A wonderful, engaging historical fiction novel that has the science of botany as a key element. It has anOriginal review posted on Layers of Thought.
A wonderful, engaging historical fiction novel that has the science of botany as a key element. It has an amazing strong female character and an encompassing theory on the nature of all things.
Description: When Alma Whitaker is born in Pennsylvania, USA in the year 1800, her exceptionally wealthy British father Henry is pleased. Alma will be his only natural child, will receive an education uncommon for women, and will want for almost nothing for her entire life. Alma is not a beautiful woman, but her strengths lie in her brilliant scientific mind and her excellent constitution. She spends her childhood days categorizing plants and reading in her father’s huge library. As an adult Alma becomes one of the first women to publish within the field of botany.
This is the richly imagined life story of Alma Whitaker, her driven father whose interest and dedication to botany build him a fortune, and her stalwart and complex family. It is set relatively soon after the American Revolution, during the civil war, and while the theory of evolution was taking form.
Thoughts: There’s a lot to like about this book. From the very start it becomes apparent that Elizabeth Gilbert is an expert story teller. I was entirely swept away with writing that flows and that captured me from the first page until the last. I particularly like that the characters are well developed and complex with a lot of back story. The book also has some famous historical characters which adds to the richness of the story line - such as Charles Darwin and Captain James Cook, who where significant contributors to science and botany - giving the book an authentic historical feel. There are some interesting settings within the novel which may intrigue readers, such as Kew Gardens, a botanical garden in London established in 1756 that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Tahiti, where the author goes into a good deal of depth about the culture and the setting.
As the title suggests one of the book’s major themes is a grand sweeping theory about the nature of humans and life in general, and since it is one that I agree with it made me like the book even more. My only quibble would be a strong and slightly embarrassing sexual thread that runs through the novel, which was a bit much for me. If this particular element had been a little lighter the book would have rated higher in my opinion. However, it’s a terrific novel and comes highly recommended. I would say one of my favorites this year at 4.5 stars. ...more
This was, of course, a heartbreaking book. An excellent translation and a page turner. A tribute to the ideal that to forget our history often leads uThis was, of course, a heartbreaking book. An excellent translation and a page turner. A tribute to the ideal that to forget our history often leads us to repeat it. Wiesel eloquently states more than this in his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize for this work. This is not really a review, because this book is truly beyond that, but my thoughts and questions about this important book. I am also writing this with the knowledge that a natural confusion, while trying to make sense of this horrific event, must be normal. I could not help but thinking that this dehumanization of the Jewish during the Holocaust had to be as extremely well planned as it appeared to be implemented. Wiesel simply describes how the Germans step by step took away their dignity and broke their spirit. As their autonomy was taken away there was an almost rejection of the idea that this could be truly happening and then a futile acceptance of each gradual removals of basic human rights and needs. A collective annihilation where each individual was left feeling and considered to be, by the Nazis, less than an animal. It is now with morbid curiosity and the desire to understand human nature that I want to know what went on psychologically and sociologically for Hitler and the Nazi party as they destroyed fellow human beings in such a calculated and diabolical manner, and why similar things still can occur today. ...more
I enjoyed this book. The authors write about a fearful and sensitive subject, how we can die, all the while having a grin on their collective faces. TI enjoyed this book. The authors write about a fearful and sensitive subject, how we can die, all the while having a grin on their collective faces. They making death amusing, funny, and curiously shocking. I would recommend this collection of trivia for those with the tendency toward enjoyment of the morbid, those whom are a bit paranoid, those enjoying medical facts or statistical data. The authors and publisher tout it to be a good reference book for writers looking for more information on ways in which a character can "go". It can be read from cover to cover or just picked up and flipped through. It is extremely well organized into short chapters on each particular way in which we can die. There are several pages for each reason giving the reader just enough information on each death topic to make it interesting but not overwhelming. For example, Ebola, drinking overdose, and freezing are broken down into further categories such as horror factor, notable victims, and grim facts for each specific ways in how This Will Kill You. Interesting stuff....more
This is a great book. It transported me back to the college courses I took in the late 90s for a teacher's credential. It was basically an overview ofThis is a great book. It transported me back to the college courses I took in the late 90s for a teacher's credential. It was basically an overview of what I had learned over a two year period, except in a condensed, readable, and interesting format - although sometimes difficult to grasp and a few time to understand, due to my own lack of abilities. He writes about how he believes our brains work and tries to dispell the myth that the human brain is like a computer arguing that our humanity is the greatest part of what makes our minds so special. He addresses autism and other brain differences, as well as language aqusition, mathematical skills, creativity, illogical and imprecise thinking, and other interesting aspects of how we learn, think, remember, and create. Even as I accessed this book in a readable fashion it becomes apparrent how amazing Tammet is. He is an autistic savant and considered to have one of the greatest minds alive. Among many other gifts he learned the very difficult language of Icelandic in approximately one week, and spoke it fluently with native speakers in a TV interview. Incredible!...more
A great book with incredible pictures. It is perfect for the Halloween and fall season.
Synopsis: A preteen and children’s book based upon a group of people whose aim is to educate children (and adults too) about our fellow planetary inhabitants - bats. It is written by scientists with a love of this special but ugly animal.
Bats are an umbrella species – if they are protected then it naturally extends to the protection of other species, helping them to thrive and survive. Sadly many species of bats in the US and around the world are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss, incorrect beliefs and myths, as well as a mysterious disease called white nose syndrome which is addressed in the book.
This book helps to teach by giving children and young adults science- based information about the importance of bats to local ecosystems. It also includes some disgusting and buggy scatological information which children love.
My Thoughts: I love love love bats. They are so cute – ugly cute. Most with faces only a mother could love. They are also an indicator species. Their health is an indication of our planet’s health, our warning – the figurative “canary in the coal mine”. You can’t help asking the question, if bats are dying, what’s next?
This book is simple and intriguing, with some incredible pictures, and a bunch of enlightening facts that everyone should know. Its a great fall read for the classroom and a trick or treat gift instead of candy or sweets. And besides, did I mention that I love bats - 4 stars. ...more