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review 2016-11-27 04:55
The Diabolical Miss Hyde - Final thoughts
The Diabolical Miss Hyde: An Electric Empire Novel (Electric Empire Novels) - Viola Carr

The Diabolical Miss Hyde was a fun read, if a little out there. My only strong complaints are that Lizzie's character was more unformed than I prefer <spoiler>her personality had a tendency to flip-flop depending on the moment & what was convenient</spoiler> and Eliza was occasionally stupid for such an intelligent women, in addition to being ridiculously suspicious of EVERYONE, except for those she should be of course. *bangs head on the desk*

Otherwise an intriguing enough book, the split in personality and love interest was certainly interesting <spoiler> especially with that psycho Mr Todd, boy is he insane! can't see how Eliza could possibly feel anything positive for him, though I do fancy the red hair</spoiler>. Wouldn't mind seeing where that went, and I did so enjoy the struggle between Lizze & Eliza & there odd affection for each other. So I might pick up the other books in the series at some time, but not for a while I don't think.

Oh and for some odd reason I couldn't get the idea of Hippocrates being bug shaped out of my head, they constantly referred to him as a dog, but based on the descriptions but brain kept referring to him as a bug, maybe a lady beetle? sadly we saw less and less of him as the book went on. Hopefully he'll be in the next one.

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review 2015-12-23 19:46
Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists
Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists - Sean Eads,Gemma Files,Amy Griswold,Claire Humphrey,Aynjel Kaye,Melissa Scott,Steve Berman

What makes a mad scientist "mad"? It is not a clinical diagnosis of mental illness; instead, it is working far outside the usual collaborative nature of the scientific process, whether due to obsessiveness, idiosyncratic goals, or an intellectual, social, or moral style that doesn't mesh well with others. Women working in science and engineering are perilously close to being regarded as social outsiders at any time, especially previously; Jess Nevins's introductory essay here provides a history of literary depictions of women in these outsider roles and the various ways they were seen as transgressive. It's good to know that sometimes, at least, they could be taken seriously in their depictions.


Given pop associations of lesbians with both social exclusion and insanity, the theme of this anthology would indeed seem obvious, though it may in fact be the first of its kind. It collects two previously published stories and more have been written or will be; see, for example, "Infinite Skeins" by Naru Dames Sundar. One thing all the stories here (even the comedic ones) do is see their characters as worth taking seriously, in their desires, priorities, and intellectual skills. This goes even for morally negative characters or ones who don't thrive at the end of the story. Being outside community is dangerous, both to survival and morality, but luckily many characters here succeed in forming unconventional social ties. Long may authors continue to write smart women who go their own way.


Having gone on so long about the general theme of the anthology, I wish I had more praise to give the stories themselves. But there is a sense of pioneering here; once more authors realize that women as outsider scientists, queer women at that, is a real and valid theme they could write about, the pool of fine stories will grow. The editor was diligent in gathering the work here, though; I was pleased by how varied it was. 


There is a traditionally Gothic story, "Alraune", in which the main sciences are botany and poisons; here, for once, the lesbian characters are not the scientists, but instead the created woman and her lover play the role of innocence struggling to escape from their twisted family. The protagonist of "The Eggshell Curtain" is also the experimented-on; she watches history rather than participating, only to assure people in a rather disappointing ending that her conclusion is human nature doesn't change.


The rest of the main characters, though, are scientists or technicians (where those fields often include a heavy dose of magic). There are two plying that trade in the Victorian setting of steampunk and its cousins. "The Ice Weasels of Trebizond" is maddeningly narrow-minded in its use of tropes, plunking its English characters down in the Ottoman Empire for no discernible reason but having them carry on as if at home, be surrounded only by other English people, and move through a characterless countryside conveniently cleared of all locals. "Hypatia and Her Sisters" at least is set in England, and has a sense of the social realities facing all its characters; this makes it one of the better stories, and satisfying when high tech enables a happy ending. 


"The Long Trip Home" uses steampunk-like technology but its setting is refreshingly not Victorian-English. That proves to be a problem, though, because the author has imagined a fantastically rich world of crossing African and Asian cultures, great cities, numerous characters, extensive backstories, and tried to cram it all into a short story, which just doesn't work. A similar problem limits "Infusion of Waking Dreams": as a fantasy involving travel between a dreamworld and reality, with healing based on its fantastic botany, and strange dangers, it makes an extremely promising premise for a novel, but the short story just peters out. (And the love story could have been great if developed at more length too.)


Speaking of strange fantasy, "A Shallow Grave of Orange Peels and Eggshells" owes allegiance to the New Weird and builds up a wonderfully sinister world, only to throw away all its effect with a sentimental ending. The Lovecraftian "Eldritch Brown Houses" is more of a premise than a story. It has the beginning of a love story in it, but just the beginning. It's my opinion that it's really hard to do justice to romance at short length; "Shallow Grave", surprisingly enough, may have come closest. "Doubt the Sun" made a serious attempt at developing romance over time, but maybe the author's skills couldn't quite pull it off; not to mention that one of the parties is an android, a difficult sell. "Poor Girl" reforms its isolated, hard-hearted main character through love; I wish it was a bit better written, but it does have the originality of its science being Chinese alchemy.


There are a number of dark and horrifying stories here; I appreciate that there wasn't an absolute requirement for a happy ending. After all what is "mad" science without danger and (often) amorality? "The Moorhead Maze Experiment" is a report on a fictitious successor to the Stanford Prison Experiment reminding us how strange, and sometimes terrible, the early 70s could be. "Love in the Time of Markov Processes" is a gloomy piece of science fiction; as a scientist endlessly investigates her past, what becomes of her present? "The Lady of the House of Mirrors" is cruelly decadent. "Imaginary Beauties: A Lurid Melodrama" owns its amorality with full gusto.


There remain to mention only the story of Rosie the Riveter and Eva Braun; a Scooby Doo parody and a Wodehouse pastiche (not bad actually); and my favorite story, "Bank Job Blues". This one may actually be the least science fictional in the volume, since it is set in the 1930s and involves not-particularly-fanciful technology that would be reality within a couple decades. It is the story of a group of women who became friends because they're all lesbians; they decided to gain independence by robbing banks. There's a sense of the times and especially the characters, who have abilities that work well together (including one who created a souped-up car and a radio-controlled machine that could rip the door off a bank vault); the way they depend on each other is crucial.


I got this book from the library; I guess I wouldn't really advise spending money on it. But you might want to seek out a copy if you're like one of the characters in "Bank Job Blues" eager for stories about "women like us", or just want a diverse, mostly entertaining, and novel collection.

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review 2015-11-19 04:18
Children's Review: Mad Scientists: The Not-So-Crazy Work of Amazing Scientists
Mad Scientists: The Not-So-Crazy Work of Amazing Scientists (Scary Science) - Sally Lee

K has decided that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up him and his best friend have both decided this together.

So I saw this book and knew I had to get it because K should see how scientists have came up with their theories. 

I will tell you this if you have a weak stomach do not read this book or if you want to just pass up the parts that will make you hurl.

I started reading this to K and when we got Chapter 3 K was asking me to put down the book he didn't want me to read anymore and of course being the mother I am I continued reading. I told him dude this is how science is discovered you do things to see how it works, or invent something or cure something. 

So we continued, I was very impressed and surprised to learn so much on what certain scientists have done. You have one named Dr. Louise Robinovitch who designed a machine called a defibrillator! How cool is that I never knew who made it let alone how the process came about. We also learn how one scientist named Stubbins Ffirth tried to figure out how yellow fever was passed even though he didn't discovery it that credit goes to someone else. 

There is a lot more within this book and I have to give this book more than five stars both K and I learned a lot from this book. 

Also you get definitions on certain words which is excellent because K would ask me what does this mean or that mean and I was able to tell him. 

I recommend this book to kids and adults to read I would give the ages to maybe 7 on up. Just depends on your child. 

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review 2015-08-27 01:11
Mad Science
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

I started this in early August, but it took me a while to finish it. One of the reasons is it's a profoundly unsettling book. I'm a scientist by training, and I take the ethics of science pretty personally. Dr. Moreau crosses so many ethical/moral lines in his experimentation, it's not even funny. Some things just should not be done, even if it's to advance scientific knowledge. I am also a inveterate lover of animals, and I felt a horrible rage at the way Dr. Moreau was torturing animals. I feel it's fair to admit I am a meat eater, and I don't feel that eating meat is wrong. This book did make me feel extreme discomfort and think about what an animal goes through so I can eat a hamburger (something that I know intellectually but still ponder the ethics of regularly). However, there is a clear line that even both vegans and avowed carnivores can agree on: torturing animals for no reason, and inflicting pain on them because they are merely animals and don't feel pain the way humans does is terribly wrong. Also, to treat animals he had ostensibly humanized with no decency or respect was capping off the wrong that Moreau was doing. I admit I wasn't sad about Dr. Moreau's fate at all. I could feel Prendick's sense of pervasive horror acutely. Because of that, I had to put the book down at one point and didn't go back to it until yesterday/today. I listened to this on Kindle Text-to-Speech and it adds an element of horror to experiencing the book as an auditory experience.

HG Wells is a good writer. He immerses the reader fully into the story. He writes descriptively and seems to be aware of science in a way that lends credibility to the story (although my mind went to what we know about tissue matching, organ donation and graft rejections today). I felt all the emotions that Prendick felt, although not his sense of superiority that comes from being a white Englishman of the 19th century. I know I would feel the weirdness of humanlike animals put in a situation where they are forced to act human but are denied the same respect and decency that humans deserve. I believe in the quality of life for animals and as a veterinarian this is a huge issue for me. I felt so sorry and angry on behalf of the Beast Men that it was a huge discomfort factor for me as I read. That's probably a good thing. I don't think anyone should be okay with how those poor beings were treated.

There is a touch of racism but it's not as bad as some of the classic novels can be. I always notice it, because I'm a black woman, and for good reason, I am clearly sensitive to such things. It's good to read books from different periods and see how things were then and be grateful that things have changed for the better, or at times, realize things haven't changed all that much.

I wonder what Wells would say about some of the things we do in modern medicine/medical research without blinking an eye at. Thankfully, there are stringent limitations on animal research (although I admit that I think some research that takes place is beyond what I consider moral or ethical). If anything, this kind of story will make a reader feel uncomfortable and ask themselves about what is ethically okay, and challenge them to feel things from a different perspective that they might not always be sensitive to.

Prendick was mostly a sympathetic character. He was in a very extreme situation way beyond his control or comprehension, and his actions were probably what one could expect for someone put in such a horrific situation. I can see why he would remain scarred emotionally for the rest of his life. Who could blame him?

This is a book that can easily be classified as science fiction horror. The horror is psychological because of being confronted with the extremes of science and the unnatural results of it on nature. HG Wells is considered a foundational science fiction writer, and I believe he definitely writes something prophetic about biomedical research that still can serve as a warning to us in the 21st Century. There is a line and we must not cross it.

I can't give this more than 3.5 stars because of the ick factor. The writing is good but it made me feel icky inside. As emotional reader, I have to listen to those instincts.

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review 2015-03-17 21:05
The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
The Mad Scientist's Daughter - Cassandra Rose Clarke

Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian,her constant companion...and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat's heart.




I've been on a Cassandra Rose Clarke binge since I read her Assassin's Curse duology last year (currently also reading the wizard's promise by her) and when I found out about this book, I knew I had to read it, I'm very glad I did. Even though this book broke my heart (kind of a happy ending though!) it was still amazing.


This book follows Cat and her transition from a child to a teen to an adult, from the moment she's introduced to Finn and her progression growing up with him. 


When I was reading about the book and reviews, there's was a mush of people saying that they bawled and some that didn't cry. I was right in the middle. I was teary eyed for a majority of the book with only just a few moments that I cried to and I had to put the book down because of it. This book left me so emotional and with one of the worst book hangovers I've ever had. 


Normally I don't read books like this. I'm not the hugest fan of scifi, but to me, this book didn't feel like one. To me it read like a contemporary book with the small minor detail of Finn being a robot. It wasn't a typical science fiction and I was almost shocked when I remembered that this wasn't realistic fiction. (Weird I know.) 


Even with saying all that, I don't even know where to begin. (Then again I never know where to begin with my reviews so.)


I guess I'll start off with Cat. I loved Cat. The way the author wrote was so beautiful and evocative that it made the story feel so real and I felt emotionally connected with it. I felt for Cat. With everything that she did or happened to her, it literally felt like I was there. Cat is full with all these conflicting emotions throughout the whole book. She's filled self disgust and guilt because of her feelings for Finn, and that's a prominent thing in the book. There's also the fact that even though Finn isn't human, she can't understand why people don't see it. There were also things that happened to her that hit hard close to him. It was very easy to connect to her.


"It's impossible to love something you know's made out of wire and metal."
"You talk about him like he's a computer."
"He is a computer," said Dr Condon. "That's what I'm trying to tell you."
"It's not flesh and blood," she said. "It's not normal.



That scene in particular was pretty emotional. 


This book still has me speechless. I still don't even know how to describe what I felt for this book. However, I did wish there was more Finn and Cat interaction (though there hally couldn't be any because of how the book was written.) and I also would have liked so read a bit of Finn's mind and what was going on in his head during the whole book. Despite that, everyone that wants their heart broken needs to read this book. 


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