Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Schrodinger's Cat: Groundbreaking Experiments in Physics --by Adam Hart-Davis

Nonfiction /  Biography / Science

176 pages
5 Stars

I picked this book up from a table in my brick and mortar bookstore. I had no idea what I was getting, but I'm a sucker for both Dragons and Schrodinger's Cat. What a delight this book was to read!

The stories range from one to three pages, the shorter ones being in the beginning. They also told in chronological order, beginning with Early Experiments: 430 BCE – AD 1307 and ending with Chapter 6, Across the Universe: 1940 – 2009.

I think this is a great overview, and introduction, to science for the non-scientist, of which I am one. I love science, and love reading about it, but I'm not a scientist. That being said, the author, who is a scientist, has put together a book that tells about the lives of the scientists, and their experiments, in an accessible manner. I think this book would be wonderful for any budding scientist you may have in your home, or a neighbor's home.

 It's also a great book to keep on your shelf for a quick and ready reference.

Do you know how metals behave at absolute zero? I didn't. And I didn't know I really, truly needed to know the answer to that question, until I reached page 101. In fact, I'd never even thought of the question. But now not only do I know, I have the book and if/when I forget, can look it up quickly and easily.

Jason Anscomb did the interior design and illustrations, and they are marvelous. A fun book all around. Fun, entertaining, and educational. For what more can you ask?

whiskey words & a shovel II --by r. h. Sin

Poetry / Literature
176 pages
3 Stars

I give this book 3 stars as a mid point, only. Understand, I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I realize my cup of poison may be your cup of tea.

The first few poems were quite enjoyable, but as I read page after page, they all blurred together. There were, for me, no ah-ha! moments. For me, all the poems sounded like all the other poems.

To be honest, it could be either the style, or the words. Do I recommend this book? Yes, with reservations. Read the sample, on Amazon.com, and if those poems touch you in a positive way, buy and read the book.

I would like to see more by r. h. Sin (including one which explains why his initials are lower case and his last name capped).

Monday, July 25, 2016

I. V. Poetry --by Lucy Madison

Poetry / Literature 

44 pages / 2893 KB
5 Stars

Legalities: I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review.

I am so jealous! I wanted to write these poems, and Ms. Madison beat me to it!

These are thought provoking, and beautiful, and poems I will read again and again.

On the first read through, the two that hit a responsive chord with me were Baptized and Gone. Okay, it was more like hit me with a 2 x 4 between the eyeballs--"I knew at that moment we both had been / Baptized." Wow! The perfect ending to a beautiful poem.

"I wonder if you'll miss me when I'm gone, /... " how often have we asked that question, if not out loud, at least in our hearts? Madison gives a stunning answer of her own.

The language of these poems sings. The songs are beautiful, are sad, are happy. They will make you weep; they will make you smile. They will leave you wanting more, and wondering when the next book will come out.

I admit, I did not just read these poems; I devoured them, a starving woman at the table of plenty. I haven't done that since the last time I read Erica Jong. I will read these poems again, and take my time, and chew each morsel carefully to extract all the flavor, all the meat, all the wonderful goodness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Great Battles: Culloden (Cuil Lodair) --by Murray Pittock

This book will be available for purchase 15 September 2016

Nonfiction / History / Battle of Culloden
256 pages
4 Stars

Legalities first: I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review.

Every book I read starts out with 5 stars for its review, it is up to the author to keep them. This book rapidly dropped to 3 stars, and I nearly put it down after 50 pages. The beginning was slow, there were inconsistencies, and awkward sentence structures which sometimes made the sentence unintelligible.

There were also endnotes instead of footnotes. This reviewer can see no socially redeeming reason for making her flip and flap pages to go to the back of the book, somewhere, to see what the author thinks is important enough to add. If the notes were where they belonged, at the bottom of the page, this reviewer would not have lost her place on a fruitless search; she would merely have glanced to the bottom of the page, and either read or ignored the note, and continued reading.

I know the author is British, and I had no trouble with the spelling differences, nor most of the grammatical differences between British English and American English. (There really are differences beyond the extraneous 'u' that shows up in British words we have dropped.)

The author seems to assume his readers will all be British, with a working knowledge of the history of Culloden, not to mention the military.  I would have liked to have had a simple explanation after some of the jargon used, as it was, I spent a great deal of time going to several dictionaries only to discover the words used were old and no longer in use. The use of modern words would have made this book read much smoother, with fewer interruptions. Actually, this reviewer could have used a lot less jargon, and a lot more modern words. Instead of Pock, which took a few minutes to find, why not just use 'carry sack'? Instead of the oh-so-fancy and pretentious 'picquet,' why not just use picket?

By the time I got to page 85 (35 pages of date/fact, date/fact, date/fact beyond my usual close-the-boring-book-and-put-it-down place) I had my dander up. My clan (McBrayer) motto, In Defiance, was in full sway. I would finish this book, and give it a review, bad as it deserved.

And then, a miracle occurred. Or a student stepped in to take over the writing. Or a ghost writer appeared in the computer, but by page 86, the pace picked up, and it became almost a page burner. I actually became interested and began learning fascinating things about the Battle of Culloden (beyond what I 'learned' in Diana Gabaldon's book).

There were things Pittock mentioned that I wish he'd elaborated on, such as the women and children who were killed because they got in the way (were they in the way, or caught in cross fire?), and later, the women (and children?) who were shipped off with their husbands? I would have liked to read how the Scots used the pipes for communication – was it by tone, or song, or???

By page 96 or so, the inconsistencies dropped off (or I missed them because I was too interested in the story). Because of the second half of the book, I am giving it 4 stars. If I could give it 3.5 I would do that – I really miss not having an index in the back of the book. A glossary of old and military terms at the beginning of the book would have been a help. And I really hate the use of endnotes.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, especially if you are an historian and somewhat familiar with Culloden, and British military history and use of terms. If you're a history buff, like this reviewer, I still recommend it, but know the first part is a slog. It's slow, it's filled with dates and facts, and reminds one of the history books we had in elementary school that put us to sleep. Skim the beginning; read the second half. That's where the good stuff is.