Latest Reviews

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Book Review: Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg

modern-romanceTitle: Modern Roance
Author: Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg
ISBN: 9781594206276
Pages: 288
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Sociology
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Instead of writing a traditional memoir, comedian Aziz Ansari chose to look at things from a different point of view: what dating looks like in modern culture. Teaming up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, Ansari provides a look at what dating and relationships are like today through anecdotal evidence, focus groups, statistics, and more.

Review:

I’m obsessed with statistics and data. I love poking through data, understanding trends, and understanding what our data says about us. I also find today’s dating climate very interesting, so you can bet that, when it came to Modern Romance, I was hooked from the second I heard about the concept of the book.
When I first learned about Aziz Ansari’s book, it sounded a lot like Dataclysm, a book by Christian Rudder that broke down data gleaned from OKCupid’s massive database. Upon reading it, though, these two book are very different. First of all, Dataclysm relies much more on hard statistics. Second, despite the fact that the data source for Dataclysm was an online dating site, the book tackled much broader themes. Modern Romance is narrower and more focused, and that works well for it.
Modern Romance feels very organic in terms of its subject matter. The data sources are numerous, from a subreddit to people whose texts Ansari read out during his comedy shows. It feels more personal, and thus more relatable. The writing is clear and easy to read; it draws you in completely and is an engaging narrative, though the style feels a bit strange. It’s funny, to be sure, but it almost feels like the funny parts are a commentary on the harder data; this might be an issue with the two authors’ work not quite meshing as seamlessly as one would hope.
That being said, Modern Romance is absolutely worth the read. It’s fascinating to see what dating in today’s world is really like, especially with (1) online dating and (2) texting, especially considering it’s been so long since I’ve been in that situation. You’d think this book would leave you dejected at the state of modern romance, but it actually doesn’t. It shows how things have changed, to be sure, but it doesn’t at all make the case that things are worse than they used to be. Dating has evolved, and that’s not just okay, it’s how things are supposed to work.

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Book Review: Curious – Ian Leslie

curious-ian-leslieTitle: Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It
Author: Ian Leslie
ISBN: 9780465079964
Pages: 240
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Basic Books
Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Where does our curiosity come from? Why is it important? Why do many people lose their sense of curiosity as they get older? In this exploration of the nature of curiosity, Ian Leslie takes a close look at the answers to these questions and discusses why curiosity is so crucial for our future.

Review:

As I’m becoming older, and feeling like more of an adult, I’m getting more interested in nonfiction about how we think, how we get things done, and why we think the way we do, so Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It seemed right up my alley. It’s a slim book, only about 200 pages long, but WOW does it pack a punch. I was riveted, hanging on every word of this book, tweeting out quotes from what felt like every page because it was so insightful and relevant.

Have you ever experienced that phenomenon where you learn about something that seems weird and wacky one day, something that you’ve never heard of, and in subsequent days, it seems like you’re hearing about it everywhere you turn? That’s an actual phenomenon, and something that Leslie goes into depth with in Curious. It has to do with the way our brains our wired, the way we acquire and store information, and how our curiosity feeds into that.

Indeed, Leslie grabs and analyzes data from many different sources in order to give as comprehensive a look as possible on curiosity, and he does it very well. This is such a fascinating book, mixing pop psychology, statistics, data, and all kinds of cultural research to tell the story of curiosity and why it is so important. And he 100% sells it; the reader comes away from this book knowing how important it is to stay curious, and to continue wondering why things are the way they are, and to not be afraid of trying new things, something that is all too easy with technology’s quick changes as we get older.

What’s the most remarkable about Curious, though, is how readable it is. It’s a fast read, which is rare for this type of nonfiction. The anecdotes and stories make this book incredibly entertaining; even though you’re reading about science, it doesn’t feel that way. If you enjoy nonfiction, or if you’re looking for a place to start with this type of book (Curious‘s length makes it a very attractive candidate), you should absolutely seek this book out.

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Book Review: Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

nimona-noelle-stevensonTitle: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
ISBN: 9780062278227
Pages: 272
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

On the surface, Nimona is just a little girl. A little girl who happens to have teamed up with Lord Ballister Blackheart, the most evil supervillain that their kingdom’s ever faced. But there may be more to Nimona than meets the eye. Who is she really, and what does she want?

Review:

If you don’t follow the comics world, you may not have heard of Noelle Stevenson. She’s a tour-de-force, writing great comics that are both well-loved and critically acclaimed. Nimona was originally a webcomic, but it’s been collected into a gorgeous paperback volume to tell this adorable and fun story.

Though the story might make Nimona sound like a comic for kids, it’s anything but. I absolutely loved diving into this book. It’s whimsical and has laugh-out-loud moments (there’s a character name Sir Goldenloin. Seriously.) It’s witty and sharp, and you can read it over and over, finding something new within its pages each time you go through it. But more than being funny, this is a book that has a soul, and Stevenson isn’t afraid to mine the depths of it for this page. It’s so great and heartwrenching, fun but also will move you to tears.

If you haven’t read a comic, or don’t know where to start, Nimona is perfect for that. It’s a self-contained story, not a series, so everything you need to read it is in this one book. The story is accessible and entertaining, with humor but also heart, and it also provides a great jumping off point, should you choose this as an entry point into comics. I absolutely loved the rich colors on each page of this comic; it adds to the sumptuous feeling reading this book provides. Suffice it to say: whether you love comics or are brand new to them, this is something you should absolutely read.

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Book Review: Lies that Bind – Maggie Barbieri

lies-that-bindTitle: Lies that Bind
Author: Maggie Barbieri
ISBN: 9781250011701
Pages: 336
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Maeve’s life has settled down since the events of Once Upon a Lie, and she’s making ends meet and providing for her two daughters at her bakery. But when the unthinkable happens, and Maeve’s ailing father dies, she’s bereft. When she learns that her father may have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that could change Maeve’s life, she’s determined to follow the trail and discover the truth, no matter what it may lead to.

Review:

The other day, I was in the mood for a good mystery, one that would capture me from the very first page and that I’d want to read in one sitting. I enjoyed the first book in Barbieri’s Maeve Conlon series, so picking this up seemed like a sure thing, and I’m glad to say my instinct was right. Barbieri pulled me right back into Maeve’s world, and I raced through this novel, eager to see where Maeve ended up.

Can you pick Lies that Bind up if you haven’t read the first in the series? Yes, definitely. I appreciated that Barbieri made her book stand on its own; I read enough such that the details of books often fade, and if the author is relying on me to remember 100% of the nuances of the story of a previous book, well, I’m usually somewhat lost. Not only did Barbieri write an excellent thriller that can stand alone, but she didn’t ruin the ending of the first book. This means you can easily read this novel, and then go back and read Once Upon a Lie if you wish.

Maeve’s a great character who’s a bit of an enigma in Lies that Bind. Does she always make the best decisions? No. She’s a bit of an absent parent, and her priorities don’t always make sense. But Maeve’s compulsive personality is part of her charm. She has to see things through, no matter what happens, and oftentimes the cost is dear. It’s interesting to watch the different threads of this novel come together to make Maeve’s already difficult life even more complicated.

Want a great series of novels featuring a strong, but imperfect and messy, woman? Then Maggie Barbieri is who you should be reading. Barbieri expertly balances plot and character, making these quiet and contemplative mystery novels. I enjoyed these first two books and am very much looking forward to what comes next.

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The 2015 Pen/Faulkner Awards

This Saturday, at 7 PM, the Pen/Faulkner awards ceremony and dinner will take place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Being the fancy book ladies that we are, Book Riot Managing Editor Amanda Nelson and I will be in attendance. Pen/Faulkner puts on amazing events and focuses on diverse authors, so I’m a […]

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Book Review: Undeniable – Bill Nye

undeniable-bill-nye

Title: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation Author: Bill Nye ISBN: 9781250007131 Pages: 320 Release Date: November 4, 2014 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Genre: Nonfiction, Science Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: In this book, Bill Nye discusses the ins and outs of evolution. Review: I grew up watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy. […]

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Book Review: Meet Me in Atlantis – Mark Adams

meet-me-in-atlantis

Title: Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City Author: Mark Adams ISBN: 9780525953708 Pages: 320 Release Date: March 10, 2015 Publisher: Dutton Genre: Nonfiction, Travel, History Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: Fascinated by the Atlantis legend, and the current work being done to locate the famous lost city, […]

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Where Have You BEEN?

Where have I been? What do you mean where have I been? No, seriously though. I know I haven’t been posting here much, and there’s a good reason for that. I started a new job at the beginning of February in a new-to-me industry, and there’s been a bit of a learning curve and a lot […]

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