Friday, October 21, 2022

Around the World in 80 Plants, by Jonathan Drori

I really enjoyed Around the World in 80 Plants.  I like books structured like this, where each item (plants, in this case) gets a short but interesting treatment, one you can read in just a couple of minutes.  I also like how it was structured as a trip around the world.  Very engaging. 

It was slightly disappointing (and culturally/politically/ecologically/economically enlightening) that so many of the plants featured for a certain country or area were actually invasive species or not-terribly- invasive transplants from other places.

Each section had a good mix of physical description, botanical oddities, and cultural significance.

The writing was good. 

The illustrations were beautiful, but often I found myself wishing for photographs of the most interesting and unfamiliar plants. 

Overall, a great book, recommended for an interested layperson. 

Warning:  the print in the hardback version is quite small. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

My Jasper June, by Laurel Snyder

This was a beautiful book—often sad but also hopeful, sometimes profound.  I loved the characters, the writing, the plot.

Some scenes were drawn out just a tad too long, and I think some young readers might think it slow in those parts, but I really enjoyed it.

[SPOILER ALERT]  I’m not sure how realistic the ending was, and the honest part of me almost wished it had gone a little more with the hard realities of these situations, but the optimistic part of me loved the ending. [END SPOILER]

I will read more by Laurel Snyder. 

4.5 star

Thursday, October 6, 2022

The Darkness Outside Us, by Eliot Schrefer

I really enjoyed The Darkness Outside Us.

Minor issues out of the way first:

At times the romance felt a little forced (or maybe just hormonal teenagery), like “We’re in this major emergency, but…you know…I just want to kiss him,” and not in a “Our whole lives are an emergency, might as well enjoy our last moments” way, but more like a “We need to hurry and get this air lock open or we’ll miss harvesting that asteroid and might run out of oxygen in a few weeks, but let me pause to admire his lips” sort of way.  Just a minor thing that won’t bother many readers.

I also found several instances of what seemed to me to be plot holes or characters acting out of character…but they didn’t seriously affect my enjoyment.   

Minor issues over.

I LOVED the premise.  I LOVED the gray AI.  I LOVED the structure and tension and twists of the second half, and I kept wondering how on earth these characters were going to fix the situation.  Really well done.  The writing was good.  I liked the characters.

I would definitely read more by Eliot Schrefer.

A strong 4.5 stars.