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review 2018-12-14 12:49
From Across the Room
From Across the Room - Gina L. Mulligan

Author Thomas Galdwell takes a working vacation to the all new Hotel New Coronado in San Diego to find inspiration for his newest novel.  While there, he bumps into a young woman, Mary Harting.  Mary intrigues Thomas with her spirit and kind nature.   However, Mary's father is the railroad tycoon Charles Harting and has other plans for Mary that do not involve Thomas.  Thomas and Mary try their best to continue their relationship behind her father's back while Thomas attempts to finish two more novels on a tight deadline and unravel the mystery of the man Mr. Harting has chosen for Mary.  

Told in epistolary form, Thomas Galdwell's letters tell the story of a writer, a romance and a mystery in the late 19th Century.  All of the letters are written from by Thomas and are sent to his agent, his family, his friends and Mary.  At first, this fact threw me since I am used to seeing both sides of a correspondence.  Since there was only one side of the story being presented, I filled in a lot in my head, especially about Mary.  We are given glimpses into her personality when Thomas uses quotes or relays a story, but I would have liked to know a little more about her.  Through his letters, Thomas' character shines and I was taken on an emotional roller coaster as he dealt with deadlines, love, villains and interesting neighbors.  The ending through me for a loop but also made everything make sense. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2018-12-14 11:35
International Day of Tolerance Book - "The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" by Francis Maynard - highly recommended
The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr - Frances Evelyn Maynard Greville Warwick

"The Seven Imperfect Rules Of Elvira Carr" is one of the best books I've read this year and is the best book I've read about how neuroatypical people make a place for themselves in the world.


The main joy of this book is that Elvira Carr, Ellie to her friends, is a wonderful person. Not a saint. Not perfect. But someone who is fully engaged with her own life. She's curious, honest to a fault, wants to help others and is capable of great joy. I fell in love with her immediately.


Elvira knows she isn't the same as everyone else. Her mother has told her this time and time again as she grew up and there have been "incidents" that reinforce Elvira's mother's view that Elvera's "condition" means she's not equipped to deal with the world.

Only when her mother is hospitalised does Elvira discover, at the age of twenty-seven, that her "condition" has a name and that she is not alone.


Elvira is neuroatypical. This means she perceives and thinks about things differently than neurotypical people. As she uses the internet to connect to others like herself, Ellie comes to understand that her "condition" is not an illness. She's perfectly capable, not just of looking after herself but of contributing more widely to her community. She has a job at an animal sanctuary. She helps provide old people at the nursing home with contact with small animals who lift their spirits.  She looks after her neighbour's young granddaughter.


Ellie's problems are caused by the often incomprehensible and contradictory expectations and behaviour of neurotypicals, some of whom she believes have the power to "send her away".


To help navigate the strange ways of the neurotypicals and to prevent her freedom to live an independent life being taken away from her, Elvira with the help of her neighbour develops seven rules. She writes the rules on a spreadsheet and then tests them against her experience, ticking boxes when she uses them, adding examples, guidelines and acceptance criteria to make these imperfect rules work better.


By telling the story entirely from Elivira's point of view, the author has produced something that is neither a saccharine cliché nor a disturbing freakshow.   The thing is that Elvira is much nicer than most people you'll meet. She has no malice. She's always honest. She gets angry and afraid, especially when she makes mistakes and misreads the neurotypicals, with there attachment to figures of speech and their habit or saying one thing and meaning another. She's also capable of joy so overwhelming that, when she's alone and neurotypicals can't see and send her away,  she has to run around the room with her arms out to let it flow through her.


Ellie faces a series of challenges in the book: her mother's incapacity, a mystery around her dead father and his frequent trips to Japan, conflicts with members of her neighbour's family, predatory males and lots and lots of NEW things that create stress.

Ellie's struggles and her limitations are ones we can all empathise with and perhaps share to some degree which means that her triumphs make us happy.


I found myself wondering how neurotypical I was and whether there was really any such thing. Putting the labels aside, I found myself wishing that I could meet Elvira and hoping that I would overcome some of my neurotypical habits for long enough really to see her.


"The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" is beautifully written and perfectly narrated. I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook version. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear Charlie Sanderson bring Elvira to life.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/361476302" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]


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review 2018-12-14 07:55
The Well-Tempered City by Jonathan F.P. Rose
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life - Jonathan Rose

TITLE:   The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life


AUTHOR:  Jonathan F.P. Rose




FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:  9780062234728




"In the vein of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

Cities are birthplaces of civilization; centers of culture, trade, and progress; cauldrons of opportunity—and the home of eighty percent of the world’s population by 2050. As the 21st century progresses, metropolitan areas will bear the brunt of global megatrends such as climate change, natural resource depletion, population growth, income inequality, mass migrations, education and health disparities, among many others.

 In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—the man who “repairs the fabric of cities”—distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity. Drawing from the musical concept of “temperament” as a way to achieve harmony, Rose argues that well-tempered cities can be infused with systems that bend the arc of their development toward equality, resilience, adaptability, well-being, and the ever-unfolding harmony between civilization and nature. These goals may never be fully achieved, but our cities will be richer and happier if we aspire to them, and if we infuse our every plan and constructive step with this intention.

A celebration of the city and an impassioned argument for its role in addressing the important issues in these volatile times, The Well-Tempered City is a reasoned, hopeful blueprint for a thriving metropolis—and the future.


This is an interesting introductory text to what townplanners and city management should be aiming for in dealing with city planning and management.  However, I found the book too superficial and would have liked more detailed information, especially in terms of engineering specifics where some examples were used. The author also has a rather simplistic view of politics and human nature.

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text 2018-12-14 06:46
Reading progress update: I've read 132 out of 158 pages.
Stig of the Dump - Clive King,Edward Ardizzone

Skinned and Buried: best chapter yet!

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text 2018-12-14 04:17
Reading progress update: I've read 126 out of 218 pages.
Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex--And the Truths They Reveal - Lux Alptraum

There are lots of bits that I've wanted to quote throughout this book but it's been hard because of lot of the text loses its impact without all of the surrounding text, but I found this bit particularly interesting, so I decided to quote a long bit.


It may seem odd to position the street—or bars, or public transportation, or any public environment that, in the most literal of all senses, the infrastructures of our cities were explicitly designed for men. In a 1980 essay title "What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work," Dolores Hayden opens by remarking that "'A Woman's place is in the home' has been one of the most important principles of architectural design and urban planning in the United States for the last century." Though Hayden is largely preoccupied with looking at how urban design and zoning have helped to keep women out of the workforce and in the kitchen, there's an unspoken inverse to her argument. If private spaces are the domain of women, then public spaces are the domain of men—and any woman who ventures into a male domain must, on some level, be interested in or even explicitly asking for male attention.


Early saloons often banned women, many public transportation systems were initially designed with commuting men in mind, and, of course, the idea that a woman traveling unaccompanied is not merely acceptable but unremarkable is a relatively new one within American culture. So many of the spaces we currently see as open to all genders were not originally fashioned that way—and it shouldn't come as a surprise that women are, as a result, often treated more like an invasive species or a form of entertainment than native inhabitants who have as much right to take up space as their male counterparts do.


"Women's attitudes [about] being in public spaces have shifted much more quickly than a lot of straight men are able to understand or even acknowledge," Roy notes. A number of studies have backed up this assertion: young men consistently lag behind their female peers when it comes to attitudes about the role of women in the workplace and the domestic sphere. Millennial men are still uncomfortable with the idea of female leaders, still assume that women should do the majority of domestic labor, and, most disappointingly, are the group most likely to say that feminist progress has gone far enough. This disparity creates a stunning clash in gendered expectations: women my age grew up with the promise that we could be anyone, or anything, we desired, while our male peers were still raised to expect the same degree of privilege, power, and female submission they'd always been afforded. As a result, women enter the adult world and are shocked to discover that it hasn't quite adapted to accommodate their full personhood—and men are shocked, and sometimes angered, to discover women don't want to accommodate their desires.

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