Book 392: Simple Giving – Jennifer Iacovelli

Iacovelli, Jennifer - Simple GivingWhen I read Doing Good Better, I was looking for this. That isn’t a knock on Doing Good Better, it’s a kudos to Simple Giving and Jennifer Iacovelli. And I guess that’s an even bigger kudos to Tarcher/Penguin (publisher’s site) for sending me a copy because I would never have found sought it out, even though philanthropy is what I do for a living.* Simple Giving comes out next week October 27, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Where Iacovelli succeeds in the breadth of which she covers in this rather short book. She talks about individual and crowd sourced philanthropy, she talks about volunteering and socially conscious purchases and businesses and she spends time talking about how you can engage even the youngest of philanthropists in volunteering their time.

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Book 391: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels – Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe- Dr. Mutter's MarvelsI’m a little torn on this book. At the same time that it reminded me of some fascinating books I’ve read over the past few years (Geraldine Brook’s March and William MacAskill’s Doing Good Better) I couldn’t help but compare it to Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And unfortunately for Aptowicz, it wasn’t that great of a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure this book had its own set of challenges in the research done, but I still can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t as much a fan of this.

At first I thought it was because Aptowicz was super young and this was her first book. Her writing style felt a bit like student-work, which she admits is when she got the idea and started writing originally, but I found out pretty quick I was wrong on this one. And it’s not her first book, but it is her first work of nonfiction. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Either way, I’m grateful to Avery, a Penguin Books imprint, for providing a copy.* And the best part is, if you’re interested in the book it’s just been released in paperback at the beginning of September! (AKA Yay for more affordability!; Publisher’s website.)

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Book 387: The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Heart Goes LastI didn’t quite get this one read before it’s release, but considering how busy I’ve been, having it read and posted within a week of its release, September 29, is pretty impressive! Any time there is a new Atwood, I get excited. Margaret Atwood is the Queen of Speculative Fiction, among other things. So when I had the opportunity to request a copy and the publisher, Nan A. Talese granted it*, I was over the moon.

I still have a few older Atwood’s on my shelf to read, but the last I read was Stone Mattress and I really liked where she was going. This being said, I’ve seen quite a few reviews recently of The Heart Goes Last where I’ve wanted to slap the reviewers and say WHAT ABOUT THE BOOK? Mostly people were complaining they had bought the first few chapters on a website and then had to buy the whole book to find out what happened (Hello, single song releases?! Do we not remember the “old days” of the 1990s – early 2000s?) As this doesn’t affect me and most readers, I don’t see why it’s important so don’t let that impact your judgement!

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Book 386: The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3)This was one of those books that makes you feel so much that you can’t really respond to it. I lost track of the number of times I teared up because of what was happening in the story. Seriously, within the first 100 pages I’m pretty sure I teared up at least three times. Unfortunately, most of you will have to wait to read it until it’s released on October 27, but you should read it, trust me.

It’s always hard to finish a story, but when it’s written well and has great characters it’s that much harder. A small part of me wasn’t sad because I still have The Lost Abbey to explore when it’s finally released as a collection, but the rest of me is exhausted from living Maia’s story in such a short span of time. Having finished The Banished of Muirwood and The Ciphers of Muirwood rapidly and diving right into this, thanks to 47North*, I’ve been fully immersed in Muirwood for a little over a week (and longer if you count my binge of the first trilogy late last month).

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Book 385: The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2)Picking up right where The Banished of Muirwood leaves off, The Ciphers of Muirwood, or at least Jeff Wheeler, has given me hope for the middle novel of a trilogy. Wheeler talks about this in the afterword of this novel and The Blight of Muirwood and how he loves the middle novel and how it allows for characters to expand and the story to move forward. I can’t wait to re-read The Lord of the Rings and think of it this way rather than my usual, ugh the middle book. Hopefully, it’ll give me a new perspective.

This book gives us more of Maia. It goes more in-depth into her family history and answers some of the outstanding questions of the first book. I was concerned at first as it appeared to be mirroring a bit too much Lia’s journey in the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, but ultimately it was different. There will be potential spoilers to the first book in this series and to the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, so be aware.

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Book 384: The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #1) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #1)I should keep track of when I eat my words on this blog. I thought for sure it would be some time before I revisited Muirwood, but lo and behold here I am not even a month later delving right back in.

Having access to early releases is both a boon and the bane of book bloggers. Occasionally you get access to works you’re desperate to read (i.e. any Margaret Atwood, keep an eye out) and you get access to books you’re not sure you’re going to read, but when given the opportunity you jump and this was one of those occasions.

I’m grateful to the publisher, 47North, for providing access to Jeff Wheeler’s new Muirwood trilogy: The Covenant of Muirwood, even if it did mess up my reading schedule. They provided these in return for an honest opinion and I’ve received no compensation. I’m sad I missed the window on The Lost Abbey (#1), but I think I’d rather read that in one go rather than as a serial comic.

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Book 380: Doing Good Better – William MacAskill

MacAskill, William - Doing Good BetterI’m torn on this one and not for any obvious reasons. I think MacAskill does an excellent job laying out the foundations of “effective altruism” and I think this is something fundraisers and nonprofits need to be aware of for the future. However, I feel like there wasn’t enough to convince me 100% that this is the best way to move forward, probably because I had questions about MacAskill’s own nonprofits and experience.

Let’s start with the good. MacAskill has created a solid evidence-based way of helping alleviate some of the world’s biggest problems. Learning what a Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY, pronounced kwalee) challenged my perception of how to rate a nonprofit, but more importantly raised questions about whether things should be comparable when you’re talking about life-saving research. The answer is yes, with a bunch of caveats.

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