September 8th, 2015


books #54-57

# 54 Naomi Novik: Uprooted.
A wonderful fantasy book. Every tenth year a wizard from the tower takes one girl from the valley to be his servant. Usually it is the most beautiful and accomplished girl, but this time his choice is surprising even to himself. I liked it, that the fantasy was based on Slavic legends and fairy tales. And the ending was very satisfying. Highly recommended.

# 55 Deborah Harkness: A Discovery of Witches.
The book had a very promising beginning and makings of a nice thriller. A mysterious manuscript found in Bodleian library, which is wanted by all the three types of creatures: witches, vampires and daemons. But then a witch meets a vampire and everything descends into her interminable soppy descriptions of how wonderful he is and into a lot of hurt-comfort. I found it somewhat hilarious that the witches in the book immediately tell their names to whoever is asking. Seriously? Never heard that a thing named is a thing mastered? There is a sequel, because at the end of the book the couple are going to hide in time and are going to meet Kit Marlowe. I know, Tudors are fashionable at the moment, but unfortunatlely I feel myself completely saturated with them. I feel like I can recognise all the courtiers and family members from the 500 year old portraits and say who is related to who and how. So, probably not going to go on with this one.

# 56 Dorothy L. Sayers: Whose Body.
Dorothy Sayers is something Miss Fisher and Dot are known to read occasionally. And I have realised that I have never actually read any of her mysteries. The story itself was quite well done, I think. Good twists and enough suspense. The main detective, though, reminded me too much of Bertie Wooster to be interesting. I like Bertie, but mostly as a plot device.

# 57 Celeste Ng: Everything I never told you.
A 16 year old girl is missing. Her body is later found in the lake, and her history and the history of her family is revealed. All the misunderstandings and inadvertent secrets and silences. An American born Chinese father, who always wanted to belong and to fit in, and a mother, who always wanted to be different - to become a doctor, rather than a housewife, whose only joy is in knowing 6 different ways to cook an egg. They both fail in their aspirations and put all their hopes on their oldest daughter, pretty much ignoring their other two children.
A deep, wonderfully written, completely engrossing book.

The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

book 60: The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

Copied from my Pick for Me Book Club entry, since I really don't want to have to think about this book twice!

The Kid Stays in the Picture is an autobiography of Robert Evans, who was a fashion mogul, actor, producer, and bigwig at Paramount. I suppose his largest film credits are for producing The Godfather and Chinatown. The book describes his life from growing up a Jew in Harlem in the 1930s to his accidental entry into acting with a role as a bull fighter in The Sun Also Rises to his realization that his talent lay in producing rather than acting, through his fights with corporate mucky mucks, actors, directors, during his infamous rise and fall and rise and multiple marriages, philandering, who's who elbow rubbing and name dropping, and generally behaving like a stereotypical Hollywood schmuck. He certainly had a lot to say about himself and excuses why he did and didn't deserve what he got.

Recommendation: yes or no?
I have my biases. I'm more of a fiction reader, and generally don't care to hear about famous people talking about themselves when I do read non-fiction, but I try to expand my horizons a bit. I really didn't like this guy, though. In fact, I thought he was a dick-weed, to put it mildly, and learning about the Hollywood machine through his eyes was mildly interesting at best. I got sooooo tired of the name dropping and references to his own sexual prowess (on almost every page), but I was determined (or OCD) and managed to finish, only a few months late. (I will be so glad to get rid of this book!) So, recommendation. I think not likely, unless you are really really into Hollywood schmuckiness. And then, you could probably still find someone at least more attractive to read about, or a straight history of Hollywood, or something less obnoxious.
smirk by geekilicious

Book 97

The X in Sex: How the X Chromosome Controls Our LivesThe X in Sex: How the X Chromosome Controls Our Lives by David Bainbridge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very accessible book about the science of genetic inheritance at least as far as it extends to the X & Y chromosomes. The first chapter is a heavy duty look into the molecular aspects of genetics and protein signaling which might be the hardest part for a non-scientist (I am a scientist so I'm guessing here on how easy a non-scientist might find it). The Duke of Kent's Testicles is a quick history lesson and a look at hemophilia and other life-sustaining genes contained on the X that are not sex-related.

I think it would be a good book for the curious and beginning genetics students to read over because it's done at an easy level and with a fair dose of humor. The one drawback isn't so much the writing but the age of it. This was printed over ten years ago and in science that might as well be a lifetime especially for that opening chapter on understanding which genes are doing what.

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