October 30, 2013


I just broke 5,000 views!!!

Thank you all so much for visiting my blog and for taking an interest in reading. It means so much to me that something I am so passionate about (creating lifelong learners and readers) is actually getting a response. My hope is that I get more interaction with all of you. I want to have a dialogue between us so that I can continue to deliver reviews which are relevant and which inspire you to go out and pick up a book (or several!).

So if this is your first time visiting or your hundredth, I appreciate you! Thanks so much for sticking with me and I look forward to the months and years ahead!!

October 25, 2013

Footnotes: A love story.

You realize that you're a nerd when you get excited for a book with footnotes. The probably with this particular book was that the footnotes were actually endnotes which meant a lot of page flipping which I found tedious and annoying. I have to say though that this minor inconvenience was the only issue that I had with Blood Work. As you know already, I'm a huge fan of scientific nonfiction and this definitely fit the bill (with a side of history and murder to make it even better!). Learning about the history of something (blood transfusion) which I've never given much thought about was more engrossing than I had originally anticipated. Tucker made great use of resources to paint a vivid picture of Parisian life (specifically among scientists and academics) in the 17th century. The conditions of the time which included religious bias and political favor (or disfavor) effected any advances that were being attempted by the scientific community. In fact, because of the events which unfolded in this story there was no experimentation whatsoever regarding blood transfusion for over 150 years. It was essentially a dead end that no one dared to attempt (or even cared to attempt). For anyone who's interested in either history or science this book will be ideal for you (and it's a quick read!).

I'm trying to get to my backlog of books which range from earlier this year to many years ago that I haven't gotten around to quite yet. Next up on the "to read" list is The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. According to a well-known author, "The Land of Laughs is a book for anyone who has ever believed that a favorite book could be a safe place to go when things get hard." When a book has a blurb from Neil Gaiman you know it's going to be a good one. From the title, you'd think that this was a book full of comedy. However, it's actually the story of two people who go on a quest to write a biography of their favorite children's author which leads them on a frightening journey of discovery AND self-discovery. Just because you wish you could immerse yourself in your favorite storybook world from your childhood doesn't mean you'd really jump at the chance to do that if you could. Imagine the frights which would greet you there!

October 15, 2013

I almost wish this WAS only science fiction

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is not something only relegated to science fiction. It is a reality. Most people immediately think of their smartphones but what about the machinery that powers cities? Would you consider that to be a facet of AI? It could be argued that because many pieces of an electrical grid are run without human interference (or understanding as to why certain parts work the way that they do) that it is a type of AI. However, the book Our Final Invention is about what happens when AI turns from AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) to ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence). At that stage, machinery becomes self-sufficient, self-aware, and self-improving. It's surpassed human intelligence and can continue to improve itself and become even more intelligent. Barrat believes that at this point the machinery which should not be compared to humans will not have "feelings" about its creators. It will wipe us out in its quest to fulfill its own goals and agendas. Replication on a global scale will occur and all matter than can be used for that purpose will be used even if that matter is humanity as a whole. There are some decidedly scary concepts housed within the pages of this book. As if to ram the point home I ran across this article today which talks about the rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence and how the vast majority of the populace is completely unaware of the advances being made RIGHT NOW. Chilling, eye-opening stuff. Conspiracy theorists will be eating this book up.

Blood Work: A tale of medicine & murder in the scientific revolution by Holly Tucker is more than just a history of blood transfusions. It is more than historical nonfiction wrapped up in scientific jargon. It is a political discourse on humanity and its moral and political evolution. The same issues that plagued people in the 17th century seem to be plaguing us today. Is it morally wrong to experiment on humans if it will help the human race as a whole? Is it an abomination against God to put animal's blood inside of a person's body in the hopes that it will help them to survive? I have no idea if this book will even come close to answering these questions but I'm fairly positive it will raise even more intriguing questions while delivering a fascinating depiction of science unfolding.