Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Books

1.  Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rivelli (audio, read by author) - Not going to lie, I didn't understand all of it.  BUT, I deeply enjoyed listening to this book.  The thing many people don't understand is that mathematicians and scientists understand the beauty of the world....and they are capable of describing that beauty in a way that is full of mystery and grace.  This is a very short book, and I highly recommend it to anyone.

Following that begins my month of feisty females:

2.  Heroines of Mercy Street, Dr. Pamela Toler (audio) - I learned about this book because it was the basis for a Masterpiece Theater show that aired right after Downton Abby's recent final season.  I'm a bit torn.  On the one hand, the subject of women nurses during the Civil War is fascinating, and Toler most certainly dug up some really fascinating information.  On the other hand, there was far too much of an emphasis on the state of medicine during the Civil War, and not nearly enough of a focus on the women themselves.  I get it...Toler needed to establish just how tough it was for those women to take on such a difficult career and she needed to drive home how awful the state of wartime medicine was in the mid-1800's...but I wanted more of a focus on the women.  What information there was was absolutely fantastic.

3.  The Labyrinth of Drakes, Marie Brennan - I have shared before just how much I enjoy the Lady Trent books, and this one didn't disappoint!  I preordered it months and months ago, and devoured it just as soon as it showed up in my inbox!

4.  Unseemly Science, Rod Duncan and 5.  The Custodian of Marvels, Rod Duncan - Having enjoyed the feisty Lady Trent, I found that I wanted to immediately go back to Elizabeth Barnabus and go ahead and finish up the series. No, these aren't perfect books, but they are highly enjoyable and they are also very hard to put down.

6. Jaran, Kate Elliott and 7.  An Earthly Crown, Kate Elliott - I first read Jaran years and years ago, and I loved it.  I was also very sad to find that the three other books that round out the series were out of print, and were not to be found anywhere.  (I think I checked the library and they didn't have them.)  The good news was that Jaran worked exceedingly well as a stand alone, so I called it good!  Well, in browsing itunes a while back I discovered that all four books are now available in digital format...even better, they are packaged as a book bundle with an awesome price tag.  I decided this was just what I wanted to start into some long, engrossing books for the spring and summer.  Jaran was as awesome as I remembered it...although I was kind of surprised with how much I had forgotten.  (Why, I don't's been since before I had kids.)  Tess is one of my all time favorite female characters, and I love how complex she is.  My one quibble is that the space portions bog down the books for me.  When the focus isn't on Tess I drift a tiny bit.  As with all of Elliott's other books, these are super hard to put down....but I had to because I had a bunch of library holds come available, and as they were books I had been waiting for for a long time I set these aside in great annoyance.  Can't wait to finish them!

8.  How To Be Here, Rob Bell (audio) - This was the second of my two 'homework' books to prep for SPEC.  I have to say that I found this book to be very shallow in comparison to the Brene Brown book that I also read for SPEC.  There's a lot of good information...but it's all presented at a very surface level with little to no concrete information about how to do the things Bell suggests we should do.

9.  Evicted, Matthew Desmond - Library hold #1.  This nonfiction book is one of the most damned depressing books I've ever read...but I also think it's a must read for anyone who cares. The cycle of poverty is so much more complex than most of us understand, and when looked at through the particular problems of housing it seems like it's a problem that's insurmountable.  Heartbreaking.

10.  Lab Girl, Hope Jahren - Library #2.  This is a very new memoir which is getting a lot of much-deserved buzz.  Jahren (a feisty female in her own right) is not only a scientist, but is also one of the best writers I've ever read.  Her story is divided up with essays on plant life that are educational and lyrical and compelling.  I want my girls to read this someday.  I want all girls to read this someday.  I also want people who care to read this.  (One of the tidbits that broke my heart  was the knowledge that as a country we claim we need more scientists, but the reality is that we have too many for the funding that's available.)  It's just beautiful.

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