Archive for August 2011
Fat Cat by Robin Brande
Teen Fiction, eBook
At the beginning of the school year, Cat Locke finds herself in need of a science project. But this can’t be just any science project—it has to be good. Like really good. Good enough to win top honors at the science fair at the end of the year and blow the competition—including her archrival and ex-friend Matt McKinney—completely out of the water. It will be the project that defines her academic career and propels her to scientific success beyond the classroom.
Cat Locke is going prehistoric.
Fat Cat starts out as an account of a vengeful science project, but delivers so much more. Cat is a funny and introspective character who is intensely relatable in her struggles with self-acceptance. Such a character might present a trap of overt didacticism and heavy-handed moralizing to a lesser author, but Robin Brande deftly avoids such clichés with humor and realism. The appeal and strength of Fat Cat lie in Cat’s internal dialogue and her personal growth throughout the course of the novel.
If you enjoy Fat Cat, you might also like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, and The Karma Club by Jessica Brody.
Pros: A funny and thoughtful novel that examines issues of self-acceptance and self-perception with humor and honesty.
Review by Martha
Posted August 23, 2011on:
Summary: In 1776, in the small but prosperous Dutch East Indies port of Saint Eustatius, an active trade in arms and munitions between the rebellious American colonies and the Dutch was already in full swing. When the brig Andrew Doria arrived, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence for dissemination in Europe, she fired the traditional 11 gun salute to a foreign power when passing the harbor defenses. Unexpectedly, the islands governor, Johannes de Graaff, opted to fire a return salute, the first acknowledgement of the United States as a new nation. Through the lens of this incident, Tuchman unravels the American Revolution, its consequences in Europe and throughout the world.
Review: This is not, as a reader might first expect, truly a story of the Revolutionary War. In fact, it is much more a story of the consequential decisions made by France, The Netherlands, England, Spain and others in reaction to the American struggle for independence. The result is somewhat herky-jerky, and occasionally aimless, but very charming nonetheless. The end of the book manages to tie things together nicely, though, and Tuchman’s unique tale will reward those willing to stay the course.
Read-a-likes: For a fictional take on the American Revolution, and subsequent events, try Saratoga by David Garland or The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss. For further nonfiction, reader’s should consider 1776 by David McCullough or Revolutionaries by Jack Rakove.
Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as an eAudiobook. Click here to request other formats via Interlibrary Loan.
Review by Eric.
Looking for your next check-out? Try the 16th installment of the Rogue Warrior series by Richard Marcinko.
All about Navy SEALS, this ex-SEAL uses his personal experience to vividly portray a mission he and his team undertake in India.
Fast-paced and containing some light humor, this book offers a true-life based and, at times, brutally honest glimpse into the lives of the SEALS. Though born from Marcinko’s experiences, the book is mainly fiction, and therefore commands a sense of urgency and adventure.
Appeal: Fast-Paced, Violent, Thrilling, Graphic, Intriguing, Engrossing, Militaristic, First-Person Perspective
Marcinko maintains his grasp of high-adventure military fiction in his latest effort starring Rogue Warrior Jim “Demo Dick” DeFelice. The Indian government comes calling this time, requesting that the Rogue Warrior and his team help with security for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, an Olympics-like extravaganza in which various countries from around the world will be participating. Will Dick be able to keep the peace? Not exactly. As the team begins training, a plot involving the theft of nuclear weapons, seemingly using guards who are working for the enemy, ups the ante. Marcinko and DeFelice’s usual sarcastic edge is razor sharp here, and the story line is tight and exciting. Military fiction fans who haven’t read any Rogue Warrior novels will find this one a great place to start. It’s over the top, as always, but that’s part of the fun in this high-testosterone series. One of the best Rogue Warrior novels in years. — Ayers, Jeff (Reviewed 06-01-2011) (Booklist, vol 107, number 19, p44)
Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories (by Simon Winchester: Nonfiction) c.2010
Posted August 8, 2011on:
Summary: Using the seven ages of man from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Winchester plays out the story of man’s history on and around the Atlantic Ocean. The anecdotes follow explorers, warriors, scientists, fishermen and many others as they leave their mark on the Atlantic Ocean and it’s shores and are changed by it in turn.
Review: The gimmick of using Shakespeare’s seven ages to provide structure to the book generally works well, with Winchester lovingly crafting each anecdote and chapter. Ultimately, like most similar recent books and movies, Winchester has a strong message about the importance of learning to live with the sea rather than treating it as a dumping ground. He does not, however, get heavy handed with this message, as many others do. This readers only complaint about this otherwise charming novel was the blatant eurocentrism. Little is written about the non-European cultures bordering the Atlantic, and they are frequently dismissed by the author outright. The very British view of the United States as a bunch of brash Yankee merchants run amok also gets a fair amount of play. That parochialism aside, this is an informative and charming read, if not necessarily a complete picture. The audiobook is read by the author, and is particularly well done.
Read-a-likes: Simon Winchester has written a number of similarly lyrical nonfiction books, of which Krakatoa (in it’s focus on a natural feature with great import for humanity) is perhaps the most similar to Atlantic. For more on the history of the initial trans-Atlantic travelers, Fish on Friday by Brian Fagan and A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz are worth a peak. For more on the fate of the North Atlantic fisheries, Cod and The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky are worth a look. For those looking for nautical stories or fiction, look no further than the works of Clive Cussler, Linda Greenlaw and Herman Melville.
Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book (in both regular and large print) and as an eAudiobook. Click here to check on the availability.
Review by Eric.