Flight From Berlin

July 21, 2012 Uncategorized 6

Title: Flight From Berlin
Author: David John
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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 »


The Double Helix in the 574’s

July 18, 2012 Uncategorized 2

Title: The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Author: James D. Watson
Source: library
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.)
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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 »


Monday Musings

July 16, 2012 Monday Musings 0

This week the Monday Musings question from Should Be Reading is the following: What are you currently reading? Is it any good? Would you recommend it?

Right now I’m reading Flight From Berlin for a TLC book tour I’m participating in this Saturday. I just started it last night and haven’t had a ton of time to read today, so I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. The initial thought and dialog seemed a little stilted and it took me a bit to get into the story. But now I’m starting to like the two main characters and the action is picking up, so I think my initial, more negative feelings were just me struggling to get into a new book. Now, I’m liking it a lot better and I suspect that once we get into the more action packed parts of the novel it’s going to turn into something I’ll enjoy a lot and which I would recommend.

Are you reading anything good these days? Does it often take you a little while to decide how you feel about a new book?


Bookends About Maisie Dobbs

July 15, 2012 Uncategorized 3

Title: Maisie Dobbs
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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 »


Photography Friday

July 14, 2012 Photography Friday 0

Today I realized something you may have noticed already – I think I’ve become something of a nature photographer. It just seems to be the subject which most catches my fancy these days 🙂 This pictures were taken today on the ISU campus, but I’m hoping to get back ahead soon so that each week I can take pictures for next Friday’s photography post. I know a lot of my readers are fellow bloggers, so I’m curious – how far in advance do most of you schedule posts?


Meg Cabot – Book Signing Scoop and Mini-Reviews

July 11, 2012 Uncategorized 1

 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 🙂

I’ve already reviewed Abandon, the first book I got signed, so I’ll just be doing mini-reviews of the rest. And now on to the reviews…. Read more »


Monday Musings

July 9, 2012 Monday Musings 4

This week the Monday Musings question from Should Be Reading is the following: Have you ever read a book that, at the time, you didn’t feel a strong connection towards, but as time goes by you find yourself thinking about it a lot?

This is one of those questions where the short answer is no, I haven’t.  But to elaborate, I’ve never had a book which I realized after the fact made a strong impression on  me.  I have, however, tried a few books multiple times in hopes they’d work for me the second time, including The Golden Compass and the Dune sequels – unsuccessfully in both cases.  I know they’re supposed to be good books, but they just don’t do it for me.

Have you ever had the experience of only feeling a connection to a book after you’ve finished reading? If so, do you have any idea why that was the case for you?


Bookends About Abandon

July 8, 2012 Uncategorized 4

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Source: bought for book signing
Rating: ★★★★☆
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 »


Photography Friday

July 7, 2012 Photography Friday 0

Not too much to report this week.  Just some pictures I took at my local library while desperately resisting checking out any more books.  It shouldn’t have been hard, since I don’t think I’ll finish all the ones I have now before I move, but somehow it still was! What I most wanted to check out was some more Meg Cabot books, since I’ve been reading the books of hers that I’ve bought for a signing in Des Moines on Tuesday.  I’ve never been to a book signing before so I’m super excited, especially since I’ve enjoyed her books a lot.  I hope everyone else had a great fourth of july and also has a great week to look forward too 🙂


Endless Forms Most Beautiful

July 5, 2012 Uncategorized 0

Title: Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The Science of Evo Devo
Author: Sean B Carrol
Source: library
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.
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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 »