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review 2017-12-06 12:58
Definitely an important story but it wasn't for me.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change - Ellen Datlow

Ellen Pao is a name you have probably heard of, or at least remember vaguely. In 2015 she made the news suing a VC firm in the San Francisco Bay Area for discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. She lost her suit but this became a moment that pushed a deeper look at how women and other underrepresented groups are treated. The book is her biography of her early life, career, time at reddit, etc. Eventually she moved on to Project Include, which has a mission to promote diversity in the tech industry. 


I know a lot of people found her story helpful (and I did too), but man, this book was boring. It probably doesn't help that I have very little interest in VC firms, only have a surface level familiarity with the tech industry, etc. I'll admit that part of it was that I just couldn't relate. I haven't been in positions she's had and while I cringed and fumed alongside with her and was frustrated by the awful hate she got I also didn't find this as moving or meaningful as other readers seemed to find.


Part of the problem for me is the writing style. It's just not interesting. I thought and hoped I would be riveted by such a story (which I only followed here and there but wasn't glued to it) and yet it just bored me. Her story is very important though, and you can bet there are millions of similar stories in VC, tech and beyond. It just seemed like maybe I had enough via the media stories or she could have used a ghostwriter or better editor.


The most helpful part to me was the epilogue with the advice she had. It might be geared towards a particular audience but I thought it was interesting and helpful.


I'd borrow it from the library. It wasn't for me but for the right person in similar fields as Pao was it could be a great fit. 

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review 2017-10-31 19:38
So boring.
Living For Change: An Autobiography - Grace Lee Boggs,Ossie Davis

I had never heard of Grace Lee Boggs until her death in 2015 and it sounded like she had a very interesting life based on obituaries. So I've had this book on my to-read list for a while and it seemed like a good time to read up on an activist I knew very little about.


As you can imagine, it's the life and times of Boggs, from her early childhood to how she became involved with various groups, the history she witnessed and the death of her husband. Initially she seems like a real force of a personality but the book quickly goes downhill after the first chapter or so. As other reviews note, unless you're already steeped in the history of the movements and groups Boggs talks about, it was pretty easy to get lost in the wider context. Her train of thought also tended to go off the rails into tangents quite a bit. 


And quite frankly, I just didn't like the author. Initially it seemed like she must have been a real force of a personality in real life but after awhile it got a bit eye-rolly and obnoxious. Unfortunately I just felt the author was a bit full of herself (and perhaps for good reason but at the same time I also have some suspicions that may be completely unfounded) and it just filtered through in the book.


I'll grant that part of it is that I have very little knowledge of Boggs and that someone who is more knowledgeable about her life and times and her circles might enjoy this book a lot better. As for me I'm glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't buy it.

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review 2017-10-27 22:34
Will probably hurt you
A Change of Heart - Sonali Dev

God, they were such a mess. No. He was a mess. She was just far too tangled up in his mess.


This was my first Sonali Dev book, so I was new to her style and composition and I think that might have hurt the rating a bit. 

At first I thought this was going to have a scifi/paranormal component but then quickly learned it was going in the more slow burning criminal thriller arena. I would categorize this more as fiction with romance; definitely not your typical romance genre read. 


Our heroine Jess purposely collides with our hero Nic. Nic lost his wife two years ago, she was helping with a police case involving a blackmarket organ transfer business. He was forced to watch while they raped and then murdered her. Jess tells him that she received his wife's heart in a transplant and that she can "hear" his wife telling her to find important evidence for the case. Jess has her own issues with surviving a rape when she was seventeen and the emotional fallout that comes with that. 


The first half is mostly Nic's pain over losing his wife, dealing with her death and how she never told him she was helping with the case, putting her life and her pregnancy in jeopardy. We get insight into why Jess is doing what she is and how Jess and Nic are experiencing some chemistry but are too tied up in their pain to fully acknowledge or know how to act on it. 


Why had he started this? Why couldn't he look away from her eyes? Those eyes. He wanted her to stop, wanted to take back ever wanting to know. But those eyes were so filled with the need to have someone see and not turn away, he couldn't turn away from them.


Even with such a start, the second half of the story I think is even more painful. We get a deeper insight to what Jess has lived through and there was some incredible dialogue and thoughts on how Jess deals with the pain and rape culture. We also get a breakthrough with Nic and Jess allowing themselves to reach out to one another. This was a bit hard for me to fully connect with. Even though Nic has been in pain for two years, as the reader, I'm new to it and even though his healing starts here I had problems transitioning from the pain to new romance; it didn't flow completely smooth for me. 


Nic's family are from the previous books in the series and their connection and relationships filled out the story beautifully. There were also povs from Rahul, the cop Nic's wife was helping and who helps explain the criminal mystery part and is clearly being set-up for a book of his own and from the villain. The villain pov gets pretty dark and graphic at times and was another component of the story that didn't quite mesh with every thing else for me. 


I don't want to talk too much about the criminal thriller part or all of Jess' motivations because I don't want to spoil certain points that I think have more impact if you go in blind. If I knew this read more like fiction, I would have skewed my mind that way but I was expecting something a little different. All the components didn't jive for me and the ending seemed a bit rushed but I'm definitely going to be on board for Rahul and Kimi's story. I'm a sucker for love/hate and this couple seemed to positively vibrate with it.

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