The coelacanth was a fish that many thought had went extinct 70 million years ago. No fossils of this fish have been found since then. Imagine the surprise when a live specimen was found in 1938. It turns out the coelacanth is not extinct at all but lives off the southern coast of Africa and India. Since 1938 researchers have been looking for and studying these amazing fish. There are still lots of things we don’t know about the coelacanth, but researchers and ichthyologists are still looking for answers. Sally Walker did a great job detailing the hunt for these prehistoric fish. The way this book was written really builds anticipation for each discovery. I loved the many photos and illustrations and the details included by Walker. Highly readable nonfiction.
Anubis finally gets to tell his story, or rather Ra’s story, in this entertaining and highly readable nonfiction book. The book details Ra’s journey through the underworld each night, what each hour of the journey entails and how Apophis tries to stop Ra. Along the way, Anubis also gives the reader a lot of detail on ancient Egyptian life, who the gods are and how they came to be and Egyptian myths and stories. Anubis must have been a pretty entertaining god because he is funny! I loved how he speaks directly to his audience and even includes them in the journey through the underworld. I thought his asides were hilarious. Books on Egyptian mythology are always popular and I think kids will respond really well to this one. I hope there is an entire series like this!
If you decide to read the Grumpy Cat book, you are stupid and no one cares. This book is filled with unwanted and provoked sarcasm and I love it. Finally an opponent worthy of my wit. If you’re not miserable then you are not living your life right. I hate morning people…I hate mornings and I hate people. Frankly, I hate this cat.
On December 6, 1917, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia was devastated by the largest man-made explosion. Two ships collided in the harbor, one carrying explosives. The shockwave and tsunami destroyed most of the town and left thousands dead, injured and homeless. Sally Walker takes us through the events leading up to the explosion, the aftermath and the recovery. She introduces us to several families whose lives were devastated and irrevocably changed that day. This is the kind of nonfiction I like to read. Walker gives us all the facts, but she includes personal accounts and writes in a narrative style that is extremely easy to read. I loved all the photos of the destruction that she included in this book. They really help illustrate just how destructive the explosion was. What really got me though was the stories of help from near and far, the doctors and nurses who worked around the clock, the soldiers and sailors who tirelessly searched for survivors, the workers who collected the dead and carefully cataloged them. All of these stories break your heart, but they also help you realize just how wonderful human beings can be when they see someone in need.
From Graham Nash–the legendary musician and founding member of the iconic bands Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Hollies–comes a candid and riveting autobiography that belongs on the reading list of every classic rock fan.
Graham Nash’s songs defined a generation and helped shape the history of rock and roll–he’s written over 200 songs, including such classic hits as “Carrie Anne,” “On A Carousel,” “Simple Man,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express,” and “Teach Your Children.” From the opening salvos of the British Rock Revolution to the last shudders of Woodstock, he has rocked and rolled wherever music mattered. Now Graham is ready to tell his story: his lower-class childhood in post-war England, his early days in the British Invasion group The Hollies; becoming the lover and muse of Joni Mitchell during the halcyon years, when both produced their most introspective and important work; meeting Stephen Stills and David Crosby and reaching superstardom with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and his enduring career as a solo musician and political activist. Nash has valuable insights into a world and time many think they know from the outside but few have experienced at its epicenter, and equally wonderful anecdotes about the people around him: the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Cass Elliot, Dylan, and other rock luminaries. From London to Laurel Canyon and beyond, “Wild Tales” is a revealing look back at an extraordinary life–with all the highs and the lows; the love, the sex, and the jealousy; the politics; the drugs; the insanity–and the sanity–of a magical era of music.
Paleontologists have done for Dinosaurs as Astronomers have done for the Ex-Planet Pluto. Pluto is No longer considered a planet, and Brontosaurus is No longer the name of a dinosaur, rather it is the Ex-Name of Apatosaurus. What happened is that overly enthusiastic paleontologists discovered “new” species or even new genuses when they found slightly different skeletons. Othniel Marsh was quiet prolific in this respect.
Brian Swintek weaves the story of his childhood fascination wit h dinosaurs into this scientific history of dinosaurs and our knowledge about them. Like Swintek, I was myself was interested in dinosaurs as a kid, especially pterodactyls. I was entranced with the mural and skeleton of pteranodons in the New York Natural History Museum. You turned around a corner and entered a 3-story high exhibition room with a pteranodon skeleton aloft in the air, then as your rounded the corner fully you saw this 3 story mural of pteranodons perched on a cliffside with the beach and ocean behind them. I visited this museum 3 different times in my life separated by 10 years each time, and I always found myself entranced with this display.
Also, did you know that Dinosaurs still roam the earth? or should I say flit about. All birds are a subgroup of dinosaurs.
Another great offering in the Lost and Found series. This one deals with lost treasurers such as the terracotta army and the dead sea scrolls. We also learn about the Mildenhall Treasure found in a Suffolk field. A chest of Roman silver hidden under the ground was unearthed by a farmer. It was a rare hoard of highly decorated silver that was 2000 years old.
I really like the format of this series. There is a two page spread on the history of the lost city and then a two page spread on how it was found. There are great little nuggets of history that will whet your appetite for more information. Everyone has heard of Pompeii and Machu Picchu, but little is known of Skara Brae or Akrotiri. It really made me want to find out more.
Mary Roach is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. Not only are the subjects she chooses to write about fascinating, but her writing style is both humorous and educational. She takes topics that most people don’t think about or want to think about, like dead people and digestion, and makes you want to learn more. I am always amazed at the people she finds to interview, the resources she uses and the topics she chooses to discuss. Gulp is all about our digestive system from one end to the other. Your average person doesn’t really want to know that much about the processes of the alimentary canal. As long as things are working properly we are ok in our ignorance. Not Mary; she wants all the dirty little details and she wants to share them with us. After reading several of her books I really do believe poop might be one of her favorite subjects since she incorporates mention of it in a lot of her books. I learned many things in this book: cows chew a mouthful of food up to 40 times; rats and rabbits eat their poop to get needed nutrients and without it their growth will be stunted; Elvis died due to an enlarged colon and constipation. Seriously! There is a disease that causes your colon to not push things through which causes it to be enlarged and you to have constipation. There are documented cases of 28 inch colons (average is 3 inches or so). Elvis could change waist sizes by several inches depending on whether he had gone to the bathroom that week. While these things might seem like stories you would read in the National Enquirer, Roach backs them all up with research studies and interviews of scientists. I will definitely continue reading everything she chooses to study as I haven’t found a clunker yet.
Frances and her parents move in with Elsie’s family in Yorkshire during the Great War. Behind the house, in the beck (creek), Frances starts seeing fairies. One day she tells her family what she sees and Elsie says she sees them too. The adults want proof so the girls create fairy cutouts and take pictures with the fairies. Somehow word gets out and none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle starts corresponding with the girls to learn more about the fairies. Edward Garner starts lecturing around the country on the Cottingly fairies. The girls are forced to keep up their charade in order to avoid getting into trouble. They take another set of photos, but even that doesn’t stop the attention. They kept their secrets about doctoring the photos until almost the end of their lives; finally coming clean as elderly women. Mary Losure does a great job of telling Frances and Elsie’s stories. This was a very interesting and entertaining little book.
In theory, this is a great book. For those who don’t know the first thing about dog’s body language, this is a good primer. It’s a fairly concise pictorial guide divided up by types of behavior (gestures, sounds, etc.) that describes the action/behavior, tells why your dog does it and what a vet’s recommendations for addressing that behavior are. My main problem is that, much like humans searching WebMD, every behavior might start to be seen as cause for concern. Seriously, there’s a bit on “Why does my dog pant?” with a warning about what to do for dogs who might pant too much (without describing what might be considered excessive). Another fun one: dogs moving in their sleep (shocking conclusion: dogs dream! advice: let them dream! warning: it could be a seizure!).
So, yeah. If you want to know why your dog is doing things you probably already know the answer to, but just really want validation anyway, this is the book for you. I may have picked up a thing or two from this book, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the fact that it didn’t really seem to address any of the behaviors my mutts were displaying (i.e. the reason I checked this book out in the first place).
Frances was nine when she first saw the fairies. They were tiny men, dressed all in green. Nobody but Frances saw them, so her cousin Elsie painted paper fairies and took photographs of them “dancing” around Frances to make the grown-ups stop teasing. The girls promised each other they would never, ever tell that the photos weren’t real. But how were Frances and Elsie supposed to know that their photographs would fall into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? And who would have dreamed that the man who created the famous detective Sherlock Holmes believed ardently in fairies — and wanted very much to see one? Mary Losure presents this enthralling true story as a fanciful narrative featuring the original Cottingley fairy photos and previously unpublished drawings and images from the family’s archives. A delight for everyone with a fondness for fairies, and for anyone who has ever started something that spun out of control.
What do most people know about the Norman Conquest, if they know anything at all? They know that William the Conqueror came over to England from Normandy in 1066 and conquered England. That’s it for the most part. This book is a highly readable account of the years leading up to the Conquest in both England and Normandy, what led to William crossing the Channel and what happened after the invasion. The cast of characters in this book is enormous and many of them have the same name, but Marc Morris manages to make history come alive. It amazes me how much information does still exist from the Conquest since it was almost a thousand years ago. Sure there isn’t a lot, but the fact that accounts of events do still exist is amazing. Morris uses contemporary (meaning 11th century) sources to explain the events of the time. He isn’t afraid to point out inconsistency or lack of information. He does a great job extrapolating the truth or the most likely truth from the accounts. This book highlights how violent and turbulent the times where in the eleventh century. It is truly amazing that anyone survived! Morris does not shy away from exposing the brutality of the Conquest or how William used violence to subdue the people. However, it does show that the Normans were maybe not quite as violent as their English counterparts in everyday life. William had a huge impact on how things were done in England. He changed everything from the structure of society to religion to land management to slavery. William also started a building boom in England that is still evident today. Many of the churches and castles built during this time are still standing and in use. America is such a young country that it is often hard to comprehend the fact that there are thousand year old structures in England. If you are looking for a good read on the history of the Norman Conquest, I would recommend this book.
I did receive a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.
This book gives us the biographies of some of the Wild West’s most notorious bad guys and gals. People like Billy the Kid, Belle Star, Doc Holliday are featured. We learn their history and how they became outlaws (in most cases). The book also asks what it truly means to be bad. It was an interesting look at the topic and the people in the book are all ones that kids would like to know more about. I do think the word “bad” is overused, but other than that it was a nice offering.
I did receive a copy of this book free from the publisher after attending a Booklist webinar.
The assassination of JFK was a pivotal moment in American history. James Swanson leads us through the lives of JFK and Oswald leading up to the assassination. He takes us step by step through the day of the assassination and the immediate days following. Swanson definitely has a bit of a bias in the way he treats Oswald. Not that Oswald was a good guy, but at one point Swanson even calls him evil and describes him in very derogatory terms. His attention to detail is very good however, with lots of source material and photos. This book is geared towards the older kid and some of the graphic explanations of what exactly happened to Kennedy may be too much for more sensitive readers.
I received this book from netgalley.com.
After breaking out of juvenile detention, fourteen-year-old Digger stops his trek across Maryland at a campground where he recovers from injuries, cares for little Luke, works with smart and pretty Nora, and begins to understand how his behavior and choices shape his life.
This a companion book the The Red Kayak, continuing the story of Digger. I liked the story and feel compelled to read the previous story to find out what led him to the decisions that landed him in a juvenile facility. Digger learns a lot about himself in his journey to get back to his mom and siblings. His heart is in the right place, if he only learns to control his impulses and think of the consequences of his actions. Highly recommend it to any reader.
Temple Grandin does for Autism what Susan Cain did for Introversion. Grandin shows us the strengths associated with Autistic and Asperger’s syndrome, citing research showing superior ability to focus on details. She suggests that we quit seeing only the deficits, but acknowledge that some characteristics are actually strengths. Her attention is limited to high-functioning end of the spectrum while, the lower end of the spectrum is given short shrift. She backs up most of her arguments with scientific research (though a few times, she just says “That doesn’t make sense” without showing why). Interesting, but not as enjoyable as Animals in Translation.
Emily Brady presents a look at the marijuana “industry” in Humboldt County, California. She focuses on a few characters and chronicles their lives as growers in this very secretive community. The book builds towards California’s legalization vote in 2010. Although Brady makes her views clear throughout, it isn’t overbearing and people on both sides of the issue should be able to read it without too much discomfort.
After covering the American sports scene for fifteen years, Chuck Culpepper suffered from a profound case of Common Sportswriter Malaise. He was fed up with self-righteous proclamations, steroid scandals, and the deluge of in-your-face PR that saturated the NFL, the NBA, and MLB. Then in 2006, he moved to London and discovered a new and baffling world—the renowned Premiership soccer league. Culpepper pledged his loyalty to Portsmouth, a gutsy, small-market team at the bottom of the standings. As he puts it, “It was like childhood, with beer.”
Writing in the vein of perennial bestsellers such as Fever Pitch andAmong the Thugs, Chuck Culpepper brings penetrating insight to the vibrant landscape of English soccer—visiting such storied franchises as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool . . . and an equally celebrated assortment of pubs. Bloody Confused! will put a smile on the face of any sports fan who has ever questioned what makes us love sports in the first place.