Doing Dewey Your Source For Everything Nonfiction! Sat, 24 Jun 2017 18:46:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 61904956 Review: Why Time Flies Sat, 24 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation
Author: Alan Burdick
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: I learned some fun facts and mostly enjoyed reading this, but it was not well organized or cohesive.

‘“Time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it’s always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly?’ In an attempt to answer this question, author Alan Burdick ‘visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that “now” actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backward.’ (source)

There were two really great parts to this book – the fun facts and the author’s own experiences and musings on time. I loved hearing about the experiences he had while researching this book. The science parts were fascinating. Some of my favorite bits included the way global time is calculated; the fascinating research being done on how we experience time; and the way our perception can mislead us. I learned a lot and I enjoyed doing it.

The less good parts of this book were where the author tried to get philosophical about time. I didn’t find anything he said particularly profound. I also didn’t feel like he want anywhere with this line of thought. The organization of the book was also poor. There were a few sections that had cohesive themes ( a section that focused on circadian rhythms, for example), but other sections were all over the place. The book also felt repetitive to me, particularly the philosophical bits that covered the same points over and over throughout the book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and it never dragged, so I would recommend it if you’re interested in the topic. However, if you’re looking for something philosophical, there are other books that I think have succeeded much better at addressing the big questions (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, for example).

]]> 3 12498
Review: Four Reigns Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: Four Reigns
Author: Kukrit Pramoj
Source: Bought
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This was very long and not much happened, but it did provide an interesting glimpse of another culture.

“This English version of the Thai novel Si Phaendin tells the rich and entertaining story of one woman’s life both inside and outside the royal palace in Bangkok. Spanning a period of four reigns, from King Chulalongkorn to the reign of his grandson King Ananda, this popular modern classic gives insight into the social and political issues facing Thailand from the 1890s through the turbulent years of World War II.” (source)

I picked this book up hoping to learn more about Thailand and it was pretty perfect for that. The main character, Phloi, grows up serving in the palace, so I learned about both domestic life as a woman in Thailand and the Thai political landscape.  Unfortunately nothing terribly exciting happened in Phloi’s life or in Thai politics for the first 400 pages. There were some big events in Phloi’s life, but she was a bit of a Mary Sue and her life presented few challenges. Any interest I had in the book was due almost exclusively to the setting.

In the remaining 200 pages, WWI, WWII, and an internal revolution all happen, drastically shaking up the political landscape. Phloi’s family is divided as different members support different factions of the Thai government. This was the most eventful part of the book and by far my favorite. Throughout the book, Phloi’s story was a perfect choice to teach the reader about Thailand and I thought it was clever the way her home life paralleled events in Thai politics. However, I’d much rather have had a character with a consistently exciting life to get me through the uneventful parts of Thai history!

]]> 0 12489
Nonfiction Friday Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> NonfictionFriday

Nonfiction Friday is a link-up where you can find all of the awesome nonfiction happenings of the week. Be sure to link-up your nonfiction posts too!

]]> 1 12466
Review: Touch Wed, 14 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: Touch
Author: Courtney Maum
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This didn’t feel very unique, but the career-focused part of the plot was fascinating and the whole thing was thought-provoking.

“Sloane Jacobsen is the most powerful trend forecaster in the world (she was the foreseer of the swipe ), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.” (source) However, when she predicts that people will rebound from their tech-obsession and want more human interaction, both her employer and her partner get all sexist about things and accuse her of confusing her personal desires with her professional predictions.

I have to be honest – this book didn’t feel very unique to me. I’m surprised by that, because there are some things I loved about it. Although Sloane’s personal life is a strong secondary plot, a lot of the focus is on her career. I loved the insight we got into her process and the snippets of the future she predicts. These were especially fun when they included things that have really come to pass, such as the free hug movement and the fact that people do now use technology to pay people to be their friend for an hour (example). These true ‘predictions’ made Sloane’s predictions far more believable to me than if she’d simply predicted everyone swearing off tech forever. I also appreciated that while the message of the book clearly promoted human connection, it didn’t demonize technology.

I think part of the reason this book felt kind of average and like something I’d seen before is because of Sloane’s personal life. It’s immediately obvious that we’re supposed to want her to get out of her relationship. It’s immediately obvious when she meets the guy we’re supposed to root for her to be with. If you’ve read this and want to talk about the ending, I’d love to chat in the comments. Here, I’ll just say that the ending felt very gendered – stereotypical for female characters and never seen for a male character. I’d much rather have seen the book ending focused more exclusively on Sloane’s career successes.

I do have to give the author a lot of credit for not making people who don’t want children the bad guys. Although Sloane does start to long for more human connection in her own life, I think the sexism that greets her change of heart is a great example of how women’s personal choices are viewed differently because they’re women. Even when Sloane makes more traditional decisions, she’s judged harshly because she’s a woman. I think this could make for some great book club discussion about how the goal of feminism is to allow women to do whatever they want without judgement, not just things that aren’t considered feminine by sexist stereotypers. So, even though this read like a lot of other contemporary novels about women with careers, I would recommend it as a book club read that could be both fun and thought provoking.

]]> 2 12465
Review: The Wanderers Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: The Wanderers
Author: Meg Howrey
Source: Library
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: Beautifully written, character-driven, introspective, and a joy to read.

“In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation every created. Retired from NASA, Helen had not trained for irrelevance. It is nobody’s fault that the best of her exists in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. The MarsNOW mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. For Yoshi, it’s an opportunity to prove himself worthy of the wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite rightly. Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means travelling to Mars. He will at least be tested past the point of exhaustion, and this is the example he will set for his sons.” (source)

First of all, I have to say that I loved this book! It was beautifully written and the author had a lot of things to say about human nature that rang true to me. I hate to make this overused comparison, but it reminded me very much of Station Eleven. Both are science fiction, both have some action, but both are primarily character driven. I would describe the writing in both as ‘literary’, by which I mean beautiful, extremely good, and often insightful or clever.

At the end, there is some ambiguity about a major plot point. In most cases, I think this would drive me crazy, but I actually liked that about this book. It emphasized that what mattered were the people, their internal struggles and their relationships. I find myself wanting to say something else superlative here to convince you to read this, but I fear I can’t do it justice. I’m sure this wouldn’t be for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a character-driven story with beautiful writing you can savor, I can’t recommend this highly enough.


]]> 2 12464
May Wrap-Up Thu, 08 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]>

Wow, I think I’ve been in as much of a blogging slump as I’ve ever been lately! I’m not sure if I’m still burnt out for all my science march social media-ing or if I’m just focused on other priorities right now, but blogging has felt more like work to me this past month. I’ve been pretty silent on the blog, but I’m hoping I’ve recovered enough to get back into it in the coming week. I’m thinking about how to better schedule and organize my blogging to it feels easier to keep up with everything, so if you have any tips for that, please share!

Books Read

I only read 8 books this month – on the low end for me, but not as bad as I feared! I’m also not as far behind on reviews as I expected to be, so it’s nice to get a more realistic idea of where I am.

Top Post

The Futuristic Friday post Tamara of Travelling with T and I put together was by far my most popular post this month. Check it out for our list of books we’re most looking forward too!


Given my blogging slump, I don’t want to commit to too much, but depending on how I’m feeling, I’m hoping to really get back into blogging with the Mini Summer Bloggiesta, June 17-18.


How was your May? Are there any upcoming events you’re particularly excited for?

]]> 8 11695
Beach Reads in Mini-Reviews Thu, 25 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> After reading War and Peace, I wanted some fun, light reads that I could finish quickly. These thrillers and this romance weren’t all my favorites, but they were still exactly what I was looking for!

Beach Reads in Mini-ReviewsTitle: A Simple Favor
Author: Darcey Bell, Juliane Pahnke
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

This thriller kicks off when blogger and single mom Stephanie agrees to pick up her best friend’s son from school and her best friend disappears. I enjoyed that parts of the book were told through Stephanie’s blog posts. They weren’t always very well written though and I sometimes found the content unbelievable. For instance, I can’t imagine writing a chatty, meandering post about my best friend’s disappearance. The characters’ decisions were often unbelievable to me as well. One of the characters seemed to be evil for the sake of evil, which I don’t find a terribly compelling motivation. The other characters’ motivations were simply incomprehensible. Finally, the explanation for everything was pretty cliche. While I realize that’s a long list of complaints, I was just looking for something light and I did have fun reading this. The evil character was fascinating, though seriously creepy, and the story did keep me turning the pages.

Beach Reads in Mini-ReviewsTitle: Fractured
Author: Catherine McKenzie
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

After author Julie moves her family across the country to escape a stalker, she’s uncertain whether her stalker or her new neighbors are responsible for the unsettling pranks directed at her family. One of my favorite parts of this story was actually reading about Julie’s experience as an author, trying to write her new book and doing a signing for the old one. I also enjoyed the device the author employed of jumping backwards and forwards in time, with both timelines converging to eventually reveal a terrible tragedy. This is a device that’s used  a lot, but it doesn’t get old for me. It typically means an author doesn’t spell things out for the reader, leaving you to figure some things out yourself. The writing and the suspense the author created were both fantastic. However, the big reveal felt unsurprising and unemotional to me. It was a bit of a letdown. Overall, this was nothing mind blowing or unique, but it was well written and hard to put down.

Beach Reads in Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Rock (Highland Guard, #11)
Author: Monica McCarty
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Blacksmith’s son Thomas McGowan has been in love with the lady Elizabeth Douglas since the played together as children and he always thought she felt the same way. When he finds out that she never considered him that way due to their different social standing, it’s unclear whether he can overcome his wounded pride and fight to convince her they’re meant to be together. This book had everything I’ve loved about the previous two books I’ve read by Monica McCarty. The chemistry between the main characters is completely convincing. On both an emotional and a physical level, it’s clear why they work. The sex scenes are, of course, fantastic and varied. She does go with the trope of putting off actual sex until the very end, which I appreciated her not doing in some earlier books. However, unlike some other authors, I didn’t feel this was a crutch she relied on because she can only write one sex scene. Fighting the tropes about light romance, she also wraps up with a section on her research into this historical time period that would put most other authors to shame. This didn’t blow me away quite as much as the first book of hers that I read, but in fairness, I think the first book I read by an author is often my favorite. I’d still definitely recommend this to any of her fans.

]]> 2 12441
Review: War and Peace Mon, 22 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: War and Peace
Author: Leo Tolstoy, Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This is Tolstoy, so it was meandering, but it also had the same wry sense of humor I appreciated in Anna Karenina.

For so long, I was having trouble devoting time to my blog because all my social media time was being sent on the Science March. So, of course, as soon as I finished working on the science march, I decided it was a good idea to pick up War and Peace! I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time and when Penguin offered to send me a beautiful, new printing they were doing, I couldn’t say no. Since the physical book is largely what distinguishes versions of classics, I will note that this is a really well-made copy. I particularly loved the ribbon bookmark for this enormous book!

This particular version of War and Peace actually also had some more substantial differences from other copies since it’s a new translation. I have to admit, however, that I chose to read an older translation and did not actually read this copy. I’d feel worse about saying that about a review copy, but I think many of you will prefer this new Penguin edition for the same reasons I passed it up! After reading the translator’s note and the first few chapters in this copy, I found that it was written in a much more accessible way than the 1968 Ann Dunnigan translation I ended up reading. The language flows more naturally, the sentence construction was less complicated, and racial slurs were removed. However, I decided that I was only going to read this book once and I wanted to read a copy that felt old and translated. To me, part of the appeal of classics is that they’re written in an older style.

The story itself was the rambling narrative I expected from Tolstoy. Instead of digressing about the Russian peasant as he does in Anna Karenina, he digresses about how historians ascribe causes to events. I found those sections far more annoying than the Russian peasant bits of Anna Karenina. This might be because the point he was making was less tangible and harder for me to follow. I also thought this was a more sprawling story. There were far more main characters than in Anna and the story included both social scenes and scenes of war. I just felt more bogged down than I did in Anna Karenina. I did still love Tolstoy’s sense of humor though. His sly observations about society remind me of Austen more than anything else. Unlike Anna Karenina, I’m not sure that sense of humor made it worth slogging through such a long read though! I’d definitely recommend Anna Karenina over War and Peace if you’re looking to tackle a novel by Tolstoy.

]]> 10 12434
Nonfiction Friday Fri, 19 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> NonfictionFriday

Nonfiction Friday is a link-up where you can find all of the awesome nonfiction happenings of the week. Be sure to link-up your nonfiction posts too!

Review: Printer’s Error Fri, 12 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Read more »]]> Title: Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History
Author: Rebecca Romney, J. P. Romney
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This was a fun, irreverent read with a lighter tone than most nonfiction, but still just as interesting and well researched.

“Since the Gutenberg Bible first went on sale in 1455, printing has been viewed as one of the highest achievements of human innovation. But the march of progress hasn’t been smooth; downright bizarre is more like it. Printer’s Error chronicles some of the strangest and most humorous episodes in the history of Western printing, and makes clear that we’ve succeeded despite ourselves. Rare-book expert Rebecca Romney and author J. P. Romney take us from monasteries and museums to auction houses and libraries to introduce curious episodes in the history of print that have had a profound impact on our world.” (Source)

Initially, I was dubious of this book. The authors use a lot of profanity and while that doesn’t bother me in dialogue, it felt out of place to me in nonfiction. It reminded me of Sarah Vowell’s style in Assassination Vacation, which I did not like. If you do like her style, I’d suggest picking this up. Fortunately for me though, this was different enough from Vowell’s book that I ended up enjoying it. I think initially I was bothered by the style because it didn’t feel formal enough for nonfiction. As I went along, I felt like I was learning a lot and started to enjoy the information being presented in such an entertaining way. I also got used to the authors’ style and stopped feeling surprised every time they said ‘fuck’.

Overall, this seemed incredibly well researched; it contained a ton of fascinating stories; and the style was truly engaging. I often couldn’t help reading passages out loud to whoever was around for me to inflict that on. The organization was also good. Although the stories could have felt a bit random due to their quirkiness, each chapter was very cohesive. The authors finished winning me over with their afterward, suggesting that a reader who enjoyed their book pick up further reading to learn about the history of print in more depth. I felt that the authors sincerely wanted to use their entertaining style to interest people who might not otherwise read nonfiction. They certainly succeeded in drawing me in! Although the style is more similar to Vowell than Roach, I’d recommend it to fans of either. And if you aren’t sure nonfiction is your thing, this non-traditional and hilarious book might be a good place to start.

]]> 4 12422