Friday, January 16, 2015

ZOMBIES AND CALCULUS by Colin Adams



Colin Adams, Zombies and Calculus (Princeton University Press, 2014).
Also available for Nook and Kindle.



(FICTION - WITH A LARGE DOSE OF NONFICTION)

Reviewed by Edgar E. Morris

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I just finished reading a book titled Zombies & Calculus, by Colin Adams. On the other hand, the book is published by Princeton University Press, so I suppose I should be in pretty respectable company. Wilda checked the book out of the library to review it as a possible Christmas gift for one of our grandchildren and left it in the bathroom. I read the entire book (all 224 pages) in the bathroom over the course of several visits. After reading part of the first chapter, I kept going. For me the hook was the calculus.

The story begins when a student arrives late for Professor Williams’ math class with, as stated in the book, a hunger for something other than knowledge. The student has apparently been infected with the Z-virus (Z for zombie, get it!?) and immediately bites another student, thus contributing to the spread of the virus on the campus of the small liberal arts college where Williams is teaching. The story is rather amusing and is frequently interrupted by forays into the mathematical description of the spread of viruses, the growth of populations, the behavior of predators and prey, etc.

For someone who has a pretty good grasp of calculus, all the mathematical content is easily understood, and for the most part familiar. If the reader has never been exposed to the basic concepts of calculus, the reader must really enjoy stories about zombies not to be frustrated by the lack of understanding of the mathematical ideas.



Saturday, December 27, 2014

A LONG WALK FOR WATER by Linda Sue Park



Linda Sue Park, A Long Walk for Water (Clarion Books, Houghton-Mifflin, 2010; HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, 2011).

Also available on Kindle, Nook and Audio CD.
 


(NOVEL- Children’s African History Fiction; based on a true story, recommended for ages 10-14.)

Reviewed by Jason Fernandez (age 11)


The book has two stories, Niya and Salva, both from Sudan. Niya’s story is her having, everyday, to walk for water to a pond, but the water’s not clean and that’s becoming a problem.

On Salva’s side, his town gets struck by the war and he has to hide in the bush. He finds a bunch of people and walks with them. They think he is weak and will slow them down but he really isn’t.  He is trying to get to a camp in Ethiopia where he would be safe. You have to read the book to see if he eventually makes it.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Neil Patrick Harris



Neil Patrick Harris, Choose Your Own Autobiography (Crown Archetype, 2014).

Also available or Nook and Kindle.
 


(AUTOBIOGRAPHY WITH FICTIONAL ELEMENTS)

Reviewed by Kevin A. Penrod, Jr.

Off the bat I am gonna say this is the funniest autobiography I have ever read! In the tradition of the "choose your own adventure" books where you are put in the lead role as the character and have to make choices to decide the outcome, Neil Patrick Harris puts you in control of his life. Reading this book, I occasionally made the wrong decisions, decisions that lead to death by avalanche, rapids, quick sand, and murder, and to a girl displeased with a magic trick in which you (Neil Patrick Harris) pretended to cut her sisters’ finger off. I also had an outcome in which you (once again Neil Patrick Harris) imagined all your fame and were actually working at a deli for the rest of your days. But the right choices lead to a pretty fun life: being a child doctor on the show Doogie Howser, being named president of the magic castle, starring in numerous movies and Broadway shows. Which led to your first gay experience; after somewhat hiding it, you come out to the world to very little discrimination. And that leads to you meeting the man that will become your husband and going through the stressful journey of having your twin children through surrogacy. With a lot of jokes here and there, a crossword puzzle and a secret page *ssshhhhh*.

I could not put this book down. I found myself continuing because I found that once I thought I made all the possible decisions, I would find a whole new path in his life story. I recommend this book to fans of comedy, his show “How I Met Your Mother,” and autobiographies. Once again such a fun read.