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Rebecca Brown "rebeccasreads" (Clallam Bay, WA United States)

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A Natural History of the Senses
A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman
Edition: Paperback

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Natural History of the Senses is a feast!, 29 Mar. 2001
Our senses define the edges of consciousness. How we delight our senses varies greatly from culture to culture, yet the ways in which we use our senses is exactly the same for all of us!
"We like to think that we are finely evolved creatures, in suit-and-tie or pantyhose-and-chemise, who live many millennia & mental detours away from the cave, but that's not something our bodies are convinced of."
Ah! What a bouquet is this book. Diane Ackerman has plucked for our consideration & entertainment a posey of senses: smell - touch - taste - hearing - vision - synesthesia. Sections that delight: Of Violets and Neurons; The Inner Climate; Adventures in the Touch Dome; Food and Sex; The Bloom of a Taste Bud; The Hearing Heart; Cathedrals in Sound; How To Watch The Sky; Watching a Night Launch of the Space Shuttle; Courting The Muse.
Her writing is a tapestry rich in textures & tastes, evoking nothing less than a feast for our mind, in & of itself a sensory organ or perhaps Grand Central Station to which all stimuli arrive.
My son gave me this treasure one Winter Solstice & that is the time of year I usually take it down & embark upon another cruise, refreshing my palate. As heady as the scent of elderberries in bloom; the taste of radishes fresh from the earth & the sound of grouse in a spring forest.

East of the Mountains
East of the Mountains
by David Guterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East of the Mountains is a fine read!, 29 Mar. 2001
This review is from: East of the Mountains (Paperback)
It is harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington State where orchards droop with ripened fruit & Ben Givens, recently retired, widowered & diagnosed with cancer, heads east, over the Cascade Mountains into the still wild sage deserts for one last bird hunt with his Brittanies & his memories. A rain-slicked highway & a headlong skid into a tree changes his plans.
I thoroughly enjoyed David Guterson's writing which flows like windswept wild grasses, because I've roamed those same sagelands & I've known the same sort of world of hurt into which Ben Givens is headed.
David Guterson narrowly avoids sentimentality by allowing Ben's adventures to draw some blood, be scary enough to rouse a hero's lethargy & full enough with unexpressed loneliness, orneryness, dashes of dumb luck & mean spiritedness that kept me walking at Ben's side.
I wanted to hear more of those adventures. Having taken care of our Poppa during his last years of life, I had a very good idea just how valuable Ben's life & death will be to his daughter.

Land Girls
Land Girls
by Angela Huth
Edition: Paperback

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Land Girls are full of life!, 29 Mar. 2001
This review is from: Land Girls (Paperback)
After their farmhands are conscripted in 1941, John & Faith Lawrence enroll in England's new Land Army, which sends young women out of the cities into the fields. These three girls bring to distant Dorset high adventure, clashes in culture & all their passion for life.
Each girl is from a different parts of the nation & society, each is blossoming into a woman in an era when promiscuity & virginity plagued them as much as air-raid sirens heightened fears for any tomorrows. Each girl brings to Hallows Farm at the end of summer, a fresh & funny novelty about farm work, an engaged heart & an easing for a worried, weary family.
Each man, on the otherhand, in uniform or out, suddenly has to struggle with duty & their ideas about newcomers. With the arrival of a bevy of pretty, personable, unattached women & the very real threat of being dead by morning, the men are thrust into the role of teachers in more ways than one.
To begin Land Girls & continue to delve into its quietly evocative pages is to hear the stories of our mothers & grandmothers. How placid & seemly it all was on the surface & how passionate & premeditated beneath.
Well worth reading. I loved it all: where it took me & everyone I met there, even wizened, thwarted old Ratty & his fearsome Post-Mistress wife.
Memories of my own gave a harmony to Angela Huth's Land Girls as have few books. Charming, hilarious, scary & rich in the dramas, fears & epiphanies that once made up our wartime lives.

The Way Of An Eagle (VMC)
The Way Of An Eagle (VMC)
by Ethel M. Dell
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of an Eagle is a gem!, 29 Mar. 2001
This little gem came to me courtesy of a great-aunt who lived all her life in the same house on the Isle of Wight. We were there to pack up her estate. My mother let me know she had borrowed this same book from this same aunt, when she too was at school only she had had to keep it hidden in her atlas. In her day, Ethel M. Dell was as popular as Mary Stewart, Danielle Steel, Daphne du Maurier, Mary Renault & Kathleen E. Woodiwiss are today.
Be warned, this little tome presents huge faux pas by our lights. Read it, however, for the glimpse of a time long gone about the truly crass racism of the Empire which even the great Delderfield hesitated to depict. Trouble is, it really did occur & it occurred in a vast continental context amid a complex patchwork of princedoms with their own ancient Caste systems.
For those laborers in the far-flung corners of the pinkly depicted Empire, the return to faded England, was both yearned for & dreaded. When they got Home (& Britain, more precisely, England was always Home) they carried on in the same vein. This is a story about Muriel Roscoe & Nicholas Ratcliffe, who survive a massacre in a far-flung fort in the Himalayan foothills at the apex of the British Empire. They do not, however, fare so well amid the quicksands & treacheries of English society. Prejudice can surely ruin health & happiness.
I am amazed to see Ethel M. Dell having a resurgence a century later. She wrote some vivid, hectic stories over which you may well become mottled by the standards of honor & sobriety, dastardly deeds & dimwitted damsels.
It might be hard for us modern politically-correct folks, used now to sex on the fly; coarse, repetitive language & indifferent violence to get the tension in two people so affronted by each other, because all their lives they've been trained to think of the other as unworthy or unattainable. Imagine that!
This is, however, first & foremost a romance; the forbidden romances of an entire generation, the mothers & aunts of my childhood; the women who came to puberty before the War to End All Wars & its impact needs to be remembered lest we become doomed to repeat it! Top Notch!

All That the Rain Promises: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
All That the Rain Promises: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
by David Arora
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.52

5.0 out of 5 stars All That the Rain Promises, and fun!, 29 Mar. 2001
A Hip Pocket & self-contained field guide for beginners hunting wild mushrooms from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, from the deserts of northern Mexico to Alaska. With incredible photos, delightful poetry & irreverent, Renaissance mischief!
Sometimes we joke, as we watch the Fairy Rings (Marasmius oreades) appear after a rain, or catch a glimpse of an Artist's Conk (Ganoderma applanatum)in the autumn mists or stumble upon a stand of Morels(Morchella elata or angusticeps) that the only person in our family who has the patience to actually watch mushrooms grow, is our 89 year old Poppa. Eventually my city eyes have become trained to the marvels of the forest floor.
David Arora writes: "I used to think I needed the sun to have fun. Rain was an inconvenience, something to wait out, not wade in...It was the enemy of activity, the bane of beach barbecues...Mushrooms changed all that."
This is a wonderful book & David Arora has a lively mind, a romantic turn of phrase & a serious passion.

Field Guide to the Slug: Explore the Secret World of Slugs and Their Kin - In Forests, Fields... (Sasquatch Field Guide Series)
Field Guide to the Slug: Explore the Secret World of Slugs and Their Kin - In Forests, Fields... (Sasquatch Field Guide Series)
by David G. Gordon
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Field Guide to the Slug is a delight!, 29 Mar. 2001
Explore the secret world of slugs & their kin in forests, fields & gardens from Southeast Alaska to California. These little creatures, which we love to hate, are actually miniature marvels of adaptation that play an essential role in nature's grand scheme.
You're going to learn a whole new vocabulary when you study this thin book sponsored by The Western Society of Malacologists. Wonderful words we wouldn't normally use or want to unless you are playing host to these critters.
Slugs can't help being slimey - that's the way they get around & also, by the way, how some of them... um... eh...mate? Realize that gender gets a bit muddled with this phylum. Well, it's a bit muddled for all of us, except slugs tend to, well, er, gobble each other up now & again! Yum! Yum!
How else are you going to approach the subject of slugs? Let David George Gordon work his magic on you as you slink after these much-maligned garbage collectors. We live on the hem of a rainforest where there are more slugs than, as my beloved is wont to mutter: "you can shake a stick at." Slugs are not bothered by sticks or stones.
Do check out my Ode to Dull Sluggery inspired by this little book which is for anyone who feels plagued by these ghastly gastropods or anyone who has to listen to gardeners whine about them!

Lasagna Gardening: New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens - No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!
Lasagna Gardening: New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens - No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!
by Patricia Lanza
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.92

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lasagna Gardening is user friendly!, 29 Mar. 2001
A new system for bountiful gardens: no digging, no tilling, no weeding, no kidding! A non-traditional organic, layering method to create better soil while keeping your garden neat & attractive.
Douglas Schneider's cover art drew me into this energetic & chuckling book; Elayne Sears' & Jane D. Ramsey's charming interior illustrations gave me useful & evocative ideas.
The basis of Patricia Lanza's method of vegetable gardening is to start beds without digging halfway to Tasmania, without sifting & hefting mounds of stones & beaten down earth. She delivers her ideas with panache! I bet her cooking is fantastic!
I recommend Lasagna Gardening as a permanent friend on your shelf. I like the way Patricia Lanza conveys her information & the page layouts are eminently readable. Do catch my eInterview with this author!

Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
by Frances Mayes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.51

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under the Tuscan Sun is heartwarming!, 25 Mar. 2001
From Associate Reviewer Carolyn's full review: About a poet, gourmet cook, college professor & travel writer who fell in love with Italy & bought a home that dramatically changed her life.
With her partner Frances Mayes found a wondrous new world as they restored Bramasole (meaning to yearn for the sun), an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside.
Mayes goes back 26 centuries in her wanderings throughout Italy. Occasionally she loses her feeling of wonder & becomes pedagogic. She mentions a ballet troupe from Russia that she watched "thump around for two hours." I doubt Russia ever had a ballet troupe that thumped around anywhere.
I read the big print copy & turned many pages wishing there were maps & pictures. I hope they were included in the original edition. I kept my atlas close by. I now carry textured pictures of Italy in my mind & on my taste-buds. Good reading!

The Red Tent
The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Red Tent is Genesis Revisited!, 25 Mar. 2001
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
For everywoman who has ever wondered what life was really like in Biblical times behind the begats of the fathers, brothers & sons.
This is not for the religiously faint-of-heart nor for those who cannot look beyond the poetic & androcentric language of the bestseller of this millennium, for you will be easily offended!
No, The Red Tent is for every red-blooded woman who has ever questioned her hidden heritage - the one that's rarely spoken & written about. For anywoman who thought those Biblical women must have had lives of value & meaning beyond being baby-factories in a man's world.
Incidentally, as I read about the lives of the wives (polygamy was part of our biblical foreparents' lifestyle) I kept getting glimpses of the Latter Day Saints' erstwhile domesticity & remembrances of my commune years back in the 1970s - very interesting & though-provoking. Made me think a lot about peoples who, to this day, still practice multiple-wife marriages. Made me think that monogamy isn't all it's cracked up to be - for the wives that is!
In its implications & scope The Red Tent is right up there with Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear.
Do check out my full review of this pivotal book & my eInterview with this author who has created a rich & transformative read.

Burnt Toast on Davenport St
Burnt Toast on Davenport St
by Egan
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Burnt Toast on Davenport Street is delicious!, 25 Mar. 2001
Now I love burnt toast & its smell brings back all sorts of memories! Tim Egan has created a funny & telling little story of a couple of dogs in their happy &, well, almost dull lives. The only fly in the ointment is the gang of crocodiles who jeer & taunt them as they take their stroll around their neighborhood.
With delightful pictures & a tongue-in-cheek humor, Tim Egan, once again, gives us a charming, instructional parable on the old saying: be careful what you wish for! Do check out my full review & many other great children's books.

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