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review 2017-09-21 22:11
Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

This is an engaging and informative book about the huge amount of data available online and what it tells us about society. I read it alongside Dataclysm and found Everybody Lies to be by far the better of the two, presenting a wealth of information in a cohesive fashion and making fewer unfounded assumptions. The author was a data scientist at Google, and draws in large part on the searches people make on the site, along with information from sites including Facebook and Pornhub.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the data, from the rate of racist searches in the rust belt predicting the rise of Donald Trump, to common body anxieties and whether they actually matter to the opposite sex, to an estimate of how many men are gay and whether that varies by geography (it appears not), to rates of self-induced abortions. This is a great book to read if you love unusual factoids, whether on sexual proclivities or how sports fans are made.

The author also writes in a compelling way about the uses of Big Data itself, and while he waxes evangelical about it (evidently preferring to spend all his time immersed in statistically significant data, he finds novels and biographies too “small and unrepresentative" and therefore uninteresting), there are certainly a lot of possibilities there. In health, for instance, compiling early searches about symptoms with later searches for how to handle a diagnosis can help doctors detect pancreatic cancer at an earlier stage, while epidemics can be tracked through symptom searches. The author is also interested in how applying data can revolutionize a field, discussing at length the data that predicted the success of the racehorse American Pharaoh. (By "at length" I mean 9 pages; this is a book that moves through a broad range of topics quickly.)

Overall, the writing is engaging and the book hangs together well, being informative while mostly resisting the urge to speculate. But the author does make a couple of assumptions worth pointing out. One is that people’s Google searches are made in earnest and for personal reasons. Certainly, you might search for “depression symptoms” out of concern that you or someone you know is depressed. But you also might want to be prepared in advance to identify warning signs, or might have encountered something in the media that sparked your interest, or you might be a student writing a paper on the topic. On the other hand, if you’re intimately familiar with depression already, you’re unlikely to google the symptoms. None of this means the author’s finding a 40% difference in rates of depression symptom searches between Chicago and Hawaii isn’t relevant, but data that’s both over- and under-inclusive serves better as a starting point for research than a definitive conclusion. It's certainly not proof that better geography is twice as effective as antidepressants, as the author suggests.

The other assumption is that everybody lies: the book insists on it, based largely on the fact that typically rosy social media posts fail to reflect all those unhappy or hateful searches. Selectively sharing information doesn’t necessarily seem to me to be lying, but the author appears invested in proving the book’s title. For instance, he discusses a particular type of tax fraud: in areas where few tax professionals or people eligible for the scheme live, 2% of people who could benefit from this lie tell it, while in areas with high concentrations of both, the rate of cheating is around 30%. The author concludes that “the key isn’t determining who is honest and who is dishonest. It is determining who knows how to cheat and who doesn’t.” This bleak view of the world fails to account for the 70% who don’t cheat even in areas with high levels of knowledge; finding that significant numbers of people cheat if they know how is a far cry from finding that everyone does.

So, like the author of Dataclysm, Stephens-Davidowitz is probably a better statistician than sociologist. But if you’re interested in Big Data, or in getting a peek at the thoughts and anxieties people ask Google about because they’re not comfortable sharing with others, this is the book I recommend. You’ll certainly get a lot of interesting tidbits from it, along with perhaps new inhibitions about typing things into Google!

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review 2017-09-03 15:42
Unholy Night
Unholy Night - Seth Grahame-Smith
I picked up this novel as this author also wrote another novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter that I really enjoyed and the subject matter of this novel, intrigued me. I was worried that this novel would have a preachy tone but adventure and excitement greeted me from the beginning. I was surprised how much I enjoyed and followed this novel. I listened to this novel on a Playaway.
 
This novel centered around the birth of Jesus and the three wise men which visited him. This isn’t your ordinary Biblical story, this was much more. The author took me on a ride, a journey where this new family was running with the three wise men to escape prosecution. The wise men were not quiet, camel riding men, they were escape convicts and they were helping Mary and Joseph keep their baby safe because “there was something about that baby.” These two groups met up in the barn, the bright star shining overhead, and the alteration that began told me that this story was about to get very interesting. Mary, not the soft-spoken women I pictured her to be, had a voice and a powerful one at that. As the six of these individuals move towards freedom, they fought several interesting individuals, some not so human, creating dreadful scenes but scenes that I enjoyed. Their main concern was staying alive. I highly recommend this novel, it was quite an interesting twist on a familiar story.
 
I am going to use this novel for my free space on Halloween Bingo  
 
#2017HalloweenBingo 

 

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review 2017-08-22 08:10
Audiobook Tour - Leaning Into Love

 

TitleLeaning Into Love

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrated By: Seth Clayton

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: August 16th

Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 2 hrs and 59 mins

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Friends to lovers, surfer, white collar, San Francisco, bisexual

Add to Goodreads

 

 

Synopsis:

 

Eric Schuster is a successful guy. He’s part owner of a highly successful tech firm, he has a supportive family and a great group of close friends. But something is missing. Or maybe he’s reacting to his business partner and ex’s wedding news. He knows his former lover is making a big mistake but he also knows it’s time to move on. And hopefully avoid falling for another friend. Zane Richards is an avid sailor and surfer with a laid-back approach to life. He firmly believes there’s a time and place for everything if you’re willing to take a chance. Like letting his best friend know he’s interested in being much more than friends. Eric has always been half in love with Zane but going from friends to lovers isn’t an easy sell for someone protecting his heart. Eric will have to decide if he’s willing to risk it all by leaning into love.

 

Listen to a Sample 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Zane refilled my glass and returned it to me with a naughty smirk. “You get kinda corny when you’re tipsy, Schuster. It’s cute.”

 

Cute?”

 

Yeah. You get goofy. Your ears turn red and it makes the freckles on your nose stand out. Then you do that thing with your hair where you swipe your hand through it so many times that it looks like you just rolled out of bed.”

 

Uh…okay. That’s embarrassing.” I searched for a reflective surface as I attempted to pat my unruly brown hair into some semblance of order. “I was going for debonair and I got bar mitzvah kid chic,” I grumbled.

 

Zane leaned forward and gave me an intense look I didn’t understand.

 

You don’t have to be anyone but yourself with me, Eric. I like you just the way you are.” He sat back again and cocked his head. “So let’s talk about this stupid engagement party. What’s the dress code?”

 

Um… it’s probably dressy casual,” I replied with a furrowed brow. I wanted to back up a sentence or two and analyze his words and dissect the meaning of “I like you just the way you are”.

 

The usual oxymoron,” he snarked. “You are going with me, right?”

 

Sure. If you want.”

 

I want. It’ll save us both the trouble of finding some poor unsuspecting sucker to drag to a fancy shindig.”

 

True. Speaking of suckers, don’t you have a date tonight?”

 

Zane glanced at his watch and then stretched his legs out on the bench so his shoe nudged my thigh. “I’ve got time. Talk to me. What else have you been up to lately? I noticed there’s a new exhibit at the Modern Museum. Have you gone? I think it’s a midcentury retrospective with Motherwell and de Kooning. I know you like the scribbly art and…”

 

His conversation was easy. The gentrified version of his former surfer dude accent had a lilting quality I could have listened to for hours. I felt myself truly begin to relax and let go of the invisible hold I’d had on my emotions, like a swimmer grasping onto a ledge who finally realizes he can reach the bottom of the pool. Being with someone who knew quirky details about me and accepted them without judgment or reservation was a gift.

 

I treasured all of my friends, but Zane was special. Our friendship was rooted in geography and history and now time. He wasn’t making a romantic advance when he asked me to attend Nick’s engagement party with him. That was latent wishful thinking on my part. Zane was simply being who he always was. My oldest and best friend.

 

Available at Amazon 

 

 

 

Leaning Into Love (Leaning Into Stories, #1)Leaning Into Love by Lane Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eric & Zane have been best friends who are fighting an attraction to one another. Maybe taking a chance will be a good thing. Zane has wanted to take things to another level for a while, and now here is the chance.

As far as short stories go, this one is hawt. The narrator has a good grasp of how to make different tonal nuances for the different voices. I knew he was speaking in whose character right away. And the gravelly tone was really fitting for this book. I am very excited for the next book in the Leaning Into series.


***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.



View all my reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author:

 

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram |

 

 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-22 06:30
Audiobook Review for Leaning Into Love
Leaning Into Love - Lane Hayes

Eric & Zane have been best friends who are fighting an attraction to one another.  Maybe taking a chance will be a good thing.  Zane has wanted to take things to another level for a while, and now here is the chance.

 

As far as short stories go, this one is hawt.  The narrator has a good grasp of how to make different tonal nuances for the different voices.  I knew he was speaking in whose character right away.  And the gravelly tone was really fitting for this book.  I am very excited for the next book in the Leaning Into series.  I give this audiobook a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

 

 

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text 2017-07-29 02:53
Space 13 of the pre-rolls
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith

Much better than Little Women and Werewolves, which was simply the original book with werewolves stuffed in randomly. This is the same author who did Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the work is just as readable. I can see the events truly happening as described and just being edited later to remove the vampires from history. It would be an interesting story even without the supernatural elements, because the author has a knack for bringing a relatable humanity to all the main elements. My only problem is, there could be more follow up on Lincoln's feelings at the end of the book. I would like to see his response to the radical changes he experiences, although I grant that could be a book in itself.

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