Sunday, December 31, 2017

Our Native Bees by Paige Embry

From the publisher: Honey bees get all the press, but the fascinating story of North America’s native bees—an endangered species essential to our ecosystems and food supplies—is just as crucial. Through interviews with farmers, gardeners, scientists, and bee experts, Paige Embry explores the importance of native bees and focuses on why they play a key role in gardening and agriculture. The people and stories are compelling: Embry goes on a bee hunt with the world expert on the likely extinct Franklin’s bumble bee, raises blue orchard bees in her refrigerator, and learns about an organization that turns the out-of-play areas in golf courses into pollinator habitats.

Our Native Bees is a fascinating book about Native American bees. I was afraid Our Native Bees would cover information I already knew, especially when it started off talking about honey bees. However, as the book went on I learned all kinds of interesting stuff about native bees. It's amazing how many varieties there are and how much they accomplish. I am not a scientist, but it seemed very well researched to me.

One of my favorite parts was this quote about honey bees:

Honey bees are the bankers of the bee world, working short hours and taking all the holidays off. If it’s raining, they go home. Too cold? They don’t even leave the hive. [Blue orchard bees] BOBs, on the other hand, start flying as soon as their body temperature warms up to 54 degrees F, so the ambient temperature can be considerably less if it’s a sunny day. Now, bumble bees will fly in bad weather, but their prime season comes later in the year. In early spring with the BOBs first come out, the only bumble bees alive and possibly out gathering are last year’s queens-to-be, and there aren’t going to be enough of them to pollinate an orchard (p. 64 of the advance reader copy)

Highly recommended for those interested in bees, insects, the environment, and wildlife.

I read an advance reader copy of Our Native Bees. I look forward to seeing the actual book and admiring the many bee photos in color instead of black and white.

Our Native Bees will be available at the Galesburg Public Library in February 2018.

You can help pollinators by participating in the citizen science project The Great Sunflower Project:

Monday, December 25, 2017

The One by John Marrs

Wow. The One by John Marrs was not what I expected and is hard to describe. I thought it might be similar to Crosstalk by Connie Willis, but it is not a romance, or at least, not a traditional romance. It is creepy and thought provoking.

In The One, we meet and follow five people who have been Matched by the newest service. Send in your DNA and it will scientifically Match you with your perfect DNA partner. You only have one Match – and the person may be older than you, or younger, or dead, or they may not have submitted their DNA yet.

What would you do if you were happily married? Would you submit your DNA to see if you married your Match? And if you weren’t, would you leave your spouse? What if you were straight and matched with someone of the same sex? Or gay and matched with someone of the opposite sex?

Although the concept of having only one perfect DNA Match didn’t seem logical to me, I got completely caught up in the stories of the five people we meet who have been Matched. Two are men, three are women, and one is a psychopathic serial killer.

Their stories were not always enjoyable, but I did want to keep reading to find out what would happen next. The stories don’t all have happy endings, and those that do may not be the ones you expect. Although I saw a few plot twists coming, there were a lot that surprised me.

This is not a perfect book; I had to pretend to buy in to some stuff that I didn't find plausible. But if you are looking for a an unusual book about love, matchmaking services, and social media, you might want to read The One.

I read an advance reader copy of The One. It is scheduled to be published in February 2018 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library in print and as an ebook.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot is book 4 in the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. This series has moments of great fun for lovers of fantasy, libraries, dragons, Fae, and strong female leads.

In Cogman's world, Librarians can work a sort of magic by speaking the Language. They travel into alternate time periods and versions of our world to find rare and alternate copies of books. Irene Winters is a Librarian with a dragon apprentice and a Victorian detective friend. She gets involved in a remarkable amount of intrigue as she goes about her book finding duties.

In The Lost Plot, Irene and her assistant head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae. In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot.

The tension between the Fae and the dragons adds some spice, Irene is a resourceful and intelligent lead, and there is a nice balance between character interaction and action. I really enjoyed the 1920s gangster setting of The Lost Plot.

The romantic tension and hints of a love triangle are by far the least interesting aspects of this otherwise fabulous series. I wish the author would drop the romance and concentrate on the fun.

I read an advance reader copy of The Lost Plot. It will be released on January 8, 2018, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it in print and as an ebook. If you want to get started on this fantasy series, The Invisible Library, book 1, is available at the library.