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review 2018-08-09 15:59
The Earth by Richard Fortey
The Earth: An Intimate History - Richard Fortey

TITLE:  The Earth:  An Intimate History


AUTHOR:  Richard Fortey




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  978-0-00-655137-9




"This is the life story of our planet - told by one of our most brilliant science writers.  With Richard Fortey as our guide we not only travel back through geological time to discover the planet's spectacular past, but also climb the Alps, wallow in Icelandic hot springs and walk through the luch ecosystems of Hawaii.  On the way we discover the awesome truth about the world we inhabit - from Los Angeles life to statues of the Buddha; from the slow crawl of stained glass to the history of the dollar."


This book is an informative but rather rambling mix of geology and travel writing.  The book revolves around the various facets of plate tectonics, how each piece  of the theory was puzzled out and how those pieces fit together to give us the Earth we have today.   Fortey uses examples from all over the world to illustrate the various geological processes. Everything from fault lines, development of mountain ranges and oceans, subduction zones, volcanoes, earthquakessupercontinents, the Earth's interior, mining, minerals and gems, as well as a bit of ecology are covered.  Fortey also emphasizes how the geology and geomorphology of a specific area has shaped ethinic culture and human experiences.  The author is enthusiastic about his subject.  The wirting is poetic and colourful, often dramatic, though sometimes a bit long-winded.  The book contains photographs but is in desperate need of illustrations and diagrams of the various processes discussed.  An interesting book for the intelligent layreader, who isn't afraid of a few technical terms.




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text 2018-07-30 23:36
2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novel
The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
Provenance - Ann Leckie
Raven Stratagem - Yoon Ha Lee
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.


Two sequels and several set in space. The downside of this list is that Orbit tends to only include excerpts. The upside, there's only one Orbit title I didn't already own.


  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor) - 3 Stars. Fun romp, fun narration, but did not love.


  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit) - DNF'd early, could not get into.


  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) - I DNF'd this pretty early. Great writing, but not at all my style of story.


  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) - 4.5 Stars. An excellent book. I look forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy.


  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit) - 4 Stars. A solid read I enjoyed quite a bit.


  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) - 5 Stars. One of the best books I read last year and easily the top of my ballot for this award. An excellent conclusion to a brilliant series.


So, yeah, kind of an obvious top of ballot here in The Stone Sky. I really liked both Six Wakes and Raven Stratagem. It's a hard choice, but I think Raven Stratagem will go next on my ballot. Fourth with be Collapsing Empire, and I just won't include the two novels I didn't finish. Wow, this is usually not such an easy category for me.

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review 2018-06-21 07:03
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean - Jonathan White,Peter Matthiessen

TITLE:   Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean


AUTHOR:  Jonathan White




FORMAT:  ebook


ISBN-13:  978-1-59534-806-7



NOTE:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.  This review is my honest opinion of the book.




Jonathan White is a sailor, surfer, writer, and active marine conservationist who takes his readers on an adventure around the world to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides.


Some of the fascinating topics covered in this book include tidal bores, tidal anomalies, the difference between spring and neap tides, the science and history of forecasting tides, resonance, geophysics, the different methods of harvesting energy from the ocean, and a rather poor attempt to describe the effects of rising tides on civilization. 


The author provides a superficial explanation of tidal mechanics – I really was looking for more information on this, especially in a book subtitled “the science and spirit of the ocean”.  The “spirit” part of the subtitle takes over the book in terms of personal anecdotes, “travel writing”, tangential stories and philosophical musings that didn’t particularly appeal to me. 


The book was also arranged in an odd manner by explaining specific tidal anomalies before explaining tides in general.  Trying to sift the interesting scientific information out of all the extraneous text didn’t help with the conveyance of information.  However, the book does provide numerous black & white photographs, explanatory diagrams and sixteen colour photographs.


If you want to know more about tides and like personal, chatty stories mixed with your science, then you will probably enjoy this book.  If you want more science and less “fluff”, you need to look elsewhere.









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review 2018-06-12 23:39
The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer
The Earth Bleeds Red - Jackson Paul Baer

This story is a slow pace all the way through which I wasn’t expecting for a thriller. There’s tons of detail, which I normally don’t mind, but so much of it didn’t add to the plot or character development. The extra details often added to the setting (Pacific Northwest) but even then some of the details were extraneous. I really don’t need to know how much Scott spent on each meal or trip to the book store or on tips and I really don’t need to know how much he got back in change.

The thriller part of the tale eventually comes along. Ashley, the 17-year-old daughter of Scott and Jessie, goes missing and initially the cops have a suspect in custody. Instead of having a thrilling hunt for the real culprit, the Hail Mary serial killer, we have a lot about what the parents are going through. At first, I thought this was an interesting and thoughtful take on this kidnapping. Alas, things were pretty drawn out and gone over again and again.

Finally, in the last third of the book we get a look into the life of the serial killer and what has happened with Ashley these many months while her parents have been grieving. We do get a little thrilling police action for a few short scenes but even then there’s so much detail that things get bogged down easily.

Nearly the entire tale is told through Scott’s voice. He’s still deeply in love with Jessie and he loves being a father. He’s very proud of his daughter who will soon be going off to college. I liked Scott’s character and I felt that he was three dimensional. The other characters in the story are pretty much one dimensional. Both Jessie and Ashley are beautiful…. and eventually we learn something more about them. But being beautiful seems to be their main job in this story. They both have some humor and Ashley puts up a fight with her attacker later in the story but those aren’t the character traits that are stressed. Sigh….. Then there’s that little side thing where Jessie gets ticked at Scott because a coworker gave him a surprise kiss. Scott wasn’t flirting, didn’t expect it, and avoided that character afterwards yet Jessie was still upset for weeks. Ugh! Jessie was a nitwit.

There’s plenty of Christian themes and going to church and trying to live a Christian life stuff in this book. I’m not into religious fiction in general, though I don’t mind a character or two having religion be a part of who they are. In this case, I really feel this story is Christian Fiction first and Thriller genre somewhere down the list. For me, this aspect of the tale was overbearing and boring.

I did like that the story shows how people can get past horrible things. The cast in this story is small and each character has something terrible in their past or that they experience during the story. Jessie’s and Scott’s daughter is kidnapped. Ashley has to go through being held against her will, etc. The Father at their church has a significant event in his past. Even the killer went through a terrible event as a kid (though he hasn’t dealt with that in a healthy way). Even as much as I liked this aspect of the story, I felt that it totally glossed over a significant repeated attack. Ashley’s captor wanted her pregnant and yet this repeated rape isn’t even talked about. So, to keep things real, I would have appreciated seeing Ashley’s feelings on this.

All told, I struggled to get through this story. It was slow, I often felt that I was being preached at, the women had no depth, and the thrill was taken out of the thriller part of the tale by so much detail. 2.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Dan Carroll was very good at Scott’s voice. However, Carroll had a small range of voices. His female voices almost always lacked femininity. With more than one character in a scene, I had to listen carefully to keep track of who was talking. He did well with the myriad of emotions in this story. There were no technical issues with the recording. 3/5 stars.

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review 2018-06-04 06:03
The Big Ones by Lucy Jones
The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them) - Lucy Jones

TITLE:  The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them).


AUTHOR:  Lucy Jones




FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:  9780385542708



From the blurb:

"By a veteran seismologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, a lively and revealing history of the world's most disruptive natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come.

Natural disasters emerge from the same forces that give our planet life. Earthquakes have provided us with natural springs. Volcanoes have given us fertile soil. A world without floods would be a world without rain. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Together, these colossal events have shaped our cities and their architecture; elevated leaders and toppled governments; influenced the way we reason, feel, fight, unite, and pray. The history of natural disasters is a history of ourselves.

The Big Ones is a look at some of the most devastating disasters in human history, whose reverberations we continue to feel today. It considers Pompeii, and how a volcanic eruption in the first century AD challenged and reinforced prevailing views of religion for centuries to come. It explores the California floods of 1862, examining the failures of our collective memory. And it transports us to today, showing what Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami can tell us about governance and globalization.

With global temperatures rising, natural disasters are striking with greater frequency. More than just history, The Big Ones is a call to action. Natural disasters are inevitable; human catastrophes are not. With this energizing and richly researched book, Jones offers a look at our past, readying us to face down the Big Ones in our future."



This book provides a superficial look at a few of the world's biggest natural disasters and how these disasters effected societies.  Jones explores how the disaster victims and relevant governments dealt with the catastrophe and what they are doing to mitigate the adverse effects of any subsequent natural disasters.  This is a history book with minimal, superficial science.  The book is informative with an easy going writing style, however, I was hoping for more specific information on the disaster themselves and the engineering options used to mitigate disaster impacts.  This book makes for a good introductory text to the subject.


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