Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Elon Musk

At 52 years old Elon Musk has accomplished things most people deemed impossible. There is probably not a person on earth that does not know his name. Possibly on other planets as well. After a rough childhood in Pretoria, South Africa Elon moved to Canada with his mother, brother and sister. After college he and his brother Kimball began work on what would become their first start up. With his background is physics and computer science it was quickly apparent to Elon and anyone around him that he needed to run his own company. His ideas were plentiful and his curiosity and brilliance unmatched. Elon’s strong personality and unstoppable drive were both a gift and a curse. He can be difficult to work for, but is usually right. Most of his employees would rather be stimulated by his enlightenment than bored working for anyone else. He demanded their full attention and every moment of their day - there is no time for vacations or breaks when you are trying to change the world. After making his mark with Paypal, he transferred his boundless energy to creating Tesla which led to batteries and AI, Space X, Boring and X. It appears he did this single handedly. While Elon surrounds himself with droves of brilliant scientists and engineers there is no doubt he is the driving force of it all. Elon struggles with some social awkwardness and can be misunderstood, his unfortunate relationship with his abusive father left marks that are still painful. It is obvious that Elon’s lofty goals are not focused on dollar signs but unyielding determination to change how we live and save humanity. This biography is expertly written by Walter Isaacson. It’s a long book but the way the chapters are divided makes it easier to read. I devoured every word and honestly don’t know how he juggles six companies. I’m ready for a nap just reading about it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Love Plot

Star Shine Meadows is performing as a character actor at a child’s birthday, one of the many jobs she juggles to make ends meet. A very handsome man stares at her from across the room, but it is not a friendly glance. Rafe Whitman is a sexy albeit grouchy veterinarian that happens to be the uncle of the birthday girl and he is obviously having a really bad day. A week later their paths cross again and Rafe comes up with a brilliant plan. He offers the free spirited Star to put aside her money making gigs and he will pay her an enormous fee to be his fake girlfriend. Apparently his wealthy family is trying to get him to settle down, that marriage is the answer to all his problems - and are driving him crazy. If they think he has a girlfriend maybe they will back off. Too good to pass up and in need of extra cash Star accepts insisting a no strings attached scenario as Star was raised by hippie parents who do not believe in monogamy or getting married. As she always sees the glass half full, Rafe is constantly surprised what fun Star is to be around, how the light she shines can brighten his day. Beautiful and smart, Rafe has her escort him to various events sure it will drive his family crazy. Neither of the two lovebirds expected the fireworks that exploded after their first kiss. Easy breezy and a little steamy. Definitely recommend this adorable romcom. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Going Infinite

    Sam Bankman-Fried is 31 years old and he is currently facing seven criminal counts for defrauding his customers. As the trial is underway I decided to read this recent release by Michael Lewis and here is what I learned.

    Sam grew up in California. His parents are both law professors at Stanford. From a very young age it was clear that he thought differently from other children his age and did not have any friends. When he went to math camp he finally met others he felt a kinship with. After attaining an MIT degree in physics he used his extraordinary math and thinking skills to obtain a job with a very high caliber private equity fund in New York. It did not take long for him to learn about cryptocurrency and realize he could easily perform similar trading skills in this realm as well. He moved on to create a world he shared with a few key people where they created computer code that bought and sold cryptocurrency faster than any human trader could possibly imagine. Even if they acquired small profits per trade, the volume was so enormous they were making millions. Then billions. Alameda and FTX, his two trading companies quickly grew to unimaginable proportions for a group of “kids” that had little experience and scary accounting practices. And then it all came tumbling down. There is no doubt Sam is brilliant. I do not know how this trial will end but completely understand the depths of the unique and sensitive relationship author Michael Lewis built with this young entrepreneur years before any criminal charges were made. Highly recommend this easy to read synopsis of history as it is being made. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, October 16, 2023

Love, Holly

One day Holly receives a “Dear Stranger” letter from the lonely hearts holiday club. An older woman called Emma finds herself distraught as the holidays approach. In addition to having lost her husband, son and grandson many years ago she has recently been given a grave diagnosis. Holly understands all too well how depressing loneliness can feel. It’s been three years since the accident that changed all that was meaningful in her life. As the anniversary of that fateful day approaches Holly cannot forget the Christmas Eve that stole away everyone she loved. Strangely, Emma resides in the very same small village where the accident occurred. Call it fate or chance - but Holly decides to find Emma and see if there is any way she can make this one person feel a little less sad on the holidays. Not only do they become fast friends but Holly learns that Emma’s very handsome grandson Jack is her one that got away. Holly decides she must track him down and reunite Jack and Emma even if it means risking her own heart to love again. Sad yet hopeful, this beautiful story is perfect for the holidays. Filled with one of life’s most important lessons, forgiveness. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Lost and Found in Paris

Growing up with a supermodel mother and famous father, Joan Blakely was not looking for the spotlight. Working at a prestigious museum in Los Angeles, Joan preferred to be behind the scenes. After her father tragically died in 9/11 her mother became a recluse and Joan kept his legacy alive in the world of art. When she learns her handsome photographer husband is a cheat and a liar Joan must reexamine her job and her future. An opportunity arises for her to transport some very prestigious pieces of art to Paris. It is a chance for Joan to clear her head and see her dearest friend who lives there. On the plane Joan meets Nate, an introverted tech guy on his way to a conference. With a taste of freedom she agrees to a romantic dinner upon arrival and a completely unexpected night of passion.When she wakes, Nate has gone to his conference. The art work which was expertly hidden is missing. The buyer is not responding and her security team needs answers. Joan and Nate put on their detective hats and are determined to track down the thief. I was pulled into this quickly only to lose all my interest 1/3 into the story. I loved the art and complicated relationships initially but as these two turn in Sherlock Holmes it became silly and unrealistic. The characters were not likable enough to hold my attention and it became one of those books I forced myself to finish.  ⭐️⭐️

The Lover

Allison is a graduate student from Canada studying for a few months at Tel Aviv University. This petite, blonde young lady is asked about her identity from the moment she arrives, “You don’t look Jewish” the taxi driver questions her. Allison studies words, ancient texts and languages. She has a strained relationship with her sister and an unexceptional one with her parents. Allie wants to explore the world, she dreams of falling in love. One day on a bus ride a soldier sits next to her. Eyal strikes up a conversation and although he is clearly younger, their chemistry is undeniable. They fall passionately in love. Despite their age difference it is probably the most profound feelings either of them has ever had. His family quickly folds Allie into their comfortable nest and she has never been happier. As she tries to find a grant to extend her stay, Allie befriends a fellow student at the University who is Palestinian. To Allie she is exotic, beautiful and mysterious and with no ill intent initially, Allie is compelled to get closer to her. At the same time Eyal must go on a dangerous mission into Gaza. As Allie examines the complicated emotions that heighten with Eyal and her new secret friendship, she cannot deny that her sister’s harsh criticisms are making more sense. The writing is exquisite in this heartfelt, meaningful look at self exploration in a not so perfect world. I truly could not put this one down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Don't Forget to Write

Marilyn Kleinman got caught making out with the rabbi’s son in front of the whole community. It is 1960 and Marilyn does not exactly follow her parents strict rules and regulations. She is a strong independent woman studying in college and has absolutely no intention of marrying this boy just because everyone witnessed their brief rendezvous. As a last resort and summer punishment Marilyn is sent to live in Philadelphia with her Aunt Ada, an older woman who never married but is a wildly successful businesswoman. As Ada and Marilyn get acquainted they head to her home on the Jersey Shore. Marilyn must assist Ada in her matchmaking business. Frankly, she prefers to lay on the beach, meet cute boys and use her spare time writing her novel. Falling for the boy Ada explicitly forbids her from socializing with, Marilyn sneaks out against Ada’s wishes only to learn her Aunt was right all along. To Marilyn’s surprise Ada is not what she expected. She is fashionable, smart, funny and has lived an extraordinary life. As the two women get closer Marilyn learns more about love and family than she ever dreamed possible. Loved the characters, the setting and every moment of this unputdownable read written with the humor of Mrs. Maisel and many lessons of the heart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Three Holidays and A Wedding

As the holidays approach Maryam and Anna find themselves seatmates on a flight from Denver to Toronto. Maryam is traveling with her family for her sister’s last minute wedding and Anna is spending Christmas with her boyfriends family where she is pretty sure he is planning to pop the question. The weather takes a turn for the worse and the flight makes an emergency landing in a small Canadian town far from their final destination. Snow Falls is a quaint, charming town that looks like it could be featured in a holiday romcom. The icing on the candy cane - it secretly is the location that a popular movie is currently being filmed! A local inn takes in the stranded passengers but they are frantic. Wedding plans need to be postponed and as they are in the month of Ramadan, Maryam’s  family needs to eat and fast according to schedule. Her childhood crush Saif is part of their wedding entourage and showers Maryam with the attention she has dreamed about her entire life. Anna’s finds herself watching hockey and being consoled at a local bar by a very adorable young man who she probably shouldn’t be crushing over, while her boyfriend is furious she is not in Toronto for the festivities his wealthy family has planned. Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan and a wedding all rolled into one in a small town that spreads kindness and welcomes diversity. It may seem too good to be true but this read is the perfect holiday happy ending for everyone. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sun Does Shine

Anthony Ray Hinton loved his mama more than anything in the world. He loved his church and he loved his best friend Lester. He loved women, good southern food and living in Alabama. His life was simple and he hoped to get married, have children and teach them how to play baseball, something he was very good at in high school. One day in 1985, at 29 years old Ray was cutting his mama’s lawn and was confronted by two Alabama deputies. What began as a few questions led to Ray being tagged for two counts of capital murder and one attempted murder. They found an old gun that had not been fired in 25 years in his mama’s home. They did not care that he was working the night of the attempted murder 15 miles away and that these murders did not share the same bullets. None of this mattered to the courts. His appointed attorney had made it quite clear. The jury would be white. The judge would be white. Unless Ray and his family could come up with some money for his defense, there was nothing he could do to stop this train wreck from happening. The jury gave him life, the judge overturned the sentence - eager to send him to Death Row. Ray spent the next 28 years fighting for his life through appeal after appeal. Ray watched his fellow inmates walk to their death, the smell lingering for days afterward. Keeping faith and hope alive under the most dire circumstances was not easy. One day g-d sent Ray an angel by the name of Bryan Stevenson who reopened the case and won Ray his freedom. At 60 years old Ray’s life was just beginning and this magnificent memoir is his story. Expertly written with the help of Lara Love Hardin (The Many Lives of Mama Love) I was mesmerized by the sunshine that fills this man’s heart. The hope he shares after being wrongfully incarcerated is astounding and a lesson to us all.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️