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review 2017-10-13 07:24
Six of Swords by Carole Nelson Douglas
Six of Swords - Carole Nelson Douglas

A beautifully written, light, quest-type, portal fantasy novel with unusual characters and original world building. 

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review 2017-03-10 08:20
The Hidden Half of Nature by David R. Montgomery & Anne Bikle
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health - David R. Montgomery,Anne Biklé

I first read this book in December 2015.  I like it so much that I purchased my own copy. 

 

This is a beautifully written book that blends clearly described, scientific discoveries with the compelling personal insight of a husband and wife author/biologist/geologist team.  The book explores the importance of microbes in the soil and in people.  The authors discuss both the history of various scientific discoveries and the functioning of these microbes, as well as how these microbes relate to gardening/farming, plant growth, the immune system, the gut, auto-immune diseases,  and general health of both humans and the environment.  I found this book to be both fascinating and educational, without being condescending or oversimplified.

 

Other Recommended Books:

 

~March of the Microbes:  Sighting the Unseen by John L. Ingraham

~The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn

~Why We Get Sick:  The New Science of Darwinian Medicine by Randolph M Nesse & George C. Williams

~Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2016-10-25 22:53
A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas

First off I just want to say that I personally believe that this book was far more enjoyable than 'A Court of Thorns and Roses', the first book in this series.

 

I understand that the first one had to be written in order to introduce the series as well as the characters and allow the readers to get immersed in and understand the world. However, I personally found that this one had more character depth and more relatable themes than that of the first. We learn more about who the characters are and what their past's hold and get a more in-depth look in general as to the mental states of the characters than we did with the first one.

 

Without giving away too much I would like to state that I even found the main characters of this book to be more interesting, more funny, and overall better characters to get to know than some of the ones that appeared in the first book. I'm not at all trying to say that the first book was terrible and should not be read or anything like that, but, if you are one of the people (like me) who has a habit of judging a series after reading the first book in a series and found that you yourself did not like it, then I suggest you at least give this one a go.

 

This book had an un-put-downable feeling that I personally believe that the first one lacked to an extent, and it was easier to lose track of time while immersed in the story than it previously had been.

 

I personally recommend this series to people that are a fan of twists that can only occur from loose fairy tale retellings, as well as those that are fans of fantasy novels with relatively large world's to explore and love.

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review 2016-09-22 15:24
Venomous by Christie Wilcox
Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry - Christie Wilcox

To paraphrase the author, this book is Dr. Christie Wilcox's ode to the fearsome power of venomous creatures and her tribute to their incredible scientific potential.  This is a beautifully written book on the little discussed and known subject of venom.   The book is an investigation into venom and some of the weird and wonderful creatures that use them.  The author takes a look at how venomous creatures interact with other species and ecosystems, how these interactions have effected the evolutionary path of these species (including humans).  Dr. Wilcox reveals how the different types of venom work, what they do to the human (and prey) body, adaptation and immunity to venom, and how these substances can revolutionize biochemistry and the medical field.  

 


The author is a molecular biologist writing for an intelligent public (of any age - teenagers might enjoy this book too).  The author manages to balance all the interesting science with amusing or illustrative anecdotes without making these personal stories seem like useless filler.  Who could find stories about Komodo Dragons, venomous mammals, carnivorous snails, bullet ants which inflict one of the most painful sting in the world, bees, spiders, snakes, wasps that turn cockroaches into zombies, and spikey caterpillars that turn your insides into mush, boring? 

She includes enough well-explained biochemical detail to show how different venom functions, without bogging the reader down with excruciating detail, and she does not "dumb-down" the science either (THANK YOU!).   There are numerous photographs and illustrations which would probably be more legible (or at least larger) in the paper version of the book than the Kindle version I read.  

This book is both informative and entertaining to read.  I learned a great deal of new stuff (which is the point to reading science books) and had fun while doing all this learning.  This is an author who I hope writes more science books in the future.

 

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review 2015-01-16 14:55
Why Everyone Should Read Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

“Now I will destroy the whole world.”
– What Bokonists say when they commit suicide, Cat’s Cradle, Chapter 106


You’d think a story about the end of the world – not just the world of one person, or human civilization, but all life on the planet – would be a grim affair, but Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle is replete with wit, wry humour, and a touching compassion for human frailty.

 

Vonnegut’s book is no bright dystopia, like the one portrayed in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, nor is it as unrelentingly dark as George Orwell’s 1984. It’s our world that Vonnegut so amusingly satirizes, a world in which human beings are awfully good at creating doomsday devices (atomic bombs, religions), and lying to themselves.

 

Many have said this is a story about the insanity of the Cold War, but I think it’s a short history of human stupidity. And it is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1963. The plot follows a narrator who is writing a book about one of the creators of the atomic bomb and in the process discovers the scientist has also made Ice-9, a substance with the potential to turn all water into solid ice. Why invent such a dangerous thing? Come on, science can’t be held back by such existential worries – it’s progress, baby.

Our world is beset with climate change caused by our technologies. As a species, we’re on the cusp of massive changes that could exceed the pace of evolution – whether from genetic engineering or through fusing our biology with information technology – and this is precisely the kind of book that everyone needs to read.

 

We need to think about what we are doing with our scientific power, not just proceed blindly.

 

Cat’s Cradle is the book that helped me find a way I could be a writer: it’s literary, but it plays with science fictional tropes; it’s funny, but there’s a point to it all. In it he invents a religion, Bokonism, that is both humane and ironic, and that puts the lie to all other human religions. He spoofs geopolitics as easily as he skewers human egocentrism. And he does it all with humour and prose that’s accessible and well crafted. It’s deceptively simple, in fact. You can’t help but be moved, and then you think, “How did he do that?”

The short chapters are perfect for today’s attention-deficit-disordered readers (at least, until we have our concentration chips implanted), so it works as a book that everyone at university could read.

 

Not to mention all the greatideas (foma: a harmless untruth) and kickass existential “Calypso” lyrics from the Book of Bokonon:

 

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself, he understand.

 

Source: markarayner.com/archives/4204
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