Tag Archive | science

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boats and trains,
Dams and bridges,
Engineered to work…or fail.

An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.

A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.

Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.

Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.

From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Alien contact? AXIOM’S END, by Lindsay Ellis (book review)

book cover of Axiom's End, by Lindsay Ellis. Published by St Martin's Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being watched,
conspiracy theory?
Alien! Monster! Friend?

Cora feels like a failure in 2007, dropping out of college, back home with her mom and brothers, all trying to avoid renewed public interest in her estranged father’s untraceable messages detailing government lies.

Then he reveals that aliens (from space!) are being detained at secret US bases, and federal agents hurry to question Cora about where her dad is hiding, so she escapes.

Someone else is trailing her, too – someone not-human…

With a language descrambler implanted in her ear, Cora considers the alien’s plea – help it rescue the imprisoned aliens before they perish!

Infiltrating a California computer research lab, speeding across the Nevada desert, Cora and the alien begin to understand each other bit by bit, knowing the agents are on their trail.

As her aunt shares her research into alien communication, they realize that there are no corresponding terms in human languages for complex alien relationships, but that concepts of genocide, treachery, and fear are all too understandable by all.

Will the agents believe that Cora hasn’t been in contact with her father?
How long has the government been hiding the aliens?
Why did the aliens allow themselves to be captured at all?

This wasn’t aliens accidentally landing on a strange planet – it’s much, much more complicated than that…

Just published on 21 July 2020, this debut novel of “first contact” and further alien encounters goes way beyond Roswell and flying saucers!

What bonds would connect you across space?
**kmm

Book info: Axiom’s End (Noumena, book 1) / Lindsay Ellis. St. Martin’s Press, 2020. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fake fossil? Frightening future? Audiobooks tell the tales!

A famous fossil hoax revealed. A flooded future foretold. Escape from your everyday world with this week’s free audiobooks from AudioSYNC, courtesy of their publishers.

With the free Sora app on your phone or tablet, you can use the links below to download either or both books and keep them on your Sora shelf to read now or later.

CD cover of FAKE, by Eric Simonson | Read by Kate Arrington, Coburn Goss, Francis Guinan, Alan Wilder, Larry Yando. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fake (download free, 16-22 July 2020)

by Eric Simonson. Read by Kate Arrington, Coburn Goss, Francis Guinan, Alan Wilder, Larry Yando. Published by L.A. Theatre Works.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is involved in the mystery of the Piltdown Man, whose skull was hailed as the ‘missing link’ of human evolution when discovered in 1914.

This elaborate hoax was debunked in 1953 – but who planted the detailed fake fossil in England? Why did they try to hoodwink the scientific community?

CD cover of New York 2140,  by Kim Stanley Robinson | Read by Suzanne Toren, Robin Miles, Peter Ganim, Jay Snyder, Caitlin Kelly, Michael Crouch, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Christopher Ryan Grant, Robert Blumenfeld, Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New York 2140 (download free, 16-22 July 2020)

by Kim Stanley Robinson. Read by Suzanne Toren, Robin Miles, Peter Ganim, Jay Snyder, Caitlin Kelly, Michael Crouch, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Christopher Ryan Grant, Robert Blumenfeld. Published by Hachette Audio

Rising sea levels have made NYC streets into canals, yet the Big Apple’s people survive in the 22nd century, the higher above the water, the better.

In one apartment building, the detective greets the reality star heading for her airship, the day trader seeks market advantages, two orphan boys stay out of sight, and the coders on the rooftop are getting close to a big discovery… a dangerous discovery!

How do we know something is real and true? How can we help create the future we want?
**kmm

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

New situation? A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST, by Joy McCullough (middle grade book review)

book cover of A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her mom is a penguin researcher,
his Guatemalan dad was an artist –
what on earth could they have in common?

Sutton thrives on order, routines, things going precisely according to plan. She is not happy about her robot still stuck in its maze, or Dad starting to go on dates, or Mom not getting home from Antarctica in time for her tenth birthday, not happy at all.

Kids are heroes in the fantasy stories Luis writes, but in real life his many serious allergies have made his widowed mom super-protective. Hiking in a Seattle park with Sutton and her dad sounds a bit risky – maybe dating is making Mom less focused on Luis’s health.

Could Sutton and Luis learn to get along as well as Mr. Wong’s cat and Mrs. Banjeree’s dog, apartment best friends?

Can their different problem-solving styles get them out of a perilous situation?

Told in alternating voices, this Field Guide to Getting Lost might actually be a way that Sutton and Luis can find themselves. Read chapter 1 here free, courtesy of the publisher.

When has a occasion you’ve dreaded turned out to be not so bad after all?
**kmm

Book info: Field Guide to Getting Lost / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Calculus can be funny? CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT, by Ben Orlin (nonfiction book review)

book cover of Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World, by Ben Orlin. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Addition, subtraction – practical.
Area, perimeter – useful.
Laffer curve? Riemann integral? Ditto!

What do an oxhide and a clever princess have to do with the founding of a major port city? Derivatives!

Rectangle, stair steps, slope – where did the Pythagorean Theorem sneak in? Limits!

US economic policy changed due to a diagram on a paper napkin? Laffer curve!

Orlin discusses and illustrates these fundamental calculus moments in history as well as the contemporary research study “Do Dogs Know Calculus?” with the signature wit and enhanced stick figure illustrations of his popular Math With Bad Drawings blog and book.

Where do you math in everyday life?
**kmm

Book info: Change Is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World / Ben Orlin. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
**kmm

Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

Gone?! How?! Audiobooks make compelling reading

This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC are disappearance tales, one a mystery, the other filled with researched facts, both great for summer reading with your ears!

Download before Wednesday 19 June 2019 for free by clicking on the title and following the simple instructions. You have these free AudioSYNC titles as long as you keep them on your device.

You can also check them out from your local library or buy through an indie bookstore – explore all the audiobook titles available so you can read while you ride, run, walk, or work – please stay aware of your surroundings!

CD cover of The Golden Day,  by Ursula Dubosarsky | Read by Kate Rudd Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky.

Read by Kate Rudd, Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

On a mysterious field trip, their teacher disappears! Who can the 11 girls tell? Who is the poet they once met with their teacher?

As the Vietnam War rages on the nightly news, the girls fret about events closer to home… perhaps too close!

CD cover of Gulp,  by Mary Roach | Read by Emily Woo Zeller Published by Tantor Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gulp, by Mary Roach

Read by Emily Woo Zeller , Published by Tantor Audio

The science of chewing, swallowing, digesting, and eliminating what we eat mixes with stories of exorcists, pet-food taste-testing labs, mad scientists, and terrorists in this well-researched and humorous look at food, nutrition, and our alimentary canals from one end to the other.

Disappeared? Gone forever? or not…
**kmm

X marks pivotal 1968: TODAY’S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION & CHANGE, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti (YA book review)

book cover of 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Assassinations – dreams denied.
Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back.
War in our living rooms – who can look away?

This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!

In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”

What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City?
– the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down?
– the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood?
– the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?

Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.

The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.

Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.

Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!

What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about?
**kmm

Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is for PATH TO THE STARS: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, by Sylvia Acevedo (YA book review)

book cover of Path to the Stars, by Sylvia Acevedo. Published by Clarion Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The world of books,
the sisterhood of Girl Scouts,
her chance for dreams to come true!

Papa’s attention went mostly to her big brother, Mama focused on little sister whose bout with meningitis scarred the whole family (not much money, lots of love), so Sylvia discovered her own best way through life, with the help of her Girl Scout troop and leaders.

This biography brings readers into Sylvia’s extended family, into the days when Latinas were just being accepted into science professions, into her growing attitude that she can plan and dream and make those dreams come true.

So excited that she is a keynote speaker this week at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin!

What influences have helped you during your life journey?
**kmm

Book info: Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist / Sylvia Acevedo. Clarion Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Also available in Spanish – Camino a las estrellas (Path to the Stars Spanish edition): Mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica / Sylvia Acevedo and Isabel Mendoza. Clarion Books, 2018.

My book talk: From the rocket science lab and executive board room, Sylvia Acevedo looks back on the events which brought her here from a crowded Las Cruces neighborhood, acknowledging the hardships and help received along the way.

Moving across town from the dirt streets where everyone knows everyone’s business to a new neighborhood with air-conditioned houses in the 1960s, Sylvia fights expectations that she’s academically behind her new classmates and gets used to hearing English spoken everywhere except her home.

An invitation to a Brownie troop meeting changes her life, as Sylvia finds the perfect place to explore her own interests (instead of Papa’s limits), learn how to manage money and speak confidently (cookie sales!), and plan for her future (not a strong skill in her family).

She loves science and math and star-gazing and going to the library and dreams of going to college – determination and planning can get her there!

This true story of one Mexican-American girl’s journey from just getting by to getting rockets into space as an engineer celebrates the strength of family love, the power of positive role models during childhood, and her own persistence in learning everything she needs to move to the next step in her plans.