Pizza” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: “Playing for Pizza” by John Grisham is a charming short novel which enthralls the reader about the culinary, cultural and architectural marvels of Italy through the fall and rise of a loser NFL quarterback. Rick Dockery cannot get any NFL team to touch him with a ten foot pole after blowing a 17 point lead in a championship game. His manager finds him a starting position in Italy with the Parma Panthers. Along his journey Mr. Dockery discovers the passion he lost to football and loses his egotistical ways. Regardless of the sports theme, this book is a gastronomic delight as the fast food fed Quarterback discovers the culinary delights of Italy. The Italian Tourism Board should send this…

Book Review: The Marching Season by Daniel Silva
3 Stars , Fiction / January 23, 2011

I borrowed this book from the local library. My rating for The Marching Season – 3 About: “The Marching Season” by Daniel Silva (Website | Facebook | Twitter) is a fictional sequel to “The Mark of the Assassin (Book Review | Buy)”.  The phrase “Marching Season” comes from the parades held in Northern Ireland every year. | Get a discount on “The Marching Season” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK | Thoughts: “The Marching Season” by Daniel Silva has most of the same characters as its prequel, but the book is not as enjoyable. The pace is fast but the story is predictable, about half way through (if not sooner) I already figured out the ending which, this time, had no twists. The plot actually has two main parts, the Irish terrorists who call themselves “The Ulster Freedom Brigade”; the second is about Osbourne and the two parts are closely related.  The characters in the book are reasonably well drawn and the plot is well put together. This is an OK thriller, I liked Silva’s other books better.  However, I’m sure that this book read much better when it was written, at…

Book Review: Command Influence By Robert A. Shaines
3 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs / January 5, 2011

I got this book for free. Article first published as Book Review: Command Influence: A Story of Korea and the Politics of Injustice by Robert A. Shaines on Blogcritics. My Rating for Command Influence – 3 About: “Command Influence: A story of Korea and the politics of injustice” by Robert A. Shaines (Website) is a first hand account of the trial of Lt. George C. Schreiber by his military defense attorney, who is the author.  At the time Mr. Shaines was a young idealistic attorney, part of a defense team which had a losing battle on their hands. A fascinating tale – Buy book here Thoughts: “Command Influence” by Robert A. Shaines is a captivating book in which Mr. Shaines recounts his memories as a defending lawyer in the case of The United States v. Lt. George C. Schreiber.  Lt. Schreiber was the appointed scapegoat in a trial for the murder of a Korean man (whose real name was never found).  Mr. Shaines, a military attorney on the Lieutenant’s defense team, was fighting a battle which outcome was already decided. Part of the book is a scathing criticism of what was then the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), part…

Book Review: Corked by Kathryn Borel
3 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs / December 26, 2010

I got this book for free. My rating for Corked – 3 About: “Corked” by Kathryn Borel is a memoir of a trip Ms. Borel and her father took down the unfamiliar roads of France in 2005.  This was not just a road trip, Mr. Borel, a Frenchman, is a wine connoisseur who posses limitless knowledge of wines and ways to annoy his daughter. Thoughts: Synopsis: Kathryn Borel, having a killed a man in a traffic accident, decides to reconnect with her father who, according to her, will ultimatly die.  The father and dauther team up to visit French vineyards in an effort to connect. Throughout the trip Mr. Borel’s knowledge of fine wines shines through while his daughter feels obligated to make him proud and bond over their mutual love of wine. I liked this book much better than the other selfish and needy memoir (book review) that made far more headlines this year.

Book Review: Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag
3 Stars , Fiction / December 20, 2010

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion. Dutton has made available both copies of “Deeper than the Dead” and “Secrets to the Grave” to be given to one lucky winner – enter below. My rating for Secrets to the Grave – 3 Buy Secrets to the Grave from Amazon.com* More books by Tami Hoag* About: “Secrets to the Grave” by Tami Hoag (Website | Facebook | Twitter) is a fictional mystery featuring the recurring characters we met in “Deeper than the Dead” (Buy | book review).  The novel takes place in the same town of Oak Knoll, CA and is set in the mid 1980’s. What Secrets? Buy the book and find out… Thoughts: “Secrets to the Grave” by Tami Hoag (Website | Facebook )is a well written book, while “Deeper than the Dead” was about families breaking apart, “Secrets to the Grave” seem to be about families coming together.  The strength of the book comes from the interaction of the well developed characters.  The mystery was not as involved as the previous book, I figured out who the killer is a bit before the ¾ mark.  However, I found the side stories…

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue
3 Stars , Fiction / December 13, 2010

I borrowed this eBook. My rating for Room – 3 About: “Room” by Emma Donoghue (Book Website | Author Website)  is a fictional, award winning book with a disturbing premise.  The book tells of Ma, who has been kidnapped and locked in a room for seven years by “Old Nick”.  Ma and Old Nick have a son, Jack who is also lives in the room without being able to leave. Buy it here, surly you have enough room for “Room” Thoughts: “Room” by Emma Donoghue has a very unique perspective, the whole story is told from the view point of five year old Jack.   Jack is very smart and bright, he lives happily in his own little world, unaware that there better or different things than the rigid daily routine he and Ma have devised.  Ms. Donoghue does an excellent job of narrating in the voice of a five-year-old whose only friends are his Ma, inanimate objects and characters on TV. The book was inspired by Elisabeth Fritzl’s confinement to a basement in Austria by her monstrous father who sired several children with her.  However, in the book Ma and Old Nick are not related, but its distirbuing enough without…

Book Review: The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
3 Stars , Non-Fiction / December 10, 2010

I borrowed this book. My rating for The Mother Tongue – 3 About: “The Mother Toungue” by Bill Bryson is a book which I highly recommend to any bibliophile of trivia enthusiast (triviaphile?).  For any person who ever had to learn to idiosyncrasies of the language, this book will provide a fascinating overview of the strange rules and nuances of English.  If you think that learning English is not a big deal, try to define the word “what”. You think you know English? Buy this book to find out why you don’t Thoughts: Mr. Bryson had the advantage of being an American journalist in England, so he takes into account the American English and English English varieties and the differences (some subtle, some not-so-much) between them.  The first several chapters are a general introduction to English, how it has become the language we speak today and why it has been globally accepted. For obvious reasons these chapters move between what we know, what we think, and what we guess has happened over the course of several centuries. | The real meat of the book appears in the latter chapters where a large number of surprising facts appear (Shakespeare introduced 1,685…

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
3 Stars , Fiction / December 1, 2010

I borrowed this book. My rating for Jane Eyre – 3 About: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë is an 1847 novel published as “Jane Eyre. An Autobiography” under the nom de plume of “Currer Bell”.  The novel is told in first person narrative and goes through five distinct stages in Jane’s life.  In spite of many dark elements the novel has strong elements of right vs. wrong as well as morality. Feeling too adequate? Buy the book to get a lesson on how inadequate you really are? Thoughts: I can certainly see why “Jane Eyre” is considered a classic. Brontë’s use of strong language , rhetorical brilliance and lovely narrative are certainly impressive.  The author also had the guts to tackle many social issues head on, something that we, at this voyeuristic age, seem to take for granted.  Even though this book was not meant to be  historical, several decades later I found it captivating to read about the day-to-day living of 1800’s England. The book described the fascinating social ladder of the 1800’s where governesses (nannies/teachers) were far below their employers, yet often better educated.  I felt that Jane’s assertions to Rochester that she is  his equal was something…

Book Review: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
3 Stars , Fiction / October 13, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library. My rating for The Secret Speech – 3 About: “The Secret Speech” by Tom Rob Smith is the fictional follow up to his engrossing debut book “Child 44” (book review) in which we continue follow the tortured life of MGB agent turned homicide detective Leo Demidov. Hey Comrade…you buy “Secret Speech” now Thoughts: Inevitably this book is compared to its brilliant predecessor which recounts the fictional pursuit of a mass murderer, as well as Leo’s realization that working as a government agent, he might not be the “good guy” in the story of life. This book never achieves that urgency and rush which resonated with “Child 44” but I will try to review it on its own merit. What “The Secret Speech” does achieve is broadening the moral scope of the protagonist, questioning his share of the collective guilt of institutionalized oppression against your own people. Much like the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev’s secret speech (secret because it was supposed to be heard only behind closed doors) which is referred to in the title and drives the plot, the theme of guilt is played out well together with the absurdity of blindly…

Book Review: Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal M. Omar
3 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / September 22, 2010

“Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos” by Manal M. Omar is a memoir which the author wrote of her time working as a Non-governmental organizations called “Women for Women” in Iraq. Ms. Omar is an American woman and a devout Muslim, which gives her a unique perspective.

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