Review: The Book of the Moon

42193752★★★★★

The Book of the Moon is exactly what it claims to be: a through look at our nearest celestial neighbor. In this lucid, occasionally humorous guide to all things lunar Maggie Aderin-Pocock- space scientist, science communicator, and self-proclaimed lunatic- is our guide. This isn’t a typical scientific text, but it is my favorite kind. Though this small book is absolutely packed with figures and data, it also explores the deep connection that humans have had with the moon from our earliest days. After describing her background and relationship with the moon in the introduction, Aderin-Pocock breaks The Book of the Moon into four sections:

  • Moon 101: The Basics – A description of the physical properties of the moon, its environment, and how it formed.
  • Moon Past: The Moon in Our Culture – This was easily my favorite section. Topics here are broken down into groups of five. Five people, five places, five poems, five works of art, and more. The people and works featured here are refreshingly varied, a break from the Eurocentric, whitewashed version of scientific history that we’re all used to seeing.
  • Moon Present: A Sharper Focus – Tools and techniques for observing the moon accompanied by a description of our recent past involving the moon from, the beginning of the Space Race to present.  
  • Moon Future: What Lies Ahead? – An unbiased discussion of the future of science, commerce, and settlement on our moon.

I’m currently pursuing a degree in Earth Science with special interest in Planetary Geology and there was still more for me to learn in this brief, but densely packed little book. For all the information here, I never felt bogged down. Aderin-Pocock’s intense enthusiasm for the moon permeates this whole text and carried you along effortlessly. My only regret upon finishing it is that I wasn’t immediately able to pick up another book by Maggie Aderin-Pocock. In less than 300 pages I’m completely convinced, the next great science communicator- among the likes of Sagan and Nye- now stands before us. Continue reading “Review: The Book of the Moon”

Review: Some Choose Darkness

41735371★★☆☆☆

Some Choose Darkness has stolen the title previously held by Andy Weir’s Artemis: Most Disappointing Read of 2019.

Throughout the story we follow Rory Moore, a forensic reconstructionist at the top of her field. In the midst of a personal hiatus her father suddenly passes, leaving to her all of the clients of his one-man law firm. As she sorts out his affairs Rory discovers that for years her father has been handling the assets of the notorious serial killer known as The Thief. Unable to pass his case off to anyone else, Rory is forced to see a convicted him through his parole, struggling to unpack why her father remained so close with a vicious killer as she pieces together the mysterious death of the woman who brought The Thief down.

I was incredibly excited to begin this book, but I was never hooked in. Instead, I pushed on with hopes that the story ended strong, but I was ultimately let down. 

From the beginning, this story drags. For several short prologues and a whole chapter the author plays the pronoun game before finally introducing us to the protagonist. From there, it doesn’t get much better. More than anything, this book felt like the victim of poor editing. For the first 100 pages very little happens, I assumed these little threads would eventually come together in the end, but unfortunately most only contributed to small epiphanies or twists that failed to shock. Donlea’s writing style only made this a greater burden. In these introductory chapters, he has a strange habit of breaking up action or dialogue with huge paragraphs reminding the reader how special and smart Rory Moore is. I feel like I was unable to connect with her because more often Donlea tells the reader about how incredible Rory Moore is as opposed to showing the incredible things she is capable of. So many of these writing quirks grated on my nerves throughout the entire story, but that wasn’t enough to ruin the experience. On top of it all, the resolution was rushed and Rory’s final actions felt completely out of character. Seeing other reviewers rave about this book, I’m left wondering what I missed.

Die-hard thriller fans, this book probably isn’t for you. I dip into the genre on occasion and even I could see the twists coming from a mile away. But don’t leave disappointed just yet, let me instead point you in the direction of one of my favorite books of all time: The Crow Girl. Continue reading “Review: Some Choose Darkness”

Advance Review: Waves

40744544★★★★☆

Waves is a brief and poignant story of the world-shattering loss of a child and a young couple’s life in the aftermath. Chabbet weaves their tale of recovery, based on her own experiences.

It’s hard to say that I enjoyed this story in the typical sense. My heart ached at every page during their journey of learning to cope with the reality of losing their son as I was touched by Carole Maurel’s gorgeous illustrations. My only qualm with Waves is that it left me wanting more.

 

Continue reading “Advance Review: Waves”

Advance Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities

★★★★★

This is a book I wish I could’ve handed to a younger version of myself. In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel queer identities of all varieties are explored by our narrator, a snail. It is clear that this book was made to be accessible to younger readers, but I would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about identities beyond their own, those trying to figure out what identity suits them, and allies trying to educate themselves.

Other reviewers have critiqued the fact that a book geared towards younger readers includes a section on relationship basics, but it was a touch that I actually loved. If you are closeted or struggling with your identity, there may never be an opportunity for you to learn about what the basis of a healthy relationship is or signs of a partner that may be controlling and/or manipulative. I think there is little harm in the way this was approached- emphasizing self love and open communication. It is clear that the authors aimed to make this an accessible, inclusive read and I can wholeheartedly say they succeeded. Continue reading “Advance Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities”

Advance Review: The Time Collector

★★★☆☆41711272

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I loved the premise and I wanted to love the story, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Time Collector focuses on a group of gifted individuals known as psychometrists. Psychometrists range in their strength, but all share the ability to discern the past of objects the touch. Our male protagonist, Roan West, is one of the most powerful psychometrists among their small numbers. Roan has become increasingly worried with the disappearances of several psychometrists across the globe, including one of his closest friends. Then arises the problem of Melicent Tilpin.

Melicent is a young woman scraping by as she tries to balance work and raising her teenage brother following their mother’s recent death. She’s also a psychometrist whose powers have newly awakened. After peering into the past of objects found at flea markets and antique swaps, Melicent find herself on Antiques Roadshow where her items are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars and she’s admitted her gift to the world. Upon seeing the video Roan rushes across the country to warn Melicent, hoping she’ll listen.

The greatest triumph of The Time Collector is Gwendolyn Womack’s skill as a writer. This book touches on phenomena like out-of-place artifacts (OOPArts), crop circles, and more as Womack spins a tale that spans all of Earth’s breadth and history. I went in with very little foreknowledge of many of the phenomena she describes, but I never found myself lost in the explanations – the world she creates is easy to slip in to and enjoy. Some of the chapters that I enjoyed most were those where as a character reads an imprint, you are transported back in time. From 18th century Vienna to South Korea on the cusp of The Forgotten War, these periods are captured with incredible realism that drew me in despite their intrusion into the main plot.

So here’s the caveat of all this: I just didn’t like the romantic aspect. I was pulled in by the tension between Melicent and Roan through the first half of their story, but once the romantic tension was dissipated everything seemed to lose momentum. I’m also seldom a fan of stories where two characters are fully in love in a matter of just days. I tried to see past it because there was so much else that I enjoyed, but it ultimately left me feeling a little disappointed as I finished this book. I’m certain The Time Collector will be the perfect read for many people, just not me. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Time Collector”