Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life by Douglas T. Kenrick

Subtitle: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature)

Review based on ARC

This was, for me, someone without much of a background in "evolutionary psychology," interesting and thought provoking. I appreciated that the author presented the theory without dumbing it down too much, while still making it accessible to someone who is interested in psychology but doesn't quite have the time to really focus on it.

The author expresses his theories on how our natural inclinations toward selfishness and pleasure have often given way to the some of society's greatest achievements. He uses anecdotes, including personal ones, to offer examples of his theories and, ultimately, makes the book intriguing and entertaining, without really losing sight of his "sciency" theories.

Whether, in the end, you agree with Mr. Kenrick and the other evolutionary psychologists or not, it is worth reading this fascinating exploration of our motivations and how they move society and individuals forward in a productive way (or, at least someone's theory of that ;)).

Definitely recommend for the curious reader.
FOUR of five stars.

Haazinu (Listen Up): A Book of Prophecy by Yerachmiel Ben-Yishye

Review based on ARC.

This is an intellectually stimulating novel exploring religious beliefs and personal philosophies. I have read that some readers have been offended or confused, but I found that if you take the novel as it is presented, and do not impose your own or society's expectations on it, it was an enjoyable read.

It explores several aspects of the jewish faith, of which I have limited exposure, purportedly through a group therapy session for the terminally ill. The interweaving relationships of the men in the therapy group, combined with the riddle they ultimately attempt to solve keeps the novel engaging and the reader thinking.

As usual, I do not wish to spoil any of what the reader will discover, but I recommend to someone who is open minded about religious and philosophical beliefs and who is looking for a "thinker."

THREE of five stars.

Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa

Review based on ARC.

I really enjoyed this book. It has taken me altogether too long to get through it, but that has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my crazy life. In fact, escaping my crazy life and entering Adam's was just the thing I needed.

The book starts off with a letter from the Director of Counseling Services at the institute. I thought this was a clever and well done intro to the novel. I was immediately intrigued and impressed with the author's presentation of this perspective.

The adolescent love story in this novel is compelling and entertaining, to say the least. Adam meets his love on the way back to the mental institution and from that point forward begins an unhealthy (not surprising) obsession. Of course it wouldn't be an adolescent love story if the feelings were mutual.

Without ruining any of the story, I will say that I was pleased with the author's take on obsession and very happy to have been graced with this book. It is dark and engaging. Just how I like things. ;)

Definitely recommend.
FOUR of five stars.