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29 October 2009

Fat Cat

Fat Cat by Robin Brande is about a science project gone right.

Cat is a science fanatic. She loves science class and even works at the poison control hot line. But this year her science project is about to get a lot more personal. In class, each student has to choose a picture from the pile the teacher has collected, and the project idea has to come from the picture.

When Cat chooses a picture of Homo erectus - 1.8 million years ago - she designs a project (using herself as the subject) to go back to a diet that could have been eaten by early humans. The results are not too surprising - weight loss, more energy, and self-confidence.

Fat Cat could be seen as a plot to get readers to eat better, but for the fact that it is a great story - the fact that I now feel like eating more healthfully is just a coincidence! This is a great book with well-written characters that will appeal to readers. Brande has proven that her first novel's acclaim was not a fluke.

Brande, Robin. (2009). Fat Cat. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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27 October 2009

The Atlantis Revelation (Atlantis #3)

The Atlantis Revelation is the third book in the Atlantis series by Thomas Greanias.

In spite of the efforts made by Conrad Yeats and Serena Serghetti in the last book, the shadow organization Alignment is still trying to control the events of the world. And their latest plot involves the mythic Greek Fire - a substance that can turn water into flame.

If Yeats and Serghetti do not find out where the target is, there will be a major war that might tip the balance of power around the globe. But before they can work together again, Yeats has to decide if Serghetti can be forgiven for her betrayal in the previous adventure.

Greanias writes in the genre of Dan Brown - religious prophesy and other factors lead the player along a dangerous path.

Greanias, Thomas. (2009). The Atlantis Revelation. New York: Atria Books.

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24 October 2009

Leviathan (book #1)

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, pictures by Keith Thompson, is an alternative look at history - as if Darwin discovered not only evolution but DNA.

On the eve of WWI, Germany relies on machines while the British use Darwinist fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is their largest whaleship.

Alek is a prince in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and he is on the run from his own people. The murder of his parents set off a chain of events that will lead all of Europe into war. He has one Stormwalker and a few loyal men to get him to safety over the Swiss border.

Deryn Sharp is a Scottish lass who has disguised herself as a boy called Dlyan to join the British Air Service. Since she was a kid all she has wanted to do is fly.

Westerfeld's imagination is once again the place where magic happens. Leviathan proves that he can write great speculative fiction in any time period. The book is peppered with gorgeous illustrations by Keith Thompson that help readers grasp the strange and wonderful creations of the Clankers and the Darwinists. I can't wait for the next book!

Westerfeld, Scott. (2009). Leviathan. New York: Simon Pulse.

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22 October 2009

I've Known Since I Was Eight

I've Known Since I Was Eight by Sophie Glasser is a coming out tale in the utopian style of David Levitan's Boy Meets Boy - most everything in the book turns out well but there are hints that coming out doesn't' always go so smoothly.

Sarah has known she was a lesbian since she was eight, as the title suggests, but now that she is a junior in high school she is getting ready to tell other people. Sarah has a crush on Tina and thinks that Tina might also be a lesbian. As they become friends they discuss the tendancy of classmates to make homophobic comments.

This coming out tale reads a bit like an after school special, but would likely be well received by a younger reader. I would have loved to have books like this available when I was in high school.

Glasser, Sophie. (2003). I've Known Since I Was Eight. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc.

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21 October 2009

Rapture of the Deep (Bloody Jack #7)

Rapture of the Deep, Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor , Mermaid, Spy by L.A. Meyer is the seventh book in the Bloody Jack series.

Jacky continues to make her way through life and affect history as we know it. In her latest adventure she is about to finally marry Jaimy when she is once again interrupted. The Office of British Intelligence is not done with her and if she does not cooperate they will turn her in for the ship she stole two books ago.

Now Jacky is off on her own ship, the Nancy B., undercover on a scientific expedition. She and her crew are headed to the Florida Keys - controlled by the Spanish - to look for a sunken ship filled with gold.

The adventure and suspense continue in this edition of the Bloody Jack books - great stories that entertain while teaching readers about the time period, being a sailor, a pirate, and a young woman in a time when they were thought to be simple-minded. Jacky proves she is capable of accomplishing things that no other sailor could get done. I love this series and cannot wait for the next book!

Meyer, L.A. (2009). Rapture of the Deep. New York: Harcourt.

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19 October 2009

Pursuit of Honor (Mitch Rapp #11)

Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn is the 11th book in the Mitch Rapp series. Rapp is a CIA counter-terrorism operative whose job it is to protect the US from all threats.

The Washington DC has just had a devastating terrorist attack. A couple hundred people are dead – most of who were members of Congress or their staff. As the government is trying to recover, Rapp is tasked with the job of finding the terrorists.

Rapp’s job is harder due to a Senator who is trying to curb his power to react. At the center of the argument is the letter of the law versus what must be done for national security. This volume in the Rapp series seemed to include a large debate about the end justifying the means. Both political extremes were berated for thinking more about image than safety – and how their opinions change when they come so close to the terrorists.

While still filled with the suspense and action of any good thriller, Pursuit of Honor is not the best Mitch Rapp book in the series. It may have to do with the political climate and what publishers will allow, or it could be that I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read it. This book seemed like a comment on the opinions of those who are the safest from battle deciding for those risking their lives – all encased in an action-packed storyline.

Flynn, Vince. (2009). Pursuit of Honor. New York: Atria Books.

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13 October 2009

Secrets of Truth & Beauty

Secrets of Truth & Beauty by Megan Frazer is a story of self-image and prejudice.

Dara Cohen's life is about to change. An assignment as school to create a multi-media autobiography is misunderstood. Dara was Little Miss Maine when she was a kid. She took the footage of the pageant and created a video that compares societies image of what is acceptable or beautiful with pictures of herself. She thought she was creating a clever look at weight prejudice.

Dara's teacher, her school counselor, and her parents did not get the same message from the video. Her parents take her out of school and she has to see a counselor before she can return in the Fall.

Dara takes this opportunity to look for the sister she has never met. When she finds her, Dara drives to Hollis, Massachusetts and meets her sister Rachel. Rachel lives on the Jezebel Goat Farm. It has been a safe haven for young women whose families kicked them out for being lesbians since the 1940s.
Dara's summer of self-discovery and getting to know her sister is a coming of age story of one girl who grows to love herself. Frazer has written a thoughtful book.
Frazer, Megan. (2009). Secrets of Truth & Beauty. New York: Hyperion.

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09 October 2009

Darkness Falls (Mark Beamon #5)

Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills is his fifth book featuring Mark Beamon.

Mark is no longer an FBI Special Agent in Charge. He is now part of Homeland Security and really he is just biding his time to retirement. But like mozzies can find me in a crowd of thousands, all of the cases with the potential to end the world as we know it fall on Mark's desk.

When a new strain of bacteria interferes with the petroleum production in the largest oil field in Saudi Arabia and the leading scientist on the topic decline the invitation to investigate from the oil company - Mark is called in to collect Dr. Erin Neal from his home in the Arizona desert and escort him to the problem.

Because these bacteria exist in nature, the problem seems serious but not world-economy shattering until the same bacteria appears in Alaska's ANWR well. And when Erin looks at the data there is no doubt in his mind that someone purposely contaminated the well.

Now Mark Beamon is in charge of an investigation, that if not handled quickly, could turn us into the historical society from Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

Mills, Kyle. (2007). Darkness Falls. Philadelphia: Vanguard Press.

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08 October 2009

Say the Word

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee is exactly the kind of book my YA Lit professor would like - it captures the emotion and angst of being a teen to the point that the reader has muscle fatigue from gripping the book.

Shawna Gallagher feels like she has three personalities - Perfect Shawna who does what she is told regardless of her own opinion, Pathetic Shawna who grovels for attention, and Evil Shawna who likes to blurt out the truth even when it hurts someone. Really she is just trying to figure out her place in the world.

Shawna lives with her dad. Her mother left the family for another woman when Shawna was seven and since then her father has filled her head with homophobic rants to the point that she started to believe them.

But when her mother's partner, Fran, calls and says her mother has had a stroke, Shawna flies to NYC (from Ohio) to see her before she dies. Her controlling father also shows up because her mother never updated her will. He proceeds to try and take everything from Fran and her two sons.

Say the Word is the story of a young woman coming to terms with what is real versus what she has been taught - challenging her beliefs about lesbians, other cultures, and her father's role in her life. It is a book that is difficult to read (partly because Shawna is so unlikable at the beginning of the book) but challenges many prejudices and leaves the reading thinking.

Garsee, Jeannine. (2009). Say the Word. New York: Bloomsbury.

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07 October 2009

Burn Factor

Burn Factor by Kyle Mills is an FBI thriller with a twist.

Quinn Barry works for the FBI, but she is not an agent. She hopes to someday be an agent but currently works in computer programming. When creating a new search engine within the CODIS system - a system that collects forensic data from unsolved crimes all over the country - she discovers five previously unconnected murders.

After being transferred to another office for not being able to work out the "bug" that found the cases, Quinn goes over the code to see what the difference is between the original and her new code. She finds a sequence of DNA within the original code that system is told to ignore.

When she orders the case files to prove to herself that the cases are not real but a test that was never removed, she is shocked to find the brutal murder of 5 women.

Unfortunately, as soon as she orders the case files she can no longer be left to discover the truth. Someone is after her. No knowing who to trust she may put her faith in the hands of the wrong helper.

Mills is a master of the suspense novel. Burn Factor is one of his stand-alone novels, but does mention he series hero - Mark Beamon.

Mills, Kyle. (2001). Burn Factor. New York: HarperCollins.

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