My favorite part of this book was the understated humor highlighting the contradictions in the way the government treated the settlement. UnfortunatelMy favorite part of this book was the understated humor highlighting the contradictions in the way the government treated the settlement. Unfortunately, this ended up being small part of the story. Instead, the majority of the story focused on Gabi, his brother Roni, and their history which was often pretty messed up. I definitely didn't go into this expecting an issue book. I didn't expect something especially gritty. As a result, I was unpleasantly surprised by how much violence there was in this book, including some bad things happening to animals. I realize sometimes that sort of thing can add to the story, but in this case, I felt it was unnecessary.
I was curious about Gabi and Roni's history, but definitely not as hooked as I've been by other dual narrative past/present stories. I also wasn't especially engaged in finding out what happened to the settlement. As a result, the plot felt slow. The characters didn't pull me in either. The author did an impressive job making some really terrible characters sympathetic, but it wasn't enough. Gabi came across as an unrepentant psychopath who experienced very little character growth. The ending wrapped up rapidly and unbelievably neatly. I loved learning a bit more about Israel from and Israeli author, but the book still fell flat for me.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey....more
As one of the creators of the dating site OkCupid, author Christian Rudder has a fascinating dataset to play with. In combination with data acquired fAs one of the creators of the dating site OkCupid, author Christian Rudder has a fascinating dataset to play with. In combination with data acquired from other data-collecting websites (Facebook, Google, etc), he’s able to ask and answer some very interesting questions. For instance, who do people want to date? And, more interestingly, how does this compare to who they say they want to date? Does the way people describe themselves and the way that people respond to them vary by ethnicity? By age? Even questions that people might not answer accurately can begin to be answered here.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. The author came across as personable, funny, and enthusiastic about the questions one can answer about big data. His humor was occasionally too negative for my tastes, involving putting one group or another down, but the rest of the time, his sense of humor worked for me. I liked that the author made sure to point out the limitations in his data set (most obviously, anyone involved must use the internet and is almost certainly single). The graphs didn’t work in my eARC, but his descriptions were clear enough that I could get by without them, which I think speaks well of the clarity of the author’s descriptions in general. I thought he did a great job explaining the challenges data analysts face in way that could be interesting and accessible to a general audience.
The downside to this book, for me, was that it was very light. Most of the data analysis seemed simple and obvious. It wasn’t any more complicated than making graphs and the answers seemed obvious too. For example, I didn’t find it at all surprising that most men would prefer to date women under 21 while on average women’s preferred partner’s age increases as they age. One exception was his comparison of words used most often by different ethnicities compared to people of other ethnicities, which I thought was sometimes surprising and also very clever. Overall though, in term of both data analysis techniques and questions addressed, this book felt like a very light version of The Signal and the Noise. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The questions addressed were interesting even if the answers were ofent intuitive and the lighter introduction to data analysis could be a great place to start if it’s a subject you’d like to know more about.
Despite the importance of the invention of the printing press, this story focusing exclusively on the printing of the Gutenberg Bible is bit slow. TheDespite the importance of the invention of the printing press, this story focusing exclusively on the printing of the Gutenberg Bible is bit slow. There is a little political intrigue, a little personal growth, and some very interesting technological innovation, but overall the plot is thin. The pacing is also quite slow. However, despite the slow pacing and lack of action, I had a hard time putting the book down. The author managed to make me feel the characters’ belief that they were doing something valuable and that they were working under a shadow of impending doom. This lent a certain tension to the story that made me want to keep reading.
The historical setting was my absolute favorite part of this book. I loved that the author was able to convey how people in the 16th century might react to a printing press. In particular, I think the author did an amazing job showing what a critical role religion played in daily life and decision making during this time period. The layout of this book was also pretty fantastic. I thought the decorative letters at the beginning of each chapter and the section labels being books of the bible was a creative touch that added to my reading experience. As long as you’re looking for a richly detailed historical setting and not a fast-paced read, I’d highly recommend giving Gutenberg’s Apprentice a try.
I've loved almost all of the translated work I've read and even those which aren't my favorite have been enjoyable for their novelty, so I was excitedI've loved almost all of the translated work I've read and even those which aren't my favorite have been enjoyable for their novelty, so I was excited to pick up this anthology of essays by translators about their work. The first essay was a bit a of a let down though, too academic and abstract for my taste. Fortunately, very few essays in the collection had this flaw. Essay two, for example, provided immediate gratification with a discussion of the way translations are allowed to flout literary conventions, which resonated with me as one of my favorite features of the genre.
There were a few essays which I thought became too pedantic or talked about a text without sharing enough of the translation for me to follow. For the most part, though, the essays were easy to read but thought-provoking and raised issues I thought were relevant to me as a reader of translations. The middle portion of the book discussed an incredible range of issues translators can encounter which never occurred to me before. Some of the questions I found most interesting were whether translators should prioritize capturing the feel of the work they're translating or the exact meaning and how translators should handle words without exact matches in the language they're translating into. The essays at the end helped me understand what motivates translators. An essay by Murakami about translating The Great Gatsby was one of my favorites from this section.
Even there were a few essays in this collection which I didn't enjoy, the vast majority were both intellectually stimulating and fun reading. I think reading these essays will make me a better consumer of translated fiction, more aware of how translating works and which parts of the original are likely to be preserved through the translation process. I'm also going to try to do a better job giving translators a byline on my blog when I read translated work, because good translators are often overlooked. If you're someone who likes reading translated fiction or are interested in how languages differ from one another, I'd highly recommend this collection.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey....more
InFirst Frost, we revisit the Waverly family fromGarden Spells. Claire has started a candy business she's proud of, but can't see that it's also keepIn First Frost, we revisit the Waverly family from Garden Spells. Claire has started a candy business she's proud of, but can't see that it's also keeping her too busy to enjoy life. Her sister Sydney is also having trouble enjoying the happiness she has, instead desperately wanting a baby boy. And Sydney's daugher Bay has lost her heart to a boy who doesn't seem to know she exists. All three women hope that their troubles are simply part of the restlessness that afflicts Waverly women before the first frost of the year, but they'll have to take matters into their own hands if they want to regain their happiness.
After loving everything about Garden Spells, First Frost let me down a little. It was written in SAA's typical style, with beautiful descriptions of nature and food, plus a heartwarming ending. However, I felt like the first three-quarters of the book mostly involved the Waverly women causing their own problems by not talking about their worries. It's possible I was more frustrated with them because I knew they'd started from a happily-ever-after at the end of Garden Spells. It seemed almost unbelievable that things could have gone badly wrong starting from such a good place! The introduction of a new character also seemed like an artificial way to create new problems for the Waverly family.
Another thing that disappointed me was how small of a role the magic played in the story. In the first book, the magic influenced the plot a little, but in this book it faded into the background. I did enjoy the end of the book when everything started to come together. The ending was very moving and happy and gave me the warm, fuzzy feelings I'm looking for when I pick up a book by SAA. Honestly, I'm not sure if I was less in the mood for this book than I thought or if it just wasn't quite as good as Garden Spells, but it ended up being an only OK read for me. Katie at Words for Worms just posted a much more excited review, so I'd suggest checking it out for a different perspective.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey....more