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Halloween Bingo 2019: Tracking Post — Blackout! (And bingos Nos. 12 and 13.)

  Many thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for hosting this game for the fourth year in a row, bigger and better than ever before! Witih today’s call, I’ve blacked out my card, in addition to collecting my final bingos (nos. 12 and 13). Somewhat to my surprise, after completing my books for my […]

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Halloween Bingo 2019: Tracking Post — Bingo No. 3 and Reading Blackout

* Triple Bingo Happy Dance * Well, that went by much faster than I had anticipated … Many thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for hosting this game for the fourth year in a row, bigger and better than ever before! I’ll continue tracking my bingos of course — and since we now have […]

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Halloween Bingo 2019: The Second Week

A day late (though hopefully not a dollar short), here’s my “second bingo week” summary; and it’s a summary of a much better week than the first one turned out to be.  (So, yey!)  For one thing this is due to the books, all of which were either outright winners or at least enjoyable on […]

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Literature Reviews

Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering

Neither as “epic” nor as “profound” as the blurb promises, and definitely higher on the “popular” than on the “science” part of “popular science writing”.  Based on his style of writing, I can very well imagine Berman as a personable guide at his local observatory or as a host of popular radio science programs; the […]

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Jan Zalasiewicz & Mark Williams: Skeletons — The Frame of Life

Less Than What It Could Have Been OK, so I admit I didn’t check on the authors’ scholarly credentials before picking this up — if I had, I might not have been so disappointed to find that this is not, after all (not even in part) a book dealing with the way in which skeletons […]

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Sam Kean: The Disappearing Spoon

DNF @ Chapter 4 I think it’s fair to say that if I prefer doing office admin chores and listening to a(n albeit truly fascinating) memoir about growing up in and getting out of North Korea to reading this book, that’s a pretty good indication I won’t be getting back to this. Chapter 4 started […]

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2018 Airing of Grievances: Least Favorite Books of the Year

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus, Task 1: It’s the annual airing of grievances!  Time to list the top 5 books that disappointed you the most this year and let us know why!   I’ve been blessed with a pretty amazing reading year in which disappointments were few and far between — so it […]

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Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

Yet another overhyped book Reading Status Updates 8% Flat Book Society November read, and also my read for the New Year’s Eve square in the 24 Festive Tasks game. So far, it’s sounding good — at least you can tell the author is a scientist writing about the subject matter he’s studied.  This makes me […]

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Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon

Epidemics are horrible. Well, duh …   In substance, I don’t really have a whole lot to add to my one ill-humored status update on this book.  This is the book-form equivalent of a cross-breed between tabloid journalism and a series of superficial, but opinionated and self-centered blog posts: short on bonafide science, history, and […]

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Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon — Status Update: 107 of 336 Pages

    This reads like a series of blog posts by an overconfident twentysomething with an only superficial grasp of both history and medicine / science, who won’t, however, let her lack of in-depth knowledge and research keep her from jumping to unsupported conclusions by the dozen. (All of which being said with profound apologies […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic

Should come with several prescriptions / warning labels The first caveat, obviously, being “don’t ever try this at home.”  Most of the poisons Harkup discusses are much harder to obtain these days than in Agatha Christie’s time, so for most of them the risk of being used as a murder weapon may have been mitigated […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapters 10 & 11: Phosphorus & Ricin

Phosphorus and Ricin — two particularly nasty ones.  And the way she’s describing the discovery of phosphorus, it sounds like something straight out of a sorcerer’s lab … byproduct of the search for the philosophers’ stone.  Why stop at gold, anyway?!       Overall Review and Comments on Other Chapters: Overall Review Introduction and […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapters 7-9: Monkshood, Nicotine, Opium

What does it say that I read the opium chapter this night, after having woken up at 4:00AM (against all habit)? I can see the temptation in using Sad Cypress as the anchor book for this chapter, and I’m glad Harkup gave an unambiguous spoiler warning this time around before proceeding to give away the […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 6: Hemlock

Oh, FIE.  Major spoiler alert. In the “Hemlock” chapter, Harkup gives away — without any prior warning whatsoever — the identity of not one but two of the key suspects in Five Little Pigs who ultimately turn out to be innocent, and she also reveals the answer to the question that Poirot is chiefly asked […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 4: Digitalis

I just finished the digitalis chapter — a fairly fast read, since for once this was one dealing with stuff of which I had at least a working knowledge going in. Christie herself discusses some of the basics re: digitalis in Appointment with Death and some of her short stories (most notably, The Herb of […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 3: Cyanide

Harkup recounts the story how Rasputin’s enemies allegedly lured him to a lunch featuring “cake and [Madeira] wine … said to be laced with enough cynide to kill ‘a monastery’ of monks, but it left Rasputin unaffected.  He was then shot, at least twice, but was still alive and fighting back against his would-be assassins.  […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Introduction and Chapter 1: Arsenic

Oh man. I’m only a chapter (plus introduction) in, and I’m having all sorts of “mysteries read” flashbacks already — not only for Christie’s writings but also for those of other writers. E.g., those Styrian peasants get a really major nod towards the end of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Strong Poison, and the initial setup of […]

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Helen Czerski: Storm in a Teacup

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your toaster (and your afternoon cup of tea) but so far never even thought to ask. My high school physics teacher was a very nice gentleman who clearly loved his subject — but who equally clearly lived in a very different world from that of us rowdy teenagers, […]

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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Final Tally

The Markers: Stack of Books: Books read       Red Bows and Ribbons: Other Tasks completed Joker cards used:   The Squares, Books and Other Tasks: Square 1: November 1st: All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos & Calan Gaeaf Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: A book that […]

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Terry Pratchett / Ian Stewart / Jack Cohen: The Science of Discworld

The Power of Narrativium Murder by Death and BrokenTune have essentially summed up a lot of the points I’d want to make about The Science of Discworld.  (What a misnomer that title is, incidentally — and not only because the science part is really concerned with “Roundworld,” i.e., our world … the science part in […]

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