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We love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more, all penned by our team of six writers.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.

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Hero: The Hero Rebellion Book 1 | Belinda Crawford | Rachel

Monday, 30 May 2016

Hero: The Hero Rebellion Book 1 | Belinda Crawford | Rachel

*This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Centuries ago humanity attempted to colonize the planet Jørn. Unfortunately the AI sent to determine suitability for colonization, Ayumon, did not take Pollen into account. Pollen attacks human brains and kills humans in a very bad way. To accommodate, humans created floating cities that stay above the clouds. Today, Hero is a young girl with a lifelong history of hearing the thoughts of others. She is forced to take medicines that she hates and always has a minder around. Her only comfort is her ruc-pard companion, Fisk. What she doesn't know is that her telepathy is a sign that the world of Jørn is changing. Not everyone wants that to happen.

Review

I absolutely loved this world. The use of DNA for technology instead of wires and resistors was fascinating to me! Couple that with youths having half Terran half Jørnian animal companions and you've got me wanting to read more! The best part about this book, the aspect that sold me on reading it, no romance. You don't have to worry at all about a love story cluttering up this incredible read.

It isn't often that I come across a book that combines an incredible world and a great story. Often I only get one or the other. Hero, however, combines the two. This is the kind of book I'd love to see in another format (graphic novel, movie) because I want to see the technology in action. I would LOVE to see one of the races, with all of their traps, and the different animals that Jørn has to offer.

Yes, some of the bullying scenes in the first half of the book are kinda typical. The hero always gets bullied or fights bullies. But the means of bullying and fighting against them are incredibly interesting. If anything, I'd love to figure out how to create some programs of my own to mimic the bio-tech of their world like that.

This book is so different from many that I have read before. There are little details and bigger pictures that are so intriguing. I'm hoping there will be another book. This one ended on a great note to lead to continue the series. If you are at all interested in YA Sci-Fi without the hassle of a love story, and with a focus on new technologies and creatures, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this book!
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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Bookish Links #19


Welcome to another edition of Bookish Links! Here's some of the articles we've been reading and loving lately...

1. Listen Up! - we're kicking off this roundup with some podcast recommendations! Here at BB we're huge fans of podcasts so naturally we loved this list from Book Riot. Which podcasts are your favourites?

2. Sharing Snapshots - if you're keen to join the ever-expanding world of bookstagram, this post is for you. Here, Alexandra shares her top tips for getting started as a bookstagram newbie.

3. Sniff Sniff - ever wondered why old books smell so good? This article has the answer... and it's all down to the science!

4. Infinity & Beyond! - looking for the perfect gift for your bibliophile bestie? We love these book-inspired scarves from Etsy store LabelMeCreations.

5. The Unexpected Everything - if you're a fan of Morgan Matson you'll enjoy this interview with the YA Contemporary author over on Bustle, where she discusses her latest release.

6. New Titles - if you're unsure what your next read should be, take a look at this article from Huffington Post which showcases new releases coming this summer. Which one are you most excited to read?

7. Shelfie! - team BB's Anjali shared some book storage inspiration over on her personal blog and we loved all of the unique shelf designs she found. Which one is your favourite?

8. Delivered To Your Door - these days there's a subscription box for everything, including books! Here Heather tries out the Willoughby Book Club and shares her thoughts on her first mystery novel, Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season.

9. Read Women Month - our last link this month is from another one of our lovely team members! As you may have seen yesterday, Anastasia posted all about this awesome challenge where she exclusively reads books by female authors during the month of June. Will you be joining her this year? Let us know in the comments!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!  
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Friday, 27 May 2016

Features | Read Women Month


Today I want to talk about something that I've been doing over on my personal blog for the past couple of years. Read Women Month is something I started doing in 2014 because I had been reading a lot about how female writers are often not taken as seriously as male writers.

Genres and age groups in which female writers are the norm, such as romance and young adult fiction, are often seen as not being 'literary', and somehow less, and because of this stigma a lot of female authors are often completely overlooked for certain literary awards. I'm sure we've all seen the literary awards nominations with 90% male authors nominated, and the articles that appear with alarming regularity to declare some male writer or another as the 'saviour' of YA. Young adult books are more popular now than they have ever been, and, although I have nothing bad to say about any of the male authors writing for that age group, its success is not solely down to John Green and Patrick Ness. And I'm confident that they would agree with me.

So Read Women Month is exactly what it sounds like. During the month of June I read exclusively books written by women, as my own small way of celebrating women writers. I'm quite sure I am not the only person to ever think of doing this, but, going into its third year, Read Women Month has become something that I get excited about every year. I can't wait to spend a whole month celebrating fantastic women writers and I'd like to invite you to join me.

You don't have to have a blog or anything like that. The only rule is to read and celebrate books written by women for the month of June. That's it. You can post about it on your social media accounts or your blogs if you want to and use the banner or the hashtag, but you don't have to. All you have to do is spend June celebrating female writers. That's it.

What do you think?
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics & Philosophy In Orphan Black | Gregory E. Pence | Review

Monday, 23 May 2016

What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics & Philosophy In Orphan Black | Gregory E. Pence | Review

*Review copy c/o Netgalley
clone club

"Bioethics is one of today's most exciting new fields. Orphan Black is one of the most exciting shows on television. Bioethics explores ethical issues in medicine and science. Orphan Black dramtizes ethicial issues in medicine and science. What could be more appropriate than a marriage of the two?"

What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club is a new non-fiction release all about the science and philosophy behind fictional TV series Orphan Black. Just how much of the science is realistic? And what would happen if a ‘Clone Club’ really did exist? This book sets out to answer these questions and many more.

Written by bioethics expert and fan of the show Gregory E Pence, the book explores the topics of bioethics and philosophy, looking specifically at cloning and drawing examples from Orphan Black’s storylines.

Luckily for me, you don’t need to be a scientist yourself to pick up this book. The way the, often complex, ideas are explained is really accessible and whilst there is a lot of information included in the book, Pence manages to make it an engaging and enjoyable read throughout, constantly referring back to relevant examples the show's fans will know well. It can be easy for this type of book to become so heavy on the factual information that the references get lost, so I was particularly impressed by the way Pence neatly linked everything back to Orphan Black.

The book ends with a chapter detailing Pence’s ideas for future storylines on the show, which I thought was a fun way to conclude. Of course I’m now looking forward to finding out whether any of these ideas will actually be explored on the show!

Whether you’re a big fan of Orphan Black or not, What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club is an entertaining and thought-provoking read full of fascinating information – definitely one worth picking up!
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Finding Audrey | Sophie Kinsella | Review

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Finding Audrey | Sophie Kinsella | Review


This book has been on my radar for a while, and when it came out in paperback and it caught my eye whilst shopping once, I knew I had to pick up a copy. Two days to read the book, so what did I think?

Audrey suffers from an anxiety disorder, and it disrupts her daily life. She's making progress with her therapist Dr. Sarah, but then Linus turns up, her brother's gaming teammate. Audrey feels able to talk to Linus and open up with him in a way she's never been able to before. Their friendship deepens and Audrey's recovery speeds up as well. Their new relationship might not just help her, but might help her entire family too.

A lot of YA novels are choosing to write about mental illness or feature a character who suffers with a mental illness. I think this a great thing; it's only ever good to get more people talking about something that affects so many people (1 in 4 people in the UK at least according to Mind). But it's even better when a book is able to do it in a good way. Finding Audrey does it in an amazing way.

Audrey's a really great character, written about in that way where you can empathise with her even if you don't understand her struggle completely, something I'm finding a lot of lately with really good books, especially on mental health (another example of this in mental health books would be with 'Under Rose Tainted Skies' by Louise Gornall.)

But, and I think this is really important, the book isn't exclusively about mental illness. It's a part of who Audrey is, but it's almost like the book is attempting to pull the sunglasses off of Audrey, if you'll pardon my excuse at a pun there. It's also worth remembering for mental illness in general too that a mental illness is only one of many parts that make up a person, and that's well represented in this book.

It depicts the everyday reality for those that do suffer with a mental illness in such an amazing way, showing readers how difficult it really can be, and I hope that this book will help a lot of readers gain a much deeper understanding for how difficult mental illness can be, but also how there can be an end to it.

Plus, Sophie has a great writing style. It may be her first YA novel, but I sincerely hope she chooses to continue writing YA. I'm sure we'd all welcome another YA from her.
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Friday, 20 May 2016

Book of Lies | Teri Terry | Review


I received this book from Hachette Publishing New Zealand, 
in exchange for an honest review. 


Tell a lie and the darkness will find you.
Quinn and Piper are twins, but they've never met. A tragic event brings  them together, and draws them into a family curse that stretches across centuries. One twin can command the darkness; the other could hold the key to breaking the curse. 
But when lies become truth and truth looks like lies, who can you believe?  


When Piper's mother dies suddenly, a girl who looks just like her appears at the funeral. Separated at birth because of an ancient curse placed upon their family, Quinn grew up with her grandmother in a house in the middle of the moors, only seeing her mother occasionally. Her upbringing was harder than Piper's, who had everything - a nice family, friends, a good school - so when Quinn discovers that Piper exists, a secret she knew nothing about, she can't help but feel like she had the harder life, the worse deal.

When the two of them meet, they start figuring out all the secrets and lies that kept them apart for all their lives. I won't go into too much detail, for fear of spoiling it for you, but they were separated by their family because, through witchcraft, while one of them would be light, the other would be dark.

Think 'The Parent Trap' with curses and magic. Think 'that's your evil twin'.

I did like the idea of this book, and I have given it an overall 3 stars. But to be completely honest, I didn't really get into it as much as I was hoping. While the curse, the secrets and the potential darkness in one twin was subtly woven through the whole first half, I felt like the 2nd third dragged a bit. By the end I just wanted to know what was going on.

My favourite character was actually Zak, Piper's boyfriend, as the two girls didn't really grip me at all. Piper was a bit of a you-know-what at times, and Quinn just really got on my nerves, for reasons unbeknownst to me. Zak was the light-hearted best friend sort of character, with flaws and issues of his own, of course, but a much more enjoyable character, in my opinion, than the others.

Final verdict? An interesting twist on curses and magic, with a definite Parent Trap feel at the beginning, that was an easy, fast read, and one not to miss if you're a Teri Terry fan.

Image from Good Reads. 

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The Perks Of Being A Wallflower | Stephen Chbosky | Guest Review

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower | Stephen Chbosky | Guest Review

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This novel follows Charlie through a difficult but ultimately rewarding freshman year at high school. He has no friends; only his English teacher Bill inspires him, giving him extra reading assignments and challenging him to think more like a “filter” than a “sponge”. “Sponge”-thinking seems to come naturally to Charlie. He watches from the sidelines of life, observing and absorbing information, trying to work out why people do things, how he can be one of them, making mixtapes to mirror the season or his mood. Being a wallflower creates in Charlie a sensitive, introspective individual, but even his teacher Bill encourages him to “participate” in the life occurring around him.

Luckily, Charlie accidentally makes friends with a couple of seniors, Sam and Patrick. He almost instantly falls in love with Sam, and gains a gay perspective on life through Patrick. He goes along with what they do - follows them to parties where he once gets served a “special brownie”, gets drunk, tries different drugs, follows them through their miseries, tries out smoking, and fails to understand teenage relationships.

The novel is told entirely through first-person letters. Charlie writes to somebody he’s heard of, and thought this person sounded sympathetic. Through these letters, Charlie writes in a detached, observing manner, and can’t seem to understand why his actions or inactions produce those consequences. Apart from therapy through letters, Charlie also sees a psychiatrist whom, he says, keeps asking strange questions and he’s not sure where they’re going. His family help as much as they can, but his parents cannot really relate, his brother is away at college playing sports, and his sister is dating and crying a lot.

I very much enjoyed the way Charlie’s introspective nature causes him to pick apart his experience of high school life. I loved the immersion into his world and the way he views it. It felt raw, and real, and the character of Charlie felt like all of my insecurities bundled into one person who just needed reassurance, a hug, and a little guidance. I felt sympathy and empathy for Charlie the whole time in a powerful way.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story I already knew, as I had seen the movie. I don’t usually like to do things this way round, but the story was one I fell completely in love with. When I watched the movie, I felt that I could really, truly relate to Charlie and his difficult passage through high school. A quotation from the movie (which I didn’t find in the novel) which resonated clearly with me, when Charlie is acknowledged as being the all-seeing wallflower, was, “I didn’t think anyone noticed me”. Having now read the novel, I am not of the common opinion that “the book was better than the movie”. I think they each have something to offer, in their own right. Even though not everything that is in the book was included in the movie, I felt that the movie successfully encapsulated the meaning and feeling of the novel.

★★★★★

This review was submitted by guest blogger Jemma
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Crimes Against Logic | Jamie Whyte | Review

Monday, 16 May 2016

Crimes Against Logic | Jamie Whyte | Review


Summary:

Philosopher Jamie Whyte uses Crimes Against Logic to try to teach people how to see the fallacies in the arguments that we encounter every day. Whyte provides many examples of fallacies in commonly heard arguments and then explains, in layman's terms, why these are faulty logic and how to spot them.

Review:

Fair warning, I was a philosophy major in college, with a preference for logic courses. I'm a bit of a philosophy/logic nerd. That's the main reason I picked this book up. That being said, you don't need to be a philosophy major to understand this book. There's very little technical jargon in here, other than the names of the fallacies, and those are explained immediately. 

The only part of this book that I didn't like is that it was originally published over 10 years ago and is still needed. Crimes Against Logic helps you to take a second, or even a third, look at statistics politicians and journalists put in front of us on a regular basis. It asks us to look for the moment the politicians and experts stop actually talking about the issue and switch to a different argument while seemingly staying on topic. 

Yes, there are some areas of this that are difficult to read. The notion that victims of cancer are not experts on the causes of cancer, just because they have it, can be tough. I'm guilty of thinking more with my emotions on these topics instead of the logic of it. But if we fail to see the logical fallacies in emotional situations, we may end up making things worse. It's not easy, and Whyte admits that.

If you are in the market for an intellectual read, or are interested in learning how to discern news from falsehoods, I highly recommend Crimes Against Logic
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Group Collaboration | Intimidating Reads

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Group Collaboration | Intimidating Reads

For this month's group post we're talking about 'the books that shall not be named'. We asked our contributors all about those super intimidating reads that are still left gathering dust on our TBR lists or resting untouched on bookshelves because they look like they're far too overwhelming to start.

Check out their picks below!

  maygroup-lesmismaygroup-ria maygroup-anjali maygroup-lulu maygroup-cat

Thank you to this month's contributors: Anjali, Cat, Rebecca, Ria, & Lulu

Next month we're gearing up for some easy Summer reading and want to know your recommendations for the Best Graphic Novels!
If you'd like to get involved just email bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or drop us a tweet @blog_bookshelf!
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Friday, 13 May 2016

Features | Unlucky Characters

In honour of today being infamously unlucky Friday the 13th I thought it might be fun to look at a few of the unluckiest characters in literature. So if you're having a particularly unlucky day today you can look at this list and think 'hey, at least that isn't happening to me!'

The Baudelaire Orphans - A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

With a title like A Series of Unfortunate Events, I think even those of us who have never read these books could guess that the Baudelaires' lives are pretty much filled with the absolute worst of luck. From their parents' untimely demise at the start of the first book to the string of awful foster carers and increasingly worse situations that the Baudelaires find themselves in throughout the 13 books. Honestly, these kids probably have the worst luck of any of the characters on this list but hey, at least they never give up trying! Even when their efforts are continually thwarted. At least they try.

Brian Jackson - Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

And here's another one who just keeps trying. Starter for Ten is full of Brian trying. Trying to get his teammate Alice to be his girlfriend, trying to make friends, trying to fulfil his dreams of being a University Challenge champion. But his rotten luck just keeps holding him back. Bad dates and embarrassments in front of Alice's parents, unfortunate instances with old friends and potential new ones, and some choices that mean even his University Challenge dreams take a beating. Brian's story is really just one of never quite being able to catch a break.

Mia Thermopolis - The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Now you might think that finding out that you're the heir to the throne of a small European country is actually pretty good luck, but Mia would absolutely be the first person to disagree with you. Finding out that she's a princess puts a real spanner into the works of Mia's life. Over night she goes from being a normal, if a little unpopular and slightly nerdy, teenager to being the future ruler of Genovia. Of course this comes with unwanted media attention, regular princess lessons with her less than cuddly Grandmere, and a new bodyguard to follow her around 24/7. All things Mia would most definitely prefer not to have.

Neville Longbottom - The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Oh, Neville. From Neville's very introduction as the boy who Hermione is helping find his lost toad on the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to his frequent run-ins with Professor Snape, bad luck never seems very far away for poor Neville. The worst luck of all, of course, being that he just happens to share a birthday with Harry Potter, once putting Neville's parents right in the firing line of Voldemort's paranoia. But, like a true Gryffindor, Neville never lets his bad luck keep him down.

Oliver Twist - Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Like most of Charles Dickens's protagonists, Oliver gets his happy ending eventually, but boy does he have to wade through some absolute rubbish to get to it. We first meet Oliver as a starving child in the workhouse with the gall to ask for a little bit of extra food so that he might get a fighting chance of making it into adulthood, and somehow things only get worse from there! First to the funeral home, then to Fagin's band of merry thieves, Oliver gets more than his fair share of bad luck before it actually starts to tremendously balance out. So let that be a lesson. If you're hitting a run of bad luck now, there might just be some crazy good luck around the corner!

Who are your favourite unlucky characters? I would absolutely love to hear about them in the comments! Let's all share some examples of terrible luck so we can maybe all feel a little better about our own lives.
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The Strange Library | Haruki Murakami | Review

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Strange Library | Haruki Murakami | Review


'All I did was go to the library to borrow some books'.

On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake.

Led to a special 'reading room' in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only a sheep man, who makes excellent donuts, and a girl, who can talk with her hands, for company. His mother will be worrying why he hasn't returned in time for dinner and the old man seems to have an appetite for eating small boy's brains. How will he escape?

--- --- --- 

Utterly weird, wonderfully frightening and ultimately strange, this short story was definitely one of the most unusual books I've read in a while.

It starts with a young boy and his solo trip to a local library. As mentioned in the blurb above he's led away to a 'special' room and into a vast cavern of mazes through which there is little to no chance of escape. It's super hard to describe the plot of this book without spoiling it in it's entirety but there's a forboding sense of darkness as you make your way through the pages of surreal happenings and storytelling.
The illustrated version only adds to the mystery and surreal nature of the book. The words on the pages literally meander off in all directions or bloom in large font types, and the imagery used only adds to the slightly Gothic and nightmarish nature of the story.

One thing to remember if you do ever pick up this copy is that the story is very short. The ending feels abrupt and there is little time to flesh out the characters in the space of a couple of pages. What you do get is a great sense of atmosphere and it does help that the hardback edition of the book is beautiful in itself.

If you're fairly new to Murakami I would say this is a great gateway into his 'world' and style of writing. The short burst of story should be enough to wet your appetite to read more of his work.

*image via Goodreads
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Monday, 9 May 2016

Features | 2016 Favourites... So Far!


I have no idea how it's already May but now we're almost halfway through 2016 I thought it would be a great time to share my favourite reads of the year so far. From the nineteen I've finished reading to date I've picked out my top three recommendations to share with you...

Confessions, Kanae Minato (2008) - translated by Stephen Snyder
I'm honestly not sure how I stumbled across Confessions, but I know I'm glad that I did. This creepy Japanese thriller introduces a teacher who knows that pupils in her class are responsible for the death of her young daughter. The chapters are told from various viewpoints and there's lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end. Now I just need to set aside a couple of hours to watch the 2011 adaptation which is also supposed to be amazing!

Kindred Spirits, Rainbow Rowell (2016)
Like many bloggers I was keen to get my hands on Rainbow Rowell's latest offering, a 96-page story released for World Book Day. The short story is all about Star Wars superfan Elena and the weird and wonderful adventure she finds herself on whilst queueing up to see The Force Awakens. Although only short, Kindred Spirits has the same charm and lovable characters as Rowell's popular novels.

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (1939)
And Then There Were None is the story of ten strangers, invited to an island and all accused of a crime. When their mysterious host fails to show and things start to go wrong, the group realise that there may be a murderer among them. Was this the first Agatha Christie novel I've read? Yes. Was that thanks to the BBC adaptation being so good? Yes. Would I read more? Well actually, yes!

Which books have you been enjoying in 2016 so far?
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Bookish Links #18

blogger's bookshelf bookish links

It's time for another list of awesome bookish links from around the web! Here's some of the articles we've been reading and loving lately, don't forget to let us know if you read/write any articles you'd like us to share!

1. Shopping For Books - first up we have Lorna's post all about the various places you can get your hands on books. Are you loyal to your local bookshop, or perhaps you prefer to buy second hand? Let us know in the comments section!

2. Factual Reads - unsure about non-fiction? In Claire's post she writes about how two titles changed her perspective on the genre.

3. The Little Moments - we really enjoyed Cait's post which poses the question 'how realistic should books be?'. There does currently seem to be a call for more realism, particularly in YA, but just how much everyday detail is too much?

4. Teen Must-Reads - shared over on the Barnes & Noble blog, this post talks about the titles which should be required reading for teens. Which books would you add to the list?

5. Sunshine & Rainbow - we're big Rainbow Rowell fans here at BB so we loved Andrea's post where she reviewed several of Rowell's novels and discussed meeting the author herself!

6. Conspiracy Theories - looking for a book that will keep you on your toes? Check out this list of books for conspiracy theorists shared over at Penguin Teen!

7. The Beauty Of Poetry - we also enjoyed Noor's post on poetry, a topic that we don't often touch upon here at BB. Who are your favourite poets? Leave us your recommendations below!

8. Unhauling - if you're looking to cut down on your stacks of books head on over to Vivatramp where Bee shared a helpful list of books to 'unhaul'. How often do you clear out your bookshelves?

9. A Love Of Libraries - Jamie's recent post had us wanting to pop down to our own local libraries after she shared twelve reasons why she loves hers! Are you a library user?

10. Listen Up! - new to the world of audiobooks? This post has some brilliant tips for where to source them!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post! 
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The Aliens Are Coming! | Ben Miller | Review

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Aliens Are Coming! | Ben Miller | Review

*Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In this book, Ben Miller looks at the search for extra-terrestrial life through a scientific lens. By breaking down the Drake Equation and examining all the requirements of it from a physical, biological, geological, mathematical and even linguistic perspective, Miller gives us a realistic picture of the likelihood of communicating with aliens. At the same time, he uses terrestrial examples to show areas we still need more information on. 

Review:

If you enjoy science, this is actually a good book for you. There is little conspiracy theory and hypothetical talk and a significant amount of science. Admittedly, I struggled through the biology of evolution section (used to give a time template for how long it may take life on other planets to become complex) but the rest of the book was an engaging, intelligent read. Miller's humor also helped to balance out some of the drier parts.

I greatly appreciated that this search for extra-terrestrials reminded the reader that there are plenty of things we can learn from our own world to aid our search. The convergent evolution that leads to platypi. The translation of dolphin language. The ripple effects in our understanding of the world from each discovery we make about it. 

There were so many parts of this book that led me to eagerly do some quick Google searches to get a better understanding. This is something that I think all good science books should do. They should light a fire of curiosity in the reader, a need for more information. 
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