Vaccine Race, by Meredith Wadman

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Summary: In this fantastic example of journalistic research, Wadman wrote about the crippling effects of various diseases, especially of birth defects. Diseases covered included rubella, polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles and hepatitis A. She then described the scientific efforts put forth to find vaccines for these diseases, as well as political roadblocks and legal/moral failings of some of the scientists.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It was well-researched and interesting. I didn’t realize what kinds of political roadblocks were present in the development of vaccines. She mostly avoided the topic of vaccine deniers and the misconception that vaccines cause autism. That’s probably for the best, because the book was already rather long. However, I do feel that the story is a tiny bit incomplete without covering it a little bit. Despite this omission, I loved this book and understand why it was on the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist.

Update week 55

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This has been a good week! Besides finding his thumb, IL learned to roll over to his tummy AND to reach and grab. Apparently, these are both 3-4 month milestones, and he turns three months this coming week, so he’s making good progress.

It was a much more relaxing week now that we’ve made a new rule with M’s eating (he can eat a hot dog every night if he wants to, but he has to make it himself). We figured that trying to introduce variety at the same time as increasing calories was causing more stress than it was worth. We’re just going to focus on getting calories into him.

So far, I’ve had a relaxing weekend. Aaron and I had our book club with my friend Liz – we discussed Between the World and Me. We then watched some Doctor Who. We’re up to the first Weeping Angels episode, which Aaron is eager to see. But he has to wait until next month now, hehehehe.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

I’ve changed my audiobook plan for the year – I’m going to focus on reading books that I already have in my library. Obviously, I won’t manage to make ALL of my audiobooks ones I already own, but if I listen to 3 hours a day I can read all books in my Audible Library by next January. lol My first choice from MtAudibleTBR is this fantastic biography of Alan Turing.

Completed this week

Completed

Yeah, that’s right. I found an audiobook of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant playing Benedik.

Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery

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Summary: The author got to know a few octopuses in a New England aquarium in order to study and write about the intelligence of octopuses. But her story ended up so much more than just a description of intelligence. It was one of friendship and grief as well.

My thoughts: Loved this book. The author was so heartfelt in all she said – it was obvious that she really loved her friends, the octopuses. There was a good mixture of facts about octopuses and her personal experiences with them, making the book both intellectually engaging and personal.

4 and half snowflakes

Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

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Summary: (spoilers) When Bassanio asks his merchant friend Antonio for money to court the fair Portia, his friend agrees wholeheartedly. Only he doesn’t have the money to lend. So he borrows from Shylock, with the understanding that if Antonio forfeits, Shylock can choose to get a pound of Antonio’s flesh instead.Antonio assures Bassino that he has some ships that are sure to bring in the money soon. Bassanio takes the money and goes to woo and eventually win Portia. Meanwhile, Antonio’s ships go astray, leaving him with no finances. Shylock demands his pound of flesh, and the judge hears his case. Bassanio returns to Venice for the hearing, bearing three times the amount Antonio owns – because Portia is rich. Shylock refuses the money because he wants his pound of flesh. Unbeknownst to Bassanio, Portia follows him, dressed like a man. Portia comes to the hearing bearing a letter from a powerful lawyer friend. The letter says she is a young lawyer. Portia argues that Shylock, indeed, should get his pound of flesh, but he must do so without shedding even a drop of blood – since that is not in the contract. If Shylock sheds a drop of blood, he will be executed for murder. Defeated, Shylock asks for his money, which Portia says he can not take because he has refused it in open court. Furthermore, she says that since Shylock has tried to murder Antonio, he has forfeited his lands – half to Antonio and half to the government – and Shylock’s life is at the mercy of the Duke. The Duke Spares his life. Shylock leaves in humiliation and despair. There was much rejoicing.

My thoughts: Wow. This was so anti-Semitic! I know it was written in a different time, but it made me cringe all the way through. Plus, I’m not sure exactly why this is considered a comedy rather than a drama? I didn’t find it very funny. I understand that this was a different time, and anti-Semitism was accepted at the time, and that I should view the play through that lens. But it was pretty hard to do that. I am thoroughly tainted by my own time, I guess. 🙂 Otherwise, of course, this was a fantastic bit of literature. Obviously, it is a very powerful story. It contains “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” speech, which has a moving message.

3 and half snowflakes

Weekly Update Week 54

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I call this one: Baby’s First Mirror Selfie

Well, this week was hard as far as feeding M went. We got into an ill-advised power struggle with him on Thursday over eating his corn, kept him up till 10:30 at the dining room table, and lost. He didn’t eat the corn, and we didn’t want to keep him up all night because the whole point is keeping him healthy. So we came up with a new plan – we thought that perhaps his reason for not wanting to eat is so he could gain a little control over his life. So we are alternating between family members about who chooses meals. We hope that the increased control will encourage him to eat more. So far, it has made little difference, but we’ve only had four meals since that decision…and he never finishes breakfast. He also ate way too much junkfood between lunch and dinner because it was our very first D&D day! Yay!

Aaron was the Dungeon Master, and M, D, my friend Liz, and I were the players. We used pre-made characters for simplicity’s sake. I am a dwarf cleric, Liz was a halfling rougue, M was a elf wizard and D was a human warrior. We played about half of a pre-written adventure in which the four of us were taking a wagon of goods to sell in a big town when we were beset by goblins. Due to D’s winning a dice throw against Liz, we decided to go up the garbage chute and snuck up on the boss-fight from behind. Liz’s character is close to death, but luckily we have a healing potion to give her. We’ll find out what happens next in two weeks.

As for today’s blizzard, so far it is quite unimpressive. There is wind, and it blew some snow around last night, but we have fantastic visibility at the moment.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

Given Up On

Acquired

I found Origins of Political Order too boring for my tastes. I could tell it was a well-written book, and maybe I’d have done better reading it rather than listening to it. But I realized I wasn’t hearing a thing because my mind kept wandering off, so I quit. I never actually started Taming of the Shrew.  I watched the movie in preparation of reading it – and then I remembered how totally AWFUL Petruchio was to Katherine. How could I have found that funny when I was a teenager?

Completed

Completed

Citizen is the only book I finished on my own. The two Dragon Masters books were read to me by M (and I figured that counts, since reading to me is exactly what an audiobook does – and I have to pay more attention when M is reading so I can catch words that he doesn’t know).

Kid’s Books Week 54

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Adorable book about snail mail (delivered by snails). The ending really made me laugh. Very cute.

four snowflakes

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Classic story about a little girl who needs to get an appendectomy and the hospital is so cool that all her friends want one too.

5 snowflakes

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Cute book about a kid who wants his monster to win the best monster pet award.

four snowflakes

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Story about a rude little monster who bursts into Mrs. Mo’s house and starts eating everything.

four snowflakes

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Story about a little girl who loves to look at the stuff in grandma’s purse.

3 and half snowflakes

Burning Magic, by Joshua Khan

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Summary: Third book of the Shadow Magic series. Lily and Thorn travel to the Sultanate of Fire to visit K’leef and see the coronation of his brother. However, when things go badly, K’leef is sent on a dangerous quest and his friends go along to help.

My thoughts: I am really enjoying this series. The story is fun and adventurous, the characters are funny and intelligent, the world is well-constructed. I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy middle grade fantasy (or to kids ages 9-11 who enjoy fantasy). But do start on the first book in the series, Shadow Magic.

4 and half snowflakes