I always bring a heavy dose of skepticism to pop science, but I enjoyed this book a lot, despite some questions about the material.
Le is a biologicalI always bring a heavy dose of skepticism to pop science, but I enjoyed this book a lot, despite some questions about the material.
Le is a biological anthropologist, i.e., an actual expert in the history of human and primate biology and qualified to discuss the science of ancestral diets. The bibliography of 100 Million Years of Food will warm the heart of academically-minded readers with its many peer-reviewed journal articles, and Le seems to do a pretty good job evaluating his sources, even when he's stepping outside his field into the purview of nutritional science and cultural anthropology.
Despite Le's academic credentials, 100 Million Years of Food is a colorful read for a general audience. It features fun anecdotes about the author's extracurricular adventures researching contemporary food cultures, while also providing analysis of the confusing and contradictory science of nutrition and health. If you've wanted to better understand the science behind competing theories of what modern humans should eat, Le's book will definitely give you, ahem, food for thought. Several of the ideas were new to me and helped elucidate why whole-grain lovers, paleo* aficionados, vegans, and Weston A. Price fans all think they're right.
Because nutritional science is such a confusing mess, I couldn't decide how to feel about Le's thesis and conclusions. I'm glad he offered some practical advice for the reader, but are his recommendations about healthy eating supported by a careful reading of the scientific literature? Should he have been more cagey about giving specific advice? No idea, though many of his ideas are helpful and make sense. I will say that I preferred the early chapters of this book, which discuss specific foods and how they fit into the history of human nutrition, to the later chapters on general nutrition.
I hope Stephen Le stays away from tenure-track positions and continues to write popular science books! We need more engaging and engaged science writers like him.
*Le was way more gracious about the term "paleo" than I would have been in his shoes....more
Tales of scoundrels, matriarchs, ghosts, forgotten hamlets, local sports legends, and celebrity sideshow performers. This book is mostly a collectionTales of scoundrels, matriarchs, ghosts, forgotten hamlets, local sports legends, and celebrity sideshow performers. This book is mostly a collection of newspaper articles in no particular order, but it's still quite a lot of history for just 20 square miles!...more
A satisfying and poetic ending to a YA series populated by characters who win your heart. Like the other books, it had its own aesthetic - in this casA satisfying and poetic ending to a YA series populated by characters who win your heart. Like the other books, it had its own aesthetic - in this case, "creepy indie horror film" (which I liked very much).
I'll have to reread all four books at some point, because some of the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue slipped out of my head (or were never lodged there in the first place). So from the perspective of Plot, The Making Sense Of, this is no review at all. I enjoyed it anyway. I was occasionally surprised by which plot elements did or did not get further development and/or closure, but it's quite possible I'd feel differently on a reread.
ETA: I forgot to mention how much I flipped out about this passage: "He felt strange as he recognized where they were, near Delaplane, quite far from Henrietta now. This was a world of old money, horse farms, and politicians and tire-company billionaires. It was not a place of archaic wild magic."
I USED TO LIVE ABOUT 20 MINUTES FROM THERE. Those few sentences sum up the area with devastating accuracy. (Actually my landlord was a paving company millionaire.)...more
This is a reread, but apparently I first read it before I was on Goodreads.
I can't not give this book five stars; it's a masterpiece. Clarke doesn't sThis is a reread, but apparently I first read it before I was on Goodreads.
I can't not give this book five stars; it's a masterpiece. Clarke doesn't so much construct her world of Regency magic as uncover a world that was surely always there, encased in the amber of the past. Her history of magicians and kings and fairies is atmospheric, literate, and profoundly British.
Clarke's narration brings this world to life, with its careful observations, witty asides, and of course FOOTNOTES. Her narrative voice is pitch-perfect, the distillation of every classic English novel. You can't fake that voice. The steps are presumably as follows: (1) Read a crap ton of old books (2) Be a genius (3) Come from the British Isles. Unfortunately most of us are disqualified by (2) or (3) or both.
As a novel it does have wobbly bits that I noticed both times I read it—the ending is, in some ways, too neat. The last section, while pleasingly gothic, could probably be tighter. The story does not always have as much depth as the world it's set in (Lascelles and Drawlight, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair's relentless attentions to Stephen, Jonathan Strange himself).
However, I loved it the whole way through, and I especially loved returning to spend some time with Gilbert Norrell, who is so understated that, when I read the novel the first time, I failed to appreciate that he, not Strange, is the center of the story*. He is a piece of work, but I think when we reflect on it, most of us introverted, anxious bookish types have a lot of Mr. Norrell in us.
*Unless you count Childermass, who rightfully steals the show and whom I very much hope has his own 300,000-word novel coming....more
I picked this up at a SF convention and kept at it for about 200 pages, since it's light enough reading and has an interesting premise.
But oh goodnessI picked this up at a SF convention and kept at it for about 200 pages, since it's light enough reading and has an interesting premise.
But oh goodness, I'm afraid I have to leave this novel back in the 1980s where it came from. I can take or leave the exploration of the premise -there's a lot of weird gender essentialism going on here that I don't think is going to get resolved by the end of the story, and then there's the lameness of a setting where all relationships are queer relationships, but the spotlight is on the one "transgressive" straight couple - but whatever. Some of the worldbuilding is fun, in a campy way - a Logan's Run sort of aesthetic.
However, I really quit because the characters are just not working for me. They are terribly flat, with wooden dialogue and experiences that are all surface, no depth. Obviously this is a Novel of Ideas, but the story moves too slowly for the characterizations to be so shallow.
If nothing else, I suppose we can all be grateful for those well-meaning 70s and 80s feminists teaching us what not to do in our feminist SF (with some exceptions, of course!)...more
This was a lovely book, a picaresque adventure through an incredibly rich and wonder-filled world, played absolutely straight. It took me a while to rThis was a lovely book, a picaresque adventure through an incredibly rich and wonder-filled world, played absolutely straight. It took me a while to read because it is so very linear—the characters are likable but uncomplicated, and there's this storybook certainty to the narrative that everything will come out right in the end, despite momentary setbacks.
I will note that certain details of the plot seem to make no sense, but this is definitely not a book that requires a logical plot. Additionally, Silverberg's female characters, while much better written than I expected, have a couple of WTF moments, and I would have liked to see more gender balance overall.
Nevertheless, a really exceptional adventure tale and not to be missed....more
Jemisin writes novels in which her characters and settings are radically transformed during the course of tAnother enjoyable page-turner from Jemisin.
Jemisin writes novels in which her characters and settings are radically transformed during the course of the narrative. The Kingdom of Gods did this particularly well, making for a story with strong forward momentum. Sieh, our trickster narrator, goes on a journey that we don't expect, and political and cosmological shifts literally change the world.
The plotting didn't always work for me - it reminded me of the previous book in the trilogy, with the characters tumbling from one messy situation to another, sometimes via obvious plot hook. The worldbuilding was mostly strong, but sometimes the language threw me off; Sieh's childlike slanginess included stock phrases from in our world, and I think invented phrases would have worked better.
This is certainly the most ambitious novel in the trilogy, which is why I'm inclined to give it a high rating despite plot wobbliness. At its best moments, it's profound about the human condition, going places that are more often explored in science fiction than in fantasy. (I say that as someone who normally prefers fantasy!)...more