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Review: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 21-04-2018

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Shrill: Notes from a Loud WomanShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

For as long as I’ve been part of the size accep­tance move­ment (oh, excuse me, it’s “body pos­i­tive” now!), I’ve read sur­pris­ing­ly few books about it or by its lead­ers. I con­sid­er Lindy West one of those lead­ers. Just by being “loud,” hap­py, fem­i­nist, and unapolo­get­i­cal­ly fat, she is a role mod­el.

While parts of this book are about gut-wrench­ing­ly sad times in her life, this is over­all a very upbeat book. Lindy is fun­ny even when she’s talk­ing about ter­ri­ble things. I caught a cou­ple of minor “oop­sies” as far as the nar­ra­tion goes, but that just made her more real as a per­son to me.

Anoth­er thing that I encoun­tered in this book as a first: she’s been sub­ject­ed to even more online harass­ment, stalk­ing, and threats than I have, which is rare. She became a tar­get by being a fat jour­nal­ist, and then real­ly gath­ered the ire of the neck­beards liv­ing in their par­ents’ base­ments by stand­ing up against rape jokes. I hate that she’s expe­ri­enc­ing it, but it felt good to com­mis­er­ate with her, so to speak.

I whole­heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend this book.

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Review: Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 12-04-2018

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Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsLost Con­nec­tions: Uncov­er­ing the Real Caus­es of Depres­sion – and the Unex­pect­ed Solu­tions by Johann Hari

I just fin­ished this book, which I lis­tened to while dri­ving. I find myself wish­ing that I’d read it on my Kin­dle, instead, in order to be able to take some notes. It’s a rich read, full of men­tions of peo­ple and stud­ies that I’d like to have been able to look up.

I don’t know that I com­plete­ly agree with Hari, who posits that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple are depressed with­out any sort of bio­log­i­cal cause, but instead due to var­i­ous types of dis­con­nec­tion. I can see that each of the con­nec­tions he points out are impor­tant, and improv­ing them could cer­tain­ly help depres­sion. How­ev­er, I’m fair­ly cer­tain that we’ve got a chick­en and egg issue here. From what I under­stand, even if you don’t ini­tial­ly become depressed due to a lack of cer­tain neu­ro­trans­mit­ters or what have you, being depressed can lead to the bio­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences that can be treat­ed with anti­de­pres­sants. That’s why those med­ica­tions do work for a fair num­ber of peo­ple who try them. He does talk about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, so maybe my quib­bles are seman­tic.

The sev­en ways we are dis­con­nect­ed, accord­ing to Hari, are from:
1) mean­ing­ful work;
2) oth­er peo­ple;
3) mean­ing­ful val­ues;
4) child­hood trau­ma;
5) sta­tus and respect;
6) the nat­ur­al world;
7) a hope­ful or secure future.

He does address how to recon­nect on each of these issues lat­er in the book. He also acknowl­edges that some (most?) of these issues are due to soci­etal rather than indi­vid­ual fail­ings. The fix­es are beyond many peo­ple because of that, but the more we become aware of them the more we can work on fix­ing our soci­ety.

I found the book very good, and cer­tain­ly thought-pro­vok­ing. It isn’t an easy read, but it is put togeth­er quite well. I rec­om­mend it!

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Review: The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 12-01-2018

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The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6)The Anni­hi­la­tion Score by Charles Stross

This is the sixth book of the Laun­dry Files, and the first to be nar­rat­ed by Mo instead of her hus­band. The plot keep me thor­ough­ly engaged, and I enjoyed Mo’s voice — it was a nice change. I fin­ished the book utter­ly wrung out, and I think that is prob­a­bly a com­mon expe­ri­ence due to Stross’ skill at bring­ing the read­er into sym­pa­thy with the speak­er. I think this is the fourth Stross piece I’ve read in the past cou­ple of weeks, and it prob­a­bly isn’t wise to immerse one’s self so deeply in this par­tic­u­lar world! I’m going to have to step back and read some­thing else for a bit as a breather.

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Review: Neogenesis by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 04-01-2018

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Neogenesis (Liaden Universe Book 21)Neo­ge­n­e­sis by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

First, let it be known that I am an unabashed fan­girl when it comes to Lee and Miller. That much has long been estab­lished. Should they care to pub­lish their gro­cery lists, I would most like­ly pur­chase and read them.

That said, Neo­ge­n­e­sis is an amaz­ing book, even among their oth­er mar­velous works. I just fin­ished it, and already I am plan­ning a re-read. It isn’t a good entry point for their uni­verse, admit­ted­ly, for it ties togeth­er many dif­fer­ent plot threads that were first spun out in ear­li­er vol­umes. Lee and Miller tie up those loose ends mas­ter­ful­ly.

I am tick­led to have this be my first book pur­chased and read in 2018!

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Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 06-11-2017

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A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

This book rep­re­sents a major change from the Iron Druid series, so I worked hard to set aside my expec­ta­tions of Hearne based on lov­ing those. A Plague of Giants is every bit as well-writ­ten as that series, maybe even bet­ter! Still, I didn’t come away tru­ly car­ing about the char­ac­ters. That could have some­thing to do with the way the sto­ry is pre­sent­ed, but I can’t be sure about it.

The book just ends, very abrupt­ly, with the nota­tion, “Con­tin­ued in vol­ume two, A Blight of Black­wings.” That put me off some­what. I like read­ing series, but with each vol­ume I want a large­ly self-con­tained sto­ry, one with a begin­ning, mid­dle, and end­ing. I under­stand leav­ing some plot threads unre­solved, so as to build inter­est for the next book, but there’s just too much left unre­solved here. Will I read Blight when it’s released? Maybe — but I’m unlike­ly to rush right out and buy it.

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What I’ve Been Up To

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Blogging, General | Posted on 03-10-2017

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Lots of knit­ting. Lots and lots of knit­ting. (If you’re on Rav­el­ry, you can see my fin­ished projects.) My hands ache from the knit­ting, par­tic­u­lar­ly the left, because I knit Con­ti­nen­tal. I think I may have to learn to knit Eng­lish just to swap off on occa­sion.

We’ve been going out to hear more live music — three house con­certs this fall. I love me some house con­certs! In fact, I need to write some music reviews. I’m also in a cou­ple of RPGs each week, one Dres­den Files and anoth­er 5th edi­tion D&D. And I’ve been doing a lit­tle con­sult­ing on the side.

I haven’t found any­thing I’ve enjoyed read­ing enough to write about recent­ly. That takes love for the sub­ject mat­ter. I am still read­ing (it’s like breath­ing for me), there are just more arti­cles, and lis­ten­ing to more pod­casts and few­er books. I’m miss­ing the fic­tion I usu­al­ly con­sume, but I’m sure I’ll be back to it soon enough.

The need to re-do my web sites is present again. Know any­one who does good cus­tom Word­Press themes?

I’ve been look back on my web con­tent, want­i­ng to update it. Much of it was writ­ten when I wasn’t work­ing. I mean, I had plen­ty of work to do, because I was a SAHM to three kids and we enter­tained fre­quent­ly. But I wasn’t work­ing for any­one out­side the fam­i­ly. I love work­ing, but it takes up most of my ener­gy, so I just don’t have it to put into the web any­more. I don’t want to give up the site, though — there’s a lot of his­to­ry in tech​nomom​.com, going all the way back to 1995.

Book Review: The Gathering Edge by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 15-05-2017

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The Gathering Edge (Liaden Universe Book 20)The Gath­er­ing Edge by Sharon Lee
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

A must sat­is­fy­ing entry in the Liaden Uni­verse series, num­ber 20 begins and ends with plen­ty of action. Indeed, the read­er hard­ly has time to take a breath for all the action! The char­ac­ters them­selves must be exhaust­ed — I feel so in their behalf.

I enjoyed this part of Theo’s sto­ry rather more than pre­vi­ous books about her, per­haps because oth­ers played a larg­er part in the sto­ry. She isn’t my favorite of the series’ pro­tag­o­nists, to be hon­est, but then I still hope for more of Priscil­la Delacroix y Men­doza.

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Book Review: Less Than A Treason by Dana Stabenow

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 09-05-2017

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Less Than a Treason (Kate Shugak, # 21)Less Than a Trea­son by Dana Stabenow
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

FINALLY! The cliffhang­er at the end of Bad Blood is resolved, or of course there would not be a #21. It’s been so long (over four years!) since I read #20, though, that I had to go back and re-read the last bit of it to under­stand the begin­ning of this nov­el. That wasn’t hap­py-mak­ing, and it had a neg­a­tive effect on my abil­i­ty to just dive in and enjoy the book.

Once things got going, though, every­thing was good — it’s still a five-star read. Kate is in fine form, although as usu­al she is def­i­nite­ly affect­ed by recent events. We see a lot of Jim Chopin here — in fact, he fig­ures as large­ly as Kate does. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Stabenow has always done a good job of show­ing us a Ninilt­na that grows and changes with the times, with peo­ple com­ing and going, being born and dying, which is real­is­tic. That hurts at times when you’re attached to the char­ac­ters. I don’t want to get into spoil­ers, but you’ll see when you read it. And you should def­i­nite­ly read it!

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Book Review: Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 27-04-2017

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Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive (Audiobook)Pos­i­tiv­i­ty: Ground­break­ing Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hid­den Strength of Pos­i­tive Emo­tions, Over­come Neg­a­tiv­i­ty, and Thrive by Bar­bara L. Fredrick­son
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I first read Fredrickson’s sec­ond book, Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emo­tion Affects Every­thing We Feel, Think, Do, and Become. It blew me away, and I’ve rec­om­mend­ed it hith­er and yon. I was def­i­nite­ly inter­est­ed in her first book, but for one rea­son and anoth­er it took me a while to get around to it.

This is an excel­lent audio­book. I enjoyed the pre­sen­ta­tion, and the infor­ma­tion was absolute­ly fas­ci­nat­ing. I’m going to have to go back and read (instead of lis­ten to) some of the sec­tions and take notes, but I’m def­i­nite­ly inter­est­ed enough to do so!

I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the sci­ence-backed tech­niques Fredrick­son rec­om­mends for improv­ing one’s pos­i­tiv­i­ty ratio. I’ll be track­ing mine as I try these tech­niques to see what hap­pens. I strong­ly rec­om­mend the book, espe­cial­ly to any­one who is inter­est­ed in com­bat­ing neg­a­tiv­i­ty or the sci­ence of pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy.

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Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 27-04-2017

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)Storm Front by Jim Butch­er
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I just re-read Storm Front, after first read­ing it — well, I don’t even know how many years ago! Short­ly after it was first released, I think.

Now, it’s impor­tant to know that I sim­ply don’t re-read books. I find that too bor­ing, most of the time. There are a scant few excep­tions. The Liaden Uni­verse books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are the most remark­able of them. The fact that I would even con­sid­er a re-read speaks very, very high­ly of Butcher’s work.

I’d for­got­ten far more than I expect­ed, but I sup­pose that hap­pens, with at least 15 years and good­ness knows how many books in between read­ings. I knew it was a good book, I knew one impor­tant part of the end­ing (I mean, come on — there are many more books in the series, so you KNOW that Dres­den lives!), but all else was lost. I wasn’t sure I would like read­ing about old Har­ry with recent Har­ry fresh in my mind (I just read the short sto­ry “Jury Duty”).

If any­thing, I enjoyed it even more spiced by the knowl­edge of who Dres­den (and Mur­phy) will become in the future books. I enjoyed the set­ting, the craft that went into build­ing the whole nov­el, and see­ing how Butcher’s skill grew from the first book to the more recent works.

I’m going to go on with re-read­ing the entire series — I hadn’t com­mit­ted to it before, but now I’m look­ing for­ward to it!

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