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text 2017-04-26 20:31
Book Booty Plundered in April 2017







I shopped in two batches this month:


Liberty Book Bazaar

This is the haul I ended bringing home from the bazaar:




While I don’t mind searching for the books in the piles that are dumped on tables in Liberty, I do mind that the collection gets worse and worse every month. I had to do a lot of digging before I ended up with these baubles. The amount of digging has been increasing with each bazaar. In the past, I have defended it when people said that you can’t find any good books there because I did, time and time again. Now, I’m not so sure!




I have yet to read anything by Kim Stanley Robinson, which means this might be the wrong book to start with. I’m going to give it a shot anyway, which is why I bought this.


The Thursday Next series is amazeballs as Icky will tell you. Like what she had to say? Read more of her musings here. I’m slowly collecting all the books in the series. This is such a pretty cover!


My reasons for buying Shogun can be found here.


Roth, Snicket, and the Irish Fairytales Omnibus all looked really interesting!


A look inside the minds that thought up Narnia & Middle Earth? Sign me up!


This will make me stick to my plan of reading more Non-fic. I thought if I started with books on subjects that interested me, success will be more likely.


I loved Night by Elie Wiesel and wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by.


It has dinosaurs #nuffsaid




This online site continues to kick ass. It has an amazing collection of sci-fi/fantasy books, which is the only tab that I click on while there anyway. I mean, I found this gem on the site! They are prompt in delivering the books unlike some stores I know. They will never change the price of a book either. The rider will text you before leaving and if you mention a specific time for delivery, they will agree to it without any extra charges. The books are all reasonably priced. If I didn’t love going to bookstores and physically picking out the babies, I’d do all my book shopping from here. The only caveat that continues to be irksome is that often a book will be shown as available when it isn’t. I don’t like it!


Here’s my haul from Kitabain for this month:




The two Douglas Adam’s are so beautiful that they make me want to cry! I have already read the first one in the series, so I just had to get the next two.


The two Frank Herberts are also the next parts in the Dune series that I need to read. These might be paperbacks but they’re in awesome condition as promised by the bookseller. My buddy read with Weird Enough can be found here.


The next couple consists of two compilations of sci-fi stories and I love how I get to sample the work of an author by reading a short story by them. It helps me decide if I want to try a novel written by that author or not. Also, one of them had a story by Clifford Simak and since I recently read and fell in love with his book, All is Grass, I was like:




Then there are Asimov and Aldiss who are basically must-reads if you are into sci-fi, so I HAD to buy those. Right? Also, I loved Asimov’s Bicentennial Man and mention him here in my new short story for Wringo Ink.


Abercombie is an author that I have been wanting to try for a while now. Friends who like the kind of stuff that I do swear by him, so I thought what the heck!


For my previous book shopping posts, go here, here, and here.


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-26 06:53
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is Actually Science Porn Disguised as Dinosaur Fiction and Oh. So. Good!
Jurassic Park and Congo - Michael Crichton


So. Much. Fun.


Saying that about a book where more than half the characters get eaten by prehistoric predators brought back to life through genetic engineering might seem weird. But then, I have never kept my love for dinosaurs a secret!


When I first received the book from Online Books Outlet, I wasn’t expecting much from it. However, a cursory glance later, I had spotted graphs in it. They intrigued the scientist in me and I knew that I wouldn’t be waiting too long to read it.


Wanting to know if the book had inspired the movie or if it was the other way round, I looked up the date of publication of the book to compare it with the movie release and found out they were both released in the same year. While searching, I came across 20 Things You Might Have Not Known About Jurassic Park on Mentalfloss. Inserting the text from that article below:

Spielberg found out about Jurassic Park while working on ER.

When director Steven Spielberg and author Michael Crichton were working on a screenplay that would eventually become the television series ER, Spielberg asked the writer about the plans for his next book. Crichton told him about Jurassic Park, and Spielberg immediately tapped Universal to buy the film rights in May 1990—before the book was even published. He was so excited that he began storyboarding scenes from the book, even though there was no screenplay written yet.

Mystery solved, I started reading the book. There are quite a few differences between the book and the movie as this article, Jurassic Park: The Book and the Movie’s Differences, will tell you. Comparing the two made me realize that those changes had made for a more entertaining movie!


But the book wasn’t any less fun. Here are some quotes that I marked to share:

Dr. Ellie Sattler who was a paleobotanist and one of my favorite characters from the book. She was gutsy and didn’t take any shit from anybody.

jurassic-park-animated-series-ellie-sattlerFrom the cartoon that was never made


When Ellie shook hands, Gennaro said in surprise, “You’re a woman.”

“These things happen,” she said

tumblr_mx98m1z44r1rc7tkso1_500A cuter version by Liara K. Crane

And I loved how passionate she was about plants. I’d still have loved a bit more detail regarding prehistoric flora. If I remember correctly, there was some bit about a protocarpus tree and the fern, Serenna veriformans.


People were so naïve about plants, Ellie thought. They just chose plants for appearance, as they would choose a picture for the wall. It never occurred to them that plants were actually living things, busily performing all the living functions of respiration, ingestion, excretion, reproduction—and defense.


Dr. Alan Grant, my other favorite from the book. Unlike the guy from the movie, this Grant liked kids. I still loved how natural it seemed to him to take it on himself to save the kids. They weren’t his responsibility, yet he didn’t think twice before saving their lives.

2.jpgosd-vont‘s version


Grant liked kids—it was impossible not to like any group so openly enthusiastic about dinosaurs… Grant also suspected that was why even young children learned the names of dinosaurs. It never failed to amaze him when a three-year-old shrieked: “Stegosaurus!”


Dr. Ian Malcolm was much less fun in the book than in the movie. He was long winded and had a lot to say, which often got boring.



This is how he was described in the book:


And finally, as if to emphasize their emergence from academia into the world, they dressed and spoke with what one senior mathematician called “a deplorable excess of personality.” In fact, they often behaved like rock stars.


Tim was actually the older sibling in the book.


His love for dinosaurs is evident from this scene from the book:


His father had looked at a skeleton and said, “That’s a big one.”

Tim had said, “No, Dad, that’s a medium-size one, a camptosaurus.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Looks pretty big to me.”

“It’s not even full-grown, Dad.”

His father squinted at the skeleton. “What is it, Jurassic?”

“Jeez. No. Cretaceous.”

“Cretaceous? What’s the difference between Cretaceous and Jurassic?”

“Only about a hundred million years,” Tim said.

“Cretaceous is older?”

“No, Dad, Jurassic is older.”

“Well,” his father said, stepping back, “it looks pretty damn big to me.”


There were some sciency bits that I really loved. Here are some of my very favorite ones:


“Actually, dinosaur DNA is somewhat easier to extract by this process than mammalian DNA. The reason is that mammalian red cells have no nuclei, and thus no DNA in their red cells. To clone a mammal, you must find a white cell, which is much rarer than red cells. But dinosaurs had nucleated red cells, as do modern birds. It is one of the many indications we have that dinosaurs aren’t really reptiles at all. They are big leathery birds.”


“Reptile eggs contain large amounts of yolk but no water at all. The embryos must extract water from the surrounding environment.”


“Many birds and crocodiles swallowed small stones, which collected in a muscular pouch in the digestive tract, called the gizzard. Squeezed by the muscles of the gizzard, the stones helped crush tough plant food before it reached the stomach, and thus aided digestion. Some scientists thought dinosaurs also had gizzard stones.”

You can see the amount of research that the author has put into the book and I enjoyed it immensely!


Another thing that I loved about this book was how nature — and dinosaurs — found ways around Wu’s precautionary measures. This:

“We don’t want them to survive in the wild. So I’ve made them lysine dependent. I inserted a gene that makes a single faulty enzyme in protein metabolism. As a result, the animals cannot manufacture the amino acid lysine.”

was countered by escaped velociraptors feeding on lysine-rich sources i.e. agama beans soy, and chickens.


Then, there was:

“All the animals in Jurassic Park are female,” Wu said, with a pleased smile.”

Which the dinos took care of through gender transition. I mean, how smart are they?!



Okay then, I will stop sounding so surprised!


By the way, the kitchen scene was as scary in the book as it had been in the movie!



Just cuz:



I am going to end this review with a different version of Jurassic Park i.e. one that includes kittens!




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photo 2016-06-12 11:27
Source: www.boredpanda.com/ancient-tree-photography-beth-moon
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text 2016-05-11 21:06
Darwin Used to Feed Raw Meat to Plants



Dionaea or Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants. It is also the name of a band. This article, Venus Flytrap Carnivorous Lifestyle Builds on Herbivore Defense Strategies, says some interesting things about them. However, first here is a handy page about how to grow them. My favorite part:


“If the plant is not catching its own food, it needs to be fed in the traps with live insects, rehydrated dried blood worms, or other kinds of fish food high in insect-derived protein that can be conveniently rehydrated. If you use dead food, the traps need to be massaged to stimulate full closure and digestion.”


In fact, this page even has pictures:


Today's special: rehydrated dried blood worms


Other carnivorous species you crazy kids might be growing!


While this place sells different clones!


The interesting parts from the article are as follows:

1. Darwin used to open flytraps and tempt them with raw meat to see how the trap worked. He found out that it closed slowly and then started to secrete digestive enzymes.


2. This is where things get even more awesome. The first time an insect triggers the trap via mechano-electric stimulation of the hair on the trap, it activates the “poised to capture” mode. If the trigger is re-elicited within 20 seconds, the trap closes fast, capturing the prey. The struggling insect hits the trigger repeatedly and after five or so hits, its fate is sealed. Digestion begins!



3. The plant is mechano-smart enough to suss out the size and juiciness of the prey by the times it triggers the hair on the trap! It is smart enough to recognize chitin between its paws er jaws er leaves (part of the insect exoskeleton) and increase its enzyme secretion by a thousand-fold.



4. What links the carnivorous plants with non-carnivorous ones is that hair stimulation in the former causes the biosynthesis of a chemical that is induced by herbivory and wounding in the latter. Hence, the author’s conclusion that “Dionaea re-wires defense responses known from non-carnivorous plants in order to operate its carnivorous lifestyle.”



5. What is too bad is that all this insect-munching costs the plants metabolism-wise. The cost it extracts is in the form of growth inhibition.


6. Lastly, as soon as the digestion of insect-scrumptiousness begins, the resultant goodies are applied towards growing new capture organs and those organs, only!


I leave you now with the Great Slug that defied the odds and slithered itself to freedom!



Source: genome.cshlp.org/content/early/2016/04/28/gr.202200.115.full.pdf
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-07 17:40
How to Seduce a Bride: Terrible title, wonderful characters
How to Seduce a Bride - Edith Layton

Ugh! What an execrable title for such a good book! I've read a few reviews of HTSAB that were really quite critical of Daisy and Lee. But for me, these two are the shiny bits in this book. Though the story is not so unique as far as historicals go, I loved both Daisy and Lee and found them each unforgettable in their own separate ways as well as together.


Daisy Tanner is unusual in that she is a convict who was transported to Botany Bay in New South Wales because she aided her father in poaching from a neighbor's estate. On board the ship, her father essentially ordered 16-year-old Daisy to marry one of the guards, the brutish much older Tanner, who would "protect" her from the other guards and prisoners. But Tanner sorely abused the young Daisy, and thankfully she has been widowed for two years and looked forward to enjoying her freedom. But Daisy is very attractive and very rich and is soon beset by any and all eligible males in Botany Bay trying to lure her into wedlock or affairs of the heart. So she decides the only way she'll be left alone is to marry again but only a certain type of man, a husband who won't be interested in all that "cuddling and knocking nonsense." Yes, she has issues regarding physical intimacy. She returns to England to find just that man, the "bookish, reclusive" Geoffrey Sauvage, Earl of Egremont, a man with a "gentle nature" and one man she considered a friend at Botany Bay. To Daisy, he is perfect for two reasons: he is much older than she and thus not interested in sex (or so she believes) and he already has an heir.


She didn't plan to marry for love or money, just for security and a place to belong, a place where she could stay on in peace, unmolested. She'd never be free until she was married, and then if she had a husband who simply cared for her like a father or a friend, it would be bliss. (41-42)


Daisy has justifiable reasons to be bitter and cynical - Tanner shouted, ordered, beat and struck her for speaking and then again for not speaking, for a million and one reasons known only to him but mostly he hit her "for being who she was", a a young lady of "superior breeding, knowledge, and spirit." But she is neither bitter nor cynical. Instead, she has an indomitable spirit, is honest to a fault, bright, cheerful, exuberant even, but with a very healthy dose of realism. Daisy knows what's what. I really did fall in love with her almost immediately.


Leland Grant, Viscount Haye, has a way with women. I loved that he is not handsome in the accepted sense of the word. Instead, he is just past 30, tall, very thin, "with a long, bony, elegant face, and was languid and affected in speech and movement." Though he appears not to have a care for anything, Leland is a kind and gentle man with an even stronger "sense of justice." He also has a reputed "killing wit." I confess, I loved his sense of humor which more often than not was directed at himself. For instance, when the Earl of Egremont introduces him to an old friend from Botany Bay, a beautiful and seductive actress, Leland takes advantage of their mutual attraction and pursues the actress. But he heeds Geoffrey's amused warning not to drink anything she doesn't drink first. The next day, he learns that the actress had a "fair hand with a lethal flying object" not poison as Geoffrey implied.


Leland laughed. "Score one for you! I took your bait and ran with it. Though we parted on amicable terms, she must have thought me a strange fellow, because brave I may be, but I didn't dare take wine with her." (15)


His attraction to the opposite sex is puzzling to most people, even, at times, to his friend, Geoffrey.


"I don't know how you do it, Lee," he commented as the butler went to show his guest in. "But you have a profound effect on females."


Leland wore a rueful expression. He shrugged. "Actually I don't know why, either. I see no reason why a lovely creature like that should fling herself at ridiculous, long-nosed, affected creature like me. It can't have been for money. She isn't a courtesan; she has talent and fame and earns a comfortable living. Mind, I do have my ways, and if I set a trap I expect to catch something. If I don't, I start worrying why anyone would want to catch me. It's what made me effective in France when I went there on His Majesty's behalf. I suppose it's also why I'm still single." (16)


Leland is soon lassoed into helping Daisy find a suitable companion for respectability, locate proper lodgings, and ordering new gowns. Leland, you see, is also a "tulip of the ton", the "very pinnacle of frivolous knowledge." And, willing or not, he is fascinated by Daisy. Daisy, in turn, recognizes the curiosity and amusement in his watchful eyes and admits that he makes her "uncomfortable" though she's not sure exactly why.


The banter and badinage between Daisy and Leland made me smile time after time. When Geoffrey asks about her plans now that she's back in London, it turns into a back and forth between her and Leland, with Daisy playing her cards close to her vest about any marital possibilities.


"That's just it," she said. "I don't know. My greatest plan was to get here. I can't believe that I actually did that. Now? I suppose I want to find a place for myself."


"Not a husband?" a cool, amused voice drawled. "That is what most single females I know are after."


"But I'm not one of them, am I?" She replied as sweetly. "And you don't know me."


"Alas, my loss, which I feel more acutely each moment," the viscount said, a hand on his heart.


"Are you sure?" she asked. "How many ladies do you number among your acquaintances who were jailed and then sent to the Antipodes? Not a whole lot, I'd wager," she said with a roguish wink at Geoff. (29)


For the first time in a long time, Leland is surprised that a woman appears not to be interested in him. Instead, she has eyes only for Geoffrey. I enjoyed the part where Daffyd, Lee's half brother, teases him about Daisy's lack of interest in him, comparing his haughty look to his "famous offended camel look."


When a mysterious person brings a charge of murder against Daisy and produces a witness to that murder of her first husband Tanner, the only way to protect her from jail or transportation again is for her to be married to someone whose name and title can protect her. Daisy is then forced to choose between Geoffrey and Leland. I really wasn't sure which man she would choose as the entire passage leading up to her marriage was written in such an ambiguous fashion so as to keep you guessing until you know for sure which man is the groom and which is the best man. Of course, by the time Daisy and Leland are married and alone for the first time as man and wife, she is a bundle of nerves. Leland doesn't help matters when he undresses down to his skin in front of her, and then his trademark self-deprecating humor comes to the rescue once again even as Daisy begins to worry about a naked male body and how it can be used as a weapon.


He emerged from the dressing room holding two nightshirts. One was plain and white, the other was cream-colored with embroidery on the neck.


"Now this one," he said, holding it up in front of him, "is classic. Very simple, very tasteful. But this one," he said, switching hands and holding up the other, "is the latest word in France, or so I hear. Which do you like?"


"I don't know," she managed to say. "Either."


"Well, to tell you the truth I don't care for either," he told her. "You see, I don't like to sleep in anything but my skin, but I am trying to be sensible of your sensibilities. Wait a moment, I think I have just the thing!"


He disappeared into the dressing room, and came out holding his hands out as though he'd just pulled a rabbit from a hat, like a magician on the stage about to take a bow. Now he wore a colorful red silk dressing gown, sashed in gold. "Voila!" he said. He turned for her, head high, nose in the air, like a fashion model at madame's shop. "What do you think?"


She didn't know what to say.


"I agree," he said sadly. "Outrageously opulent, not my style at all."


He turned, very dejected, to go back to the dressing room.


"Wait!" she said. "Do you really think what you wear to sleep is important?"


He looked at her in shock. "My dear," he said, "a man of taste never slacks off, even in his slumbers. And, I remind you, I can't have you thinking your new husband is careless, can I? It's obvious this doesn't impress you, but I have a blue satin one that I thought was too simple. Now I think perhaps it will be the very thing."


She just sat and stared at him. That was how she saw his lips quirk. "Good God!" he said. "Your expression!" And then he began to laugh.


She joined in, as relieved as she was amused. He came over to the bed. "Well, I had to think of something to unknot you," he said with a tender smile. "You looked as though you expected me to come out with whips and chains." (321-323)


Lee's humor and patience and his willingness to listen, to just listen, to Daisy is the healing balm she needs. Though he longs for a physical relationship with Daisy, he doesn't push her in any way or make her feel threatened. Instead he shows Daisy in the best way he can that she can trust him not to hurt her and he does that at first with just "quips and laughter." Leland is a man who understands insecurity and lack of confidence and the way people hurt others. He learned early in life to use a sense of humor for his strength. He'd been "gangly and awkward" as a young man, just as likely to trip over things and stammer as not. Being heir to his father did not insure a long list of young ladies panting to take him on. He'd been an object of fun and ridicule for them. So he began acting the fop, developing a cynical air, an "acid wit", a man who cared for nothing but fashion and frivolity. By the time his father had died, Leland had perfected his new persona and now ladies of good reputation (and not so good) were drawn to him. Unfortunately, his lovers didn't want to know the real Leland and so the mask he wore in public became a mask he continued to wear in private. But he always longed for someone who will laugh with him, not just at him. And that person is Daisy.


"...he'd hung his heart on the whims of a female with an angelic face and a devil of a body, a criminal past; a widow who feared men and who wasn't sure if she wanted so much as his hand, even in marriage. But she also possessed a spirit as fiery as her hair, and a code of honor that could shame a parson.


Was he mad?


He hardly knew her - but no. He smiled to himself. He knew her better than most of the women matchmakers had thrown at his head all these past years. He knew her better than any of the young things he'd danced with at Almack's and partnered at too many social events. He knew her far better than most women he'd bedded, even those he'd stayed with as long as a month.


Daisy, he thought, he could stay with forever. He liked her conversation; he admired her courage. He could amuse her, but she could make him laugh, too. And most important, he felt at home with her. (263-264)


5 unabashed stars

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