Doing Dewey http://doingdeweydecimal.com Your Source For Everything Nonfiction! Thu, 25 May 2017 17:28:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 61904956 Beach Reads in Mini-Reviews http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/25/beach-reads-in-mini-reviews/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/25/beach-reads-in-mini-reviews/#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12441 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.

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Review: War and Peace http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/22/review-war-and-peace/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/22/review-war-and-peace/#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12434 Read more »]]> Title: War and Peace
Author: Leo Tolstoy, Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude
|Goodreads
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.

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Nonfiction Friday http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/19/nonfiction-friday-70/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/19/nonfiction-friday-70/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12431 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!

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Review: Printer’s Error http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/12/review-printers-error/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/12/review-printers-error/#comments Fri, 12 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12422 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.

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Nonfiction Friday http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/05/nonfiction-friday-69/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/05/05/nonfiction-friday-69/#comments Fri, 05 May 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12382 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!

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Read-a-Thon Reviews and Yosemite Pics http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/30/read-a-thon-reviews-and-yosemite-pics/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/30/read-a-thon-reviews-and-yosemite-pics/#comments Sun, 30 Apr 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12402 Read more »]]> Author: Basma Abdel Aziz, Gene Stone

Today, I’m recapping my read-a-thon reads and my visit to Yosemite, which happened the same day. I only read for about 8 hours, but I’m excited I did that much reading, since I’m sure I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the read-a-thon. Also, I definitely owe my husband a thank you for doing all the driving to and from Yosemite! I had a lot of fun reading during the drive. I ended up picking up two books (and starting a third), so I’ll review the books I finished below. I’ve also got some adorable squirrel pictures for Yosemite afterwards, so be sure not to miss those!

Read-a-Thon Reviews and Yosemite PicsTitle: The Queue
Author: Basma Abdel Aziz
|Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

I picked up The Queue for Platypire’s Diversity challenge (Arabic history month) and it made for a fascinating read. This darkly humorous dystopia reminded me very much of Catch-22, with its absurd contradictions. The setting in an alternate history, modern day Egypt was refreshing. Although I’m sure it didn’t give me an accurate picture of the real Egypt today, the exposure to another culture and a different setting from most of what I read was a lot of fun. The author did a great job sharing only enough info to make me curious, slowly revealing the world throughout the story. The ending felt unresolved and unsatisfying to me, though. I’m definitely someone who likes a clear answer to how things worked out.

Read-a-Thon Reviews and Yosemite PicsTitle: The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen
Author: Gene Stone
|Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

The Trump Survival Guide actually reminded me a lot of Headstrong, because both include short vignettes on important topics/people and both left me wanting to know so much more about every subject they covered. Instead of describing impressive scientists, this guide covered many of the most important topics in American politics. Each section began with a handy overview of the history of that topic. That was followed by a brief section on actions Obama took related to that topic; a section on what Trump might do; and a great list of actions you could take, organizations you could donate to, and resources you could use to learn more. I think it’s well worth buying in order to get the most out of the resource guides.

The third book I picked up was Printer’s Error, a fascinating and funny guide to the history of printing, which has been a great read so far. Review to come. In the meantime, you’ll just have to settle for some squirrel pictures 🙂

 

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Happy Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon! http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/29/happy-deweys-24-hour-read-a-thon/ Sat, 29 Apr 2017 10:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12393 Read more »]]> I’m so excited Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon is here! It may actually be my favorite holiday 🙂 Although I’m going to Yosemite today, with my husband and his brother (since his brother his visiting us this weekend), I expect I’ll still get some reading done. We have 3-4 hours in the car either way, after all. Given my plans for tomorrow, my reading pile is wildly optimistic, but here are the books I’m considering reading anyway:

I’ll try to update here throughout the day, with reading progress and Yosemite pictures, if I can. Happy reading!

Hour 20 Update: Not surprisingly perhaps, no cell service at Yosemite! I’m sorry to have missed interacting with all you lovely people today, but I have read for 6.5 hours so far, with two books down and a third started. I’m currently trying to decide if I’ll stay up and read much more.  A day outside can be exhausting and I’m definitely a bit dehydrated, so this may be all I post tonight. If so, I’ll hopefully check in tomorrow with some photos from Yosemite and quick reviews of the books I read today.

 

 

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Review: Cork Dork http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/24/review-cork-dork/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/24/review-cork-dork/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12384 Read more »]]> Title: Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Author: Bianca Bosker
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: Light, funny, and engaging mix of personal experience, history and science in the style of Mary Roach.

When tech reporter Bianca Bosker stumbled across a wine tasting competition, she was blown away by the ability of sommeliers to “after a single sip of wine, identify the grape it was made from, in what year, and where it was produced down to the exact location, within acres.” She was also intrigued by their passion for wine, as well as the passion of the many creators and collectors of wine. To determine what made wine so special to these people, she gave up her job and decided to try to become a sommelier herself. Starting as a ‘cellar rat’, storing and retrieving bottles of wine, she slowly works her way into the wine world. She eventually attends exclusive tasting groups and visits expensive restaurants and dinners for dedicated wine collectors. She also learns about the science of wine tasting and wine creation. This is the story of her experiences and what she learned.

I was excited when I picked this up and saw that it was blurbed by Mary Roach. The blurb turned out to be a good fit, because the style did remind me of Mary Roach. Slightly less science focused and not quite as hilarious, but definitely funny, engaging, and conversational. This book also reminded me of Mary Roach because Bosker kept the story entertaining by mixing science and history with anecdotes describing her own experiences in the wine world. It felt a little lighter than Roach’s books to me, but I still thought it was a great read. I learned a lot and it made me want to learn even more. It wasn’t pretentious, included lots of practical advice, and made wine feel more accessible. If you like Mary Roach or have any interest in wine, I’d definitely suggest giving this a try.

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Nonfiction Friday http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/21/nonfiction-friday-68/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/21/nonfiction-friday-68/#comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12377 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!

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Review: The Three Body Problem Trilogy http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/17/review-the-three-body-problem-trilogy/ http://doingdeweydecimal.com/2017/04/17/review-the-three-body-problem-trilogy/#comments Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://doingdeweydecimal.com/?p=12361 Read more »]]> Author: Joel Martinsen, Ken Liu, Liu Cixin

Summary: Overall, an amazing series that imagined a future for technology and humanity that was creative, awe-inspiring, and believable.

I don’t read much sci-fi anymore because my reading priorities have changed in recent years. I’m also a lot less likely to take the time to read a long book, much less a long series, since starting blogging. I just hear about too many good books from all of you and I want to be constantly sharing what I’m reading with you as well! However, when I saw The Three Body Problem was a trilogy, I decided I either wanted to skip it or read the whole thing. As you can tell since I’m writing this review, I decided to embrace the trilogy and wow, was that the right choice! Aside from enjoying reading a long, sci-fi trilogy again after so long, this was a particularly fantastic series. I’m going to give you brief, non-spoilery reviews for each of the books below. Then I also want to talk a bit about two major aspects of this books: the science the author imagined and the  way he portrayed women in the story (also spoiler-free).

Review: The Three Body Problem TrilogyTitle: The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)
Author: Liu Cixin, Ken Liu
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

The writing in this book, and the remainder of the trilogy, was fairly descriptive and slow-paced. Sometimes there was a little too much exposition, especially for the more action-y scenes, but I mostly enjoyed the beauty of the author’s prose. The main character and some of the supporting characters were drawn in loving detail. I found their emotions engaging and their hobbies and quirks made them feel real. The author also captured a feeling of immensity and awe-inspiring scale when describing the universe. In the post-script, the author talked about his love of science and it shone through in this book.

Review: The Three Body Problem TrilogyTitle: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)
Author: Liu Cixin, Joel Martinsen
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

No middle of the trilogy slump here! In fact, I considered giving the first book 4 stars just so I could rate this book even higher. The idea for this book was particularly unique, as were the creative technological solutions the characters came up with to facing an alien threat.  Even more than the previous book, this book achieved an epic sense of scale, not only in space but in time. He manages to span hundreds of years, but through some hibernating individuals who remain in the story and through others who leave tangible legacies, I continued to feel invested in the characters throughout. The ending surprised me in the best of ways.

Review: The Three Body Problem TrilogyTitle: Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3)
Author: Liu Cixin, Ken Liu
|Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Ugh, what a let down after the other two! I almost gave this book two stars for having a frustrating and stereotyped female protagonist, plus a boring final 150 pages. However, the author’s amazing imagination and his creative ideas about the evolution of the universe; technology; and the interactions between galactic civilizations made me give it another star. Honestly though, I might recommend reading the first two and just leaving them to sit in their perfection, while giving this book a pass.

Science in the trilogy

I cannot say enough about how amazing the science and technology in this book were. The ideas the author had about basic physics were fascinating to me. I’ve read a bit about theoretical physics, but only at the pop science level, and I was not only able to follow the concepts the author introduced, but to be genuinely excited by them. The author clearly loves physics, as do many of his characters, and he does a great job sweeping the reader up in that enthusiasm. Every book surprised me as the author imagined advancing our knowledge of science and the universe further beyond the bounds of what we know. Someone with a great knowledge of physics might disagree, but I found every idea the author suggested believable given what I know about physics, while simultaneously being so clever I never would have thought of his ideas myself.

Female characters in the trilogy

I mostly wanted to talk about female characters in this series because the author’s portrayal was such a mix of good and bad. In the first book, two of the main characters are women. One of them is briefly our protagonist and has a larger impact on the story than any other character. It even squeaks by the Bechdel test, with the female protagonist briefly interacting with some secondary female characters, although not in any way that impacts the story.

The second book has only a male protagonist. Women are shown as soldiers and starship captains, scientists and political leaders. However, none of them impacts the story in any meaningful way. (Some may consider the main character’s love interest an exception, but her only real impact is as motivation for him). Pretty much the only character the female characters interact with is the male protagonist, so this book is in no danger of passing the Bechdel test.

The third book passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, with the main protagonist and the secondary character we see most regularly interacting to make decisions that will change the world. Unfortunately, the Bechdel test isn’t everything and this book had the worst representation of women from any of the books. The main character consistently makes terrible decisions based on her ‘maternal instinct’. Honestly, I found her decisions even more frustrating because she consistently escapes from their consequences unscathed, spending large periods of time in hibernation. She also hibernates through most of the times where actual progress is being made, popping out only to give us updates on what the male characters have been accomplishing and to accidentally to fuck it up. As a bonus side of awful, she regularly comments on the fact that men appear more effeminate to her in some eras by describing different time periods as either ‘producing men’ or not. Blech. The only other secondary female characters are briefly mentioned as love interests and make no meaningful contribution to the story.

Conclusion

Sorry to leave you on a bit of a sour note there! The first two books were incredible. Their portrayal of women could be better, but wouldn’t bother me at all if representation was more balanced in sci-fi generally. The author’s imagination, especially about science and technology, blew me away. The third book wasn’t as interesting to me. The main character was so frustrating, I didn’t care much about her personal safety and she slept through a lot of the good stuff. As discussed above, the representation of gender in general was abysmal. I would highly recommend the first two books in the series, but if you aren’t too much of a completionist to skip the last book, I’d do that if I were you.

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