Source: Library

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Review: The Coincidence Makers

August 6, 2018 Uncategorized 10 ★★★★

Review: The Coincidence MakersTitle: The Coincidence Makers
Author: Yoav Blum
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was a delightfully fun and clever story!

The Coincidence Makers is set in a world where coincidences don’t really happen by chance. Instead, some people have the exacting job of arranging ‘coincidences’ to achieve specific goals. One day the may inspire an artist or scientist, another day they may help a couple fall in love. This is the story of three coincidence makers – Guy, Emily, and Eric – and the ways that a high level assignment Guy receives will change their friendship and alter the course of their lives. Read more »

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A Nonfiction Classic: And The Band Played On

August 2, 2018 Uncategorized 17 ★★★★★

A Nonfiction Classic: And The Band Played OnTitle: And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
Author: Randy Shilts, William Greider
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This was an epic, impressively researched, engaging look at an important moment in history.

I’ve done a number of LGBT+ reading challenges and when deciding what to read, I always come up with this book as the definitive story of the AIDs epidemic. The author is one of the few journalists who did much reporting on the crises as it occurred and his command of the topic is impressive. Although the book is intimidatingly long (I definitely prefer short books since I started blogging!), I knew I wanted to read it eventually, so finally decided to just go for it. I’m definitely glad I did! It maybe dragged a little for me around page 500, but it mostly flew by. Despite being information dense, it was compulsively readable. Read more »

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Alternate History Review: The Hunger

July 30, 2018 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Alternate History Review: The HungerTitle: The Hunger
Author: Alma Katsu
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Fantastic premise, great story telling, but the big reveal didn’t scare me as much as I wanted it to.

This is one of those books with a premise that bumped it right to the top of my to-read pile. It’s a horror retelling of the Donner party story and while I’m not someone who reads much horror, I do love a dark retelling, whether fairy tale or alternate history. I think I’m more comfortable tackling a dark topic when I have some idea of how the story will play out. In the case of fairy tales, it also makes the story feel more adult. In the case of the Donner party story, it’s obviously pretty dark already and the horror element is perhaps actually a nicer explanation than the truth. Read more »

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Women in Tech Review: Broad Band

July 23, 2018 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★

Women in Tech Review: Broad BandTitle: Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
Author: Claire L. Evans
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This included many fantastic women I’d not heard of, but also played to stereotypes of women as good at the people stuff in some annoying and boring ways.

This is the story of the women who made technological advances that gave us the internet and computers as we know them today. I love stories about women in tech history, so I knew I had to pick it up. The author won me over immediately with her enthusiasm for her own first computer. Then she lost me as she started talking about how the women she interviewed were all people especially good at making computers accessible, although they didn’t create them. Even with her caveats disavowing gender essentialism, this reductionist view of the women in her book was an unfortunate and inaccurate capitulation to sexist stereotypes. Granted,  the women she discussed (mostly) didn’t come up with new computer architecture, but some of the software they created was just as fundamental to the technology we have today. For instance, I wouldn’t describe contributions to the development of the internet as simply ‘making computers accessible’, even though that was one result of the technology. Read more »

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Fun Fiction Review: The Oracle

June 19, 2018 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★★

Fun Fiction Review: The OracleTitle: The Oracle Year
Author: Charles Soule
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

What would you do if you could predict the future? When Will Dando wakes up with 108 predictions, some seemingly important and others apparently trivial, and they being to come true, that’s what he has to decide. He’ll have to be careful though, since his initial anonymous announcement of the predictions attracts the attention of pretty much everyone. From presidents to powerful corporations and from professional hackers to religious leaders, everyone wants to find the Oracle.
Read more »

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Agnosticism in the 211s

June 10, 2018 Uncategorized 0 ★★★

Agnosticism in the 211sTitle: Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto
Author: Lesley Hazleton
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Interesting, passionate introduction to agnosticism, but vehemently anti-believing anything with certainty.

I’ve been reading through the Dewey Decimal numbers related to religion for my Dewey Decimal challenge. So far, I’ve read books on cults (a memoir and some narrative nonfiction), which had little to do with mainstream religion. I also read a book on Catholicism that was interesting, but that definitely didn’t relate to my own beliefs. I’ve been trying to push myself outside my comfort zone and I think I could still do more of that. However, with this book, I wanted to learn more about a perspective I agree with. Although I’d describe myself as agnostic, I probably know less about agnostics as a group than I do about many religions. I picked up this collection of essays on agnosticism’s answers (or lack thereof) to the big questions to help remedy that gap in my knowledge. Read more »

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Second Quarterly Reads Review: The Woman Who Smashed Codes

April 18, 2018 Uncategorized 15 ★★★★★

Second Quarterly Reads Review: The Woman Who Smashed CodesTitle: The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
Author: Jason Fagone
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: A fascinating story told in an engaging way about an impressive cryptologist.

Elizebeth Friedman and her husband began breaking codes together, working for the eccentric but wealthy George Fabyan. For years, the team they led did all code breaking for the US government and military. They continued to serve in that capacity through WWI, in addition to other groups, after which Elizabeth began her solo career. Between world wars, she used her skills to catch gangsters and smugglers during prohibition. It was in WWII, however, that she had some of her greatest accomplishments. By breaking several Enigma machines and other difficult ciphers, she played a critical role in winning the war. Read more »

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Reading Deeply Review: By Blood

March 26, 2018 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

Reading Deeply Review: By BloodTitle: By Blood
Author: Ellen Ullman
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This was a beautiful, thoughtful book, but also kind of strange.

During a dark period in his life, a disgraced professor flees to San Francisco and rents a small office in which to work. He finds himself located next to a therapist working with a woman who is trying to track down her birth mother. The professor becomes so obsessed with her quest that he decides to assist her when the trail goes cold. “Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist” (Source) Read more »

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#WomensHistoryMonth Review: Rocket Girl

March 20, 2018 Uncategorized 11 ★★★

#WomensHistoryMonth Review: Rocket GirlTitle: Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist
Author: George D. Morgan
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This was a fascinating story that deserved to be told, but sources weren’t always there to support it and the writing quality was uneven.

I read a lot about women in history already, so for Women’s History Month I’m starting to make a tradition of reading about women in science. Mary Sherman Morgan is an incredibly impressive woman to read about – a female rocket scientist who played a critical role in getting the first American satellite into orbit. Even though she only had a high school diploma and being a woman was counted against her, her supervisor was willing to put her forward as the best person for the job. And she delivered, creating fuel that met exacting specifications where some the most brilliant minds in rocket science had tried and failed. Read more »

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Mini-Review of Pastrix in the 284s

March 17, 2018 Uncategorized 1 ★★★

Mini-Review of Pastrix in the 284sTitle: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Author: Nadia Bolz-Weber
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

This memoir from pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber is about her personal journey to find faith and feeling called to be a preacher. As the book blurb says, she’s “foul-mouthed”, “sardonically irreverent”,  and “beautifully honest”. Her church is home to many who would feel like outcasts in more traditional places of worship. Although I enjoyed her non-traditional take on religion, honestly, this book still felt too preachy to me. By that I mean that this didn’t just feel like someone’s description of their personal journey to me; instead parts felt prescriptive or lecturing. I did enjoy hearing some of her takes on religion. For instance, I found the distinction she made between feeling like you were being graciously inclusive and just acknowledging that God is graciously inclusive really thoughtful. Although as someone who’s not religious this won’t impact how I view the world, I did admire her progressive and insightful perspective. Read more »

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