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review 2018-01-06 10:30
The Accidental Scientist: The Role of Chance and Luck in Scientific Discovery
The Accidental Scientist: The Role of Chance and Luck in Scientific Discovery - Graeme Donald Snooks

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  With reservations.  I learned three things I didn't know in the first paragraph of the introduction, so needless to say I was off to a ripping good start.

 

(Showing the gaping holes in my knowledge of history I didn't know that 1. Serendip used to be the name of Sri Lanka, 2. that the UK didn't officially have a "Prime Minister" until 1937 - before that the title was First Lord of the Treasury - and 3. that the word 'serendipity' was invented by Horace Walpole.)

 

I continued to learn a lot, as Donald skipped across a variety of scientific and engineering advancements that were found accidentally rather than searched for.  Some I'd heard before: the invention of the Post-it note, lobotomies, and LSD; some were completely new:  Starlight (a material that can withstand temps over 3,000C but whose formulation died with its creator), Pykrete (would this work on the ice caps?), and cellulose.  The section on cellulose was my favorite - I laughed out loud at the end of it.  And a lot of sections covered topics I was familiar with, but learned a lot more about. I had NO idea Hedy Lamar slept with both Hitler and Mussolini, which has no bearing on the topic at hand but still...I did not know that.  And IBM should be eternally ashamed of their early history.  After reading that section I'm damn happy Apple stole their mouse technology back in the 70's.

 

The writing was engaging too, but here's where my reservations start to come into play, because what makes the writing so fun to read also makes the integrity of the information questionable.  Donald does not hold back.  He's witty, he's dry in the best possible way, and he's not at all un-biased.  It's refreshing, but it's also un-nerving when it's in a work chronicling  scientific advancements.  A glaring example of this candidness being a problem is when he bluntly calls Coco Chanel a nazi agent.  As I've mentioned, I have huge holes in my historical knowledge, but from what I've read there's no conclusive evidence one way or the other as to Chanel's definitive guilt. Or, at least, there was evidence that pointed in both directions.  If that's still the case, it's irresponsible to condemn her as he does. There's a short bibliography in the back, but no notes, so I can't easily track down his source for this statement.

 

There are two other errors made in the text that should have been caught by anybody with general scientific knowledge.  In the section on Darwin (in which he is weirdly harsh and determined to make Darwin sound useless and lazy), he refers to the Galapagos 'Turtles'.  They're tortoises.  There's a distinct biological difference. And in the section on scurvy he refers to "95% proof" rum.  Either it's 95 proof, which is 47.5% alcohol by volume, or it's 95% alcohol (by vol) – in which case everybody on board ship would be dead after their first day's rum rations – but saying 95% proof is like saying I'm 5ft173cm tall.  

 

For all my reservations, I still really enjoyed the read and I tortured MT with a constant stream of "listen to this!".  It turns out that I, by pure coincidence, have another of his books on my TBR that's been there for years.  Now that I know I can look forward to entertaining writing, I'll be picking it up sooner rather than later.  But I will be reading it with a certain level of caution.

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review 2017-08-15 00:00
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey - Jill Bolte Taylor An insider to a stroke, Jill has given a fascinating insider review of what happens when brain suffers.
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text 2017-06-09 03:08
BookLikes-opoly book options for June 8th-14th EDITED to fix board mistakes
Platypus - Ann Moyal
Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea - Jeff Koehler
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs - Brian Switek
Question Everything: Amazing Scientific Insights from Simple Everyday Questions - New Scientist
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski
Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies - Harold Holzer
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

EDITED to reflect the books I plan on reading after correcting the error I made on the game board that Ani's Book Abyss thankfully pointed out to me.

 

I have options.  I get angsty if I don't have a wide choice of books when I travel, so I've chosen more than one for each category, allowing me to pick according to my mood.

 

For the first square, A book set in Africa or Asia, or a book with an exotic animal on the cover I have three options:

 

Platypus - Ann Moyal  Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea - Jeff Koehler  My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs - Brian Switek  

 

I'm not sure animals get more exotic than the Platypus and after getting to swim and play with one last year, I'm besotted with them.  This book might be the driest of the bunch though, so if it fails to hold my holiday brain's attention I also have Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea which is set in India and fits for Asia.  But just in case I'm feeling the need for something else again, I have My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs; dinosaurs certainly qualify as exotic animals don't you think?  And it's supposed to be a humorous as well as educational, read.

 

To offset the non-fiction spree I have going on above, for my free space I've chosen two chick-lit type reads

This is where I went wrong on the board - I should have rolled the dice to determine where I go from the Free Space: Water Works, Electric Company or Luxury Tax.  I rolled an even number so I'm on Electric company.  Finally!  And one of my book selections for the Space space (which no longer applies) fits here, so I'm keeping it, but I'm also adding Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski  in case the first doesn't hold my attention.

 

 Question Everything: Amazing Scientific Insights from Simple Everyday Questions - New Scientist  Storm in a Teacup - Helen Czerski 

 

Old stuff that no longer applies: Now.... the dreaded SPACE space - Read a book with an image of space on the cover, that takes place in space, or whose author's name contains all the letters in SPACE.  

 

If this is too loosy-goosy an interpretation of the rules, I do have a short story in my Vintage Mystery and Detective Stories Anthology, written by Hesketh Prichard called The Murder at the Duck Club.

 

Lastly but one I'm excited to get started on, for my home-away-from-home square, Space #8, Read a Mystery, or a book with a title that starts with the letters in CLUE.  

(spoiler show)

 

 

After adjusting my rolls to compensate for the Electric Company space, I ended up needing a book about Lincoln and a book set on an island or with the ocean on the cover.  My Lincoln read was easy as I've been waiting to land on this space so I could start Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies.  The book set on an island stumped me momentarily until I spied This Rough Magic, which takes place on the island of Corfu (and has an ocean or sea on the cover).

 

Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies - Harold Holzer  This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart  

 

I'm doing the buddy read with Moonlight Reader that starts on the Wednesday (June 14th) but I'll do it outside of BookLikes-opoly.  If anyone would like to join us in a read of The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart, I hope will; it's a classic mystery with a surprising amount of humour.  I'm really looking forward to it.

 

I'm not, however, looking forward to the weight of my carry on luggage.  Luckily for MT, it has wheels.  :)

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review 2017-04-06 19:48
Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist, Scientist - Andrea Beaty,David Roberts

The illustrations are great. There's so much to look at on every page, and the story is simple (it leans slightly younger than I was expecting) and engaging.

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review 2017-04-05 14:04
Markon's Claim (The Last Alphas of Thracos #2) by Marina Maddix Review .
Markon's Claim: A SciFi Alien Shifter Romance (The Last Alphas of Thracos Book 2) - Marina Maddix

She wants to do her job. He just wants her.

Ever since being taken in by the Wargs of the Valley, my sole focus has been on curing their fertility problem. I don’t care that everyone seems to think I should accept the bite that would transform me into a wolf-like shifter. I have more important things to think about.

Then I meet him — the dead-sexy new alpha of the Hill Wargs who can’t seem to get enough of my curves. Markon stirs something in me that I’ve never felt before, and that kind of distraction is the last thing I need. Unfortunately, it’s all I can think about.

And now he’s pressuring me to become a Warg, too. Something about finding out if I’m his fated mate. Nonsense! Fated mates don’t actually exist.

Do they?

Review

The genius heroine makes this wolf shifter romance set on another planet a lot of fun. The romance is really nice up until the moment it happens and then it goes super fast.

 

The series story develops more. The bad guys are cartoony but the research quest is intersting.

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