Book Review – Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

OtherMinds

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (alternatively subtitled The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life) is a science and philosophy book by Peter Godfrey-Smith, a professor of philosophy of science and an avid scuba diver. We recognize the intelligence of many animals among us, from our closest relatives in apes and monkeys, to the dogs and cats that live in our homes, and even some of the birds that live in our backyards. Yet there are creatures on this Earth, distantly related to us, that have anomalously developed surprising intelligence on their own. These are the cephalopods: squids, cuttlefish, and especially octopuses. This book is two-pronged, discussing just how consciousness and intelligence arrived on the evolutionary stage in the first place, and the ways in which it has emerged in cephalopods and what science has uncovered in studying their minds.Read More »

New Books & Novel Discoveries (May 2020)

Well, May was certainly a strange month. Not three weeks ago there was actual snow falling in my neighborhood, the air cold enough that my jacket didn’t quite feel like enough, and then during this week my apartment turned into an oven.  I do hope summer weather is here to stay now, but if it could moderate itself a little that would be great.

I got a surprising number of books this month, and most of them are related to each other. Come along and see how much the fourth was with me.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – May 27, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

I have read another chapter of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson since last week, though this is less than I was hoping I’d get to. Nevertheless, I am appreciating the slower pace compared to the film, giving a more thoughtful look at how characters are processing what’s going on.


Recently Finished

OtherMindsIn an uncommon move on my part, I actually managed to finish reading Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith in about a week. I’m happy I was able to push myself to read it so fast, as I’m still nervous about finishing my to-read list for the year. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, though the science was a lot to take in sometimes. An appreciable amount of time is spent explaining aspects of the mind and how we currently understand its emergence in an evolutionary context, which I genuinely feel I learned from, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take some more mental legwork to understand. There are plenty of charming anecdotes and details of experiments about octopus behaviour that were a lot of fun and helped to balance the denser science.


Reading Next

White TearsSince I was being choosy between Other Minds and White Tears by Hari Kunzru about a month ago, I will be reading the latter next. Other than that, I don’t know why I’ve been so neglectful of my graphic novels as of late. I’ve always got a number of them left unread, and I just bought a lot of digital Star Wars comics since they were on sale. It’d be the easiest way in the world to get caught back up with my Goodreads challenge, but something is holding me back. Dunno what’s up with that.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

 

Get To Know The Fantasy Reader Tag

I’m getting a little down on myself for posting so irregularly this month (if anybody figures out where most of May went, I’d love to hear about it), so I’ve decided to do a book tag that I put a mental pin into a few weeks ago.

I first read this tag over at Sammie’s blog @ The Bookwyrm’s Den, who openly invited others to participate, so be sure to check out her post too. The tag originated from The Book Pusher over on YouTube.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – May 20, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

OtherMindsLast night I started reading Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith, a science and philosophy book about the emergence of consciousness, with a specific focus on the minds of octopuses. I only got a couple of chapters in, but I’m rather enjoying it so far. There was a fear that it would make for a dry nonfiction read, but fortunately that hasn’t been the case so far. I do noticeably have to work harder while reading it, though. So far it has been exploring the origins of the mind itself in life on Earth, considering the earliest animals and when they started sensing the world and other creatures around them, and how complex this sense was. It has made for a lot of new terms to learn, since I’m not exactly familiar with life that existed before the Cambrian era.

I’m still technically reading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson, but I haven’t made any progress in the last week.


Recently Finished

Soul MusicOver the weekend I finished reading Soul Music by Terry Pratchett, the 16th novel in the Discworld series. I may be disappointed Death didn’t have a more active role in this story, but darn it this book was just so just solidly enjoyable that it didn’t matter too much. What was most surprising was how much I warmed to the story of “The Band With Rocks In” and their explosion onto the music scene of Ankh-Morpork. While the music itself was a more typical invasive force affecting the Discworld in a way that mirrors something about our own modern world, I appreciated how it was used more as a vehicle to explore the effects and costs of sudden fame. I posted a full review yesterday, which you can check out here.


Reading Next

Shucks, I haven’t made up my mind about this just yet. I’ve only just started Other Minds after finishing Soul Music. I did just buy a bunch of Star Wars graphic novels a couple of weeks ago, though, I’ll probably be checking out some more of those.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Book Review – Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett is the 16th novel in the author’s Discworld series and the third in the Death sub-series. After a tragic carriage accident kills his adopted daughter Ysabel and his son-in-law/former apprentice Mort, Death becomes distraught and bemoans his inability to forget anything, wishing to quell his grief. Death wanders off into the world, leaving his vocation unfulfilled. It is soon foisted upon his bewildered granddaughter Susan, who was kept away from him for the sake of living a normal life. She struggles with the duties of the vocation, however, feeling she ought to use it to make the world a fairer place. Meanwhile, a young musician named Imp has traveled from his distant home in the mountains to make a name for himself in the city of Ankh-Morpork. Unbeknownst to him, something powerful and ancient has set its sights on him, shifting reality to make his dreams comes true…on its own terms.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – May 13, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Soul MusicI’m close to half way through Soul Music by Terry Pratchett, the 16th Discworld novel, and I’m continuing to enjoy it a lot. I do wish  we’d get more time reading about Death himself, as he’s clearly going through some stuff, but Susan and Buddy are making for more than worthy perspective characters in their respective story lines too. I’ve especially warmed to the latter, which is where the musical focus of the story comes from. Pratchett is clearly using this plot line as a vehicle to tell as many Rock industry jokes and references that he can, and I can sense the glee coming from it in a way that makes me smile. It’s yet another story about a force invading the Discworld too, but I’m finding it better told than the previous ones I’ve read.

The Rise of SkywalkerI also started reading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson, the novelization of Episode IX. I’m only about 40 pages in, but already I’m appreciating the better insight into the story that it’s providing. Especially missed from the film, which couldn’t be helped, was a deeper look at the relationship between Leia and Rey as master and apprentice. Carson does a really good job of faithfully capturing the voices of the characters as well, which markedly contrasts with something else I finished this past week. More on that later. I’d prefer the film were more fleshed out, to be sure, but as a lover of the universe and characters I’m feeling rather satisfied with what this book is providing so far.


Recently Finished

Star Wars AllegianceOver the weekend I read through a single graphic novel, Star Wars: Allegiance by Ethan Sacks et al, and it was an unfortunately rough read. It’s a four issue miniseries collected into one volume and it tries to to somehow tell two separate story lines under such limitations. One was about Finn and Poe trying to secure weapons for the Resistance, with bounty hunters in pursuit, and the other was Leia, Rey, and the rest traveling to Mon Cala to try and get the king there to pledge ships to their cause. They weren’t the worst ideas, but they were thin and played out like filler. It would have benefited much more from focus on a single story. Much of the dialogue felt forced and awkward too. I was a little interested in what he was trying to go for with Rey, but for the most part came off as a little out of character.


Reading Next

OtherMindsSince it’s likely I’ll be finished with Soul Music by next week, I suppose I ought to finally choose what book I’m going to read next from my to-read list. As I write this, I really haven’t made up my mind yet. I guess I will go with…Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Things are a little fantasy-heavy at the moment, I really ought to vary things a bit by reading some science nonfiction. I do hope that the writing style doesn’t slow my reading progress to a crawl; that’s always a slight concern with nonfiction. We shall see.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – May 6, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Soul MusicI’m just over a hundred pages into Soul Music by Terry Pratchett, the 16th novel in the Discworld series, which I started over the weekend. I’m excited to finally dig into the third Death novel, though disappointingly he is once again sharing the spotlight with others. Well, mildly disappointing. I just really like him. It’s partly about his granddaughter Susan too, so in her discovering her connection with him and the memories she’s forgotten, it is very much about him even when he’s not on the page. The anthropomorphic personification actively dealing with grief over the deaths of his daughter and son-in-law has me most interested, though, so I hope there’s a good amount of that. Not sure how I feel about all the rock music stuff yet. It’s the odd man out in a trio of plot lines.


Recently Finished

The Strings of MurderOver the weekend I finished reading The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel, the first book in the Frey & McGray series of mystery novels. I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It was an entertaining read much of the time, and when the characters are actively engaged with trying to solve the mystery I was pretty invested, but they were both just so exaggerated as characters. The writing leaned into their “odd couple” roles to a fault, and it just got grating by the end. I may need some assurances that these characteristics are dialed back in further books if I’m going to continue this series. I liked the book enough that I’m still curious, but we’ll see. I posted a full review on Monday, which you can check out here.


Reading Next

The Rise of SkywalkerI still haven’t made up my mind about what to move on to from my to-read list for the year, but I have made a resolution to read the novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson, which I purchased a copy of on Star Wars day. Since I don’t want it to cut into getting through my list, I’ve decided to make sure I commit free time I would otherwise spend on hobbies like video games or TV shows to reading this book. Though it didn’t stick the landing in a lot of ways, I still really liked the film and want to learn the finer details that were for some reason left on the cutting-room floor.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Book Review – The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel

The Strings of Murder

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel is a 2015 mystery novel, the first in the “Frey & McGray” series of books. Set in 1880s, the story follows Ian Frey, an inspector for London’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). After a series of personal disgraces largely outside of his control, Frey is sent by Scotland Yard to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they fear a copycat Jack the Ripper has made his first murder. With the Ripper still eluding apprehension in London, the pressure is on to solve the case quickly and quietly. This will not be easy however, as the violinist victim was somehow butchered in his own sealed bedroom, after taking all of the keys inside with him. There’s no clear evidence of how the murderer got in or out, and the presence of occult symbols at the crime scene only serves to excite the interest of Adolphus “Nine-Nails” McGray, the head of the paranormal subdivision leading the investigation, much to Frey’s chagrin.Read More »

New Books & Novel Discoveries (April 2020)

Somehow April felt like another very long month, yet I’m surprised that it’s already over. Time sure is funny sometimes. I hope everybody is staying safe out there. I ended up getting a few more books than I expected I would this month, which is always nice. Can’t wait to share it with you.

Without further ado, on to the books!Read More »