Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday [2013 #15]

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme from Books, Biscuits, and Tea.




Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

TwerpTwerp by Mark Goldblatt

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Twerp is a book that I never would have read had I not received a Netgalley invitation to download it. But afterwards, I decided to check it out; I enjoy Middle Grade, after all, and it would only take a few hours to read. I can honestly say I don’t regret reading it.

Not that I’m going to gush; Twerp wasn’t spectacular by any means, and there were certainly a few things that detracted from enjoyment. But it was ultimately a solid Middle Grade novel, somewhat reminiscent of Jerry Spinelli‘s Maniac Magee. The main character, Julian Twerski, has a strong voice and comes across as an authentic preteen boy, even when dealing with same and opposite sex friendships and emerging sexuality/attraction; I will admit, though, that I found his 1960’s slang to be rather jarring–or at least silly–being a 90’s child myself.

The one genuine flaw of the book for me was the “reveal”, the point at which Julian finally explained the incident that led to his journal assignment. Without spoiling it, I can say this much: If you’ve read any of my Fear Street reviews, you might have seen me mention how much I hate when an author writes an important scene… only to pull the literary equivalent of a “Syke!” by explaining that the previous scene never actually happened, and this next one did instead. That bugs me to no end, and even though it’s far more justifiable in Goldblatt’s case than Stine’s, it still made me roll my eyes.

All in all, I finished the book with a sense of mild satisfaction, as well as the conclusion that the Danley subplot could have been cut entirely from the novel without it suffering any significant loss. Personally, I found it to be something of a distraction from the larger plot of the story, never delivering an emotional impact even remotely comparable to that of the main plotline. However, Twerp is definitely still a good book for a Middle Grade reader, and I would recommend it to fans of MG realistic fiction.

A copy of this book was provided for free via Netgalley for the purpose of review.


Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea by Kennedy Warne

Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the SeaLet Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea by Kennedy Warne

My rating: ★★★★☆

A copy of this book was provided for free via Netgalley for the purpose of review.

Mangroves are something that I can honestly say I have never considered when it comes to climate change and environment destruction. For all my concerns about the rainforest, the ozone layer, the warming polar regions, and the seemingly infinite other environmental or planetary health issues I’m aware of, disappearing mangroves were never on my radar before Let Them Eat Shrimp–to the point that I didn’t recognize that the titular tragically disappearing rainforests of the sea were mangroves in the first place.

As such, I went into Let Them Eat Shrimp with almost zero previous knowledge–only a vague awareness of what mangroves actually are, not a clue about shrimp farming, and very little knowledge of almost all of the countries in which mangroves grow. So Let Them Eat Shrimp was an eye-opening experience; it’s one of those books that makes me, at least, wish I had a lot more time and money to donate to all the social, political, and environmental causes that resonate with me. And it’s certainly one of those books that I can say I’m thrilled to have read and wish more people would read; at the very least, I’d like to see the critical condition of the world’s mangroves register on far more people’s radar than it does now. Hell, I’d like to see more people know what mangroves are, period.

Let Them Eat Shrimp was a captivating and richly described look into the world of the mangrove, from its destruction to its flora and fauna to the people who still make their livelihoods by hunting and gathering in these disappearing rainforests. I highly recommend the book to anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist, anyone with an interest in or curiosity towards mangroves, or even anyone who might want to know more about the shrimp they bought for dinner.