Tag Archive | environment

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.

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They rejoice in being STRANGE BIRDS together! by Celia C. Perez (MG book review)

book cover of Strange Birds, by Celia C. Perez. Published by Kokila Books PRH. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Endangered bird feathers as a prop,
a social club with no social awareness,
time to stop this nonsense!

Waiting out her parents’ transatlantic divorce arguments, Lane decides to take summer at her wealthy grandmother’s palatial Florida estate from boring to bold by inviting other 12 year old girls to form a secret club.

Ofelia’s overprotective Cuban-American parents want the budding journalist to stay safe, quit being so inquisitive, and certainly not apply for news-writers’ camp in New York City.

Helping her grandfather research connections between their Bahamian roots and local citrus growers leaves Aster plenty of time to cook up new dishes while Mom’s overseas in the Army.

As youngest sister, Cat is her society-conscious mother’s final chance to have a Miss Flora in the family, but she’d rather watch living birds than sit in boring club meetings.

The new friends decide to challenge the tradition of Miss Flora wearing a ceremonial hat with feathers from endangered birds – it should be in a museum!

All their low-key protests – stickers, lawn flamingos at the Flora clubhouse – get taken over by the Flora leader for publicity! How can this eclectic crew make the townspeople understand the importance of protecting local birds in peril?

Happy book birthday to Strange Birds, now available at your local library or independent bookstore.

**kmm

Book info: Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers / Celia C. Perez. Kokila Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Shh… don’t tell anyone else, but I heard…audiobooks!

Gossip can taint a relationship, sever a friendship, end someone’s freedom… or their life!

This week’s two free @AudioSYNC audiobooks are filled with gossip and its consequences, free for you to download (just click the title below) and read with your ears.

It’s true that you can keep any free AudioSYNC title on your device as long as you wish, but I wouldn’t trust any of the stories told by characters in these two books!

CD cover of A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena | Read by Firdous Bamji, Neil Shah, Soneela Nankani, Lameece Issaq.Published by Recorded Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena

Read by Firdous Bamji, Neil Shah, Soneela Nankani, Lameece Issaq

Published by Recorded Books

How is it that Porus and Zarin were together unchaperoned in a car? How did the deadly crash happen? Were the school gossips right about Zarin and her flings, forbidden under Saudi law?

Four narrators tell the tale in flashbacks as the ghosts of Porus and Zarin watch the Saudi religious police investigation and its effects on their families and friends.

CD cover of An Enemy of the People,  by Henrik Ibsen, Rebecca Lenkiewicz | Read by Rosalind Ayres, Gregory Harrison, Richard Kind, Alan Mandell, Jon Matthews, Alan Shearman, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Tom Virtue, Sam Boeck, Julia Coulter, Jeff Gardner, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Read by Rosalind Ayres, Gregory Harrison, Richard Kind, Alan Mandell, Jon Matthews, Alan Shearman, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Tom Virtue, Sam Boeck, Julia Coulter, Jeff Gardner, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein

Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Their town thrives because people come for the healing spring waters, and everything is fine.

Except the possibility that the springs are dangerously polluted and the person who wants to make that news public!

Can such devastating news be allowed? If he cannot speak out, then there is no news…
When does the public good become more important than profits? When, indeed!

How have gossip and silenced truths affected you?
**kmm

Can Fox Girl and the White Gazelle become friends? by Victoria Williamson (book review)

book cover of Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, by Victoria Williamson. Published by Floris Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wounded wild animal,
Two sad-at-heart girls –
What can heal them?

“Immersion” into school when her Syrian family arrives in Glasgow is more like drowning for Reema – new words, new accent, new dangers to face.

Fighting keeps everyone from getting close to Cailyn or discovering her mom’s problems – being a bully is better than being in foster care.

Cautiously, Reema and Cailyn might edge toward friendship as they care for a wounded fox and her babies in this story from Scotland that puts human faces on headline news.

How are refugees welcomed and assisted in your community?
**kmm

Book info: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle / Victoria Williamson. Kelpies/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reema and her family have run away from the bombings and gas attacks, away from their home in Syria to far-off Scotland, separated from big brother Jamal.

Fox limped away from the metal monster that hurt her, away from the no-longer-safe woods, too close to the tall boxes where the beasts dwell, her babies come now.

Caylin won’t run from anything after Grandad’s death, covering up as Mum mourns in the bottle, stealing to keep them fed, bullying any who mock her lisp or shabby clothes.

Reema and Cailyn find the wounded fox and her small pups, both vowing to keep them safe and hidden from the nosiest neighbor in their small Glasgow apartment block.

Running – like she and Jamal did in the souk of Aleppo, Reema can run school races as fast as the white gazelle she is named for – if Baba and Mama will allow it.

Running – pups will grow and explore, the beasts in the box nearby will find them – mother fox must heal to lead them to safety.

Running – Gran was a national champion and Cailyn could be, too – but if Mum is wrong, kids would make fun of her even more.

This story of risk and safety is told from all three viewpoints as the two junior high girls discover that their differences need not separate them when important things are at stake.

Her future? It Started With Goodbye! by Christina June (book review)

book cover of It Started With Goodbye by Christina June published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot her fault!
Not fair!
Not the worst thing after all?

Tatum’s unwarranted ‘house arrest’ after (former?) BFF Ashlyn’s big mistake plus petsitting to pay the fine and all those community service hours sweltering outdoors… the only good things about this summer are her growing design business (and flirting with one particular client), getting to know Abby (so much ivy to eradicate!), and having grandma Blanche (how could uptight stepmother be this free spirit’s daughter?) at home.

Happy book birthday this week to It Started With Goodbye!

How to draw the line between supporting a friend and enabling them?
**kmm

Book info:  It Started With Goodbye / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Attacking overgrown vines wasn’t Tatum’s plan for summer, but starting her design business online (and flirtatious emails with SK) might make ‘house arrest’ and community service a bit more bearable.

After her BFF’s bad judgment puts the Virginia teen completely under her rigid stepmother’s supervision while Dad is overseas, only pet-sitting or doing community service can get Tate out of the house shared with perfect stepsister Tilly, the ballet prodigy. Luckily, they don’t know how happy Tate is that Tilly’s grandmother Blanche is here for the summer.

Interesting to become friends with Abby and Hunter – will they ever act on their growing attraction?
Exciting that her TLC Design is getting clients online – who is SK and will she ever meet him?
Still sad that Ashlyn won’t acknowledge her part in that fiasco – will she ever answer Tate’s emails?

A bit magical having abuela Blanche on her side – almost like a Cinderella story!

T is The Last Tree, by Denise Getson – final hope for desert Earth?

book cover of The Last Tree by Denise Getson published by CBAY Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAble to make water where there is none!
Mutation? Gift?

Generations after the Devastation of chemical and biological weapons nearly wiped out life on Earth, mutations may be nature’s way of keeping humanity around, perhaps to save the very last tree in the whole world, hidden where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers once flowed.

Look for the first book in the series, Dry Souls (my no-spoiler review here), to visit Kira’s world as she first discovers her affinity for water in this parched future Earth.

How far would you go for friendship?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Tree (Dry Souls, book 2) / Denise Getson. CBAY Books, 2016. [author’s Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kira isn’t sure how she can call water through solid rock into places where it once flowed, but the United Territory Council government will stop at nothing to capture her and find out how she can bring forth water when all land is desert.

The teen must stay free so she, Tuck, and J.D. can rescue friend Tamara and continue their stealthy mission to get Kira near old lakebeds to call their waters back.

When she is asked to help a special tree, how can Kira say no?
Is this last tree in the entire world truly the Tree of Knowledge?
But how can she keep her family of friends safe from the UTC?

Kira’s adventures in the dry and toxic world introduced in Dry Souls, book one of the series, continue as she jumps across the world from danger into world-altering risks.

Read with your ears, then eat informed!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC help you think food as you read with your ears!

From Thursday through Wednesday (30 June to late night 6 July), you can download either or both of these these complete audiobooks for free, then listen to them whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Click on the link following each title to go to the SYNC site now (you’ll need Overdrive app to listen; free download link there, also).

CD audiobook cover of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Readers' Edition) by Michael Pollan | Read by MacLeod Andrews Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Readers’ Edition) (download here)
by Michael Pollan
Read by MacLeod Andrews
Published by Listening Library

Journalist/food detective Pollan explored conventional and organic farms, hunting, foraging, mega-corporations and small enterprises to see how food gets to your table and how you can make informed choices about what you eat.

Grasshopper Jungle (download here)CD audiobook cover of Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith | Read by Philip Church Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Andrew Smith
Read by Philip Church
Published by Listening Library

Austin and Robby didn’t intend to create a horde of 6 foot tall praying mantises that want only to eat and reproduce, but that’s what people in their small Iowa town are becoming! Not the most convenient time to fall in love with both your best friends…

What summer food will you snack on as you listen?
**kmm

Ancient One, by T.A. Barron (book review) – forest & livelihood both in peril

book cover of The Ancient One by T.A. Barron published by Puffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comA vanished people,
towering trees of mystery,
a chance to save the world…

Now out in paperback for its 25th anniversary, Merlin Saga author T.A. Barron’s tale of a young teen striving to complete a perilous quest even as she mourns her parents’ deaths is an adventure and a celebration of the interconnectedness of life, as it weaves together old secrets, ancient peoples, time travel, and an evil bent upon conquering the world.

When have you stood strong against wrong?
**kmm

Book info: The Ancient One / T.A. Barron. Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback); Philomel Books, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video about book] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At her aunt’s Oregon home, grieving teen Kate helps Aunt Melanie try to stop out-of-work loggers from destroying a newly discovered redwood grove and is hurtled back in time to meet nature beings and Native peoples who are struggling to prevent an evil force from overtaking their world. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Pills and Starships, by Lydia Millet (book review) – climate change, drugs, and lies

book cover of Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet published by Akashic BooksToo sad to keep on living in a climate chaotic world,
her parents have chosen their time to die…
or is it the pharma talking?

Nat’s mom and dad – former environmental activists – could have waited just a few more years to invoke the Service Contract ending their lives, till the teen and her younger brother moved out as workers – why now?

In this too-possible dystopia, global warming has changed weather patterns, babies are now illegal, and new diseases mutating weekly make face-to-face contact rare.

Ask for Nat’s story at your local library or independent bookstore to see if she can find a way to keep her family together once she discovers the truths that pharma-corps are trying to hide. (I loved the book, but its title… not so much)

**kmm

Book info: Pills and Starships / Lydia Millet. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author interview on NPR]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Preparing to honor her parents’ final week of life, Nat learns that big money uses pharma to trick the few remaining Americans into thinking that global warming has eliminated the entire natural world.

At a tropical resort devoted to final Contracts, the teen and her hackerkid brother discover real plants and animals and people who think for themselves.  Are pharma-corporations really lying to the public about imminent doomsday?

Her decision about joining the rebels must come soon, as her parents’ date with a lethal farewell drink in mere days will leave Nat and Sam in a group survivors’ home in Oregon – are her parents really sad enough about the state of the world to leave it forever?

When a mega-hurricane hurtles toward Hawai’i, will it be too late to rescue her not-old parents and not-old-enough brother?

Addressed to an imagined friend safely orbiting this climate-chaos world, Nat reflects in the Contract-provided mourning journal about Starships and Pills  and her unexpected opportunity to escape pharma-managed life… if she can. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)