Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Two (!) Books out of my (Chanin's) Norm - and, gee, I didn't love either...

I got this one thinking it's a history of scientists trying for the truth. Turns out, it's one modern scientist's memoirs of her activism. Interesting, but not what I thought...

This is my Vine review, which was rated 3 stars (it's OK):
I honestly can't decide between 3 and 4 stars here. This was a pre-publication free choice from the Vine program, and I admit that I must not have read the full description of the book before I chose it, or the description was vague enough, that I thought this was going to be an historical review of some of the Age of Reason scientists and their fight with the established thinking of their day.

Not even close.

These are the memoirs (let's be honest about the genre) of the author's research and fights for what she sees as true results in the face of unpopular results or political correctness. The author is a PhD and her focus is the research into the history of science, having done her dissertation on the treatment of so-called hermaphrodites in Victorian England. This research put her in the eyes of activists in the 1990's who were fighting for better care and treatment of the (surprisingly large number) kids being born with differing sexual organs today.

From that very involved activism, she moves on to trying to clear the air around a transgender study that apparently tore that community in two, leading to her researching some other scientists who had produced, from her view, largely popularly misunderstood and attacked studies, and finally she did some work on the use of an unproven drug for the possibility of preventing some interest issues.

While it was nothing like what I expected, it was compelling. My best friend is a PhD and professor, so I have been fully aware that academia isn't all cooperation and love for some time. However, other people's train wrecks can certainly be entertaining, and so I definitely wanted to see how these played out.

This is not scientific writing; it definitely reads like a biased memoir. While she assures us that the science is good for the friends she defends, she doesn't do anything to prove the science. She is an historian, after all. She certainly takes her digs at the opposing view holders from the transgender debate, and I certainly don't know enough to know if she's correct. I can see her point, and she's persuasive, but I'm skeptical in general. Nonetheless less, it's interesting.

I am not, in general, a memoir reader. I might not have picked this had I realized that was what it was, as opposed to an actual history of science. I certainly learned something, so I don't regret reading it, but I also don't know if I really "liked" it enough for the four star rating. And I do think the title and subtitle are trying to grab an audience that the book doesn't match.

And then there was this one, also either misrepresented or misunderstood:

My Vine review, also for 3 stars (it's OK):
I can't call this book as comedic. I just can't. So, part of my rating is certainly influenced by the fact that I really kept waiting for the "hilarity" that, in my opinion, never shows up. I found the book to be more depressing than anything else. If there is humor, it's the small smirk type, which, to me, isn't hilarious.

I couldn't connect with the characters at all, and while the major part of the plot is that Giovanni doesn't have his own personality, I would prefer to feel something for a main character. I can't even feel much sympathy towards his journey to find that missing personality. I didn't like the surrounding cast, I couldn't really find anyone to care about, and that, for me, made it a slog, no matter how well it was written.

To be fair, had it been described as I see it, I would not have chosen this book to review. Once we choose a Vine product, however, we have to review it, so I feel it worthwhile to say that if you (like me) prefer a non-ambiguous setting, expect a comedic book to be more like movie comedy, and tend to stay away from memoirs, this book isn't for you, as it isn't for me. I gave it three stars because it at least seems like an original idea to me, and the author writes well as far as descriptive work and grammar. Pin It

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