Review of new August fiction: ‘Mrs. Fletcher’ and ‘See What I Have Done’

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher reviewIf the title reminds you of Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate, it’s with good reason.  This satire explores love, loss, hookups and cross-generational relationships.

After divorcee Eve Fletcher’s son goes to college she is left trying to reinvent herself and give meaning to her life as an empty nester. She sets her hopes on a community college course on gender and society, but an unexpected text message sends her down a rabbit hole of online porn and thoughts of illicit relationships.

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Daily miscellanny: We’ve never had it so good

  1. Megan McArdle says that from cooking to woodworking, rising levels of skill and effort have become barriers to entry.
  2. Enable HTTPS for free on you website with Let’s Encrypt.
  3. Kevin Rose talks with Ryan Holiday about Stoic philosophy.
  4. An increasingly influential group of thinkers insists that humankind has never had it so good – and only our pessimism is holding us back.
    • The proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty had fallen below 10% for the first time.
    • Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels had failed to rise for the third year running.
    • Child mortality is roughly half what it had been as recently as 1990.
  5. Share and receive photos at the Feature Shoot Print Swap.

‘Rescued from ISIS’ a disappointing telling of a compelling story

Rescued from ISIS book reviewIn 2013 former soldier Dimitri Bontinck’s 18-year-old son, Joe, fell under the sway of a radical Islamic mosque and traveled to Syria from Belgium to take part in that country’s civil war. Rescued from ISIS (St. Martin’s Press, digital galley) recounts his many harrowing trips into Syria to find and ultimately bring his son home.

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An assortment of links for Friday

  1. Tumbling battery prices mean that EVs will not just have lower lifetime costs, but will also be cheaper to buy than internal combustion engine cars in most countries by 2025-29.
  2. Cellphone notifications are a tragedy of the digital commons.
  3. We now spend 30 minutes a day watching videos on our phones.
  4. Throughout our planet’s history, massive volcanic eruptions have devastated life. Could one bring an end to human civilization?

Review: ‘The Late Show’ introduces a fierce detective

the Late Show book reviewMichael Connelly introduces a new detective in The Late Show (Little, Brown and Company, digital galley), a fast moving police procedural that is hard to put down. Renée Ballard works the LAPD overnight shift, responding to everything from burglaries to homicides. Because she has to hand off all of her cases at the end of her shift, she rarely gets to see anything through to completion.

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An assortment of links for Sunday

  1. Zume pizzas are made by robots, and they’re cooked in ovens inside delivery trucks on their way to delivery.
  2. While dental X-rays account for less than 3 percent of all the radiation that Americans get through medical imaging, every effort should be made to minimize their use.
  3. Let’s clear up some of the most common myths and misunderstandings about sulfites, wine, and headaches.
  4. There are two reasons why almost all digital B&W is like drinking rotten pond scum.

An assortment of links

  1. Nancy Pate reviews six summer thrillers.
  2. Joe Manning tracks down the identity of the woman in an historic Dorothea Lange photo which is also a Shorpy favorite.
  3. Why the highball is the ideal whisky cocktail. At least during the summer.
  4. Tyler Cowen wonders if Dali, Yunnan is the very best place in the world to visit right now.
  5. Photographers chosen to participate in Feature Shoot’s print swap will each give and receive a print.

Featured image: Ruby Nell Shepard in photograph by Dorothea Lange.

Apollo 8 book review

Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
By Jeffrey Kluger
★★★★★

Apollo 8 book reviewIn December 1968, less than two years after three astronauts burned to death in an Apollo capsule, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders left Earth to become the first humans to travel to the moon. Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon is packed with all of the drama inherent in all stories dealing with the early space program.

The mission was later overshadowed by the more dramatic moon landings, but Apollo 8 has an important place in history. The book is a concisely written account of that mission and the activities and training leading up to it. Author Jeffrey Kluger includes biographical information about all of the players involved, but the story focuses on Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.

At just 320 pages, the book moves at a rocket’s pace (see what I did there) and helps maintain Apollo 8’s place in history.