Archive for the 'Book Review' category

When wannabe authors attack!

Mar 29 2011 Published by under Book Review

HINT: It isn't pretty.

I spent the morning reading just one review of one book and the comment thread that it inspired. In short, this train wreck of a comment thread is a great example of the reasons that I refuse to review self-published books: the bad punctuation/grammar, the horrible sentence construction, the astonishing inability to correctly use the English language, and yes, the aggressive bullying by the so-called "writers" themselves. Predictably, this blog entry has gone viral: it's now mirrored on loads of facebook accounts, it's all over twitter, and the book's Amazon comment thread has linked to it, too. For wannabe authors, it's a wonderful blow-by-blow account of how to destroy your career before it even gets started.

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11 responses so far

Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth

Jun 24 2010 Published by under Biology, Book Review, Evolution, Fossils, Nature, Zoology

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I'm happy: another book review of mine was just published, this time, by Science magazine. This book, Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth (Oxford University Press: Oxford; 2009), is by Dennis McCarthy, a researcher at the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, New York. In short, I liked the book and I thought it was generally well-written, but it could easily have been twice as long and provided more depth and nuance to the points the author was discussing. You can access the review on the Science site or you can ask me for a copy and I'll happily email it to you [PDF].

5 responses so far

Lift

Jun 21 2010 Published by under Book Review

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It's rare indeed when I read a bird book by a previously-published author whom I've never heard of before, but a few months ago, I was contacted by a published writer who was unknown to me, asking if I wanted to read her story about what it's like to be a woman falconer. Of course! eagerly replied this wannabe falconer. After a few postal mix-ups and delays, the book finally arrived at my door in Germany. This slim paperback, Lift (Los Angeles: Red Hen Press; 2009), is an appropriately named gem of a memoir by Rebecca O'Connor.

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3 responses so far

Natural Harvest: A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes

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I thought I'd read or heard of absolutely everything, but apparently, this is not the case. It turns out that the spousal unit found a cookbook that he thinks is "hilarious" .. which means that he has to share it with me, too. Being a bibliophile, I always appreciate learning about new titles on the market, but this book surely is the strangest ever!

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9 responses so far

Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities

Nov 30 2009 Published by under Book Review, Education

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The second book review I've ever published in Nature Magazine appeared last week, roughly the same time I was on a trans-Atlantic flight from NYC to Frankfurt, Germany. Due to my lack of wireless and jet lag, I've neglected to mention this until now. This review discusses a book that I think is very important for everyone involved in higher education to read and think about: Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities by William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, and Michael S. McPherson. If you would like a free PDF of this review, either click here or, if that link does not allow you to access the review, leave a comment here and I'll email the PDF to you.

12 responses so far

Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience

Sep 18 2009 Published by under Art & Photography, Book Review

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Not too long ago, this unemployed scientist had the honor of being asked to write a book review for Science. The Science book review editor was looking for a review of Jeremy Mynott's new book, Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience. The editor, who peeks at my blog when no one is looking, noticed that I am a scientist and bird maniac who writes and publishes lots of book reviews on my blog, so he very kindly (and out of the blue) decided to give me a chance to write for one of the top scientific journals in the world. My review, which I wrote while I was in Finland, has just been published and is now available online for you to read, or if you prefer a hard copy, here's the PDF (I think it's free -- you'll have to let me know if it's not so I can email a copy to you).

9 responses so far

Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds

Aug 06 2009 Published by under Birding, Book Review

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I've written book reviews for most of my adult life, mostly because I liked talking about the books I've read but rarely found an audience, and also because I found this to be a great way to learn about interesting books that other people were reading. Since I've written a public blog for nearly five years, it was natural that I would publish my reviews on my blog, a practice that ended up adding a substantial number of books to my shelves at a time when I was unemployed and couldn't afford anything, especially not the many books I wanted to read, and I couldn't wait the many months it took before the library copies finally become available to me. During the Science Blogger's meeting in London, England, it was suggested that I try to get my book reviews published in Nature Magazine. It took nearly one year for me to work up the courage to pitch a book review idea to the editors at Nature but amazingly, they actually liked my idea and before I knew it, I had a deadline. Anyway, the review of this book, Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile (Bloomsbury USA; 2009) was finally published today and you can read it on the Nature site [Free PDF].

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Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days

Jun 28 2009 Published by under Book Review, Green/Frugal Living

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Carbon footprints, global warming, green living -- are these phrases an inconvenient truth that keep you awake at night, wondering how you can live in a more environmentally friendly way? For many people, merely contemplating these things is enough to make them give up trying to help the earth before they even start! But before you allow yourself to become discouraged, there is a book out there that will inspire you to make changes in your life that are beneficial to the earth; Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2009) by Vanessa Farquharson.

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20 responses so far

Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land

Jun 24 2009 Published by under Book Review, Religion

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There are two different types
of people in the world,
those who want to know,
and those who want to believe.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche
In November 2002, an ancient carved limestone burial box designed to hold the disarticulated skeleton of a dead person was put on public display in Canada's Royal Ontario Museum. Although common throughout Israel, this particular box, known as an ossuary, was unusual because it was inscribed. Even more remarkable, its ancient Aramaic inscription -- "Ya'akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua" -- translated to read, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." This sent waves of hysteria through the Christian and Jewish communities, causing tens of thousands of faithful to mob the museum. But even before the ossuary was publicly displayed, experts declared the inscription to be a fraud. Unfazed by facts, the religious preferred to believe it was real. In Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land (NYC: Collins; 2008), the author, Nina Burleigh, uncovers the trail followed by forged biblical antiquities, from illegal excavations in Israel to a world-class museum in Canada.

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5 responses so far

Falconer on the Edge: A Man, His Birds, and the Vanishing Landscape of the American West

Jun 13 2009 Published by under Book Review

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Like most married people, Rachel Dickinson thought she knew her husband quite well after years of marriage. But one evening, he surprised her by unexpectedly bringing home a small brown paper bag containing an injured kestrel. You see, Dickinson's husband, Living Bird magazine editor Tim Gallagher, was a lapsed falconer without any birds, until this kestrel, Strawberry, reawakened his latent passion. As the bond between her husband and his tiny falcon grew and deepened, Dickinson was amused and fascinated and wished to learn more about her husband's hobby. But there isn't much modern literature on this topic, so she decided to research and write a book about it herself. The result is her biographical sketch, Falconer on the Edge (NYC: Houghton Mifflin; 2009).

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9 responses so far

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