Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review for 52 Likes, a new YA book by Medeia Sharif

There seems to be a common theme in YA novels, you can always find one with disturbing content, or maybe it is just the ones I pick up! Not that I mind, most of the time if I am looking to read a teen novel it is because I'm in the mood to read some terrible stuff--not poorly written, just difficult subject matters.
This book is no exception, and therefore might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's violent with paranormal elements.
The story begins with the protagonist Valerie being raped and her attacker trying, unsuccessfully, to kill her. The scene wasn't gratuitous or graphic, yet it was just enough to make the reader uncomfortable but not have them throw the book down in disgust. I give the book 4 stars just because the writing kept me riveted and I finished the book in just a few hours. There were parts where I rolled my eyes, like where the main character is trying to identify with another victim by saying that she too was "pear-shaped". This wouldn't have been a problem but prior to that she makes such a big deal about how large her breasts are and how people think she is slutty because she is so curvy (I think "pear-shaped" as being flat chested). Also the girl is constantly called a "thot" or "thottie" almost once a page. She does say how much that slur bothers her, but do teenagers really call each other that? Maybe I'm just showing my age, but it seems like a really weak insult (it stands for "that ho' over there"), maybe if I were a teenager it wouldn't have struck me as annoying.
The story, however, was incredibly well thought out. I figured out who the bad guy was as soon as he was introduced, but that might have been just a hunch rather than it being transparent. If I hadn't had my hunch I would have been on pins and needles trying to solve the mystery because there are a couple of curve balls thrown in.
There are the ghosts of the victims that work as a "deus ex machina" that if you can hold your suspension of disbelief, doesn't seem that horrible. Only once, when the protagonist gets a sudden notice on her phone and thinks to herself, "what is this? maybe it will be a clue to whoever raped me!" was a bit lame. The ghosts guide her exactly where she needs to go and who she needs to talk to so that in the course of a few days she she solves the crime and 2 other unsolved ones to boot!
I'm trying to point out that this is not "fine literature", there are some plot holes and overly simplified explanations, but it kept me reading which not a lot of books can do.
That being said I thought that the beginning seemed rushed. Maybe this was due to ever editing because it seemed choppy like the beginning originally took more time to get into. Maybe economy of language was what was the goal? Maybe the author was just trying to hurry past the exposition to prove that the violent rape, while integral to the story, wasn't the entire story?
Do I recommend it? Yes, but with warnings: the subject matter is disturbing and the audience is very much for the YA crowd.
I did receive this book from the author so I could read and give my honest opinion. I would definitely pick up other books by this author if I were to come across more.

Spangled Stars QAL

I finished the quilt top for the Spangled Stars QAL. This was supposed to be a 4th of July quilt, but I like these colors better than red, white and blue. I don't know what I will get around to the actual quilting since it is my least favorite part of the process. Maybe I wont quilt it, just put a back on it and call it a thin blanket rather than a quilt?

Linking up with:
Sew Fresh Quilts
Fresh Poppy Design

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

52 Women You Need to Know! My review of Headstrong
What an inspiring book!
This book chronicles the lives of 52 women who through their passion for their field made some amazing breakthroughs that largely went unnoticed (or were stolen--I'm looking at YOU Watson and Crick).
At first I was a little put off because the author only devotes a few pages to each woman and I craved more information. These women were incredibly impressive and mostly unknown. To be introduced to their fascinating lives and only get a teaser was a little annoying. But the author states in the introduction that there are 52 entries for a reason: You can read one entry a week and spend a year learning about these forgotten scientific geniuses. Still, I would have liked more information on each woman, especially if I decided to only read one entry a week!
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by the stories, even though most were redundant: brilliant girl, denied education due to her sex, struggled to find education, makes miraculous discovery, a man takes all the credit. This is most obvious before WWII when universities had to accept women lecturers to replace the men who went off to the war effort. Also a large portion of the women in this book managed to escape Nazi Germany and become successes in America. With all of that brain drain you'd think the Nazis should have figured out that the top minds in the country were supposedly "inferior".
My daughter is still a little too young to read this, but I will be saving it for her. She loves science but hates math which just breaks my heart. Actually she hates arithmetic because they haven't even gotten into real math. The section of the book that was the most fascinating was the women mathematicians because it seems most were self taught.
My favorite was Sophie Kowalevski, whose family didn't order enough wallpaper to cover her nursery so her dad improvised by plastering old calculus lectures to the walls. I also fell in love with Emmy Noether who Einstein recruited to help him work out the math for his equations! Amazingly enough, it was a female chemist who invented Kevlar--Stephanie Kwolek. That's not usually the fabric I think of when I associate women and fabric.
All in all, I give this book 4 stars out of 5. It was a marvelous read, but I think the "1 woman a week" idea to be too limiting and it seemed almost gimmicky. I understand the book would have been too long otherwise, so maybe a series of books would be in order? Also there is a bibliography and notes section that has all the references so you can do your own research if you'd like. Maybe this book was aimed at a more general audience and not at women already in the field of science? Maybe the author though this was all she could include and interest the largest population? I don't know, but I will definitely pick up any book I see that is devoted to these women because I need to know more!
Here is the authors bio, and here is here is the publisher's blurb.
I was sent a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books for me to read and review. A long time ago I worked as a bookseller and I loved getting the advanced readers copies. I felt like I was getting special treatment by getting a book before it was published and in return I got to share my opinions on what I read. Sadly, I don't have the influence over which books people choose that I did when I was selling them, but I will use my little soap box to tell people what I think. I wish I could go take a math class now...

Friday, June 5, 2015

June Goals!

I didn't finish EITHER of my goals for May. Early in the month I had surgery on my right hand, and my left one was healing from surgery 2 weeks earlier. Sewing didn't pose much of a problem, but cutting was impossible. What I should have done was cut a lot of fabric before the surgery so I could just push it through the machine 1 handed.
So those goals are going to roll over to June in addition to 2 more this month.
This month I am going to finish:

1. Spangled Stars quilt

I have all the pieces cut out, I just need to sew them together for a completed top. I don't know what i will use for the backing right now though.
This is part of a QAL so if I do everything on time I will get this finished no problem. This will be my Lovely Year of Finishes entry for June My Button

2. Since fathers day is in June, that will hopefully give me the incentive to finish the USC quilt I am making for my dad.

I have all the pieces for the top, just not all sewn together. He loves the University of Southern California so this is a fitting gift. I'm calling it "Point the Way to CA" because of the blocks I used to make it.
Rocky Road to California
Road to California
and Weathervane

I'm going to not use batting and back it with fleece.

Linking up with:
Quilt Fabrication
Tweety Loves Quilting

Fort Worth Fabric Studio
My Button

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Catching Up On Some Sewin'!

Look at this little guy!
This is my #wipwednesday project, although I will most likely finish it today (it just needs binding).
This is a 9in square mini quilt that was posted by Sew Can She's Quilting Unplugged series. I love the fabric that I fussycut, I found just one FQ of it at Joann's last week or I would have totally bought more.

I have been really busy sewing for a commission that I got last week. It was to make 12 denim They are easy to make, but so boring! So as soon as I finished them I jumped in to catch up on all the fun sewing that I have been holding off.

I caught up on my Spangled Stars QAL with the first half of the stars made. As you can tell, I made the mini above with the scraps from the blocks at the right! I am just so in love with this color combo right now.
Sorry for the blurry picture!

I also caught up on my QCQAL#2 blocks. These are Broken Dishes and in case you don't remember, I'm doing a Halloween quilt. I'm worried that the gray might be too light for the colors in the rest of the blocks, but we will see!

Linking up with:
Wip Wednesday
Spangled Stars QAL

Fresh Poppy DesignIMG_6373
Sew Fresh Quilts