Thursday, July 25th 2019

Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in ChernobylMidnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 12th 2019
Pages: 538
Goodreads
four-stars

The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.

It feels weird to rate/review a book based on this event. I listened to the audiobook during the same weeks the HBO miniseries was on. The miniseries stayed pretty true to the real events that took place. But this is not my thoughts on the miniseries (but it was great. Go watch it.)

This book is an amazing account of the events that lead up to the Chernobyl disaster and the aftermath. It is a very comprehensive look at what caused the disaster, the people involved, and the coverup. If you have ever wanted to know more about Chernobyl I highly recommend this book (and the HBO miniseries).

four-stars

Monday, January 16th 2017

Year of Yes

Year of YesYear of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Pages: 311
Goodreads

two-half-stars




In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too.
She's the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?
Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.
And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.
The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.
This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

I am going to be honest, I hovered between giving this book 2 or 3 stars and I am still not sure which rating to give it. 2 stars for Goodreads is “it was ok” or 3 stars “I liked it.” Did I like it? I think I did. For the most part. The problem I had with this book is that at times she was very preachy and she repeated certain themes and ideas to the point that I felt she was beating a dead horse. I get the overall message. The overall message to me is, “live life to the fullest,” “go big or go home,” and “you only live once.” All of the phrases that are used to get people to do something so they will live their lives and be happy. There were quite a few spots during the book where I was annoyed with how much she was repeating herself and I had a hard time reading the speeches that she gave at various events that she included in the book. Her overall message is good, even if at times I didn’t find it very relatable. I don’t know that I would really recommend it to anyone, other than if they are fans of hers.

two-half-stars