Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Book Recommendation - The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

I suggest this book all the time (well when the situation warrants) and I think Earth Day is the perfect day to suggest it as a must read!

Book Description from Goodreads:
In The World Without Us, Alan Weismann offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth without us.

In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.

The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dali Lama, and paleontologists -- who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths -- Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.

From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.
I first heard of the book a few Earth Days ago when it was a free (or discounted) ebook download. I figured it would be a book to hang onto in case I had nothing really to read. I wasn't big on reading non-fiction and it had to be something really good to keep my attention. I started to read the book since I had just downloaded it and soon found myself being one of those annoying people who wants to read you passages from the book their reading.  It was common to hear me go "Oh listen to this" or "Did you know...".

It was fascinating to read about how the world would possibly break down; how animals and plants would take over what are now major cities; and to think about what would remain.  Things like plants that were brought to one location from another could wipe out the indigenous plants of the region. Things like that mean that the world without us would be different than the world before us.

I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scrapbooking Book Reviews!

Getting Started With Scrapbooking: How to Create Your First ScrapbookGetting Started With Scrapbooking: How to Create Your First Scrapbook by Phyllis Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have tried to scrapbook once, and failed.  Well not so much failed as I wasn't properly equipped or prepared for the project. Had I had a copy of this book, I would have probably made a better first scrapbook! Phyllis Matthews has put together a simple yet informative book on the basics of scrapbooking.  Instead of feeling like a strict instructor is giving you step by step instructions, Phyllis's tone is more of a friend teaching you her favorite hobby.

I pulled two important lessons from this book; one I knew and one I wish I had known before.  First, Phyllis reminds the reader that scrapbooks don't have to be filled with just pictures.  Tickets, maps, information pamphlets and the like are perfect fillers for a scrapbook. I knew this going into my attempt and used post cards and other materials from my trip.

The second lesson is the plan your scrapbook before you start the actual work.  Phyllis includes a sample plan that she used for one of her own scrapbooks.  I wish I had known or even thought to have done something like this, it's a perfect planning idea. As an author I would never start a story without even the simplest of outlines, why would I go into a craft project without a plan. (I do plan my craft projects now, but when I did my scrapbook attempt I wasn't yet as crafty as I am now!)

Budget Scrapbooking For BeginnersBudget Scrapbooking For Beginners by Phyllis Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm always looking for a deal and Phyllis follows up her Getting Started book with a wonderful book on how to save money.  If you have taken a walk down aisles dedicated to scrapbook in any craft store you may have seen those high prices. Well really any aisle at a craft store.  Yes there are sales and coupons, but sometimes even those don't really cut the cost significantly. Phyllis gives a number of really good ideas on where to buy supplies and how to use things you may never have thought to use in a scrapbook (or any craft).

One place she suggests (and one of my favorite craft shopping locations) is a dollar store.  While the quality of supplies isn't up to par with that found in craft stores, that isn't always an issue when dealing with crafts.  A sticker is a sticker no matter the cost and ribbon and bows are basically all the same.

I think both books go great together!

I received copies of the e-books for my honest reviews.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Club Catch Up!

Since I fell behind in my posts for March I missed posts for my various book clubs. Here's what I read and a brief review of the books.

First up here are February and March's books for Forever YA:

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of Rainbow Rowell's work.

The Impossible Knife of MemoryThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy Laurie Halse Anderson's books, I think she writes some of the best YA fiction.  I enjoyed this book, but struggled a bit some of the plot.

For our last Winter Book Club* meeting in March we read:

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I could not get into this book.  I thought the plot was a great idea, but I just felt like everything dragged.

For Tea & A Book** we read:
Suite FrancaiseSuite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is in two parts with the author originally planning for the book to contain 5 parts.  I liked the first part but it took me some time to get into the style and flow of the way she wrote this section.  I loved the second part and was heart broken to reach the end and know that there was no more.  The book includes her notes and you can see where she was intending to direct the story in part 3 and I would have loved to have read it.  They are making a movie based on part 2 of this book and I can't wait to see it!

*This book club is part of the meetups of the Meetup Group - Mercer County Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and will be extended through the rest of the year.  The tags will now be MCGBC (Mercer Count Girls Book Club).

**This is the book club I run at the library and we get low turn out (1 patron).  We are going to try to switch up our meeting dates and times next month but it doesn't look like I"ll be running this book club much longer and I'm kinda upset about that.