Dinosaurs: The Grand Tour is a remarkably well-encompassing resource, covering everything from polar dinosaurs (yes, you read that right) to a dinosaur three times taller than a giraffe. The information is presented in such a way that a layperson can follow along without feeling overwhelmed by scientific jargon. The author even included a pronunciation guide for the dinosaurs’ tongue-twisting names.
One of the main selling points of this book is the fact that it’s currently one of the most up-to-date resources on dinosaurs, with a publication date of 2019. Considering how quickly the field of paleontology continues to evolve, resources that were up-to-date ten years ago soon become... well… prehistoric. Notably, it’s also the second edition and has been expanded and updated since the original was published in 2016. Since I didn’t read the first edition, I can’t comment on how the two editions compare, but from what I can tell, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more cutting-edge resource on dinosaurs.
The illustrations are also nicely done, especially the color pieces that encompass two pages. It should be noted that most of the illustrations are not in color, so if you’re looking for a coffee table book, you might be disappointed. Still, the illustrations are beautiful as a whole and complement the text nicely.
Speaking of color, Pim explains how scientists have used fossilized pigment cells to determine both the colors of certain dinosaurs and the physical advantages these colors might have conferred. Considering this topic has been a source of mystery for many years, this section was particularly illuminating.
Finally, the quizzes peppered throughout the book are engaging and help you retain what you’ve learned. The author also includes an answer key at the back of the book, so if you don’t feel like hunting for the answer, you can always cheat.
Overall, I would recommend this resource to anyone interested in dinosaurs and paleontology in general.
Tangerine by Christine Mangan portrays a toxic friendship between two former Bennington College roommates who are reunited in Tangier in 1956. One friend, Alice Shipley has been psychologically fragile since the childhood deaths of her parents in a house fire. She is married to John who does something secretive for "the government" in newly-independent Morocco. Lucy Mason, who connected with Alice through their shared orphanhood, has ditched a disappointing job and suddenly shown up at Alice’s door. She hopes to pry Alice from her dissatisfying marriage for a series of globe-trotting adventures they imagined in college. Both characters serve as flawed narrators -- Alice has a loose grip on reality while Lucy actively denies it.
The novel is at its best when Lucy tries to force a wedge between Alice and John, who is having an affair but depends on Alice's family trust to live comfortably. The romantic triangle turns this 2018 novel into a melodrama set against the intrigue of 1950s's North Africa. It's reminiscent of a slightly-hokey Hollywood movie of the same era. The book cover even features a woman of the period who could pass for actress Ingrid Bergman. That's the novel's charm (nostalgia) and its undoing (little original) in this enjoyable read.
Waking up with a fierce hangover and blood (not his own) on his hands and clothes is a bad way to start the day, even for Harry Hole, Oslo's brilliant, flawed and self-destructive homicide detective. Bestselling author Jo Nesbo has penned his grittiest story yet in Knife (2019), the 12th Harry Hole (pronounced HO-Leh in Norwegian) novel in the international bestselling Scandinavian crime series. As always, there's a detailed plot, a grim atmosphere, quick pacing, convincing red herrings, and at the center of it all, the alcoholic Hole trying to hold his career, family and life together. Trying, not succeeding. Fans of this series will not be disappointed as Hole faces down his darkest personal challenge yet in this page-turner.
Marshall McEwan, a successful Washington D.C. journalist, returns to his hometown of Bienville, Mississippi to take over his dying father's newspaper business. He encounters his childhood love, Jet Talal, who is married into a powerful family and whose husband rules the town through an exclusive poker club. The poker club has offered salvation to the town through the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. Along with that power, Marshall discovers, is corruption and how far reaching it is, going generations back. Ilse will keep you on the edge of your seat and you won't want to put this book down!!
One afternoon in a small town in Mississippi, a gunman comes through the doors of a reproductive clinic and shoots several employees and keeps everyone else hostage. Police hostage negotiator, Hugh McElroy, is distraught to discover that his 15 year old daughter, Wren, is one of several people caught inside. The story starts at the end of the day and winds its way backwards, unfolding the backstory of the hostages as well as the gunman.
Picoult once again takes on a tough and controversial subject and demonstrates there are many sides to every story, including a twist ending. A great read to consider, since we had such a situation happen here in Colorado Springs several years ago.
"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way", were the words of Martin Luther King. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with 20 years of experience and she is black. During her shift, when she goes to check the newborn child of white supremacist parents,she is immediately reassigned away from the baby. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while she is alone in the nursery. She hesitates before giving CPR and as a result is charged with a serious crime. Sadly, this novel takes place in current times and displays the discrepancy and inequality that still exists in our country. As with many of her other novels, Picoult does an incredible job of telling the story from several characters' point of view and shows us, that nothing is truly black or white.
The Family that Couldn’t Sleep is a bit of a misnomer. Although the underlying thread revolves around a mysterious and terrifying disease called fatal insomnia, multiple chapters are devoted to other diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as mad cow disease) and kuru (a fatal neurodegenerative disorder thought to be caused by cannibalism). All of these conditions are caused by mutations in prions, which are proteins of the central nervous system.
Most of the information on these diseases is fascinating, though some of the more technical information might require several re-reads if you’re a non-specialist (like me). Also, if you picked up this book wanting to learn exclusively about fatal insomnia, you might find yourself wanting to skip some of the other chapters.
Even so, this book provides a fascinating look at the tragic nature of fatal insomnia, especially the Italian family genetically predisposed to it. You’ll find yourself both sympathizing with them and horrified by the unrelenting nature of the disease.
I would recommend The Family that Couldn’t Sleep to anyone who is interested in prion diseases or epidemiology in general.
If you’re a fan of British detective novels, What You Left Behind is a great read. It follows Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher, who can’t catch a break from fighting crime even when she’s on vacation. While visiting her sister, Lorraine finds herself investigating a cluster of teenage suicides, wondering if there’s more to their deaths than meets the eye. At the same time, Lorraine’s nephew Freddie sinks into a deep depression, and despite her efforts to reach him, his mother worries he’ll be the next victim.
Although this novel has elements of mystery, it’s more of a thriller than a traditional “whodunit.” But there are plenty of surprising reveals to keep you turning the pages, including a twist ending that you won’t see coming.
While the subject matter might be too dark for some, What You Left Behind provides an unflinching look at the damaging effects of bullying and the lengths we’ll go to keep secrets.
You might know Richard Preston from his nonfiction thriller The Hot Zone or Micro, a techno-thriller Michael Crichton started before his untimely death in 2008. Although the subject matter of The Wild Trees is very different from these works, it continues Preston’s trend of combining scientific detail with narrative finesse. Specifically, this book focuses on the California redwoods, but readers will learn as much about the redwoods themselves as they will about the men and women who study them. Steve Sillett, for instance, started climbing redwoods freehand without any equipment to break his fall. Considering some redwoods are nearly 400 feet tall, this feat is as awe-inspiring as it is terrifying.
This book also provides fascinating detail on redwood canopies, which house salamanders, copepods (a type of crustacean), and even other trees! Thanks to Preston’s meticulous research and eye-popping descriptions, readers will feel like they’re exploring the redwoods alongside him.
The Wild Trees is a must-read for anyone who loves the redwoods or nature in general.
Is your friendship strong enough to defeat a demon? High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen find out after an evening skinny-dipping in 1988 outside Charleston, S.C. goes awry. Gretchen is no longer the same girl who's been
Abby's best friend since fourth grade. She's moody and irritable. Not unusual for a teen, but then odd things begin happening whenever she's around. What's a friend to do?
While this title is considered adult fiction, this hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist and its themes of teen angst and adolescent drama makes this a novel that can be enjoyed by adults who remember Esprit shirts and big hair or by young adults who identify with being a social outsider.
A debut collection of short stories by Bosnian feminist Asja Bakic who uses dystopian, science and speculative fiction techniques to shine a light on gender relations through lenses of eroticism, skewed humor and horror. The stories are a series of twisted universes set in the former Yugoslavia and Mars. The main characters must make sense of their strange reality whether they are a woman who will be freed from purgatory once she writes the perfect book (Day Trip to Durmitor), a woman who awakens with no memory before learning the truth about herself (Abby) to another meeting her clone (Asja 5.0).
A thoroughly entertaining account of how far modern humans have come and how often they messed it up in groan-worthy ways despite best intentions. Journalist and humor writer Tom Phillips relies on sound scholarship to inform, entertain and maybe demoralize (in a funny way) the reader. Examples run the gamut from a Chinese emperor who stored gunpowder in his palace then hosted a lantern festival, the inadvertent forensics pioneer/lawyer defending an accused murderer who proved to the jury that the victim may have accidentally shot himself by accidentally shooting himself, the Austrian army that attacked itself one drunken night, and other equally spectacular blunders of modern times.
This is the first in a new Young Adult series. It features a girl, Yumeko, who is a half-fox demon. She is tasked with taking an ancient scroll to a secret monk. With the help of Tatsumi, a samurai-esque boy who also wants the scroll, she begins her dangerous journey. The book is overall a fun read, but is more suited to a younger audience or fans of anime. Throughout the book, I found myself nostalgically reliving DragonBall Z, Inuyasha, Samurai Champloo, and Rurouni Kenshin. The severity of their mission with the familiar tropes from beloved manga and anime had me smiling...but the story itself is not one that I feel obliged to finish. I would recommend this title to any anime-fan in your life or young adults needing a quick, action-filled read.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever done something awkward. Now, raise your hand if you enjoyed that moment.
I’m willing to bet there’s not a single person in the world who would raise their hand in response to the second question. All of us hate awkward moments because they’re… well… awkward.
But in her hilarious book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, Melissa Dahl proposes that we learn to laugh at our awkward moments. In doing so, we can feel less alone.
Sounds pretty interesting, right? But Dahl goes one step further. She says that by actively seeking out awkward activities, we can diminish the power they have over us.
Some examples of these deliberately awkward activities include singing “Mary had a Little Lamb” in public, going to a crowded restaurant and asking a group of complete strangers to listen to your maid of honor / best man speech, and reading an embarrassing entry from your diary out loud to a live audience.
If the idea of doing any one of these activities sounds terrifying to you, you’re not alone. Indeed, the book opens with Dahl feeling like she’s in a waking nightmare as she reads an entry from her middle school diary out loud to a live audience.
But as Dahl later explains, these deliberately awkward activities are a form of exposure therapy prescribed by cognitive behavior therapists to help their patients navigate the realm of social anxiety. And it’s in anecdotes like these that the book’s strengths really shine through, as Dahl does an excellent job of balancing her own experiences of awkwardness with the more scientific aspects of social anxiety. The result is a book that’s both refreshingly honest and unusually grounded for a topic as seemingly trivial as awkwardness. Highly recommended for anyone who’s ever experienced the
discomfort of awkwardness (which is everyone… right?)
Fans of Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk series may be surprised to find that her latest outing is a standalone novel. But make no mistake: The Lost Man is every bit as riveting as The Dry and Force of Nature. It follows the Bright family as they’re forced to come to terms with a very personal loss. Before his death, Cameron was a charismatic and successful rancher and father of two, leading his family to wonder what could have possibly compelled him to venture into the unrelenting Outback alone.
Cameron’s younger brother Nathan is the main character and quite a sympathetic one at that. Divorced, disgraced, and utterly alone, Nathan stands in stark contrast to his older brother Cameron. His story will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like they’ve hit rock bottom.
Though Harper is known for her mystery novels, the mystery surrounding Cameron’s death in some ways takes a backseat to the family dynamics at work before--and after--Cameron’s death. In other words, the characters, not the plot take center stage here.
Readers who enjoy expert characterization, vivid sensory descriptions, and realistic depictions of family drama will feel right at home with The Lost Man.
You may recognize Candice Fox as the coauthor of James Patterson’s Harriet Blue series, which includes titles like Never Never, Fifty Fifty, and Liar Liar. But with Gone by Midnight, the third book in her critically acclaimed Crimson Lake series, Fox has shown that her work deserves a place on every mystery lover’s shelf.
Like the previous two entries (Crimson Lake and Redemption Point), Gone by Midnight follows the wrongfully accused former policeman Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. In this latest outing, Ted and Amanda are
tasked with investigating the disappearance of 8-year-old Richie Farrow, who seemingly vanished without a trace from his hotel room. Ted and Amanda are two of crime fiction's most original private detectives with Ted’s love for his pet geese and Amanda’s penchant for rhyming and sponge cake. The banter between them peppers the prose with some genuinely hilarious moments.
In addition, the plot moves along at a brisk pace, with plenty of subplots to keep readers’ interest, including Ted’s relationship with his 2-year-old daughter and Amanda’s dealings with a local biker gang.
Anyone looking for a locked room mystery with a bit of Aussie flare should look no further than this thoroughly entertaining romp.
James Nestor’s book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves is both literally and figuratively the most breathtaking book I’ve ever read. It’s literally breathtaking because it’s about freediving, AKA diving sans scuba equipment, an activity as awe-inspiring as it is dangerous. (Side effects may include death, blood squirting out of your nose, mouth, and eyeballs, and paralysis.) Herbert Nitsch, the world’s self-proclaimed “deepest man” dove more than 800 feet on a single breath without using a scuba tank. And he lived to tell the tale.
Deep is also figuratively breathtaking because it reveals some of the most awe-inspiring facts about our ocean that you’ll ever read. Freediving is the only way to see sperm whales up close and personal. These behemoths' brains are shockingly similar to our own and allow them to communicate using a click-based language. Resulting studies have even shown that sperm whales have their own culture and distinct accents.
But freediving with sperm whales is, naturally, not without risks. Sperm whales’ clicks are so loud, their pulsations can literally kill us. One intrepid freediver found his hand temporarily paralyzed when a sperm whale greeted him with a click.
Deep is the rare sort of nonfiction book that reads like a thriller novel. Every page is chock-full of awe-inspiring revelations that will make you look at the sea with a sense of wonder typically reserved for children. Scientific journalism has never been this entertaining.
Boneshaker is the novel that kicks off Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" series - one of the most widely acclaimed book series in the Steampunk genre. Boneshaker explores an alternate history of the United States during the Civil War era. The plot centers around Briar Wilkes, the widow of the infamous Leviticus Blue - inventor of the titular boring machine that he was commissioned to create, in order to retrieve the vast veins of gold that are hiding under the thick ice of Alaska in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. During a devastating test run, the Boneshaker destroys the foundations of a good portion of Seattle, killing many, and releasing a dangerous gas that turns survivors into zombies. Leviticus disappears, and walls are erected around Seattle to contain the "blight" gas, and the "rotters". Briar does her best to survive and raise her son Zeke in the "Outskirts" of Seattle, suffering the prejudice shown to both of them, due to her husband's actions. Zeke is convinced that he can prove that his father was innocent, and that the destruction was purely unintentional, so he journeys beneath the wall, into Seattle to find the evidence he needs. Unlike Leviticus, Zeke's
grandfather (Maynard Wilkes) is revered as a folk hero, having lost his life in the exodus of Seattle, freeing inmates from the prison. Zeke feels this may help him if he runs into trouble within Seattle's walls. When Briar finds Zeke gone, and what his intentions are, she arms herself with Maynard's accoutrements and catches an air ship over the wall, to search for her son. Separately, Briar and Zeke find people who help to save them from being devoured by the "rotters", and attempt to aid them in their respective searches. Briar learns of the mysterious Dr. Minnericht who seems to run the
doomed city within the walls, and that many are convinced that he is in fact, Leviticus Blue (something she doesn't believe). When events draw Briar and Zeke both into Dr. Minnericht's stronghold, it seems the heart of the mystery
will be resolved with this fateful meeting.
Boneshaker is an epic foray into a dystopian alternate universe, and readers of various genres, are sure to find many wonders to be fascinated by in this version of Washington's famous "Emerald City".
In addition to physical book and audiobook formats, Boneshaker can also be downloaded and enjoyed at home, in either ebook or eaudiobook form.
This is the book to read when you're up for lofty prose fiction that's readable, sophisticated, and becomes gradually more and more that of a delightful meandering upon a grandeur of intricate reminiscence, which, though, it may seem a meandering at first, reveals itself soon to be very much otherwise, instead, the exact opposite—this author never wanders, never guesses, but totally knows where he's expertly taking you—Evelyn Waugh, I realized, was truly a master, he absolutely wins the contest for your literary respect, telling, not a delightful, but a painful story remembered in part from the initial mobilizing of the second world war back to the 1920s, with a thoroughly nostalgic march forward in time from then, a growing up story in an exceedingly high society, I mean, not just aristocratic, like you'd expect in a novel written in the kind of British high style of Brideshead Revisited, but cream of the crop top, the tiptop aristo-of the-cratic. Waugh's writing is proportionately as great as this reviewer's is stilted. This book deserves your time. I put off reading it for a long time. I thought it might be impenetrable. I wonder what's like to listen to?
This is a character driven novel that develops multiple sub-plots that get tied up in very satisfying ways. For well over 900 pages it clips along with humor, romance, and suspense. It does this in an atmosphere of 1980s Bombay mafia, narrated by a character who calls himself, among other things, a philosopher. He convinced me. It's loaded with well written and well thought out reflections by a fictional person who you suspect is the spokesperson for the author's own lived experience. If you google it you'll see that there's a cult following to this book. It's an international bestseller by an author whose backstory is quite intriguing, to the point where fact and fiction coalesce. I don't easily stick with a purported page-turner that is even one inch thick, but this is a brick's worth of good storytelling that won't be a waste of your life.