Review | Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World by Rachel Swaby

HEADSTRONG by Rachel Swaby

I feel slightly uncomfortable giving this book 4 stars but if I peek at what the 4 stars represents on my blog (And on Goodreads) rating system, then all I really feel is “really liked it” and nothing more (meaning…I didn’t love it). The objective of this audiobook is to present us with the profiles of 52 wonderful women who’ve, despite facing all sorts of misogyny, managed to contribute an impressive amount to the science. So while I just “really liked” this book, the result of my reading perfectly aligns with the purpose of this book and I don’t really have many regrets or disappointments with Headstrong. I thought it was rather awe-inspiring for Swaby to gather a collection of scientific, pioneering women that readers that can discover for the first time.

I was familiar with a few of these ladies but an astonishing number was unknown to me. But thanks to Swaby, I now know of more women in science than men in science. She highlights both the achievements of each of the women and why they are important to us, as well as giving us a general background on who they where, where they came from, and, particularly, what sort of sexist challenges they had to face in their fields. A lot of these summaries felt more like tributes and rightly so—for it is a shame that such a large amount of crucial contributors of science still remain unrecognized for what they’ve done. Swaby most certainly managed to convince me that I need to read more about the contributions of women in science. A nice list is now secured on my iPad for future reading recommendations.

So although I’ve only rated this book 4 stars, I would still highly recommend this book. It’s not a very difficult read and, on audio, it’s even easier to follow. Read it and be amazed!

Rating – ★★★★☆

Review | Willful Child by Steven Erikson

WILLFUL CHILD by Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson’s Willful Child held a lot of promise, however, it falls flat on many of accounts. Though this book starts out as a fun source of amusement, it lost my attention fairly quickly. I did end up finishing the book but that was mainly because of the loyalty I have to any Star Trek-inspired story (I am a Trekkie after all). Erikson introduces a lot of comical figures that are original in their nonsense but the author seemed to expect too much out of these figures. The entire book is held up mainly by the humor and not much else.

Like I said, I did enjoy the comedy at first but without an exciting plot, this book began to bore me. Even the characters soon begin to feel one-dimensional with no unique qualities that would separate one cartoon from another. They were created to be ridiculous but that’s all they were—there was no formation to them. It was simply one joke after another that the author threw into the story; no intriguing plot points or developing characters to keep me hooked.

I would give it a shot if you’ve had good luck with other parodies but these clearly aren’t my thing.

Rating – ★★☆☆☆

Review | Rat Queens Vol. 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe

RAT QUEENS VOL. 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Two things really bothered me about this volume. One: some elements were a little too close to the designs used for the Lord of the Rings film franchise (referring to characterization of an Uruk-hai-like figure and the beginning of issue #10, which reminded me a lot of Rivendell). I understand that this is supposed to be similar but I don’t appreciate it when an “inspired” work gets this close to the original. Majority of the other elements are fresher than what I expected so I know that the author and the artist have the potential to make this story and it’s world their own but they just needed to reach a little bit farther.

Second: there were some inconsistencies with the art which bothered me a little in the first volume but in this one, I actually mistook a character for someone else—twice. A bit problematic.

Additionally, while I absolutely love Betty’s character in the story, often her humor seemed misplaced. It was amusing, yes, but it didn’t always fit with the context. And frankly, she didn’t even seem to have much of a role in this novel. Sawyer seemed of more importance—which I am not complaining about; merely pointing out. Betty had potential in the first volume, but in this one, she appears only briefly in places. Seems like she serves more as a joke than an actual character.

Otherwise, a good story that makes use of the palette beautifully. Will most likely continue to the next volume in hopes that this series will improve and not deteriorate instead.

Disclaimer – A copy of this ebook was provided by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced by any exterior motives.

Rating – ★★★☆☆

Review | The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

THE SUMMER BOOK by Tove Jansson

‘The Summer Book’ is an absolutely fantastic read. It is sweet, cozy, and easily lovable. Jansson spends very little time trying to complicate the language and the conversations but I think the minimalistic effect works the best with such a narrative. The chapters are formed into short episodes and with each one, the story continues to absorb you into the lives of Sophia and her grandmother. Something about the setting, the characters, and their small lives with its ordinary ups and downs makes this a remarkable read as I keep pondering over it repeatedly.

Sophia is a wonderfully energetic child, with a good dose of petulance and gumption. And her grandmother can often be the same. Both have their issues but they’re each other’s yin and yang — one would not fit without the other and together they make a perfect whole. Combined, Sophia and grandmother’s moments make for a perfect summer read.

While this book is easy on the surface, don’t be fooled into thinking it has little to offer. In its simplicity, it is both moving and filling for the soul. It has a lot of messages and themes about love, relationships, life embodied in its language.

Special thanks to Kirsty (theliterarysisters) for recommending this gem to me.

Rating – ★★★★★

Review | The Thickety: A Path Begins by J. A. White


Were this book not falsely advertised as a children’s fiction novel, it would probably be more deserving of a four star rating. But because of that, this book is just a bit too dark to be a good children’s novel. While I realize that the main characters are all children, I imagine some of the major events and the setting of the story are too dark for children to enjoy without being thoroughly spooked. However, if something along the lines of Coraline by Neil Gaiman is more to your taste, then The Thickety probably will not disappoint. The writing is straightforward, the setting is cleverly designed to creep you out, and Kara as the protagonist is a character you often feel frustrated with but can also sympathize with easily.

Although it was disappointing to find Thickety: A Path Begins darker than I was expecting (as I was in the mood for something a bit more light-hearted), I can’t claim I didn’t enjoy this book. At times even some of the messages and themes are a bit depressing but if you just read it for the story and not analyze more than necessary, it’s quite an enjoyable journey. I wouldn’t call it wholly original as it’s fairly easy to connect the dots on why Kara’s mother gets executed and the explanation behind how her magic works but a good story nonetheless. The ending, I must say, was quite a surprise. Not wholly original for the author to shift the story this way, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it in that moment.

Overall, a good book but not entirely original or extraordinary. I would recommend it for an easy read but it’s nothing that is going to blow your mind.

Rating – ★★★☆☆

Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet

Top 10 Tuesdays is an original meme created by a multitude of bloggers over at the The Broke and the Bookish. Go over and join if you’d like to participate!

This week’s topic is – Ten Ten Authors I REALY Want to Meet

So I cheated (a LOT) on this list and went beyond 10 authors. But also, with all of these authors, the first thing I would say when I meet them would be: “TEACH ME! Educate this lost soul about art, love, life, and politics. I am yours.” (Seriously, I love these folks so much!) All are equally important and special to me—not to mention quite influential in my reading life.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Virginia Woolf

George Orwell

Kurt Vonnegut

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Oscar Wilde

William Shakespeare

Jane Austen

Douglas Adams

L. M. Montgomery

J. K. Rowling

P. S. Yes, I do realize these are all white people. But I can’t help that right now. Hopefully, it’ll improve in the future. Or rather, when I do a historical figures list, you’re likely to see a more diverse group. :)

Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 10 Tuesday or simply tell me in the comments what your picks for this week would be! :)


Happy Reading!

Bout of Books 13.0 – TBR

Bout of Books

I thought I’d given up read-a-thons for sure this year but turns out, I lied. Bout of Books has always been the only sort read-a-thon that I participate in but even that became a bit too stressful for me last year so why am I doing this again? Well, because the 11th to the 17th covers the only week off that I am going to get before Summer courses begin for me. So since I was hoping to get a lot of reading done that week anyway, why not join? I can only hope that I won’t stress myself out over not reading enough.

Official Time: 11th – 17th May, 2015 [Sign-Up here!]

My tentative TBR pile –

  1. The Persephone Book of Short Stories
  2. Theodosia and Staff of Osiris by R. L. LaFevers (F)
  3. The Tragedy of Mister Morn by Vladimir Nabokov (F)
  4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (F)
  5. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  6. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  8. Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

Books marked (F) are the only ones I actually plan to finish. Everything else I’m just going to dip in and out of throughout the week.