Category: Prometheus Books

#WaitingOnWednesday | #NonFiction Book Review | “The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning” by Jeremy Lent

Posted Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Patterning Instinct” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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a word about ‘waiting on wednesday’:

I have decided to start participating in this book blogsphere meme with a few small changes of how it’s regularly blogged about by my fellow book bloggers. I will either be introducing my current reads of upcoming releases as I am in the process of reading them and/or I might be releasing a book review about a forthcoming title by which I had been blessed to read ahead of publication. The main purpose behind the meme is to encourage readers and your fellow book bloggers to become aware of new books being released which caught your eye and which held your interest to read. Sometimes if your still in the process of reading the books, its the titles which encouraged your bookish heart. I look forward to spending the next seasons of the year, talking about the books I have on hand to read, the books I’ve been reading and the books I might not even have a copy to read but which are of wicked sweet interest to become a #nextread of mine.

Thus, this book review is showcasing a title which is set to release in a few short days – it is an incredibly evocative book about a subject everyone can relate too, as it speaks to the human condition and to the approach we all take towards understanding a new layer of our own humanity.  This is my entrance into the meme and a lovely introduction to one of the new books publishing this year by Prometheus Books – of whom, are consistently publishing topics in Non-Fiction which I love to seek out. I encourage you to dig through my tag thread for this publisher and see what else has caught my fancy!

#WaitingOnWednesday badge created in Canva by Jorie using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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musings about the foreword & preface:

Similar to Fritjof Capra who wrote the Foreword, I have had an inquisitive mind attached to social history and the innovation invention of ‘ideas’ which may or may not parlay into a realistic impression on the history of humanity as its distinctions come from a myriad array of perspectives and impressions of interpretation. I garnished a keen interest in the Quantum realms when I turnt twenty, wherein I started to gather books about Quantum Physics and the inter-related fields attached to it – books by such men as Dr Brian Greene, Clifford A. Pickover and others who were writing about topics which fascinated me. My personal studies into the Quantum realms are constantly evolving and tuck into different corridors of theoretical thought as what is known right now in our expanding research focuses by today’s scientists and theorists.

In effect, what interested me about reading this particular release by Mr Lent is the curiosity of how our cultural historical imprint has a startling realisation about how we seek out meaning and our cultural awareness towards understanding our purpose whilst we’re alive. I love finding thought-provoking works in Non-Fiction but especially when they are not written in the traditional voice – granting further enjoyment by how the tome of insight your reading is happily set in a conversational tone of entreaty. I also like cultivating a wide net of co-relating interests and of researching topics and subjects which interest me on a multi-diverse layer of insight by different sources, voices and historical perspectives. Hence why I felt Lent’s point of view on this subject would be a wicked interesting read – he takes a multi-layered approach to augmenting his viewpoint.

Cognitive Science and cognitive awareness (as well as the science behind Consciousness) are fascinating topics to explore – as there is a heap of variables and unknowns when it comes to our understanding of how cognition and consciousness are interlinked and dynamically key to how humanity has evolved in it’s capacity to understand the wider world of our dimensional space.

As I recently explored the complexities of the natural world, I am now embarking on extending my focus to the complexities of the culture wherein mankind understands his/her interpretation of the world itself. This is a fundamental breakdown studying how our cognitive perceptional analysis in effect has a stark effect on how we (together) as a world society help to move ourselves forward as a (global) community but also, how we endeavour to remember our socio-pyschological heritage. Imagine excavating the landscape of our mind in order to seek out how we process information as a stepping stone towards properly understanding not only how we interpret what we understand but how what we understand acts as a linchpin towards affecting how events are shaped within the world itself.

Cultural History is critical towards understanding how each generation dealt with the circumstances they faced but moreso, how humanity was thus changed and consistently altering it’s course towards a tomorrow which went through a series of uncertainties and different trajectories before arriving where we are right now. I am also fascinated by the field of ‘Human Ecology’ as this can also be pursued in higher level education where you spend four years ‘discovering oneself and one’s own passions’ seeking to not only understand the ‘self’ but also, to see the world through a different pair of lens.

One thing that is mentioned is how the ‘gender’ of words describing History have altered from the traditional short-hand of ‘man’ or ‘mankind’ to a more inclusive humankind or other such variants. I have the tendency to refer back to the old gender-narrative as unlike some, I never took offence to how the words were used, as technically we are ‘mankind’ inasmuch as we’re ‘humankind’; it’s semantics, truly. Similarly to how I was never entirely sure why women were worried about being called ‘actors’ as I never took that as anything more than describing one’s field of interest: they ‘act and take on different characters’ whilst on stage or screen; in essence their roles are to ‘act’ and give an honest representation of the characters they’re assuming. I never saw how these instances provided bias against gender lines nor how it personally affected us to where Feminism had to take a forward step towards disintegrating the terms. Honestly, there are far more relevant ways we must circumvent gender bias, but to me these two infractions (at best) were benign compared to the wider problems which affect our lives most directly. Ergo, I had to smile how there was care to mention ‘this term was used’ verse having the freedom to use the term itself now.

I, myself, have not entirely understood why most of History is bent towards the Western world rather than a fuller embrace of the cultural history of the world – including by bridging the gap of differences igniting out of East vs West cultural divides. New generations offer different perspectives on all of this (which we can agree on) but why there is a certainty of non-inclusiveness is unknown. I also have observed how indigenous cultures world-wide (as they are not limited to North America) have also taken a backseat in History’s scope of narrative. There is an enriched well of stories yet to be told as the annals of human history are still missing key chapters which would provide new insights into how progress was not always kind to those who came before our current generation. Each generation has their struggles, yes, but why is there a continued erasure of certain truths behind cultural divides is one of our worst legacies.

I do agree with the postmodernist behaviour mentioned – of how we try to attach ourselves to different viewpoints, intellectual insightfulness and a merging of religious thought with those cultures we come across who provide us with a unique and fresh perspective. I am not entirely sure this was short-sided of us (on a whole) to remain on the superficial layer of what this insight would provide nor of being unable to dig further into how these opinions and views were rooted in a specific historical context. I tend to yield to giving the benefit of the doubt, on how as we were granted a heightened curiosity to understand things which are not readily understood – perhaps our approach to draw our differences together, we took a few missteps to fully appreciate the magnitude of how those other beliefs fit within the context of their cultural heritage. Most of us, I think do err on caution and do try to bridge together resources of knowledge which keep us in-tune with the complexities of global history. Knowledge (like life) has a steep learning curve and we never quite expire from learning something we previously hadn’t fully had the data to conceptionalise in a manner in which it deserved.

Part of my own theory on why we have such a divided world is because the truth of the matter is each country and continent had it’s own form of growth but part of human nature is to judge, measure, weigh and assert superiority. In this context, it’s hard to rationalise why there was such a race to ‘outwit and outsolve’ history’s key problems in industrial and technological advances as I previously have already read; some countries arose to the challenge ahead of others but there was a blackout in communication and of informational exchange. If we would stop ‘vying for being the first’ at everything, and recognise we’re globally interconnected to each other, we’d make better progress towards accepting our global heritage as we would stop compartmentalising ourselves.

When pondering one of the key conduits of thought within The Patterning Instinct – a term reappears quite frequently: historical reductionism which leapt out at me because it’s another way of stipulating: superficist historical perspectives which was my main bone of contention whilst in school and why I was perpetually bored with pre-determinded syllabuses. There is another interesting tidbit hidden within the context which is niche construction which by definition could be cross-applied to my own life, as I was in search of my ‘personal niche’ in life by which I could contribute something artistically created back to society (herein I refer to my quest to unearth my talent was to be a story-telller). I love how this term encapsulates how even in nature, there is evidential support to merit this inclusion towards understanding the nature of self-learning and self-adaptive qualities.

On the cognitive development of humans being influenced and patterned by linguistic heritage did not surprise me – as so much of how we internalise our world is fuelled by how we were understanding the world by those around us whilst we were too young to self-articulate what we were experiencing. It is also true to say, if we have a particular pattern of speech or a learning impediment (such as dyslexia; in my case) you can back-trace how you developed your own style of speech patterns to the people who were interacting with you the most whilst you were still developing your awareness of the information you were processing as a young child. Cognitive awareness starts quite young indeed but how to properly process what we are seeing, hearing and sensing takes a bit longer. If we rely on those around us to help guide us towards understanding how to break-down what we’re internalising and thereby, chart a course towards our own process of cognition, it stands to reason even on a fundamental level, through auditory means (of understanding), we are first mimicking how we hear words and the comprehension of what is around us. We follow this process by developing our own mind and our own interpretation of the world based on what we learn and how we gravitate towards renewing our sense of wonder through collecting knowledge and experiences.

There is an incredible insightful interpretation of what led to the demise of the rain forest which has always held such a tight ache in my own spirit for how destructively callous mankind can be when it comes to destroying what it does not readily understand. On a personal note, I once saw the brutal butchery of a weeping willow tree when living in a place where the outside caretakers were not determined by my family but by the community as a whole. They cut back the tree to such a state of destruction, the tree wept for the last time. It was reduced to such a horrid state of indifference, not even the birds returned; as many of them had nested there in the Spring. I remember vividly lashing out at the man with the chainsaw for his absolute stupidity for not recognising the consequences of his actions. I was physically sick and anguished by how indifferent he was to the fate of a ‘tree’. This new passage about how forests are living ecosystems where trees act as the guardians who protect the futures of the forest itself was not lost on me; if anything it re-instilled how limited mankind has progressed to understand the fuller picture of how nature and man are connected in ways which once severed cannot become re-aligned. Mind you, getting neighbours to respect how trees are our source of oxygen was another wrinkle of angst as they merely saw trees as the bearers of ‘leaves’ which they simply could not handle walking over in the Autumn.

Somewhere along the way, mankind has become blinded by his zest for colonisation and globalisation to where the natural world is no longer a reverent component of our lives but something which needs to be controlled and/or destroyed. How we turnt away from our heritage of connection with nature is not understood (at least not by me) but it is a pattern of change on it’s own merit. And, what cognitive pattern shifted our perspective from being caretakers to destroyers is even more interesting to contemplate.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#WaitingOnWednesday | #NonFiction Book Review | “The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning” by Jeremy LentThe Patterning Instinct
Subtitle: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning
by Jeremy Lent
Source: Direct from Publisher

This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world. It offers a glimpse into the minds of a vast range of different peoples: early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trail-blazers of the Scientific Revolution, and those who constructed our modern consumer society.

Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today’s cultural norms.

Uprooting the tired clichés of the science-religion debate, he shows how medieval Christian rationalism acted as an incubator for scientific thought, which in turn shaped our modern vision of the conquest of nature. The author probes our current crisis of unsustainability and argues that it is not an inevitable result of human nature, but is culturally driven: a product of particular mental patterns that could conceivably be reshaped.

By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633882935

Genres: Anthropology | Archaeology, Biological Diversity, Evolution, Life Science, Non-Fiction, Science, Social Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 23rd May, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 569

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #NonFiction, #CulturalHistory, #History + #ScienceBooks and #ThePatterningInstinct

About Jeremy Lent

Jeremy Lent

Jeremy R. Lent is a writer and the founder and president of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth. The Liology Institute (www.liology.org), which integrates systems science with ancient wisdom traditions, holds regular workshops and other events in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lent is the author of the novel Requiem of the Human Soul. Formerly, he was the founder, CEO, and chairman of a publicly traded Internet company. Lent holds a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Archaeology, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Memes, History, Indie Author, Nature & Wildlife, Non-Fiction, Prometheus Books, Science, Social Change, Social Services, Sociological Behavior, Sociology, The Natural World, Waiting on Wednesday

#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. Burger

Posted Friday, 28 April, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Complexity” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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musings about the introduction:

Right out of the gate, Burger warmed me to his compassionate view of life when he cross-compared the natural biodiversity of our world with the multicultural diversity of our biped humanity. If you lament about the world at large long enough, there is an incredible girth of biological ancestry percolating all round us. It is not just our footprints and our legacies which are resplendently observational in this world, but there is a depth of evolutionary evidence of how the natural world has progressed forward through millennia and augmented itself to become adaptive and changeable per each environ and region on Earth.

I must admit, part of the reason why I had my eye keenly attached to Paleontology was to understand the back-history of the natural world. When I uncovered AstroBotany a few years ago, it took studying the subject from a completely new point of view and by such, granting a new angle of approach. I think this is why I was originally considering studying Archaeology rather than Anthropology; as although I am dearly interested in culture and traditional heritages of different ethnic backgrounds; one thing has kept constant about my scientific interests: I like to dig into the past and seek out the mannerisms of the how species and humanity lived through the different ages. Inasmuch as I appreciate uncovering the socio-psychological make-up of our own actions, there is a measure of joy in back-tracking through how the natural world has evolved forward through their own timeline.

He breaks down the terms: Biodiversity vs. Complexity as both directly relate to how our understanding of the natural order and presence of everything (human vs natural world) correlate, inter-relate and are individually unique from one another too. Systematically there are intersections of everything and everyone on Earth (as one would naturally observe) but when he mentioned the tundra and the the rain forest, I just smirked! Those were the two biodiverse regions which perked my interest early-on as a child. I loved how uniquely different those regions were and how incredible it was to peer into the wildlife and the natural organisations which called each space their home. The habitats were awe-inspiring for a girl growing into an appreciation for conservation and preservation of natural environs. I was a budding environmentalist before I ever understood the full spectrum of Earth’s fragile balance between ecological preservations and the impact of our human actions. By the age of ten, when I first saw Medicine Man in the theater, you could say it all came full circle and since then, I have been passionately curious about the steps we can take to reduce our industrialism and live more authentically towards a greener tomorrow using upcycling, recycling and natural innovative science to improve our way of life.

Understanding SPECIES:

Growing up in Science class, one of my favourite bits to graduating into seventh grade was starting to get a more scientific foundation on the order of species. My seventh grade teacher had a living biosphere of his own – we had an outside zoo attached to our classroom where farm animals resided in a lovingly cared for pen and where inside, we had aquariums and cages full of small animals which added to the joy of researching natural habitats. It is also where I fell in love with the class hamster but never thought I’d be blessed to take him home. He lived four years, nearly five (impressive for a little guy) and he still has a fond place in my heart. Aside from meeting my first ham-ham of joy, I was eagerly itching to better understand how everything in the natural world was organised and classified. Mind you, for a girl in a classroom full of peers who’d much rather be outside in the sunshine, I was an oddity. I loved being holed up inside my textbook and musing about how everything in nature had it’s own blueprint to identify itself. There was a specific tool set in nature to give you clues and hints towards how everything belongs by genus, species and family. Of course it’s more complex than this, as you can read about in this article but I was simply mentioning I was wicked fascinated by the conception of everything having a particular place in which to belong.

I used to read hierarchical charts like Amateur Ancestry Sleuths read genealogical graphs and family trees! There is a lot of data about how the natural world is understood and broken down into Plants and Animals. The hierarchy is the code which helps you understand the connections and the diverse components of what makes each individual organisation uniquely themselves whilst having a comparatively similar component of another species, too. There are cross-similarities as much as there are inherent differences and I have always wanted to have a better foundation of understanding of how all of this co-relates and diverts into sub-categories of order. To put it a different way, understanding the natural world is similar to having a blueprint of the break-down of genre in Literature. You have sub-genres and sub-categories of interest broken into thematic inclusions and styles of crafting stories together through either Fiction or Non-Fiction. You can spend a lifetime seeking stories moving through genres and generations of writers whose influences continue to shape the literary world. So, too, is the same for understanding the biosphere. You first have to understand how to approach the topic and then, you get to have fun exploring everything that makes Earth bio-diverse as it is right now.

I was quite charmed Burger chose to avoid discussing Insects – as personally, they never interested me in the least! I have a love/hate relationship with Insects overall. Yes, I recognise they have a place in this world but on a truly personal level of honest reflection? I could literally bypass their presence in my life. There are few exceptions to this rule: butterflies, dragonflies and a few others to make my soul smile but in general, the world of insects and I are not on speaking terms.

Plant Diversity | Essential to Biodiversity:

I oft wondered why my peers gave little credit or credence to plant and trees. After all, it wasn’t hard to understand how we are able to breathe (ie. trees are our source of oxygen) but so, too it wasn’t hard to fathom how the flora and fauna in a natural habitat was key to a sustainable habitat for all the lovely creatures who called that local environ their home. I used to be keenly invested in tracing photosynthesis on both land and sea. When it comes to the ocean, the most unique discovery was how life is still adaptively responsive beyond the layer of sunlight penetration where the world is completely dark and absent from the effects of photosynthetic processes. Mind you, those creatures in the deepest layers of the ocean freak me out of my skull! They are straight out of a story of Horror but on the flip side of that coin, it’s not their fault they are structurally horrific to look at as to them, we’re the odd ones who scare them!

Cosmic Complexities:

Since I was a Young Astronaut, I have been especially curious about the Cosmic diversity and complexities of life in the vacuum of space. Partially why I loved spending so much time at my local Science Center was for the joy of uncovering more about life in the universe from our humble observational knowledge back here on Earth. It is also why I have a penchant for reading and writing Hard Science Fiction stories. There is a lot more understanding on the diverse aspects of what makes the environments on the planets so eloquently complex nowadays than even when I was growing up as much more is known. I oft found it curious how at one point in time, Science Fiction was a bit limited in speculating a living environment for planets; as basic science for those locations was still anyone’s educated guess. To find out which of the planets are sustainable for life and which ones are a boiling stew of environmental causticity is quite humourous now.

The irony I felt was that if our Earth is diversely complex and structured, why would we think the Cosmic structure of those planets would be less than our own? Wouldn’t it be a better working theory to acknowledge the planets in our solar system were equally complex to understand if Earth is still being processed, categorised and understood on a fundamental level?

I also liked getting a small grasp of how the other planets keep our planet healthy – I knew there was more to the ‘order’ and ‘distance’ of the planets than what was being shared during my school years. For starters, nothing is coincidental – not in life and not in nature. There are reasons for everything even if we are not entirely clued into those reasons until a day of new understanding alights on our path, which doesn’t discredit there is a purpose for why things simply ‘are’. It was quite curious how the placement of the planets not only effect our planet’s health but they also, effectively alter how each of the planets can thrive in their own unique environments, too. Again, there is more to the world and the universe than what is generally understood. For starters, by what is being explained the very positioning of the other planets create a ‘fail-safe’ for Earth; an invisible protective shield for drawing objects away from us inasmuch as consistently influencing our weather and the cycle of living habitats.

Why Earth is a blessed place to call ‘home’:

Aside from contemplating the spherical dimension of the sky and the curvature of the Earth, I oft contemplated gravity and our inability to realise how gravity itself places such an important role in our lives. The absence of our daily visual observation of how we can walk, stand and run on solid ground is a credit to the hidden metrics of how gravity influences our way of life. However, there are other hidden factors which are indicators of how life on Earth is sustained and able to be generationally increased. Everything from our tilt to our cyclic seasons to how our girth and size allows us to be spread between different climatic zones.

Laughs. When Burger started to talk about ‘plate tectonics’, it reminded me about how my classmates nearly groaned about how I wanted to spend an incessant amount of time discussing the subject! Mostly the science behind this Earthbound marvel is why we study Volcanology and have a ready appreciation for earthquake science which is still in the rudimentary stages of being understood. Interesting new point of insight: plate tectonics re-release carbon dioxide! Now, why did my science teachers leave out that bit of fodder from our chats? It’s a system of purging a surplus of toxic gas if it were to be allowed to continue to collect in places where it’s unhealthy levels would start to interfere with the natural order of our world. Now that’s a new layer of insight past what influences volcanoes and earthquakes and the dynamic shift in topographical elevations!

Religion and Science:

As I have blogged about in the past, my pursuit of Science is from a girl who walks in faith. I am not the first nor the last person who has found common ground in pursuing Science without forsaking her faith. To me, to understand how the universe and Earth are in sync with each other is another extension of understanding the universal truths of where we live. It isn’t to takeaway from religion nor to fully embrace Science without faith; we each walk our own path and make our minds on how best to approach the larger questions which will always be present in our world. (see also Review) Burger adds his two cents on the subject and in effect, leaves the reader to decide where they stand which is the only way to leave it, truly.

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One interesting point in this section of his Introduction is when he stipulated this:

But science is different; it is nothing more than a pragmatic way of trying to understand the world through carefully controlled experiments, the origin and elaboration of biodiversity are historical questions. In these instances we formulate historical scenarios and then seek evidence from nature to support or reject a given scenario. It’s very much like detectives trying to solve a crime.

-quoted from Complexity by William C. Burger with permission of the publisher

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On this vein of thought, the study of Biodiversity is a funneling of retracing the history of the natural world in pursuit to understand where we are today. It is another way of knowing why our natural environment is changing and re-defining itself once more through geological evolution. It’s a mark of historical reference to better understand what happened in the past in order to continue to strive towards a better future.

Land and Sea Variants of Biological Life:

As Burger has concentrated his research and observations to terrestrial entities rather than oceanographic species, he does give a brief interlude about how the ocean is enriched by biodiversity if only as a footnote on the subject. The oceans account for 90% of the living sphere but they contain a radically reduce amount of living organisms when cross-compared to those living on land (ourselves included!). I have known about this for quite a long while – as I spent a bit of time during seventh grade in a different school than the one I hinted about earlier (where I adopted my first hamster). In the former school, where I had spent sixth grade as well; I had a wicked lovely science teacher who taught through experiments and encouraged us to have an independent mind. My second science teacher that year attempted this but fell short a bit due to angst stemming out of devastating budget cuts (ie. he lost all funding to keep his animals). In the first school, my teacher introduced a broad appreciation for the oceans, the currents and the cycle of how the oceans are controlled by the moon and tides. It was a wicked introduction but also, affirming by scale and design: this is when I realised how large 90% of anything truly is in proportion to geologic size. I was developing a healthy interest in oceanography, thermodynamics, geophysics, marine biology and paleooceanology with a small interest in climatology which would increase lateron.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. BurgerComplexity
Subtitle: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity
by William C. Burger
Source: Direct from Publisher

This very readable overview of natural history explores the dynamics that have made our planet so rich in biodiversity over time and supported the rise and dominance of our own species.

Tracing the arc of evolutionary history, biologist William C. Burger shows that cooperation and symbiosis have played a critical role in the ever increasing complexity of life on earth. Life may have started from the evolution of cooperating organic molecules, which outpaced their noncooperating neighbors. A prime example of symbiosis was the early incorporation of mitochondria into the eukaryotic cell (through a process called “endosymbiosis”). This event gave these cells a powerful new source of energy. Later, cooperation was again key when millions to trillions of individual eukaryotic cells eventually came together to build the unitary structures of large plants and animals. And cooperation between individuals of the same species resulted in complex animal societies, such as ant colonies and bee hives.

Turning to our own species, the author argues that our ability to cooperate, along with incessant inter-group conflict, has driven the advancement of cultures, the elaboration of our technologies, and made us the most “invasive” species on the planet. But our very success has now become a huge problem, as our world dominion threatens the future of the biosphere and confronts us with a very uncertain future.

Thought-provoking and full of fascinating detail, this eloquently told story of life on earth and our place within it presents a grand perspective and raises many important questions.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881938

Genres: Biological Diversity, Botany, Evolution, Life Science, Non-Fiction, Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 14th June, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 380

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #Nature, #Conservation, #Biodiversity + #ScienceBooks

About William C. Burger

William C. Burger

William C. Burger is Curator Emeritus of the Department of Botany at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of the highly acclaimed Flowers: How They Changed the World and Perfect Planet, Clever Species.

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Audiobook Review | “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” by Jennifer Kincheloe Jorie re-visits one of her beloved reads of 2016!

Posted Monday, 13 March, 2017 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

How I first came to read ‘Anna Blanc’: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared therein. This selection marked my ‘first’ choice of novels from Prometheus Books – which is why being able to listen and review the audiobook was such a sweet blessing!

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How I acquired this Digital Audiobook and my connection to the author: Jennifer Kincheloe

I remained in touch with the author – as I had hoped this would turn into a series – where this would only be the first installment of Anna Blanc’s life. When I caught sight of the audiobook being published on Twitter, I reached out directly to the author, to ask if she were seeking reviews on it’s behalf. Blessed to say, she was and I offered to re-read this novel via the audiobook in exchange for an honest review in December 2016, thinking I would post my ruminations on behalf of the narrator’s vocalisation of Anna Blanc in January 2017.

Except to say, I couldn’t get motivated to re-listen to this title – I was still adjusting to my father’s recovery from his stroke as he was just getting through his recovery period at home. I struggled with finding the inspiration to read in mid to late December and throughout January; although I did find a few stories which took hold. Sadly, this story I pushed forward to listen too, as I wanted to be in a better frame of mind to listen to Anna’s story for the second time, as became such a dear joy of mine the first time round! I had mentioned to the author about possibly contacting the Audiobookworm about promoting the audiobook, too. Turns out whilst I had a few months of a reader’s rut to trudge through, this audiobook and story made it into Audiobookworm Promotions!

I requested to be an ‘additional’ reviewer and to interview the narrator originally as I didn’t want to affect the blog tour – yet at the same time, I was so inspired by the narrator’s take on Anna Blanc, I was wicked excited about setting up a conversation with her about her performance. This conversation ended up being canncelled on my end, as I simply couldn’t pull it together on a short deadline. I also remained on the blog tour to be a ‘second time reader’ of the novel.

Therefore, I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” via the author Jennifer Kencheloe in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein nor for recommending her to use Audiobookworm Promotions for publicity for this title or series.

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What I initially loved about the story of ‘Anna Blanc’ – quoted from my original review of the print edition:

Anna Blanc is self-assured and a women who doesn’t take kindly to be ‘put in place’ by her controlling father – as soon as she announces her presence on the scene, you want to know more about her as she’s a formidable woman straight from the gate! Her cheeky cleverness to hide whilst attempting to flee by rail and to be fashionable even though necessity dictates that to be a difficulty when trying to outfox someone from finding out your whereabouts – Anna Blanc has a charm about her that lends well to become entranced by a character you can tell is going to surprise you at each new turning of her story! How can you not help but smile when things go her way? She has this curious aplumb about her that delights the expectation of where she’s about to take you on her adventure!

Kincheloe has this cheeky sense of humour threading through her ink, as right when you think Anna Blanc has mastered the art of deceiving her father for the goodwill of her future, he pulls back twice as strong as before – leaving Anna with a shattered bit of hope and a firm displeasure of injustice. When she meets up with the Suffragettes, I was not too shocked to find her winning a wink towards their cause – as their cause was her cause!

The best attribute Anna Blanc has within her is a self-motivating resolve to become self-educated as it was such a joy to watch her expand her mind in a fervent attempt to understand the underpinnings of motives and causes of the crimes that were leeching through her city at such a fast rate of alarm. She did not just want to sleuth for the sake of detection but to fully understand the methodology behind the crimes and I think this is a nod to the writer’s (Kincheloe) curiosity being piqued by true crime stories straight out of the historical archives from whence she draws her inspirations. Kincheloe also under-writ a stunning historical survey of early Forensic techniques which inspired Anna with her investigating – especially in regards to understanding the differences between murder and suicide. This became quite pivotal in the story as Anna Blanc made her transition from socialite to female detective.

The beauty of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc are the little bits of plot your not expecting to find encircle through the evolving story – there were little clues fluttering through it’s context, but the joy was not completely sorting it all out until the very last chapter – wherein, your heart swoons with glee and you champion the success Anna Blanc had in closing her second case! This is a bit of a guilty pleasure for historical fiction readers – Kincheloe has tempted us with her wicked sweet prose where a heroine peppers the scenes with her feisty personality and a penchant for seeking out the truth from a sea of lies!

Sophisticated in her ascertainment of conception behind Anna Blanc, Kincheloe has writ such a lively character, you drink in her words with such a joy of delight! She has a fast paced narrative, where the humour is smitten by the sophisticated edging of her character’s personality, matched equally brilliantly by the grace of a Cosy Historical Mystery backdrop! She’s captured the turn of the century atmosphere aptly, as she tucks in recognisable familiarities to alight in your imagination as you turn the pages; replete with gaslights and other bits which correlate with the era.

I loved the way in which Kincheloe turnt a phrase, using words not oft found in historical fiction as her novel is a good primer of words that are wicked to say aloud and used in descriptive narratives such as this one! The phrases themselves are a delight for readers who love words as much as wordsmiths, which Kincheloe definitely excels at including whilst giving Anna Blanc a crafty choice of words to express her emotional duress! She also found a clever way to include Anna’s religious background by having her talk to the Saints when a mood or a moment fitted the hour; it was quite an interesting way to thread faith inside a mainstream novel and I liked the author’s candor.

I found this unputdownable – I read it straight through in one sitting!

I found it deliciously refreshing as Anna Blanc is a heroine who made her mark on the world on her own terms whilst owning the truth of her heart. I cannot wait to see what Ms Kincheloe will give us to devour next when this novel’s sequel is released – with a bit of hope, she won’t leave us in suspense too long!

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Audiobook Review | “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” by Jennifer Kincheloe Jorie re-visits one of her beloved reads of 2016!The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
Subtitle: Read by Moira Quirk
by Jennifer Kincheloe
Source: Direct from Author
Narrator: Moira Quirk

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals.

Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.

If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father's collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail.

Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Also by this author: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Also in this series: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Historical Fiction


Published by Jennifer R. Kincheloe Ltd

on 14th November, 2016

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 12 hours 44 minutes (unabridged)

(Audiobook) Published By: the author herself

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

Converse via: #SecretLifeOfAnnaBlanc

About Jennifer Kincheloe

Jennifer Kincheloe Photo Credit: Fola Akinyemi

Jennifer has been a block layer, a nurse's aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. A native of Southern California, she now lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers. She's currently writing book three in the Anna Blanc Mystery series. Book two, THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK, is coming out in Fall of 2017 from Seventh Street Books.

Photo Credit: Fola Akinyemi
Biography updated: March 2017

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 13 March, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Prometheus Books, the Nineteen Hundreds, True Crime, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Rights, Women's Suffrage

SFN: Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2015” (edited by) Greg Bear #RRSciFiMonth

Posted Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Nebula Awards 2015” direct from the publisher PYR (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

How I came to learn about ‘Nebula Awards 2015’:

I’ve heard about the Nebula Awards but I honestly haven’t followed them; although this might sound strange coming from someone who loves Science Fiction as much as I do! The truth is I have always picked up Science Fiction quite randomly until I became a blogger – I lean towards finding more Sci-Fi to read now as I blog than I had in previous years – except for the years I was invested into the SFBC (Science Fiction Book Club) which was a mail-order catalogue of the genre by which you could order hardback editions of classic and contemporary Science Fiction & Fantasy authors. I vaguely remember reading about the Nebula Awards in those catalogues as they used to write articles to go with the book selections – you could learn a heap just by browsing and this is how I started to navigate the genre as a whole.

I also gathered quite a heap of books – by various authors – including the Acorna series and a lot of Heinlein whilst focusing on Tolkien and Kate Elliott as well. I never read them save for Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series as I was gathering books to read rather than reading all the books I was gathering. I would classify that point in my reading life as a ‘discovery period’ where I was seeking out certain styles of narrative and certain authors of whom I felt were writing the kinds of stories I wanted to read. I did read the odd book every so many shipments – however, I have this lovely little cache of Science Fiction I one day want to re-open and see what I’ll find inside! I do not remember all the books I collected as it was more of the art of the hunt back then than the devourment of the spoils – I wonder if anyone else has gone through a collecting book stage rather than a reading stage!?

Around the time I discovered Prometheus Books and their imprints of Seventh Street Books and Pyr, I found this curious collection: the Nebula Awards Showcase 2015. I had intended to read it closer to when it arrived but the timing was not right for me until now. What I appreciated about this showcase is how eclectic it was and how varied the stories were inside – as much as it was a wicked good overall of the current offerings of a genre I truly love dearly! Science Fiction holds a special place in my heart – it was the original genre of choice when I first started to write my own stories and to this day, it’s the genre I love to return to read.

I will be following this reading with the 2016 Nebula Awards Showcase lateron this week – as I was blessed to receive both years. Next year, the editor is Julie E. Czerneda of whom I featured earlier this month whilst she disclosed the inside bits on her Web Shifters series!

I would be interested to know if my readers follow the Nebula Awards and if they have picked up any of the Nebula Award Showcases? If this is your first meeting of the showcases (as it is for me), I welcome your feedback as well. I love anthologies – normally reserved for short stories, but in this instance, I love how you get an inside glimpse into a variety of writers and their chosen styles of creative expression whilst honing in on what makes the Nebula Awards such an amazing group of creatives who write about a futuristic world not too far from our own.

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SFN: Book Review | “Nebula Awards Showcase 2015” (edited by) Greg Bear #RRSciFiMonthNebula Awards Showcase: 2015
Subtitle: Stories, Excerpts and Essays
Source: Direct from Publisher

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

The editor of this year’s volume, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is American science fiction and fantasy writer Greg Bear, author of over thirty novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Darwin’s Radio and Moving Mars.

This anthology includes the winners of the Andre Norton, Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master, Rhysling, and Dwarf Stars Awards, as well as the Nebula Award winners, and features Ann Leckie, Nalo Hopkinson, Rachel Swirsky, Aliette de Bodard, and Vylar Kaftan, with additional articles and poems by authors such as Robin Wayne Bailey, Samuel R. Delany, Terry A. Garey, Deborah P Kolodji, and Andrew Robert Sutton.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633880900

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Science Fiction


Published by Pyr

on 8th December, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 320

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Read more about Nebula Awards 2015 via the SFF Blog of B&N (Barnes & Noble)

(edited by) Greg Bear ( Site | @RealGregBear )

Converse via: #NebulaAwards + #GregBear

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #FuellYourSciFi
  • SFN Bingo 2016
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Posted Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 by jorielov in Asteroid Science, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Climate Change, Ecology, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Hard Science Fiction, Horticulture, Prometheus Books, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction

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