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review 2019-04-16 21:27
The Disappearing Spoon
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

I finally finished this one.

It was a read for the Flat Book Society and I believe I was the last one still reading The Disappearing Spoon. It was not an easy read, especially at times. The first couple of chapters were all over the place and I know a lot of people DNFed at this point. I continued and I liked the later chapters much more.
It's better when Kean is not trying to explain the table, I find. Or, in his more future perspectives-part (the final chapters), these I also liked less.

My favorite anecdote is of two Danish researchers who were keeping onto some Nobel prizes of Jewish German scientists in the second world war and who dissolved the Novel prizes to make sure they survived the war. After the war, the gold was precipitated, sent back to the Nobel committee and they made the medal anew.

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review 2019-04-07 05:06
Jellaby - The Lost Monster
Jellaby: The Lost Monster - Kean Soo

Audience: Grades 4-8

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy



I picked up this book because the cover was cute, but I didn't really expect much from it. Well, I can say I was pleasantly surprised. Portia is a bright ten-year-old girl who is trying to adjust to life without her father. She is feeling pretty lonely because she doesn't have friends at school and her mom is acting distant. Then she finds a shy, sweet, and quite large purple monster in the woods behind her house.


The illustrations are done in black, white, and shades of purple with red accents. Jellaby is purple with red stripes and Portia's hair bow is red. Portia's friend, Jason loves carrots and so there are spots of orange too (like Jason's shirt).


The story is charming; I loved Portia, Jellaby, and even Jason. Jellaby is a monster with a heart of gold and this story will touch readers of all ages. 


Highly Recommended. I am borrowing the second book tomorrow. :)



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review 2019-03-14 12:35
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

I found this book fascinating, with all of its tales regarding the periodic table and the scientists to spent their lives researching, testing and searching for the elements, and all of the anecdotes associated. The author, in turns, educated, entertained, surprised and delighted me. I want to read more of his books!

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review 2019-02-08 20:47
DNF: The Disappearing Spoon
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

I really tried, you guys.


I love popular science books, because although it wasn't my best subject at school, I found a lot of the history behind the discipline really interesting. So I read as many of these books as I can.


However, this one alternately confused me and bored me to tears. I don't see how it's structured (and come on, it talks about how elements are organized), and the author manages to be both very condescending and assume we have knowledge of what to me were fairly obscure details.


Seriously, the Discworld universe (which I'm currently happily immersed in) seems a hundred times more logical and better organized than the one this author describes.


I normally read books to the end, but with this one I'm going with the "life is too short etc." excuse, and noping out at just 20% (around the fourth chapter).

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review 2019-01-20 22:23
The Disappearing Spoon
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

DNF @ page 81.


Dear fellow Flatbookers,


I am so sorry.

I really thought I had turned a corner. 

I really thought I had found a book that could keep my interest and that would not lead me to yet another DNF of a pop science book. 


But here's the thing, after making it through Part 1 of Kean's books I have serious issues with The Disappearing Spoon:


1. Kean comes across as a condescending twit. This is a major turn off for me.

2. Kean can't write in a way that conveys a clear train of thought. Also not great for a book that tries to explain science to non-scientists.

3. Kean's ramblings from one topic to the next give me neither pleasure nor information, both of which are essential from a pop science book.

4. Kean's research is abysmal. Seriously, 81 pages and I am frustrated by the glaring lack of attention to historical fact (see below*) ... so have to imagine that his scientific facts are not trustworthy either.

5. I simply cannot bear to read Kean's dismissive comments about the achievements or discoveries of scientist in the past, while Kean himself has nothing to show for it, nor does he make any attempts to show up any other personalities who may have been more worthy of praise and recognition. 


So, in the words of a great classic character (fabulously portrayed by Greg Wise) ... I will not torment myself. 


I'm out. 


Sorry. Again. 


I just can't.






Seriously, tho, I was really irked by the portrayal of Bunsen's character, by the dismissal of Mendeleev as a fluke, by the portrayal of J. F. Boettger's biography (which is riddled with "inaccuracies" ... like describing him as a trickster in the same line as a slide of hand magician... He was an apothecary's apprentice. And the king - there were two kings actually but that is a longer story - really didn't force him to make porcelain in the first instance, he wanted gold. Porcelain just happened to be worked on at the same time...with more success.) - And I don't even have a clue why the section about Boettger was included in the first place. It served no purpose.


I was sorely miffed by the time I got the end of Part 1. 


Then I skipped ahead a bit as I by chance came across a page where he mentions Alvarez and the iridium layer that lead to the KT impact theory. It really was then when I came across the things that broke the camel's back: Kean dismisses Alvarez' findings without much of an explanation why and glosses over supporting evidence, then he cites the Indian volcanoes (which were a coinciding factor as discussed in Alvarez' book), and then completely wanders off: first to a still disputed Nemesis theory and then to Sagan quoting "We are all star stuff." 

There is no logical argument to follow here nor is there any underlying evidence for what Kean presents.

Tho, to be fair he didn't actually make any point, so his ramblings don't exactly *need* backing up with facts.


Seriously, this book can go ... add itself to the charity pile right away.


Previous Reading Updates:


Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 400 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 400 pages.

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