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The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Pancham Sinh, Swami Swatmarama
Pastel 15
Toshihiko Kobayashi
The Dog Stars
Peter Heller
MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood I thought the ending was very satisfying, but really, really sad! Despite the tragedy, it is still hopeful.

I really liked the stories for the Crakers and then their eventual perspective. Blackbeard was very endearing. Although the ending battle was told from Blackbeard's perspective, some time after the fact, I thought it was very poignant. I didn't mind that it wasn't told in the present tense when it was happening.

In the end, the stories of those in the Maddadam trilogy will be biblical-like heroism and wonder for the Crakers.

Really, the Crakers are becoming what Crake didn't want them to become. What does that say about Crake's intention? I think it means that you can't really strip humanity away. There's an inborn disposition for story and song, for mysticism and legend.

I wished Toby and Zeb would have had more time to develop a romance. However, in the scope of the story, something like that would be unrealistic.

Zeb's background was very entertaining. He rode the lines between the compounds and the pleebands. It gives the overall, broader link as to what was happening in the world. I would have liked more explanation of Adam's journey, but that was not to be in this novel.

Although Jimmy comes off as a nitwit in Maddadam, I think it is very true to his nature. All of the other characters have been describing him that way from the very beginning. I suppose it's hard to change focus when the first book was all in his perspective.

Toby can sometimes be a bit boring. I still liked her, and I think she gave more of a neutral perspective compared to Jimmy.

Overall, I enjoyed Maddadam. There isn't a resounding finish; it's more slow, but it left me with many thoughts about what the future could be.
Rudin - Ivan Turgenev, Dora O'Brien Rudin is the story of Dmitri Nikolaevich Rudin, the titular character, who travels to the Russian countryside to stay with the widowed female landowner Darya Mikhailovna Lasunskaya.

He interacts with her small social circle: her daughter Natalya Aleskeevna Lasunskaya, her secretary Konstantin Diomidych Pandalevskii; and other landowners: the brother and sister Sergei Pavlovich Volyntsev and Aleksandra Pavlovna Lipina, woman hating Afrikan Semenych Pigasov, and social eschewing Mihailo Mihailych Lezhnev.

At first, the intelligence and vivacity of Rudin enraptures them all. However, as time progresses, his true nature, his inability to settle down and put energy into anything substantial, is revealed to all.

Each character ends up responding to Rudin differently by the close of the novel. Lezhnev has empathy, Aleksandra Pavlovna has pity, Volyntsev has irritation, Darya Mikhailovna has disinterest, and Natalya Aeskeevna has scorn.

I liked in the beginning, Turgenev displays Rudin in a very positive manner. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him. This slowly twists in the other direction as the story progresses.

I thought the characters were developed as well as they could be in so short of a novel. Certainly, Turgenev could have doubled the amount of writing to tell the same message. Everything is to the point and there's no extra fluff.

Natasha was an intriguing character. I wondered what her future would be like. I underestimated her ability to see through Rudin and was surprised at that scene. It's great to see a strong, young female character pull through a torrent of emotion.

Overall, Rudin is a man full of passion, without an actual passion to put all the energy towards.
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) - Margaret Atwood I really liked The Year of the Flood, but it is a bit different from Oryx and Crake.

There is similar forward and backward progression in this book, as there was in Oryx and Crake, but it's less pronounced, and less edge-gripping. That's simply from the fact that in by reading Oryx and Crake, much of the mystery has already been broached.

The ending takes you right to where we left Jimmy/Snowman on the beach, and Flood ends probably not more than an hour after the resolution of this scene.

In a way, Flood is written to gives background for life outside of the compound Jimmy and Glenn grew up in. Additionally, the Gardeners, the zealous religious community, devoted to respecting the earth, influenced the design of the Crakers.

I thought there is perhaps more influence on Glenn from the Gardeners. May he have had some belief in the Gardeners? I don't think his ideas were truly separate. He created his own Flood, although not in true Gardener style, considering what Zeb and a few others were doing to cause a little bit of chaos.

I liked how secondary, minor characters in the first book are now main characters in the Flood. I wish I would have paid more attention to them.

I could not remember Brenda "Ren" at all for the life of me. Amanda I did remember, due to her interesting art escapades.

There was a lot of subtly with the main female characters: Toby and Ren. Toby is tough and puts up a large wall. She hides a lot of her emotions, and we as readers don't really even get to see many of them; Toby rarely shares. Even though Ren is shallow, she is truly just an inexperienced person, trying to find her individual self. Atwood makes her extremely likeable, although when I thought back about her, there wasn't anything extremely compelling about her necessarily.

In fact, when I think about Jimmy, he is a rather ordinary person. Atwood is really marvelous at creating unique characters.

Think of this story as an interlude to where you left off. I can see how some people were let down. There isn't any resolution from the last book. However, you get more of a world view compared to Jimmy's narrow vision in the first.
The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester It wasn't until near the end that I truly realized the heaviness of Freudian influence in the Demolished Man.

The relationship between Barbara and Powell during Deja Eprouve. As she says to Reich: "When I grow up I'm going to marry Papa and be his girl for always." Which is an extremely creepy scene considering that she is in fact a grown woman thinking she is a young child. I imagined Reich's eyebrows furrowing together and mouth dropping open. And I got some pleasure out him him yelling and shaking her because it was super creepy.

The constant references to id, ego, and superego. Powell believes it was Reich's superego, aka conscience and want to be good and moral, that led him to want to turn himself in.

Reich killed his father, without knowing it (the id taking over), creating an Oedipal like plot. At least wasn't a mother figure involved, which would have made the story more strange, and more obviously Freudian.

The women in the story as so obviously female and demanding saving. That's a product of the times for sure. And the Demolished Man reads like pulp, noir fiction, and brainless female characters are a dime a dozen in those tales. It was written in the 1950s, so I give Bester a pass on this.

The true meaning of demolishing at the end surprised me. It is a kind of execution to the individual anyway. Just recycling their mind. I wonder what happens after someone has been demolished? Do they keep the skills, just not the memories?

Overall, I think the Demolished Man holds up well for the time it was written. It reads really easy and smooth, the action continually pumping, and the characters clashing.

I enjoyed that the story was not a who-dun-it, but a why-dun-it.

Which leads me to another question: How did Mose (super cop computer) decide it was a crime of passion based on the facts? That humans couldn't uncover the emotions behind it, but a computer could? Thought that was a bit strange.
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern - Anne McCaffrey The ending was extremely sad! Found myself close to tearing up, which is surprising considering that this book was quite a snoozefest for me.

I enjoyed the character Moreta. Compared to her biggest fan years later, Lessa, she is a nice mix of carefree and responsible, depending on the situation. I think she is my favorite Pern weyrwoman so far.

Sh'gall was a raving lunatic. Really one-dimensional character for a man. Alessan interested me, and I liked his "forbidden" romance with Moreta, but it was so backseat to the plot that it didn't bring this book up in my favor.

The plot was very slow. The focus is on an infection that has spread through Pern and is killing the majority of the population. The famous Moreta's Ride of lore doesn't happen until the very end of the story - which makes sense if you think of the outcome. However, the time leading up to this was tedious.

I thought there was too much dialogue and not enough adventure. The most adventure in the novel is the couple of times Moreta heals a dragon or a rider. Much of the story spends its time thinking about how the infection spread and how it can be stopped.

Just seemed like every scene was two people talking about what they could do. The middle part dragged on and on.

And I really tried to focus on all remembering all the secondary characters, but their names sound too similar, and no one ever seems to get a character description in Pern series. Probably part of the reason why it was hard for me to pay attention.

The Scottish Prisoner - Diana Gabaldon I just wasn't into The Scottish Prisoner as the rest of the Lord John Grey books. In fact, I thought that this installment focused more on Jamie rather than Lord John, which made me somewhat confused as this is a Lord John series book.

The ending of The Scottish Prisoner aligns near the time Jamie leaves Helwater and returns to Lallybroch. The time in the actual story is concentrated when Jamie has been at Helwater for about 3 years already.

As I've said before, I think Lord John acts ridiculous around Jamie and his behavior irritates me. It's like he loses some of his intelligence. When he is by himself, I find him quite an engaging character.

I found myself gravitating toward Hal and Minnie more. I wouldn't mind reading a short story with both of them. Have I been missing how interesting Minnie is???

I thought the plot was somewhat weak. Taking the focus off of Lord John as the sole main character, and placing half on Jamie, makes Lord John less interesting. The time in Ireland wasn't detailed enough as I expected. Except for the parts about the bog and the Wild Hunt, there wasn't much page time devoted to the Irish people or culture.

Quinn wasn't a very compelling character, especially for the role he ended up having in the end.

The Scottish Prisoner wasn't interesting enough for me to become enraptured by the story.
Lord John And The Hand Of Devils - Diana Gabaldon Lord John and the Hand of the Devils is one short story and two novellas.

My biggest question after reading this: why not publish all the Lord John stories in order?

I know they can be read out of order, but it makes more sense when you read them in order because of the relationships that develop among Lord John and other characters.

The Hellfire Club seemed too large of an idea to me for a short story. It ended rather abruptly, but then this was Gabaldon's first Lord John story.

The Succubus was my favorite. There is some detail about the beginning of the relationship between Lord John and Stephan von Namtzen. I will confess, in reading Brotherhood of the Blade, I didn't understand their connection; it had seemed random to me, as if Lord John had some really great gaydar, but now it is more clear. I simply read out of order!

The Haunted Soldier wasn't as great as Succubus, but it was ok, probably on par with the Private Matter.

I am not crazy about these mystery stories. Gabaldon shine when she gets time to write in detail and make intricate plot connections.

I just wasn't so interested in these. Not to say that they were a waste of my time, I still enjoyed them. Lord John stories seem lacking compared to Outlander. Like a bit more empty.
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade - Diana Gabaldon Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade has less mystery than the Private Matter and more character development. I missed the fun from the previous story.

Although this is a mystery - the mystery of Lord John's father's death that occurred twenty years ago - it is background to the relationships and experiences of Lord John.

I understand the motivations of Lord John far better after reading this. In the Outlander series, I disregarded him, and thought him to be rather arrogant. He annoyed me.

I couldn't see his appeal.

Now I realize that his scenes with Jamie are brimming with internal confusion. When he's not around Jamie, he is a very decent man. When around Jamie, I want to reach into the book and shake him.

Lord John has risen in my favor, but he hasn't outdone Claire or Jamie, or even any secondary characters in Outlander.

The mystery of Brotherhood of Blade can be confusing. There's a lot of names thrown around and I found it difficult to understand the role of each character. It took me a few re-reads of Lord John's visit with Bates to understand that Bates knew Lord John was gay, and was blackmailing him.

The relationship with Percy and Lord John was done well. Galabadon really made them two distinct individuals, although they have similarities. I was disappointed by no molly visits in this story. Those scenes were so intriguing in Private Matter.

I was surprised about Percy's ending. Lord John took a big risk, and it's something that could definitely cause a problem in the future.

I thought the novel was too long. Lord John isn't as interesting as Jamie and Claire. He is almost too good of a character in way. I would have liked more descriptions of the battles. There were more interesting to me than the London scenes.
Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon Lord John and Private Matter is a mystery, involving the titular character after leaving the Scottish prison, and returning to London. There are multiple suspects and intrigues, a few deaths, and whores galore.

I got the sense that this was a side of London Gabaldon wanted to write about, but it didn't fit into the story of Claire and Jamie. So she wrote about Lord John, and gave him the reins.

I feel neutral about Lord John. I don't like him nor dislike him. He doesn't come across as having much personality. He seems subdued and empty-like.

The mystery was intriguing. The explanation was really long, in Outlander fashion. The beginning of this story was a bit confusing with the different names and references, but it becomes easier as the book progresses.

As a standalone book, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't read Outlander. There's not enough exposition or background. However, if you're an Outlander fan there's no need for that. The story starts right away.
Voyager - Diana Gabaldon I am really, really surprised I enjoyed Voyager. Although not particularly liking Outlander to begin with, I continued on with the series, because I had the first four books anyway.

I have a tendency to enjoy reading the parts in this series when Claire and Jamie are not together. When they are apart, the storyline seems more focused to me. I am engaged in trying to discern how they will finally be together again.

When they actually are together, all sorts of random hoopla breaks out, and ten storylines are trying to weave themselves together. And I find their relationship to be kind of sickly sweet.

Maybe I am not that much of a fan of romance novels in general? I mean, Outlander made me roll my eyes and want to gag at the love fest going on.

I actually liked Claire in Voyager. Although she is continually selfish, I think her time spent as a doctor in her original time helped her mellow out and be more calm. I liked that she was always helping and providing medicine to others, no matter the possible risk to herself. She really redeemed herself in Voyager for me.

Jamie is so...unrealistic. I suppose that is the whole point of this series. Insanely loyal and devoted. I would have thought he would be half-crazed by now with everything he went through. He didn't seem that much changed over the course of twenty years. How is that possible???

I liked the Caribbean portions the most, although it was strange being so far away from Europe. Like Gabaldon and the reader were breaking an oath to Scotland.

I totally felt the Pirates of the Caribbean was an influence, but I didn't really care, because it was fun and entertaining.

The ending was crazy intense! This story really was a voyage, considering where everyone was at the beginning, and where everyone ended up. In no way could I have predicted much of what happened.

Overall, although Voyager is long, just like the previous two, I thought the pace was better. There certainly was lot of action and mystery happening constantly. Lots of intense experiences back to back with no break.

I am wary of what the next book will bring. I really wanted them to stay in the Caribbean. Colonial America seems boring to me....
Dragondrums - Anne McCaffrey I wasn't interested in Piemur as much as Menolly. There is the same theme as being taunted by peers. Really, Piemur's story is a simple variation on Menolly's and it doesn't end up being very interesting.

I thought it was drawn out and there was very little of an engaging story. A short story probably could have sufficed instead.

Really brings down the Harper Hall triology.
House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves totally sucked me in. The book is shorter than it seems, but then also longer than it seems. A contradictory statement, I am aware. You get lots of blank page with little text and then pages and page of interpolated commentary.

It's kind of like a modern day Borges horror story meets A&E television programing.

Reading House of Leaves is a different experience than most books. I was thoroughly creeped out in the middle of the book. I found it lessened towards the end, probably due to the shift from the focus on the situation to the personal experiences.

It is hard to explain what House of Leaves is truly about. There's the story within a story within a story bit and then a whole tractor trailer of symbolism and hidden meanings that makes you question what Danielewski was ultimately trying to get at. Not a clear answer to this, honestly.

If you like a book with a conclusive ending and firm endings, then stay way clear of House of Leaves.

The books reads like a long academic essay, akin to a thesis. The primary focus is on the documentary - The Navidson Record - and the copious summarizing, descriptions, citations and interpretations by Zampano. Interspersed among the footnotes are additional footnotes by Johnny, a third party who has found the manuscript and trying to make sense of everything, and he often spouts off long ramblings about his life.

Throw on top of that the "Editors" who have received the manuscript from Johnny and add information about his life in Appendix II.

In some ways, I can understand how others don't like the Johnny portions. His part just isn't as intriguing as the baffling physics of the house. However, I do think it works alongside the documentary.

I don't want to give away spoilers in the review, so I'll keep my theories quiet. There's so much in this book that I could spend hours talking to someone about it. And then probably not end up any more conclusive that I already am. In fact, I am sure I missed out on some things.

It does get long-winded, but I couldn't stop thinking about the story whenever I put House of Leaves down.
Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage - Joe Darger;Alina Darger;Vicki Darger;Valerie Darger;Brooke Adams Better written than the Brown's memoirs of polygamy, probably due to the addition of Brooke Adams.

I did actually learn a few things about Fundamental Mormonism. I can certainly see the deep devotion the Dargers have to their religion. It doesn't even come off as particularly fanatical or way out of line. The Dargers try very hard to portray themselves are regular, every day Americans. I think they achieve it in this book to the best of their ability.

I still have lingering questions about the religion. It's so secretive! I suppose in this regard it makes it hard to accept polygamy when there are some really strange concepts in Mormonism to begin with.

The tone of the book was positive. It does show that not all polygamous marriages are full of abuse. Yet, a common theme that does arise is poverty and the use of the welfare system.

Each of the wives and Joe have their own sections. They tell their story in chronological order from each of their perspectives. At the end, there are three sections from three of the older children.

Loves Times Three is polygamy through rose-colored glasses. It's the other side of the sensationalized FLDS compounds. The Dargers seem like nice, respectable people, who distance themselves from others in their religion who do wrong, and live relatively normal lives in the suburbs.

I guess what I really need to read is a well-researched, comprehensive book about Mormonism to satisfy my curiosities.
Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage - Kody Brown, Meri Brown, Christine Brown, Robyn Brown Becoming Sister Wives is a depressing read, no doubt about it.

My expectation of the book was that it would be anecdotal about the upbringings of each of the adults and the daily life of the family, possibly even delving into their religion.

However, the focus is on the emotional hardships and difficulties the wives have experienced among themselves and Kody. It almost seems like in each of the sections, a wife was talking about depression or jealousy, or hitting rock bottom with Kody.

I respect they are each being completely honest with their feelings. I wonder if any of them read the other's portion before publishing?

Most of the book felt sloppily put together. There was too much tip-toeing around the facts of a particular situation to make Becoming Sister Wives interesting. I can only take so much of the continuing conflict of each wife being completely sure that the other wife needed to belong in the family, but essentially hate her guts every day.

I really didn't get the message that having sister wives is the best thing ever, as they are always promoting on the show. What I got out of this book is that having sister wives is extremely difficult - which completely proves the reality of the whole situation instead of sugarcoating it for tv - and that none of the wives are actually comfortable with the other three at this point in time.

I was surprised that there are barely any religious references for a family that is fundamentalist mormon. There wasn't much of an attempt to educate on the topic. There are only brief glimpses into the religious life.

If you like the show, then reading the book won't hurt. It's very easy to read. There's not much to get out of it in terms of facts. Just a lot of whining and depressing talk.
Paramedic to the Prince: An American Paramedic's Account of Life Inside the Mysterious World of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Patrick (Tom) Notestine An engaging assortment of stories. The book lacked a direction, although each chapter seemed to revolve around a particular theme. Stories are interspersed among each other, sometimes quite randomly and without setup.

Paramedic to the Prince is a decent idea of a story. However, it doesn't have the clarity and depth to really bring it to the next level.

If the book was a work of fiction, using a paramedic in Saudi Arabia during this time period, it would be very intriguing. In a fictional account, there would be more of a cohesive plot, but then that is probably a curse of most memoirs - their tendency to ramble.

Paramedic to the Prince is a bunch of random events the author found most intriguing during his life in Saudi Arabia. I thought there were portions that seemed a bit "gossipy" about those he used to work with that didn't really add much to the story. Additionally, I thought there were some stories that could have been elaborated in more detail and been fantastic.

Just to note, the author is only a paramedic to the Crown Prince in the second third of the story, so I don't know if the title is the best for describing his experiences.

Even with its faults, I breezed through this, and it's an easy read. It's fun to read, it's just lacking polish.
The Power of Ashtanga Yoga: Developing a Practice That Will Bring You Strength, Flexibility, and Inner Peace--Includes the complete Primary Series - Kino MacGregor In general, it is difficult to write and photograph yoga in order for it to be an instructive material. The nature of yoga is movement, and a lot is learned through one's own experimentation and from others.

The Power of Ashtanga Yoga is thorough. The book is broken into two sections: theory and practice. Even if you have other books which describe and show poses, the theory section is worthwhile.

Kino goes into detail about the importance aspects of the practice, interspersing small facts about her own experiences. You get about 50 pages of theory. She has many recommendations and suggestions for practitioners. She details the yogic philosophy in an easy manner without getting too complicated.

I can't really say that this is an introductory book to yoga. That is not to say that ashtanga isn't for beginners, but it would be beneficial to go to a class or at least watch a video of ashtanga and then go through the book. However, I think this is more a limitation of a printed book as a medium for yoga instruction.

One helpful appendix is the sanskrit vinyasa count of all the poses, which lists inhalation and exhalation along with the count.

I think her descriptions of the poses are done well. She really goes into a lot of detail and while reading, everything made sense to me. I didn't find any portions where it seemed to skip a step.

There are modifications for beginners and advanced practictioners.

Kino has a really positive attitude, which comes through in this book. I have put this next to my yoga mat and have been referencing it every day since I have received it. Because it's a larger book, the book and the pages stay open by themselves - quite handy while practicing.