Welcome to Ivory Owl Reviews

Just browsing?
Click on any of the above photos to jump to one of my popular posts (on desktop version)

Want to see what's new?
Scroll down for my most recent posts (desktop and mobile versions)

Looking for something?
Use the search box in the right hand column (desktop) or at the bottom of the page (mobile)


Full of dualities, The Gypsy Moth Summer, is a novel bursting from the pages, just like the gypsy moths in the story. Both sides of an island point fingers at the other, while big issues like privilege, race, and cancer are woven into every islander's life. Fierro builds up the tension and integrates the metaphor of transformation into every chapter. I would describe The Gypsy Moth Summer as West Side Story meets Mean Girls meets Erin Brokovich.

THE PARTY by Robyn Harding
A sweet sixteen sleepover birthday party of 5 girls sounds innocent enough but the evening goes off the rails. One accident ripples out to affect everyone at the party and their parents, with far reaching repercussions. Stephen King isn't really my type of horror story, but holy shit this book was!

In mommy world there are always divisions: working moms vs. stay at home moms, breastfeeding vs. bottle, etc, etc, into infinity etc. The main character in this novel is a barely showering, unorganized, messy mom who wins a better mommy boot camp contest put on by a Pinterest perfect and fabulously famous mom. This was a fun read with some truly LOL and "been there" moments, but was also full of cringe-worthy situations and a fairly predictable outcome.

Review:: The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids--and the Kids We Have

THE GENE MACHINE: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids--and the Kids We Have by Bonnie Rochman
Released: February 28, 2017 from Scientific American / Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Goodreads Summary:

A sharp-eyed guide to the promise and peril of having children in an age of genetic tests and interventions. Is DNA testing a triumph of modern medicine or a Pandora’s box of possibilities? Is screening for disease in an embryo a humane form of family planning or a slippery slope toward eugenics? And, more practically, how do we navigate the dizzying and expanding array of tests available, with more appearing every day? In The Gene Machine, the award-winning journalist Bonnie Rochman addresses these questions and more, guiding us through the new frontiers of gene technology and how it has forever changed medicine, bioethics, and the factors that shape a family. Rochman takes an authoritative look at the latest hot-button issues in the world of pre- and postnatal testing and tells the stories of women and men struggling to understand the variety of tests and grappling with their results—revelations that are sometimes joyous, sometimes heartbreaking, and often profound. Propelled by human narratives and meticulously reported, The Gene Machine introduces us to scientists working to unlock the secrets of the human genome; gene counselors and spiritual advisers helping parents manage this complex new reality; and, of course, parents themselves, including the author, who glimpse the genetic futures of their children. The Gene Machine is both a scientific road map and a meditation on our power to shape the future, one that gets to the very core of what it means to be human.

My review: 
This book popped onto my radar at the end of last year but since it is not the type of book I usually review, I was unable to access an early copy. Then I saw that Bonnie Rochman was going to be at Decatur Book Festival so I checked to see if my library had a copy. My plan was to read the book before attending her session, but at the last minute I was unable to attend the festival due to a killer migraine. I was still so fascinated by this topic that I moved the book up in my reading list (that's pretty major for me). I really loved how the book was divided into 8 chapters that showcased the multiple options and futures for testing our genes. I studied genetics in college and was briefly considering a career in the field. This book really lit that long dormant fire and I am looking to move more of my reading into the subject (another major move for me). 

Quick Biology 101 refresher: Each cell in our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes and an estimated 19,000 genes. Our complete set of genetic material (in every cell) is a genome. 

"As technology has evolved, the price to sequence a human genome has dropped precipitously, plummeting from $17.5 million in January 2005 to $47,000 in January 2010 to the relatively paltry sum of just under $4,000 in January 2015." 
(p 193)

While $4,000 isn't pocket change, some insurance companies pay the cost when other testing options for a disease or health problem have been exhausted. It is also easy to see that the price will likely drop further in years to come and make sequencing your genome accessible to more and more people. But even as it becomes possible, deciphering the massive amount of data will require additional work from scientists and geneticists. Which brings up the questions of how much information doctors feel should be revealed to each person; when it should be revealed; and the division of information between parents, children, and additional family members.  

As this technology evolves and there is more access to genomic databases and massive amounts of information, an exponential number of new questions arise and Rochman does a perfect job of highlighting both sides of dozens of situations. The concept of choosing optimum embryos was once a futuristic, mind blowing concept. Now, IVF is a relatively common term and procedure. As the science evolves, new questions and arguments will arise and it is essential to be educated on a topic before planting your flag in the ground and not budging. For that reason, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in researching the science behind, and the future prospects of, our genes. Rochman covers topics ranging from BRCA1, selective abortions, Down Syndrome, gene silencing, patient rights, parents' rights, sequencing newborns, and so many more.  

I was very pleased that this book remained solely scientific yet still focused on a variety of ethical and moral implications, all without indulging in the arguments brought forth from religion. While I borrowed this from my local library, I will be purchasing it for my personal library. 

My Q & A with Sue Frederick for Boulder Lifestyle Magazine

My Q & A with Sue Frederick is on page 94 of the September issue of Boulder Lifestyle magazine. Click here or scroll down to read. 

Boulder Author Discusses Her Love of Boulder and Her Spiritual Memoir, Water Oak: The Happiness of Longing

Turning 40, Sue Frederick thought she had lost everything. Widowed, childless, and heartbroken, her escalating sense of failure launched her on a spiritual journey to find what mattered, forge her own unique story, and share her message through her memoir, Water Oak: The Happiness of Longing.
Q: Most of your story takes place in Boulder, Colorado. You describe working at a publishing company in downtown Boulder; hiking in the foothills around town and visiting an ashram just outside of Boulder. Is this a typical Boulder lifestyle?

A: Many people come to Boulder longing for a stimulating career, a healthy outdoor lifestyle, or seeking spiritual nourishment. Boulder offers all of those things. I love my career; I’ve spent 40+ years hiking Boulder foothills and surrounding peaks; and have been deeply nourished by the array of amazing spiritual communities. The Boulder lifestyle nourishes us on every level.

Q: You describe your childhood in the deep South which is very different from the life you describe in Boulder. Were you searching for something when you came to Boulder? Are most people searching for something when they come to Boulder today?

A: I came here on a rock climbing trip in 1977. I was seeking adventure and an outdoor lifestyle but along the way I found so much more. Boulder has a way of pulling us in with its beauty and then turning us upside down until we’ve opened up and transformed in unexpected ways. I’m grateful for every minute I’ve spent in this sacred place; it has pushed me to grow beyond what I ever imagined.

Q: Why did you choose to write such a deeply personal and revealing memoir about such a painful time in your life? Why share that?

A: I wanted to encourage anyone facing heartbreak that they will move forward no matter how impossible it seems today. We’re all the same really; each of us struggling to find our way. The more we share our authentic stories the more we help each other heal and thrive.

“I surrender to this and that; to this world and to the other; to this enormous intangible love here in this room and to the kind you can feel on your skin, against your face, in your bones when someone touches you; I surrender to the happiness of longing.” an excerpt from Water Oak: The Happiness of Longing

Intuitive and author Sue Frederick has been featured on ABC and CNN; in The New York Times, Self, Real Simple, Yoga Journal, Natural Health, Fit Yoga, and Nexus magazines. She is also the author of several highly acclaimed books, including I See Your Dream Job: A Career Intuitive Shows You How To Discover What You Were Put On Earth To Do, Author of Your Divine Lens, Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side, I See Your Dream Job, and I See Your Soul Mate. Water Oak: The Happiness of Longing is now available on Amazon and in select local bookstores including Boulder Bookstore and look for Woman Crawling to the Moon on her Knees in 2018. For more info on Sue, visit SueFrederick.com and careerintuitive.org.

🍁10 September Releases I Can't Wait to Read🍁

Happy September! Here are 10 books releasing this month that I can't wait to dive into, starting this weekend. Now comes the hard part....which should I read 1st? 

🍁The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews (Little, Brown)🍁
🍁Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford (Ballantine)🍁
🍁Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda (Graydon House)🍁
🍁The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (G.P. Putnam's Sons)🍁
🍁Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney (Quercus)🍁
🍁Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)🍁
🍁The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)🍁
🍁The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld (Harper)🍁
🍁Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin)🍁
🍁The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall (Ballantine)🍁