Monthly Archives: July 2014

Review: Grass

Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suspenseful and very subtly creepy for the first half, with a wonderfully built world populated with intriguing alien species, new religions, and strange rituals. I stayed up hours past my usual bedtime for several nights in a row just wanting to find out more about the world and everything in it.

The second half focuses more on the characters, though, and since I don’t think they were nearly as strong as the world it wasn’t as enjoyable – but still good. Apparently this is part of a trilogy, but I feel like this book stands well on its own with all loose ends wrapped up, so I won’t be reading the others.

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How I Ruined a Life Today

4487685929_6c665af140_zWe went into town to do some shopping today. I bought myself a bag of chocolate Minstrels. They used to be my favorite chocolate candy, but my tastes changed and I haven’t had any in about a year, so I wanted to try them again. They weren’t that great. When I was down to the last one in the bag, I didn’t really want it. I decided to toss it into some bushes. An ant would find it, I thought. It would be incredible to him, for us it would be like coming across the Fountain of Youth or winning one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets.
   As I walked away, though, I began to think more deeply about it. What would really happen? Seconds after I left, the ant would find the Minstrel, a chocolate 50 times bigger than his own body. He wouldn’t be able to carry it himself, so he’d have to go back for more ants. He’d race back to the anthill, bursting with excitement, pressing his abdomen to the ground to leave a pheromone trail, as you do.
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…If You Can Call This Living

[The exciting conclusion of last week’s Eating to Live post.]

After a week of eating undelicious foods, I can sum it up in one word. I can, but I’m not going to*. Here, have a thousand words instead (there are also four pictures, so make that five thousand words):

We were very surprised to discover how much joy we truly get out of food, and that the joy isn’t even mainly from eating food. We enjoy planning out our menu each week and buying the food. We enjoy making the food. Cooking a delicious meal for others is one of life’s greatest pleasures, perhaps as good as eating the food, and we both felt unsatisfied making food for the other that we knew wouldn’t be enjoyable. Emma runs the Around the World in 196 Recipes blog, which has us trying all kinds of interesting and (usually) delicious foods from around the world, and of course we do the Saturday Sandwich here at Family Against the Flow. Anticipating the delicious food we’ll be eating later in the day brings us pleasure, and at the end of the day we can always look back on the day and think about the wonderful food we’ve eaten. This past week, we’ve had none of the joy in this paragraph at all. Continue reading

Review: Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book starts slowly, but it really gets going. I put it down only briefly, to sleep, and finished it as soon as I woke up. It amazes me that war can still exist when ideas like those written in this book are freely available for anyone to think. War does exist, though, and I was further amazed when I read the author’s introduction after the main story and read that even he, a man who was one of the Hollywood Ten and lived in exile in Mexico because of his blacklisting for his political views, believed that censorship (even of his own anti-war book, Johnny Got His Gun) during times of war could be a good idea, as long as it was a war he agreed with.

If you’re a fan of the Metallica song One, you might be interested in reading the book it was based on.

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Eating to Live

For most of us in the developed world, food is always delicious. For my wife and me, I know it certainly is. Everything we eat is a mouthwatering array of flavors, and we make sure of that when we plan our weekly menu. We don’t eat anything we don’t love – ever. For myself, the things I love are savory: spaghetti, curry, meat pies, entire hogs basted in barbecue sauce and their own juices. My wife has an extra love of sweets: chocolate, cake, doughnuts, whole swans dipped in fondant and sprinkled with nibbed sugar. Hardly a day goes by where both of us aren’t having the things we love to put in our mouths, and frankly it’s hard to find that many swans and hogs at this time of year. Continue reading

Review: Fat

Fat by Rob Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb on the back of the book implies that it’s set in a near-future dystopian society where fat is soon to be illegal. The book teases you early on with the mention of Well Farms, which are (voluntary) camps for fat people to be thinned down, and I’m sure you can imagine the slippery dystopian slope that could slide down. Instead, what the book gives you is three characters who exist in a world which is exactly like the world we actually live in. None of the characters get a satisfying ending, but none of them were likable to begin with so you don’t feel too cheated.

The writing is light and enjoyable to read, and I did feel interested in what’s going on with each character. Enough to keep me going to the end, and enough to earn 3 stars.

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