The Disappearing Spoon

Thoughts : And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Back Bay Books 2010, 416 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Cutlery Category
Genre: Pop Science
Type/Source:  Tradeback Paperback / Local Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: I think it took me all month to read it. I wanted something new and different after all the 2016 pub’d books I had furiously flown through.

MOTIVATION for READING: I like fun science. This satisfied the cutlery challenge and looked interesting. My other option was Consider the Fork about technology and food. (Yep, another nonfiction.) If you want a title with a knife, I only recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go if you have ALL books in the series. I hate cliffhangers.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The author walks the reader through the elements of the Chemistry Periodic Table regaling with history, personalities, OF COURSE some science and other oddball tidbits to fascinate.

Jupiter is a fantasy camp for elements.

WHAT’s GOOD: Easy to understand sections about how they figure the age of the world. I enjoyed the personal anecdotes about the fascinating scientists that worked out these challenges. The author does a fair job of recognizing and discussing privilege in science/history. And how much we still don’t understand – the chapter on the alpha constant! It’s everywhere – totally fascinating. He highlights many recent stories that show how science of the elements is still evolving. [doh. The study of medicine/pharmacology, anyone?!] I know that I have internal bias that science discovery was all done ‘back then’ and when he mentions research and experiments past 2005 — I admit, I am embarrassed to wonder “hey- that is recent!” Maybe it is the realization that I have lived some of this history but how can I be that old already? It really is an odd thing to sense one’s own aging; it still befuddles me.

“If anything runs deeper than a mathematician’s love of variables, it’s a scientist’s love of constants.”

What’s NOT so good: I had to have two bookmarks – one for the text and the other in the footnotes section. I’ll never remember most of it! Only occasionally, the presentation is dense and extremely technical but also easy to skip over and get to the good stuff.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like science history, this is a don’t-miss. But then again, if you really love science history, you probably know a lot of it already.

It often reminded me of that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon adopts the cats…

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

What’s Care Been Readin’ Lately?

Thoughts

I have had a slow down. Not a slump! but a definite lack of time spent reading, it seems. I did attempt a re-listen to Lincoln in the Bardo but I didn’t finish it. I was looking listening for a pie mention that I thought happened.  PLEASE ANYONE!! If you read or will read the eBook version — do a search pretty-please?

This week, I have rediscovered my ability to read read read. I am half through the 14 hour audiobook of Warren Zanes’ bio of  Tom Petty. Wow, do I love biographies of interesting artists. I do.  Mr. Zanes is an interesting character himself and he has an appealing literary quality to his writing. He has quoted Karen Blixon and Russell Banks and a few other authors I know of (but haven’t read.)

I’m still trudging through  The Disappearing Spoon and not that it’s not interesting, it’s just that I have been not picking it up. You know what I mean? What interesting characters these scientists can be…

And finally, on the heels of the Pulitzer announcement of Colson Whitehead winning for The Underground Railroad, I decided to check if my library had a copy of The Intuitionist They did and now I’m reading it. It’s got a scientific quirky vibe. Enjoying it very much so far.

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I finally watched Far From the Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan and Martin Sheen  and it was wonderful! I loved it. If you loved this romantic triangle story with one fabulous independent woman lead, you should read my review of the book/audiobook…  You should read the book first. Film was a fun adaption, in my opinion. And visually stunning. Oh! the costumes!! And I miss reading classics. I need to get back to my Classics Club 50. “It is my intention to astonish you all.”

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I made pie for Easter.

The not so pretty but still rather interesting Carrot Pie and the Italian traditional ricotta cheese pie called Fiadone:

centered?

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I miss not having a book review to post on this now-dusty blog… Soon, though. Hope everyone is reading something good. TELL ME! What are you reading?

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mr. Splitfoot

Thoughts msfbysh by Samantha Hunt, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016, 336 pages

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Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Contemporary Lit? Not horror, as some have suggested.
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: Only book not yet read on my eReader that is also on the TOB Long List.

MOTIVATION for READING: I downloaded this waaaaay back when. When Julianne of Outlandish Lit had her weird book reading adventure and then the book had a daily deal, I think. I do not usually pay the big bucks for eBooks… I will pay anything to read a Hardcover, it seems.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Cora is an adult and not feeling too ambitious about it all but she loves her mother. Her mother was a foster kid that got out and survived to be a decent mother herself despite not having a good example to follow. We don’t get much of Mom nor Grandma’s stories but we get enough.

So, Cora gets herself in a predicament and her Aunt Ruth, mom’s sister, comes to take her on a little trip, a walking trip. Call this a ROAD TRIP book. We have mistreated foster kids, religious cults, mothers and daughters, attempts at ‘adulting’, talking to the dead, con men, meteorites and Carl Sagan, odd music references that I still want to look up and just might but I’m at work and don’t judge me that I can write book reviews while at work but they don’t have much work-work to give me and I feel I’m doing academic work here in bookbloggerland, couldn’t you agree? I just can’t, however, play videos and listen to tunes. Must be aware

WHAT’s GOOD: I really liked this and though I only gave it 4 slices on goodreads I can only blame that on my rating ability going haywire in December. This book was so much more than I expected and dare I say it was sweet? It had tender moments.

What’s NOT so good: I’m really not sure – it could be that I missed it – but I never quite figured out the title…  I don’t ‘get’ the cover art, either. Maybe I’ll have to reread it. Maybe I should do the audiobook. I bet this would be an awesome audiobook – can anyone testify?

FINAL THOUGHTS: It has humor and light among the dark and gritty. I really liked it. The ending brings it all together AND surprises.

RATING:  Four slices of apple pie with extra whipped cream.

p.301 “…you’re feeling bad about serving your wife up to me like a tasty piece of pie, but that doesn’t mean you can just give her my money.”

I hope this makes the TOB! I will be cheering for it.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Double Helix: Annotated and Illustrated

Thoughts dhbyjw by Dr. James Watson, Simon and Schuster 2012 (orig 1968), 368 pages [Edited by Alexander Gann and Jan Witkowski]

Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Science History
Type/Source: Hardback / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: I love science.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: How Watson and Crick used models to figure out how DNA was structured.

WHAT’s GOOD: I did not expect the breezy style. It is very readable.

What’s NOT so good:  Well, you may or may not like Dr. Watson at the end but he does tell a fun story, even if bits are regrettable. He was young and determined. He shares more than just the science, but also other activities these youthful scientists were up to – where and what they ate (gooseberry pie has a mention!), the girls they tried to meet, the famous people they encountered and traveled to visit. He talks about his troubles with the sponsor for his time abroad and quite a bit about the personalities of everyone he works with.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so glad to have read this. The big question:  did Rosalind Franklin get screwed out of the discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize. Question Mark. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and that I could say yes, but. It very much feels like facts happened and one’s viewpoint is X and the other is Y. This and that. Perspectives. And when you start to get snarky, it gets very ugly fast. Did circumstances make it difficult and thus makes it a helluva story? Oh yes.

She deserved more accolades and unfortunately she is getting it now and not in her lifetime. It is sad that she died so young. Was Watson a _____ (insert whatever nasty/relevant word you want here, but my answer is “he was a man”.)

And NOW:  I get to read more about Rosalind Franklin:

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RATING: Four slices of gooseberry pie. If you are going to read this, I suggest the annotated illustrated edition.

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Inside the O’Briens

Thoughts itobbylg by Lisa Genova, Gallery Books 2015, 343 pages

“Hope is the thing with feathers that reaches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson”

RATING: Five slices of pie.

FOR:  My neighborhood book club. Meeting is first week of October 2015.

What’s it ABOUT: I hate to assume but I do know many of my readers are familiar with Lisa Genova. She is the author of Still Alice, recently brought to film and hot in the latest Academy Awards race which culminated in a Best Actress win for Julianne Moore. I have yet to see the movie.

Still Alice was Genova’s debut novel and I had the privilege to meet her at a book reading on Cape Cod in 2009. Shocked, I am, that it was that long ago! But not really, considering that THIS book, Inside the O’Briens, is Genova’s FOURTH book. She is on her way to being and remaining a celebrated author and I expect we will be entertained and educated on more neurological disorders in the future.

“A silence fills the room like a flash flood, and they’re all submerged, breathless.”

Yes, she has a genre; could be considered one of the best of the “disease fiction” novelists (the only one that comes to mind at the moment) — if that is a thing. (There are many shelves in goodreads pertaining to this theme.) In all of her books, Genova tackles an issue, usually based on a little known or rare neuropathology, and humanizes the situation extremely well. She brings it to life where we not only understand the problems, consider the heartaches, but also relate to the fear AND hope. Providing HOPE is especially difficult to do and she manages it somehow. She also reminds me to be compassionate and kind.

Still Alice discusses Early Onset Alzheimers. Left Neglected showcases a disorder known a Left Neglect – in this one, the protagonist suffers a brain injury. Love Anthony tackles autism – this is the only book I have yet to read. All are set in Massachusetts.

Inside the O’Briens brings awareness to the rare genetic Huntington’s Disorder (HD). We meet a Boston cop who lives in Charlestown MA and his family and friends. Yes, I cried. And yet I didn’t cry at the end. Maybe I was all cried out by then, but also, Genova leaves us with a plan to be hopeful and knowledgeable. In the epilogue, she provides an opportunity to support the research to find a cure. In my opinion, the most difficult part of these kinds of books is the balance between providing too much information about the disorder and describing what the people are feeling. I never felt that I was encountering an educational treatise (“Here is a scary fact, now go feel something.”). I never felt manipulated. All of it felt real and skillfully plotted and revealed.

We not only learn about HD, we learn about what it is like to be a police officer in Boston. We learn about yoga, we learn about Charlestown. This author is excellent at creating that sense of place. It helps that I am familiar with this area but I don’t think anyone else who hasn’t visited Boston would feel any setting loss. She is that good. I have to admit that one of my slices of pie is for that skill Genova has to allow me into the lives of fictional people who seem totally real; I am inside fully developed characters and immersed into their thoughts and fears and dreams. This is a successful book.

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HAVE YOU READ A BOOK BY LISA GENOVA? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?  This might be mine. I liked Still Alice a bit more than Left Neglected.

*NOTE* – I read Still Alice as a first book when joining a new book club and this will be the first book for a new club, too. I’m beginning to see a connection! It doesn’t take much for me to see connections… What it might mean, I have no clue.

**SECOND NOTE** – I had a status update in goodreads for page 239 that mentions my concern with the last paragraph but I returned the book to the library. Here’s hoping that edition will be at the club meeting so I can refer to it.

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Thoughts siaslbyrh by Robert Heinlein, Blackstone Audio 2009 (orig 1961), 16 hours 21 minutes

Narrated by Christopher Hurt.

FOR CLASSIC CLUB – might fit the humor category of the the Classics Challenge, too?  (or maybe not)

What is this ABOUT:  A child had been born to a Mars Exploration team and was eventually brought back to Earth – he really does not have any idea of his Earthly human heritage but once secured into a place with humans who allow him to thrive and learn, he manages to REALLY get carried away with combining his Mars knowledge with what it means to be human.

It’s a wild ride and after reading Atlas Shrugged immediately prior, it was especially philosophically wild.

I am still trying to wrestle with the concepts and ideas between the two books AND the idea that the books were written a few years apart. Honestly, Atlas Shrugged holds up better. Stranger definitely had a 60s feel to it.

How lucky for our Martian friend that he met Jubal Harshaw! Otherwise, the story would be vastly different. In fact, this book is more a book about Jubal than Michael from Mars.

Finally, a science fiction book about space travel and aliens! I listened to this on a trip from North Carolina to Rhode Island. I didn’t quite have enough road to finish the book, but walking the pups around Newport afforded me the opportunity to finish the book without too much delay.

The first third is rollicking fun!

The next third was rather tedious when it gets bogged down in religion – though very cleverly explained.

The last third was the eye-rolling WTH!? free-love craziness and to be totally honest, I don’t even remember how it ends. Happy ever after? Golly, I really do not recall.

I expect a lit class on this text would be enlightening and hot with discussion. I almost stopped the car on one tiny but powerful little hiccup about rape but I had to just power through and though not forgive – I am just trying (and obviously failing) to pretend he really didn’t say that. Ugh. Heinlein seems to say that women can be smart and do whatever they want; of course, they are quite capable but they really only want to be loved, be pretty and have babies. Despite that…

RATING:  I rate it 4 stars. I don’t think this book would appeal to many of my friends but it was fascinating and it is one more title I am glad to say that I finally ‘know’ and can say, “Yep, read it.”

 

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Final Thoughts — Flowers for Algernon #MayFFA

Thoughts ffabydk Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Bantam Books 1968 (orig 1959), 216

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So much for trying not to be SPOILED and thus it was ruined anyway. This would be the BEST book to have been warned thoroughly about what it IS about. (Maybe? Jenny could/should have sent me an all-caps email that said PLEASE YOU MUST READ THE ENDING FIRST! YOU WILL THANK ME.) This is NOT one to be in the dark for. Now, you want a totally-blind know-nothing-read then go try Life After Life by Kate Atkinson or We Were Liars by E.Lockhart. These two should definitely be books to go in COLD.

But NOT Flowers!

This is a cautionary tale of how an incorrect misleading spoiler (or just an untruth!) was misunderstood and how my over-imagination caused much confusion.

It’s just too hard to have classics be totally spoiler-free and over-hyped. I shouldn’t try. It also did not help that I had this confused with Harrison’s Flowers because I seriously SERIOUSLY had thought for many years that it was a war torn love story. And when that bubble burst, I somehow got the impression this TRULY had space aliens!  I thought I accidentally saw a spoiler that the mouse was an intelligent space alien!!! Where I got this, I can no longer ascertain. Apparently, I was hoping for Ralph of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

So, yea. DISAPPOINTED.

I’m thinking I need to write some fanfic for this book involving mice-driven spaceships and romances ripped apart by the savageness of war.

ncspaceshiphouse  Outer Space or Outer Banks NC House… Supposedly the 2nd most photographed building in North Carolina)

According to Wiki, Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life.  Come on, Care, you are SMARTER than to assume all SciFi is aliens and outer space. IKR!?  Well, this did not feel like science fiction. Perhaps because it was based in the past? I’m so out of my league when discussing the SF genre, right? Just because I’ve read Neuromancer and Snow Crash and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I *think* have a grasp on this slippery genre?! Go ahead, banish me from the club. I deserve it. I wish I hadn’t known that it won the Hugo award nor the Nebula Award. Pretty cool that it won, but I wish I didn’t know it.

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OK, then. What is this about? It’s about how a science/medical team attempted to ‘fix’ a low IQ in order to make a human being smarter but they all failed to grasp the consequences on an emotional level. Sometimes, I thought this was expressed well and was quite nuanced in the telling. Other times, I was annoyed at Charlie and often thought he was rude and disrespectful, to women especially; but I have to realize that he learned too much, too fast and the whole point was that he didn’t have the gradual maturing to navigate and understand relationships. Life is complicated… yes, it’s extremely complicated. The story IS sad.

Please read Bellezza’s review, and/or Athira’s Halfway Post.

Two or three slices of pie depending on how I feel when you ask me. I don’t recall any pie mentions.

BIG THANK YOU to ATHIRA and TRISH for reading & tweeting along with me!

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Sickness Quotient: 76% — Your “Sickness Quotient” of 76% indicates therapy may be useful.
Detailed Diagnosis

  • Interpersonal Insights: Your sense of self-entitlement means you’re probably the kind of person that pulled the wings off of butterflies when you were little. You think everyone is out to get you, and you’re absolutely right. It’s because you’re an awful person without any redeeming qualities.
  • Job Performance & Attitude: Your work is of so little value they should just put a shredder in place of your Out basket You frequently mention terms like “core competencies” and “paradigm shifts” while at work. Stop acting like such a tool.
  • Personality Insight: Your personal motto is “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” You must not have been saying this for very long.

ouch.

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Science Tales

Thoughts stbydc Science Tales: Lies Hoaxes and Scams by Darryl Cunningham, Myriad Editions 2012, 174 pages

a COMIC book? I wouldn’t call it a Graphic Novel because it is not a novel. I’m so out of it on the comic/graphics genre take on books!

And, unfortunately, this book really can’t be praised for helping me figure out if I like this genre or not.

I’m going to say no.

I really have to admit that half way through I realized I was only reading the words and not appraising or appreciating (or even noticing) the illustrations.

Minus:  On a content note, I don’t feel that Cunningham really shared much of the science he was endorsing or refuting on his chapters of  Electroconvulsive Therapy, Homeopathy, Vaccinations, the Moon Hoax, Climate Change, Evolution, Chiropractic Medicine, and Science Denial.

Positive:  I don’t fault the book for attempting to inspire constructive thinking and consideration of the facts. It certainly encourages more research and shares what those sources might be.

So kudos for that.  It’s a quick read, too.

Do please read Debi’s review!

Rating: Two and 1/2 slices of pie. So round up to three.

 

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Year of the Flood

Thoughts tyotfbyma The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood,

Satisfies the WATER category of the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge.

Unfortunately, though I do remember Jimmy in the tree and the blue people, I do not recall much of Oryx and Crake and what all happened in MaddAddam Part 1. Not that my memory failure contributed in any way to my enjoyment (or not) of this Part 2 but I wish I could remember more.

I do find Atwood’s books amazing. She is a very talented and creative story teller.

“…the reason you can’t really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, ‘I’ll be dead,’ you’ve said the word I, and so you’re still alive inside the sentence. And that’s how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul – it was a consequence of grammar.”  

My advice? if you like Atwood and you like dystopia and you have yet to read this 3 book series, just gather them in and read in a timely manner.

If you haven’t read either Book 1 or Book 2, there is probably no reason I can think of to say that you MUST read O&C first. You could likely read Flood first and then read O&C and enjoy it just as much.

It’s all about different perspectives on how humans are destroying the Earth. And yet she always manages to bring out the best in people just as she describes how awful we humans can be.

I don’t recall how O&C ended but this one was abrupt and unsatisfying. I didn’t throw it across the room or anything but I did groan in slight frustration. Now I should go get MaddAddam, Book 3 and get it over with but I won’t. I know myself too well.

I just get distracted by all the books I already have and want to read and before I know it, years will have flown by. On the other hand, I bet the library might actually have this…

 

Rating: fourpie Four slices of turnip pie. I actually made a turnip/parsnip/potato pie last month and it was quite tasty. Not pretty to look at though.

 

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

 

Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Thoughts cbyvf Color by Victoria Finlay, Random House Trade 2004 (orig 2002), 448 pages

Satisfies the COLOR category of the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge.

“Up until then I had always believed that the world was getting better and better and more and more clever. But that day my tender theory about the Evolution of History fell on its head, and it has – for better or for worse – never been quite right ever since.”  p. 1

Wow – what a wild ride! This book is nuts.

I learned a lot and I marveled at what the author went through to gather stories to fit into this book. She wanted to find India Indigo so she went there. She wanted to find Tyrian Purple, so she went to Lebanon. She just had to see the blue Lapis Lazuli mines of Afghanistan, so off she went. Think about that last one…

She is fearless!

My only complaint might be that she really is all over the place at times and I wondered why she would mention that. (off on a tangent much?)  I had to go look up SO MANY THINGS. It is hard – she mentions this, too – it is very hard to describe colors with words.

This is a 4 slice of pie book. fourpie If you like travel books and author-involved nonfiction adventures, I recommend. If you are an artist and are curious about how artists got their colors, you must read this book.

I still have my receipt from purchasing this in 2010. Why? What prompted this book then? I have no records except the date. HOWEVER, in looking for other reviews out there in blogland, I found that Eva of A Striped Armchair was extremely enthusiastic about this book, so that is a clue. And since I seem to be on a linky-love binge, I should include Fyrefly’s discussion of another Finlay book that am now wanting to read next/soon/someday.

Colors are fascinating; this book makes me crave the colors of the entire world and makes me wonder what others really are looking at – do we see the same thing? Is the blue I see the blue you see? What color of purple do you think Cleopatra dyed her sails? And how exactly did she do it? So many mysteries.

Tyndall’s explanation of why the sky is blue is one of the best ever. Page 305.

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Lots of Copley Connections for me, too.  Of course, she mentions Simon Garfield’s Mauve which I read in 2009. Or the mention of the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne being known for its beer exports. (I read all about that in Hops & Glory.) And then on page 384, Finlay describes a cave with a ‘millenia of snail trails’; surely those of you who read All the Light We Cannot See, recognize Marie-Laure and her hiding place?

Do you have any nonfiction books about colors to recommend? Just one more of my favorite things to learn more about, I guess. AND, I will send this book to anyone who comments and says they want it. If more than one person wants it, I will select somebody at random. Must comment before Valentines Day.

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* Copley Connections are the random connections and coincidences that link books that I have read.

 

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.