The End of the Beginning: a Review

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I received this book from Net Galley for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My thoughts remain my own.

The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity, and the Future of a Cure by Michael Kinch

My thoughts:

Cancer is a frightening word. Even with all the advancements in early diagnosis, screenings tests, and chemotherapy, it’s still a word that no one wants to hear. My dad died of advanced cancer 9 years ago. They couldn’t even tell where it has started and it was too late to matter. He died a week later.

So if you hand me a book about what’s next in the treatment of the disease, I will definitely read it. This book, however, really exceeded my expectations. There’s so much in here, from what cancer is exactly and how humans came to understand the disease to how we began to fight it.

It’s incredibly rich and detailed. I wouldn’t call it an easy read. It’s full of names and scientific concepts you will never have heard of. But it was fascinating stuff. And for all the assumptions that people have about the disease, I came away from the book feeling quite positive about the future. So many brilliant researchers are working on so many different treatments. One way or another, humans are going to beat this disease.

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Book Quote

I know I just did one of these, but this paragraph blew my mind! I had to share it.

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Eight day old human embryo , courtesy of New Scientist

“Energy and life go hand in hand. If you stop breathing, you will not be able to generate the energy you need for staying alive and you’ll be dead in a few minutes. Keep breathing. Now the oxygen in your breath is being transported to virtually every one of the 15 trillion cells in your body, where it is used to burn glucose in cellular respiration. You are a fantastically energetic machine. Gram per gram, even when sitting comfortably, you are converting 10 000 times more energy than the sun every second.

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane

More about this book from the publisher:

Mitochondria are pivotal in power, sex, and suicide. In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research findings in this exciting field to show how our growing understanding of mitochondria is shedding light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose (why don’t we just bud?), and why we age and die. This understanding is of fundamental importance, both in understanding how we and all other complex life came to be, but also in order to be able to control our own illnesses, and delay our degeneration and death. 

May Reading Wrap Up

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Hello readers! May is over so I thought I would do a wrap up of my reading month. It looks like it was a pretty good month, so let me get started.

Let me start with the bad, and work up to the good!

Books I DNF’d

The Christie Curse (Book Collector #1) by Victoria Abbott – I remembered why I don’t like modern cozy mysteries.

The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel (Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency #2) by David Casarett – just lost interest. It made me hungry though!

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis – flipped through a few pages, got the general idea.

Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia – didn’t realize it was a YA paranormal, didn’t fit for me.

The Invisible Hand (The Cost of Freedom #3) by Chris Northern – I loved the previous books in this series. What happened?

Not a bad amount, although it felt like there were more. There were a few books I read a few pages of and then decided I wasn’t in the mood to finish, so I decided to try later, but I’m not going to list them.


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Audiobooks

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce #9) by Alan Bradley. Fun, but not his best. 2.75 stars

Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4)  by Jim Butcher. Still like the characters, but the writing is started to bug me. 3.5 stars

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Dense, highly technical writing made relevant with personal stories. Mind blowing stuff. 5 stars

I’m kind of surprised the number is so low. What was I listening to? Did I just forget to track it? I don’t know.


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Books I read

Red Sister and Gray Sister (Books of the Ancestor 1 & 2) by Mark Lawrence. Freaking awesome! 5 stars each.

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) by Chris Wooding. Lots of fun and I *loved* the ending. 4.5 stars

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi. Not a bad story in here. 4 stars

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards. Reviewed here.

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home. Promising series debut set in Scotland. 4 stars

Murder in Little Shendon by A H Henderson. Also a mystery debut, set in mid-20th century England. 4 stars

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Totally original teen dystopia by Australia writer. 5 stars

Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Conteur. Why chemistry matters! 5 stars

A Bone of Contention: The Third Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Matthew Gregory. Medieval mystery set in Oxford. 4 stars.


Longest book read: The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, 592 pages

On my TBR the longest: Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Conteur, since Feb 2012

Most disappointing: The Invisible Hand by Chris Northern. Went from a military fantasy fighting necromancers in book 1 to economic theory in book 3. Yawn.

Epic Awesome: Red Sister and Gray Sister by Mark Lawrence. You need to read these!

Coziest comfort read: Resorting to Murder. Perfect for a day sick in bed.


Like I said, a really good month! This month I’m hoping to stick to more of my own books, and not borrow from the library. I have so many physical book around here I would like to read. But I don’t make a specific TBR for each month. How was your reading in May? Let me know in the comments or post a link to your list. Happy reading!

Currently Reading

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Hey! How’s everyone? I’ve been living the spring weather here in the Rocky Mountains. Lilacs and forsythias are blooming, the tulips just finished and the irises are starting. It’s great to have all the windows open.

I have a couple of fantasy series I’ve been steadily getting through this spring. The first is the Jim Butcher Codex Alera series. I’ve been doing then on audio and really enjoying them. I do think Butcher’s female characters are not his strong point, but I have loved the character growth in here. I’m also reading the Mark Lawrence series Book of the Ancestor. I flew through the first two books but I don’t have a copy of the third. Definitely recommended.

Right now I have 3 nonfiction books I’m reading. Syria’s Secret Library is from Net Galley. Very interesting so far, but I’ve barely started. Then I’m reading Power, Sex, and Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane, also just started, and Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History   from the library. I’m almost done with that one and it’s been fascinating stuff.

How about you? What are you reading? Tell me what’s good!

Recent Acquisitions

Hey readers! So I don’t always list my book hauls, but I have bought a few new ebooks I wanted to talk about. I almost never buy new print

books because my shelves are so full. But I went on a bit of a splurge lately for my Kindle.

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The Mad Monk of Gidleigh by Michael Jecks. This one is a surprising #14 in the Knights Templar series. The first one is the best, but I have enjoyed most of these medieval mysteries.  I love looking at the covers as they contain all sorts of clues about the story.

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Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane. I needed another good science book since I finished my last one and this has been on my list for a while.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. I think this is number 6 in the series and I can’t wait to read it!

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence. A YA science fiction thriller that sounds really good. Based on D&D.

The Genius Plate by David Walton. Two brothers may bring about the end of the world.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I’ve heard great things about this memoir.


What have you bought recently? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments.

Book Quote 3/31

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“The Brazilian Atlantic forest is not so famously celebrated as the Amazon or the rainforests of Madagascar and New Guinea, but it ranks in the same class as a reservoir of biological diversity. Or it did until recently. It’s quite unlike the Amazon, from which it stands separated by the high plains of central Brazil, and among other points of dissimilarity there’s this: Most of the Atlantic forest is already gone.”

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen

Lamarck’s Revenge : A Review

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Title: Lamarck’s Revenge: How Epigenetics is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Evolution’s Past and Present

Author: Peter Ward

I was very pleased to receive this one for review. I am a big science nerd, and learning about epigenetics sounded fascinating. Unfortunately, the writing was not as good as the concept. Much of the data was repetitive, and the book was organized in a very strange way. It wasn’t until I was almost 1/3 of the way through that the book got down to specific examples of epigenetics in action that it really became interesting for me. If you are really interested in the subject, this might appeal to you, but I would bet there are better books out there.

Thanks you to Library Thing and the publisher for giving the me the chance to read this one. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions remain my own.

What Are You Reading?

Hey bookies! I’m back from a little break and I thought I’d check in and let you know what I’m reading.

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First up is a book I got for Christmas called The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen. I’ve read one of his books before and I really liked his writing. It might sound a little dry, but if you like nature programs or travel adventures, you’d love this. I just finished A section on Komodo dragons and it was fascinating stuff.

I’m also reading The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. This one is for book club and I can definitely say it is not one I would have picked up on my own. It seems like it was written for book clubs, where there’s a lot of vaguely unhappy characters (all White, of course) who don’t do much of anything. Not enjoying it at all.

I hope that you are enjoying your books!

What are you reading ?

I usually do these posts on Monday, but I missed it this week. I’ve been in a bit of a slump, but things are picking up.

My current audio book is Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman. Kate rides up on her horse Silver to discover her father’s been murdered and the gang responsible is getting away. She disguised herself as Hate and heads off after them, Colt Revolver at her side. This one starts off with a bang and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

I’m also reading a nonfiction book, The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen. Islands have been crucial to our understanding of biology and evolution for hundreds of years, but they still have a lot to teach us about survival.

Finally, I’m working on There Is Something About Edgefield: Shining a Light on the Black Community through History, Genealogy, and Genetic DNA  by Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp for review. It’s been great for me to read about another family’s genealogy, but it’s not a quick read.

I also realized I have a couple of Audible credits available, so I’m trying to decide what I want to listen to next.  Give me your best recommendation!

 

Soonish: a review

I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an  honest but unbiased review. My opinion remains my own.

34490192Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

by Dr. Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

Synopsis:

What will the world of tomorrow be like? How does progress happen? And why do we not have a lunar colony already? What is the hold-up?

In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what’s coming next — from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach’s trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.

New technologies are almost never the work of isolated geniuses with a neat idea. A given future technology may need any number of intermediate technologies to develop first, and many of these critical advances may appear to be irrelevant when they are first discovered. The journey to progress is full of strange detours and blind alleys that tell us so much about the human mind and the march of civilization. 

To this end, SOONISH investigates ten different emerging fields, from programmable matter to augmented reality, from space elevators to robotic construction, to show us the amazing world we will have, you know, soonish.

My reaction:

I really enjoyed this book. I am definitely a science nerd. I love stuff like this, about technology and how it might impact our lives in the future. I only got to read an excerpt from the book, but I really enjoyed what I read. The book starts out with the very big and goes to the very small. The first chapter starts with cheaper space travel – because why can’t we go all Star Trek yet and what’s it going to take? The authors break it down, with what space travel involves and why it is so expensive. I also love the style. The whole book is written for readers like me, who really dig science, but aren’t experts at it. Then there are cartoons, because we get a little distracted too.

I would definitely recommend this one. I think it would also be a great gift for the science nerds you love, including your teenagers.