Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The History of the Search for Dark Matter

The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek

Summary: The epic, behind-the-scenes story of an astounding gap in our scientific knowledge of the cosmos.   

In the past few years, a handful of scientists have been in a race to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every planet, star, and galaxy. The rest—96 percent of the universe—is completely unknown.   

Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this conclusion, and what they’re doing to find this "dark" matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. Based on in-depth, on-site reporting and hundreds of interviews—with everyone from Berkeley’s feisty Saul Perlmutter and Johns Hopkins’s meticulous Adam Riess to the quietly revolutionary Vera Rubin—the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have fueled their search, redefined science, and reinvented the universe.

Review: A history of the search for dark matter and the experiments and theories leading up to it.  

First and foremost, this book is about the history of dark matter and the search for it.  I had been looking forward to reading this book and I must admit to being disappointed that it was almost about the history instead of the physics.  Dark matter and dark energy are so fascinating since we knew so little about them.  especially since they make up so much of the universe. History is always needed when talking about physics, but I had been hoping for much more of the physics. This book barely discussed it. Those who do not know about the physics might be confused at times. 

While light on physics, this book certainly provides all the history and experiments you could hope for. It is a little hard keeping track of all the experiments and the experimenters. The chapters skip between different experiments and concepts so there isn't a chronological order so that makes things a bit harder to follow. I did not realize how ruthless experimenters could be nor how catty. Despite lacking the physics, this book was still very interesting and provided a good background. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in physics or science history. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean by Michael Erard

Summary: This original, entertaining, and surprising book investigates verbal blunders: what they are, what they say about those who make them, and how and why we've come to judge them.Um... is about how you really speak, and why it's normal for your everyday speech to be filled with errors—about one in every ten words. In this charming, engaging account of language in the wild, linguist and writer Michael Erard also explains why our attention to some blunders rises and falls. Where did the Freudian slip come from? Why do we prize "umlessness" in speaking—and should we? And how do we explain the American presidents who are famous for their verbal stumbles? Full of entertaining examples, Um... is essential reading for talkers and listeners of all stripes.

Review: More of a history of verbal slips and how people view them than how slips occur and what they mean for language.

I was excited to read this book. I have recently gotten interested in how the brain works and how brain structure can be affected by use, disuse, and/or trauma. Language is a function of the brain. This book provides a few theories, although nothing definite, on what causes verbal slips (including the old favorite Freudian slips) and what they mean for language. There appears to be not directly explanation for why verbal slips occur and that demonstrates how complex the brain is and how much we don't know about it. 

Unfortunately, this book quickly diverges from linguistic theory and turns into a history of verbal slips, which is completely fine and an interest topic. I just wish the book hadn't been advertised as the explanation for verbal slips. I am often aware of verbal slips when people are speaking to a group of people such as a presentation or in front of a classroom. I also sometimes notice that I make verbal slips. It is fascinating how television and radio changed how verbal blunders are viewed. This book did make me decide to be more careful of how I speak in the future.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those with a great interest in linguistics or history of the spoken word. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Most Evil Shakespeare Villian

I, Iago: A Novel by Nicole Galland

Summary: Everyone knows Shakespeare's classic tragedy of friendship and betrayal, love and jealousy: Othello. But the real story lies deep in the culture and biases of Venice and the childhood of a young man named Iago who could not escape his status as "runt of the litter" in his family nor his "distasteful" tendencies toward honesty that made him a social outcast.

In Nicole Galland's I, Iago we follow Iago from his childhood days playing pranks with young, naive Roderigo to falling in love with Emilia to betraying his closest friends and family, sealing his fate as one of the most notorious villains of all time.

Review: Adds some depth and history to the character of Iago, but doesn't ring true to the play's Iago. 

I saw this at the library and was instantly intrigued. I like Shakespeare's plays and I've fallen for published fanfiction (my term for retellings, prebook, and afterbook stories about published works) recently. I was hoping this book would give some background on Iago and how he came to be. He is considered to be one of Shakespeare's most evil villains, if not the most evil. Iago is such a vindictive, evil, and spiteful creature, yet is considered so honest by Othello. So, who ever considered him honest?

I enjoyed the first part of this book. I'm sure there are a number of ways to explain how Iago's character came to be. The author picks one and does a good job with it. You can see hints of Iago's jealously and get foreshadowing of his later behavior. You actually start to feel some sympathy for him. Then we get to the events of the play and Iago is determined to get revenge. The author tries to soften his character by having him not wanting to have certain people hurt in his quest for revenge. It just doesn't mesh with his character in the play. It also shows Othello and his fatal flaw, passionate anger.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy retellings or Shakespeare's plays. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Big Pinchers of the Ocean

The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean by Trevor Corson

Summary: In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and an eccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Trevor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters.
In revelations from the laboratory and the sea that are by turns astonishing and humorous, the lobster proves itself to be not only a delicious meal and a sustainable resource but also an amorous master of the boudoir, a lethal boxer, and a snoopy socializer with a nose that lets it track prey and paramour alike with the skill of a bloodhound.
"The Secret Life of Lobsters" is a rollicking oceanic odyssey punctuated by salt spray, melted butter, and predators lurking in the murky depths.
Review: Everything you ever wanted to know and then some about lobsters.
I have always thought lobsters were quite cool and cute (I also think crabs are cute). I also never eat them since they are too cute and cool to eat. I'm starting to become more interested in micro histories and crabs seemed like a cool thing to read about. I really did not know how much was not known about lobsters until recently and I am sure there are more mysteries to unravel. It's fascinating how much we know about the world and how much we do not truly know. 
Lobsters are really fascinating creatures and this book informs you all about it. You learn about how they molt, how they travel, where they live, and how they molt. Some of the experiments where they clipped off appendages or antennas made me cringe. Beyond information about lobsters, this book focuses on the relationship between lobstermen and scientists. It's a very touchy subject. Sometimes fishermen have been guilty of overfishing and sometimes scientists have the best interests of the fish in mind. Sometimes they work at odds and sometimes they work together. Nature does really work in mysterious ways and is sometimes tougher then we give it credit for.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in micro histories, lobsters, nature, or sea life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everything You Wanted To Know About Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr: The Fall and Rise of the Comeback Kid by Ben Falk

Summary: Robert Downey Jr.'s life isn't a movie—but it could be. This biography is an insightful, devastating, scathing, and ultimately uplifting journey into the realms of Hollywood’s darkest excesses and successes. Downey now commands $25 million a movie—not bad for someone who 10 years ago was in prison, addicted to heroin and cocaine, and one bad choice away from death. Sherlock Holmes was one of last year's biggest blockbusters, with its sequel expected at the end of 2011, while summer 2010 blockbuster Iron Man 2 continued the fun and the high praise for Downey of its predecessor. His is without a doubt Hollywood’s greatest ever comeback.

Review: A very thorough, but boring book about Robert Downey Jr.

I am a fan of Robert Downey Jr. I've enjoyed all the movies I have seen him in, which are Iron Man 1 and 2, both Sherlock Holmes, Tropic Thunder, and The Avengers. So that means that I have only known about him since he become a famous actor. I have thoroughly enjoyed all those movies, but I do not have much interest in seeing his earlier work except for a few movies so I suppose I am not a true fan. But I liked him enough to want to read this book. Plus he is incredibly sexy. :) 

This book does do a very good job of providing information about Robert Downey Jr. You learn about his early life, his addiction to drugs, all the movies, tv shows, and artistic projects he was involved in, his recovery from drugs, his child and his two wives, and his current stardom. Unfortunately, despite all this information and the subject matter, the book is boring. The author provides a lot of criticism, including his opinions about Downey's work, which feels a bit unnecessary for a biography and borders on overkill. Also, the author is British and uses some British phrases and words which might be confusing for some people.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are huge fans of Robert Downey Jr. or those that enjoy biographies about film stars.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beautifully Lyrical

Green Witch by Alice Hoffman

Summary: From bestselling author Alice Hoffman, a resonant tale of overcoming grief and tragedy, as only she could tell it.

In this powerful, lovely sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love, and loss in a post-disaster world.

Review: An incredible read that amazes with the beautiful words.

This book is quite short (133 pages and has large font) and does not have much in the way of standard plot, but it still is an incredible read. I have not read the first book (I had meant to pick the first book up at the library, but this was all I could find), but this book does a very good job of catching you up. I would have liked to learn more about the world (the first book might have more information), especially about the Horde. This book is very light on dystopian and I felt that Green was lucky, too lucky perhaps, with how easily she escaped any ills of the Horde. 

Despite being light on story, this book shines in its words. This is a book of feelings and ripe with symbolism. The beauty of the words is what really stands out. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a poem. This book really resonated on a deep level with me. It is an emotional read. Love plays a huge part in the story and I was glad that Green was able to find happiness. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of young adult fantasy or dystopian fiction or those that enjoy lyrical fiction. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gravity Does Not Exist

Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything by Margaret Wertheim

Summary: For the past fifteen years, acclaimed science writer Margaret Wertheim has been collecting the works of "outsider physicists," many without formal training and all convinced that they have found true alternative theories of the universe. Jim Carter, the Einstein of outsiders, has developed his own complete theory of matter and energy and gravity that he demonstrates with experiments in his backyard‚-with garbage cans and a disco fog machine he makes smoke rings to test his ideas about atoms. Captivated by the imaginative power of his theories and his resolutely DIY attitude, Wertheim has been following Carter's progress for the past decade.

Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation. Today, theoretical physics has become mathematically inscrutable, accessible only to an elite few. In rejecting this abstraction, outsider theorists insist that nature speaks a language we can all understand. Through a profoundly human profile of Jim Carter, Wertheim's exploration of the bizarre world of fringe physics challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for.

Review: Just about everything you wanted to know about outsiders physicists. 

So this was a case of my perusing the new books section at the library (I always check it whenever I go to the library) and picking out this book based solely on the cover and its Dewey Decimal Classification (or DDC for all the library folk out there). I didn't bother to read the summary, which I should have, but I must admit to be a sucker for a nice cover. I read the summary before I started to read it and while it wasn't what I expecting (I was expecting new and unusual theories of science and physics like string theory), but I was still interested. 

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this book. It focused almost exclusively on Jim Carter, which would have been fine if it actually focused on his theories. It was much more a story of his life though. I can understand why it is harder for people today to posit physics theories due to a number of factors, including mathematics becoming an integral part of physics. I was interested to see what outside physicists could come up with. Wertheim barely mentions any theories and also barely mentions any physics so those with no knowledge of it could not understand the theories.  


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy science memoirs or anyone has interest in fringe science. 

Ambition Cost Her Everything

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Summary: Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.
Review: A tale of Elizabeth Woodville and the horrors she experienced.
While I had read a good deal of books dealing with the Tudors and that time period, I have not read anything about the Cousins' War. The history of the Cousins' War is very tragic and sets the tone for the rest of the book. I definitely will be reading more about this time period, both fiction and non fiction. Since this was my first foray into the war, I had no idea what to expect and knew very little of the history.  
I couldn't feel much for Elizabeth. Sure, she experienced a lot of heartache, but that does not automatically gain my sympathy. A lot of characters in the story mention how Elizabeth is ambitious. I personally didn't see her as that ambitious. I saw her more as stubborn. She wanted what she wanted and would not take no for an answer even though it could cause harm or even death to other people. She would never back down and let pride rule her instead of common sense. I did learn about the time period and the upheaval everyone experienced.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to big fans of historical fiction, fiction about English royalty, or fiction about the Cousins' War.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maybe It's All In Your Head

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Summary: Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for disturbed teens.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

Review: An unbelievable center for mentally ill teens, a girl that believes way too quickly, a nonexistent relationship, and an evil (possibly government) plot. 

I was disappointed by this book. I think there was a disconnect in my brain between what I thought the book was about and what the summary of the book said. I was thinking of it more as a standard young adult paranormal, possibly with the paranormal already out in the open. I must have read the summary and it went out of my head. Still, when I get the book and started to read it, I was interested into how the story would play out. 

I found the premise of the center for mentally ill teens too hard to believe. It was made for the teens to sneak out of their rooms at night and have secret meetings. Their mental illness was not taken seriously. Also, teens in the center seemed to disappear and I didn't always remember where they wound up. There seemed to be a relationship that blossomed between Chloe and one of the teens (forgot his name), but I didn't see any reason for it. I wasn't the biggest fan of Chloe. She was a spoiled brat at times. And an evil plot by the bad guys! Oh noes!


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to big fans of young adult paranormal/supernatural fiction.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The First and Only Quitter

The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation by Jon M. Sweeney

Summary: At the close of the tumultuous Middle Ages, there lived a man who seemed destined from birth to save the world. His name was Peter Morrone, a hermit, a founder of a religious order, and, depending on whom you talk to, a reformer, an instigator, a prophet, a coward, a saint, and possibly the victim of murder. A stroke of fate would, practically overnight, transform this humble servant of God into the most powerful man in the Catholic Church. Half a year later, he would be the only pope in history to abdicate the chair of St. Peter, an act that nearly brought the papacy to its knees. What led him to make that decision and what happened afterward would be shrouded in mystery for centuries. The Pope Who Quit pulls back the veil of secrecy on this dramatic time in history and showcases a story that involves deadly dealings, apocalyptic maneuverings, and papal intrigue.

Review: More a history of the time period and the important historical figures than an actual history of Celestine. 

I must admit that I was disappointed in this book. I was expecting it to be about Pope Celestine, whom the book is named after. Celestine's story is fascinating. I did not know he was the only pope to abdicate. I was expecting to learn about why he was chosen to be pope and why he quit. Unfortunately, this book is rather short on Celestine's story. There is not much information about Celestine and a lot of that information is embellished. 

To understand Celestine and his abdication, one must understand the history of the time period Celestine lived in. I found the history the most fascinating part of the book. I like the time period and enjoy reading about the Middle Ages. There is a lot to touch on and the book does a good job of providing enough history to understand Celestine and his times. I honestly felt I did not learn too much about Celestine. There was not enough information about him. I do not think Celestine's story warrants its own book. I think it would have been fine being part of a history of the Church during the Middle Ages. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those interested in religion, Church history, or the Middle Ages. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

I'm a bit behind (I forgot to do this meme for a few weeks. I blame graduate school), but I'm still just going to do the past week. 

Recently Read: 

Currently Reading:

To Read:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Man Not Worth Loving

Rivals in the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan

Summary: As Queen Catherine's maid and daughter of the Duke of Buckingham, the future seems bright for Elizabeth Stafford. But when her father gives her hand to Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk, the spirited young woman must sacrifice all for duty. Yet Elizabeth is surprised by her passion for her powerful new husband. And when he takes on a mistress, she is determined to fight for her love and her honor. . .
Naïve and vulnerable, Bess Holland is easily charmed by the Duke of Norfolk, doing his bidding in exchange for gifts and adoration. For years, she and Elizabeth compete for his affections. But they are mere spectators to an obsession neither can rival: Norfolk's quest to weave the Howard name into the royal bloodline. The women's loyalties are tested as his schemes unfold—among them the litigious marriage of his niece, Anne Boleyn, to King Henry the VIII. But in an age of ruthless beheadings, no self-serving motive goes unpunished—and Elizabeth and Bess will have to fight a force more sinister than the executioner's axe...
Review: A truly broken man viewed through two women. 
Thomas Howard is truly a broken man. He loves his first wife so completely and his children when they are born, but quickly learns heartbreak when all his children die and his wife eventually dies. Howard succumbs to his misery and while he was not the best person beforehand, he becomes downright horrid. He is incredibly ambitious and helps to place two of his family members on the throne. This book portrays him as having periods of remorse, but since it never hinders his ambition and the action he takes, I wonder how much remorse the real Thomas Howard actually felt. 
The relationship between Elizabeth and Bess is striking and complex. Both are women mistreated and often scorned. Howard wants them to fulfil the roles he desires and while Bess complies, Elizabeth doesn't and pays the price. I liked that Elizabeth spoke her mind, but I couldn't help but think that there were plenty of times when she should have kept her mouth shut. Both women manage to fall in love with Thomas Howard, both try to make him happy, and both women fail. They wasted so much of their lives on a man who never really cared. 

Recommendation: I would recommend this that enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors or historical fiction  in general. 

Book of the Month - April

We are hosting a monthly event called "Book of the Month". This is done to highlight of one the books that you have read in the previous month.

 This will enable us to comment form one blog to another. Books you recommend for others to read. Hope you guys will join us. We would love to see your favorite book of the month.

"Book of the Month" is a monthly event hosted by Book Whales and this happens to be the first month. Every month after "Book of the Month" will be done at the end of the month. 

My Book of the Month (April): My Book of the Month was Perfect by Ellen Hopkins.

Summary: Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there. Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood. Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect? A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves. 

You can check out my review here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Numbers Make the World Go Round

Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe by James D. Stein

Summary: In Cosmic Numbers, mathematics professor James D. Stein traces the discovery, evolution, and interrelationships of the numbers that define our world. Everyone knows about the speed of light and absolute zero, but numbers like Boltzmann’s constant and the Chandrasekhar limit are not as well known, and they do far more than one might imagine: They tell us how this world began and what the future holds. Much more than a gee-whiz collection of facts and figures, Cosmic Numbers illuminates why particular numbers are so important—both to the scientist and to the rest of us.

Review: An informative book about the part that numbers and math play in our world. 

The author is a mathematician, not a physicist or an astronomer, so he sometimes does not know or understand the physics or science behind the cosmic numbers. He does admit to not knowing certain things and not being able to explain, but it is a bit annoying. I'm sure he could have found someone to ask and it feels like a cop out. The numbers lose some of their import if we do not know what makes them so important to science, physics, and our daily lives. Stein has done some fascinating research and the reader learns a lot about the back stories behind the numbers. 

A healthy variety of numbers are covered and the chapters are very informative yet brief enough to keep one's interest. One or two of the math formulas are a bit complex, but for all the math formulas (except one), the author provides examples and shows how he got to the formulas. To me, physics is such a fascinating topic because it uses both math and science to explain the world. This book demonstrates just how important math and cosmic numbers are to life as we know it. 


Recommendation: I would recommend to those interested in math, science, or physics. 

Shortest Reign in History

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Summary: Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen” –a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’ s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor. 

Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.

Review: A tragic tale told through many eyes.

This book is told through the first person view many characters and a couple are only used a few times. I would say that a lot of liberty is taken with the thoughts and emotions of some of the characters, especially the parents. But this liberty (and no one truly knows the innermost thoughts of the historical figures that the characters are) adds to the emotional depth of the story. It also allows the reader to see how the plot to put Jane on the throne progresses. Lady Jane Grey is an incredibly tragic figure and I still find it incredible she was on the throne for only nine days.

Jane is portrayed as a very sympathetic character, but I still couldn't help the fact that I wanted to smack some sense into her. I know children was supposed to be obedient to their parents, but Jane had no spine. She was very learned, but didn't have much common sense. She would fight over silly things and give in over big things. I have read one other book about Lady Jane Grey and that book, along with this book, have her personality significantly changing making her a stronger person once she takes the throne. I wasn't able to buy that though. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those interested in the Tudors or historical fiction about royalty.

Now That I'm Done School...

Since I am done graduate school, I'll have so much more free time.

What I Plan On Doing:

  • Read more (obviously!!)
  • Add pages to my blog
  • Participate in more book blog tours
  • Do author interviews and guest posts
  • Participate in more book memes
  • Create a book challenge for my blog
  • Join other blog book challenges
  • Try to finish my challenges on Goodreads
  • Try to read more books from tbr shelf on Goodreads
  • Play video games again (up first is Mass Effect 3 and Persona 3)
  • Learn some crafts (currently knitting and latch hooking)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Black Oil, Red Blood Blog Tour

Black Oil, Red Blood by Diane Castle

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: The thing about cancer is it’s hard to prove somebody gave it to you on purpose—but Chloe Taylor can prove it. In fact, she proves it for a living. She sues oil refineries that would rather save a buck than comply with safety regulations designed to do important things like, you know, keep people alive.

Chloe had a successful career until circumstances forced her to move to the bass-ackwards town of Kettle, Texas (human population: 4,000; gun population: 34,356). Big Oil industry giant PetroPlex employs half of Kettle’s population, and there’s no question the judge in the town’s got oil stains on his hands. It’s no wonder she’s been on a losing streak lately. She suspects she’s been litigating on an uneven playing field, but when her star expert witness turns up dead less than 48 hours before a make-or break hearing, she knows.

What she doesn’t know is the key piece of information that got her expert killed. It turns out PetroPlex is harboring a shocking secret—one that has the potential to skyrocket gasoline prices, spark an energy market meltdown, and trigger riots, chaos, death, and destruction on a global scale. Chloe must discover the secret and expose the villains before she is permanently silenced, all while juggling a troublesome ex-fiancé and a tantalizing new flame along the way.

Review: An action packed story with likable characters and delicious justice.

This book starts out simply enough. Chloe is the prosecuting lawyer on a case against PetroPlex (I couldn't help but thinking of BP as PetroPlex when I read this book) when her expert witness ends up dead. Obviously someone had him killed to keep him quiet since he knew too much. I believed it was PetroPlex who killed him to keep him quiet. Chloe starts to investigate and the repercussions of her actions manages to ensnare and involve almost the whole damn town. A conspiracy is at work and the bodies start to pile up. The plot does get a tad ridiculous at times, but it was very entertaining. 

The characters were a big part of this book. I loved the sad irony of Chloe wearing designer clothes and eating ramen every night for dinner. She was strong, compassionate, and, especially important, was smart about her ex-fiance. Nash was the strong, but not totally silent type. I enjoyed the blossoming romance between Nash and Chloe. Miles had to be my favorite though. He could be a little over the top, but his reactions to his situation were very funny. Despite the serious nature of this book, the characters and their interplay had me laughing a number of times. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy legal fiction, thrillers, or stories where politics play a large role. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

He's A Jerk and She's A Moron

Angel In a Red Dress by Judith Ivory

Summary: Beautiful, level-headed Christina Bower has every reason to avoid Adrien Hunt. He is an earl, while she is of common birth—he will never offer marriage. He is a man of intrigue, perhaps playing both sides in a most perilous game. Worst of all, the arrogant, lethally charming rogue revels in his reputation as libertine, unrepentant of the many bedchambers through which he's romped and the many hearts he's broken.

Yet the warmth of his breath on her cheek makes her knees weak— though Adrien would never admit that his pursuit of sensible, lovely Christina goes beyond mere desire alone. Does she dare submit to the irresistible devil's practiced seductions? Does she dare enter Adrien's dangerous world—and if she surrenders to it, will he only break her heart, too?

Review: A book so bad that I actually wished that the hero had died. 

This book was certainly not what I expected. The summary and the prologue made it seem that this would be a standard man woos woman. And it did start out that way, but the first chapter quickly dissuaded me of that opinion. Three years are skipped between the prologue and the first chapter. You eventually more about the situation, but it was still jarring. The other two parts of the book do skip some time, but not as much as the first part. 

The first part was the most decent and most like an actual romance novel. Christina (who is not level headed) becomes Adrien's mistress (but it's ok since she was previously married and not a virgin). Why is that women in romance books lose all brain function when a man touches you? There are too many instances of Christina saying no to Adrien and Adrien doesn't stop, but she "gives in" because his touch feels good. I wanted to bash Christina over the head. The second part finds Adrien and Christina in France and turns from a romance to a lesson in French history and politics. Adrien is still an ass. I sincerely wished that Adrien would die and that Christina would come to her senses. But alas, I was not so lucky.


Recommendation: I cannot recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Emmy: The Physics Wonder Dog

How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog by Chad Orzel

Summary: Physics professor Chad Orzel and his inquisitive canine companion, Emmy, tackle the concepts of general relativity in this irresistible introduction to Einstein’s physics. Through armchair—and sometimes passenger-seat—conversations with Emmy about the relative speeds of dog and cat motion or the logistics of squirrel-chasing, Orzel translates complex Einsteinian ideas—the slowing of time for a moving observer, the shrinking of moving objects, the effects of gravity on light and time, black holes, the Big Bang, and of course, E=mc2—into examples simple enough for a dog to understand. A lively romp through one of the great theories of modern physics, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about space, time, and anything else you might have slept through in high school physics class.

Review: An informative yet somewhat cutesy way to learn physics.

It was a cute concept to have the professor explain physics to his dog, but it got old after a while. It wouldn't have been so bad if Emmy hadn't interjected at various points during the chapter. It broke up the flow of the chapters. The interactions were funny and I did laugh at loud at times, but it somehow cheapened the book. Yes, I know it's the title of the book, but the interactions between the author and Emmy should have been kept the beginning and minimized in the rest of the chapter. 

I had some trouble at first with special relativity. I know the basic concepts behind it and I felt that the author did not explain them too well and often used very convoluted examples. Sometimes the pictures and diagrams hindered understanding versus the purely verbal. It is a somewhat hard concept to understand. I like general relativity better and the author does a better job of explaining it. This book was mainly a review for me, but I did learn some new information. I liked this enough to be willing to give the author's other teach dog to physics books. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those with an interest in physics or to those who wish to learn more about general and special relativity.