Boats and trains, Dams and bridges, Engineered to work…or fail.
An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.
Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.
A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.
Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.
Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.
From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.
Keeping her brother healthy is sin. Thinking for herself is sin. Is saving their lives sinful, too?
Suffering is God’s will says the Prophet, but Agnes refused to let Ben die like so many children here, sneaking away to get her little brother’s insulin from an outside nurse who warns of the new plague affecting people, birds, and animals.
As the Prophet orders everyone into the mountain bunker to wait out the Apocalypse, the 16 year old knows it’s time to run, to escape the Arizona mountain settlement with her siblings, to risk the Outside world’s depravity and oncoming pandemic…
It’s Beth who always wanted to leave – does she truly want to take her big sister’s place as a sixth wife? The nurse’s son Danny is smart and kind – can she trust an outsider with their lives and her heart? Agnes heard God’s voice as a child – will it lead them now to safety?
Red Creek’s menfolk and their multiple wives believe that the outside world is all sin, but this Arizona mountain settlement hides much wickedness, too.
Told in alternating chapters by Agnes and Beth, this tale of apocalypse, pandemic, and faith was just released in June 2020. Read the Prologue here on the author’s website to meet Agnes before…
What hope are you finding during pandemic times? **kmm
Book info: Agnes at the End of the World / Kelly McWilliams. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Lightning storms go on and on. Frost on the window in summer. A house across the street that no one else in town can seem to remember…
Big change, moving from Chicago after Mom’s death to the small Arizona town where Dad grew up.
So many weird things are happening here – of course the twins and their new friends are going to investigate!
Can you escape sorrow by moving to a new place? **kmm
Book info: The Year of Lightning (The Time Shift Trilogy. book 1) / Ryan Dalton. Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When Malcolm sees someone in an abandoned house which has no doors, the fifteen-year-old and his twin Valentine uncover a dangerous force that imperils their small town – lightning can strike much more than twice in the same place!
New to grandmother’s old house, new to Dad’s old high school, the twins start making friends as Malcolm dives into history and Valentine impresses her science teacher.
But Patrick disappears right after Fred’s back-to-school party, so school newspaper editor Winter gets everyone investigating, as the lightning storms get more and more intense.
Is the lightning striking the abandoned house or coming from it?
Why must the strange watch found there stay with Malcolm constantly?
Who’s the shadowed man lurking around town now?
The teens and longtime town residents must hurry to find out what’s going on in that house and with the watch that won’t keep normal time before it’s too late! (first in Time Shift Trilogy).
Arm count = zero,
Nose for mysteries and secrets = keen,
Sense of humor = boundless!
Moving to a new school can be nerve-wracking, especially in junior high when you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any arms to wave hello or shake hands… but Aven will carry on regardless of the stares.
Just released this week, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus showcases Aven’s curiosity, self-sufficient attitude (thanks to her parents), and witty storytelling as she leaps (or tiptoes) into new situations in her new town and school.
How do you treat new folks who are different from you?
Book info: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus / Dusti Bowling. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Moving across the country, 13-year-old Aven wonders whether living in Arizona will be more difficult because she has such fair skin or because she has no arms.
Her adoptive parents have encouraged Aven to do everything for herself – button her jeans, brush her teeth, play the guitar – and she can.
Dad really needs a job, so off they go to Arizona where he and Mom will manage an Old West theme park, and Aven will start 8th grade without the longtime friends who are used to her crazy stories about where her arms went, knowing she was born that way.
Eating with her feet (of course she washes them first!) in front of new kids? Yikes! Better after meeting Connor, who never eats in front of anyone because of his Tourette’s tics, and Zion, who eats by himself so kids don’t tease him about being big.
Uncovering the mystery of the missing Cavanaugh photo and the secrets in the locked shed? Just takes persistence and clue-gathering by Aven, Connor, and Zion. And a crowbar. And the right key.
Making sure that Stagecoach Pass park stays open? She’ll have to think on that a while.
Ancient saguaro cacti that guard the hilltops near the park, tarantula photos on the ice cream parlor walls, upcoming soccer tryouts – interesting opportunities for Aven, whose blog posts shout and whisper the happy and challenging parts of her new life.
Brilliant 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?
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!
Just her and Pa on the homestead,
till the Rose Gang came a-killin’ –
now it’s time for revenge…
Kate will track down the killers in the unforgiving Arizona deserts and mountains to avenge her father’s death, but when the 18 year old discovers that the gang is after the gold that her father hid, look out!
My book talk: Kate’s riding hell-bent for leather on the Arizona frontier to avenge her father’s murder, as she follows the treasure map that he hid for her, ready to kill every member of the Rose Gang… as long as they don’t get her first!
Apaches and dust storms, the Superstition Mountains and a secretive old miner, Pa’s mysterious and cryptic map… Kate’s trail is perilous and bloody.
If Kate’s heart is consumed by vengeance, will there ever be room for anything else?
The resemblance is uncanny.
This no-money runaway looks just like a missing heiress,
the one who will inherit millions on her birthday this month.
What could go wrong with a short-time acting gig?
Oh, Eve, if you only knew…
With no roots and no need to be protected, Eve is even more like the desert’s ghost flower than Aurora was. Perhaps that’s why Bain and Bridgette chose her to fill in as their missing cousin, so it’s that much easier to sweep her away later and let The Family’s money flow to those who appreciate it and badly want it??
And why does Eve get such conflicting stories about Aurora’s best friend Liza? There’s something wrong about Liza’s suicide, something that Eve can almost figure out – when the phone calls start, from ‘unknown number‘ – phone calls from Liza, trying to warn Aurora about something, someone,
reminding her that they’re best friends… forever.
Grab this page-turner at your local independent bookseller as soon as it’s published on April 12, 2012 – and once you get to the halfway point, plan on staying up late to finish it.
My Book Talk: Oh, she looks just like their missing cousin! Two rich teens offer Eve a chance to break out of poverty. Just convince the family that she really is runaway Aurora, come home in time to collect her inheritance, then conveniently disappear again once she’s given most of the money to them. What has she got to lose?
Maybe it’s time for her to take a chance on a better future, one far away from Tucson and the troubling flashbacks to terrible times in foster care which have increased since she moved here.
Studying photographs of Aurora’s relatives and school friends, eating only her favorite foods, wearing only her favorite colors – Eve is being transformed into wild, crazy Ro under the exacting instructions of Bridgette and Bain, secluded in a desert hideaway.
Bridgette has Aurora’s return to Tucson society meticulously planned for the week of her high school’s graduation, just before the memorial to its two lost classmates – Aurora and her best friend Liza, who committed suicide on the night that Ro disappeared.
But the new Aurora has her own ideas for convincing everyone that she’s the real deal and jumps back in early, encountering a psychic medium with a chilling message at a graduation party séance, a police officer who believes her memory is gone but sees her sorrows too well, and eerie phone calls day and night – from Liza!
Glaring omissions in the detailed information that Bain and Bridgette provide Eve to study – do the cousins want Eve to succeed or fail in her attempt to convince her wealthy grandmother, the rest of the Sterling family, and Tucson’s high society that she truly is their wild, impetuous Aurora?
Ghostly phone calls from Liza – can the dead truly communicate with us?
Who is she warning Eve about?
Why don’t all the puzzle pieces surrounding her death fit together right?
The desert’s Ghost Flower only blooms where the spirits of the dead rest uneasy. Lock the door, turn off the cell phone, and venture with Eve into Aurora and Liza’s privileged and perilous world. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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