Non-Fiction Textbook Review – Spring into Technical Writing for Scientists and Engineers

  • Title: Spring into Technical Writing for Scientists and Engineers
  • Author: Barry J. Rosenberg
  • Subject: Technical Writing
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/22/2012

Update: – Read this for a technical writing class, back in 2012, per the date on GoodReads.

Spring into Technical Writing is a textbook, however, it is useful and even amusing at times. Some of the examples are a bit overwhelming but I like a challenge, and they weren’t so dense as to be completely off-putting or to cause me to put the book down.

This was a very readable textbook. It kept my interest and was a quick read. It also seemed to be full of good advice. I really liked the “bad”, “better”, “good”, “best” examples throughout the book and it could have used even more. I did at times find that the book was a bit simplistic (I do know, believe it or not, the difference between a serif and sans-serif font) and throughout the book often the starting point for a section or chapter was too easy. On the other hand, the chapter on HTML was very difficult for me. Yes, I realize this wasn’t a manual on learning HTML, but that seemed to be the only section in the book that assumed some pre-knowledge that I didn’t have. (The web is like a car, I can use it but I don’t know or care how it works. I know more about how a server and a network “serve” web pages, and the meaning of terms like “caching web browser” than I do about HTML – and I’ve learned more HTML from the Goodreads website than any web design book I’ve read or class I started then quit). But I digress. Other than the HTML section, which I intend to re-read, I found this textbook to be light-hearted, useful, and fun to read. The humor and examples helped.

Second Update: Since reading this book, I’ve learned more HTML by using WordPress, and from my four-month stint as a knowledge base writer/editor. So I should probably re-read the HTML section and see if it’s less confusing.

Book Review – Captain VorPatril’s Alliance

  • Title: Captain VorPatril’s Alliance
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/02/2014

I’ve been a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels since a friend handed me a well-worn paperback copy of Shards of Honor and said “Read this,” and I did, then read my own copy many times. I’ve eagerly devoured every new novel in the series since. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, however, isn’t about Miles, but rather his cousin, Ivan, the one often referred to as “that idiot Ivan”. However, this novel is entirely from Ivan’s point of view, and it is extremely funny.

The end of Chapter 6, literally had me laughing out loud. I know it’s common to describe something very funny as LOL, but seriously – I laughed, out loud, as Ivan manages to get himself accidentally married to get himself and a female friend out of a spot of bother, as well as her “maid”.

The rest of the novel follows Ivan and his new spouse, Tej back to Barrayar. Just as they are getting used to their new life, Barrayaran politics, and Ivan’s family and extended relatives, the novel’s second surprise arrives – which I won’t spoil.

I finished this novel late last night, or should I say, early this morning, and it’s been a long time since I’ve stayed up that late to finish a book.

Needless to say, it’s a brilliant, funny, fun, adventurous, wonderful tale, and I highly recommend it.