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Olive Twist "Olive" RSS Feed (Groton, CT USA)

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The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution
The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution
by Jonathan Eig
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.96
102 used & new from $2.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative and fascinating history on birth control and women's reproductive rights, October 31, 2014
I saw a review of this book in the Wall Street Journal and thought it sounded interesting. It tells the story of how the birth control pill was developed. And it is fascinating. I always assumed that this was an invention that came from a big pharmaceutical company, on the contrary it was developed by Gregory (Goody) Pincus, a scientist who was down on his luck having been denied tenure at Harvard University. Dr. Pincus began the preliminary experiments for this work in a basement lab. This was at a time where the use of anything that might prevent pregnancy was outlawed, the term "birth control" had not even entered everyday lexicon. What is even more intriguing is how Pincus financed his work: some of the money that ran his research program came from the residents of Worcester, MA where the institute was located and the large bulk of his funding was from a millionaire widow. When he finally does succeed at coming up with a hormonal treatment that could prevent ovulation in animal subjects, he extends his work to humans. Things get very interesting in both recruiting willing subjects and recording the data and finally in presenting it to the FDA for approval.
The tenacity of everyone involved from activists for birth control, the financiers, and the scientists is just amazing. That they did not give up in the face of so much opposition changed the course of humanity forever.

This is one of those books that would be good for book groups or discussions. There are questions about the ethics used in achieving some of their goals. In some cases people were experimented on without being asked for explicit consent to do so. But then again, how would their consent have been sought without alerting the authorities on what kind of product was being developed? Some of the controversies related to birth control and access to it remain. Some religious groups forbid it and in many cases it is unaffordable for many women. And for scientists or any one who has had to pioneer a new venture from scratch, there are important lessons to learn on being creative in raising money, marketing, and winning people over to your cause. Overall, an engaging read that is at times laugh-out-loud funny. Enjoyable and highly recommended!

Americanah (Ala Notable Books for Adults)
Americanah (Ala Notable Books for Adults)
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.68
103 used & new from $5.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Race and the African/Nigerian immigrant experience, June 4, 2013
I have been waiting eagerly for this book to be released. So when I finally got it I was excited! Adichie's writing is smooth, it flows well and is very descriptive. I was expecting a satisfying read and although I enjoyed most parts of the book, it did not measure up to my expectations. The book tackles race and immigration from the perspective of Ifemelu, the main character who moves from Nigeria to the U.S. Having lived in the U.S. I could identify with some of her experiences as an immigrant in a new culture. There are frequent flashbacks in the book where we get a glimpse of her life in Nigeria before the big move. These observations and descriptions of the transition from Nigeria to the U.S. were my favorite. There are many humorous moments. The author uses the prose to make a commentary on race in America. Ifemelu also writes a blog which serves the same purpose.The commentary on the politics of black hair was interesting at times. While some entries added to the story, I found some quite misplaced and even questioned if it was really necessary. In Obinze's story we get an insight into life as an illegal immigrant. He is Ifemelu's love interest from high school/university. The daily struggles to survive, the despair and risk all come alive. His story is very different from Ifemelu who has better fortune in America unlike his sojourn in the U.K. Through Ifemelu we see the world through the lens of her upper class friends. An interesting mix of characters from different backgrounds. Although some conversations were thought provoking, there were sections that I thought dragged on and on. This is a section of the book I thought could have used more editing. I also questioned the likelihood of Ifemelu having a wildly successful blog, closing it down and starting another which enjoys the same level of success. It seems too easy when in reality building a blog is hard work and few make it big. I know this is a work of fiction but still maybe something about the task of building the blog would have added more legitimacy to the story. Others have pointed out that Obinze's story of success as a business man is equally hard to swallow, but if Nigeria is as corrupt as portrayed, for me it was believable. This book is billed as a love story among other things but for me the romance between Obinze and Ifemelu was rather dull. I found myself not caring about them and even wondered why Obinze was thought to be such a great catch.The ending is rather predictable. However, there are some interesting tidbits about life in Lagos and the colorful characters in Ifemelu's life added much flavor. One of my favorites was Ranyinudo and if for some reason the author decided to write a sequel, I would like for Ranyinudo to play a much bigger role in the story. Still, I would recommend "Americanah" because it tackles issues related to race and immigration that are often not talked about. In this respect it would be a great book club pick, there are many discussions to be had. With the right script and production a movie adaptation would be great. Overall, a good book albeit with some misses, 3.5 stars!

Girl On Fire
Girl On Fire
Price: $11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow burn!, December 15, 2012
This review is from: Girl On Fire (MP3 Music)
I was unsure about getting this album. But after reading reviews and listening to some tracks online, I decided to. This one is different from her earlier offerings like "As I Am" and "Songs in A Minor". These songs speak of the growth she has undoubtedly gone through. Take time to listen to the lyrics,especially in " Brand New Me" and "Not Even the King". My gripe with the album is the inclusion of the Inferno Version of "Girl on Fire" with Nicki Minaj, I would have preferred the Main Version of the Song. Do yourself a favour and download the "Bluelight version" of "Girl on Fire". It's slower, more sultry and mellow, showcasing her soulful side. A playlist without the rap version sounds much better to me. The tag team effort with Maxwell on "Fire We Make" is a winner! His vocals are the spark that set this one ablaze. Other standout tracks include "Tears Always Win","That's When I Knew" whose lyrics come across as very heartfelt and "Listen to Your Heart" which has a feel-good retro vibe that's a joy to listen to. "Limitedless" and "New Day" both have a booming bass reminiscent of club songs. The ballads "101" and "One thing" are real treasures. After the song "101", there's some kind of interlude where she chants "Hallelujah" with the music rising to a crescendo, I did wish this was a full song. For those who don't like "Girl On Fire" at first, give it another listen it does grow on you. A slow burn but still a good album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 5:40 AM PST

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen, Purple(L29F)
Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen, Purple(L29F)
Price: $30.07
106 used & new from $27.91

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice looking pen, August 20, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I received this pen today. The color is deep purple, vibrant enough to get noticed but still understated enough to be elegant. The paperclip clasp on the pen is functional but it looked really huge at first. I am using it with the Lamy Z24 converter and Sheaffer Skrip Fountain Pen Ink in blue. The nib is fine but actually it writes a little broader than that description, but I don't mind it at all. The nib is smooth, ink flows smoothly and I have tried it on school note book paper, and it writes well. I have also used it in a journal made with acid free archival paper and for some reason it skips. Very strange. It's difficult to write with the cap on i.e. cap posted, it feels heavier. I keep the cap off. It has been long since I used a fountain pen but I am happy with this one, looking forward to using it more.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2015 10:35 PM PST

Price: $8.27
66 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summer soundtrack:soulful, fun, retro!, August 14, 2012
This review is from: Heaven (Audio CD)
I got this after listening to a few clips online. Rebecca's voice is soulful, sultry and soothing. The sound is fresh and similar to some music from the disco era, one example is the song:"Diamond to a Stone". Very retro, makes me think of Aretha. Stand out tracks are: Teach me how to be loved, Too Good to Lose, Mr. Bright Eyes, Fairytale, Fighting Suspicions, Glitter and Gold. The bonus track "Backtrack" is upbeat with a touch of whimsy, another favorite--make sure you check out the video on Youtube. Simply a great album! Nice to listen to on a drive, at the beach or just chilling. At 35 minutes, it seems to end too soon, and you find yourself doing a replay because it's that good!

Comeback Love: A Novel
Comeback Love: A Novel
by Peter Golden
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.00
150 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Love that never lets go, July 22, 2012
This review is from: Comeback Love: A Novel (Paperback)
I was drawn in by the photo of a couple walking in the middle of the street on a gray overcast day,it looks like the aftermath of a snowstorm. The girl in a red wool pea coat and pale pink woolly hat, the guy in a black peacoat and red beanie, both in dark pants,arms around each other, walking; buildings towering over them in the city.
The story is about Gordon Meyers and Glenna Rising. A couple who meet in the 60's, having what is a rollercoaster love affair only to lose each other...We go back and forth between the 60's-reliving the past so to speak- and the present day when Gordon decides to track Glenna down for some mysterious reason, after 30 years! Novels written in this format can sometimes have very jarring transitions but somehow Peter Golden makes it a smooth ride. The two seemed to need each other but they also had this independence about them and maybe this is why things did not work out in the past? Gordon was a free spirit drifting through life, while Glenna was more focused but also quite temperamental. I did not really like all the drug references but then again, this story is set in the 60's so I guess the author was trying to capture the lives of some of the young people of that time. Some of the causes of that period are also in the book, like the Vietnam war, the abortion debate etc. There is abit of history in there too, I learned a few things. The story also captures the family issues and tensions in the lives of the characters. It feels real unlike many romances that are often saccharine sweet and sappy. We follow the arc of their lives until present day and through the ups and downs it is very hopeful. This quote captures that feeling so well:

G: Never fear.
10 yrs from now, when you're looking at this picture, I'm going to be looking at it with you.
I love you, G

I rarely read love stories but this one pulled me right in, done in a weekend! Very heartwarming! Loved it!

Three Weeks in December
Three Weeks in December
by Audrey Schulman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.38
81 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome adventure in East Africa!, July 21, 2012
I was attracted by this book's cover, something about that deep inky blue and the lion's eyes... It took me a while to start reading it but I'm glad I finally decided to get into it. It starts of somewhere in the Indian Ocean in 1899 where Jeremy is about to arrive in British East Africa to supervise the building of the "lunatic" rail road across the untamed African wilderness. This storyline runs in parallel to that of Max, an ethnobotanist who leaves Maine in 2000 to go to modern day Rwanda in search of a vine believed to have amazing pharmaceutical properties. The story alternates between the viewpoints of these two characters. At first, I found myself looking forward to Jeremy's parts more, but with time Max's story got more interesting as well. Towards the end, everything seems to be approaching a climax and I couldn't put it down! The description of the details is extremely vivid. The author did her research and it shows. I identified with both characters quite well, whether it was Jeremy baking in the scorching heat while battling a fever or Max barreling through the jungle. This story captures the impact of colonialism on the as yet untouched African continent in the early 1900's. The desperate struggle of the colonialists to conquer the land in the battle for resources is apparent. All the while they battle the ravages of nature--disease, an unfamiliar climate, human conflict and predators. The tables are turned in Max's story, unfolding a hundred years later. Although the battle for resources continues, this time a fragile ecosystem is on the brink of destruction. In this book, Audrey Schulman has crafted a masterpiece. I think it should be required reading as a school or college text, there is much to learn and discuss here. It sweeps you up and does not let go until the startling conclusion at the end! Trust me, you will be just as stunned as I was! Read this book!

Our Version Of Events
Our Version Of Events
Offered by B68 Solutions Limited
Price: $7.99
93 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars It grew on me, July 19, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Our Version Of Events (Audio CD)
I bought this after listening to "Next to me", there's a phenomenal live version on youtube. I was drawn in by the lyrics and her voice. Some have compared it to Beyonce's and she does sound just a little like her on a song or two. The songs on this album all seem to have a story. The album grows on you with time. Standout tracks for me are: Next to me, Clown, Daddy, Suitcase, Breaking the Law. The bonus tracks (bought separate from the album) Easier in Bed and Tiger are also enjoyable. Overall, great debut album.

Unbowed: A Memoir
Unbowed: A Memoir
by Wangari Maathai
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.88
239 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great inspiration from an indefatigable fighter!, May 26, 2012
This review is from: Unbowed: A Memoir (Paperback)
I rarely read memoirs but I have long been an admirer of the late Prof Wangari Maathai and her work, so I decided to pick this one up. It was a compelling read and I almost had to pinch myself so I would remember this was not a novel! It's hard to imagine that anyone could live through and overcome some of these trials and tribulations and not give up!

I especially enjoyed the description of her childhood and her years in school.These experiences shaped her and would influence her throughout the rest of her life. Her coming-of-age also coincided with many important historical events in Kenya and the world and it was interesting to read about these things from someone who lived through them. Throughout the book she comes face to face with sexism and discrimination in different forms. But with each blow that floors her, she picks herself, dusts herself off and keeps on moving. Her environmental work and the early beginnings of the Green Belt Movement are covered the most in the middle of the book. The later chapters talk more about her work in the pro-democracy movement in Kenya in the 90's. I lived through some of those events but as a spectator, one who read about them in the newspaper. Reading the story of one who was an active participant was a profound experience. Even in this political struggle the environmental cause still lives on. She clashes with the authorities as natural resources are either misused or apportioned in questionable ways.

Overall, I admire how she was able to make the connection between protecting the environment as a way of safeguarding not only the present but the future too. We exploit many natural resources for economic advancement but we should always remember, these resources are not infinite! Even though she is gone, Wangari's message is still an important one.Read this book and share it with your family and friends! Arokoma kuuraga*-May she sleep where it rains! (*-quoted from the book)

Passing Love
Passing Love
by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.49
65 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and hard to put down!, May 22, 2012
This review is from: Passing Love (Paperback)
When I picked this book I thought it was going to be a fluffy romance story. But I soon found out it was much more than that. I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris in present day and Post World-War II. The transitions between the 2 periods were smooth and seamless. Each page revealed something new about Nicole, her family and the other people in their life. There are so many layers in this story, it really is like a French pastry as described in the blurb. A compelling read, you will not regret getting it!

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