Finished reading this with Sam tonight. I found my breath catching in my throat and tears threatening several times in the last chapter. I'd forgotten...moreFinished reading this with Sam tonight. I found my breath catching in my throat and tears threatening several times in the last chapter. I'd forgotten about Hagrid's gift to Harry in the infirmary, and then got choked up during the feast too. It feels a little strange to realize how much I truly love these characters, and I am so excited to finally be sharing this with one of my kids.(less)
I loved this book. It took me a little while to get into it, but Cashore did an amazing job with character development and getting me really caring ab...moreI loved this book. It took me a little while to get into it, but Cashore did an amazing job with character development and getting me really caring about them and what happened to them. It was a love story, but also a story of two amazing, strong female leads, which was awesome. Katsa started out strong physically, but grew emotionally so much during the course of the story. I can't wait to read more of Bitterblue's story in the new book coming out May 1! I just got the audiobook of Fire and will be starting it this weekend.(less)
I am actually kind of wavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one, but when it comes down to it I'm going to stick with 2. It's really more of a 2.5 pr...moreI am actually kind of wavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one, but when it comes down to it I'm going to stick with 2. It's really more of a 2.5 probably for me. There is a lot I have to say about this book, but I'm still getting my thoughts together. I'm in the process of pondering why this has caught fire like it has, and forming ideas about that. I couldn't justify giving it a higher score even though it kept my attention because the writing is just horrific. I mean, it was originally conceived as fan fiction, and it certainly reads that way. And honestly, by the end of the book I felt like the balance had tipped so that the majority of the book was just sex sex sex, which is okay, but not all that original. I am going to finish the series, and review it as a whole. I'll post again when I write a more full/detailed review.(less)
I randomly picked this up on my last trip to the library, and it isn't really the type of book I usually read. Sometimes we read historical fiction fo...moreI randomly picked this up on my last trip to the library, and it isn't really the type of book I usually read. Sometimes we read historical fiction for book club, but in general I don't really pick up historical fiction because I find that I have a hard time getting through it. I loved this book. It was definitely one of my favorite books read in 2012. I related to the main character immediately, and her story and the story of the girl living in Paris 1795 both broke my heart more than once. I also loved the interesting use of music in this book, how amazing! Jennifer Donnelly has a list of all the songs in the book with corresponding page numbers on her website (http://www.jenniferdonnelly.com/rev_s...) so you can look them up and hear what Andi was hearing. I would highly recommend this book!(less)
I got the book on a lark on one of my new favorite websites, Paperback Swap. I thought it seemed like an interesting concept, but I had no idea how re...moreI got the book on a lark on one of my new favorite websites, Paperback Swap. I thought it seemed like an interesting concept, but I had no idea how revealing it would actually be. In the introduction, Vincent discusses the process she used to become Ned, and how the whole book project came about. Then she dives right in.
In the first chapter, Ned joins an all-male bowling league. Although Vincent doesn't specify which chapters/events take place in which of the 5 states and various cities she visited, the bowling league seemed to me to be somewhere in the Mid-West. At one point during this chapter, she describes a scene in which all the men stop bowling to watch one of their league-mates bowl a perfect game. I would never have imagined that could have me in tears, but it did. The way she described the scene from the inside out was just incredible.
I think that the reason this book was so amazing is because as much as a man could try to write about the inner circle and workings of male relationships, it's just normal to them. They wouldn't be able to describe it in the same way as someone who is used to female relationships. It also gave Vincent a lot of insight into how women can be perceived by men, and why.
The last adventure Vincent went on as Ned was to join a Men's Movement meeting and then attend one of their annual retreats. The insight she gives into the state of men today, the difficulties they face, and the ignorance most of our society has about it is truly eye opening.
I found the book fascinating and touching. In the end, Vincent ends up having a breakdown and committing herself to a mental hospital. The stress of pretending to be someone else, worrying about being discovered, and the guilt of deceiving people day in and day out did her in. The last chapter, where she describes the unforeseen early end to her experiment is insightful and passionate. (less)
This was my first Kristin Hannah book, and to be honest I was not feeling it that much throughout the first half of the book. I didn't dislike it, but...moreThis was my first Kristin Hannah book, and to be honest I was not feeling it that much throughout the first half of the book. I didn't dislike it, but it was sitting with me as just "okay." Then I hit the second half, and before I knew it I was completely involved in the story, and felt the need to read through to the end.
I basically cried through the last 100 pages, and there were two times I had to physically put the book down because I was so wrought with emotions over what was happening in the story. There is a similarity between hearing about terrible things a parent has experienced to having things happen to your own children. There is that same sense of horror and protectiveness and disbelief. Kristin Hannah captured the story beautifully.
I have not felt so emotionally pulled in by a story for a long time, and I am looking forward to reading more of her books.(less)
Autism has become a fairly hot topic in the past few years, and I've been interested in the subject for quite a while. I've read a couple of books pre...moreAutism has become a fairly hot topic in the past few years, and I've been interested in the subject for quite a while. I've read a couple of books previously about the subject, including Jenny McCarthy's book "Louder than Words." Despite McCarthy's 'mother's instinct' and conviction that vaccines caused her son's autism, and that she was able to cure him through diet and therapy, I finished the book believing neither. I ran across "The Panic Virus" by Seth Mnookin at the library when I was looking for a new audio book to read, and it sounded right up my alley.
It's hard to even know where to begin. This book is a wonderfully well executed look into the world of vaccines and the medical crisis of misinformation spread about the 'connection' between autism and the MMR vaccine. As a young married man planning to have children, Mnookin heard many stories about vaccines from his friends - a lot of them had concerns about the safety of vaccines for their children. He decided to explore the topic for himself and seek out the facts, and "The Panic Virus" was born.
Mnookin starts the book by speaking about vaccines in general, all the way back to the first inoculations created against Smallpox. Vaccines have always had some controversy surrounding them, from the first time someone decided to score their skin and rub infected pus on it to inoculate themselves to the first polio vaccines and bad batches that paralyzed children after they were administered. It's not a surprise that a controversy would come up regarding the MMR vaccine, mercury, the use of thimerosal and whether it's linked to autism.
Unfortunately, in this case, the medical crisis that follows the controversy is one of epic proportions. There are schools in California where 40-60% of the children are not being vaccinated. Dozens and dozens of children who could be hospitalized and even killed by diseases which are wholly preventable. This is absolutely a health crisis. The panic virus that Mnookin is referring to is misinformation itself, which spreads like wildfire with the help of the modern day media.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the most major players in this story. The doctor who first published a study claiming that autism and digestive problems were a direct result of receiving the MMR vaccine has since been stripped of his medical license. A formal retraction of the article has been issued by the journal in which it was published, and it's been revealed that Wakefield had a financial stake in proving the link. Before publishing his study, Wakefield filed a patent for an alternate measles vaccine, so if MMR stopped being used, he stood to make a good deal of money.
Wakefield was just the first in a long string of people spreading information with no basis in fact through the media. Having an autistic child is not easy. Some parents are dealing with children who are non-verbal, can never be toilet trained, are unable to show emotion, are violent or profoundly unable to take care of themselves. It is absolutely a difficult situation, and I can see how these parents would WANT to reach out and grab hold when someone is giving them an explanation for WHY this happened to their child. In my mind, that's what makes the behavior of those perpetuating this idea even more reprehensible and irresponsible. They are taking advantage of parents emotions and questions about a condition whose causes are still largely unknown, and they're doing it to make a name for themselves.
Mnookin discuses Wakefield in depth, as well as David Kirby, author of the book "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic." Kirby added (and continues to add) a lot of fuel to the fire of parents who are blaming vaccines and the government's vaccine program for their children's autism. Despite the lack of evidence of any link, Wakefield, Kirby, and Jenny McCarthy all have huge followings in the autism community, and continue to attend events, give talks, and provide information to parents all over the world. To me, this is especially surprising the case of Wakefield, who has been exposed as an unethical doctor who basically fixed his research, was nonobjective and stood to gain financially from his own findings. His research showed contaminated samples, and how much of a surprise can that be from someone who took his control samples by drawing blood from the guests at his own child's birthday party? Yet he now lives in the United States, and continues to book speaking engagements and spread his ideas.
Though at least half of the book is devoted to looking at vaccines as they relate to autism, Mnookin also explores vaccines in general. He gives great background information about studies regarding mercury poisoning and mercury content in vaccines, as well as some history of other public health scares and people mistrusting the government (for example the debate over fluoridation of the water supply). Mnookin explores the reasons why people are able to believe in ideas that have no basis in fact, especially on emotionally charged issues, and how we decide how much proof is enough. On of the major points made here is that you cannot prove a negative, that those like David Kirby who ask for the government to prove all vaccines are 100% safe for every single person are asking for the impossible.
Study after study has failed to find any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The British and American court systems have both conducted in depth, several year long investigations and found no causal relationship. The doctor who most heavily promoted the idea has been stripped of his license. Yet, people continue to insist that there must be a link that they "just know" that their child was made autistic after vaccination.
Within this book, you'll read several stories of sick children. Children who have been hospitalized in pediatric and infant ICUs because they caught preventable diseases from kids who were not vaccinated. Particularly distressing is the story of a six week old baby who couldn't fight off the pertussis (whooping cough) that she came down with before she was old enough to be vaccinated. Can you even imagine knowing that your child died from something so preventable?
It's absolutely true that Mnookin is using these stories to appeal to our emotions. However, there is also a point to be made. Other than in this book, where have you ever heard the other side of this story? I've heard accounts like Jenny McCarthy's in abundance - my child got the vaccine and s/he changed. But as one parent of a child who died of whooping cough points out, she contacted the Oprah show and other news outlets and none of them responded with any interest in her side of the debate. These parents deserve to be heard as well, and to be recognized for the hardship they've gone through.
The tragedy here is that children are being hurt. Millions of dollars have been spent fighting a battle with vaccines that has no basis, when that money could have been spent on the actual children - autism research and tools for the children that are affected by autism. Families whose budgets are stretched to the limits by trying to provide the best for their children are spending their money on 'miracle cures' and remedies based on the idea of autism as a bio-medical condition with a root cause in some vaccine or virus. Meanwhile, Hib, whooping cough, and measles outbreaks are threatening other children with serious illness and even death.
I went into this book already confident that vaccines do not cause autism. I came out of it appalled that the media is still perpetuating this myth, and that people are still believing it. If you've got doubts about your child's vaccines, this is a wonderful book to read that will give you straightforward, scientific facts about the lack of evidence that there is any link whatsoever between autism and vaccines. Beyond that, it will make you think about how you make decisions about what you believe and when to give up and admit that an idea just isn't so. It's well written, well paced, and held my interest every step of the way.
In the epilogue, Mnookin returns to his baby boy and the future he sees for him:
"As my son grows older, I hope that ... he will feel empowered to make his own decisions and will have the self-confidence to challenge traditional wisdom. I also hope that he learned the difference between critical thinking and getting swept up in a wave of self-righteous hysteria, and I hope he considers the effects of his actions on those around him. Finally, for his sake and for that of everyone else alive, I hope he grows up in a world where science is acknowledged not as an ideology but as the best tool we have for understanding the universe, and where striving for the truth is recognized as the most noble quest humankind will ever undertake."(less)