Day: June 23, 2018

A Gardener\’s Miscellany
by Allen Lacy

Enjoyed this one very much. It\’s another collection of little gardening essays, a man speaking from his own experience. He is obsessed with daffodils, praises or criticizes a great many other plants, expresses irritation at silly-sounding plants names in catalogs and limited selection in nursery stock. Describes many doings in his own yard and garden, and also describes a few others that he knew well- even if he never met the gardener. Each little essay feels too short- but rich with insight and lively with humor (even if he\’s poking gentle fun at himself). I definitely want to find more of his writings.

Rating: 4/5           259 pages, 1980

Animorphs #4
by K.A. Applegate

The five Animorphs get some strong hints that a piece of an Andalite spaceship may be crashed in the ocean nearby, and the alien enemies are zeroing in on it. Two of them are also having strange dreams, hearing calls for help. They decide they must find what\’s in the ocean, so they morph into dolphins. They handle the time constrictions a little better this time around; Tobias-the-hawk carries a watch now so he can remind them when they\’ve been in animal form too long. They manage to travel long distances without getting stuck in dolphin form by flying partway as seagulls, and stowing away on a cargo ship as themselves. Still some awkwardness in their plans, complications they just don\’t think of beforehand. As dolphins they run into sharks, and get help from a whale. I suppose since the Animorphs can communicate mentally, receiving messages in dreams and speaking telepathically with real whales shouldn\’t be so odd, but it still struck me as a little out there. What they encounter in the ocean- well, let\’s say the last few chapters did take me by surprise. It looked like they were doomed to fail, but the aliens showed a surprising vulnerability. And they find a young Andalite (Ax is the shortened name they give him) who had been left behind when all his companions died in the war. That character caught my interest again- his apparent standoffish manner, the gulf of their understanding. It made the last two chapters better than all the rest, the foil of alien nature. There\’s also a kind of moral dilemma arising in Cassie\’s mind- she feels uneasy with her struggle against the animal nature when morphing, compares it to how the aliens enslave humans. Others point out this isn\’t a fair comparison: they are acquiring DNA and becoming a new animal individual, not actually taking over the mind of an existing animal. Still, it\’s something to think about.

Yet for some reason, I didn\’t enjoy this book as much as the others so far. The writing is not quite as good. There were several parts where the phrasing seemed downright juvenile- not as if it were aimed at a young audience, but as if the writing wasn\’t polished. The animal transformation scenes didn\’t captivate me as much, either (and those are really what I read it for). If this is a hint of quality to come, I don\’t know how far I\’ll keep reading in the series. The opening scene where Cassie morphed into a squirrel to spy on a fox- that one was a bit funny in spite of her panic.

Borrowed from the public library

Rating: 2/5                154 pages, 1996

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All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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