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text 2017-10-22 00:00
#30DaysofReadathon - Day 10 through 1
Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart
The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado - Holly Bailey
Fever 1793 - Laurie Halse Anderson
The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow - Olivia Newport
Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan,Fiona Staples
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street - Michael Lewis
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World - Michael Lewis
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis

Last round.....

 

Day 10 Rainbow - IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXm9lPTBN_U/?taken-by=tearainbook

 

Day 9 Spines - another IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXtcs5LhArT/?taken-by=tearainbook

 

Day 8 Funny - Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart (and it is a shame she isn't more loved by folks in the US)

 

Day 7 Sad - The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey (the part when she wrote of the rescue and recovery at the elementary school killed me)

 

Day 6 Time - Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (a great middle grade book about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia)

 

Day 5 Place - The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport (Chicago during the World's Fair)

 

Day 4 Plans - my bedroom will be center stage for my reading - it is the only place I can get some quiet.

 

Day 3 Break - I plan on taking a break to sleep. A short catnip can give the reader a better recharge than drinking caffeine. I plan to get a few hours over the course of the read-a-thon.

 

Day 2 New - Saga series by Brian Kl Vaughan and Fiona Staples

 

Day 1 Stack - Books by Michael Lewis I have read and recommend:

                       Moneyball

                       Liar's Poker

                       The Big Short

                       Boomerang

                       Flash Boys

                      

                      

                      

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review 2017-09-05 13:36
Angsty
Unfair Game: A Gay Sports Romance Novel - Cecelia Storm

Unfair Game is a a friends to lovers, sports romance. We do get some actual game play, although it's more quick overview than anything else. Kyle and Cade are teammates during most of the story. The premise and writing are good, but the story has a little more angst than I felt necessary. With the story being told from Kyle's perspective, it's hard to really know Cade. I felt like he was more self-absorbed than anything else for most of the book while Kyle's fears are prevalent throughout the story and he comes across as quite indecisive. The romance felt like a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. The heat and attraction between them came across very well, but I had trouble with the actual love thing. Cade seems more curious than invested in a relationship and of course, Kyle's angst is off the charts. Things do finally start to come together, but by that time, I was rather fed up with Kyle's push and pull and Cade's 'everything will be okay' attitude. Kyle's fears were understandable and I could even empathize with him, but as they went on and on, that empathy began to wear thin. There was some amusing and witty dialogue between this pair and I even found myself chuckling at some of their banter, but for me, a huge portion of the story could've been left out and I would've enjoyed it much more. Just too angsty for my tastes. If you enjoy an angst-filled romance with a bit of humor and plenty of heat, this one is certainly that.

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review 2017-08-23 11:09
Feiern wir weibliche Stärke und den Feminismus
Tehanu - Ursula K. Le Guin

In meiner Rezension zu „Erdsee“ bemängelte ich, dass Ursula K. Le Guins Universum erschreckend sexistisch ist. Mit dieser Kritik bin ich nicht allein. Soweit ich es aus den bestehenden Rezensionen anderer Leser_innen herauslesen konnte, wurde Le Guin für den grassierenden Sexismus in Erdsee generell stark kritisiert. Vielleicht entschied sie sich deshalb, 18 Jahre nach dem Erscheinen von „Das ferne Ufer“, nach Erdsee zurückzukehren. „Tehanu“ ist der vierte Band der „Erdsee“-Saga und fokussiert erstmals die weibliche Perspektive: im Mittelpunkt steht die ehemalige Priesterin Tenar, die mittlerweile in Gont lebt.

 

Einst verließ Tenar an der Seite von Ged ihr Land, um im Licht der Freiheit zu leben. Obwohl sie bei Ogion in die Lehre hätte gehen können, entschied sich Tenar für ein bodenständiges Leben als fürsorgliche Ehefrau und Mutter. Lange Zeit führte sie eine einfache, aber glückliche Existenz. Eines Tages erreicht Tenar die Kunde von einem kleinen Waisenmädchen, das bei lebendigem Leibe verbrannt wurde. Furchtbare Wunden entstellen das Kind. Entsetzt öffnet Tenar ihr Herz und nimmt die Kleine in dem Wissen bei sich auf, dass sie niemals ganz normal sein wird, ebenso wenig wie sie selbst. Sie gibt ihr den Namen Therru. Jahre später liegt Ogion im Sterben. Sofort reisen Tenar und Therru zum Falkennest, um sich zu verabschieden. Doch Erdsee verändert sich, ist kein sicherer Ort mehr für eine Witwe und ihre junge Tochter. Als die Vergangenheit Tenar und Therru einholt, offenbart sich das hässliche Antlitz der Welt und erweckt in Therru Kräfte, die vom Feuer geschmiedet wurden.

 

Ursula K. Le Guin hat ganze Arbeit geleistet. „Tehanu“ ist ein Buch mit einer starken, weiblichen Stimme, die sich zweifellos für den Feminismus ausspricht und das Machtgefälle der Geschlechter in Erdsee mutig anprangert. Ich bewundere, wie kritisch sich die Autorin mit ihrem eigenen Werk auseinandersetzt, wie furchtlos und ehrlich sie die Aspekte ans Licht zerrt, die sie 20 Jahre zuvor vermutlich nicht einmal hinterfragte. „Tehanu“ ist der Beweis ihrer persönlichen Entwicklung, die ich einfach anerkennen muss. Ich kann nicht nachvollziehen, dass es offenbar Leser_innen gab, die sich am femininen Grundtenor des Romans störten. Wie viele Bücher wurden von Männern geschrieben, die schier bersten vor Testosteron und maskulinen Einflüssen? Wieso sollte es ein Problem sein, dass eine Frau ein ebenso Östrogen-geprägtes Buch schreibt? Ich fand es erfrischend, dass alle Frauen in „Tehanu“ wertvoll und individuell beschrieben sind, sei es nun Tenar, die verrückte Hexe Moss oder die geistig zurückgebliebene Heather. Lange genug waren weibliche Figuren in der High Fantasy lediglich schmückendes Beiwerk; für mich ist ein frauenzentriertes Buch dieses Genres daher ein kleiner Meilenstein. Zugegeben, Männer kommen in „Tehanu“ nicht gut weg, aber ich bin nicht der Meinung, dass Le Guin in ihrer Darstellung übertrieben hätte, weil sie auf diese Weise lediglich betont, wie schwer es eine alleinstehende Frau und ihre kleine Tochter, die niemals wie andere Kinder sein wird, in dieser männerdominierten Welt haben. In Erdsee ist ihr Ruf das höchste Gut, das eine Frau besitzt. Dieser hängt maßgeblich von der Einhaltung gewisser Normen und der subjektiven Wertschätzung Außenstehender ab. Während Männer stets Vorschusslorbeeren erhalten, brauchen Frauen Bestätigung von außen, um zu beweisen, dass sie ehrbar und glaubwürdig sind. Frauen wird erst einmal grundsätzlich mit Misstrauen begegnet, was so unfair ist, dass mir die Haare zu Berge stehen. Ich bin froh, dass Tenar im Laufe der Geschichte erkennt, dass ein ruinierter Ruf nicht zwangsläufig bedeutet, dass auch ihr Leben ruiniert ist. Nichtsdestotrotz war ich von Tenars selbstgewähltem Schicksal etwas enttäuscht. Angesichts ihrer Vergangenheit hatte ich angenommen, dass sie ein außergewöhnliches Leben führen würde, nicht das Leben einer Bauersfrau. Ich verstehe ihre Entscheidung für die Normalität, bin damit aber eher unzufrieden, weil ich glaube, dass Ursula K. Le Guin sie benutzte. Sie konnte Tenar nicht erlauben, mehr aus sich zu machen, da sie sie brauchte, um die feministische Kritik in „Tehanu“ zu transportieren. Man kann Alltagssexismus nicht beklagen, wenn kein Alltagssexismus vorhanden ist. Leider muss ich an dieser Stelle zugeben, dass ich „Tehanu“ deshalb nicht völlig überzeugend fand. So sehr ich Le Guin für ihre Bereitschaft zur Selbstreflexion achte, obwohl die Charaktere glaubhaft und realistisch sind, wirkte der vierte „Erdsee“-Band auf mich erzwungen, künstlich und konstruiert, wie ein Kunstmärchen. Ich hatte das Gefühl, Le Guin glaubte, sie müsste dieses Buch schreiben, um auf die Kritik ihres Publikums zu reagieren. Es erschien mir keine natürliche Geschichte aus Erdsee zu sein.

 

„Tehanu“ feiert weibliche Stärke. Es ist ein Roman, der die alltäglichen Herausforderungen selbstbestimmter, emanzipierter Frauen in einer erdrückend patriarchalischen Welt beschreibt und kühn ernsthafte Kritik daran übt. Die Unterschiede zwischen der Erlebenswelt von Tenar und Ged sind gravierend: während er meist Wohlwollen erfährt, muss sie gegen Vorurteile und Unterstellungen kämpfen. Erdsee ist für Tenar und ihre Tochter Therru ein völlig anderer Ort als für Ged. Aus meiner Sicht hat Ursula K. Le Guin dem Vorwurf des Sexismus erfolgreich die Stirn geboten und bewiesen, dass sie sich der Mängel ihres Universums bewusst ist, obwohl es selbstverständlich schade ist, dass die Glaubwürdigkeit ihrer Geschichte darunter litt. Auch kann ich nicht behaupten, dass „Tehanu“ mitreißend wäre. Nein, dieses Buch ist nicht auf Spannung ausgerichtet, es konzentriert sich voll auf die Darstellung gesellschaftlicher Missstände und Ungerechtigkeiten, die oft zynisch zwischen den Zeilen hervorblitzt. Dadurch qualifiziert es sich vielleicht nicht als Pageturner – wohl aber als das femininste Werk der High Fantasy, das ich je gelesen habe.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/ursula-k-le-guin-tehanu
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review 2017-07-02 21:10
Unfair by Adam Benforado
Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice - Adam Benforado

This is a thought-provoking critique of the American criminal justice system based on psychological research. It is more of an overview than a deep dive: in 286 pages of text (excluding the bibliography), the author discusses everything from snap judgments in investigations, to false confessions and erroneous eyewitness identifications, to the reasons some lawyers behave unethically, to misleading expert testimony, to judicial bias, to the workability of prisons. These are all important issues and the author, a law professor, has many interesting proposals to improve on the problems. Unfortunately, he undermines his message by failing to source his facts, leaving readers with no authority for his arguments; any lawyer should know better.

 

There is a lot of interesting material here: the studies showing how common interrogation techniques, such as offering leniency for a confession, induce students to falsely confess to cheating; the correlation between more stereotypically African features and longer sentences; the tendency of the public to view third parties as biased against their side (Republicans and Democrats both believe the Supreme Court leans to the other side, by approximately equal margins); the way the point-of-view of a camera can affect viewers’ opinion of events (when interrogations are taped, viewers are more likely to see them as coercive when the camera is above the suspect, and as non-coercive when it’s above the officer).

 

The author discusses a number of psychological shortcuts that can lead to ugly results in the justice system: for instance, “narrow bracketing,” in which if your experience is that, say, two-thirds of the claims of a particular type are valid, and you just granted two, you are more inclined to deny the next one to keep the numbers balanced. And there’s a good discussion of how people identify dishonesty: you really can’t tell through body language – at best you can tell someone is nervous, but in a high-pressure situation like a courtroom, this likely has more to do with the person’s comfort in that setting and ability to project confidence than their honesty.

 

The book also discusses the reasons for criminal behavior, which often have less to do with deliberate moral choice than one might imagine. There’s a fascinating story of a man who suddenly becomes obsessed with sex, collecting porn, molesting a young girl, and propositioning everyone – until a tumor is discovered on his brain and removed; then he’s fine until the tumor returns, at which point he starts up all over again. Brain damage may be a less isolated cause of criminality than one might imagine; apparently, while less than 9% of the general population has suffered a traumatic brain injury, around 60% of incarcerated people have. Less dramatically, physical environment also influences one’s actions: wearing a mask makes people more aggressive, while holding a gun biases people to perceive images as more threatening.

 

Rather than simply detailing problems, Benforado does have plenty of suggestions for change. Some of these are relatively small and seem like excellent ideas. For instance, officers should be trained in cognitive interviewing (asking few open-ended and non-suggestive questions) of witnesses of crime to avoid tainting their memories, while witnesses about to view a lineup should be told that the suspect may or may not be included (to prevent their simply choosing the one who looks most like the perpetrator). In fact, having lineups administered by a computer may be even better, to prevent officers’ unconsciously influencing a witness’s memory through their approval or body language.

 

Some of the suggestions are much more global, and I give Benforado credit for thinking big and outside the box. One intriguing idea is virtual trials: record the trial in advance and give jurors just the information, presented through avatars. This would eliminate biases based on physical appearance and performance, and allow a trial to be shown to multiple juries at little additional cost.

 

Meanwhile, the author shows discomfort with many aspects of the adversarial system, though his alternative proposal isn’t quite clear. He correctly points out that the procedural safeguards we build into the system in an attempt to prevent error often become ends in themselves, frustrating their original purpose. Take Miranda warnings for instance: if an officer fails to give them, a perpetrator’s confession can be excluded and therefore a criminal may go free, while on the other hand, judges rarely entertain the idea that a confession might be coerced once an officer has recited those lines – even if we’re talking about a highly suggestible suspect who was questioned for many hours, falsely told that the police had evidence against him, and promised leniency in exchange for a confession. And there’s simply not time, based on the many procedural safeguards built into our system of trials, for more than a tiny percentage of cases to be fully heard; the vast majority plead guilty, in a system the author sees as highly suspect. But what could we do instead? – it’s difficult to decipher Benforado’s ideas on this point, aside from idealistic notions of truth-seeking and vague references to Germany’s having a different system.

 

But the book does have its drawbacks. Rather than endnotes to which one can refer for specific facts and studies, the author simply includes a bibliography for each chapter, with no indication as to which of the dozens of works cited include which information. This shows off the author’s reading while offering no help to his readers. This is particularly unfortunate on the topics for which he provides only vague information: for instance, he tells us that solitary confinement alters the brain in observable ways, but not what part of the brain is affected, what this part does, and what changes are seen once prisoners are freed. Ultimately, the book leaves readers with the choice between taking the author’s word for his claims or doing their own research, starting more or less from scratch. This is an incredibly poor decision for someone who wants to profoundly change entrenched parts of officialdom.

 

Less damaging but also unfortunate is the fact that, while Benforado presents information in a clear and readable style, his storytelling is less than stellar. He begins each chapter with a few pages of introductory fluff, which is a great opportunity to tell compelling human-interest stories related to the topic at hand – but more often than not he squanders it. For instance, the chapter dealing with physiognomy begins with rambling about how people are fascinated by mugshots. Okay.

 

Finally, while the book’s portrayal of the justice system as almost medieval – snap decisions are based incomplete information and the gut feelings of those making them, without scientific basis and generally without oversight – is fairly accurate, in some ways the book does present an overly gloomy picture. I suspect some readers might be unduly horrified, not realizing that most criminal cases aren’t based on eyewitness identification by strangers or police pushing for a confession from whatever black or Hispanic man happened to be near the crime scene. Most people plead guilty because they are, and the evidence against them is good. This in no way excuses the miscarriages of justice that go on every day, but I hope readers don’t come away with the idea that courts and police produce utterly random results.

 

Overall, I’m glad I read this book: much of the information it contains is fascinating, and it’s presented in a clear and concise way. These are issues people should be thinking about. However, the lack of sourcing is a serious limitation; I can only hope it will be corrected in future editions.

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text 2017-03-31 16:25
March 2017 Reading Wrap Up
Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Military - Jeffrey McGowan
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade - Ann Fessler
Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act - Rick Steves
Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh

 Overall a not great reading month, with some serious low-level ratings. A lot of disappointment in the content of some of these books. But I am either on track or ahead on some challenges, so at least I am not falling behind while traveling around.

 

Best part of my reading this month is finally visiting the British Library and its long standing exhibit (the BL is between special exhibits at the moment)! Unfortunately, visitors can't take pictures of the documents/books in the exhibit so I don't have any to show you. I am going back for the upcoming exhibit on the Russian Revolution, which turns 100 this year. The British Library will also do an exhibit on Harry Potter this year.

 

Highlights, Lowlights, and Challenges

Best Books: Major Conflict by Jeffrey McGowan; Moneyball by Michael Lewis; The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler; Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves

 

Worst Books: The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp; Elegy for a Disease by Ann Finger; Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

 

Library Love Challenge: 8; 19/36 for the year

Pop Sugar Challenge: 8; 18/52 for the year

BL/GR Reading Goal: 42/150

 

1. Polio: An American Story by David Oshinksy (Pop Sugar prompt - On the TBR a long time) - Currently reading, not counted in my stats yet

 

2. The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp (Library Love Challenge) - .5 star

 

3. Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire from Valley Forge to Afghanistan by Scott McGaugh (Pop Sugar prompt - set in wartime) (Library Love Challenge) - 3 stars

 

4. Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't - Ask - Don't - Tell Military by Jeffrey McGowan (Library Love Challenge) - 3.5 stars

 

5. The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler (Pop Sugar prompt - Difficult Topic) (Library Love Challenge) - 3.5 stars

 

6. Cat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery)  by Sofie Kelly (Pop Sugar prompt - Cat on the cover) (Library Love Challenge) - 1 star

 

7. Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio by Anne Finger - DNF

 

8. Travel is a Political Act by Rick Steves (Pop Sugar prompt - Involves Travel) (Library Love Challenge) - 4 stars

 

9. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan (Pop Sugar prompt - Set in a Hotel) - 0 stars

 

10. Echoes in Death (...In Death #44) by J.D. Robb  (Pop Sugar prompt - Published in 2017) - 1.5 stars

 

11. Moneyball by Michael Lewis (Library Love Challenge) - 4 stars

 

12. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (Pop Sugar prompt - bought on a trip) - 3 stars

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