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clynley

Story Driven

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Mary Barton
Elizabeth Gaskell
The Somnambulist: A Novel
Jonathan Barnes
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
T. Colin Campbell, Howard Jacobson

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted - T. Colin Campbell, Thomas Campbell This book had some hard facts for me to hear but the author backs them up with research and also explains why they seem so radical based on the way that our diets have been influenced by food lobbyists. After starting this book, I started seeing a movement around the research that is presented in it. There is more and more evidence regarding diet and its impact on health--not only human health but animals too. If you are looking for information about how to eat for health, this is a great book. It gives some truths that are hard to take if you love dairy products as I do, but it gave me enough information to make me really think about what I wanted to do in my own life.

A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki I haven't read Ruth Ozeki's first book, "My Year of Meats," but I certainly will now. Her writing is beautiful and completely engaging. Although the first few moments of the book had me wondering about what I had gotten myself into as Nao introduced herself in her diary, but I kept going and I am really glad that I did. Nao and Ruth (the other main character--named for the book's author?) are both sympathetic and interesting characters. They are both struggling through hard situations in their lives and trying to figure out whether to make it through or to just give up. When fate connects them through the discovery of Nao's diary sealed inside a Hello Kitty lunch box inside a barnacled plastic bag that Ruth "happens" to find on the coast of Canada, their lives and stories become intertwined in interesting and surreal ways. The connection between Ruth as Nao's reader and Nao as Ruth's storyteller bridges both geographical distance as well as time. I was sorry to reach the end of the story but very glad to have particpated in it--as a reader you definitely feel that you are part of what is happening as Ruth is part of what she reads from Nao's diary. In the end, the story, like the characters, seems to open up more possibilities than to close them and, as the reader, I knew this was a good thing--for everyone.

The Rise of Ransom City

The Rise of Ransom City - Felix Gilman I didn't love this book as much as the first one, Half-Made World, but I liked seeing things from the perspective of a very different character. Harry Ransom is a hapless hero for whom nothing really works out as he plans, except that he has invented this incredible apparatus over which everyone wants control. He spends the majority of the book keeping it out of the hands of both the Line and the Gun and in the end, well, in the end you have to decide for yourself if he achieves his ultimate goal.I enjoyed being re-immersed in this world but I missed the perspective of the characters in alignment with the great powers as those powers crumbled.

The Half-Made World

The Half-Made World - Felix Gilman Incredibly imaginative. I definitely felt as if I was in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing and where they were going and I was happy to be along for the ride. A great re-imagining of the wild west, mixing in mythology, and making a world that felt like a combination of the U.S. west while being settled and Australia. John Creedmoore may not have been a nice man but he certainly was an interesting one. Serving a power that he both craves and despises we follow him on a journey to the very edges of the made world along with Liv, a sheltered psychology professor who has come out west seeking, well, seeking herself and a way to heal. if you are looking for something different--a story that feels both completely unfamiliar and familiar, that you can't predict where it is headed--then I'd recommend "The Half-Made World."

Speaking from among the Bones (Flavia de Luce Series #5)

Speaking From Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel - Alan Bradley Flavia de Luce is simply irresistible and I think that this may be my favorite of the series. She is at her 11 year old scientific best solving a complex mystery of her church organist's murder. My one complaint about the book is that it ends with a cliff hanger that will have me waiting on the edge of my seat until Mr. Bradley can write the next book. I hope he's hard at work.

Lake, The

The Lake - Banana Yoshimoto I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to. For one thing, I read "1Q84" earlier this year and am also now reading "Kafka on the Shore" and there were plot elements shared between the three books that actually had me confused about what I was reading. Young, isolated characters with backgrounds that include cults and identity issues and solitary cabins with mysterious happenings and/or occupants. One thing that I frequently feel with both Yoshimoto and Murakami is a disconnect between the action or scene occurring in the novel and the characters dialog. The character is acting or feeling one way but says something either completely opposite or off point that throws me for a loop. This was an interesting book but I felt as if I just skimmed along the surface of these characters live. I didn't understand them, but perhaps I wasn't supposed to.

Arcadia

Arcadia - Lauren Groff I just couldn't get into this book. I read almost half of it and kept wishing that I was at the end. I loved her other book--The Monsters of Templeton--but the subject of the book, a hippy commune, just didn't keep me interested. And the very small boy who is the main character kept making me think of Owen Meany. So I set this book aside.

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend - Patricia B. McConnell There are so many things about this book that I loved, I'm not sure I can even remember them all. I think what I found most helpful is Patricia McConnell's thoughtful and interesting progression through different emotions, similarities in how those emotions are expressed between humans and dogs, and how to better read and understand what your dog may be feeling in different situations. She gave excellent examples from her own work with fearful and aggressive dogs as well as examples of well socialized dogs dealing with unfamiliar situations. She did an excellent job of describing the deep connection that occurs between humans and dogs and exploring some of the foundations for that connection. This is a book that I'm sure I'll read again because it had so much information in it that I felt I couldn't digest it all. I bookmarked many different places that I wanted to return to and to remember. If you are an animal lover or interested in the connection between humans and other species, this is a great book to explore.

The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars - I loved this book--not everything about it but overall. I loved the relationship between Higg and Jasper most of all. the comfort and companionship across species in a world where human society has disintegrated. the author never even describes Jasper except to say, at one point, that he has short fur and he was a mix, but he doesn't hazard a guess at the breeds. So I imagined Jasper as a hound retriever mix with a sweet and concerned face. I also came to love the relationship between Higg and his ornery and often kind of awful partner in survival, Bangley. Very aptly named with his love of fire arms and explosives. I found the story interesting and engaging. I don't want to give away too much of the plot because discovering it is part of the pleasure.The one thing I didn't find realistic was how Jasper was fed. I felt the author went for shock value when there seemed many unexplained missing options for how Jasper could be maintained.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child - This book was fascinating in many ways. First, I don't know much about the lives of the pioneers who settled Alaska and this was a beautiful description of what it must have been like. Second, the integration of a Russian fairy tale about a elderly couple and snow child into this stark, harsh world was incredibly appealing. It made the short, dark days and depression of the main character open up. Through out the book, the author seems to want the reader to decide for themselves if the snow child is really a child formed from a snow figure built by the couple or if she is an orphaned little girl with uncanny powers. The telling takes you on an interior journey of the main character as well as a journey through the stunning Alaskan seasons. I know what I think about the snow child . . . but you have to decide for yourself.

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4) - I read two of Tana French's books prior to this. "Into the Woods" was not my favorite. In fact I was incredibly frustrated by the ending and thought I might not read another of hers, but I read her second one, "Faithful Place", which was well written--as the first one was--and a little more satisfying but I also didn't just love it. So I skipped the third and went straight to "Broken Harbor" and it paid off. This book was riveting from beginning to end. I really liked being inside the mind of the main character and head cop Michael "Scorcher" Kennedy who, like French's other main detective characters, is definitely flawed but who I found very sympathetic and interesting. It was a peek into a failing Irish suburb outside of Dublin and how a family can be changed by financial crisis and isolation. There is no exciting action, gun battles, or car chases and yet I felt it hard to look away, as if I might miss something. It is a strong example of a psychological murder mystery.

Fuzzy Nation

Fuzzy Nation - John Scalzi I haven't read the original but I really enjoyed this version. I thought that the author's depiction of the fuzzies was very well done in that they were entirely sympathetic without being cloying. I haven't decided if I want to read the original because I enjoyed this one so much and I don't think I quite ready for a different (although original) version of Jack Holloway who, in spite of not being a truly good man (as he himself admits), is an interesting and likeable one.

Mission to Paris

Mission to Paris - Alan Furst Furst does a great job of creating suspense without the necessity of dramatic or big actions. A telephone call, the wave of a hand from a window across the street, a note left at a hotel--these can be mechanisms for very intense suspense even though I would describe this as a quiet book. Much of it is interior to the main character and his experiences, but the pace is deceptive and actually a good deal happens just without the fan fare of most thrillers.

The Long Earth

The Long Earth - Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett This book brought up a lot of really interesting ideas about resources and the value of things if there was an infinite amount of resources. What would be valuable then? I liked the main character, Joshua, a lot. As for the spirit of the ancient Tibetan who had transfered into circuitry . . . well, I'm not sure what I thought. He was alternately irritating and likeable but made for an interesting foil against Joshua and, eventually, Sally. I thought Terry Pratchett did a great job exploring a lot of the issues that would arise if we were suddenly to find ourselves with an infinite number of earths to explore and exploit. My only complaint was the ending--the story just cut off. Obviously there needs to be a sequel but I wish that the end had felt more rounded off rather than snapped.

2312

2312 - This was an amazing book in many, many ways. First, I am in awe of Kim Stanley Robinson's ranging imagination from depicting life on Mercury and a cult of sun walkers who follow the sun around the planet, always keeping in the shade, to the body surfing in the rings of Saturn. This book reminded more more in its scope and character depth of Years of Rice and Salt, though the setting and premise of both books are very, very different. Robinson has a range that I think most writers dream about achieving but he moves with confidence and intelligence between realms of space travel to botany to genetics. The character Swan is flawed but also wonderful in her naive embracing of people and of the different worlds. She is an adventurer, trying anything and everything, going to extremes, and it takes the death of her beloved grandmother to bring her life more into focus. She gets involved in her grandmother's work although her grandmother had not trusted her enough to tell her what it is. The messenger of information that she doesn't understand, Swan becomes wrapped up in an inter-planetary conspiracy involving quantum computers, revolution, and the fate of several cities on different planets.I don't think a review can do justice to this book--there are just too many beautiful layers to explore within in it to capture in any summary. If you want to travel to other worlds and imagine a future where humans populate much of our solar system while still trying to work our political differences and fights over resources, settle in for an amazing journey.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Overall I was disappointed in this book. I thought the ideas were great and original but then about half way through the book became more of a teenage romance novel than an interesting and complex fantastical novel. This wouldn't have been so much of a problem (after all I loved the love story in "The Hunger Games" except that it completely took over the plot and the reader is taken through a history of the two lovers that was fairly cliche in its elements. And it ends with a cliff hanger--which I always find irritating if it seems like an obvious ploy to get you to get the next book.