Publisher: 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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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

#PubDay Book Review | “Congress of Secrets” by Stephanie Burgis by the author who wrote “Masks and Shadows”!

Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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 “Congress of Secrets” 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 ‘Congress of Secrets’:

In April, I posted a #PubDay review for this author’s first novel with PYR which was “Masks and Shadows” – not your typical historical, as it held within it elements of Cosy Horror, Alternative History and Historical Fantasy; truly the niche in which the story fit was a work of it’s own, as I lamented the following on behalf of reading it:

One grace Burgis granted her new readers (such as I) is a framework of foundation rooted inside our known historical past! She’s taken bits and bobbles of real historical artifact and knitted it up inside an alternative historical setting to where you can juxtaposition the real and the fictional in seamless fashion! I loved this style of her word craft because it gave a dimensional of awareness of where we’re entreating inside as far as timescape and setting are concerned but also, a knowing level of ‘place’ as it’s a familiar side of Europe during the late 18th Century! How she found the beautiful balance between what is known and what can be imagined is truly remarkable!

I liked how she paced the narrative to the rhythm of a play – it was quite keenly illuminating all the dialogue and action, but to such a clever intuitive nodding of each of the characters in turn taking their cues and then exiting the scenes as necessary!

I was not at all surprised there were Cosy Horror elements underlining the narrative arc as this historical approach to telling a fantastical story reminded me of my readings of Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan (review) or even The Haunting of Springett Hall by E.B. Wheeler (review) as they mirror Masks and Shadows for bridging genre and bending it to the will of the author’s pen.

-quoted from my review of Masks and Shadows

Shortly after I posted my review, the publicist I work with at Prometheus mentioned Burgis’s next release and from that first glimpse of the premise, I became interested. I had a feeling there might be the same mixture of old world elements, magical intrigue with thrilling suspense and a historical backdrop (this time set in Vienna) I would appreciate drinking in as I moved through her story-line. She has such a unique voice in Historical Fiction, I simply wanted to read what she was going to create next!

I wasn’t surprised that in theory Congress of Secrets follows suit out of Masks and Shadows as you could see the leeway of how the scope of the first novel could be carried forward. Both are marked as one-offs, even though Congress of Secrets is only a scant 35 years later! I’ve learnt a lot about how series can be joined together through theme, setting or genre – and I believe this is one of those series where the characters switch-out but there are elements of connection knitting the series of stories together. They are not continuously sequenced by setting either but rather the way in which the story is told.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art Design: I was quite surprised when I saw the photographs on the cover were stock images because in this particular instance the collage effect of having them all together gave me the impression they were specifically created for this cover! I love how the fusion of each photograph blends well with the synopsis and grants you a visual clue about where your heading once you open the novel itself. It is such a beautiful cover design – from the colours and the layout of it directly feeling like the niche Burgis has created.

#PubDay Book Review | “Congress of Secrets” by Stephanie Burgis by the author who wrote “Masks and Shadows”!Congress of Secrets
by Stephanie Burgis
Source: Direct from Publisher

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881990

Also by this author: Masks and Shadows

Genres: Alternative History, Cosy Horror, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy


Published by Pyr

on 1st November, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 347

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Read the author’s blog about Congress of Secrets!

Converse via: #CongressOfSecrets

About Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

Stephanie Burgis was born in Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband, writer Patrick Samphire, and their children. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she studied music history as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, and worked as a website editor for a British opera company.

She has published over thirty short stories for adults. Kat, Incorrigible (US)/A Most Improper Magick (UK) won the Waverton Good Read Children’s Award in 2011 for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer. It was followed by Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks and Stolen Magic/A Reckless Magick.

Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

On alchemy and dark arts:

As soon as I saw Caroline being affected by the dark alchemy I recognised having been used in Masks and Shadows, I knew this new extension of the plot would thicken quite differently. It took so long to understand the darker elements which were undermining and crippling the characters in the last story – as the heart of the narrative had been a thrilling suspense, where you were meant to be kept in the dark for as long as possible in order to peel back the layers of the novel. In this instance, what was so interesting to me, is how early-on the disclosure is given that something quite alarmingly potent is being used against the will of the people. Setting the stage for a curious new perspective on how to overturn a foe who has sorted out the best advantage against everyone he or she wishes to overtake; not just mind control but a complete reduction in consciousness!

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Alternative History, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Horror, Cosy Horror Suspense, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Indie Author, Prometheus Books, Vulgarity in Literature

Book Review | “Einstein at Home” by Friedrich Herneck

Posted Friday, 19 August, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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 “Einstein at Home” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

My lifelong appreciation of Albert Einstein:

I have been fascinated by Einstein for most of my life, as I am a keen reader of the quantum realms. I have oft wondered how he was outside of the public eye and this incredible tome gives a reader an insight into this private world of his that I would appreciate reading.

My lifelong appreciation on behalf of Albert Einstein started at quite a young age – as I was a science & science-fiction geek for as long as I can remember. There was something wicked genuine about everything I read on behalf of Einstein – from his pursuit of understanding the fabric of creation from both a religious and scientific background to his interests in taking theory and understanding to new levels of creative thought and illumination; Einstein to me, was one of those rare finds of a childhood where I spent a lot of time sorting out which scientists I wanted to learn more about over the score of my lifetime.

I started off in the fringes of where (recorded) history, time and scientific rhetoric leave the trail of his legacy and allow for pop cultural speculation, public praise and layreader intuition to take-over his personal history. Threading my way through whichever ‘new’ discovery I could put my hands on about Einstein’s journey was some of the happier memories growing up, as whenever I would even learn a new kernel of insight towards finding the stories behind the man who left everyone pondering E=mc² was worth pursuing!

Towards that end, I have several books in my personal library I am working towards reading including Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer and Einstein by Walter Isaacson.

I am thrilled to bits to have an unexpected ‘start’ to my non-fiction readings on behalf of the man whose inspired me to pursue re-living his path whilst attempting to see what he saw and understand what only he knew – retreating into a conversational collection of who he was before everything else was known is quite the treat!

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Book Review | “Einstein at Home” by Friedrich HerneckEinstein at Home
by (Translator) Josef Eisinger, Friedrich Herneck
Translator: Josef Eisinger
Source: Direct from Publisher

These intimate, candid descriptions of the private life of Albert Einstein come from a series of interviews with Herta Waldow, a housekeeper who lived with Einstein and his wife and daughter from 1927 to 1933 at their residence in Berlin. After World War II, science historian Friedrich Herneck interviewed Ms. Waldow and published the conversations in the former East Germany. Unavailable in English till now, these five interviews offer fascinating glimpses into the great scientist’s daily routines while he lived as a celebrated scientist in Weimar Germany.

Einstein’s well-known idiosyncrasies come to life in these conversations: his disheveled hair that was only poorly trimmed by his myopic wife, his love of classical music, his playing of the violin to help him think, his delight in sailing, his wide circle of friends and many social engagements, and his female companions besides his wife. Many celebrity acquaintances are also mentioned: from movie star Charlie Chaplin and conductor Erich Kleiber to writers Thomas and Heinrich Mann and fellow scientists Max Planck, Max Born, and Erwin Schrödinger.

With a detailed introduction that puts these interviews in context, these colorful conversations create a vivid picture of Albert Einstein the man.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881464

Genres: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Biography / Autobiography, Interviews & Conversations, Non-Fiction, Quantum Physics, Science, Science & Technology


Published by Prometheus Books

on 10th May, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 200

About (Translator) Josef Eisinger

Josef Eisinger

Josef Eisinger is the author of Einstein on the Road and the translator of Brahms’s letters in Johannes Brahms, Life and Letters, by Styra Avins.

A native of Vienna, he is a physicist whose research has ranged from nuclear physics to molecular biology and from the history of medicine to music history. He is professor emeritus in the Department of Structural and Chemical Biology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the author of some two hundred articles in professional journals and books, and the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships.

About Friedrich Herneck

Friedrich Herneck (1909-1993) was a German historian of science. Among his many books were Einstein and His Worldview and Einstein and the Atom Bomb.

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Originally published as Einstein privat in German (1978)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Special Note:

Available in English for the first time, these five interviews with a housemaid who worked for Albert Einstein offer vivid glimpses of the great scientist’s life in Germany before World War II.

Converse via: #AlbertEinstein OR #Einstein, #QuantumPhysics OR #Physics + #ScienceBooks

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Posted Friday, 19 August, 2016 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Albert Einstein, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Life in Another Country, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Prometheus Books, Quantum | Mechanics Physics Theory, Quantum Physics, Science, The World Wars, Vignettes of Real Life

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