Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

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The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry was on the bestsellers list for months in 2017 and 2018. It was the goodreads choice winner of 2017 and has sold more than one million copies. The author, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has been on numerous talk shows relating commentary on various topics, from his books to American politics and the infamous space force.

I chose to listen to this book, personally. It is read by the author and he is an excellent narrator, with a smooth voice. I do feel like I would have been able to remain more of the information had I read it … cosmology has always interested me, but I wouldn’t say my brain is particularly well wired to receive this type of information.

I definitely am not an astrophysicist in the making. Mathematics baffle me and philosophy infuriates me; there is a little too much of both in this science.

But I still love learning about the stars, the heavens, the big bang, evolution and various theories of the multiverse.

I do remember some random facts from Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Such as this: thunderclouds produce gamma radiation just before the human eye sees the lightning flash. So as I told my Dad, I guess that still leaves hope for a real life Incredible Hulk.

Funny how it’s always the random, seemingly useless part of the explanation which will stick in my brain.

I highly recommend this book, and it really is a good choice for people in a hurry. The audiobook is less than 4 hours in length. I have good intentions of picking it up again someday and actually reading the print version this time, in the hope that I will retain more of the information.

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

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We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

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I am a huge fan of Lapena’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book for several months. I listened to the two previous novels, The Couple Next Door and The Stranger in the House, but switched to the eBook after about an hour on this one. An Unwanted Guest has many characters, and most share the POV scenes. It is was too much for me to listen to the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it after I switched to reading it.

Throughout most of the story, I kept guessing as to who the murderer was. There were a couple of characters that I immediately deemed “safe” and never really suspected, but the author did a great job of leading you on in several directions. The anguish, fear and suspense that the characters felt as their companions dropped one by one was clearly communicated.

This is a very fast paced book that most readers could likely finished in one sitting. The text is broken up by date and time updates, such as, “Sunday morning, 4:03 am”. In doing so, and by excluding traditional chapter headings, the story seems to flow more smoothly and it encourages the reader to keep reading towards the end of the book without breaks.

The style of the book is very similar to Insp. Poirot and The Orient Express, which the author actually references at one point in the story.

I was deeply engrossed in this novel. My Mum also loved it, and finished it even faster than I did. I will definitely be reading the next novel that Lapena pens, as soon as it is released.

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Leopard’s Blood by Christine Feehan

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan cuts straight to the heart of a man who stalks the shadows in an intoxicating Leopard novel.

Though born into a leopard’s lair in the bayou, Joshua Tregre’s fighting skills were honed in the rainforests of Borneo. Sleek and deadly, he’s the perfect man to take over a crime syndicate back home in Louisiana’s lush swamplands. His razor sharp instincts give him an edge in the violent underworld he knows so well, but even the watchful leopard inside him isn’t prepared for the danger that comes from the girl next door…

She is a woman who can create beauty out of thin air—and out of the ruins of her own life. The games that dangerous men play have taken their toll on her, but she is bent, not broken. And it’s her fierce spirit that’s like a lure to Joshua, a temptation he can’t resist—even if it means bringing his true nature into the light…

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Leopard’s Blood starts with a bang!

The couple meet straight off when Sonia’s leopard goes into heat for the first time, and she calls to her mate, Shadow. This is a change from many of the other books in the Leopard series where the heroine doesn’t shift forms until the latter part of the book. One of the aspects of this series that I really like is seeing the interaction between the two leopards, and the leopards and their respective human partners so it provided more opportunity for this to happen.

Joshua is much more patient and understanding than most of the other Leopard men we have met, which makes sense because he has a reputation as one of the more level-headed guys. He might actually be my favourite hero! Although paranoid about his mate’s security, he is happy to work with her and support her career, rather than trying to get her to stay at home. He also doesn’t mind her having male friends, secure in her commitment to him emotionally, even when she is still on the fence. This is a welcome change from previous couples – not that I dislike the he-man routine, but it helps keep the series from becoming repetitive and one-dimensional.

Throughout my reading of Leopard’s Blood, I was going to give the book a five star review for most of the story, but I decided to drop it down to four. Without giving away too many plot details, a serious altercation occurs which results in Sonia and Joshua’s leopards being furious with each other and although the humans resolve it, the leopards never really appear again, except in fight sequences. It felt like the story was unresolved and a moment I was really looking forward to didn’t happen.

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