Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Catching Up


I know, I know, I haven't posted in a bit but school is crazy right before spring break and I had zero time to blog. I did read a couple books in that time, though.

First up is The Darlings, by Cristina Alger. This book just came out in February and I grabbed it right away. It's the story of Paul Ross, a lawyer who is married into a wealthy NYC society family, the Darlings. It's 2008 and he has recently become the in house attorney for the family firm. The Darlings are ridiculously rich with all the usual NYC society trappings including a Park Avenue apartment and a house in the Hamptons. Paul and his brother-in-law, Adrian, both work for their father-in-law, Carter Darling. However, it is 2008, the year that disasters occurred across Wall Street and people began to become aware of corruption in companies like Lehman Brothers.

This is a very topical story of what happens when a company starts to fall apart. Alger creates quite a few characters here who follow the breaking story of a suicide by one of the major investors in the family company. The suicide thrusts the family into the media spotlight and starts to expose the company's unethical behavior. The action takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, which leads to a lot of tension over the holiday dinner.

While I don't really follow all of the financial stuff, Alger did a good job of explaining what was going on. I was really engaged by the story itself, although I found that she had too many characters. Paul made sense as a point of view character, as did Carter. Other major characters included a guy who worked at the SEC and his girlfriend, Alexa, (Paul's ex) who were trying to blow the whistle on the Darlings' company but got stopped at the top for some reason. There was also a character who worked for a magazine who wanted to profile the family, and his assistant. Then there was the family lawyer, Sol, and his secretary, Yvonne (I think that was her name). So those were all interesting characters but Alger got lost a bit in irrelevant back story. A lot of these characters were connected (the magazine editor is the uncle of Alexa, Paul's ex), which was cool, but Yvonne had this whole back story with a son who got suspended that frankly detracted from the main point of the story. Then Alger wrote chapters from the perspective of Lily and Adrian, Carter's other daughter (besides Merrill, Paul's wife) and son-in-law that just felt unnecessary. I get that she wanted to show the whole family reeling in different ways from the suicide and what it led to, but again, too much back story and not enough focus on the main plot. It could definitely have been shorter.

But in the end, the story was gripping and had lots of twists and turns that I did not see coming. Even though I am so not into financial stuff, I still found it really good. It's a great story.

Buy it at amazon and barnes and noble.

 Next up was Sophie Kinsella's, I've Got Your Number. I don't read a ton of "chick lit" books, but I have a soft spot for Sophie Kinsella. I read most of the Shopaholic books years ago and loved them, although Becky got a bit repetitive as a character as the series continued. I think her stand alone books are cuter. Anyway, my awesome friend Kate mentioned that she had just finished it so we did a kindle book exchange and I dove right in. I ended up being home sick one day so I finished this in just under two days (a gorgeous hour in Central Park one afternoon helped me finish it off).

Like Kinsella's other books, this featured a slightly ditsy heroine, Poppy, and a straight-laced business man, named Sam (maybe not all her books had this type of pairing but it seems like they do). The premise is totally ridiculous but this is an easy, breezy book that is perfect for spring break or just being outside in this gorgeous weather.

The premise is that Poppy's family heirloom engagement ring disappears during a chaotic fire drill at a tea with her girlfriends. In a panic, Poppy is desperately trying to get a signal on her phone when someone steals it from her hands. Luckily, she finds a discarded cell phone in a rubbish bin (what? the books are British!) and starts to give out the number to the hotel. She quickly learns that the phone belongs to the former PA of a business man named Sam who tries to get the phone back. She convinces him to let her hold onto it for a little bit, which somehow he allows.

So now Poppy has to cover for the missing engagement ring and has to forward all of Sam's messages onto him. Of course the two of them start communicating over the phone. Clearly things are not entirely perfect with her academic fiance, Magnus. She also has a crazed wedding planner, Lucinda, and she quickly gets caught up in a potential scandal with Sam's work.

Anyway, the book was adorable and as I said, I read it quickly. If you like Kinsella's books, this is perfect for you. If you're heading anywhere for a spring vacation, this is a great beach/vacation book. I loved it!

Buy at amazon and barnes and noble.

I'm about 60% into David Benioff's City of Thieves right now and when that's done I'm going to catch up on some graphic novels. I'll try not to fall behind with posting again!

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