Book Review | The Wasting of Borneo by Alex Shoumatoff

wasting of borneo cover.jpgPalm oil is the devil. This is one of the clear take away messages from Shoumatoff’s latest book The Wasting of Borneo. This accessible read offers a clear picture of the devastation that has been occurring in the rain forest of Borneo and its far reaching implications. Sharing wisdom from field experts, the book uses both scientific data and real life anecdotes to educate readers about an important, but lesser known calamity that is impacting indigenous people, animals and the environment.

I approached this book with no previous knowledge of the topic. More than just educating me, Shoumatoff’s writing drew me in and explained to me why the wasting of Borneo’s rain forest is a catastrophe, and also how it concerns me as a consumer on a personal level. It’s scary to learn that just because certain processes are being labeled sustainable, that doesn’t mean they really adhere to strictly sustainable standards. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the topic for any readers who care about the environment and man’s negative impact on it. Check it out from a library near youI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of The Wasting of Borneo may be interested in Songs of the Baka and Other Discoveries by Dennis James (2017). 


Book Review | The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

futures cover.jpgProtagonists Evan and Julia meet while attending Yale and then decide to move to New York City together after graduation. Previously a star on the hockey team, Evan has some adjustments to make to fit into his finance job at a prestigious hedge fund. Julia comes from a well-off family in Boston and with their connections lands a job as an assistant at a non-profit. She struggles to fill her time while Evan works increasingly long hours, and can’t quite manage to keep herself out of trouble.

Pitoniak’s first novel is quite impressive. The writing style fosters an intimate relationship between the reader and the protagonists. With chapters alternating point of view between Julia and Evan, it is easy to understand the how and why of what they are each feeling. Revealing scenes from alternating view points also help the story to flow successfully without bias. In addition to following on their relationship, another major focus of the book is the business deal that Evan negotiates in his hedge fund work. Fortunately, this is handled in an accessible manner that will allow all readers to remain interested, even those with no financial background or interests. Highly recommended for those interested in reading about interpersonal relationships of twenty-somethings in New York City. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Héctor García & Francesc Miralles

ikigai cover.jpgFor those interested in longevity with happiness and keys to living a longer life, this book will certainly be interesting and thought-provoking.

Ikigai is a quick read broken into digestible chapters covering topics including longevity, diet, movement, resilience, finding your flow, and more. Written for all audiences, the authors have provided insights based on interviews with Okinawan centenarians, observations of their lifestyle and other applicable philosophical scientific information. The book aims to help the reader find the intersection of passion, mission, profession and vocation, also known as Ikigai. Further, the reader will be able to apply the topical introductions and logical observations immediately in every day living. Any reader will be able to take something of this value from this text. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Ikigai, may be interested in the film How to Life Forever by Mark Wexler.

Book Review | The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

impossible fortress cover.jpgReturn to the 1980’s for some of the first consumer computers to hit the market. The Impossible Fortress introduces a few teens not yet old enough to buy the Vanna White Playboy. As the boys try to figure out their best shot for getting a copy, Billy begins programming a computer game with Mary to submit in competition. Billy develops feelings for Mary, which causes a ripple effect influencing the ragtag heist.

A fast paced story with ample chapter breaks, this book can be read quickly. While it reads like a YA novel with emphasis on action and plot, many references to 1980’s things will be lost on someone born after 1980. For adults, the characters may not be relatable and their repeated stupid choices will be very frustrating. Rekulak incorporates some topics that make the book unique, but they aren’t fully played out. In summary, the book is a quick read with a decent story, but it’s value is decreased by the author’s seeming lack of choice between an adult novel and a YA piece. Recommended for outcast teens, those interested in 1980’s computer programming, and video game geeks. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Insomniac Dreams : Experiments with time by Vladimir Nabokov; Gennady Barabtarlo

IMG_3742.jpegIf you miss reading papers in grad school, this will be a friendly reminder. Insomniac Dreams is made up of five sections, and includes much text from the editor, Barabtarlo. The first section introduces the ideas that led Nabokov to his dream study project. This section is quite scholarly. The following two chapters, much easier to progress through, focus on Nabokov’s and his wife’s dreams. Then, two more heavy sections include dream examples from Nabokov’s previously published works.

This book is a challenging read, both in good ways and bad. Full concentration is needed for continuing clarity while reading. Some of the ideas presented about the passage of time are thought provoking. An average reader will likely need a dictionary at least once and probably feel s/he does not have enough background knowledge of Nabokov’s literature to make the most of this book. Be prepared for a scholarly academic text here, more than just dreams by Nabokov. Check it out from a library near you.

The Polygamist’s Daughter : a memoir by Anna LeBaron

lebaron daughter cover.jpgBased on her experiences as one of more than 50 of Ervil LeBaron’s children, The Polygamist’s Daughter relays Anna’s life story from it’s beginning growing up as a cult member to her exit from the cult as an adult. The book recounts many of Anna’s specific memories about activities that she was involved in as a youth, as well as her emotional and spiritual journey into adulthood. The first part of the text focuses on her difficult time living with a type of host family in Mexico. Next she moves often in the US between Colorado and Texas as she attends school. Finally, she breaks away from the cult and finds God and a family of her own.

As a memoir, this book serves as a keyhole looking back on another time. The recounted details were mostly interesting and kept the story going. Times in Mexico and unconventional activities provided the best insights in this text. Though the book flowed decently, adjectives are often overused and result in frequent repetition. The repetitive sentences also appeared in several chapters, making the book ultimately seem more like a YA text than an autobiography. A shorter, more direct book may have been a better choice. The religious emphasis is quite heavy in the book’s second half. This book would appeal to those interested in polygamy, religious coming of age stories, or Christian non-fiction. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Shadow Man by Alan Drew

shadow man cover.jpgIt’s the mid 1980’s and there is a serial killer in the fancy planned communities just south of Los Angeles. The Night Prowler sneaks in through an unlocked door or cuts through the screen to find a victim he can overpower and then strangles her with his bare hands. Residents are instructed to keep their windows locked while the body count rises. Meanwhile, a high schooler is found dead in a field just outside town. The bullet hole means the MO is not a match for the serial, but is it a suicide? It seems darkness is hiding in more than one place in this community.

Shadow Man was definitely a good read. The story held my interest from beginning to end. The small cast of characters was easy to keep straight and I appreciated the way Drew alternated focus between the various plot lines and character perceptions. Though not as suspenseful as I had expected, there was appreciable tension. Highly recommended for fans of noir crime or literary crime fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.