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review 2018-10-23 11:06
Funny and annoying
The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart

I'm not much for cozy mysteries. The vaguely acerbic nosy middle aged men and women that populate them tend to annoy me. As do the comedy of errors that people being secretive cause. I get it, the very human petty selfishness that makes one try to keep hidden personal peccadilloes even in the face of serious matters and even possible danger to loved ones. Doesn't mean I enjoy reading about it, or stop me from wishing to strangle the character even if I'm enjoying it.

 

With all those caveats, where this one wins is in the humour department. People are ridiculous and inconsistent, and the amount of bits I saved where Ray observes it plainly (and when in her, somewhat obliquely) are legion, and made me laugh quite a bit.

 

I still think the Innes family took a trip down blanket stupidity where useful communication was concerned.

What did the kids plan to do if Ray had decided to leave the house?

Keeping the room secret for the day for effect was the height of hubris

Louise... just... Louise

(spoiler show)

The casual oh-so-benevolent racism also made me cringe so hard.

 

I own another of Rinehart's novels, so I might revisit. This not being my genre at all, the tone was fun.

 

And there goes my 4th Bingo. Now for black-out.

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review 2018-10-22 00:10
I honestly tried
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I don't know whether I read a satire written as a self-challenge to pack as much over-the-top drama in as few pages as possible, or an over-the-top dramatic tragedy on rocket fuel.

 

I feel a bit like when I watched Venezuelan TV novelas, only those tend to stretch, and barely come to the ankles of this... unholy (heheh) mess. So, pretty much the same reaction: either you unapologetically immerse in the guilty pleasure, or you laugh and mock with abandon. I might have canted for the first as a kid (hell, I was tempted for the beginning pages), but I confess that by Frederik's reveal and Theodore's story I just straight started giggling and could not take anything seriously any more.

 

And if it resembles history a bit too much at points, well, it comes to show that reality will always prove to be more ridiculous than any fiction, even this.

 

 

And double bingo for me! (not like I can really keep avoiding them at this point, lol)

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review 2018-10-18 17:08
Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager
Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine - Thomas Hager

TITLE:   Ten Drugs:  How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine
 

AUTHOR:  Thomas Hager

 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:  5 March 2019

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-4197-3440-3

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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DESCRIPTION:

"Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of our culture and the practice of medicine. 

​Beginning with opium, the “joy plant,” which has been used for 10,000 years, Hager tells a captivating story of medicine. His subjects include the largely forgotten female pioneer who introduced smallpox inoculation to Britain, the infamous knockout drops, the first antibiotic, which saved countless lives, the first antipsychotic, which helped empty public mental hospitals, Viagra, statins, and the new frontier of monoclonal antibodies. This is a deep, wide-ranging, and wildly entertaining book.
"

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REVIEW:

 

Ten Drugs is an entertaining, yet informative look at a number of drugs that have shaped medical history and today's world.  This isn't a scholarly history of the pharmaceutical industry, but rather a collection of chapters about a variety of drugs that have shaped medical history.  This book is a nicely written (and fascinating) introduction to the history of drug discovery and medicine, as well as providing information on how the pharmaceutical industry evolved and functions.  Each chapter deals with a specific group of drugs and are bound together by common themes such as drug evolution, growth of the pharmaceutical industry, changing public attitudes and changes in medical practices and laws.  Chapters are devoted to the following topics:  opium; smallpox and vaccinations; chloral hydrate (the first totally synthetic drug and original date rape drug); herion, opiates and addiction; the not so "magic bullet" antibiotics; antipsychotics; lifestyle drugs, viagra, and birthcontrol; opioids; statins; and monoclonal antibodies.  The book concludes with a look at the future of drugs, with personalized and digitized medicine.

Hager states that this book is aimed at people who know a little about drugs and want to learn more.  In this regard, Hager has succeeded in writing a book that is (in my opinion) accessible, entertaining, informative and interesting, to the general public. I particularly appreciated the author's (mostly) objective and clear writing style.

 

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 05:32
Why We Dream by Alice Robb
Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey - Alice Robb

TITLE:   Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey
 

AUTHOR:  Alice Robb

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  20 November 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13: 9780544931213

____________________________

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

____________________________

 

DESCRIPTION:

"A fresh, revelatory foray into the new science of dreams—how they work, what they’re for, and how we can reap the benefits of our own nocturnal life

While on a research trip in Peru, science journalist Alice Robb became hooked on lucid dreaming—the uncanny phenomenon in which a sleeping person can realize that they’re dreaming and even control the dreamed experience. Finding these forays both puzzling and exhilarating, Robb dug deeper into the science of dreams at an extremely opportune moment: just as researchers began to understand why dreams exist. They aren’t just random events; they have clear purposes. They help us learn and even overcome psychic trauma.

Robb draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as her experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. She explains how we can remember our dreams better—and why we should. She traces the intricate links between dreaming and creativity, and even offers advice on how we can relish the intense adventure of lucid dreaming for ourselves.

Why We Dream is a clear-eyed, cutting-edge examination of the meaning and purpose of our nightly visions and a guide to changing our dream lives—and making our waking lives richer, healthier, and happier. "

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REVIEW:

 

Why We Dream is a clearly written, well researched book about dreams that combines science, history and current research, with an anecdotal narrative that isn't overwhelming in terms of the book topic.  The author explores connections between dreams and health, problem-solving, creativity and other interesting topics, such as lucid dreaming.  Robb has written an accessible book about dreaming that would nicely complement any general book about sleep or that would provide a great introduction for those interested in dreaming.

 





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review 2018-10-15 07:30
The Lost Carousel of Provence
The Lost Carousel of Provence - Juliet Blackwell

I've always enjoyed Juliet Blackwell's cozy mysteries, so once she started writing these stand-alone, general contemporary fiction stories, all set in France, I've made sure to pick them up.

 

I'm not sure this is going to be helpful to anyone but myself, but - and maybe because I don't read a lot of general fiction - I find these stories kind of weird.  Apparently, I'm a little genre-dependent because I'm never sure what the point of the story is.  I mean, I do; personal journeys, growth, blah, blah, blah, but I'm hard-wired to look for dead bodies, I guess.  Plus, the author uses multiple timelines and POVs in the France books, a device that generally drives me nuts.

 

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the story though; I did.  Blackwell captures France and I enjoyed the 'mystery' behind the carousel figure and the box inside.  I might have liked the secondary characters more than the main character, Cady, but chalk that up to personal tastes, as in, mine don't run towards broken characters.

 

As in the previous 2 stand-alones set in France, the romance is iffy, if non-existent.  This is a good thing; if Blackwell has a weakness, it's writing romance with any sexual spark (except the Witchcraft series, where the romance was very sparky).  There is a love interest here, and characters are getting lucky, but it's mostly an afterthought, with only an implied possibility of a HEA.

 

So, after all that rambling, I'll just say:  it's a good book.  It's a quiet, well-built, interesting story that I enjoyed escaping into for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

(I feel weird not assigning this to a bingo square.)

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