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Micro by Michael Crichton & Richard Preston
Michael Crichton was working on Micro before his untimely death in 2008. His publishers recruited Richard Preston (best known as the author of The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event) to finish it. They chose the right man for the job. Like Crichton, whose books dealt with topics such as DNA manipulation and cloning, Preston is adept at taking current reality and speculating about where it might go in the future. Micro takes the hoary old science-fiction plot about people being shrunk to microscopic size and revitalizes it. Nanigen MicroTechnolgies is a company using technology to shrink people and send then into the environment of Oahu, in Hawaii, to prospect for new biological finds that could lead to lucrative drug patents. Seven graduate students are recruited by Nanigen, but when they get wind of the real purpose behind the technology the company’s nefarious CEO shrinks them. They end up in a world where humans are so tiny that wasps, ants and other insects become deadly threats. With its breathless pace and non-stop sense of menace, Micro is a journey that is compulsively readable for fans of science thrillers. With help from Preston, Crichton’s last book ranks right up there with Jurrasic Park and The Andromeda Strain as one of his best.
North And South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, is a writer who deserves more exposure. The heroine of her book North And South is Margaret Hale, a young woman who grows up primarily with her well-to-do relations in London. As Margaret returns to the county she finds that her father has decided to give up his role in the church. This move brings some shame to the family and they move north to the industrial town of Milton. The move creates new struggles and experiences for the Hales. What I loved about this book was the battle for social justice. I also enjoyed the relationship between Ms. Hale and a would be romantic interest. While the industrial setting and issues between rich and poor is nothing new, at times the book seemed almost ahead of its time. Highly recommend for those readers who love nineteenth century British fiction.
Daniel H. Wilson knows how to write a thrilling techno-thriller. In Robopocalypse, he envisions a future where robots and computerized mechanisms are ubiquitous. The plot is set in motion when a roboticist working on artificial intelligence creates a computer program that becomes independent and begins sending orders to networked robots around the world. Soon people are fighting for their lives against robots of all kinds, including human-like domestics, and computerized devices such as cars and elevators. Wilson introduces a diverse range of characters in numerous vignettes, before bringing them all together in a climax where mankind, with the help of some unexpected allies, versus machines. Robopocalypse is reminiscent of Michael Crichton at his best, and Wilson’s cinematic writing style just begs for a movie adaptation -- which is currently in production with Steven Spielberg directing.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Recommended by Fiona
The book opens with Henry Lee our main character coming across a crowd of interested onlookers outside the Panama Hotel in what used to be Seattle’s Japantown. The Panama Hotel has been boarded up for decades and the new owner has made an unexpected discovery: the personal belongings of several local Japanese families, belongings that were left behind when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. Seeing some of these items takes Henry back to the 1940’s and to a childhood of confusion and excitement. Henry’s father is a Chinese immigrant with a fierce dislike for the Japanese and a great desire to see his son grow up American. While being educated at the exclusive Ranier Elementary, where he is one of two non-white students, he meets Keiko Okabe a young Japanese American student. Henry and Keiko build a bond of friendship and innocent love that makes Henry’s father, in particular, very nervous. Forty years later, Henry Lee, now a widower, is trying to make peace with the behaviour of his nationalistic father, the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son and the choices he made many years ago. Set during one of the most uncertain times in American history, Henry and Keiko show that friendship and love can overcome almost anything.
Raylan by Elmore Leonard
Recommended by LorneAt 86, Elmore Leonard is considered the grand master of crime fiction but his last novel, Djibouti, about modern-day piracy on the high seas, was convoluted and disappointing for long-time fans. Good news, though, the master is back in form for his latest, Raylan. Long-time readers of Leonard will recognize the title character of the book: Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshall based in Kentucky mining country, and previously featured in Pronto, Riding The Rap, and the short story Fire In The Hole. He’s also been embodied on cable TV by Timothy Olyphant in the series Justified. Leonard has written an episodic novel that has several loosely connected stories running through it as Raylan encounters three different women: a beautiful but devious mining company exec, a twenty-something ace poker player wanted by the law, and a sensuous nurse who is a trafficker in human organs. Leonard’s trademark dialogue and sly wit pull you in, and the stories and situations don’t play out exactly the way you expect. This is prime Leonard and, although it may not reach the heights of Get Shorty or Out Of Sight, it’s still better than most of the crime fiction out there.
George Grant: A Biography by William Christian
Recommended by Michael
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee
This is a book not for the easily offended. Fans of Sarah Silverman’s comedy and her Comedy Central show “The Sarah Silverman Program” will have an idea of what they have in store when picking this up. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee is not just a title aimed at being humourous but details a period in Sarah’s life stretching into her teens where she was a chronic bedwetter. One gets a glimpse of where Sarah’s comedic interests come from in learning about her father and her relationship with him. The best parts of the book actually take place before Sarah starts to break onto the comedy circuit. Silverman also tackles her years battling depression with what appears to be real honesty. Snippets of early diary entries, phone messages from her dad and dealings with her agent are a definite bonus.
This is an honest, well-written read that is easy to pour over in one day. There are some actual laugh out loud passages which says a lot to those of you who may know me. One finishes the book feeling that this is less a comic whose sole intention is to offend, but an intelligent, open-minded woman whose life truly is an open book.
In The President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler
They are the ubiquitous guardians always near U.S. presidents when they make public appearances. With their dark suits, sunglasses and corded earphones the members of the Secret Service are on the alert for attempts on the president’s life. Ronald Kessler’s book is a behind the scenes look at how the Secret Service began and evolved over the years. There is more than just history here though, as Kessler interviews former agents who divulge some behind the scenes accounts about former presidents. So along with the detailed facts about the day to day workings of the service, we discover that Lyndon Johnson was a philanderer who regularly had affairs with women as young as his daughter, and Bill Clinton once kept Air Force One waiting while he had a haircut, creating a backup in air traffic for over an hour. Kessler’s account of the Secret Service is compulsively readable, mixing history with some first-hand gossip.
Recommended by Caroline
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
by Caitlyn Vernon
Ages 8+ years. When we think of rainforests we usually think of the tropical rainforests of the southern hemisphere, but Canada is home to a magical place known as the Great Bear Rainforest. It is a coastal temperate rainforest found on the central and north coast of British Columbia. It is home to some of the oldest and largest trees on the planet and some of the most amazing animal species such as the Kermode or “Spirit” bear. The author takes young readers on a fascinating journey with a plethora of interesting facts, philosophical musings and compelling personal stories to raise awareness and encourage us to stand up for our wild places.
The Circle Game
Ages 4-8 years. The iconic and beautiful lyrics by Canadian musician Joni Mitchell come alive through the warm palette of Brian Deines’ dream-like artwork. In this story a young boy experiences the simple joys of life. Even though his hopes and dreams change over time, his sense of wonder and imagination always remain the same.
Amazing animals : multiplying multidigit numbers by one-digit numbers with regrouping
Biosphere 2 : solving word problems
Calendars of Native Americans : timekeeping methods of ancient North America
Enjoy them with your children, or just read up on these interesting math concepts for your own enjoyment.
The Prince of Neither Here Nor There By Sean Cullen
Brendan is in his first year of high school when he learns that he is not human but a lost Faerie, one of a race of magical Fair Folk who have co-existed on Earth with humans, who are no longer aware of their existence. Escaping with the help of his new-found friends from a powerful sorceress who wants to enlist him in her battle with humans, Brendan finds that he must set off on his own to find the magical pendant left with him as a baby, and without which he cannot master his new powers.
Unlike the world of Harry Potter, this new series is based on a real sense that magic takes mental concentration, not just memorization. But like J. K. Rowling, the best moments are those that expose the friendships and rivalries among key characters: Brendan’s links to his Human family and friends is strong, and will continue to colour his future adventures. Set in a Toronto with its own magical underworld, the book is often humorous, especially the narrator’s witty interjections, but it is the palpable adventure and fast pace that will win over its audience.
iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson