Category Archives: Science

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

dark-endeavor

This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)

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Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive by Dr. Mark Winston

I absolutely loved Mark Winston’s Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive. This book won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2015 and it deserves all of it’s accolades. Dr. Winston is a bee scientist and a professor at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. His writing on the topic of bees, sustainability, environment, food, science, history, and art flows seamlessly. I’ve always known that bees are remarkable and a valuable part of the ecosystems that make Earth function as a planet, but I never knew quite how valuable. This was a fascinating exploration of a topic that is more timely than ever as the environmental changes to our planet accelerate.

You have a chance to meet Dr. Winston in person at Honey, Hives, & Poetry in Surrey on Tues, March 15 at 7pm at City Centre Library. He will be joined by Surrey Poet Laureate Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Surrey poet Heidi Greco, and the Surrey Beekeepers Association. Black Bond Books will have books for sale. Call 604-598-7426 to save your spot. (Submitted by Meghan)

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Tree: a life story

tree_a_life_story_imageThis is an enchanting biography of a single Douglas-fir tree on Vancouver Island. David Suzuki and Wayne Grady paint an interesting portrait of a life form we often take for granted, sharing fascinating facts regarding biology, the coastal forest ecosystem, environmental issues, and even world history along the way. (submitted by LN)

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Death from the Skies!: these are the ways the world will end

death_from_the_skies_imageI really enjoy astronomy books, like this one, aimed at a layperson audience, and while we know a lot more about the universe now compared to 2007/2008 when Philip Plait wrote this, it doesn’t make any real impact on his theme…the end will get here eventually, regardless of what we know and when we know it.  Plus, you can check out his awesome blog when you are sad that you’ve finished his book.  Fun stuff! (submitted by JF)

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Physics of the Future: how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year 2100

Author Michio Kaku gives the reader a fascinating glimpse into what our daily lives may look like in 30 years, in 60 years and in 100 years.  Don’t be intimidated by the title. Written for the layperson, the book explains what physicists are working towards in such fields as robotics, space travel, nanotechnology, medicine, and computers.  Can you imagine wearing contact lenses that hook you up to the internet, or having a chip implanted that will alert doctors to the first signs of cellular change or disease?  Don’t miss this book! (submitted by JB)

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I finally had a chance read it and I could not put it down.  Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern US tobacco farmer who had her cancerous cells taken without her knowledge in 1951.  Those cells – called HeLa – became the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, and they are alive today.  They helped develop the polio vaccine, assist research into cancer and viruses, and develop in-vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. This story – by Rebecca Skloot – is about the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles around who owns the stuff we are made of.  It jumps around in time but it is easy to follow.  I found it quite fascinating. (submitted by DS)

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The New Cool: a visionary teacher, his FIRST robotics team, and the ultimate battle of smarts – Neal Bascomb

Best book I’ve read in many months.  I absolutely loved it!  It follows a team of highschool seniors from California through the 2009 FIRST robotics competition season.  They have to build a robot in six weeks, compete in regional competitions – the ultimate goal is making it to Atlanta for the finals.  I was inspired and excited by this book – it made me wish for an alternate universe where I was a math/computer/engineering genius too.  Check out FIRST Canada  for further info on this super-cool program. (submitted by JF)

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