Elentarri's Book Blog

Book reviews and other interesting goodies.

Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen, James S. Trefil

Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy - Robert M. Hazen, James Trefil

The authors state that the aim of this book is to provide the fundamental background knowledge that we need to cope with the complex scientific and technological world of today.  The aim of this book is to provide the information you need to become scientifically literate.  The book achieves this aim quite nicely, but I can't say the book is particularly exciting to read, especially if you have a science background.  This is perhaps something that should be read by someone who isn't too familiar with the different branches of science or someone who wishes to brush up on what they should have learned at school and might have forgotten.  This edition has been updated from the first addition.

Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey

Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena - Linda S. Godfrey

A rather boring collection of supposedly monster eye-witness accounts. There is limited analysis or hypotheses regarding the sightings.

Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Addiction by Claudia Christian

Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Addiction - Morgan Grant Buchanan, Claudia Hall Christian

Terry Pratchett: The Spirit of Fantasy by Craig Cabell

Terry Pratchett: The Spirit of Fantasy - Craig Cabell

This book was so-so.  The blurb states "featuring an in-depth look at the man and his work, as well as on-screen adaptations and a collector's guide, this is essential reading for any fan".  However, I found this book does not really discuss Terry Pratchett or his life.  So it's not much of a biography.  Cabell selects a few of Terry Pratchett's books and does a brief analysis on them, but it reads more like a college paper than an "in-depth look at the man and his works".  The collector's guide section is a list of almost everything type of adaptation and book Terry Pratchet wrote/ was involved in.  Something you can probably find on his website.  If you want to know more about Terry Pratchet, then I recommend reading the authors own words which is supplied in A Slip of the Keyboard:  the Collected Nonfiction.

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins - Jonathan Balcombe

A beautifully written book that summarises the life of fishes - what they see, hear, small, taste, touch, navigate, feel.  If they feel pain and if they are aware.  Do they have fun?  The author also discusses what a fish thinks and if they are intelligent and if they can use tools.  The social contracts, co-operation and fish democracy involved in fishey lives, as well as the strange variety of breeding and parenting methods make for interesting reading.  As the author says:  "fishes are individuals", and he does a good job in showing why he thinks that.  The book contains minimal amount of fluff and so many interesting goodies.  It is well worth the reading time, even if you aren't a fish fanatic.  The book comes with a nice selection of colour photographs.

 

PS:  Fishes like cuddles too. ;)

 

The Anglo-Saxon Age: The Birth of England by Martin Wall

The Anglo-Saxon Age: The Birth of England - Martin Wall

A rather superficial military history of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms/monarchs in England.  This book didn't provide much information on their culture or anything else, other than who invaded which kingdom, when and the atrocities committed.  While a fair number of colour photos and a few poor maps were included in this book, a time line and genealogy would have been helpful as well.  I'm hoping A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons: The Beginnings of the English Nation by  Geoffrey Hindley provides more information on the Anglo-Saxons other than their wars.

Awakening by Amanda Stevens

The Awakening (Graveyard Queen) by Amanda Stevens (No (2017-03-28) - Amanda Stevens (No

An entertaining addition (and apparently final book) to the Graveyard Queen series. 

 

NOTE:  Books need to be read in order.

Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month by Terry Albert

Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month, 2nd Edition: Everything you need to know at each stage to ensure your cute & playful puppy gr - Liz Palika, Terry Albert

A straight forward instructional manual for owning a German Shepherd.  The book includes how your GSD matures month by month, from bringing your puppy home, to 12 months.  The book also explains how to deal with house training, other types of training, nutrition, grooming, socialisation, health, vet visits etc.

 

 

 

When Life Nearly Died by Michael J Benton

When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time - Michael J. Benton

This is a nicely written book that investigates the Permian mass extinction event approximately 250 million years ago that wiped out 90% of all species on Planet Earth.  The author starts with the history of geology and paleontology, and describes the various historical means of approaching geological problems.  The author also takes a look at the Cretaceous mass extinction which killed the dinosaurs.  This is an up-to-date (2015) edition of the book that includes new information on what caused the Permian mass extinction and how life recovered afterwards.  There is a fair amount of technical terminology at the beginning of the book, but this doesn't detract from the beautiful writing and fascinating information.

 

A Brief History of Roman Britain - Conquest and Civilization by Joan P. Alcock

A Brief History of Roman Britain. by J.P. Alcock - Joan P. Alcock

This is an adequate, brief and basic overview of the Roman occupation of Britain. The book serves as an uninspiring introductory text to the subject. The narrative follows events in a chronological order, with additional chapters dedicated to army life, town life, the countryside, religion and belief, food and diet, industry and society.

TRILOBITE! Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey

Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution - Richard Fortey

Trilobite! (with the exclamation mark) is Richard Fortey's passionate account of trilobites - their physiology, their crystal eyes, legs, development, evolution and history.  This book grew out of the author's love of trilobites.  His stated aim is to invest the trilobites with all the glamour of the dinosaur and to see the world through the eyes of a trilobites.

This enthusiastic account of trilobites is written in a colourful narrative style that mixes science with personal anecdotes and historical stories.  The chapter on trilobite eyes was especially fascinating.  There are a few technical terms to be learned, but nothing excessive that would be difficult for the lay reader.  The book also includes numerous black/white photographs and diagrams.

Trilobites are interesting creatures, but I wanted more focus on the trilobites and fewer anecdotes. I would also have like more information on what may have caused their extinction.  However, this book is still fascinating and a joy to read.

 

Terra Preta: How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger by Ute Scheub, Haiko Pieplow, Hans-Peter Schmidt, Kathleen Draper

Terra Preta: How the World's Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger - Ute Scheub, Haiko Pieplow, Hans-Peter Schmidt, Kathleen Draper, Tim Flannery

Terra preta is the Portuguese name of a type of man-made soil which is thought to have almost miraculous properties.  This soil is made from a variety  of  kitchen or garden wastes, charcoal and earthworms, so it can be produced on every balcony or on the smallest of garden plots.  This soil is able to absorb soil contaminants, retain moisture and provide nutrients for the plants, as well as replace top soil lost through erosion.  This is an interesting, but somewhat long-winded and simplistic book that discusses the importance of soil and how to produce your own humus/compost/black soil or terra preta.  




 

 

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen - Patricia Briggs

A nicely written, entertaining and amusing addition to the Mercy Thompson series.  I love that this author can take old-stuff like vampires, werewolves and fae; and give them a fresh and original makeover.  I also love that each character in the story actually has a character - they are their own person.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne

The Purloined Poodle - Kevin Hearne, Galen Dara

A cute detective story involving a druid; a sometimes telepathic, food obsessed, over active Irish Wolfhound; and a collection of missing dogs.  The story did too much "tell" instead of "show" and everything tied together too neatly so the story didn't really grab my attention.  I also couldn't help thinking "Nancy Drew novel" while I was reading the story.

History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver

A History of Ancient Britain - Neil Oliver

A well-written, easy-going, entertaining book that covers the history of Ancient Britain from the earliest humans, the Ice Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and to the Roman occupation in broad strokes. There is not a great deal of technical language. The author discusses significant archaeological finds with passing mentions of such things as genetics and linguistics. I would have liked to read more about the languages, technological developments (other than the arrival of bronze and iron), changes in farming techniques, changes in human physiology over time etc. But, I suppose this type of information is rather difficult to glean from a small collection of bones and artifacts. The book includes two sections of colour photo inserts. It would have been helpful if the author had also included a map indicating the sites he discusses. None the less, I found the book to be interesting and informative.