Tag Archive | California

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

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.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Victory over violence? Stunning stories to read with your ears!

Our final pair of free audiobooks for 2020 take us back and back in history as young women of color fight the odds to live and move on.

Have the Sora app ready on your phone or tablet, then use the download links to grab these titles for your shelf.

Thanks again to the AudioSYNC program and all the publishers for sharing 26 professionally produced audiobooks this summer so we can read with our ears all year.

CD cover of Burn, Baby, Burn, by Meg Medina. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Burn Baby Burn (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Meg Medina.Read by Marisol Ramirez. Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

During the sweltering summer of 1977, a massive blackout, arson, and the Son of Sam’s murder spree put New York City on edge, especially in Nora’s neighborhood.

The Cuban-American teen wants to get away from her bullying brother, but their mother can’t navigate life without her help. As Hector’s violence grows, Nora wonders if she’ll make it to 18 or not.

CD cover of Kindred by Octavia Butler, read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kindred (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Octavia E. Butler. Read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books

Transported from 1976 California to antebellum Maryland, 26 year old Dana saves a white boy from drowning and suddenly is returned to the present before being shot.

As the young Black woman gets pulled back and forth in time, always encountering the same white man, she begins to realize that she must keep him alive so the family line continues down to her!

How can you stand strong against changes that threaten your very existence?
**kmm

Alien contact? AXIOM’S END, by Lindsay Ellis (book review)

book cover of Axiom's End, by Lindsay Ellis. Published by St Martin's Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being watched,
conspiracy theory?
Alien! Monster! Friend?

Cora feels like a failure in 2007, dropping out of college, back home with her mom and brothers, all trying to avoid renewed public interest in her estranged father’s untraceable messages detailing government lies.

Then he reveals that aliens (from space!) are being detained at secret US bases, and federal agents hurry to question Cora about where her dad is hiding, so she escapes.

Someone else is trailing her, too – someone not-human…

With a language descrambler implanted in her ear, Cora considers the alien’s plea – help it rescue the imprisoned aliens before they perish!

Infiltrating a California computer research lab, speeding across the Nevada desert, Cora and the alien begin to understand each other bit by bit, knowing the agents are on their trail.

As her aunt shares her research into alien communication, they realize that there are no corresponding terms in human languages for complex alien relationships, but that concepts of genocide, treachery, and fear are all too understandable by all.

Will the agents believe that Cora hasn’t been in contact with her father?
How long has the government been hiding the aliens?
Why did the aliens allow themselves to be captured at all?

This wasn’t aliens accidentally landing on a strange planet – it’s much, much more complicated than that…

Just published on 21 July 2020, this debut novel of “first contact” and further alien encounters goes way beyond Roswell and flying saucers!

What bonds would connect you across space?
**kmm

Book info: Axiom’s End (Noumena, book 1) / Lindsay Ellis. St. Martin’s Press, 2020. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Different stories, different viewpoints? Audiobooks bring us both

It’s past time to pro-actively seek out viewpoints beyond our own, to strive to understand where others are placed in the world – let this week’s free audiobooks get you started on this journey!

First, grab the free Sora app on your phone or tablet. Next, register free at AudioSYNC, then use either or both of the links below to download this week’s audiobooks, free through Wed, July 1, 2020.

CD cover of Mexican Whiteboy, by Matt de la Peña | Read by Henry Leyva
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mexican Whiteboy (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

by Matt de la Peña. Read by Henry Leyva. Published by Brilliance Audio

Half-Mexican, half-White, all mixed up – Danny doesn’t fit in at his San Diego private school where his talented but erratic pitching can’t save him from being too brown.

He doesn’t speak Spanish, so it’s awkward staying with his dad’s family when his divorced mom goes north. Is he the reason Dad went back to Mexico?

The Silence Between Us (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

Since becoming Deaf a few years ago, Maya has learned ASL at a special school. Then Mom’s job moves them across the country, and the teen must attend a hearing high school…

I recommended this #ownvoices story on BooksYALove earlier this year – no-spoiler details here.

How are you working to truly see and understand the culture of other people?
**kmm

Unwise love and unforgivable secrets to read with your ears! (audiobook reviews)

Forced together by circumstance, forced apart by society, choosing to remember…or forget.

This week’s pair of audiobooks bring us a mother and daughter’s modern then-and-now story and a fantasy enemies-to-lovers (maybe) tale.

Download either or both titles to your phone or tablet using the links below so you can listen whenever you like through the Sora app.

These are available on the AudioSYNC site free through Wednesday evening 3 June 2020. If you miss the free download for any of these featured audiobooks, check your local library or school library.

CD cover of In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo.
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In Search of Us (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Brilliance Audio.

Mom says her black father died before Angie was born, but new information about him sets the mixed-race teen on a road trip to California, with her ex-boyfriend!

Marilyn’s own love story as a teen in the 90s derailed her career as actress and photographer, but what brought her and baby Angie to New Mexico?

CD cover of Serpent & Dove,  by Shelby Mahurin. Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Serpent & Dove (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Shelby Mahurin . Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio.

Escaping her coven, Louise tries to survive in the city by her wits alone. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” guides Reid as he hunts them down.

When Lou and Reid are caught in a compromising position, they must marry or else!

When is it time to let secrets remain secret?
**kmm

When home’s safety is an illusion, what next? Read tales of escape & danger … with your ears!

From home, they cross desert lands,
from desert to home,
siblings travel in fear and hope.

The destination and the journey may both prove dangerous for teens in this week’s free audiobooks from the summer AudioSYNC program.

Download by evening of 27 May 2020 via the links below, and you can read with your ears as long as you keep the files on your phone or tablet’s Sora app shelf.

CD oover of Sisters Matsumoto, by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sisters Matsumoto (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Leaving prison camp in 1945, three Japanese-American sisters return to their California family farm, but find that everything has changed.

The young women are determined to realize their late parents’ dreams, even if the land is out of their hands.

This full-cast live performance is followed by an excellent discussion with former internee George Takei about US citizens “relocated” during World War II.

CD cover of Disappeared,  by Francisco X. Stork | Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas
Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Disappeared (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Francisco X. Stork. Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas. Published by Scholastic Audio

Las Desaparecidas, the disappeared girls, now include Sara’s friend Linda so the young journalist writes and worries, knowing that powerful forces in Juarez are behind the kidnappings.

Sara’s brother Emiliano hopes that building a small business will impress the wealthy classmate he adores.

Soon, the criminals threaten Sara and Emiliano’s lives – is it time for them to brave the desert crossing to safety?

What difficult journeys in life have you traversed with the help of your family?
**kmm

More than meets the eye – read with your ears & AudioSYNC!

Thursday equals a pair of related new titles in the AudioSYNC program, both free for you to download before Wednesday night, 13 May 2020.

For each audioSYNC book you choose, be sure to hit ‘Borrow’ on the Sora app (downloaded on your phone or tablet). Then it will be checked out to you for 35,996 days or 100 years – enough time to listen to all 26 selections of summer 2020!

CD cover of Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis, by Paul B. Janeczko, Read by Ron Butler.  Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis (info here)

by Paul B. Janeczko | Read by Ron Butler | Published by Brilliance Audio

Sound effects, inflatable war machines, pyrotechnics, and camouflage – the U.S. “Ghost Army” made up of actors, set designers, audio specialists, and painters fooled German forces during World War II.

Their 20 missions made the Nazis see and hear non-existent troop maneuvers from the Normandy invasion to crossing the Rhine, ensuring Allied victory.

CD cover of Picture Us in the Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert, Read by James Chen.  Published by Dreamscape | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Picture Us in the Light (info here)

by Kelly Loy Gilbert | Read by James Chen | Published by Dreamscape

A year after his close-knit group of friends ruptures, Danny worries about his future as an artist after high school. When the California teen discovers a box of secrets in Dad’s closet, everything his immigrant family has told him comes into question, too.

How do we camouflage our true intentions from others?
**kmm

Summer reading time – 13 weeks of FREE audiobooks…starting now!

Happy May, happy AudioSYNC summertime!

Whatever your weather, it is now officially summer reading season because our free weekly audiobooks are here!

This year, the AudiobookSYNC program uses the Sora app for listening through a dedicated ‘public library’ that hosts one pair of free audiobooks weekly. Read more about the 13 week program here.

For every pair of audiobooks, your time to download either or both titles begins at 12 midnight (EDT) Thursday, running through late night Wednesday. For 2020, listeners worldwide can download all books! All you need to register is an email address.

CD cover of Monday's Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson, Read by Imani Parks. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Monday’s Not Coming (download)

by Tiffany D. Jackson | Read by Imani Parks Published by HarperAudio

How can learning-challenged Claudia start the school year without BFF Monday? Why can’t anyone remember the last time they saw the African American teen? How can a girl just disappear? Claudia wants answers, wants Monday back!

CD cover of The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, Read by Robin Miles. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The 57 Bus (download)

by Dashka Slater | Read by Robin Miles Published by Recorded Books

Just 8 minutes in the same bus, day after day – but enough for differences in class, race, and gender perceptions to lead one teen to set another on fire, literally.

A true account of the horrific action that made international news – what punishment could fit this dreadful crime? How did the race of each person affect the daily bus ride, the attack, the trial?

Remember to download either or both mysterious titles before Wednesday night, May 6th. As long as they’re on your Sora app shelf, they’re yours to enjoy!

What mysteries – fictional or factual – do you recommend?
**kmm

T is train tickets & FIELD NOTES ON LOVE, by Jennifer E. Smith (book review)

book cover of Field Notes on Love, by Jennifer E. Smith. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Transcontinental train trip…romantic!
She dumps him before departure…tragic.
Non-refundable tickets…anyone have her same name?

Hugo’s big chance to travel, and it all goes sideways when Margaret breaks up with him. Oh, she’ll just fly to university in California, but he’ll stay home in the UK, quietest of the ‘Surrey Sextuplets’ forever, unless…

He just has to find another Margaret Campbell to travel with him, since everything was booked in her name! Such interesting responses to his social media request…

Maybe the train trip with this British guy will inspire Mae’s new movie to make the film school admissions committee reconsider…

Nana convinces her two dads that Mae is traveling with her new roommate to college in California, finally escaping her small New York hometown.

Rolling westward, cell service is erratic, so there’s lots of time for Hugo and Mae to talk, instead of calling to reassure her family that all is well or texting to remind his siblings that he needs time apart…time to keep talking and dreaming.

Can one week together make such a difference?
How can it not?

Her best friend says Mae’s usual impulsiveness deserts her at the most important times… is that now?

Hugo’s biggest question is whether the university will honor their full scholarship if all six siblings aren’t there…or is it?

Now out in paperback, Field Notes on Love is another travel tale of understanding and romance from the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (my recommendation here), The Geography of You and Me (my notes here), and You Are Here (see here).

How do you decide what’s best for you instead of rolling along with everyone else?
**kmm

Book info: Field Notes on Love / Jennifer E. Smith. Delacorte Press, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.