New Release! The Origins of Everything in 100 Pages

29771608The Origins of Everything in 100 Pages by David Bercovici

David Bercoivci’s The Origins of Everything in 100 Pages (More or Less) is actually closer to 150 pages, which still makes it a short, concise book considering there are 14 billion years of history packed into it.

I’ve always had an interest in the origins of the universe and life on Earth, but my knowledge is rudimentary. Before starting the book, I’d say my knowledge of the subject was pretty basic, limited to a few college courses years ago, some science documentaries on tv and an article here and there.

The author admits that “the goal of this book is not meant to be deep and comprehensive, but instead to be boldly (or badly) shallow and superficial in the best sense of these words.” Which is a good thing, because although the book is written to be understood by anyone, part of it were still over my head. I had to read this bit by bit because it was easy to overload on the information and at that point, it was hard for me to absorb the information. So I’d take a break for a bit, then go back to it.

Starting with The Big Bang and the formation of Earth, continuing through plate tectonics and finally the evolution of life on Earth, The section that interested me the most was the formation of our planet, including how and why Earth is the only temperate and habitable planet. I was fascinated by the explanations that answered many of the questions I had, such as why Venus didn’t evolve like our planet did and even raised new questions that I can explore.

I did think it was too wordy in some parts, that there was more information presented than was needed to understand a particular point.

Overall, The Origins of Everything in 100 Pages (More or Less) is an excellent book that covers the basics of Planetary physics and Geophysics and is a great overview for those starting out in learning, or who want to expand their knowledge.

Thank you to Yale University Press and Netgalley for providing an advanced copy in return for my honest review.

The Origins of Everything in 100 Pages by David Bercovici will be released November 22, 2016.  Pre order your copy today!  AmazonBarnes&Noble

Rating: ★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Formats: Kindle, ePub, Hardcover, Audio CD
Genre: Science, Non-Fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0300215137
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Secret Poisoner

26196584The Secret Poisoner: The Victorian Age of Poisoning by Linda Stratmann

What a great book! Very well organized and thoroughly researched, the book neatly lays out the progression of forensic toxicology in the 1800s, encompassing some truly outrageous poisonings in England, France and even in the United States. I don’t know what surprised me more, how many people got away with it, or how many people were found guilty of their crimes. Forensic toxicology was in its infancy during the nineteenth century and some of the techniques used to find poisons in the body after death were ingenious. Equally amazing was that many scientists would take samples from the stomach, intestines and vomit of the poison victim and taste a small amount. Good grief, that takes a lot of guts (pun intended.)

Warning: there are numerous references to animals being experimented on, so if you’re an animal lover, you may find it hard to read at times (I know I did.)

I think the hardest stories to read were the ones where women poisoned young children.  The story of Sarah Chesham, who poisoned two of her sons (among others)  with arsenic and got away with it, was particularly disturbing and will probably stay with me for awhile.

The upper room in which the boys slept projected several feet over a room occupied by Deards and, that night, he heard the two children groaning in pain. Next morning, as he sat at breakfast, the boys’ vomit poured between the cracks in the floorboards and on to his table and the floor. He knocked on the Cheshams’ door, but there was no answer. Later that day, he was astonished to see Sarah Chesham in the street. ‘Mrs Chesham, are you aware how bad your children are?’ he exclaimed, adding, ‘We can scarcely live in the house!’ Her reply was, ‘I will go home and alter it.’

Stratmann, The Secret Poisoner p 156

It’s also disturbing how easily people could purchase a variety of poisons, from arsenic, strychnine and cyanide from a grocer or a druggist, right up until the 20th century.  While these poisons are still available today,  they are regulated and very few consumer products still contain them.

Overall, The Secret Poisoner was a fascinating read, one that will appeal to fans of history, true crime and/or forensic science.

The Secret Poisoner is available at book retailers or on Amazon