Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: just-curious
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-06-27 11:52
Absolutely wonderful
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach

A brilliant book. Reading it is like hanging out with a very morbid and witty friend. It covers everything you might want to know about corpses including decomposition, how they are used to advance science, investigate aeroplane crashes, improve car and machinery safety, and test weapons; the history of body snatching, modern cannibalism, and the attempted recreation of the Turin shroud.

Of course it won't be for everyone, but I lapped it up.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-05-26 23:13
Suggestible You: The Curious Science of ... Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal - Erik Vance

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

This was an absolutely fascinating read that examines placebos, hypnotism, false memories, and related topics. While in no way comprehensive, it is an interesting examination of some of the science, history, and explanations behind such occurrences.

The book was well-constructed and well-written. It has a good balance of personal experience, anecdotes, and research and science through studies and interviews with experts. The science of it is very simplified, making it fairly easy for non-science people to understand. This is broken up by interesting stories as well as Vance's own experiences growing up as a Christian Scientist and experimenting with various topics covered in the book such as having a curse placed upon him and trying hypnotism.

A great popular science book for people interested in learning more about the strange phenomenons surrounding placebos and hypnotism as well as related topics such as the effectiveness of alternative medicines, nocebos, false memories, and the power of expectations. It was so interesting to see how various areas were related and the variety of topics that came up including addiction, PTSD, alien sightings, and Haitian zombies.

The science and writing of the book were very good, however I did feel that the promise to teach the reader how to harness the power of expectation was a bit vague. Its fun to play around with but is certainly not a step-by-step guide on how to take advantage of expectation. It is rather some rules and suggestions.

A fantastic read that is interesting, informative, and mind-blowing. There is even a sample hypnotism script at the end for those interested in experimenting with hypnotism. Great read.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-04-19 22:24
Seeing Through The Eyes Of Others Truly Does Open Them In Unexpected Ways
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

I'm not sure where to start.  This books was so good but so unique, I'm struggling putting my feelings about it down on virtual paper.  As I finished the book, I was reminded of the following:


“Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers. mystics, painters, troubadours. for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”


- Jacob Nordby, Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to live your best life now


The book starts with a suspicious death when at 12:07am, Christopher John Francis Boone finds his neighbours dog dead on the front lawn.  Seeing this incident through Christopher's eyes, we immediately realize that he does not react to the world in the same way that most of us do.  The book is written from the point of view of a 15-year old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties".  And that understatement leads us on a wonderful journey of discovery.


While the unreliable narrator can be a trope that is hit or miss for me (A.J. Finn's "The Woman In The Window" = hit, B.A. Paris' "Behind Closed Doors" = not so much), in "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time", it was definitely a hit. Our main character does not look at life the way most of us do and Christopher processes and prioritizes information in a very unique way - often funny, frequently heartbreaking and sometimes scary.


Christopher finds the body of Wellington, his neighbours' poodle who has been killed using a garden fork, and inspired by one of his favourite literary characters, Sherlock Holmes, he sets out to avenge Wellington by solving his murder.  Christopher's teacher Siobhan, suggests he writes a book about his investigation and "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time" is born.


“I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.”


Mark Haddon, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (Vintage Books, 2003), P. 3


In trying to solve Wellington's murder, Christopher starts asking questions of his neighbours and uncovers secrets about his family that not only reveal Wellington's killer, but send his well-ordered life into chaos.


Although there is a mysterious element in this book and some long-hidden secrets are uncovered, the story feels more like a quest novel or a coming of age story than a mystery.  While there are puzzles to solve, the biggest puzzle of all is Christopher himself.  By making Christopher the narrator and "author" of his own story, the reader is able to walk in Christopher's shoes as he steps from a once organized and structured life into one filled with unknown dangers.  While Christopher may not be conquering Mordor or chasing after a serial killer, seen through his eyes, the ordinary feels like the extraordinary - a trip to London is a frantic flight from certain death and a ride on a train something from a spy novel with our hero disguised as a luggage rack and fearing discovery at every stop.


"And then the train stopped and a lady with a yellow waterproof coat came and took the big suitcase away and she said, "Have you touched this?"


And I said, "Yes."


And then she went away.


And then a man stood next to the shelf and said, "Come and look at this, Barry.  They've got, like, a train elf."


An another man came and stood next to him and said, "Well, we have both been drinking."


And the first man said, "Perhaps we should feed him some nuts."


Mark Haddon, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (Vintage Books, 2003), P. 167


In reading other reviews about this book, I came across some blog posts and news articles that criticized the author for his portrayal of an autistic person.  I can't comment on the representation in this book and whether it was accurate or not - I'm not autistic and I don't have anyone in my close circle of family and friends who is.


So, I did a bit more research and found a July 2009 blog post by the author that addressed the criticism.


"curious incident is not a book about asperger’s. it’s a novel whose central character describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’. indeed he never uses the words ‘asperger’s’ or ‘autism’ (i slightly regret that fact that the word ‘asperger’s’ was used on the cover). if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. it’s as much a novel about us as it is about christopher."


- Mark Haddon, Mark Haddon Blog, "asperger's and autism", 2009


Do not read this book if you are looking for the definitive guide on what being autistic means.  Instead, recognize that this is a "day in the life" story of someone who likely does not see the world in exactly the same way that you do.  Please consider spending 221 pages looking at the world through Christopher's eyes.  Solve the murder, uncover the family secrets, deal with the shock and learn to shape a "new normal" in a world where none of us are truly normal.  In my opinion, you won't regret it.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-02-29 20:12
I didn't know about this
Comic & Curious Cats - Angela Carter,Martin Lehman

Angela Carter fan girl that I am, I didn't know about this book until it popped up on my Thriftbooks recs.  


Carter provided the words for this children's alphabet book about cats.  Some letters are combined on one pages, but Carter makes excellent use of alliteration.  The illustrations are nice, and there are some wonderful lines.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-10-18 11:27
A coming of age story with a big heart
The Curious Heart Of Ailsa Rae - Stephanie Butland

Thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is the first book I’ve read by the author and can’t compare it to her previous work, although I’ve noticed reviewers show plenty of love for The Lost for Words Bookshop, and I’m keen to check it out.

The plot of this book is easy to summarise, and the description is quite detailed. Ailsa was born with a congenital heart condition (Hypoplastic left heart syndrome) and has been ill (to a greater or lesser degree) all her life.  Now, when there isn’t much time left, she gets a new heart. The novel follows her journey to learn how to live her new life, which in her case is also akin to a coming of age story. Although she is 28, due to her circumstances she has lived a very sheltered life, always protected by her mother, her aunt, and her friends, and now she has to face lots of challenges.

The author chooses an interesting way of telling the story. The bulk of the story is narrated in the third-person, although exclusively from Ailsa’s point of view, and alternates between the “now” of the story, and what was going on in Ailsa’s life a year ago. Some readers complained about the jumps in timeline. I did not find them too confusing (the timeframe was clearly stated, and it was easy to tell from the content as well), and those chapters did add some perspective on Ailsa’s situation. Because we meet her just before her operation, this device works as a way of letting us know what her life was like before, and also helps us understand some of the difficulties she faces now. I wasn’t sure all of the chapters set in the past added new information or were particularly significant, but they didn’t slow down the pace of the story either.

Apart from the third person narrative, we can also “hear” Ailsa’s narrative in the first-person thanks to her blog. She has a blog where she had been writing about her illness and the difficulties of being on a transplant waiting list, and we get access to some of her posts.  The book also includes her e-mails and text exchanges with some of the other characters. These provide us with a different perspective on the events, even with the caveat that blogposts are written to be published and are not spontaneous pouring of one’s heart (well, most of the time), and we get to hear from other characters as well. This is the third book I’ve read recently featuring a blogger as one of the main characters, so there seems to be a trend. The most curious part of it, in this case, is that Ailsa seems to be otherwise pretty disconnected from some aspects of everyday life (she does not know Seb, the young actor she meets, although he is well-known, and seems oblivious to much of what is shown on UK television, for example). One of the particular characteristics of her blog, though, is that she asks her readers to participate in polls that inform her decisions and the way she lives her life. Although in some cases the decisions are pretty neutral (choosing a name for her new heart, for example), others are more fundamental, and there’s much discussion about that throughout the book.

As for the characters… I liked Ailsa, although I agree with some comments that say she seems much younger than she is. I have mentioned above that the book, at least for me, reads like a coming-of-age-story, and although she’s gone to university and had a boyfriend (and there’s a story of loss and grief there as well), there’s much of normal life that she has not experienced and that explains why there is much growing up she still needs to do. She is childlike at time, stubborn, selfish, she lacks self-confidence, and struggles between her wish to grow up (she insists on sticking to the plan of living independently) and her reluctance to take responsibility for her own life (she is so used to living day to day and not making long-term plans that she uses her blog and the polls as a way to avoid ultimate responsibility). I loved her mother, Hailey, who can be overbearing and overprotective, but she is strong and determined, cares deeply for her daughter and has sacrificed much for her (even if she finds it difficult to let go now),  and I felt their relationship was the strongest point of the novel. I was not so convinced by Seb, her love interest, and their on-off relationship, although it adds another dimension to Ailsa’s experience, seemed too unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, he is handsome, a successful TV actor, and he is interested in her from the beginning, and yes… it reads like a very young and idealised romantic fantasy, so it might work in that sense, but as a character… What I liked about his part of the story was the acting background and the references to the Edinburgh Fringe. We only know Lennox through Ailsa’s memories and some of the chapters set in the past, and he is the other side of the coin, the one for whom luck run out too soon. This highlights the randomness of events and it makes more poignant the plight of so many people waiting for transplants. The efforts to keep his memory alive and make it count ring true.

The book is set in Edinburgh and I enjoyed the setting (although I’m only a casual visitor) and the references to the weather and the location. There are some local words and expressions used through the novel; although I cannot judge how accurate they are (the author is not Scottish although has done her research). I particularly enjoyed the Tango lessons and the setting of those above a pub.

The writing flows well and although in some ways the book is a light and gentle read (the romance is behind closed doors, and despite the talk of illness and hospitals, the descriptions of symptoms and procedures are not explicit or gore), it deals in serious subjects, like chronic illness, transplants (and it debates the matter of how to increase organ donations by changing it to an opt-out policy and removing the right of relatives to overrule the desires of a loved one), parental abandonment, grief, mother-daughter relationships, side effects of medication, popularity and media coverage of famous people, fat shaming… Although some of these topics are treated in more depth than others, I felt the novel dealt very well with the illness side of things, and it opened up an important debate on organ donations. As I said, I also enjoyed the mother-daughter relationship, and the fact that Ailsa becomes her own woman and grows up. I do love the ending as well.

This is a novel with a likeable main character who has had to live with the knowledge that she might not grow to be an adult, waiting for a miracle (unfortunately the miracle requires somebody else’s death, which deals sensitively in some very important topics, and is set in wonderful Edinburgh. I loved Ailsa’s mother and although some aspects of the novel work better than others, in my opinion, the quality of the writing and the strength of the story makes it well-worth reading. And yes, it is a heart-warming story (forgive the pun)! I’ll definitely be checking out more of the author’s books.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?