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review 2018-01-12 18:48
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle

This was a dud. I guess I had higher expectations for this book than I was aware of because all I am feeling is disappointment. Yeah, the book does explain (not that well enough in my opinion) what happened and how it happened, but I felt that the author was much more interested in writing about the men of Tammany Hall. Basically this book is almost all about every man involved, however loosely, in the strike of 1909 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. Seriously, I felt that every man in Lower East Side of NYC got a full back story and like maybe 3 women did.

 

The writing was a little over the top, especially when the author was describing what each character looked like, including the shape of heads. Also he was pre-occupied with how plain or pretty the women in the book were and how feminine they acted. It was a bit weird and not really added any value to the narrative.

 

Tip of the hat to the author for working on a list of victims who died in the fire. His author note on sources was more entertaining than a lot of the book, the way he detailed how he went about trying to find the names from varying sources and using detective work to whittle down the list.

 

I did give an extra half star for the author adding in details about Francis Perkins early days prior to working with and then for FDR.

 

 

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review 2017-09-28 11:45
Review: Love and Other Man-Made Disasters
Love and Other Man-Made Disasters - Nicola Doherty

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one from my Hatchette Children’s auto approval at some point last year. It’s a cute light hearted contemporary, easy and quick to read, but only okay for me. There was nothing particularly outstanding about it.

 

It wasn’t a bad book by any means, just a little bland for my tastes.

 

It tells the story of 17 year old Juno who’s on a skiing trip with her family, her mum and mum’s second husband and her two annoying twin step brothers. Juno’s very nervous and seems to be freaked out about everything. She’d much rather spend her holiday at home with books and studying but her mum has decided she spends too much time studying and needs to get out into the real world. Juno would rather be anything else.

 

After a disaster at beginners skiing mum gets her private lessons from a good looking instructor who appears to be around Juno’s age nick-named Boy. The bulk of the story is Juno and Boy getting to know each other and become something more than friends. They have some nice snarky banter between them, Juno struggles with developing feelings for a romance that will probably go nowhere. At the same time she finds herself making friends with Tara, the young woman assigned to look after their cabin – cooking and cleaning, etc.

 

The novel deals with Juno’s worry at the increase of adventure in her life as she makes new friends and has new experiences at the same time dealing with her mum and her added new family. It had some fairly good emotional depth. Juno was a likeable enough character and the family interaction was quite believable.

 

Boy just irritated me, that name for one thing drove me up the wall. I’m guessing it was meant to be cute, but it was really just annoying. He wasn’t a bad character either, just had stupid name. You do actually learn his real name right at the end of the book and considering you can understand why he would have a nickname. But I didn’t like the nickname and that sort of sapped my enjoyment of the story whenever Boy was in the scene.

 

A quick contemporary read. Only okay for me. Not something I would read again.

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review 2017-07-25 18:50
Will blow away your House Hunters International fantasy!
L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home - David Lebovitz

Lebovitz is an American chef and cookbook author who moved to Paris to advance his career. I have read his previous books, and he is a talented and engaging author. This particular book is about his search for, purchase of, and renovation of a home in Paris. And what a great story it is!
I found myself surprised at the difficulty in even locating a property for sale in Paris (House Hunters International makes it look so easy and fun on TV!). Upon finally finding the property, the author experienced the infamous Paris bureaucracy in the purchase of it. And then, just when you think it should all be smooth sailing, the real trouble begins in the renovation stage!
I cannot believe what Lebovitz went through. His stamina and perseverance are amazing. I am sure that I would have gave up many times, escaping back to the safety of the United States. Kudos to him for his overcoming of all the obstacles thrown at him.
I found the book to be fascinating, and could not put it down. I literally devoured it in two evenings. The author is very engaging, writes extremely well, and manages to keep the reader "pulling for" him. I highly recommend this book, even if it does lay to rest my "House Hunters International" fantasy of moving to France!

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review 2017-04-18 11:13
Review: Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky
Polio: An American Story - David Oshinsky

*Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for History

 

For such an in-depth look at how we got to now in regards to poliomyelitis (polio for short), it was an enjoyable and easily readable book. There is drama in the real life story of trying to contain a virus that strikes children. And Holy Scientific Egos, Batman!

 

The story begins with outbreaks from the late 1880s and how the disease became epidemic when hygiene standards were elevating and other diseases were decreasing. Then FDR, then a rising star in the political arena, was stricken. His recovery paved the way for a new kind of charity (National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis), and the race for a vaccine.

 

There is seventy years worth of history, both with the foundation's fund raising and the science behind the vaccine. There are a lot of people to keep track of; some were doctors, some were researchers, and foundation employees. The work was built very slowly; while Dr. Jonas Salk is the celebrated scientist, his work was basically the culmination of breakthroughs of other scientists, such as John Enders and Albert Sabin. Sabin's vaccine was used around the world to eradicate polio; Salk's was used predominately here in the US and Netherlands. Ultimately, due to some complications with Sabin's vaccine, the shots given to kids today are Salk's version.

 

Oshinsky does give a page or two to the AIDS-polio vaccine link that was circulated in the 1990s, but only to discredit that link (and the faulty science that went into that thinking). He did the same with the SV-40-polio vaccine link. He also mentions that polio is still not eradicated from the world due to hostilities and uncooperativeness of certain countries (India, Pakistan, and Nigeria). He also takes in the time periods he is writing about - the Jim Crow South and how that played into incidence rates and problems with the vaccine trials, poverty levels, WWII, and Great Depression. The science and the social were mixed well into the story.

 

Overall, an enjoyable and engrossing read but very in-depth, so it will take time to read and absorb the story.

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review 2017-04-08 14:45
Entertaining and enjoyable.
True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson (2009-05-14) - Rachel Gibson;

I was actually surprised how much I liked this story.

My expectations were low - because of the setting with the playmate and the hockey player.

But it turned out to be a really good read.

 

I liked Faith. She didn't pity herself, didn't throw her sob story around, she stood by her decisions to work with what nature gave her (her body, her beauty) to make a decent living.

 

The romance processed a bit quick, but since it was clear it would be a fairy tale like story (not with "real" people who meet, talk, get to know each other in normal situations) it fit with the whole plot.

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