Sam Kean

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Mini Pin-It Reviews #18 – Four Random Books

Published February 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four random books for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales Of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements – Sam Kean

What’s it all about?:

The Periodic Table is one of man’s crowning scientific achievements. But it’s also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues’ wives when she’d invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

From the Big Bang to the end of time, it’s all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

What’s it all about?:

protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) The Moth – Catherine Burns (editor)

What’s it all about?:

With an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

Before television and radio, before penny paperbacks and mass literacy, people would gather on porches, on the steps outside their homes, and tell stories. The storytellers knew their craft and bewitched listeners would sit and listen long into the night as moths flitted around overhead. The Moth is a non-profit group that is trying to recapture this lost art, helping storytellers – old hands and novices alike – hone their stories before playing to packed crowds at sold-out live events.

The very best of these stories are collected here: whether it’s Bill Clinton’s hell-raising press secretary or a leading geneticist with a family secret; a doctor whisked away by nuns to Mother Teresa’s bedside or a film director saving her father’s Chinatown store from money-grabbing developers; the Sultan of Brunei’s concubine or a friend of Hemingway’s who accidentally talks himself into a role as a substitute bullfighter, these eccentric, pitch-perfect stories – all, amazingly, true – range from the poignant to the downright hilarious.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) The Chimes – Anna Smaill

What’s it all about?:

The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.

In the absence of both memory and writing is music.

In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphemy, all appears lost. But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.

A stunning literary debut by poet and violinist Anna Smaill, The Chimes is a startlingly original work that combines beautiful, inventive prose with incredible imagination.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN IT REVIEWS: Four Author Requests.

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April 2016 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Published April 7, 2016 by bibliobeth

kindle

Hi everyone, can you believe it’s April already? This year is just zooming by and I’m becoming very aware of my backlog of reviews. I have been particularly unwell recently so apologies for the lack of reviews, I’m hoping to get one out tomorrow and then resume normal service and will hopefully be writing a blog post to explain exactly what’s going on although as I mentioned earlier on Twitter, I’m a bit nervous about it as I don’t normally do personal posts. Huge thank you to the lovely Hannah at Broc’s Bookcase  who sent me a brilliant message of support earlier – big bookish blogger hugs to her! So anyway, here is what I’ll be attempting to get through this April – all those poor Kindle books that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and plenty of ARC’s which definitely should have been read before now. I’ll link them to GoodReads so you guys can check out what they’re all about and when I get round to writing the review I’ll then link that. Have a great April everyone!

The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

(copy provided from BookBridgr and also long-listed for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016)

Dead Set – Will Carver

(copy provided from NetGalley)

Horns – Joe Hill

(copy on Kindle)

Necropolis – Guy Portman

(copy provided from author)

Shadow Of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) – Deborah Harkness

(copy provided from BookBridgr)

Gift Of Time: A Family’s Diary Of Cancer – Rory MacLean

(copy provided from NetGalley)

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements – Sam Kean

(copy on Kindle)

The Spirit Guide – Elizabeth Davies

(copy provided from author/publisher)

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

(copy on Kindle)

The Secret Place – Tana French

(copy provided from BookBridgr)

 

The Tale Of The Duelling Neurosurgeons: The History Of The Human Brain As Revealed By True Stories Of Trauma, Madness and Recovery – Sam Kean

Published November 15, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

From the author of the best-seller The Disappearing Spoon, tales of the brain and the history of neuroscience.

Early studies of the functions of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike-strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, lobotomies, horrendous accidents-and see how the victim coped. In many cases survival was miraculous, and observers could only marvel at the transformations that took place afterward, altering victims’ personalities. An injury to one section can leave a person unable to recognize loved ones; some brain trauma can even make you a pathological gambler, paedophile, or liar. But a few scientists realized that these injuries were an opportunity for studying brain function at its extremes. With lucid explanations and incisive wit, Sam Kean explains the brain’s secret passageways while recounting forgotten stories of common people whose struggles, resiliency, and deep humanity made modern neuroscience possible.

What did I think?:

I couldn’t resist The Duelling Neurosurgeons when I saw it, it’s got everything I could possibly ask for from a popular science book. Firstly, it focuses on arguably the most exciting and mysterious organ in the human body – the brain, which has always fascinated me ever since I studied a module on neuroscience as part of my first degree. Secondly, it combines triumphs (and disasters) of neurosurgeons through history and provides case studies of “real,” patients, some of whom left me dumbfounded. For example, the blind man who travelled the world by using echolocation and textbook studies such as Phineas Gage who received such a traumatic brain injury that it ended up changing his entire personality. Finally (and perhaps one of the things that excited me the most), Sam Kean introduces each chapter by providing a little puzzle or “rebus” to illustrate what the content of that particular chapter might be about.

Print

This was so much fun and I was quite strict with myself, not going on to read the chapter until I had figured out the rebus. This proved quite frustrating with some of the trickier images!

Why The Duelling Neurosurgeons? Well, it all starts in 1559 where King Henri II of France receives a traumatic injury to his brain after a jousting accident. The two most prominent brain doctors of the day, Paré and Vesalius (who also founded what we know now as modern anatomy) were called to his bedside and although some of their methods for treating the king were quite primitive, essentially they both led the way for further experimentation and brain surgery today. For example, Paré was quite keen on strange concoctions and compresses, one in particular consisted of egg yolk, turpentine, earthworms and dead puppies. Each to their own I guess?!… He also devised a strange experiment that allowed him to differentiate between fatty tissue and brain tissue in a frying pan where fat was seen to liquefy and brain would shrivel.

There is a wealth of interesting information from case studies put forward in this book but I’ll just mention a couple of my favourites. The section on phantom limbs, where someone who has recently had a limb amputated can still feel pain in the area that the limb used to be was fascinating but did you know that some women who have had complete hysterectomies can still have phantom menstrual pains? Or there are even such things as phantom teeth, phantom penises and phantom erections? The topics covered by the author are intriguing, informative and endlessly thought-provoking. In fact, I’ve never had so much fun before reading a popular science book. I have the author’s first two books to read on my Kindle – The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb and if they’re half as entertaining as this one was, I’m in for a treat. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know more about this surprising and brilliant organ.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

February 2015 – “Real Book” Month

Published February 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

bookstack

There’s nothing like the smell, feel and look of a real book to a bibliophile like myself. And now that February has rolled around, it’s time for another “Real Book” month where I will attempt to reduce the number of books crawling into every inch of my home. Hmm, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in my real books since the last time I had a real book month in August. Guess you just can’t stop a book addict!

More Than This – Patrick Ness

Night Film – Marisha Pessl

All The Birds Singing – Evie Wyld

Fifty Shades Of Feminism – Lisa Appignanesi

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

The People In The Trees – Hanya Yanagihara

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness and Recovery – Sam Kean

The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking #2) – Patrick Ness

I am so excited by this list I can hardly type. Some of them have been on my TBR for a long time, like Fifty Shades of Feminism, Night Film and Miss Peregrine’s Home, others are from new favourite authors that I just HAD to include like More Than This and The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness and others are books I have acquired fairly recently and simply can’t wait to read. What do you think of my list, fellow book-lovers?