Source: Library

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Diversity Challenge Review: Dumplin’

January 30, 2017 Uncategorized 6

Diversity Challenge Review: Dumplin’Title: Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)
Author: Julie Murphy
Source: Library
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: Somehow this book managed to feel light and fun, but also include well-developed characters and tackle tough issues.

“Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.” (Source) However, a surprising romance with the sexy jock Bo makes Will doubt herself rather than raising her confidence.  And this summer, that’s only one of the many things pushing her and her traditionally beautiful best friend, Ellen, apart. To regain her confidence and hopefully her best friend, Willowdean decides to do “the most horrifying thing she can imagine” and enter the Miss Clover City beauty pageant. Read more »

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Review: The Diner

December 14, 2016 Uncategorized 6

Review: The DinerTitle: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch, Sam Garrett
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: The author did an incredible job of creeping me out, but each ‘reveal’ felt predictable to me.

“A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.” (Source) Read more »

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Review: The Sympathizer

November 17, 2016 Uncategorized 10

Review: The SympathizerTitle: The Sympathizer
Author: Viet Thanh Nguyen
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: I enjoyed the clever writing and fast-paced plot, but the ending got a bit surreal and a really terrible trope made me enjoy it much less.

This story is also a confession – the confession being written by the imprisoned narrator, relating his life as a double agent. Although he was evacuated to America after the Vietnam war ended, he is secretly reporting back to the communist leadership in Vietnam. He is also living a double life in other ways. As the child of a French soldier and a Vietnamese woman and as a communist who was educated in the United States, he’s never quite fit in with either world. Although he has already decided his loyalties, as he writes this story, he’s forced to come to terms with who he’s become.
Read more »

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Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

November 9, 2016 Uncategorized 20

Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpTitle: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Author: Marie Kondō, Cathy Hirano
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Summary: I liked the basic idea, but the details didn’t work for me and sometimes seemed pretty crazy.

Marie Kondo is a professional cleaning consultant now, but she’s been interested in cleaning and organizing since she was very young. In this book, she shares her the method she’s developed for organizing based on years of trying different things. She also shares the emotional connection she feels with her home and the objects she owns. Read more »

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Review: Your Inner Fish

November 8, 2016 Uncategorized 0

Review: Your Inner FishTitle: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
Author: Neil Shubin
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: Despite a very simple message, the author’s enthusiasm, plus clear prose and images, made this accessible and compulsively readable.

Paleontologist Neil Shubin primarily studies ancient fish, but he uses what he learns to gain new insights into human anatomy and our evolutionary past.  By examining living and ancient fish, it’s possible to trace the history of many aspects of human anatomy. As he explains this history, we also get to learn about the process by which his lab continues to make new discoveries. Read more »

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Review: Brain on Fire

November 2, 2016 Memoir, non-fiction, Psychology, Science 14

Review: Brain on FireTitle: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Author: Susannah Cahalan
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was an amazing mix of clear, informative journalism and moving, emotional memoir.
“When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened? In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.” (source) Read more »

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Review: The Girl With the Lower Back Tatoo

September 28, 2016 Uncategorized 8

Review: The Girl With the Lower Back TatooTitle: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: Schumer’s willingness to talk about anything felt honest and refereshing, but fortunately shock value was not the source of her ability to be hilarious.

I’d heard of Amy Schumer before reading her memoir of course, but I’d actually not seen any of her comedy. I’d read about her occasionally as someone speaking up about feminism and sometimes for being embroiled in one controvery or another. But I wasn’t sure if I’d like her humor or her radical honesty. I love funny memoirs by women though, so when I saw her memoir on the Bestseller’s shelf at my library, I couldn’t resist picking it up. Read more »

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Review: The Chief

April 11, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Uncategorized 14

Review: The ChiefTitle: The Chief (Highland Guard, #1)
Author: Monica McCarty
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was just as good as the first book I read in the series and despite major similarities, felt like a fresh story.

For my Reluctant Romantic project in February, I read four romances and while I enjoyed them all more than I expected, my very favorite was The Recruit. This was book number six in the author’s Highland Guard series and I immediately wondered if I’d like the rest as well. I admit that I also had/have an image of romances as particularly formulaic, so I was especially curious if similarities between books by a given author would be great enough that they’d all feel the same. To find out, I picked up this first book in the series, The Chief. Read more »

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Review: Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

March 21, 2016 Uncategorized 10

Review: Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information AgeTitle: Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age
Author: Kurt W. Beyer
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: Grace Hopper’s story was fascinating and inspiring, but the writing was sometimes repetitive.

This is the first book I’ve finally picked up for my Women in Science History event this month. I’m already excited for next year just so I can do more with this event! Anyway, Grace Hopper was one of the fantastic female scientists in Headstrong who particularly caught my attention, in part because I’m aware of a computing conference named after her, but didn’t previously know about her work. It turns out that she invented the first compiler, a program that allows us to use higher level, human readable programming languages by converting them to machine readable languages. Read more »

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Review: Voices from Chernobyl

March 13, 2016 History, non-fiction 26

Review: Voices from ChernobylTitle: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
Author: Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was an incredible, heartbreaking account.

Since I’ve been trying to read more translated books, I immediately added Voices of Chernobyl to my to-read list when author Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize last year. This is a collection of interviews with survivors of the Chernobyl disaster, relatives of survivors, and the many individuals involved in the reaction to the disaster. Read more »

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