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Book Review

Book Reviews

8/5/2020

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
$27
Del Ray
320 pp.
June 30, 2020

‘Mexican Gothic’

Secrets, unsettling atmospheres, haunted families and, most importantly, creepy old houses are in the recipe for a classic gothic novel. Dark, brooding and captivating, “Mexican Gothic” takes these tropes to a whole new level while still evoking the echoes of the genre in gorgeous prose.

Noemi Taboada is a debutante with style and flair more suited to parties than old houses with ghostly pasts. Yet when her cousin begs her to visit High Place, a mansion in the hinterlands of Mexico, she charges onto the scene, intent to help her terrified cousin and uncover the mystery of the house and its inhabitants.

Mexico is a lush, beautiful setting for a gothic mystery, and Moreno-Garcia never loses the thread of the setting, even when playing with all of the typical mystery beats. Her writing is just as lush, evoking the dizzying terror that slowly winds through the novel, growing to a smart and captivating ending. This is the kind of fiction to get lost in. ♦

— Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

HIV

 

By Ainissa Ramirez
$27.95
MIT Press
328 pp.
April 2020

‘The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another’

Good science educators are absolutely priceless. Think Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Dr. Fauci. People who can place science in relatable terms and with accurate context all while telling us a story. Ainissa Ramirez is a brilliant addition to that roster. With witty, clear and powerful stories of the inventions that have shaped us, “The Alchemy of Us” delivers the perfect mix of education and entertainment.

There are a number of books on technology and innovation. There are even more books on the inventors themselves. But what has been missing is a wider look at both what actually happened to bring these inventions into the public sphere and how we adapted to that change.

With a readable style, Ramirez ably takes on the intersection of progress, humanity and the cultural shifts that accompany technological leaps. What does it really mean to invent something? How is it entwined in our nature to look for improvements? And are they really improvements? These vital questions are important during this strange time. I highly recommend this book for anyone wondering how we got here. ♦

— Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

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