Hello all 🙂 This is just a quick notice that I’m moving out of my apartment this week and into my new one next week. I hope to schedule some posts in advance for you to enjoy while I’m dealing with life, but I’d like to apologize in advance if posts get a little erratic for a while!
Posts Categorized: Uncategorized
Title: Flight From Berlin
Author: David John
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Review Summary: An exciting story of escape from Nazi Germany, made more interesting and believable by the author’s inclusion of real people and events.
Starting during the 1936 Berlin Olympics and taking place just pre-WWII, Flight From Berlin is a fascinating look at a pivotal time period as the world decides how to react to Nazi Germany. Almost by chance, an English reporter and a beautiful American athlete-turned-reporter receive information which could effect the outcome of that decision. They also become personally involved with a Jewish family who they hope to help escape. Read more »
Title: The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Author: James D. Watson
Fun Fact: Not even Watson always knew what he wanted to research. (This may not seem like a fun fact to all of you, but to those of you who are also in research – you’re welcome.)
Review Summary: This was a great candid look at the process of research and the drama of the personal interactions that are sometimes involved.
Science sometimes includes a surprising amount of personal drama and just playing around with models until they fit the facts. This account of the discovery of the structure of DNA, by one of the key participants Dr. James D. Watson, includes a lot of both. Written as though from his perspective at the time, The Double Helix presented a fascinating and candid look at the work which led up to this amazing discover. Read more »
Title: Maisie Dobbs
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Review Summary: Well written mystery with an impressive female protagonist, convincingly set in the 1920’s but with too much focus on WWI’s leftovers and not enough urgency.
Maisie Dobbs, the lead character after whom the book is named, is an intelligent, independent woman and one of the first generation of women taking on traditionally male roles following WWI. She’s also a brilliant private investigator with a personal life affected by her experience as a nurse in the war. The war also leaves it’s mark on her professional life, since many of her cases directly relate to the war’s aftermath. This includes the case which is the focus of this book which starts out as “an ordinary infidelity case” but which “soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets”. Read more »
Last night, I went to see Meg Cabot – my first book signing – and she was awesome! She seemed really nice and down-to-earth and was actually as funny in person as she is in her books. Perhaps even funnier, which is impressive. We started with her giving a brief talk about her life and how she got into writing and then had a question and answer session. Then we all got to stand in line for over an hour to get our books signed. Definitely not the most fun part of the night, but worth it! Plus it was so much fun seeing everyone from elementary school girls to women twice my age standing in line, all holding their favorite Meg Cabot books and all excited to meet her. That’s me on the right, enjoying my quick minute talking to Meg 🙂
Author: Meg Cabot
Source: bought for book signing
Review Summary: In a lot of ways this is a fairly typical YA romance with a strong heroine, but it’s also well written, enjoyable, and made unique by its’ basis in mythology and the heroine’s unique voice.
Like Dead Beautiful, Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy is a re-telling of the Persephone myth, although in this case only the starting point of the story really comes from the myth. The Greek gods aren’t part of the story at all and while a lot of elements of the Greek underworld are used, even the basic explanation for the way the Underworld works is different. What is the same is that the lord of the underworld does fall in love with our heroine, Pierce. He does kidnap her, in a way, but in his defense she’s already dead in this version. She manages to escape and is resuscitated by her doctors; which of these events is the cause and which the effect is left for the reader to determine. Unfortunately for Pierce, escaping the underworld doesn’t resolve anything. She now has trouble fitting back into her old life and still has to deal with the lord of the underworld appearing to “help” her, usually causing her some trouble himself as well. Read more »
Title: Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The Science of Evo Devo
Author: Sean B Carrol
Fun Fact: It has been estimated that the millions of animals alive today represent only 1 percent of the animals that have existed at various times in the past 500 million years.
Review Summary: An interesting topic discussed by an enthusiastic author, but kept from being really engaging by the author’s verbosity, excessive attention to detail, and inclusion of some very basic biology.
Evo Devo stands for Evolutionary Developmental Biology and is a field which looks at both the way a fertilized egg becomes a living creature and the way changes in that process drive evolution. In Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the author/scientist Sean Carrol describes exciting new developments in the field (as of 2005), starting with clear, illustrated explanations of some basic concepts necessary to understand the rest of the book. As someone who does at least know the basics, this made the book drag (even more) for me, but I think it would be really helpful to someone with little to no background in biology. The second half of the book was by far my favorite part and focused on some pretty cool examples of the concepts explained in the first half of the book. Read more »
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Review Summary: I was very close to giving this a five-star, gushy review. The plot is clever and thought-provoking and the characters have a lot of depth, but I just didn’t find the ending very satisfying.
Like Hyperion (which, having read the sequel, I’ve retroactively makde a 5 star book), this book was selected by the Sword and Laser group on goodreads, has been nominated for several awards, and was exceptionally well written. Tigana is about a world similar to 16th century Italy, with many warring provinces. In this world, eight of the nine provinces have been conquered by two foreign sorcerers. In revenge for the death of his son one of these sorcerers has obliterated one province entirely, casting a spell that prevents anyone not originally from that province from even remembering its’ real name – Tigana. The book focuses on efforts, lead by people from Tigana, to remove the two sorcerers without allowing either of them to grab control of all the provinces. Read more »
Today I’m doing a couple of last minute posts for the month of June and that includes the current Bloggers’ Alliance of Non-fiction Devotees (BAND) discussion. Each month, this group poses an interesting question related to our common love of non-fiction. This weeks’ question comes from Marilyn from Me, you, and books and she asks the following question:
When is an author’s subjective response to a subject not a bias but a legitimate perspective? What non-fiction have you read where an author’s feelings enhance your understanding?
Title: Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
Author: Leonie Frieda
Fun Fact: During her life, three of Catherine de Medici’s sons were king of France.
Review Summary: I loved the characters and their stories, but the narration was a little dry. It wasn’t overly scholarly or a difficult read, but the plot was sometimes hard to follow and I think this was because the author treated the book like a list of facts instead of a story.
After reading The Dark Queen, a historical fiction novel in which Catherine de Medici is portrayed as the titular dark queen and an evil witch, I was left wanting to know more about the historical basis for the story. In The Dark Queen Catherine is accused of everything from poisoning her rivals to employing beautiful seductresses to control her courtiers to engineering a massacre. This non-fiction account is largely intended to dispel such rumors and show what an impressive woman Catherine de Medici really was. And after reading the book, I’m convinced. She was a little ruthless protecting the throne for her sons, but she was also a very courageous, capable, and mostly well-intentioned woman. Interestingly, many of the horrible things Catherine did in The Dark Queen are based on rumors the existed in Catherine’s time, although most are false or only very loosely based on actual events. Read more »