Source: Library

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#NBAwards Shortlist Review: The New Negro

October 30, 2018 Uncategorized 3 ★★★★

#NBAwards Shortlist Review: The New NegroTitle: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
Author: Jeffrey C. Stewart
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Long, detailed, and requiring of thoughtful reading; interesting enough to make the effort worthwhile.

This is an incredibly detailed biography of Alain Locke, an important figure who helped shape the Harlem renaissance. He was the first African American Rhodes scholar and an influential professor of philosophy with a PhD from Harvard. He helped mentor many better known writers, including Langston Hughes, and influenced the way Americans of all races viewed African American art. Read more »

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Review: The Story of the Great British Bake Off

October 15, 2018 Uncategorized 12 ★★★★★

Review: The Story of the Great British Bake OffTitle: The Story of the Great British Bake Off
Author: Anita Singh
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Charming, delightful, really in the spirit of the show.

I’ve recently started watching The Great British Bake Off (The Great British Baking Show for those of us in the US) and I’m loving it. Unlike so much reality TV, it feels like the contestants are truly friends with one another. I never get the impression that there is manufactured drama or even much real drama other than whether someone’s cake will rise. It struck me as the sort of show older people might watch, I suppose because it’s about baking, but it turns out friends my age have simply been holding out on me. I’ve been surprised how many people have expressed a love for this show when I mention I’m watching it! It seems that its wholesomeness appeals to all ages. Given how much I’ve been enjoying it, I was thrilled to pick up this history of the show. Read more »

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Nonfiction Review: The Poisoned City

October 11, 2018 Uncategorized 6 ★★★

Nonfiction Review: The Poisoned CityTitle: The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy
Author: Anna Clark
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Not the most engagingly written book, but it’s still a story worth reading

This story of Flint’s water crisis, from a journalist who covered the story as it unfolded, is a fascinating read. It includes a number of topics that are relevant for many cities. The continued use of led pipes throughout the country is the obvious takeaway, but we also see the lasting effects of legal and then social segregation that lased long after the civil war. The way poverty influenced who was hardest hit by this crisis, as well as the options available to people for dealing with it, was somehow both unsurprising and shocking. And the whole thing was a terrifying reminder that if government officials aren’t forced by required transparency to act in our best interests, any of us could find ourselves in the next Flint. Read more »

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A Nonfiction Favorite in Review: Bad Blood

September 18, 2018 Uncategorized 12 ★★★★★

A Nonfiction Favorite in Review: Bad BloodTitle: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Author: John Carreyrou
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

This is the story of Theranos, a company that claimed to be able to do dozens of blood tests on a tiny volume of blood. Big names spanning academia, technology, venture capital, government, and industry all provided funding or support to this start-up. Founder Elizabeth Homes was a college drop-out considered by many to be the biotech version of Steve Jobs. “There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.” (source) Read more »

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#HispanicHeritage Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers

September 11, 2018 Uncategorized 0 ★★★

#HispanicHeritage Review: Make Your Home Among StrangersTitle: Make Your Home Among Strangers
Author: Jennine Capo Crucet
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

“When Lizet—the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school—secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she’s set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy—Lizet’s older sister, a brand-new single mom—without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live. Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life.” (Source) Read more »

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Nonfiction Review: The Limit

September 9, 2018 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

Nonfiction Review: The LimitTitle: The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit
Author: Michael Cannell
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This had some good stories, but also some sexism and some boring bits.

I’ve started watching Formula 1 with my husband on the weekends and it’s been a lot of fun. So, of course, as with everything else I’m interested in, I wanted to read about it. Unfortunately, most biographies of current drivers seem poorly written and hastily delivered, based on their reviews. Instead, I decided to start with this book about 1961 racing circuit, even though my interest in Formula 1 is inversely proportional to the number of people it’s killing. This book was set during the bad old days, when the death toll was quite high. It also had some problems, a mix of it’s own bookish flaws and a reflection of the flaws with Formula 1. Read more »

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Historical True Crime Review: Blood and Ivy

September 3, 2018 Uncategorized 10 ★★★★★

Historical True Crime Review: Blood and IvyTitle: Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard
Author: Paul Collins
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Fun, engaging, well-researched. I was sad it ended.

“On November 23rd of 1849, in the heart of Boston, one of the city’s richest men simply vanished. Dr. George Parkman, a Brahmin who owned much of Boston’s West End, was last seen that afternoon visiting his alma mater, Harvard Medical School. Police scoured city tenements and the harbor, and offered hefty rewards as leads put the elusive Dr. Parkman at sea or hiding in Manhattan. But one Harvard janitor held a much darker suspicion: that their ruthless benefactor had never left the Medical School building alive.” Read more »

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Review: Tell The Machine Good Night

August 14, 2018 Uncategorized 6 ★★★

Review: Tell The Machine Good NightTitle: Tell the Machine Goodnight
Author: Katie Williams
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Interesting world building, but without a cohesive plot and with an undercurrent of potential violence that made it a stressful read.

Pearl works for a company that needs only a sample of your DNA to tell you what will make you happy. Unfortunately, her son isn’t interested in learning what will make him happy. Pearl fears he isn’t interested in being happy at all. Soon she’ll learn how far she’s willing to go in her attempts to make him be happy. In the meantime, she must deal with mysterious clients and her ex-husband, while her son tries to help a friend learn who was behind something terrible that happened to her. Read more »

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True Crime Review: To the Bridge

August 12, 2018 Uncategorized 5 ★★★

True Crime Review: To the BridgeTitle: To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder
Author: Nancy Rommelmann
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

This is the story of a woman who dropped two of her children off a bridge in the middle of the night. It is an attempt to explain a crime of the sort often written off as inexplicable. The author focuses on her experience interviewing the people most involved; attending court dates; and chasing leads over 7 years. Read more »

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A Memoir in Review: Can’t Help Myself

August 8, 2018 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

A Memoir in Review: Can’t Help MyselfTitle: Can't Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist
Author: Meredith Goldstein
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Light, heartwarming mix of memoir and advice column, well blended.

I’ve recently started to enjoy reading advice columns (specifically Dear Prudence at Slate), so I was excited to see this memoir by advice columnist Meredith Goldstein. It seemed like a great chance to see behind the curtain of an advice column. It turned out to be a delightful mix of stories about her own life; her philosophy for answering questions; and some excerpts from her column, grouped by theme. I enjoyed all three components. When discussing her own life, she moves chronologically, which gives the book a good flow. She then uses issues in her own life, of the sort one might write to an advice columnist about, to discuss her column. She ends each chapter with some example letters. It all stuck together well. Read more »

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