Venomous by Christie Wilcox

How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered BiochemistryIt’s amazing what tiny little creatures such as the blue-ringed octopus or a little caterpillar in the rainforest can do to you (paralyze you completely and induce hemorrhaging, respectively), without even your realization that you’ve been bitten or pricked! Where Wilcox really shines in Venomous, though, is when she goes beyond show-and-tell and explains what goes on when you graze the back of that caterpillar with its bristly spine: contrary to what might be expected, this little caterpillar actually causes all the coagulants in your blood to become otherwise engaged so that they’re nowhere to be found while the rest of your blood is running rampant. Hence the hemorrhaging.

Venomous is engaging and serves as a great introduction into the world of venom and the creatures that produce them. Wilcox takes you through a variety of different types of venom, organized more or less by chapter, telling you what they do to their (unfortunate/maybe-brought-it-upon-themselves) victims, connecting their incredible abilities to theories as to why certain creatures should have developed the venoms that they did. In fact, Wilcox goes further and delves – relatively lightly, nothing to be afraid of even if you’re not scientifically minded – into the science of what different venoms do. What you get, in effect, is something along the lines of this: what creature generates what sort of venom, which does what to which animal by targeting which areas, likely influenced by which evolutionary pressures. Wilcox breaks it down so that you understand what’s going on – which neurotransmitters are involved? what areas of the body does it affect and why? why might these creatures have evolved as they did? – as you make your way through the rest of the book, keeping all the information intact by making connections throughout.

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Vikings

cover imageI came across Vikings quite by accident. Browsing the shelves at the Maple Library one day, I noticed the cover first. Intrigued, I flipped the DVD over, read the back, and proceeded to check it out. I was hooked within minutes, and four seasons later, I’m still hooked!

Inspired by the life of Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings is a historical drama that follows early Medieval Norsemen as they raid, trade and explore the world. Wanting more than just the life of a farmer, Ragnar rises to fame by sailing to and raiding England, gaining the title of Earl, and eventually, King. He will easily become one of your favourite characters. The story itself is exciting and entertaining, and does a great job of exploring the ethics, religion and social structure of the Vikings, their enemies and their allies.

       Great content, great actors, great theme song! This is must watch TV!

A Long Way Down By Nick Hornby


Hornby is so good at illustrating our life’s unspeakable pain with acerbic humour. A Long Way Down is not actually about committing suicide. It is about how life can open up another chapter if we don’t die. On another new year’s eve, it makes me ponder how many people out there need a heart-to-heart conversation, and how we can start this conversation … I wish everyone a prosperous 2017. I also hope that we all can take a moment to care for the people around us.