A teenage book recommendation: The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1O9wfpH.
Overall, The DUFF is something I would recommend. 4/5. And I happily hold my hands up and applaud young author Kody Keplinger for such an outstanding achievement.
Book description from Google Books:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
The book is rated 3.86/5 at goodreads.com, from 144475 ratings. See 11061 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1O9wh0Y.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2syDGkk.

A technology book recommendation: Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cFys0D.
The access he got to the company pushes his breezy account more toward the business than to Ma’s personality. Still, Ma emerges as an unpretentious, self-deprecating leader, fond of quoting martial arts novels and “Forrest Gump.”
Book description from Google Books:
An engrossing, insider’s account of how a teacher built one of the world’s most valuable companies—rivaling Walmart & Amazon—and forever reshaped the global economy.In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle class consumers.Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet’s impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise.How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80% market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions?  How does the Chinese government view its rise?  Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.?Clark tells Alibaba’s tale in the context of China’s momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before.
The book is rated 3.93/5 at goodreads.com, from 2193 ratings. See 208 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/25NQ8dz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tROb60.

A romance book recommendation: Judas by Amos Oz

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2mqCiQ6.
Oz pitches the book’s heartbreak and humanism perfectly from first page to last, as befits a writer who understands how vital a political role a novelist can play.
Book description from Google Books:
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE Winner of the International Literature Prize, the new novel by Amos Oz is his first full-length work since the best-sellingA Tale of Love and Darkness. Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abarbanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets.     At once an exquisite love story and coming-of-age novel, an allegory for the state of Israel and for the biblical tale from which it draws its title,Judas is Amos Oz’s most powerful novel in decades.      
The book is rated 3.83/5 at goodreads.com, from 2026 ratings. See 313 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2fiVA7o.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s8VodX.

A horror book recommendation: Stranded: A Novel by Bracken MacLeod

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2mKiIiR.
Stranded superbly evokes the existential dread of its characters’ plight and makes the empty white Arctic seem chillingly claustrophobic.
Book description from Google Books:
In the spirit of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jacob’s Ladder comes Stranded — a terrifying, icebound thriller where nothing is quite what it seems by Bracken MacLeod.Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew, which does little to ease their growing distrust of him. Dismissing Noah’s warnings of worsening conditions, the captain of the ship presses on until the sea freezes into ice and they can go no farther. When the men are ordered overboard in an attempt to break the ship free by hand, the fog clears, revealing a faint shape in the distance that may or may not be their destination. Noah leads the last of the able-bodied crew on a journey across the ice and into an uncertain future where they must fight for their lives against the elements, the ghosts of the past and, ultimately, themselves.
The book is rated 3.61/5 at goodreads.com, from 494 ratings. See 130 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mVBi4G.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s0If6G.

A law book recommendation: The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Ian Cobain

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2feJQ5O.
…it may also be that as a society we continue to believe in secrets and the people who make and guard them, despite everything Cobain reveals in this engrossing book.
Book description from Google Books:
From the award winning author of Cruel Britannia, here is a revelatory new book which exposes the culture of concealment at the heart of the British state – from the secret wars of the past century to covert surveillance todayIn 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed and created offences of ‘disclosure of information’ and ‘breach of official trust’. It limited and monitored what the public could, and should, be told. Since then, Britain’s governments and civil service have been engaged in the greatest identity fraud of all time – the dishonest and manufactured creation of our understanding of the British nation, our history and our culture.In this important new book, Ian Cobain offers a fresh appraisal of British history since the end of the Second World War, exploring, among other issues: the measures taken to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor GCHQ for three decades; the unreported wars fought during the 1960s and 70s; the hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles; the opaque workings of the criminal justice system; and the state’s peacetime surveillance techniques. The History Thieves is a story that reveals the development of a complex bureaucratic machine – from the vast paper archives from the colonial era to the electronic data captured and stored today – that enables the government to operate unchecked and ensure that its secrets remain hidden. It is a powerful indictment of a political system which defrauds us daily, even as it promises us all the freedom and transparency of a liberal democracy in the Western world.
The book is rated 4.43/5 at goodreads.com, from 28 ratings. See 7 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dIXFV9.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2snb65i.

A self-help book recommendation: The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1TKcuoT.
This is why, as readers and as critics, we must mine deeper. I could have written at length about Watkins’s lean, casual prose and how it was difficult to sustain throughout; situations often skyrocket unexpectedly or plunge without much explanation. But I would have missed the book’s larger aim.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times Bestseller New York Times Editors’ ChoiceO Magazine Best Summer BookBaltimore City Paper Best Memoir, 2016Reminiscent of the classic Random Family and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, but told by the man who lived it, THE COOK UP is a riveting look inside the Baltimore drug trade portrayed in The Wire and an incredible story of redemption. The smartest kid on his block in East Baltimore, D. was certain he would escape the life of drugs, decadence, and violence that had surrounded him since birth. But when his brother Devin is shot-only days after D. receives notice that he’s been accepted into Georgetown University-the plans for his life are exploded, and he takes up the mantel of his brother’s crack empire. D. succeeds in cultivating the family business, but when he meets a woman unlike any he’s known before, his priorities are once more put into question. Equally terrifying and hilarious, inspiring and heartbreaking, D.’s story offers a rare glimpse into the mentality of a person who has escaped many hells.
The book is rated 3.82/5 at goodreads.com, from 382 ratings. See 72 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/283I9et.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2symI5w.