Title: Etiquette and Espionage Author: Gail Carriger Source: library Rating: Review Summary: Great world building, a strong female protagonist, no angsty relationships, and an incredibly fun boarding school. This one’s a keeper.
Etiquette and Espionage, Gail Carriger’s first foray into young adult fiction, is set in the same fascinating world as her Parasol Protectorate series with its enjoyable blend of fantasy and steampunk elements. As a bit of a tomboy, Sophronia doesn’t quite fit her mother’s idea of a proper lady, so her mother is thrilled to send Sophronia off to finishing school. Fortunately for Sophronia, the finishing school is not what her mother thinks, teaching young ladies not only the “fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but [also how] to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course” (source) .
Title: The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World Author: Michael Pollan Source: library Rating: Fun Fact: A tulip grown from seed doesn’t flower for 7 years! Review Summary: This was one of the most fun non-fiction books I’ve read, because of both the content and the author’s enthusiasm.
The author’s starting premise in The Botany of Desire has two fascinating parts. First, that plants benefit greatly from domestication, so our relationship with them could just as easily be viewed as them domesticating us. And second, that domesticated plants have evolved to meet some basic human desire, making plants of the past a great way to learn about what previous civilizations valued. The bulk of the book is devoted to stories of particular plants that illustrate this point. Although I expected more of a history of the plants in question (the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato), I very much enjoyed the collection of anecdotes presented instead.
Title: And Then She Fell Author: Stephanie Laurens Source: from publisher for review Rating: Review Summary: The unique premise and appealing heroine made this both a great romance and an exciting mystery.
Henrietta Cynster doesn’t believe she’s meant to fall in love. Instead she’s devoted her time to helping other young women determine if their suitors are truly motivated by love. However, when she breaks up a match that was motivated by good intentions (but not love) she feels honor-bound to help James find another bride. This being a romance, Henrietta and James are immediately attracted to one another, but their own stubbornness and some societal constraints have to be overcome before they realize it. Once they do, the book becomes largely a mystery, although one intended mainly to highlight the depths of their feeling for each other.
Title: 1Q84 Author: Haruki Murakami Source: library Rating: Review Summary: Although the book was long and the ending was abrupt, I loved the writing and can’t wait to read more books by Murakami.
This book was so long and so strange that I’m not even sure where to start telling you what it was about, but I’ll do my best. The story involves two main characters and we alternate between their view points. Aomame is an assassin and Tengo is a writer. As the story progresses, they get pulled closer and closer together by events that initially seemed unrelated but which turn out to have a deep connection. The book involves questions of destiny and pre-determination, parallel worlds and some surprising magical elements.
Title: The Betterphoto Guide to Digital Nature Photography Author: Jim Miotke Source: library Rating: Review Summary: A great practical guide to taking better pictures, very well organized and with useful tips for any photographer.
There were so many things to love about this book, I’m almost not sure where to start. I suppose what jumped out at me the most was how practical the advice was. There are checklists of the most important things to remember from each section; little boxes with advice on practical concerns such as bringing camera gear out into the elements; and “assignment” sections that suggest ways to practice new techniques right away. I was most excited about the assignments so I was especially pleased that these were all included in the index, making them easy to refer back to.
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Author: Rebecca Skloot Source: library Rating: Fun Fact: If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings Review Summary: An impressively unbiased look at an interesting ethical question, with an equally impressive personal account of how this issue changed one families’ life.
Henreitta Lacks is a young, black woman whose cancerous cells were harvested and grown without her consent in the 1940′s. At the times, this was standard practice, especially with black patients, who still saw doctors from segregated wards or not at all. Today, her cells have changed the world. As the first cells to survive and continually reproduce, her cells have been used to develop numerous vaccines and learn more about many crucial cellular functions. Unfortunately, her family never benefited from the massive commercialization of her cells, although this book is an attempt to change that.
Title: The Big Exit Author: David Carnoy Source: from publisher for review Rating: Review Summary: A fun modern take on the noir mystery genre with plenty of action and plot twists to supplement the great atmosphere.
Convicted of vehicular manslaughter, Richie is released from prison still claiming his friend actually swapped places and put him behind the wheel. While Richie served his sentence, his friend has gone on to business success and marriage to Richie’s ex-fiance. When that same friend turns up dead, Richie is the obvious suspect. However, while evidence against both Richie and his ex-fiance mounts, not everything is as it seems. Plot twists and intriguing leads kept me reading this one late into the night.