Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark

This is very informative book about the history and evolution of bacteria and viruses and how they have influenced the development of civilization, but I took issue with certain passages such as this:
“The great age of hygiene lasted from roughly 1850 to 1950. The front-line troops in the battle for cleanliness were mostly women. Since the 1950s, women have gradually abandoned the home and ventured forth to find external employment. Hygiene standards in the home have inevitably relaxed. Houses are cleaned less often, laundry is done less often, and both are done less thoroughly. Despite the outbreaks in fast-food restaurants that hit the headlines, most foodborne disease actually occurs in the home and goes unreported.”
I felt like the author was trying to say that women who work full time are putting their families health and hygiene at risk. It was suggestive that a woman’s place is in the home, cooking and cleaning. There was no evidence or stats supplied to support this theory that homes today are less hygienic than 60+ years ago or that even if they are, food poisoning is a direct result of it. Indeed, the author does at least admit that most food-borne diseases go unreported but this means there is no evidence to support his ridiculous claims.

Despite being full of useful information, passages like this unfortunately cause me to question the respectability and intent of the book as a whole. Fortunately, I did not pay anything for it - it was a Kindle freebie once upon a time.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz

Book description:

In freezing London, November 1890, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson receive a man unnerved by a scarred-face stalker with piercing eyes. A conspiracy reaches to the Boston criminal underworld. The whispered phrase 'the House of Silk' hints at a deadly foe. Authorized by Doyle's estate.


This was very enjoyable and I thought the characters mostly did the originals justice but I took issues with two things.

First, Holmes’ escape from prison by disguising himself as someone else with just the aid of a wig and different clothes. I understand that it was supposed to be a testament to his ability to put on a completely different persona but I found it unbelievable that no one would have recognized him without at least some makeup on. Holmes’ may be a remarkable character capable of great feats but he can not change the features and structure of his face just through acting.

Secondly was Moriarty’s attempt to help break Holmes’ out of prison by giving Watson the key to his cell door. Once Watson got into the prison, it was clear that this plan never would have worked since there were more gates and doors to get passed than the one key would open. I find it difficult to believe that a mastermind like Moriarty would make such an ignorant mistake. The whole thing felt contrived just to feature Moriarty.

However, I can’t fault it too much - it was a very well written and complex story that kept me guessing while at the same time, I was pleased to discover at least one of my theories turned out to be right. I felt the writing was definitely in keeping with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s style, which is not surprising since it’s been endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate.

This was my first book by this author and I thought it might be worth mentioning that this is an ADULT book. It seems the author’s previous work was mostly in the young adult/children genre so please don’t assume that this is also young adult just because it’s the same author.

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