Book Review: Off to Be the Wizard

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

Another book down. Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer is the first of a trilogy and if there is any part of you that is a computer/technology nerd, you’ll find this book to be an amusing read. On audiobook, it clocked in at a little over 10 hours.

The book is about a young man by the name of Martin Banks, who discovers that his life and the reality he lives in are really just bits of code found in a computer file he stumbles upon. Feeling empowered by this knowledge, he gets himself into all sorts of trouble and lands himself in Medieval England, in the company similarly fated individuals.

The plot is really quite simple and straightforward. There was nothing that was truly surprising or jaw dropping but it doesn’t mean it was any less entertaining. The beginning of the book felt a little clunky, but it quickly smooths out into interesting and fun dialogue as more characters are introduced (and which the narrator Luke Daniels captures wonderfully). The biggest challenge is letting go of any urge to understand HOW things are happening and to merely accept that it is. It’s like in Independence Day (one of my favorite movies ever), when Jeff Goldblum’s character uploads a virus to the alien mainframe…using his Mac.  How the heck he managed to get his Macbook to be compatible to alien technology, when I have trouble syncing my iPod to iTunes is beyond me. Look past those minor issues and you’ve got yourself a fun story.

If you’re looking for sophisticated writing, this isn’t the book. If you’re looking for a thoughtful introspection into the meaning of life or the ethicality of altering the past, again, not the book. Pick this up if you want a light read and bad jokes about appropriate use of using one’s wizarding staff (evidence that this book was written by a man).


Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler


The only thing better than reading a book by a funny person is listening to the funny person read their book to you. I admit that was mostly familiar with her work only via the Tina Fey pipeline. Now, after reading Yes Please, I would definitely consider myself an Amy Poehler fan. And yes, Parks and Recreation has been added to my TV queue.

The book’s content follows the same structure as most books written by comedians: stories of her childhood, how she got into comedy and the long road to “making it big”, fun stories from SNL, Parks and Rec, and the Golden Globes, as well as some personal insights into her recent divorce and raising her two boys. She brings on a slew of guests including her parents, Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers (who actually wrote one chapter of the book), David Shur, Carol Burnett, and Sir Patrick Stewart. It’s my understanding that the hardcopy of the book includes many pictures, however, I really enjoyed listening to all the guest narrators. I also think she did an incredible job reading her book. The book isn’t as “Ha-Ha” funny as one might expect from a comedian of her caliber. I would actually consider this to be more about a journey in discovering the secrets of life, with comedic relief bits thrown in.

What I was most struck by was her honesty throughout. What makes me believe that this book is a true representation of who she is in real life is that I can’t tout some superficial statement of “Oh wow, I feel like I know her, I know her struggles.” I got the impression that she told stories not to self-aggrandize nor to satisfy society’s gross curiosity about the lives of the rich and famous, but rather to satisfy her own desire or need to share. I really respect her for that. Don’t get me wrong, I still totally want to be her friend now, but I respect that the purpose of this book wasn’t to fish for new fans (even though it did rope me in).

It’s a great book. Amy Poehler fan or no, Yes Please would be a solid addition to your reading list!

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

girl on teh train

I’m currently on vacation on beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. The husband is here on business so I’m tagging along.  Poor guy,  he’s at work all day and I’m taking surfing lessons and reading by the pool.

Anyway, I joined a book club in my area and I’ve just finished the book for July, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It starts from the point of view of Rachel, who talks about the things she sees on her daily commute via train to London.  With each morning/evening entry (corresponding to her trips to and from London, more is revealed about her rather messed up and traumatic life and the lives of the people she sees on Road, a place she passes on the train ride. Each chapter told from the point if view of one of three female characters, each with the own messed up story to tell.

The book is an incredibly quick read, I finished it in about 3-4 sittings. It had a very casual tone, like reading someone’s diary.  You hear their voice, their train of thought, and what happened without much pomp and circumstance. I thought the characters felt very real, experiencing feelings I could very much sympathize, if not empathize with. By the time I had sort of figured out the major plot line, the book did its reveal.  If anything, the first half to two-thirds of the book is really character development and the rest is plot. I think the author could have afforded to spend a little more time with the plot because I felt like the action unfolded, peaked, and ended rather quickly, as compared to the slow character buildup in the first half of the book. I also was a little frustrated at first when the dates jumped back and forth, depending on who’s POV you were reading from. But I understood why she did that and it becomes less confusing as the book progresses.

All in all, an interesting read. I’ll probably have to read it again to refresh my memory since my book club doesn’t meet for a few weeks.