RSS Feed

Tag Archives: non-fiction

Homer’s Odyssey [Book Review]

I picked up this book in the States last summer at Barnes and Noble.  After going through a period of time when I missed my own pets back at home, I decided to feed my sorrows and finally read this book.  Now, here is my review.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Author:  Gwen Cooper

Synopsis: “The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.”

ISBN: 0385343981

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

Everyone loves a good pet tale.  Whether it is about a naughty dog or a curious cat, stories about animals are both entertaining and emotional.  And Homer’s Odyssey, a true-life account of a naughty and curious kitty, is no exception.

After adopting an eye-less kitten who nobody wanted, Gwen Cooper realized her life had suddenly changed.  When she was not blind-proofing her numerous homes, she was making sure Homer, the newest addition to her now three-cat family, was not getting into too much trouble.  But, sure enough, Cooper had her work cut out for her, and realized quickly that though Homer was blind, he was more than a normal, curious cat.

Filled with chapters of Homer’s antics, Cooper takes you on a journey from kittenhood to the elder cat years of twelve.  The different stories of Homer’s adventures are engaging, and whether Homer is annoying his two cat sisters, or making friends with practically every human he meets, his shenanigans are quite entertaining.  Two chapters though really stuck out to me.  The first consisted of Homer literally saving the life of the author from an intruder, and the second of the harrowing ordeal the author and her cats endured during 9/11.  Both of these chapters were two of many which portrayed how much Homer truly impacted Gwen Cooper’s life.

The writing itself is captivating, though I did have a few issues with the author.  At times Cooper came across as a know-it-all and slightly self absorbed, but to be fair, this is a memoir about her life and experiences.  However, throughout the whole book she preached how important her cats were to her, especially Homer, and it seemed her entire life revolved around the care of her cats; throughout the the 9/11 chapter, she was more concerned about her cats’ safety than that of her own.  So, it honestly surprised me when she ended up falling in love with a man who did not like cats to begin with.  Though her future husband did eventually warm up to her three kitties, I was still a little taken aback by how unperturbed Cooper was by what I would consider a huge flaw.

All in all, Homer’s Odyssey was a compelling and sentimental read.  It made me smile at the mischief of my own cat, and forced me to examine how important my own pets are to me.  We all need love in our lives, and whether you are a cat-person or a dog-person, this book is for everyone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here:  Homer’s Odyssey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2013*

Advertisements

A Primate’s Memoir [Book Review]

I picked up this book at a garage sale about a year ago for a dollar – what a deal, right?!  I began it before NaNo, but due to the frenzy that entails when writing a novel in a month, I left it alone during the month of November.  I finally finished it before the New Year, and I am very excited and ready to share my review with you.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title: A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

Author: Robert Sapolsky

Robert M. Sapolsky

I just had to add this picture of the author! He’s amazing!

Synopsis: “Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects — unique and compelling characters in their own right — and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him. By turns hilarious and poignant, A Primate’s Memoir is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.”

ISBN: 0743202414

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

This is the true story of one man’s life among the baboons of Kenya.   Scientist Robert Sapolsky had only prepared to study the mental and physical behaviors of the baboons, but instead he found a life of adventure and formed his own primate family.  From developing close bonds with the baboons, to learning the way of the Masai people (and often messing with them), Sapolsky takes readers on his more than twenty year journey through Africa.

Naturally hilarious and honest, A Primate’s Memoir is an exciting and entertaining read.  His writing is quick and to the point, and his witty, often sarcastic humor makes this book that much more enjoyable.  Each chapter contains a unique story, and whether he is being kidnapped and shot at, or playing a “wizard” in the Masai village, Sapolsky’s true-life tales never disappoint.

The chapters highlighting his time with the baboons were a personal favorite.  Sapolsky describes each member of his primate troop as if he were describing close human friends, and even admits to developing a baboon crush, along with a special human-baboon friendship.  However, it is not all fun and games, and his research of the baboons is detailed throughout, allowing the reader an in-depth look into the exhilarating, yet tiresome days of a scientist.

A Primate’s Memoir is a funny, clever, and ultimately heartbreaking account of Robert Sapolsky’s experience in wild Africa.  Highly recommended, this is definitely a book for animal lovers and science enthusiasts alike.       

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: A Primate’s Memoir

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2013*

The Guinea Pig Diaries [Book Review]

I am a little obsessed with author, A.J. Jacobs at the moment.  Back in Spain, I flew through his book, The Year of Living Biblically, and once I got to the States, I immediately bought and read another of his books.  So, here is my newest review.   Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

Author: A.J. Jacobs

Synopsis: “Now comes a collection of his [A.J. Jacob’s] most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. (And which drives A.J.’s patient wife, Julie, to the brink of insanity.)” 

ISBN: 1416599061

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

Life is an experiment in and of itself.  Whether it’s when we fall in love, attend college, or have kids, each event brings a new and exciting adventure.  However, what happens when we decide to go beyond these common and everyday goals, and instead intentionally experiment with the bizarre and out of the ordinary?

Well, just ask A.J. Jacobs.  He has been living as his own personal guinea pig for most of his adult life.  From posing nude at the request of Mary-Louise Parker, to living like George Washington, to being his wife’s servant, Jacobs lives his life as if he is constantly being studied by a team of mad-scientists.  Add on more zany life-altering experiments such as being a human unitasker, having no filter between his brain and mouth, and outsourcing his entire everyday life, and you have yourself a book!

Jacobs is hard not to fall in love with.  His writing is witty, organized – his notes in the back of the book are as good to read as the actual stories themselves – and he’s hilarious as hell.  When you are actually able to laugh out loud at a sentence, or read a paragraph to your spouse, then you know you’re reading something good!  Not to mention that he is the definition of an “average Joe” (in a good way!), which makes all his books even more interesting to read.

The Guinea Pig Diaries is one of those books that is hard to put down.  Once one chapter – or experiment – is finished, the next one instantly calls as you want to see how crazier Jacobs’ life can get! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Guinea Pig Diaries 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

The Year of Living Biblically [Book Review]

As I have mentioned, I do not follow any type of religion, but I do enjoy learning and researching about religion.  I asked my mom to get this book for my birthday, and she did.  So, here is my review.   Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Author: A.J. Jacobs

Synopsis: “Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.” 

ISBN: 0743291476

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

The Bible has been described as many things.  Some look to the Bible as a guide and source of rules to live their life by, while others only think of the Bible as a collection of stories and myths.  Even those who believe the Bible as fact, do not necessarily follow it in its entirety.  However, what happens to someone’s life when they do in fact follow the Bible as literally as possible?

A.J. Jacobs takes us on a year-long journey as he strives, and sometimes struggles, to follow the Bible as literally as he can.  Interested in religion, though a self-proclaimed agnostic, Jacobs is searching to find many things throughout his year of biblical literalism.  Can and should the Bible be taken literally, especially in the modern era?  What happens to one’s faith when they devote their lives to the Bible?  And what can be learned about everyday life from the Old and New testament?

Jacobs takes on the role of a naïve but interested student as he consults many different religious teachers and mentors to aid him throughout his journey.  He takes his biblical project seriously, and tries to adhere to every commandment and lesson in the Bible.  From stoning adulterers – which I laughed hysterically throughout – to using a specific hyssop paint brush to paint his door with lamb blood during Passover, it seems as if the rules never stop and his beard continues to grow.

The Year of Living Biblically is a thought-provoking and hilarious read.  Broken down in different sections pertaining to different Bible passages and their corresponding rules and lessons, it is an easy read, and I had trouble putting it down before going straight to the next month’s chapter.  Filled with humor and pure honesty, Jacobs’ writing is captivating, and this factor has made him my newest favorite non-fiction writer.  Whether you are a religious person, interested in religion, or just looking for an entertaining read, The Year of Living Biblically is a must-read for everyone.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Year of Living Biblically

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

Babylon’s Ark [Book Review]

I received this book from my lovely sister as a birthday present.  I finished it last week and am finally getting to the review.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo

Author: Lawrence Anthony

Synopsis: “When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, located in the city center and caught in the war’s crossfire. Once Anthony entered Baghdad he discovered that full-scale combat and uncontrolled looting had killed nearly all the animals of the zoo.
But not all of them. U.S. soldiers had taken the time to help care for the remaining animals, and the zoo’s staff had returned to work in spite of the constant firefights. Together the Americans and Iraqis had managed to keep alive the animals that had survived the invasion.” 

ISBN: 0312358326

Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

When tragedy strikes, whether it is war or a natural disaster, the lives of people are everyone’s first priority.  However, humans are not the only ones affected during tough times, and it seems that animals, who suffer as much if not more, are often forgotten about or left behind.  In Lawrence Anthony’s Babylon’s Ark, the true-life rescue of the animals in war-torn Baghdad reminds us how truly devastating war can be on every being.

Beginning with the frantic rush to try to save Baghdad’s zoo, Lawrence Anthony captivates you from the first page.  His reasons for going to Iraq are honorable, and his struggles throughout his journey bring both tears of sorrow and sighs of relief as the lives of neglected animals are fought for in a city that is already fighting.  However, the book not only highlights the animal’s lives, but also the people of Baghdad and the city itself.  Brave soldiers, Iraqis, and foreigners are thrown together in an unlikely situation, as they not only help the zoo’s animals, but also the mistreated and abandoned animals of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein and his sons.

Lawrence Anthony writes with such passion that the 245 page book took me only days to read as I hesitated to put it down, and the pictures comprised in the middle bring all the scenes to life.  The ending was my favorite as Anthony dedicated a chapter to how everyone could make a difference not only for animals and people, but for Planet Earth in general.  Babylon’s Ark definitely sheds a different light on the Iraq war, and is a highly recommended read for all avid readers and animal lovers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: Babylon’s Ark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

Born Free [Book Review]

I’m very pleased to present this review to you!  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds

Author: Joy Adamson

Synopsis: “Joy Adamson’s story of a lion cub in transition between the captivity in which she is raised and the fearsome wild to which she is returned captures the abilities of both humans and animals to cross the seemingly unbridgeable gap between their radically different worlds. Especially now, at a time when the sanctity of the wild and its inhabitants is increasingly threatened by human development and natural disaster, Adamson’s remarkable tale is an idyll, and a model, to return to again and again.” 

ISBN: 0375714383

Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds (Story of Elsa, #1)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

I heard of the Adamsons – Joy (the author) and George (her husband) – when I read the book A Lion Called Christian, in which they had helped rehabilitate Christian back into the wild.  However, their work with lions had been going on for a while before Christian, so I was very excited to read Born Free and see how Joy and George got started.

And it all began with Elsa.  Born Free is the account and adventure of Elsa the lioness’s life, and the difficult task Elsa provided for her human parents, Joy and George Adamson.  Raised by the Adamsons since she was a baby, she treated them as her lion pride, and they treated her as their child, however never forgot the fact that she was a wild lion.  Her life with them flew by as she grew from a cub into a full-size, and eventually a wild, lioness.

Besides the story itself, my favorite part of the book was how it was written.  Joy Adamson has written quite a few books – all of which I hope to read – and her written language reads like she is having a face-to-face conversation with the reader.  Her writing flows, and it feels as if you are experiencing Elsa’s life with the Adamsons.  Joy is a professional painter and photographer, and her beautiful pictures of Elsa, Africa, and the unlikely family’s adventures are scattered throughout the pages, which makes it an even more intriguing read.  The ending of the book is comprised of letters which George sent from Africa to Joy when she was finishing the book in England, and this aspect gives an even more personal touch to the readers.  

I’m a sucker for animal stories – especially if they are true – so Born Free was one of those books that touched my heart and stayed in my mind for a while after I read it.  I was sad when they had to eventually try and release Elsa back into the wild because come on, who doesn’t want a lioness as a pet?!  However, the outcome made the entire book and I walked away with tears in my eyes and a happy heart.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: Born Free

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis was taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

When Elephants Weep [Book Review]

This is the second time I have read this book.  The first was for pleasure a few years ago, and I finished it recently again because I wrote a summary and critique on it for my English class.  So here is my review, and most of it I took from my paper I wrote for school.  However, I spiced it up a bit for here.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Title:  When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Elephants

Author: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Synopsis: “From dancing squirrels to bashful gorillas to spiteful killer whales, Masson and coauthor Susan McCarthy bring forth fascinating anecdotes and illuminating insights that offer powerful proof of the existence of animal emotion. Chapters on love, joy, anger, fear, shame, compassion, and loneliness are framed by a provocative re-evaluation of how we treat animals, from hunting and eating them to scientific experimentation. Forming a complete and compelling picture of the inner lives of animals,When Elephants Weep assures that we will never look at animals in the same way again.” 

ISBN: 0385314280 

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 My Review:

Every pet owner will admit to committing anthropomorphism – ascribing human emotions to animals – on a daily basis; I know I sure do!  We can see that our dog feels happy, that our cat feels playful, or that our turtle feels content; most people do not deny that non-human animals share some basic human emotions.  However, in the scientific community, committing anthropomorphism is essentially looked upon as a sin.

In When Elephants Weep, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson challenges people – scientists, researchers, and non-scientists alike – to come to terms with the fact that animals do seem to have emotions.  Focusing on the basic human emotions people are most able to relate to, such as joy, love, anger, fear, shame, etc., this book provides compelling examples of non-human animals portraying and experiencing emotions much like people do.  Some of these anecdotes that Masson provides as he argues that animals do have emotions and feelings include: the love shown in animals who mate for life, the fear evident in the animals’ eyes during dangerous encounters, and the sorrow they feel when one of their kind passes away.

Included with the examples are scholarly explanations from biologists, ethologists, and animal behaviorists of the emotions animals have been seen portraying.  Masson’s theory that animals do experience emotions is backed up by some of the leading people whom have dedicated their lives to studying animals.  While he gives detailed examples, and convinces the reader of his point, he is not biased in any way.  He also provides anecdotes and opinions from acclaimed scientists and researchers whom do not believe animals can feel emotions, and through this, he allows the reader to keep an open mind.

When Elephants Weep is one of those books that you continue to think about long after you have read it.  Granted, I am an animal lover so my opinions toward this book may be a little biased.  However, this is not just a book for those with passions for animals; this is also a book for those simply curious about emotions and how those emotions affect every living thing, and also for those wishing to dive into a world known little by humans.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: When Elephants Weep

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: The synopsis was taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*