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Search tags: why-did-I-finish-it?
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review 2018-09-17 16:07
DNF at 25 Percent
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

I don't hate myself enough to continue to read this book. Going to find something else to fit the "A Grimm Tale" square. I just don't have the patience for the singing or Aza and others talking about how ugly she is every freaking five seconds. My biggest issue is that Aza's not interesting enough to read as a re-imagining of "Snow White." She's mean at times to her sister and family cause she's not beautiful, though it makes no sense why she's not besides the fact she doesn't look like others around her. She apparently has a fantastic singing voice she can throw and bah. I just don't care.


Aza is a foundling in the kingdom of Ayortha. Apparently being beautiful and being able to sing are the only things people care about. Aza is tall, has dark hair, pale skin, and red lips and is therefore ugly (I am playing the world's smallest violin). Her family hides her away in the tavern (not really, she acts like a fool if anyone sees her and most people don't seem to care and or know her) until a Duchess needs Aza to accompany her to the royal wedding. So even though Aza is so ugly that she can make death die, she is still invited as companion (this made zero sense to me and I don't care enough to fixate on it). Aza goes to court and of course the new Queen has zeroed in on her.


The writing is repetitive, and I loathed all the songs. Maybe I hate happiness? Who knows. I think the main thing is that there is barely any character development to Aza and zero to everyone else. I just didn't have the energy to completely finish a book I knew I was going to be lukewarm about. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 03:06
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

TITLE:  Get Well Soon:  History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

 

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Wright

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781627797467

_____________________________

DESCRIPTION:

"A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought them.

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks.
"

________________________________________________________

 

*********************POSSIBLE SPOILERS**********************************

________________________________________________________

 

REVIEW:

 

This poorly written book is a collection of superficial, sensationalist, chatty chapters on a variety of epidemics (and two extras) that are supposed to be history’s worst plagues (some are, some aren’t) and the heroes (or more likely ignorant fools according to the author) who fought them.  There is no original content or any type of original insights in this book, but there are a vast quantity of quotes straight from other (better written) books.  This book is long on opinions and short on science, so if you are looking for science, try any of the recommended books below.  The topics covered include:  the Antonine Plague; Bubonic Plague; Dancing Plague; Smallpox; Syphilis; Tuberculosis; Cholera; Leprosy; Typhoid; Spanish Flu; Encephalitis Lethargica; Lobotomies; Polio; and as an afterthought, HIV/AIDS

 

Wright spends little time discussing the origins and emergence of most the epidemics covered in this book.  There is a very limited examination of what the disease actually does to a human body (other than the gory bits usually including pustules) or how widespread and devasting it was in terms of socio-economic factors (especially the later chapters).  Only a few chapters explain how that particular epidemic ended or even if it did end or what the status of that particular disease is currently.  Some of the chosen epidemics weren’t the “worst plagues” by any means or even an epidemic (depending on the definition), or even diseases for that matter (e.g. chapter on lobotomies and dancing plague).  The author does not provide a partial view of the topic, and can’t wait to assign villains or heroes to each disease, or to insult and mock anyone she feels like. 

 

Some of the information presented in this book is suspect, or at least outdated, especially in the chapters dealing with TB, cholera, polio, leprosy and Antonine plague.  Wikipedia is not a valid reference.  It is also apparent from the excessive insertions of the author’s own opinions that she didn’t bother to research the topics or the people involved too closely either.  The author also contradicts herself in the matter of informed consent – informed consent is necessary when she agrees with it, but unnecessary when she doesn’t agree with it.  In addition, if you are going to use a graphic (in a published book of all places!) to show the rate of medical progress over time, learn to draw a proper graph with defined, labelled axes (or get someone else to do it!), instead of a random floating line which means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

 

Wright has an especially aggravating writing style.  Altogether, the writing style was too juvenile and frivolous for the subject matter (squealing, ditzy Hollywood cheerleaders come to mind).  Each chapter comes across as a series of book reports covering a different epidemic per chapter – written by an immature teenager or a vapid blogger.  The specific chapters rely predominantly on one major source, usually a much better written book on the topic.  This book is an simplistic and biased glossing of historical epidemics (mostly) that the author has used as an opportunity to snicker, criticise, preach her opinions and sensationalise in terms of emphasizing the unpleasant side-effects of the disease (pustules, rotting noses, the more disgusting the better etc).  

 

The book is stuffed with flat jokes (the jokes weren't even vaguely funny), dated pop-culture reference, snide and snarky comments,  speculations, not to mention the author’s excessive and continuous interjections of her mean-spirited opinions, and political commentary, which were unwarranted, irrelevant, not to mention unprofessional.  Wright makes broad sweeping generalizations and seems to be uninterested in viewing these epidemics within their historical context.  The tone is dripping with sarcasm and contempt for the poor people that suffered from these terrible disease, and Heaven save you from the author’s vicious pen, if you were one of the unfortunate doctors who were trying to help with the limited knowledge and instrumentation of pre-21st century medical knowledge.

 

It is possible to write medical nonfiction in an interesting manner without sounding like a vapid teenager.  I learnt more about the author from all her snide opinions than any of the diseases from this book.  This book comes across as a poor imitation of a Mary Roach book, so if you like Mary Roach’s books, you might (possibly) like this one.  If you want a book that tells you something of the how, where and why of a variety of diseases; you need to look elsewhere.  I found Wright’s shallow, cruel and arrogantly opinionated writing style an insult to the reader and personally repellent.

 

 

POST SCRIPT:

 

For those people who think the Ancient Roman cities did not have sewer systems, please do some basic research:

 

SHORT VERSION

Roman sewers – ancient Roman toilets, poop, pipes

 

 MORE DETAILS

What toilets and sewers tell us about ancient Roman sanitation

Rome Is Still Technically Using One Of The First Sewer Systems In The World

Aqueducts and Wastewater Systems of Rome

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS

 

Compilation of Diseases:

~The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett

~New Killer Diseases:  How the Alarming Evolution of Germs Threatens Us All by Elinor Levy

~The History of Disease in Ancient Times by Philip Norrie

~Viruses, Plagues, and History:  Past, Present and Future (Revised, Updated Edition) by Michael B.A. Oldstone

 

Plumbing and Personal Hygiene:

~Flushed:  How the Plumber Saved Civilization by W. Hodding Carter

~The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us about Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society by David Waltner-Toews

~The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg

 ~The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George

 

Diseases in General:

~Spillover:  Emerging Diseases, Animal Hosts, and the Future of Human Health by David Quammen

~Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark

~An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections by Ron Barrett & George Armelagos

 

Specific Diseases:

~The Great Mortality:  An Intimate Hsitory of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly

~Dancing Plague:  The Strange True Story of an Extraordinary Illness by John Waller

~Superbug:  The Fatal Menace of MRSA by Maryn McKenna

~Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik & Monica Murphy

 

Other:

~Strange Medicine:  A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages by Nathan Belofsky

~Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett [This book gives a great insight into how disease progressed in different countries and the social conditions and public health failings (and victories) that shaped how we understand infectious disease].

 

 

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review 2018-08-27 16:17
DNF at 44 Percent
My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel - Elizabeth Strout

I just gave up finishing this. I DNFed at 44 percent. I wasn't enjoying this and the narrative style was just drab. We have I hope the narrator Lucy Barton (I don't know since I don't think the woman so far has not said her name) who is going into her family's history, her writing, husband, children, all while in the hospital. Her mother is there since her husband is apparently elsewhere. It's just a weird book and I got tired of it staring at me from my Kindle. 

 

I think the biggest issue I had was that Lucy herself is a non-entity. She just seems to float through the world and meets people she attaches too much significance to. I am a bit baffled that she was estranged from her parents for so long and then her mother shows up and tells her stories about people they know/knew. It feels like a reverse Scheherazade to me since I kept hoping that Lucy's mother would stop talking so that either Lucy or she would die. It make it more interesting than what we got. 

 

I do feel bad that this fairly short book turned out to be a snooze. I know it got a lot of acclaim, but this was just a strong no from me. 

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text 2018-08-20 17:18
Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery
Secrets of the Tulip Sisters - Susan Mallery

I loved Mallery's Blackberry Island series earlier this year, so I figured I would like more of her women's fiction. But this book sucked. Kelly and Olivia are grown adults and sisters from a dysfunctional family. Kelly is a tulip farmer, learning the trade from her dad and being his partner in the business. Olivia is an up and coming businesswoman who is smart and creative. I am going to say right now Kelly is a snooze fest when she wasn't being incredibly awkward or cringey around Griffith, hometown boy made good then came home. Griffith is a dudebro and smugly self-righteous. Helen is Kelly's best friend, equal in the snooze fest, and is crushing on Kelly and Olivia's dad, Jeff (from whom the snooze fest gene must come from). When Helen isn't having such ridiculous lewd thoughts about her best friend's dad, she is CONSTANTLY complaining about her body shape/weight and dieting. Kelly and Olivia's mom is the evil bad guy who stops being evil when she falls in love with Griffith's younger brother and Olivia's high school/college boyfriend, Ryan. Ugh.

 

There is small town contemporary romance, then there is too small town - is there anyone else to date/maybe try Tinder or OK cupid - contemporary romance. DNF'ed this morning at 20%.

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review 2018-08-20 17:07
Home to Whiskey Creek (Whiskey Creek #3) by Brenda Novak
Home to Whiskey Creek - Brenda Novak

I previously described this story as "Reddit and 4chan had a baby" and after a few days of DNF'ing this book, I stand by that description. Novak showed she was out of her depth by having her heroine have a back story that included a gang rape. The hero and heroine were not up to the challenge of overcoming this (and other) obstacles; they were far too weak and the heroine needed a lot more therapy while she was back in her hometown. The additional storyline of the hero's best friend being gay and in love with the hero for years was already repetitive by the end of book two, and Baxter forcing a kiss from Noah came across as a sexual assault. I lost all respect for Baxter and the others in the friend gang were not anymore mature or level headed. 

 

I might try Novak's suspense novels because I do (for the most part) really like her writing and voice. I just can't take her shoe-horning serious topics into a light contemporary romance storylines - the two aren't meshing well and it comes off as sloppy or damaging writing.

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