Gayle (Leesa-Dee) - , - Reviews

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Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence -- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
Review Date: 4/25/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I really enjoyed this book, even though it has a very sad beginning. I have been interested in Alex since I first saw him on TV and reading about this lively little character was fascinating and charming. Some people have called him a bird genius. But maybe Alex was just a typical parrot and a clear demonstration that animals have a lot more going on than we have given them credit for.


All the Dogs of My Life
All the Dogs of My Life
Author: Elizabeth Von Arnim
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/6/2012


When she wrote this book, it was intended to be a story of her dogs and not an autobiography. And she kept to her intention, which at times made for rather awkward reading. Maybe she figured her readers would be familiar enough with her to be able to read between the lines. But I found her coy references to her own past to be rather annoying, like when she referred to the appearance of her next husband as her "doom" without ever explaining why he was her doom.
However, she is open about the mistakes she made with her dogs, like leaving one behind in Switzerland for several years and then coming back for it only to find it was dying. And having one neutered and then blaming herself when the dog became fat and lazy. Anyone who has ever had a pet should know those feeling of guilt and regret when the pets have to suffer the consequences of our decisions and failures to act.

Anyway, it was a pretty good book written by a woman who truly did love her dogs even if she made some mistakes along the way. But who hasn't?
She was also the author of Enchanted April, which was made into a very fine movie in the early 1990s.


Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
Review Date: 4/25/2009
Helpful Score: 4


Even though the main thrust of this book is geared to the farmer/producer, there is also valuable information for pet owners and a very interesting section on zoos and zoo animals. Something for everyone who has animals or works with them. For pet owners, the author points out that pets left alone all day with no companionship or stimulation are really being abused. In her opinion, livestock raised for slaughter are better off than pets left alone all the time because their quality of life is better, more active, more stimulating. Hopefully books like Temple Grandin's will open all our eyes and inspire us to be more thoughtful and kinder in our dealings with the animals in our lives. This is an excellent and thought-provoking work.


The Candle of Distant Earth (Taken Trilogy, Bk. 3)
The Candle of Distant Earth (Taken Trilogy, Bk. 3)
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 2/6/2012


This was an good read, a lot better than the second book in the trilogy but not quite as interesting as the first book. George and company face various challenges and triumph and attain their goals but discover in the process that maybe they already had what they were looking for.


Curse of the Spellmans (Izzy Spellman, Bk 2)
Curse of the Spellmans (Izzy Spellman, Bk 2)
Author: Lisa Lutz
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 34
Review Date: 2/23/2012


Not your typical mystery story, as there is no dead body and no real crimes committed. Izzy plunges headlong into her investigation of the suspect neighbor with the occasional help and hindrance of her little sister. Other mysteries in Izzy's life require some looking into also: Why is Dad going to the gym and dieting? Why is Mom leaving the house in the wee small hours and vandalizing a motor bike? Why is Brother at home, drunk, not working and where has his wife gone? Why has her loner sister apparently gained friends and even, possibly, a boyfriend? Lots going on in the family and no one is talking. It is up to Izzy (or so she thinks) to figure it all out.
Little sister is not as bratty in this book as she was in the first, which was a relief. She was so bratty in the first book that I didn't like her at all. Also, Izzy's parents seem less intrusive than they did in the first book, which made them more likable too. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I did the first in the series as the characters are less extreme and more human than before. All in all, even with Izzy's obsessive behavior, I liked this story a lot.


Digging to America
Digging to America
Author: Anne Tyler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 202
Review Date: 4/15/2009


In August 1997, two couples arrive at the airport to receive the Korean babies they have adopted. One couple arrives with their relatives in tow and armed with a video camera to capture every precious moment. The other couple, who are Iranian Americans, show up with just themselves and no cameras. Right away we see the culture gap between the two groups. And yet, despite this gap, a bonding and a friendship occur, based on the couples adoption of these two babies.
I liked this book for its insight on what it is like to be a newcomer to the United States. Though the chief character, Maryam, the mother of the son of the Iranian couple, often feels less than kindly toward the Americans in her life, even she comes to a better understanding of the culture she and her family have joined. A worthy read!


Drowned Hopes (Dortmunder, Bk 7)
Drowned Hopes (Dortmunder, Bk 7)
Author: Donald E. Westlake
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 2/6/2012


This was a very funny story. Dortmunder tries to learn to scuba dive with indifferent success. He brings the usual gang along to help: Andy, who also learns to scuba dive, and Stan the driver, and Tiny the muscle. They also need the help of a couple of new characters: Wally, a computer nerd and Doug, a diver. But even with the help of these two experts, the challenge of digging up a buried casket under fifty feet of water in a dark and murky lake is going to test the gang to the very limits. Even Dortmunder's girlfriend May and Stan's Mom get entangled in the plot, playing key roles. This was just great fun to read and I really enjoyed it.


Fall of Moondust
Fall of Moondust
Author: Arthur Charles Clarke
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/6/2012


People are living on the moon and a tourism industry has been established. One of the things the visitors to the moon like to do is take a sightseeing cruise on the Sea of Thirst in a boat specially designed to travel across the surface of this sea of dust. Captain Pat Harris has made this trip many times before without incident. But this time something entirely unexpected occurs: a sinkhole opens in the dust beneath the boat and it is pulled down some fifty feet into the dusty depths.
The boat is a bubble air trapped beneath the cold, airless moon dust and the 22 people on board can do nothing to save themselves. They just have to sit and wait and pray that help arrives before they run out of air.

Written about 1960 and somewhat dated, this was still an OK story. I found myself skipping parts of it, mainly the technical descriptions of the rescue effort which provided a lot more detail than I was interested in reading. Other than the sometimes boring tech stuff, it was pretty interesting, despite the fact that the moon does not have seas of dust deep enough to sink a boat.


The Fall (Seventh Tower, Bk 1)
The Fall (Seventh Tower, Bk 1)
Author: Garth Nix
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 66
Review Date: 4/21/2009


Young Tal lives in the Castle of the Chosen. His world is always shrouded in darkness. For warmth and light the people rely upon magical sunstones. But not everyone has sunstones. Only the upper classes, the Chosen, have them and those who don't are forced into servitude.
Tal and his family used to have a sunstone. But one day Tal's father vanished and with him went the sunstone. Without the sunstone, Tal and his family will become members of the servant class known as Underfolk. Plus Tal's mother is ill and so it is vital that they acquire a sunstone. Tal tries his best to win one but fails. He feels his only choice is to try to steal one. But in the process he runs afoul of an evil spirit and is tossed out of the Castle and into the wild countryside beyond, a place he knows nothing about.
There he meets a warrior girl, Milla, who also has ambitions of her own. Together they undertake a journey back to the Castle, a journey which will test them and enlighten them and in which they just might find out what they are really made of.
First in the Seventh Tower series, this book is full of action and adventure and is sure to enthrall young readers (it's aimed at ages 9 and up) as they follow Tal and Milla in their struggle to survive and to accomplish their goals.


The Family Tree
The Family Tree
Author: Sheri S. Tepper
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 78
Review Date: 4/25/2009
Helpful Score: 1


The premise of this book is a little weird and a lot of fun. The suddenly sentient trees taking over the land and pushing people around was scary and fascinating. Isn't it something we would all like to see? Something greater than ourselves who has the wisdom to force us to behave and be decent to our fellows and treat the Earth with respect? Plus the people of the future are a hoot. Tepper gives little clues about these people as you read the book, still, it was so cool when their true natures are revealed. This is a really good and charming story, and even though it is a pretty long book, almost 500 pages, it is never boring and always interesting. I very much enjoyed it.


Fasting: The Ultimate Diet
Fasting: The Ultimate Diet
Author: Allan Cott
Book Type: Paperback
  ?
Review Date: 3/28/2009
Helpful Score: 1


"Alan Cott, M.D., creator of this controversial diet plan, argues that fasting is the quickest, most convenient, and affordable way to lose fat. He accuses popular regimens, such as Dr. Stillman's "quick weight loss" diet and Dr. Atkins's "diet revolution" of being ineffective and potentially dangerous. He encourages readers to try fasting, claiming that, as long as they are under their doctors' supervision, they will enjoy numerous health benefits in addition to remarkable weight loss. Cott points out that people do not experience hunger during a fast or become confused with complicated calorie computations. According to his research, overweight people who follow his advice may lose up to 25 pounds in two weeks."
This is what he says. If you feel up to the challenge then you may find this book a handy guide. It tells you exactly what to expect when fasting and gives lots of advice on how to handle it and cope with problems that may appear. Very informative.


Fingersmith
Fingersmith
Author: Sarah Waters
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/6/2012


This was a really good read, with lots of plot twists, and double-dealing aplenty. And I liked the ending, too


First Grave On The Right (Charley Davidson, Bk 1)
First Grave On The Right (Charley Davidson, Bk 1)
Author: Darynda Jones
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 139
Review Date: 2/6/2012


This was a pretty typical entree in the supernatural romance genre. It is also clearly meant to be a series, since the ending is very open-ended with many strings left dangling. It is also supposed to be "hilarious" but I didn't find it so. I did get rather tired of the main character constantly being injured or beat up. That was really off-putting, as I don't find abuse particularly entertaining. Also, I'm sure the sex scenes are appropriately steamy, but overblown depictions of the sex act don't appeal to me. As far as the plot goes, it is basically a murder mystery, when three dead lawyers visit Charley after they have been murdered, all three lawyers working for the same law firm.

I am such a sucker for any book that claims to amusing, funny, or hilarious. Here lately, though, it seems I am usually disappointed when the book turns out to be, at the most, mildly amusing. That is the case here, where a book is hyped as hilarious but isn't. Sure, it has a few lighter touches but mainly it is not a funny book. How could it be with the subjects of human trafficking, child abuse and murder as its topics? Overall, the book is a pretty good murder mystery with an intriguing supernatural mystery attached. But it is not hilarious. I am not going to hold the misleading blurbs against it, though. I was disappointed that it wasn't the humorous book I was looking for, but it was a pretty good read.


A Gathering of Saints (Felony & Mayhem Mysteries)
A Gathering of Saints (Felony & Mayhem Mysteries)
Author: Christopher Hyde
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/6/2012


This was an extremely exciting and interesting murder mystery, set in London during the blitz, with the main character Detective Morris Black trying to conduct his investigation with the bombs literally falling around him. And the story also includes some very interesting history of that time, including how close English sympathizers in the government and with close ties to the government came to making a secret deal with Hitler to pretty much turn the country over to the enemy!
But one thing I did have against the story was its ending, which was more than a little disappointing. Bit of a spoiler here: but I always like a happy ending and this book doesn't really have one. However, despite the ending, overall I really enjoyed reading this taut and engaging mystery.


Godbody
Godbody
Author: Theodore Sturgeon
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 2/6/2012


Sturgeon's version of a hippiefied, modern Jesus Christ. A sweet and captivating story, even with its sad ending. I was disappointed but only because I was expecting a science fiction story, which this really wasn't. It is a story about God's love.


A Good House : Building a Life on the Land
A Good House : Building a Life on the Land
Author: Richard Manning
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/28/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Starting over and trying to do it right this time, author Richard Manning, newly remarried, decides to build an environmentally sensitve house with his own labor. Located on 38 acres in western Montana, this house will be energy efficient with passive solar for heat and a composting toilet and minimal water use. Follow along as Manning strives to make his dream home a reality, with a little help from friends, professionals and casual laborers and other interesting characters. Not only is this book informative and inspiring, it is also simply a good read.


Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fast-Food-Fueled Car, and a Cross-Country Trip in Search of Greener Pastures
Review Date: 4/25/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was an interesting book, entertaining while being informative. Melville's description of the benefits of wind generated electricity made me wish I had a wind powered turbine to provide my home with free electric. It was also inspiring reading about the changes that green technology can bring about. I do have to say that the grease car did not appeal. Handling stale, often spoiled grease, pumping it, filtering it, storing it, the stench; it just sounds like too much. But it makes for a good story.


Grey Mask (Miss Silver, Bk 1)
Grey Mask (Miss Silver, Bk 1)
Author: Patricia Wentworth
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 2/23/2012


This is the first story in the Miss Silver series. It was written in the late 1920s. Miss Silver is an older British woman, similar to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple but Miss Silver is a professional investigator who works discretely to bring miscreants to justice with the minimum of scandal.
I liked this book a lot. The plot is interesting, the characters are pleasant and familiar, and it has secrets aplenty waiting to be revealed, with a couple of romances for another element of interest. And despite it having been written more than eighty years ago, it holds up really well. It was a good, and at times, even humorous story.


Growing Up
Growing Up
Author: Russell Baker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 9/16/2010


What a wonderful read. A great story of growing up during the Depression and of a little boy who was pushed by his ambitious and driven mother to make something of himself and looking back on Baker's career, it looks like she succeeded. Highly recommended.


An Illustrated History of Trucks and Buses
Review Date: 4/21/2009


Lots of pictures of trucks and some of buses, starting with the earliest trucks that looked more like contraptions than vehicles and up to the 1980 with the trucks we know today. This book is worth it just for the pictures alone. Interesting and informative.


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