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text 2016-06-30 20:18
June 2016 Reading Wrap Up
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan
If the Shoe Kills - Lynn Cahoon
Dressed To Kill (A Tourist Trap Mystery Book 4) - Lynn Cahoon
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town - Jon Krakauer
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
Let It Shine - Alyssa B. Cole
The Giver - Lois Lowry,Ron Rifkin
Superman/Wonder Woman Volume 1: Power Couple TP by Charles Soule (2015-04-02) - Charles Soule

 

Courtney Milan Challenge (4/7 books in series read; 70% of challenge completed)

1. The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister #2) - 5 stars

 

Regency Box Set

2. His Jilted Bride (Banks Brothers Brides #3)  by Rose Gordon - currently reading

 

Non-Fiction Challenge (22/50, 44% of challenge completed)

3. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis - 5 stars

4. Missoula by Jon Krakaur - 5 stars

5. High Tech Trash by Elizabeth Grossman - 2 stars

6. Bad Money by Kevin Phillips - DNF

7. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis - 5 stars

 

Partial Reads

7. Easter 1916 - Read chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (55% completed)

8. At the Duke's Wedding (Anthology) by Various Authors (50% completed)

9. Summer Rain (Anthology) by Various Authors - DNF

 

LGBTQ+ Cultural and Heritage Month (US observation)

10. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel - 3 stars

11. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel - 0 stars

 

*Loving Day - June 12th

12. Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole - 4 stars

 

TBR Pile Read Down

13. The Bride Wore Blue (Brides of Bath #1) by Cheryl Bolen - DNF

14. If the Shoe Kills (Tourist Trap Mystery #3) by Lynn Cahoon - 4 stars

15. That Scandalous Summer (Rules of the Reckless #1) by Meredith Duran - 1 star

16. Summer of Dreams (From this Moment On novella) by Elizabeth Camden - 2 stars

17. That Summer in Cornwall by Ciji Ware - DNF

18. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (Summer Bingo) - 0 stars

19. The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry (Summer Bingo) - 4 stars

20. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (Summer Bingo) - 4 stars

21. Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss - 4 stars

22. Dressed to Kill (Tourist Trap Mystery #4) by Lynn Cahoon - 4 stars

23. Superman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel - 4 stars 

 

Events

COYER Summer Vacation Challenge started June 18th.

Moonlight Reader's Summer Bingo Challenge

DoD Summer Reading Program started June 20th.

 

Reading Challenge: 88 out of 150 books (58% completed)

 

Stats

# non-fiction books: 4

# fiction books: 11

# DNF: 4

average total rating: 3.7

average non-fiction rating: 4.25 stars

average fiction rating: 3.2

 

Wrap Up

Getting better at hitting the DNF button. For the most part, those extra books for the bingo came in handy for bumping up the rating and giving me some enjoyable reading hours. Thanks Moonlight Reader for making me broaden my reading horizons :) !

 

Romance genre (save for Milan and Cole) didn't show me any love this month. I'm so tired of inaccurate historical details and NA characters in ball gowns. And as usual, contemporary romance failed me, with half of my DNFs coming from that genre.

 

Thankfully, I have cozy mysteries to keep turning pages. And the Apple settlement credit to my NOOK account helped keep me in cozy mysteries into the autumn months. YA and MG books helped to turn pages too. I found the other three books in The Giver Quartet on Overdrive, so I will probably work through the series next year. Not sure if I am up to seeing the movie though.

 

Non-fiction this month was great, just falling further behind on my goal of 50 non-fiction books for the year. I will be working through Lewis' and Krakaur's backlists next year. Biggest accomplishment this month is getting to the halfway mark on the historical account of the Easter Uprising of 1916 after not touching the book since the end of March.

 

The month of July includes one of my favorite holidays (Happy Independence Day to my American BL friends! Happy Getting Rid of Those Pesky Colonists Day to my British BL friends!) and two family trips (one to LEGOLAND, one to Brighton), so I am very excited to get some reading done while sunning myself on a beach or near a pool (June was straight up soggy as hell).

 

Happy Reading!

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review 2016-06-17 22:23
Review: The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

I wanted to read this book for a couple of reasons: 1) I loved the movie, 2) I am an avid student of financial stuff - I am a big fan of certain anchors/reporters from CNBC and Bloomburg channels, 3) I needed a book to fill in a bingo square "adapted for the big screen".

 

ONE BIG CAVEAT to reading this book: You must have a firm knowledge of financial lingo and some concepts featured in this book (mortgage backed securities, credit debt obligations, credit default swaps, etc). This is not a textbook for the layperson - this is inside baseball style. This is a great addition to those other books about the financial crash of 2008, but can't serve as "the go-to guide".

 

This book is different enough from the movie (The Big Short starring Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling) to really be a separate thing; this works if you didn't care for the movie but still was interested in the story. For me, I loved the movie and I also really loved this book, but for different reasons; I will note that watching the movie before reading the book made the book easier to understand (also I got to picture Bale every time his character shows up in the book, which makes any reading much more enjoyable).

 

I had already liked and appreciated Lewis' style of writing from reading Flash Boys, and this book follows the same formula - follow the outsiders who mastered (and yes, profited from) the complicated web that is the US financial system. These are not just outsiders, these guys (yes they were all males featured in this book - Meredith Whitney was only mentioned in the introduction) were not the Wall Street type of guys, so very few insiders took them seriously. Lewis' writing does have a snarky bent at times, but it was in the more light-hearted moments, so he didn't come off as mocking. Due to the subject matter, this is a bit dark and cynical look at Wall Street. There are winners (our outsiders) but even they didn't feel like much of a winner after seeing the destruction caused by Wall Street greed. There is a section on the taxpayer bailout in the epilogue and my copy (library loan) was the updated version with a new afterword (describing the reaction the book and Lewis himself got after publication).

 

5/5 stars. I highly recommend reading this book, just have a basic background knowledge of financial lingo and concepts before reading.

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review 2016-05-31 02:15
“What are the odds that people will make smart decisions [...] if they can get rich making dumb decisions?"
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

The Big Short

by Michael Lewis

 

Achievement unlocked: I finally understand what the term "shorting" actually means.

Lewis provides a thorough and interesting take on the financial crisis, and now I think I finally begin to understand what caused the world economy to tank. As Lewis notes, there was plenty of greed to go around, but it was the criminal irresponsibility of the bankers, the investors, the bond traders, that really created the opportunity for such large-scale corruption.

I found this book particularly difficult because of my own fears of debt. My personality tends towards "control freak" and I find the idea of being in debt utterly terrifying. I have lived in suburbia for over five years without owning a car, commuting everywhere by bicycle, partly because the amount of money involved in buying a car simply scares me. Just thinking about the national debt makes my heart race. As a kid, I remember hearing my parents talk about variable-rate mortgages and the way that banks were using them to trick credulous and innocent buyers, but it was hard to see what banks could get out of selling homes to people who couldn't afford them. Now I understand: the homes were secondary to the CDOs that could be constructed from the loans. I find the story of the shadow banking system playing with peoples' lives and hopes this way, tempting them into a lifestyle beyond their means, utterly disgusting. Sure, you could say people should know better, but that's not sufficient and it's not fair. As Lewis notes, the incentives for everyone involved, from the homeowners to the bonds salesmen to the regulators, were simply all wrong. And they're still all wrong.

The one issue I'm left with is Lewis's take on his protagonists, a group of men who all "shorted" the sub-prime market industry. He treats them as heroes, as isolated voices of sanity in an increasingly insane world. But if they hadn't acted as buyers for sub-prime market insurance, there couldn't have been sellers, either. They ended up earning billions of dollars, and this type of finance is a zero-sum game. Their gains meant the losses of the sellers, and, ultimately, the American taxpayers. Sure, they didn't do anything strictly unethical, and sure, several of them apparently attempted to shut down the industry. But in the end, when they couldn't get anyone to listen, they settled for exploitation. And because they didn't turn around and, say, donate all that money to the ultimate victims of the sharks of Wall Street, I find it hard to see that choice as heroic.

If you, like me, are a financial dunce but still want to understand what on earth caused our economy to fail, I heartily recommend The Big Short. It may leave you disgusted with every person even tangentially involved with Wall Street and the shadow banking system, but at least you'll have a clue about how they took down our economy, and how they're probably going to do it all over again.

 

By the way: the smartest guy in the book, Dr. Michael Burry, believes we're in for another bust. And I believe him.

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review 2016-04-25 21:17
Michael Lewis's The Big Short
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

The #1 New York Times bestseller: "It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it's essential reading."—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair

 

The real story of the crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can't pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren't talking.

Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar's Poker. Out of a handful of unlikely-really unlikely-heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our time. [ synopsis from goodreads ]

 

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text 2016-02-29 00:30
Notes on Adaptation: The Big Short
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

I didn't love the film "The Big Short" as much as some people did, but I did like it. I could have done without the montages of stock footage and close-ups of "strippers." 

 

But we have to talk about Michael Lewis. He is so gifted at taking subjects that can be difficult to understand - finance, statistics - and making them accessible to a lay reader. Even if you don't care to see "The Big Short," read the book - it's entertaining, and you'll "get it."

 

Here's the thing that happens in the adaptation: Lewis's explanations are taken over by semi-famous people doing unusual stuff - Margot Robbie in a bathtub; Anthony Bourdain making fish stew, etc. It's clever. In its way. Good times. Good times. 

 

The other notable thing about this film as an adaptation is that the names of all of the persons in Lewis' book have been changed, except for Michael Burry (Christian Bale's character). 

 

-cg

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