Wednesday, April 29, 2015

For National Poetry Month: The Robot Scientist's Daughter

Created by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, April is National Poetry Month.  During this month, schools, libraries, poets, bloggers, and others in the U.S. celebrate poetry in a variety of ways.  I'm doing my very small part to help keep the art of poetry alive, posting just in the nick of time (like last year), near the conclusion of National Poetry Month, with a review of The Robot Scientist's Daughter by poet and writer Jeannine Hall Gailey.

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington.  She's the author of three other books of poetry, Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, and Unexplained Fevers.  She started writing her fourth book of poems soon after she completed her second book, She Returns to the Floating World, because the disaster at Fukushima occurred during the week that her book went to print, which was an impetus for her work.

"I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals. . ."
~ Radioactive, Imagine Dragons

She also reviewed EPA reports from her rural hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, known as "The Atomic City", and thought about how her own exposure to toxic waste has affected her health over the years.  Oak Ridge was a production site for the Manhattan Project of 1942, the massive operation that developed the atomic bomb, and scientific development is still an integral part of the city's economy and culture.  Additionally, she wanted to write about the influence of her father, a robotics professor and researcher, and about his contributions to science in the nuclear field. 

In the interview I received along with this book, the author says that The Robot Scientist's Daughter is her attempt to create a fairy tale from her autobiography.  Published in 2015 by Mayapple Press, Jeannine also says that it's her most personal book to date, and she calls the composite character "The Robot Scientist's Daughter " a sci-fi version of herself.  (Many of the poems include the words "The Robot Scientist's Daughter" in their titles, and then a word or phrase in parentheses.)  Although the title of this collection is certainly unusual, in all of the poems, the poet describes herself, and her experience, in a clear and compelling manner.  These poems possess style, substance--and science.  She describes the white-tailed deer, catfish, and other creatures, as being full of hot particles (microscopic pieces of radioactive material that can become lodged in living tissue), and her background in science is evident in this work in countless ways.  These poems create vivid images of the effects of radiation, which are terrifying and touching.  Through her work, she wants to raise awareness that nuclear research is never harmless.  Overall, The Robot Scientist's Daughter is a startling, commanding, and beautiful collection of poetry.  Her use of language is exquisite and extraordinary.  Here's a poem I found particularly powerful.

The Robot Scientist's Daughter (Polonium-210)

is a tightly-controlled molecule.
Sometimes she threatens
to explode into antimatter,
to shatter the equilibrium.
Other times she teeters at the edge of decay, a half-life
of skin and soul.  Shake her if you will:
you don't want to stand too close.
She is extremely unstable.  She is toxic;
inhaling or consumption can lead to death.
She is considered fairly volatile.
She can be contained within paper.
She glows bright blue.  She is a showstopper.

This poem is one of my favorites in the book, although I could have easily chosen a different one, as many others are equally affecting and potent.   This collection of poetry is truly a profound "investigation of the beauties and dangers of science and nature", about "a girl in search of the secrets of survival", who loves life and discovers glimmers of hope ("nevertheless, there were violets to pick"). These poems touched me deeply, and made me more aware about the environmental, ethical, and social perils of nuclear power. 

Many thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book and the intriguing author interview.  For other reviews and features, please visit the previous stops on Poetic Book Tours' blog tour for The Robot Scientist's Daughter.  Comments welcomed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Really Random Tuesday #94: Spring Garden Notes, and a Book Winner

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow."
~ Proverbs

I know that winter was pretty harsh for many of you.  At last, the lovely season of spring is here!

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden."
~ Ruth Stout  
Outdoor Orchids

Many herbs grow in my garden, in pots as well as in the ground, including:

Mexican Sage


Thai Basil


"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."
~ Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Pleased as punch: a few cherry tomato plants that I'd forgotten about (because I planted them in a new, out-of-view spot) thrived on my neglect! 

Cherry Tomatoes

What's  growing in your spring garden?


Congratulations to Julianne from Outlandish Lit!   She has won The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James.  Julianne, I hope that you'll enjoy reading this book, which features an unusual narrator (one of three), an elephant called the Gravedigger, as mentioned in my review. 


Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, and add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page.

Have a terrific Tuesday!  Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are appreciated. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Aoléon: The Martian Girl - Part Four

If you think that "men are from Mars, and women are from Venus", then you probably haven't met Aoléon yet. 

Aoléon, the Martian girl, is the female protagonist in this fun, five-part, sci-fi series.  I've just read the ebook Aoléon: The Martian Girl (Part 4: Illegal Aliens), written and illustrated by Brent LeVasseur.

Like the other parts of this book, Part Four is fast-paced and action-packed.  In this story, Aoléon and Gilbert attempt to rescue Phobos and Deimos, Aoléon's parents, who've been captured and taken to a secret base.  The duo must also try to stop the evil Luminon, who has just begun an invasion of Terra (Earth), in order to steal cows.

The Luminon
Aoléon & Zoot

Throughout the story, Aoléon and Gilbert face many obstacles, including forces of nature, a dust storm, and even a giant slor, and Gilbert develops his psionic power, in this portion of the book.

This is another fun, zany installment of the series, which I think will appeal to middle-grade girls and boys.  The 3-D graphics are fabulous in each of these books.  Aoléon is a charming, blue-eyed, blue-skinned Martian girl, and she and Gilbert have a solid friendship, with just a hint of romance in it.  I love the cover of Part Four!  I have a cow blog, La Vache Intéressante, so I am especially partial to cows.  (I must also feature this cover on my cow blog.)   I've enjoyed each "episode" of Aoléon: The Martian Girl, including this one, so far.  I'm eager to read Part Five of this series, the last part of this book, to find out what's in store for Aoléon, the Martian Girl, and Gilbert, the Terran boy.  

Many thanks to Laura from iRead Book Tours for giving me a copy of this ebook.  For more reviews, please stop by iRead's book blog tour for Aoléon: The Martian Girl (Part Four)

Thank you for reading!  Your comments are welcomed. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Really Random Tuesday #93: National Poetry Month, and a Book Winner

As many of you know,  April is National Poetry Month.  In honor of National Poetry Month, I'll be reviewing a collection of poems later this month, The Robot Scientist's Daughter by Jeannine Hall Gailey.  (I've noticed that the titles of poetry collections tend to be especially unique and quirky.)  I'm part of the tour for this book with Poetic Book Tours.  I look forward to reading this poetry collection, and to sharing some thoughts about it with my readers.


Félicitations go to. . . Vicki from I'd Rather Be At the Beach!  She's the winner of Why LA? Pourquoi Paris?: An Artistic Pairing of Two Iconic Cities, by Diane Ratican, which features terrific, colorful illustrations by artists Eric Giriat (Paris) and Nick Lu (Los Angeles).  Please help me to congratulate Vicki.

If you didn't win this time, please take a look at the other giveaways listed on the right side of my blog.  I update this list on a fairly regular basis.  (If you have a giveaway you'd like me to add, feel free to email me.)

Today's post is quite brief.  I started a new job last month, which has left me with less time to read, and less time to blog.  Eventually, I hope to become more efficient, so that I can read more.

Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, and add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page.

Happy Tuesday!  Thanks very much for stopping by. Your comments are welcomed.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Tusk that Did the Damage: Review and Giveaway

Three may be a crowd, but it's also the magic number in this novel. 

Published in 2015, The Tusk that Did the Damage is the new book by Tania James, who also wrote Atlas of Unknowns, and Aerogrammes, a short story collection.  This novel relies on three narrators, The Elephant, The Poacher, and The Filmmaker, who tell their stories in separate, succinct chapters throughout the book.

The first narrator is the main character, the elephant, who's known as the Gravedigger because he kills people, then "buries" them neatly.  Next there is Manu, the (reluctant) poacher, who joins his older brother, Janay.  Manu begins his saga with the story of his cousin, Raghu.  In the third chapter, we meet Emma, the filmmaker, a young American who's filming a documentary of Dr. Ravi Varma, the head veterinarian at The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, with the help of her friend, Teddy, another filmmaker.  The characters in this novel are connected by the events that unfold in this absorbing and well-crafted story, which takes place in South India, and provides a startling picture of India and the perils of elephant poaching and the ivory trade.

"We watched the elephant rummage her trunk through the ditch.  I'd been looking at elephants so long I forgot sometimes what a magical organ was the trunk, like an arm exploding out from the middle of the face, packed with enough muscle to knock down a tree, enough control in its tiny tapering finger to grip a lima bean.  But even that miraculous limb couldn't save the baby.  The mother stood there, withering before our eyes. Huge and forlorn, pugnacious and bewildered."
~ The Tusk that Did the Damage, Tania James

Since reading the Babar books as a child, I've been partial to elephants, although I also feel a bit sorry for them, due to their lumbering hugeness and "wrinkly skin".  Overall, though, I find elephants to be exotic and fascinating creatures.  In The Tusk that Did the Damage, the Gravedigger is a unique and particularly unforgettable pachyderm protagonist.  In the very first chapter of the book, readers will feel compassion for this elephant when he loses his mother early in life. Through the character of the Gravedigger, the author depicts the life of an elephant, with keen descriptions of sensory perceptions that are realistic yet imaginative. Tania James provides a plethora of sensory details, and we can imagine how it might feel to actually be an elephant.

Though heart-breaking at times, this novel is beautifully written. The Tusk that Did the Damage brims with suspense, danger, humor, and it has some tender moments as well.  The three narrators enhance the story, and give it breadth.  You understand the plight of the elephant, as well as the plight of people trying to get by and make a living, however they can.  I learned many things about elephants and poaching in this novel.  I read an uncorrected proof, but even in this form, I found the book to be remarkable.  Some of the descriptions are particularly intense and intriguing, and I've gone back to reread and re-experience parts.  I relished reading every chapter, every page, and every line!

Thanks to the author, publisher, and TLC, I'm very pleased to offer a giveaway for a copy of The Tusk that Did the Damage (U.S.A. /Canada).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or indicate that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For one more entry, mention a book you've read that features an elephant.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Monday, April 20.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, April 21.  Good luck!

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for providing a copy of this book. For more reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for The Tusk that Did the Damage.

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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