Archives

Mapmakers must Race to the End of the World, by A. L. Tait (book review)

book cover of Race to the End of the World by A.L. Tait published in USA by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnseen lands, unknown dangers,
commanded to map the whole world
ain’t on the farm now!

Quinn’s family has kept his amazing memory a secret so he’s not accused of witchery and attacked, as friend Aysha’s mother was, But the King has discovered it and wants the youngest son to compete at the new mapmakers’ school!

Ask for this first book in the Mapmaker Chronicles, an Australian series now published in the USA by Kane Miller Books, at your local library or independent bookstore.

When have you been called upon to go the extra mile?
**kmm

Book info:  Race to the End of the World (Mapmaker Chronicles, book 1) / A.L. Tait. Kane Miller, 2017. [author site]  [series site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chosen to train as a mapmaker because of his lightning-quick memory, Quinn finds himself on a perilous quest to create a map of all the world for the King of Verlandia.

Youngest of many brothers on his family farm, the 14 year old keeps quiet about his ability to memorize anything he sees or hears – a priceless skill for a mapmaker.

Can Quinn help enslaved captain Zain win his freedom?
Who is the stowaway, discovered when the Libertas is well at sea?
What monsters and dangers will the crew face as they seek uncharted shores?

First in The Mapmaker Chronicles series from Australian author A.L. Tait, three ships are in a Race to the End of the World, striving to bring the most complete world map to their King and earn their dearest wish! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

End of our world with The Strange Round Bird? by Eden Unger Bowditch (book review)

book cover of Strange Round Bird by Eden Unger Bowditch published by Bancroft | recommended on BooksYALove.comKidnapping? Already happened.
Puzzles with world-shaking answers? Did some.
Partnered with parents to save humanity? Ohhh…

Hopefully, you’ve met Noah, Wallace, Faye, Jasper, and Lucy as they investigated The Atomic Weight of Secrets (my no-spoiler review here) in early 1900s America and then traveled to Italy with them (and the mysterious men in black) to study The Ravens of Solemano (reviewed here) in the further adventures of the Young Inventors Guild.

Happy book birthday this month to The Strange Round Bird!, the conclusion of this exciting trilogy as our five amazing young people are promised a reunion with their talented parents in Egypt… but the evil Komar Romak has followed them again!

Where do you dream that adventure will take you in this world?
**kmm

Book info: The Strange Round Bird, or the Poet, the King, and the Mysterious Men in Black (Young Inventors Guild, book 3) / Eden Unger Bowditch. Bancroft Press, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book Facebook page] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Arriving in Egypt means reuniting with their beloved parents, but evil forces are intent on preventing the Young Inventors Guild from joining them to solve a mystery which will save humanity from destruction!

An ancient manuscript holds clues about the “strange round bird” – is it the same bird from their childhood song?

Even more mysterious men in black are here in the Cairo castle with the five children and their parents – what is their true purpose?

Noah’s mother is kidnapped from the opera stage – can he rescue her without endangering their mission?

Racing through the marketplaces of Cairo, delving into mysterious secrets, seeking answers without waiting to be ‘old enough to help’ – this thrilling conclusion of The Young Inventors Guild series must overcome the ultimate evil to save the world.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

P is A Pocket Full of Murder & magic & treachery, by R. J. Anderson (book review)

book cover of A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson published by Atheneum BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCommon spells to wash clothes,
intricate spells to power vehicles,
Sagery spells to steal your breath away – forever.

Writing more adventures of lady justice Auradia won’t put food on the table or get Papa out of jail, so Isaveth and Quiz, an eyepatch-wearing streetboy, decide to save Papa by discovering who really had reason to kill the governor of Tarreton College, but someone wants them to stop!

Step into Isaveth’s world of spell-tablets, political scheming, and religious intolerance with the first chapter of A Pocket Full of Magic here, courtesy of the author.

Now in paperback, followed by A Little Taste of Poison (hardcover 2016).

Who’s the friend who’ll help you with any mystery?
**kmm

Book info: A Pocket Full of Murder (Uncommon Magic, book 1) / R.J. Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Papa is unjustly arrested for murder, 12 year old Isaveth searches for clues from her impoverished neighborhood to the wealthy districts of Tarreton, assisted by ingenious streetkid Quiz, with his eyepatch and uncanny knowledge of society gossip.

Baking and selling spell-tablets from her late mother’s recipes is Isaveth’s best chance to feed her sisters and find out more about Papa’s case, with Quiz appearing just in time during dangerous situations.

Who made it look like Common Magic killed Master Orien?
Was Papa framed because of his Moshite beliefs or his support of the Workers’ Club?
Where does Quiz go when he’s not helping Isaveth?

In a world powered by Common spells and elite Sagery, someone is trying to gain political power, no matter who stands against them, but Isaveth and Quiz won’t let her Papa take the blame for murder! Followed by A Little Taste of Poison.

E for Elsie & Eddie in The Art of Not Breathing, by Sarah Alexander (book review)

book cover of The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander published by HMH BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHer twin drowned 5 years ago,
her memory blanked out, her parents can’t cope.
Dive down, deeper, darker.

Free diving – no oxygen, no safety equipment – risky, exhilarating, and the only way that Elsie can get closer to uncovering what happened when she and Eddie were on the beach that terrible day…

In hardcover now and releasing in paperback on 11 April 2017, The Art of Not Breathing takes us where memory just cannot go.
**kmm

Book info: The Art of Not Breathing / Sarah Alexander. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The rough North Sea taunts Elsie, as the 16 year old struggles to remember what happened five years ago on this shore, where her twin Eddie vanished, her parents splintered to bits, and all the town gave up on her family.

Skipping school and retreating to the abandoned boathouse, the Scottish teen is startled to meet mysterious Tay and his pals there, free divers who dare the sea by diving deeper and deeper without oxygen or safety gear.

Of course, Elsie convinces the guys to teach her to free dive, certain that her memories about her mentally challenged twin’s disappearance will be unlocked by the depths.

But, what secret is Tay hiding?
Will Elsie ever remember what happened to Eddie?
Can anything put her family back together again?

Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor (book review) – time travel into danger

book cover of Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.comMom is not dead?
Just trapped in the past,
One chance to rescue her…

Hope’s photographic memory is no fluke, but an essential part of her heritage as a Viator time traveler. And she’ll need it to complement her hasty training in knife-fighting and proper lady’s behavior before the team’s one-shot trip to 12th century England.

When Outlander author Diana Gabaldon praises a time travel book, you know it’s something special.

Read the first few chapters here courtesy of the publisher, and you’ll be hooked on Hope’s story – past and present. The sequel is due in May 2017, so start your journey Into the Dim now….

If you could travel into the past, where/when would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Into the Dim / Janet B. Taylor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hope is relieved to discover that Mom didn’t die in that earthquake, startled to learn that her mother is trapped in the 12th century, and completely unprepared to time-travel back to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court to rescue her!

After Mom is declared dead in an earthquake, her adoptive dad’s family in Arkansas wants to ‘stop this homeschool nonsense’ that allows Hope to edge past her crippling phobias and harness her photographic memory.

Luckily, her never-met Aunt Lucinda invites Hope to Scotland, where the teen learns of her Viator lineage which enables her aunt and others to travel – carefully, very carefully – back in time, as her mother did. But Mom missed the rendezvous and is stranded in the time of King Henry II.

Ley lines, costumes, computers, training in martial arts, languages, and customs – all necessary to make that single trip back to a certain time and place. One chance per Viator, that’s it.

Can Hope master enough skills to pass as a young lady traveling with chaperone?
What does handsome neighbor Bran Cameron suspect about her aunt and the Viators?
Why did Mom bolt back into time without telling her?

First in an exciting time-travel series where one false move could undo Hope’s sanity, the Viator secret, and the world’s history. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Black River Falls, by Jeff Hirsch (book review) – epidemic memory loss (almost)

book cover of Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch published by Clarion | recommended on BooksYALove.comSchool, family, changes.
New places, familiar faces –
Who are we without our memories?

He remembers, after the virus slammed all memories out of everyone else in Black Falls.

Now a paramilitary force has taken control of the quarantined town… not good at all.

Start at the beginning, with this free sample of the first chapters here, courtesy of the author, whose post-apocalyptic The Eleventh Plague I recommended here (no spoilers. ever).

Which memory would you never ever want to lose?
**kmm

Book info: Black River Falls / Jeff Hirsch. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The only person to keep his memories, Cardinal discovers startling secrets as private police roll into his quarantined town six months after the virus sweeps through Black Falls.

High above the New York town, Cardinal and former bully Greer are sheltering kids whose parents forgot them (and everything else) in the woods, venturing down only when supply drops are scheduled.

So eerie and sad to visit his own house and know he’s the only one who remembers living there as a family – at least his brother was away at college when the virus hit… 10 hours after exposure, and all your memories are gone.

When Cardinal spots a new girl in town after its borders have been sealed for months, the teen knows something is wrong.

When private forces take over from the National Guard, he knows that things are going to get worse.

What caused this weird virus that only affects memory?
How can he bear seeing his mom fall in love with someone?
Why is remembering his comic book creator dad so hard?

Scary, possible, unsettling – there is no reset button on the the human brain…

Wax, by Christina Damico (book review) – wick of life burns low?

book cover of Wax by Gina Damico published by HMH Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comCandle scents galore,
Rising above her town,
Hiding ominous secrets.

Poppy loves her Vermont hometown, tolerates the tourists who flock to its legendary candle factory, cannot leave a good clue unfollowed – even when it takes her deep into the castle-like factory and its dark secrets!

And the naked guy who jumps out of her car trunk later? There must be a good explanation…

Read the first 2 chapters of Wax here free, courtesy of the author, then go get it at your local library or independent bookstore to see what Poppy and Dud discover about the candle factory’s luminous past and shadowy present, by the author of Croak (my no-spoiler review here) and other scary stuff.

Favorite candle scent?
**kmm

Book info: Wax / Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Poppy investigates strange rumors about Paraffin, Vermont’s fabled candle factory, the 17 year old won’t let Blake’s malicious pranks or Dud’s sudden appearance stop her from saving her hometown – if she doesn’t get waxed herself.

Poppy is just trying to get everyone in Paraffin to forget her horrific performance on national TV when she hears a disturbing rumor about the Grosholtz Candle Factory and takes the tourist-tour to see for herself.

Not sure which is more weird – the old lady in the hidden hall beyond the factory tour route, the lifelike wax mannequins she creates, or the naked teen guy who leaps from the trunk of Poppy’s car at home!

Introducing Dud as a foreign exchange student to her ditzy parents gets around his complete lack of knowledge about anything in town (or life or anything), but where did he actually come from?

Poppy lets her nose for news take her back to the factory, with Dud by her side and an eerie theory in mind, despite the obvious danger and the escalating pranks pulled on her by the mayor’s son.

Who’s following Poppy and Dud?
Why can’t the police get more leads on missing persons cases?
Was the old lady’s chat just factory history or a prophecy?

Humor, horror, and miasmic clouds of candle scent fill this mysterious tale.

Desert Dark, by Sonja Stone (book review) – school for spies, time to die?

book cover of Desert Dark by Sonja Stone published by Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrilliant students wanted,
Puzzle-solving a plus.
Survival through graduation not guaranteed…

Whoa! Full tuition for boarding school for math genius problem-solvers? And across the country from her cheating boyfriend, too? Best idea that cryptographic whiz Nadia has heard in a long time, till she arrives at… a secret Black Ops academy, funded by the CIA, with a killer double-agent on campus!

The first chapters (provided here free by the publisher) set up the dangerous world that Nadia finds herself in.

How far can you run from heartbreak?
**kmm

Book info: Desert Dark / Sonja Stone. Holiday House, 2016.  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited for an exclusive boarding school where her math abilities will be prized, Nadia discovers that Desert Mountain Academy covertly trains students for CIA black ops careers. When rumors of a double-agent on the remote Arizona campus prove true, suspicion falls on the newly-arrived Virginia teen whose mother is Lebanese.

Nadia is overwhelmed with martial arts and Mandarin, trying to master firearms and survival skills with the other juniors in her team – and resisting her attraction to their senior leader, Jack.

Teammate Damon is willing to help her catch up, but socially-challenged Alan (grandson of a Jewish Mossad agent) is openly skeptical, sure that she’ll bring down the team.

Her germophobic roommate Libby is hiding something – is it about the girl whose death opened a spot for Nadia after the semester had begun?

Chapters by Nadia, Libby, Jack, and the mysterious double-agent tell of assassination attempts (yep, plural), gradual team bonding, survival training, academic challenges, and a growing romance – if Nadia can survive her first year at Desert Mountain Academy!