Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan

In this alternate history of World War I, the German forces [called Clankers] used steam-powered war machines like tanks and the Allied forces [called Darwinists] utilized living creatures as war machines.  The Leviathan, for example, was an airship made from a living whale-like creature.  Though it looked much like a Zeppelin, it was MUCH cooler because it depended on a complex ecosystem in which the waste-products of smaller organisms [living inside]  provided the helium-like substance that made it float.  Add that to the fact that people were walking around inside the beast/ship, and it’s not hard to understand why a science geek like me was just as enthralled by the Darwinists’ creations as I was with the whole rest of the story!  If you like action and adventure, and you’re not opposed to possibly learning something about world history, this is a book you should probably read.  (Just be sure to check out the author’s note in which Westerfeld explains which events/facts were true to history and which he created for the sake of his story.)

Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America by Joan Wehlen Morrison, edited by Susan Signe Morrison

Home Front Girl

When it comes to World War II, there is historical fiction aplenty.  Many authors have done intense research to create rich stories of things that could have happened in that time, but there is nothing like a primary document to help readers appreciate exactly how people felt and what they actually went through.  I’m guessing that is exactly why the Diary of Anne Frank resonated with me when I read it in middle school.  Anne was a real girl, she was about my age [13], and she had actually lived through the things I was reading about.  As I read Anne’s record of her time spent in that tiny apartment, hiding from the Nazis and hoping to make it out alive, I gained a new appreciation for the simple things in life.  Until I read her diary, I took it for granted that I had enough food to eat, was able to spend time with my friends, and could open a window for extra light and fresh air whenever I felt like it.

Joan Whelen Morrison’s diary is both similar to and completely different from Anne Frank’s diary.  It’s different, obviously, because Joan lived in America and didn’t live in fear of being found and killed by the Nazis; her location afforded her a great many freedoms Anne was denied.  Joan’s diary is extremely similar, though, because she was also a teenage girl whose writing not only chronicled her daily life and the events unfolding around her but also revealed some incredible insights about life.  Joan’s diary gives readers a peek into the life of a typical [American] teenage girl who lived during the time of the Great Depression and leading up to World War II.  The tone of her diary ranges from light and funny entries about school and boys to more serious, with topics like the explosion of the Hindenburg and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  People who enjoy reading and learning about this time in history won’t want to miss Home Front Girl.

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You by the Oatmeal

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

This graphic novel is a complete explanation of the mind and behavior of the cat.  Apparently, they are evil and wish to kill us all.  So cute when they sleep, they dream of flying jets and riding dinosaurs.  The best part of the book shows what happens when they switch roles with humans.  The cat is shown reading a book, ignoring his human who stands at the door waiting to be let in, with predictable but comic results.

The level of satisfaction when a man walks his dog is 100% for both parties.  The level of satisfaction when walking the cat is 0%.

The two Bob Cats who work in an office get more plotting done than actual work.  They wear ties and conspire to get their tummies rubbed by their fellow workers.  There is an unnecessary chapter on assessing the homosexual qualities of your pet.  Otherwise, this book is hilarious.

Written by New York Times best-selling author Matthew Inman, aka TheOatmeal.com, the book includes “Cat vs Internet”, “How to Pet a Kitty” and a guide to interpret “Direction of Ears”.  A must-read for all cat fans!

If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself by Julie Klappas and Lyss Stern

If You Give a Mom a Martini

I stumbled upon this book by accident when I was looking up If You Give a Moose a Muffin for a library patron, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where have you been all my [mommy] life?!?”  Sure, I love my kids… but I need a little break from them every once in a while!  The authors of this book, along with some of their celebrity friends, have put together a list of 100 ways to find and/or enjoy a spare 10 minutes.  Pure genius.  Since I am a soccer mom, I think I may have laughed a little too hard at the “Get Your Kicks” suggestion of kicking a soccer ball deep into the woods and relaxing on the bench while your child goes to retrieve it!  Other suggestions include treating yourself to a beautiful single flower for your bedside table and boxing on your Wii while listening to the Rocky soundtrack.  The best part is that when you’re done with the book, you can always head to the “Your Stories” section of the If You Give a Mom a Martini website to peruse suggestions left by other readers! [edit 4/4/2019: This website is no longer available.]