Category Archive: Review

Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

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The Rithmatist Author: Brandon Sanderson Published: 23rd May 2013 Publisher: Orion Summary: Mountains of magical, mathematical mayhem. Maths. For so many school-goers, such a difficult subject to get to grips with. If only there was a way to make it more exciting. Maybe with laser beams, or explosions perhaps, or, even better, what if your geometric diagrams came to life to do battle with those of other students? Well, in New York Times-bestselling author Brandon Sanderson’s young adult novel, The Rithmatist, that is exactly what does occur in the classrooms of Armedius Academy. Unfortunately for the book’s protagonist, Joel, however, he’s strictly forbidden from studying the magical, mathematical art  he finds so alluring. Joel is the son of a lowly, deceased chalk-maker, and is only granted attendance to the prestigious Academy because his father and the principal were such close friends. Sadly, attendance is not enough to allow Joel into the exclusive Rithmatic lectures he so desperately wants to be a …

The Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition

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Last night, one of our team, Sally Webb, got the chance to go to the Royal Society’s Black Tie Soirée at the Summer Science Exhibition. Here are her own thoughts on the evening and what she enjoyed. When my Dad told me I could go to the Soirée with him, I was so excited. Not only did I get to dress up and enjoy the free food (which was fantastic), but I also got to meet some of the most influential scientists of our time. I spent ages looking at the website trying to decide what exhibits I wanted to go and see, but with 16 choices this was really difficult. The event itself was held at the Royal Society, which is a fantastic building off the Mall, filled with photos and books all to do with science. Walking round, you notice the different scientists with their knighthoods, OBEs and CBEs round their necks. I met the famous YouTube sensation …

Book Review: Paradox Child

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Paradox Child Author: Jane Yates Published: 6th June 2013 Publisher: Amazon Summary: A debut which confirms Yates’ creative talent Lilly is the eponymous Paradox Child. Her life is to be changed completely by the dark secret her family holds – they are able to travel back in time. This novel for young adults marries exploration of the possibility of time travel, with elements of fantasy and historical fiction. Set in Oxford in the 1980s, a young woman knows she’s part of a slightly different family. They keep themselves to themselves. She has few friends at school and tries to keep her head down. She enjoys walking the family dogs, growing food in the garden and doing spells with her mother and grandmother. The spells she, her mother Rose and her grandmother Iris perform were passed down from older generations of women named after flowers. The disappearance of her mother means Lilly has to be told the family secret a little …

Book Review: Until Darwin

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Until Darwin, Science, Human Variety and the Origins of Race Author: B. Ricardo Brown Published: 22nd September 2010 Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Summary: A fascinating insight into the early nineteenth century scientific consensus which Darwin’s Origin utterly transformed. The history of science is the history of forgetting. That is the beauty and the utility of science, a theory is no longer supported by evidence is left behind to die an obscure death. Except when it doesn’t. The theory that has refused to die is the idea that Homo sapiens can be divided into races. B. Ricardo Brown is Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute in New York and in his acknowledgements explained he “never wanted to write on the subject of ‘race’”. The idea of race as an objective division of humankind has been comprehensively debunked, recently with two books published in 2011, for example, Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth by Ian Tattersall and Rob …

Book Review: Deceived Wisdom

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Deceived Wisdom Author: David Bradley Published: 8 November 2012 Publisher: Elliot and Thompson Summary: Warm and incredibly insightful – a literary gift. Several weeks ago I provided a brief round up of what I considered to be some of the most common scientific misconceptions. But, like all good ideas, it seems that I was beaten to the literary punch by Professor David Bradley, who has recently written an entire book on the subject, entitled ‘Deceived Wisdom: Why What You Thought Was Right Was Wrong’. What is immediately evident from a casual perusal of the contents page is the sheer breadth of topics that Bradley has chosen to cover. Everything from dietary deceptions to computer hacking is placed beneath the cold light of his empirical lens, meaning that every reader is likely to find his or her own topics of personal interest. I was wearing a particularly wry smile whilst reading the chapter on the fallacy of ‘cooling down with a …

Book Review: Into That Forest

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Into That Forest Author: Louis Nowra Published: 7 January 2013 Publisher: Egmont Books Summary: Wonderfully told and deeply moving ‒ an instant classic. It’s strange to think that, under the right conditions, humans can revert back to the wild state our ancestors worked so hard to detach civilised society from. After all, we still have the tools; keen eyesight and hearing, a decent sense of smell and a predators’ ability to problem solve, we just fail to utilise them, or simply employ them in different ways. And regressing to the wild-side is exactly what happens in Into That Forest; stranded in the Tasmanian wilderness, two young girls, Hannah and Becky, are adopted by a pair of Tasmanian tigers and spend the subsequent four years learning to hunt, read the outback and generally live as wild animals. As the girls integrate themselves with their new parents, they lose the use of English, instead opting to employ the grunts, snarls and body language of …

DVD Review: The Hunter

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The Hunter Released: 29 October 2012 Starring: Willem Dafoe, Frances O’Connor, Sam Neil Summary: A beautiful, poignant film with a magnificent central performance from Dafoe.  The thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger) officially became extinct in 1936 but, despite this fact, sightings have been widely reported across the Australian island state of Tasmania ever since. And this is what inspires the basic premise of The Hunter (based on the 1999 novel of the same name): having been reliably informed that a single tiger still survives near to a tiny Tasmanian logging town, a sinister biotech corporation hires Willem Dafoe’s shady character (alias Martin David) to hunt it down for them. Under the flaky guise of a researcher studying wild Tasmanian devils, Martin arrives at his mission site to a hostile reception: ‘we don’t like greenies around here’ is what one angry local tells him in the town bar. And so Martin begins the tricky task of tracking down his elusive quarry whilst trying not …

Book Review: In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw

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In Defence of Dogs Author: John Bradshaw Published: 5 July 2012 Publisher: Penguin Summary: Illuminating but, at times, a little too academic. One of the most widely held views of dog training is based on two scientific observations. Firstly, that dogs share 99.96% of their DNA with the grey wolves from which they’re descended, and secondly, that captive wolves housed in enclosures quarrel and fight until a particular individual is crowned dominant. These two notions have led to the popularisation of the ‘dominance model’ of domestic dog training, an ideology that encourages owners to continuously assert their authority on their furry companion in order to establish themselves as the superior, or alpha. However, anthrozoologist Dr John Bradshaw has a bone to pick with the dominance model of dog training, and In Defence of Dogs is where he presents his arguments. Bradshaw’s objections are compelling: he notes that, unlike the zoos in which a random assemblage of unrelated wolves are forced into an …

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