Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am Half-Sick of Shadows

Title: I am Half-Sick of Shadows
Author: Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia de Luce, book 4
Genre: Mystery Fiction
Published: 2012

Recommendation: If you liked previous books, you will enjoy this one as well, but don't start the series here.
Rating: 7.5/10

Summary: It's Christmas in Buckshaw and Flavia's ancestral home is flooded by the film crew who will be creating a movie there -- with famous actress Phyllis Wyvern starring in the main role. After half the village comes to see Phyllis perform and gets snowed in, a murder occurs and as usual it's up to Flavia to find the murderer.

Reactions: I picked up the next Flavia book because I expected it to be a quick and enjoyable read and I wasn't disappointed. I read most of the book in one sitting (at 35,000 ft altitude) and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The book is a quick mystery read with Flavia's typical flair and many of the favorite characters making an appearance in the book. The biggest issue with the story is probably the frequency with which murders occur around Flavia -- solving 4 murders in one year without leaving a backwaters English town is a bit over the top in my books. Nevertheless, I suspended both my judgement and my impatience with the Harriet's story not advancing as fast as I would like and enjoyed some of the relationship moments between the sisters present in this book as well as Flavia's antics. Overall, I am very glad I picked this up for the flight -- a perfect book for the job.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Selfish Gene

Title: The Selfish Gene
Author: Richard Dawkins
Genre: Non-fiction
Published: 2006 (1976 original edition)

Recommendation: If you have any inclination for the topic, this is a good introductory book.
Rating: 8/10

Summary: An overview of the theory of evolution from gene-centric point of view. This book expounds on the idea of evolution selecting not the fittest individual organism or group, but rather takes a gene as a unit of selection that's propagated between generations.

Reactions: Biology was one of the subjects I almost completely ignored in high school. The memorization component made it less attractive than chemistry or physics and my background in biology thus pretty limited. Nevertheless, after reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, I thought the genetics was a particularly intriguing topic and so when I came across The Selfish Gene on sale, I didn't hesitate to buy it.

It turned out to be a very interesting book indeed, presenting the theory of evolution in a light that I haven't heard of before. Given this was first published in 1976, I may be pretty late to find out about this, but better late than never, right? In any case the book is well-written and easy to understand without any particular background necessary to understand the arguments.

Dawkins does a good job explaining his theory and the competing theories as well as showing the evidence for his ideas. Often the evidence is based on the studies of a particular species and I thought the case studies made for particularly interesting parts of the book. All in all, The Selfish Gene was a good introduction into the subject and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the details of the theory of evolution.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Recap

Worst month yet when it comes to reading. I only read one book this month! I have all sorts of excuses for this -- but I'll save them all and just say that I hope I can get a lot more reading done next month. The one book I did finish reading was Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and it was a pretty short read, but an entertaining one. Even if it wasn't the only book I've read, it might have made this month's favorite. You can also see Chad's thoughts on the same book since we did it as a group read.

Next month looks to be busy as well -- I will have lots of work, followed by vacation (my only hope for reading time), followed by more work. Not to mention there's fall TV line up coming back sometime in September. Looking forward to the fall :)