I, too, was lead to this book by NPR'S Maureen Corrigan. I loved the Millennium mysteries, and was not immediately put off by the scientific topic. II, too, was lead to this book by NPR'S Maureen Corrigan. I loved the Millennium mysteries, and was not immediately put off by the scientific topic. I was prepared for a thrilling read.
I couldn't wait to finish this book. Not out of a sense of a great read, but more of a college assignment where, by the end, I could care less about the characters. The story p-l-o-d-s. Too many details, too many back stories, too many unfinished stories, even when it comes to the main characters.
Anna Bella Nor is defending her Ph.D thesis in two weeks, and God forbid the death of one of her thesis advisors, or the death of another close friend and colleague, should interfere. Why she even chose this as her topic, when the professor has only had TWO (including herself) doctoral candidates in 25 years is a mystery as well. Anna Bella is not only (as described) unlovable, but not even likable--angry, snd blaming everyone but herself for the problems in her life. I wish the author might have given some consideration to giving her just one positive quality.
Soren Maurhauge is a detective with his own set of issues and demons. His character development, at least, follows a reasonably steady line as he tries to investigate the first, then the second murder. He is drawn to Anna Bella (surprise, surprise) even though she annoys him, but he is frustrated by his inability to solve this murder; appparently, this is the first time this has happened to him, although he is a veteran detective. I am sorry, but a long-time police detective with no unsolved cases is simply NOT believable to anyone who has a relative involved in criminal investigations.
The author does provide an interesting observation of the competitive nature of scientific investigation and publishing. This look into academia was one of the more consistently interesting parts of the book for this reader.
Strangely enough, I had guessed the killers in advance of the end. The mystery had been spoiled for me by the inclusion of too many clues and stories, possibly meant to divert the reader. Additionally, if you are going to include a deeply scientific storyline in general fiction, it would be helpful to make it easier for the layperson reader to follow. Even my Kindle was stuck trying to define some of the terms in the book, making some of the concepts more convoluted than necessary. I can forgive the errors in translation, but someone should have reduced this novel by at least one hundred pages. This is tragic, because what could have been a really great book, with a great introduction of characters, is hobbled by what looks like an attempt to lead into that second novel....more
Forget horror novels. If you really want to be frightened, read The Good Nurse. For 16 years, Charles Cullen, an RN, worked in eight medical facilitiForget horror novels. If you really want to be frightened, read The Good Nurse. For 16 years, Charles Cullen, an RN, worked in eight medical facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. During that time, he confessed to killing 40 patients, but evidence points to him being responsible for 400 deaths, making him the most prolific serial killer in the U.S.
As with many psychopaths, Charles Cullen had a miserable childhood; orphaned before he graduated high school, he got his GED joined the Navy was medically discharged, and began schooling for nursing. He lands at job at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ (note to self: avoid St. Barnabas at all costs). Here begins a recurring scenario: Cullen is seen as a wondernurse, followed by a SIGNIFICANT increase in the number of 'code blue' calls requiring resuscitation, a increase in the occurrence of missing drugs, and documented anomalies in his nursing practice...more
I had so many conflicting thoughts reading this book: horror, sadness, fascination. Some of my thoughts were colored by the fact that the author was kI had so many conflicting thoughts reading this book: horror, sadness, fascination. Some of my thoughts were colored by the fact that the author was killed by the weapons that brought him success--some really sad karma.
American Sniper suffers from really poor editing. The stories sound as if Chris Kyle recorded memories of his service, and they were transcribed by a fan. It would have benefited greatly from stronger editing, more background, and a modicum of context in terms of the war at large.
Mostly I was shocked at just how much war stripped Chris Kyle of his humanity, and admittedly, I should not have been. If you train someone to kill reflexively, you have to change them physically, mentally, and psychologically. SEAL training, it seems, is the ultimate pledge, the ultimate hazing, and those who make the cut would be programmed to cherish this relationship above all else. You can't humanize your target, or you will fail at the mission. You cannot think about their family, debate what you are witnessing, or wonder if a target is simply a innocent, developmentally charged person who does not understand what is happening. You do your job. You take a life. You do not lose sleep over it, you do not regret it. To me this is heartbreaking; to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, it's another day at Chris Kyle's 'office'.
I will give Chris Kyle full credit for presenting the cost and the problem with his military service. He clearly enjoyed his service, and brags about the fights, the drinking, the kills, the hazing, the camraderie. When servicemen come home for a break, or come home for good, it is often so hard to adjust to civilian life. We have few career equivalents when your last job was 'sniper'. Your relationships suffer. By allowing his wife to offer her point of view, you understand that when Chris Kyle reenlisted out of the strong sense of duty that was ingrained in him from day one of his BUD/S (SEAL) training, he signed his family up, too, and not with their permission.
As the book closes, I do see glimmers of hope that Chris Kyle does think sometimes about what he had to do, and what that has cost him; he finally thinks of his family first. Tragically, this rehumanizing of Chris Kyle will remain incomplete, as he was killed by a veteran suffering from PTSD. The motto for his company, Craft International is: "Despite what your momma told you violence does solve problems...." In this, I can't help but think he was wrong, and it reminds me of the lyrics of a song by Sting: Perhaps this final act was meant To clinch a lifetime's argument That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could For all those born beneath an angry star Lest we forget how fragile we are...more
Joshua Foer offers a wonderful memoir about the gift of memory, and how it is acquired. After writing an article about the US Memory Championships, heJoshua Foer offers a wonderful memoir about the gift of memory, and how it is acquired. After writing an article about the US Memory Championships, he is convinced by Ed Cook, that he can, in a year, compete for the championship. Mr. Foer spends a year learning and practicing mnemonic techniques and interviewing a wide range of people in the field.
It is not likely that you will read this book and not wonder if these techniques would help you improve your memory. It is astounding to know that people can remember the order of multiple decks of cards, or the name of everyone they have been introduced to in a room. Mr. Foer is honest about the limitations of this talent, and provides a funny, interesting path for us to follow....more
It is rare when you read a piece of fiction so well written that you cannot discern what is fact from what is historical fiction. When speaking with oIt is rare when you read a piece of fiction so well written that you cannot discern what is fact from what is historical fiction. When speaking with other readers of One Thousand White Women, this is the eerie experience we shared.
Jim Fergus takes an actual event and beautifully weaves a story about a group of women who volunteer to participate in a very unique cultural exchange-- brides for Cheyenne Indians. While the focus of the novel is May Dodd, each of the women is deftly described, and their unique and interesting personalities make One Thousand White Women a novel you simply cannot put down. How the women came to be in the program, and the relationship that grows among the white and Indian women is simultaneously funny, touching and terrifying.
Little Wolf, Chief of the Cheyenne, comes to Washington DC with an amazing proposition: to protect the future of the Cheyenne, and to reduce attacks on the white settlers pushing ever westward, he will trade 1,000 horses for 1,000 white women, who will marry Cheyenne. President Grant and all in the audience convey shock and outwardly reject this plan, but covertly solicit women from jails, asylums and other precarious life situations to participate in the program.
May Dodd having chosen a relationship with a man below her station, and birthed two children by him, is committed to an asylum by her family. With the help of an asylum employee, she enters into the program with a colorful assortment of women: Meggie and Susie Kelly, a pair of Irish twins, Phemie, a former slave, Gretchen, a Swiss girl, Helen Flight, an artist, Daisy Lovelace, a southern belle, and Narcissa White, and evangelical are some of the other brides. Mr. Fergus brings to this mix 'Dirty' Gertie, a muleskinner, and the Cheyenne women for a brilliant piece of storytelling.
The story often shows the double-dealing ways that irrevocably changed the lives of the indigenous Indian people. Perhaps because you know how the story ends for them, you will constantly ask yourself if this is a novel, but you will not likely question whether the book is an amazing read....more
Not being a widow, I wondered if I would find this book enjoyable, or far from my wheelhouse--by far it is the former. Becky Aikman writes a powerfulNot being a widow, I wondered if I would find this book enjoyable, or far from my wheelhouse--by far it is the former. Becky Aikman writes a powerful memoir of six women who have been dealt one of life's cruelest emotional blows, the untimely death of a partner. Having been disinvited from a widow support group, Becky decides to create her own that focuses on getting to happy rather than remaining grief-stricken. The guidelines are that they are to meet monthly on Saturday (a typical 'date night'), and share an experience that is outside their typical comfort zone. Initially, it is only the 'widow' status that connects them, plus their (weak) link to Becky, who randomly invited each to join the group.
What is truly interesting to me is that by the time she builds the group, Becky Aikman has remarried, and presents uncharted territory and hope to the other widows. She bravely admits she doesn't have all the answers, and as she admits being drawn in as a participant more than she had anticipated. Strangely enough, I could identify with some of their observations: how people are uncomfortable in speaking about your loss, navigating singleness in a world full of couples. In addition to chronicling the group's story, Ms. Aikman consults with a number of professionals, who share her interest in how we cope with grief, and do their best to remind her that in grieving, one size does not fit all, and Elisabeth Kubler Ross's infamous stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), referred to DYING, not grieving.
Aikman writes candidly about her friends, and they must have had great confidence in her ability to tell their story singularly and as a group. It is well-told, in a way that makes you envy them. I think my favorite line was a toast: "Here's to our dead husbands." That they can find the silver lining in the cloud of widowhood, and share their story is a testament to the power of friendship, love and support to heal even the deepest wounds, and a guide to any person experiencing loss and grief....more
Nate Silver has achieved what I believe is one of the hardest feats for an author: take a difficult subject, and make it accessible to a layperson andNate Silver has achieved what I believe is one of the hardest feats for an author: take a difficult subject, and make it accessible to a layperson and interesting to read. Using wide-ranging sources and research, The Signal and the Noise takes everyday subjects--weather, baseball, politics, chess, poker, earthquakes-- and shows us how easily experts can err in their predictions, and the cost. People depend on simple rules about how the world operates, and one of those rules is that experts are better equipped to make predictive statements and or forecasts. To quote Mr. Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so". Reading this book might make you ask more questions about those predictions and forecasts, rather than taking the expert opinion as gospel. What is amazing is that Mr. Silver took a dense subject that could be inherently boring, and made it readable. ...more
It is difficult to believe the premise of The Checklist Manifesto, but Dr Atul Gawande does a great job of presenting his theory: in a world of endleIt is difficult to believe the premise of The Checklist Manifesto, but Dr Atul Gawande does a great job of presenting his theory: in a world of endless complexity, one way of reducing error and improving outcomes is the lowly checklist. Using industries as varied as medicine, finance, construction and aviation, the reader understands that when a checklist at has been thoughtfully prepared and implemented, it can promote communication and a sense of being part of a team.
Dr. Gawande points out that a simple checklist is not a panacea. People must adhere to its use consistently and understand its benefits, and obviously one thing in the checklist's favor is its simplicity. I did enjoy the way the author showed failures and successes, showing how things can go wrong.
It is a short book, but The Checklist Manifesto offers a fascinating premise, and it does it in few enough pages that you can read the book quickly, and possibly see where a checklist might have a place in your daily life ...more