Googled: The End of the World As We Know It (Review)

Title: Googled: The End of the World As We Know It

Author: Ken Auletta

Narrator: Jim Bond

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 400 (audio length: 13 hours 57 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

Just eleven years old, Google has profoundly transformed the way we live and work-we’ve all been Googled. Esteemed media writer Ken Auletta uses the story of Google’s rise to explore the future of media at large. This book is based on the most extensive cooperation ever granted a journalist, including access to closed-door meetings and interviews with industry legends, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, and media guru “Coach” Bill Campbell. Auletta’s unmatched analysis, vivid details, and rich anecdotes illuminate how the Google wave grew, how it threatens to drown media institutions, and where it’s taking us next.

I was looking forward to reading this book, expecting it to be about how the presence of Google is changing the way we interact with the world.

Sadly, what it turned out to be was more of a biography of the business of Google and its top executives. While there were bits of the book that touched on things that were more interesting – staff benefits that were innovations that have since been taken on by other companies, for example – the vast majority was simply anecdotes and analysis of the company itself, not on the affect it has on the world.

If you’re looking for information about Google “the business” start-up and success story, this one’s for you. But if you’re looking to find out more about the way Google affects our daily lives, skip it.

Rating:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Review)

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Authors: David Levithan & John Green

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 338

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.

This was probably one of the most fun YA novels I’ve read this year. And it’s not really that much of a surprise, coming from David Levithan (author of Boy Meets BoyEvery Day, and Six Earlier Days), whom I love, and John Green, whom I’ve heard such good things about.

Told from two different POVs, Will Grayson, Will Grayson manages to tell the stories of more than just the two main characters. It goes into the feelings of them and their friends in great depth as they meet and get to know each other. It shows their struggles and their triumphs with their identities, relationships with each other, and the side project of a musical that brings everything together in the end.

I found myself laughing and tearful at different points in the book, something that signifies to me that the author – or, in this case, authors – has done a significantly higher than average job of telling a story. It takes a lot for me to connect with characters and their stories to quite that point, and I’m happy to say that Levithan and Green managed to pull it off with this book.

Rating:

The Silent Girl (Review)

Title: The Silent Girl

Author: Tess Gerritsen

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 480

Genre: Fiction, Crime

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

In the murky shadows of Boston’s Chinatown lies a severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed in black, her head nearly decapitated. Two strands of silver hair — not human — cling to her body. They are homicide cop Jane Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel. Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. One woman connected to that massacre is still alive — a mysterious martial arts master who is now the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil. Cracking a crime with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning — and a swift, avenging blade.

(This is the ninth book in the series, after The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake, and Ice Cold.)

This instalment in the series felt a little too mystical for me, right from the outset. Maybe it’s just me, but when I read crime novels, I want to read realistic – if slightly overwrought – police fiction. If I wanted to read fantasy, I’d pick up a fantasy book.

I’m not saying that that’s necessarily what The Silent Girl turns out to be, but it’s how the setup felt. And I guess I just never really recovered my interest from there. The writing and the characters are the same caliber as the rest of the series, but this one just didn’t pique my personal interest very well.

Rating:

Last to Die (Review)

Title: Last to Die

Author: Tess Gerritsen

Publication Year: 2012

Pages: 512

Genre: Fiction, Crime

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn — until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate — unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

(This is the tenth book in the series, after The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake, Ice Cold, and The Silent Girl.)

I feel like this book renewed my faith in this series. I was starting to feel like I didn’t connect with the characters as much, that things were getting a bit far-fetched, but Last to Die was more of a straightforward mystery, a crime to be solved, and with all my favourite characters working together on the case, I just had to keep turning the page.

As Jane and Maura come together to solve the crime, I felt like the ties between the characters was also growing stronger and more realistic than it has been during the last few novels. I’m hoping that this book is a portent of things to come, that upcoming books will continue to impress.

Rating:

Ice Cold (Review)

Title: Ice Cold

Author: Tess Gerritsen

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 464

Genre: Fiction, Crime

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

A spur-of-the-moment ski trip becomes a bone-chilling nightmare when a wrong turn leaves Boston medical examiner Maura Isles marooned — far from home and help — in the snowbound Wyoming mountains. Seeking shelter from the cold, she and her traveling companions stumble upon Kingdom Come — a remote village of identical houses that seems to have become a ghost town overnight. But the abandoned hamlet has dark secrets to tell, and Maura’s party may not be as alone as they think. Days later, word reaches Boston homicide cop Jane Rizzoli that Maura’s charred remains have been found at the scene of a car crash. But the shocking news leaves Jane with too many questions, and only one way to get answers. Determined to dig up the truth, she heads for the frozen desolation of Kingdom Come, where gruesome discoveries lie buried, and a ruthless enemy watches and waits.

(This is the eighth book in the series, after The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, and The Keepsake.)

I really loved this book. I was starting to get a little bit bored with the series, to be honest, but Maura’s adventures in the snow made everything seem a little bit new and exciting.

The dual narratives running side-by-side (Maura’s side of things and Jane’s attempts to figure out what’s going on) probably helped with my interest level. I find their relationship a little bit flat in the books compared to the television series, and I have a hard time believing their friendship when I’m reading. Or maybe it’s just that they seem to have more fundamental differences in their book iterations? I don’t know. Either way, I found everything to flow a bit more smoothly when they were working separately for most of this book.

I also really fell in the love with the new character introduced by Maura’s adventures. I hope that he comes up again in future books!

Rating:

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