Startup by Doree Shafrir

31423188Title: Startup

Author: Doree Shafrir

Pub Date: April 25th, 2017

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business–in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.

Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.

Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya’s boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she’s been away.

Before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack’s scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it’s up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.

An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology’s inability to hack human nature.

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The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

Title: The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions

Author: Rebecca Solnit

Pub Date: March 14th, 2017

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopis from Goodreads:

In a timely and incisive follow-up to her national bestseller Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit offers sharp commentary on women who refuse to be silenced, misogynistic violence, the fragile masculinity of the literary canon, the gender binary, the recent history of rape jokes, and much more.

In characteristic style, Solnit mixes humor, keen analysis, and sharp insight in these eleven essays.

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Title: Born a Crime: A stories from a South African childhood.

Author: Trevor Noah

Pub Date: November 15th, 2016

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopis from Goodreads:

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

I really like Trevor Noah in The Daily Show. And I really like memoir audiobooks narrated by the author. So this book was just a perfect pick for me. Trevor shares with us an amazing story of childhood so much different than anything I know. He was born in South Africa when interracial relationships were illegal, but his mother was fearless and she wanted a child. She asked her white friend for that child. She was relentless so she got that child. So Trevor was born into a black family, but he was coloured. He wasn’t black and he wasn’t white. And at that time how you looked and what colour your skin was crucial. The whole system was based on that. There were towns where black people lived, where white people lived, coloured, Indian, Asian. How you lived and what you were allowed to do was based on how you were classified racially.

The story of Trevor’s childhood is centred around his mother. She is the true hero of his story and we learn so much about her. Trevor tells us about tough choices she had to make, about her stubbornness and fearlessness. She’s truly amazing women, and it was thought to listen to what happened to her at some time in her life. She’s extremely strong.

You can learn a lot while reading this book. It tells a story of life in the aftermath of apartheid. It shows us how hard it is to judge someone who committed a crime. How unjust world is. But the story also has its light moments. It’s not all serious. Trevor’s mother lessons about women and romance are very good. Stories of Trevor’s romantic endeavours are quite funny, cute and a bit sad.

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Title: The Core of the Sun

Author: Johanna Sinisalo

Pub Date: original 2013, translation 2016

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

From the author of the Finlandia Award-winning novel Troll: A Love Story, The Core of the Sun further cements Johanna Sinisalo’s reputation as a master of literary speculative fiction and of her country’s unique take on it, dubbed “Finnish weird.” Set in an alternative historical present, in a “eusistocracy”—an extreme welfare state—that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.

The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has bred a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women, called eloi, for sex and procreation, while intelligent, independent women are relegated to menial labor and sterilized so that they do not carry on their “defective” line. Vanna, raised as an eloi but secretly intelligent, needs money to help her doll-like sister, who has disappeared. Vanna forms a friendship with a man named Jare, and they become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to the Health Authority to be extremely dangerous: chili peppers. Then Jare comes across a strange religious cult in possession of the Core of the Sun, a chili so hot that it is rumored to cause hallucinations. Does this chili have effects that justify its prohibition? How did Finland turn into the North Korea of Europe? And will Vanna succeed in her quest to find her sister, or will her growing need to satisfy her chili addiction destroy her?

Johanna Sinisalo’s tautly told story of fight and flight is also a feisty, between-the-lines social polemic—a witty, inventive, and fiendishly engaging read.

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The Circle by Dave Eggers

Title: The Circle

Author: Dave Eggers

Pub Date: 2013

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

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