Posts By: DoingDewey

Women in Film Fiction Review: The Animators

June 24, 2022 Uncategorized 0 ★★½

Women in Film Fiction Review: The AnimatorsTitle: The Animators
Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker, Alex McKenna
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:two-half-stars

Summary: I was trying something new with this one and it didn’t work for me, but I think it would be a great fit for people who like messy, contemporary fiction about creating art.

I picked this book up because I’m reading about women in film and journalism. I was hoping it would relate to the themes in the nonfiction I’ve been reading. It did a little bit. It’s about two women who produce indie animated films and make it big with an award, while seeming well on their way to becoming cult classics. I thought I got more out of the descriptions of their animation because of the technical details I learned in The Queens of Animation. And it made sense to me that these two women were working in indie films based on what I learned in The Wrong Kind of Women. This reflects both the sexism of the big companies in the industry and increasing accessibility of technology and crowdfunding for indie films. Read more »

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Women in Film Nonfiction Review: The Queens of Animation

June 21, 2022 Uncategorized 1 ★★★★

Women in Film Nonfiction Review: The Queens of AnimationTitle: The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History
Author: Nathalia Holt
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was a great read, full of engaging stories that taught me a lot of about animation and the role women have played at Disney.

This story about the female animators who shaped Disney movies is by the same author who published Rise of the Rocket Girls several years before. I noted that the previous book didn’t include many technical details and I thought this book was much better in that regard. It could be because I know less about animation, but I learned so much about how movies are made. There are aspects of animation that I took completely for granted that seem almost miraculous now that I understand the effort and technological innovation required. Read more »

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Memoir Review: Chasing Lakes

June 14, 2022 Uncategorized 2 ★★

Memoir Review: Chasing LakesTitle: Chasing Lakes: Love, Science, and the Secrets of the Arctic
Author: Katey Walter Anthony
Source: NetGalley
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:two-stars

Summary: There were a few good bits of science and nature writing here, but they weren’t worth the slog through a disjointed religious memoir.

I decided to read this lake science book/memoir as a break from my women in media project and I have regrets. First off, this book was very poorly served by its marketing. The title and the cover picture focus only on the science, although the subtitle does tell you its also a memoir. The blurb compares it Lab Girl. Looking back, I feel like it was reasonable that I expected this to be about a 50/50 split between science and memoir. It was not. It was, at best, 25% about scientific expeditions, with very few in-depth explanations of the science. This is far more a memoir about the author finding her faith and a husband than about science, a type of book I most certainly would not have picked up on purpose. Read more »

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Investigative Journalism in Review: She Said

June 9, 2022 Uncategorized 3 ★★★★½

Investigative Journalism in Review: She SaidTitle: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement
Author: Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: Fantastic investigative journalism telling an important story.

As you’ll probably notice over the next month or so, I’ve decided to do a bit of a deep dive on the topic of women in media. I’ve already reviewed two books about women in film and I have a number of memoirs by female journalists in the queue. I certainly hope the whole list won’t be focused on sexual harassment. It’s depressing we live in a world where that’s even a possible way of approaching this and its not my favorite topic to read about. However, She Said is such a well known book on the topic, I had to at least consider picking it up. Then both of the books I read about women in film highlighted what a turning point Weinstein facing criminal charges was in their industry. I knew I needed to read this account by the two journalists who broke the story about Weinstein next. Read more »

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Women in Cinema Nonfiction Reviews

June 7, 2022 Uncategorized 3 ★★★

Women in Cinema Nonfiction ReviewsTitle: The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick
Author: Mallory O'Meara
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

This is the story of Milicent Patrick, the designer of the monster in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Few people have heard of her, because of credit-stealing efforts of her jealous boss. Author Mallory O’Meara unearths Milicent’s story and shares some of her own experiences with sexism in her work in the horror film industry. While memoir plus a topic is a type of nonfiction that often works for me, the blending here was a little rough. In a few places, Mallory’s personal experiences gave me a deeper understanding of what Milicent experienced. In others, the story of doing research lined up well with what was being shared about Milicent. However, in most cases, the jumps weren’t between points of obvious connection in the two stories, which was jarring.

The footnotes were also hit-or-miss for me. Some were quite successful – really funny or adding extra information I was excited to have. At other times, they were a little too into present-day politics, which pulled me out of the story (despite my general agreement with the author) and unnecessarily dated the book. I enjoyed Milicent’s story. The author did some incredible detective work to be able to share with us Milicent’s vivid personality. The mesh between that story and her own was simply a bit rough around the edges. Read more »

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Math Nonfiction Review: Humble Pi

June 4, 2022 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★

Math Nonfiction Review: Humble PiTitle: Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors
Author: Matt Parker
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Surprisingly light, fun, and entertaining!

I enjoyed math in school, but when it comes to nonfiction reading, I’m definitely a life sciences kind of reader. Several other members of my book club shared my doubts about whether this book on the way math errors can significantly impact our lives would be a fun read. Fortunately, the author’s sense of humor and the interesting stories he found to tell won us all over. Read more »

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True Crime Review: Last Call

June 1, 2022 Uncategorized 2 ★★★½

True Crime Review: Last CallTitle: Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York
Author: Elon Green
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-half-stars

Summary: This was engaging and focused on victims rather than a serial killer, but it was also quite light.

This is the story of a serial killer who preyed on gay men, with a focus on the personal lives of the few known victims and the community they formed in early 1990’s New York. It seems likely that the killer escaped justice for longer and killed more people than are known due to police bias. It also seems like he knew a lot about how gay men socialized and this book gives some insight into the places beloved by the community. Read more »

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Contemporary Fiction Review: Like a House on Fire

May 26, 2022 Uncategorized 0 ★★★½

Contemporary Fiction Review: Like a House on FireTitle: Like a House on Fire
Author: Lauren McBrayer
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-half-stars

Summary: The relationship at the heart of this book was intriguing, but the plot was lighter than I hoped.

After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life…So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s resume and give her a shot. Jane is a supernova—witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself—and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship… Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more—more of a partner, more of a match, more in love—she begins to question: what if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?” (source) Read more »

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Dark Fairy Tale Retelling Review: Darling Girl

May 24, 2022 Uncategorized 0 ★★★

Dark Fairy Tale Retelling Review: Darling GirlTitle: Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan
Author: Liz Michalski
Source: Bought
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: A gripping read, but not special enough to be memorable.

This dark, modern, adult retelling of Peter Pan was a pretty decent thriller. The story focused on Wendy Darling’s granddaughter, Holly, who’s a scientist at a cosmetics company. Her daughter has just gone missing and she’s sure Peter Pan is responsible. Although the original story paints Peter as a hero, this book explores the way a boy who’s never grown up can be a danger to others. That basic premise felt like an obvious direction to take this story, but the author did a great job building suspense. I couldn’t put this book down as I waited to find out what had happened to Holly’s daughter in the present and how she was connected to Peter in the past. Read more »

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Two Pandemic Nonfiction Reviews

May 21, 2022 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Two Pandemic Nonfiction ReviewsTitle: The Helpers: Profiles from the Front Lines of the Pandemic
Author: Kathy Gilsinan
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

This is definitely the most optimistic book I’ve read about the ongoing pandemic. It was uplifting to read about the heroic individuals who put their lives on the line to help others. Many of them dropped everything and risked everything in their efforts to save lives. The author doesn’t lose track of the systemic failures that made these heroic sacrifices necessary, but the focus is on the people who were doing the work. I thought the organization of the story was very effective, with chronological glimpses of each of the six protagonists’ stories at the beginning, middle, and end of the first wave of cases. The author seems to have really done the work to get to know these people. We got intimate glimpses of their work and the rest of their lives from their perspective and the perspectives of those closest to them. This wasn’t hard-hitting journalism and I didn’t learn much I didn’t know, but it was an incredible, heart-warming personal look at some real heroes. I enjoyed it very much.

Two Pandemic Nonfiction ReviewsTitle: Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine
Author: Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twilley
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

I was surprised to learn that this second book, on the history of quarantine, was in the works before covid. There was an intro that focused on covid and a few references to modern resistance to pandemic mitigation efforts, but this wasn’t a large part of the book. The bulk of the book was about the origins of quarantine practices and the ethics of using quarantine to control disease spread today. There’s also a significant digression about interesting cases where we try to isolate things for other reasons – specifically nuclear waste disposal and space travel. These sections initially felt off-topic, but they raised some really thought-provoking questions about the limits of and uses for quarantine. This book definitely read like narrative nonfiction, but was kept engaging through many anecdotes rather than one overarching story. Historical pandemics are recounted with personal perspectives and larger narrative arcs. The authors also intersperse information with fascinating stories about their travels learning about quarantine. I love when authors use their research experience to make potentially dry information feel immediate and alive.

These two books complemented each other well, with the first focused on the stories of individuals and the second focused on systems. Neither gave a very complete overview of the beginning of the current pandemic though. Although I recommend both of these books, for a more complete picture, I’d suggest either either Lawrence Wright’s The Plague Year or Michael Lewis’s The Premonition.

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