Science & Technology Book Reviews

UPSIDE by Jim Rendon
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Rendon offers not just a spoonful of medicine, but also a furtherance of works by Frankl, Abraham Maslow, and his new, revitalized acquaintances."
Journalist Rendon examines the question of how trauma changes people, reshaping their lives and senses of self. Read full book review >
UNIQUELY HUMAN by Barry M. Prizant
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A truly impactful, necessary book."
A remarkable new approach to autism. Read full book review >

PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A provocative examination of deep questions—not easy reading but worth sticking with, if only for the fascinating case studies."
Psychology and philosophy intersect in a study of mental states that raises the question of what we refer to when we say "myself." Read full book review >
APPLIED MINDS by Guru Madhavan
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Aug. 3, 2015

"Madhavan is a less engaging writer than Henry Petroski, who covers much the same ground, but he provides a readable survey for would-be engineers and those seeking to understand them."
Want to be an engineer? Then learn to think like one, especially by learning how to see structure where chaos abounds. Read full book review >
LIFE ON THE EDGE by Johnjoe McFadden
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 28, 2015

"McFadden and Al-Khalili give sure footing to the anything-goes bafflement of quantum theory, making it approachable even for neophytes."
Notes toward an understanding of quantum mechanics' part in biological processes. Read full book review >

THE VITAL QUESTION by Nick Lane
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 20, 2015

"Not necessarily for casual readers, but for the scientifically curious, a challenging book that presents ideas about the most intricate processes that link genes and energy."
An evolutionary biochemist argues that while single-cell life emerged early in Earth's 4-billion-year history, complex life arose only some 2 billion years ago as the result of a rare, even freakish, event. Read full book review >
GENIUS AT PLAY by Siobhan Roberts
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 14, 2015

"While nonmathematicians may have trouble comprehending Roberts' mathematical achievements, they will enjoy this entertaining portrait of a charismatic genius."
A biography of the brilliant mathematician John Horton Conway (b. 1937). Read full book review >
A BEAUTIFUL QUESTION by Frank Wilczek
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: July 14, 2015

"A commendable investigation of the nature of reality."
Nobel Prize winner Wilczek (Physics/MIT; The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces, 2008, etc.) posits that a powerful Creator made the world because of "an impulse to make something beautiful."Read full book review >
ANXIOUS by Joseph LeDoux
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: July 14, 2015

"Not turgid enough for academia or lucid enough to be quality popular science, the book is a dense, detailed, often stimulating review of how the brain processes external threats."
This is no self-help book but rather a rigorous scientific analysis of brain function, heavy on research and theory. Read full book review >
THE BIOLOGY OF DESIRE by Marc Lewis
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: July 14, 2015

"A thought-provoking, industry-minded, and polarizing perspective on the neurocircuitry of human desire and compulsion."
An argument against classifying addiction as a chronic "brain disease." Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 7, 2015

"A fascinating biography of a physicist who transformed how science is done."
Europe's Large Hadron Collider cost more than $10 billion, paid for by a consortium of nations. Its success owes much to charismatic physicist Ernest Lawrence (1901-1958), who invented the cyclotron, the Collider's ancestor. Read full book review >
LIFE’S GREATEST SECRET by Matthew Cobb
HISTORY
Released: July 7, 2015

"The greatest milestone in 20th-century biology received an iconic account in Horace Freeland Judson's The Eighth Day of Creation (1979). Much has happened since that publication, and Cobb's gripping, insightful history, often from the mouths of the participants themselves, updates the story, bringing it all the way into the present."
Animal breeders have always known that "like breeds like," but no one, Charles Darwin included, knew why offspring resemble parents except, sometimes, when they don't. Cobb (Zoology/Univ. of Manchester; Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris 1944, 2014, etc.) describes how they learned.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Sabaa Tahir
August 4, 2015

Sabaa Tahir’s novel An Ember in the Ashes reveals a world inspired by ancient Rome and defined by brutality. Seventeen-year-old Laia has grown up with one rule for survival: Never challenge the Empire. But when Laia’s brother Darin is arrested for treason, she leaves behind everything she knows, risking her life to try and save him. She enlists help from the rebels whose extensive underground network may lead to Darin. Their help comes with a price, though. Laia must infiltrate the Empire’s greatest military academy as a spy. Elias is the Empire’s finest soldier—and its most unwilling one. Thrown together by chance and united by their hatred of the Empire, Laia and Elias will soon discover that their fates are intertwined—and that their choices may change the destiny of the entire Empire. We talk to An Ember in the Ashes author Sabaa Tahir this week on Kirkus TV. View video >