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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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4 04, 2017

Review: At the End of the World by Lawrence Millman

By | April 4th, 2017|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

Rating:

at the end of the world book coverReviewed by Kevin O’Brien

Lawrence Millman’s non-fiction book, At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic, is the latest work from the intrepid traveler. Millman, an award-winning adventure writer, markets his book as a trip north to the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay to investigate a series of murders in the early 1940s.

The book touches upon a religious frenzy that led several Inuit on the Belcher Islands to murder nine others. A meteor shower in 1941 resulted in some of the Inuit in the area to fear that the world was ending. The local shaman and one of the best hunters in the tribe then stylized themselves as deities, killing anyone they denounced as Satanic. The case eventually resulted in a massive investigation and trial.

22 12, 2016

Review: Being British by Chris Parish

By | December 22nd, 2016|Categories: Human Geography, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |3 Comments

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being british book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Where to start, where to begin? I will say at the outset that I did not “bond” with the author of Being British. The book is neither witty, nor funny, but rather a probably accurate statement on what it is really like to be British, and that is, I admit, the entire point of the book, isn’t it?

The book reviews British culture and has 14 chapters that cover the history of Britain, downsides of British culture and its current evolution, perceptions of the British Empire and its supposed decline, national identity and patriotism, British people’s love of nature as well as the future of Britain. 

21 11, 2016

Review: Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

By | November 21st, 2016|Categories: Business & Investing, Computers & Technology, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

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weapons of math destruction book coverReviewed by Alexander Morrison

How do we decide how long a person stays in jail? Which teachers get fired and which get to keep their job? How is our credit rating linked to the ads we see online and the amount of money we pay for car insurance? There’s one answer for all these questions: Algorithms. There are thousands of mathematical models built that track each and every one of us, putting us in neat little boxes for purposes of safety, advertising, and a dozen other broad causes. But are those algorithms always fair, or even coherent? Cathy O’Neil is here to argue that many of the algorithms running invisibly in the background of our day-to-day lives are ‘weapons of math destruction’, vicious computer codes that can destroy lives as a byproduct of completely failing to measure the thing they were created to measure.

27 08, 2016

Review: Andy and Don by Daniel de Vise

By | August 27th, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

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andy and don book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Was there ever anywhere on earth more congenial than Mayberry? The made-for-television version, that is, which was home to Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy Barney Fife. Otherwise known as Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.

This enjoyable book is a long and loving, detailed look at the two men; their similarities and their differences. It is very even-handed, displaying with great sensitivity the sunny upsides along with the dark and melancholy undersides.

Although Andy and Don doesn’t spare the unhappy parts, it is not ever mean-spirited, presenting the facts just as they happened. Andy and Don were, after all, one of the most famous comedy duos in America, and every comedy act has its sad counterpart.

26 04, 2016

Review: The Making of Home by Judith Flanders

By | April 26th, 2016|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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the making of home book coverReviewed by Meg Massey

In The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes, author Judith Flanders traces the evolution of houses from the 16th century to the present, in Europe and America. From great houses that were open to the public to homes that became more intimate spaces, the change in these spaces is quite fascinating.

As I read through this book, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to historical series like Downton Abbey. That particular series centered around the lives of a family and their servants, in the early 1900s, when change was on the horizon for great houses and the people in them. Over the course of the series, we saw that war, technology, a continually changing political and economic climate, and many other external forces influenced the lives

8 11, 2015

Review: The Human Age by Diane Ackerman

By | November 8th, 2015|Categories: Biological Sciences, Human Geography, Nonfiction, Science & Math, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |2 Comments

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the human age book coverReviewed by Marcus Hammond

If we all stop for a second and look around at our surroundings we probably won’t see anything that would strike us as having a dramatic effect on our planet. Right now, I look around and see my computer, stacks of literature, an iPad, multiple empty cups that need to go to the dishwasher and some pillows. None of that seems overly unusual, right? To Diane Ackerman, these human inventions have made an indelible mark on our natural world. The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us is a collection of intertwined narratives that uncover the ways in which humans have altered the planet.

Ackerman begins with small, recurring anecdote about orangutans that are allowed to play games on iPads. Her perspective of such an unnatural occurrence serves as a thematic reminder of the impact humans

24 01, 2015

Review: Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

By | January 24th, 2015|Categories: Business & Investing, Economics, Management & Leadership, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , |2 Comments

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think like a freak book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Think Like a Freak is the sequel to Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. The book provides readers with advice on revolutionizing one’s thinking to clarify thought processes, problem solve, and reform business models to move a business toward prosperity. The idea of thinking like a “freak” is actually meant to be a positive thing–it is the out of the box realism that makes the world go around. The book’s nine chapters cover what it means to think like a freak, the impact of words, problem-solving techniques, finding the root cause of a problem, thinking like a child, reviewing incentives, the theory of false positives, persuasion techniques and the upside to quitting.

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner use an interesting mix of real life scenarios, hypothetical questions, examples from history and contemporary name brand companies to explain the genius behind

30 12, 2014

Review: The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin

By | December 30th, 2014|Categories: Business & Investing, Management & Leadership, Nonfiction, Psychology, Social Sciences|Tags: |4 Comments

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the organized mind book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

In his book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, Daniel J. Levitin discusses how people can keep organized in the current age of digital information overload. Levitin states that our human brains can only really process small amounts of information at one time. It can be very helpful to learn to separate various brain regions–for example, economic and ethical decisions are managed by different brain regions. We can learn to stretch our brains and their capacity by continuously playing stimulating brain games. Our own world provides clues as to how we can analyze and categorize information better.

Among other things, Levitin covers the processing capacity of the human mind, which is measured at 120 bits per second. This is the bandwidth at which the human brain can safely focus within itself to complete all of the

19 11, 2014

Review: Household Gods by Ted & Kristin Kluck

By | November 19th, 2014|Categories: Christian Living, Nonfiction, Parenting & Family, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |3 Comments

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household gods book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Household Gods begins with the premise that in our modern 21st century lives, we have idols…in our homes. They may not look like a golden calf or a statue of some foreign god, but indeed these idols may look like our dreams, our careers and all the trappings of a successful evangelical family. These idols may look like ideas…a set of ideals that we adhere to and find necessary for happiness and joy.

This book is written in a very conversational style–almost like you are chatting while hanging out in their living room. The stories flow freely and sometimes run down rabbit trails like a conversation among friends. From the beginning, I found myself laughing out loud at the author’s characterizations of different groups of people typically found in evangelical circles: sport’s dads, homeschool families (we

22 02, 2014

Review: Moments of Impact by Chris Ertel & Lisa Kay Solomon

By | February 22nd, 2014|Categories: Business & Investing, Health, Mind, & Body, Leadership, Management & Leadership, Nonfiction, Self-Help, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

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71s0K1x756LReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Businesses are in existence to be profitable and generate revenue. Most everyone will agree to this premise. Most managers have meetings to discuss company business, review issues of concern, and decide how to take the organization to the next level of profitability. Unfortunately, these meetings are usually ineffective at best because managers are often ill equipped in the skills of effective communication. Meetings are part of the workday at most businesses, and no one gets to a higher position without spending dozens of hours in meetings. I challenge you to make a phone call right now to the highest paid executive you know, and I guarantee that that person will most likely be in a meeting.

Meetings make the world go around. But some businesses in general and managers specifically notoriously waste time with meetings–through ineffective communications within (and