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 »

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 »

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 »

Book Review – The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Faceless Old Woman etc

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor is the third standalone novel set in the world of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast series created and written by the authors. The Faceless Old Woman is a mysterious, spectral figure who has haunted the homes of Night Vale in the series for years now. Often menacing, yet sometimes obtusely helpful, who she might have been and where she came from had always been an unknown. Narrated by the Faceless Old Woman herself, this novel tells her entire life story, from her birth in the Mediterranean in the early 19th century all the way to how she first came to Night Vale, intercut throughout with her meddling in the life of Craig, a young man living in Night Vale in the 2010s.Read More »

Book Review – MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam

MaddAddam is the third and final novel in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, following Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. It picks up exactly where the second novel left off, with Toby and Ren having recused Amanda from her captors, subduing them after Jimmy stepped in first. Though they initially have a handle of the situation, it all falls apart when the Crakers show up—the semi-humans created by Crake to inherit the Earth after the pandemic. Though everybody makes it out with their lives, the two dangerous men escape in the confusion. Needing to tend to Jimmy’s infected foot, Toby becomes a figure of much interest to the Crakers, and she quickly finds herself put into the role of storyteller in Jimmy’s stead. Ever on guard for the two men who still lurk somewhere nearby, the little colony of Toby and the MaddAddamites try to eke out a living in this post-apocalyptic world, while Toby probes Zeb for stories of his past.Read More »

Book Review – Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett is the 15th novel in the author’s Discworld series and the 2nd book in the sub-series about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Sam Vimes, captain of the city’s Night Watch, is getting married soon to the wealthy Sybil Ramkin. On his wedding day he intends to retire, hanging up his badge after many years of service. In the meantime, he has to deal with a handful of new recruits foisted upon him by the city’s Patrician in the name of diversity; a troll, a dwarf, and female werewolf. Trying to get the Watch in order before his departure is enough trouble, but matters are made worse as somebody in the shadows has been getting ideas about the rights of kings and destiny. Believing he has discovered the rightful king of Ankh-Morpork, this person steals a secret and deadly weapon to upend the current social order and make way for this king’s return.Read More »

Book Review – Here (away from it all) by Polly Hope

Here (away from it all)

Here (away from it all) is a 1969 novel by Polly Hope, originally published under the pseudonym Maryann Forrest. On an unnamed Greek island, often swamped with tourists, a small number of wealthy expatriates from around the world live a fairly carefree, relaxed lifestyle in one of the island’s villages. Our unnamed narrator lives with her husband, only referred to as “N,” and a number of her children. One lazy summer’s day the island is covered in a thick layer of dust, as if the fallout of some cataclysmic incident. Communication with the rest of the world ceases after this “Day of the Dusting” and leaving the island becomes hazardous. Left to their own devices, the precarious relationship between the native islanders and the foreigners stuck there begins to fall apart, as some of the old traditions come back into fashion and the expats realize they may never have been as welcome as they thought.Read More »

Book Review – The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is the 2009 sequel to the author’s 2003 novel Oryx and Crake and the second entry in the MaddAddam trilogy. The story is dystopian/post-apocalyptic science fiction set in the not-too-distant future after a global pandemic has wiped out much of humanity. The world before the fall was none too ideal either, with greedy corporations controlling nearly everything. Gene splicing and experimentation was rampant, heinous acts were presented for entertainment, and the world was in the midst of a complete ecological collapse. This novel follows two women who have managed to survive the pandemic, jumping between the day-to-day tribulations after “the Flood,” and their shared history with the ecological religious group the Gardeners before human civilization fell to ruin.Read More »

Book Review – The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

The Book of Forgotten Authors

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler is a nonfiction collection of 99 authors (with a 100th added to this paperback edition) whether fairly obscure, decently successful, or prolific in their time, who have since become almost completely forgotten by the reading public. In each author’s respective section Fowler discusses some of their most notable works and their writing career, while also offering a glimpse into their personal lives and insight into why they disappeared from the public eye. Peppered throughout are 12 short essays about broader subjects, such as contemporary characters who competed with the likes of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, now forgotten, or authors who drifted from memory by writing too little—or too much.Read More »

Book Review – Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett is the 14th novel in the Discworld series, and the fourth in the “Witches” subseries. Unlike most other Discworld novels, this book begins with a note from the author suggesting you read some of the previous “Witches” novels before starting this one. This novel begins right where the last one, Witches Abroad, left off, and also continues plot threads from Wyrd Sisters, the novel before that.

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick have returned home to the small kingdom of Lancre after their journey abroad, only to find trouble afoot before they can even settle back in at home. Magrat finds that her potential husband-to-be Verence II, the former Fool made King, has fast-tracked a lot of their wedding arrangements without her input. Meanwhile, crop circles are appearing all across the kingdom; it seems somebody has been dancing around some stone circles, inviting the return of the elves. While remembered fondly in the minds of people, their return only spells trouble for everybody living on the Disc.Read More »