Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

A Lab of One’s Own [review]

A Lab of One’s Own by Rita Colwell, PhD and Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
To be published by Simon & Schuster on August 4, 2020
my rating: DNF
Goodreads avg: 
3.75 (as of 2020-08-04)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Spoiler-free Review

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i really struggled with the writing in this. i don’t think it was particularly bad, but really felt like it was rushing through things. while the timeline was somewhat linear, following Colwell’s career, it also branched off haphazardly to describe other scientists and events. this might mesh better with someone more strongly interested in the history of the field and who is more familiar with the names mentioned. it also honestly felt more like a summary of Colwell’s resume than anything else, like she was trying to go down a list rather than provide an actual narrative. while easy enough to read, i just didn’t really find it engrossing at all.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

In the Dream House [review]

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Published by Graywolf Press on November 5, 2019
my rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.61 (as of 2020-02-08)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website


I wish there was a way for me to intellectually discuss In the Dream House but it seems impossible. This is truly one of the most incredible, gut-wrenching books I have ever read. In this memoir, formatted very differently from anything else you have ever read, Carmen Maria Machado details her abusive relationship with another woman. That alone points to why this would be such a difficult review, but Machado’s skill with writing is truly something I have never seen before. I just counted and I’ve tabbed 17 different pages with quotes or scenes that dug deep into me — and that was me trying to restrain myself. 

A reminder, perhaps, that abusers do not need to be, and rarely are, cackling maniacs. They just need to want something, and not care how they get it.

God, even just reading through these tabbed pages to write this review has me on the verge of tears on my couch. There are points at which I merely drew a line down the entire page; there was no way to separate out one meaningful line or set of sentences from their larger context. To me, that’s indicative of an incredible writer. Nothing in this feels extraneous, it all feels essential and imbued with significance.

Even the enduring symbol of queerness–the rainbow–is a promise not to repeat an act of supreme violence by a capricious and rageful god: I won’t flood the whole world again. It was a one-time thing, I swear. Do you trust me? (And, later, a threat: the next time, motherfuckers, it’ll be fire.)

Another impressive aspect is Machado’s ability to set this within its greater context. As a queer woman, it can be so much more difficult to navigate what would already be difficult situations. She speaks to her naievety as a baby gay and the fact that we always see men portrayed as abusers. On top of that, the time period in which this relationship took place was one where lgbtq rights were tenuous and it felt important not to “look bad.” I understand all this, and it feels so important that Machado was able to explain it in such a succinct way.

Do you see now? Do you understand?

In the Dream House will certainly remain one of my favorite books of all-time, I can already tell. I absolutely cannot recommend this enough, but want to emphasize that it is an extremely difficult read and to take care while reading. To me, this book is a place of understanding and a way to process for (particularly queer) survivors of abuse; it is also a place where those who may not have experienced abuse can come to understand it further. I applaud Machado for being able to write this, and cannot wait to see what she puts out next.

You have no reason to believe me.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #5

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Would You Rather?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Would You Rather? is a lovely memoir about a woman who grew up in a sheltered, moderately conservative area coming to terms with her sexuality. The reason this is so revolutionary is because, as Katie herself says, there are so few widespread stories about adults realizing they’re gay. So many people say that they always knew, it leaves little room in the narrative for people like Katie, who didn’t always know. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I’m glad I picked up! My only complaint was that it does meander at times and that the end kind of trails off for me instead of ending strongly.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐.5

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The Body Is Not an Apology

Systems [of oppression] do not maintain themselves; even our lack of intervention is an act of maintenance.

This was a nice read that focused on what Sonya has dubbed “radical self-love.” The messages embedded in it are deeply important and focus on breaking down “the belief that there is a hierarchy of bodies.” It was quite inspiring to read and made me want to work harder on changing the belief systems cemented within our culture. At times, the book felt a little too structured and, well, self-help-y, but it wasn’t really much of an issue. It’s also an extremely fast read. All-in-all, I’d definitely recommend this book as a jumping off point for leaning more into body positivity.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Children of Blood and Bone

This pretty much lived up to the hype for me and I’m really glad I picked it up! I don’t remember the last time I lost myself in a book like this, I ended up reading for 3 hours straight to finish it and I literally couldn’t put it down. The half star loss was because it took me a bit to get invested in the characters. But once I did, ooooh boy, I was INVESTED. Highly recommend.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)