Tag Archive | science

Travel in the elegant age as you read with your ears

Summertime is a great time to travel the world when you download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC and read with your ears!

Download of these two free complete audiobooks begins today (Thursday, July 9th) and continues through Wednesday. Remember that you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Ready to travel during adventurous times? Just click on the title to go to the download page (super easy to do):

CD cover of The Explorers Club  by Nell Benjamin | Read by Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf Published by L.A. Theatre WorksThe Explorers Club
by Nell Benjamin
Read by Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
In 1879 London, the male-only Explorers Club debates admitting a woman to their ranks. Full-cast audio with music includes humor and a possible international incident.

Around the World in Eighty DaysCD cover of Around the World in Eighty Days  by Jules Verne | Read by Michael Prichard Published by Tantor Audio
by Jules Verne
Read by Michael Prichard<
Published by Tantor Audio

If Phileas Fogg and his valet can journey completely around the world in a mere 80 days, Fogg keeps his fortune… however, travel in the 1870s holds its fair share of perils and adventures!

Where have you traveled through stories lately?
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Winter of the Robots, by Kurtis Scaletta (book review) – robots good, bad, on the loose!

book cover of Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta published by Alfred A KnopfResearching urban otters instead of making fake robots,
Working with cute Rocky for the science fair,
Solving a mystery in snow-bound Minneapolis
all great until something or someone attacks them!

The ‘keep out’ signs at the abandoned site are there for a reason, Jim, but staying out won’t keep the mysterious whatevers inside the fence!

Scaletta wrote about the deadly snake that Linus encountered at Mamba Point – is this new snow-cloaked peril even more dangerous?

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Book info: The Winter of the Robots / Kurtis Scaletta.  Alfred Knopf, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Metal skritching, big clawprints in the snow – the abandoned tech site hides something scarier than Jim and his friends can imagine…and it’s ready to escape!

Maybe it awoke when Jim decided not to be genius Oliver’s sidekick for the 7th grade science fair. Or when their new partners’ ideas got Dmitri kidnapped and Rochelle stuck in the junkyard fence looking for otters. Or when the security cameras they borrowed from Jim’s dad spotted something moving way too fast in the Minneapolis snow to be an otter.

After the creatures chase them out of the old Half Street research site, Jim and Rocky decide to send in robots with cameras to figure out what’s going on, even if Oliver won’t help.

Robot competitions, school closed for snow days, pocket burgers – here’s Jim’s chance to impress Rocky, to uncover whatever is haunting Half Street, and to show Oliver that he can build robots, too…if the things don’t attack the science fair partners first!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Raising the dead with free SYNC audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are deadly delights, as we hear tales of a grave-robber and a mad scientist…

Remember that although each download is only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of the audiobooks for as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

We have several more weeks of full-length audiobooks to look forward to this summer. Have you bookmarked the SYNC site yet?  http://www.audiobooksync.com/
 
CD audiobook cover of Rotters by Daniel Kraus read by Kirby Heyborne published by Listening LibraryRotters
By Daniel Kraus
Read by Kirby Heyborne
Published by Listening Library

 

 

FrankensteinCD cover of audiobook Frankenstein by Mary Shelley read by Jim Weiss published by Listening Library
By Mary Shelley
Read by Jim Weiss
Published by Listening Library

Do you dare listen to these creepy tales before bedtime?
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Arm of the Starfish, by Madeleine L’Engle (book review) – regeneration research, bad guys, international plot

book cover of Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle published by Square FishResearch with an “interesting” new development,
Remote island lab closed to outsiders,
Whispers of miracles or perhaps monsters…

Adam will have to rely on his own wits and instincts during this summer of 1965, when an amazing opportunity to assist with cutting-edge regeneration research lands him right in the middle of medical espionage, undercover agents, and foreign country misunderstandings.

Written as a near-future story in 1965, The Arm of the Starfish  reads almost like alternate history today, as events in Dr. O’Keefe’s island lab blur the line between science fiction and mysticism, with Adam having to decide whether to believe young Poly O’Keefe or beautiful Kali Cutter about the researcher’s true intentions.

You’ll find this classic beginning to the O’Keefe family stories at local library or independent bookstore in the new Square Fish edition. And, yes, the O’Keefes are related to the Murry family you know from A Wrinkle in Time.

How far should research take us toward a future with no limits on life?
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Book info: The Arm of the Starfish / Madeleine L’Engle. Square Fish, 2011 (originally published in 1965 by Farrar Straus Giroux).  [author site]  [publisher site]

My book talk: Adam’s summer job as research assistant to a noted marine biologist on a Mediterranean island is a dream come true – until he’s blamed for a young girl’s disappearance from his flight, chased through Lisbon by thugs, and drawn into a secret with international implications.

Unusual for his professor-mentor to send a recent high school graduate to assist Dr. O’Keefe with starfish regeneration experiments. Unusual that beautiful Kali warns him that O’Keefe and his associate Canon Tallis are not what they seem when she meets Adam for the very first time.

Diverted to Madrid by fog, Adam worries that he’ll miss his connection in Lisbon, but Canon Tallis assures him that they’ll wait, especially as O’Keefe’s preteen daughter Poly is on this same plane.  But when Poly goes into the airplane lavatory and doesn’t return, the flight crew tells Adam she was never aboard!

Dr. O’Keefe himself meets Adam at the airport, telling him that Poly has been kidnapped by someone wanting his research results. Before they can get to the boat for Gaea, Adam is chased and shot at, lied to, brought up-to-date on espionage, and sworn to secrecy.

How can they get Poly back safely?
What is so important about this starfish research?
Which side is Kali really on?

Science and mystical forces weave together in a 1965 outside of our history books on this island paradise where family and community must guard against mercenaries and greed. First of the O’Keefe family stories by A Wrinkle in Time  author Madeleine L’Engle, The Arm of the Starfish  is followed by Dragons in the Waters.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Altered, by Jennifer Rush (fiction) – build-a-soldier: strength tweak here, loyalty serum there

book cover of Altered by Jennifer Rush published by Little BrownSecret laboratory.
Experimental subjects.
Super-soldiers with no memories…

Anna reads the journal that her mom left, makes the recipes just as she noted, wishes that she could be with Sam more often – but what future could she have with a memory-wiped young man who’s confined like a lab rat?

What future is there for Anna anyway? She could never talk to outsiders, in case she accidentally said something about the Lab beneath their farmhouse, the Lab housing four young men that the Branch is secretly training for some sort of mission… the four young men who escape, taking Anna with them!

This 2012 title is a “don’t blink” thriller; imagine what will happen to the crew next!
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Book info: Altered / Jennifer Rush. Little Brown, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site] [audiobook excerpt]

My Recommendation:  Anna is content in her secluded home-schooled world of the remote farmhouse with her dad and the underground lab where “the boys” live. Why the Branch wanted four young men with no memories to be part of this research was never discussed, nor were the many scars on those very physically fit bodies.

When she turned 16, Dad asked Anna to assist him with testing Sam, Nick, Trev, and Cas, little knowing that she’s been sneaking downstairs to play chess with Sam every night for months. When a routine lab inspection by the Branch brings along highly armed soldiers to remove the boys, Anna’s calm life shatters as the boys manage to escape – and Dad sends her along with them, insisting that she must stay as far away from the Branch as possible!

Suddenly, they’re on the run, trying to outguess agents of the maybe-government-related Branch and stay ahead of police when desperation forces them to steal a car and food. Every hour away from the lab unlocks more of the boys’ impressive physical skills as they seem to react before danger occurs and fight as a team without speaking.

Somehow, tendrils of memory guide Sam to a remote farmhouse where he might have lived before his memories were wiped out by the Branch. Everything is now a clue that could help them unlock the boys’ secrets and regain their pasts.

When Anna’s long-absent mother arrives at the farmhouse with surprising news, there’s little time for a tender reunion as gunfire from Branch agents zings through the walls and windows. Was this a set-up or an accident?

Fleeing again, Anna, Sam and company keep trying to figure out the meaning of the numbers within their scars and messages hidden in their tattoos. Code? Map coordinates?

Harder and harder to stay ahead of the Branch as the crew darts from hiding place to newly remembered landmark to safe house. Graveyards and memories, dead men and long-dead children… whatever happens, Anna cannot leave Sam!

Why were the four young men in the Branch lab in the first place?
Why were their memories wiped out?
How far will they all go to stay out of the Branch’s grasp forever?

Jennifer Rush’s debut novel races along faster than Anna’s feelings for Sam, diving into a dark past that could lead to an even darker future. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

12.21, by Dustin Thomason (fiction) – Mayan codex, deadly epidemic, end of the world?

book cover of 12 21 by Dustin Thomason published by Dial

Disease and rioting…
Airplane crashes…
Attacks on immigrants…
Just another day in L.A. or is it the end of the world?

The mysterious codex smuggled to Chel from rural Guatemala might verify the doomsday interpretations of the Mayan “Long Calendar” or just the last days of a single Mayan town… but how to be sure?

As December 21st approaches, look into the great museum exhibits clarifying Mayan timekeeping and the Long Calendar; are researchers even using the correct conversion factor to match Mayan and modern dates?  Be sure to check out the excellent interactive tutorial on reading Mayan glyphs on the book’s website, too.

You’ll find this medical thriller/apocalyptic tale at your local library or independent bookstore now. Probably better to read it sooner than later, right?
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Book info: 12.21 / Dustin Thomason. Dial Books, 2012.  [book website]   [author’s Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Gabe Stanton leaves his disease research lab to check on a mystery patient at a Los Angeles hospital. Chel Manu wonders if the astounding Mayan codex brought to her by a smuggler might not be a forgery. And an airplane falls from the sky, as a rampaging epidemic begins sweeping through L.A. 
This cluster of symptoms described by the hospital matches an extremely rare incurable prion disease, one so infectious that hazmat suits are required just to enter the patient’s room. Perhaps with the help of the right translator they can get some information from the young man to track down the disease’s origin…before he dies of acute insomnia and panic. 
So Chel is asked to translate, pulled away from her volunteer time with Guatemalan refugees, away from her research on ancient Mayan writings, away from the black market antiquities dealer who brought her a never-seen codex from a forgotten city, away from those who think that the 12.21.12 end of the Mayan ‘Long Calendar’ marks the end of the world. 
With few clues and the disease spreading rapidly, Stanton tries to pinpoint how the infection is spread, as Chel surreptitiously translates the new-found codex. Both sets of information point back to a hidden ancient city in the homeland of Chel’s mother, thousands of miles away. 

As the government quarantines LA to stop the epidemic, Stanton and Chel must find a way to get to Guatemala before it’s too late. Is there any possible cure for this disease? How much of the codex’s unusual tale is true? Will the countdown to the end of the Long Calendar become the countdown to the end of civilization? (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Project Jackalope, by Emily Ecton (book review) – mad scientist, secret agents, crazy science fair

book cover of Project Jackalope by Emily Ecton published by Chronicle BooksResearchers think up lots of unusual things,
like cyborg insects
and tracking devices smaller than a grain of rice.
Some stay on the drawing board forever and some don’t.

So, why not develop a jackalope?  Reputed to have a vicious personality, the ability to mimic human voices, and savage killer instincts, jackalopes would make terrible pets – but might be terrifying weapons as well.

You’ll have to read Project Jackalope  for yourself to see if the Professor has created a true jackalope or if Jeremy and Agatha can keep it away from the scary guys in suits or if Jeremy finally passes science with his science fair project! Find this funny middle-grade book at your local library or independent bookstore.
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Book info: Project Jackalope / Emily Ecton. Chronicle Books, 2012.  [author’s website]   [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Something is breathing in the clothes hamper! Why did Professor Twitchett leave his super-secret project in Jeremy’s bedroom and then disappear? It was one thing to run errands for the Professor, but this note about “keeping the experiment safe” is crazy. Can it really be… a jackalope?!

Jeremy’s idea of a science fair project is Styrofoam planets, but Professor Twitchett downstairs is a real scientist, even if he tries to keep things hush-hush. Mom is allergic to furry things, so Jeremy has to let classmate Agatha in on the secret so she can keep the jackalope in her apartment. When government agent-type guys in suits start questioning everyone in their building, Jeremy knows in his gut that he can’t give them the sharp-antlered rabbit.

The Professor’s assistant at the zoo research center hasn’t seen him lately, and his desk is suspiciously neat.  Ditzy old Mrs. Simmons thinks he’s bringing her a dog in a bag when Jeremy hides in her apartment for a minute. The suits show up at the junior high school, intent on getting answers from Jack. Soon Agatha and Jack are on the run, taking the jackalope along, of course.

How long can they elude the scary guys in suits?
When will the jackalope start using his cloth-shredding antlers on them?
Can jackalopes really imitate human voices to confuse their prey?
Why did the Professor create a killer mutant bunny in the first place?

When everyone interested in the jackalope arrives at the junior high science fair, the results are epic! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Ashfall, by Mike Mullin (book review) – volcano disaster, dangerous trek, epic determination

book cover of Ashfall by Mike Mullin published by Tanglewood BooksAs volcanic ash fills the Iowa skies,
violent earthquakes rattle the cornfields,
booms louder than cannons go on for hours and hours,
it seems like the end of the world is now…
but the end is just beginning.

Yellowstone’s geysers and fumaroles have always hinted at its geothermal potential for destruction. The supervolcano eruption long feared by geologists has come at last, and Alex’s home 900 miles east is under attack from its furies.

The enormous ash plume will spread through the atmosphere, block out sunlight, cause sudden and long-lasting winter weather. No sunshine means no crops growing, no crops means no food, widespread famine and desperation. Imagine the damage that sharp corrosive ash will do to auto engine air intakes, aircraft jet engines, delicate lung tissue of people and animals.

And Alex heads out into this ashfall with meager supplies and no sunrise to guide him eastward, trying to reunite with his family, to survive.

Visiting Yellowstone National Park last September, I smelled the sulfur of its hot spring pools, saw entire forests killed by rising super-scalding water levels, watched Old Faithful geyser jet up hundreds of feet into the sky. Yep, this supervolcano potential is real, and scientists are closely monitoring it – but can’t stop it.

First-time author Mike Mullin describes a perilous apocalyptic world which is all the more frightening because it really could happen at any moment. Book two in the series, Ashen Winter, will be published in October 2012 – pre-order it as soon as possible at your favorite independent bookstore because you won’t want to wait a single extra day to read what happens after Ashfall!
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Book info: Ashfall / Mike Mullin. Tanglewood Books, 2011. [author’s website]    [publisher site]   [book trailer] My personal copy of book. Cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Alex wants to skip visiting his uncle’s goat farm, and his parents finally agree to let the 16-year-old stay home alone this time, on that September weekend when the whole world changed, when a supervolcano eruption rocked civilization to its core.

It’s not like Alex was planning a wild party in his parents’ absence – just computer games and junk food on the menu. But those teen pleasures are gone now, like clear air and electricity and sunshine and phone service and clean water and trusting other people. Even 900 miles from the Yellowstone supervolcano, earthquakes throw houses around like kids’ blocks in their Iowa hometown. Then the ash begins to fall from the sky…and fall and fall and fall, clogging car engines, making it hard to breathe, getting into every crevice of his clothes.

Determined to get to his family, Alex gathers whatever food and gear he can, then heads east cross-country on Dad’s skis. Driving to Warren takes an hour and a half – how long will it take now? Slogging through ever-deepening ash, running short of water and food, he avoids farmhouses where he can see rifle barrels glinting in the windows, tries to find shelter in this flat farmland it gets colder and colder.

He keeps moving east, encountering very few refugees, some even less-prepared than he is, one much more dangerous than anyone he ever wanted to meet. Wounded, he stumbles into the first farmyard along the road and is taken in by Mrs. Edmunds and her teen daughter. Luckily, Darla has enough veterinary training to sew him up, and there’s corn to feed them for a while. Unluckily, trouble is coming down the road toward them, fast.

Can Alex really get to his uncle’s farm under his own power?
Can he protect Darla and her mom if they go with him?
What’s their biggest danger – the ash searing their lungs, the sudden heavy snowfall, or the viciousness of other people?

Vividly portraying a post-apocalyptic scenario that’s entirely too possible, Ashfall is first in a series, followed by Ashen Winter (book 2).  (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Girls Don’t Fly, by Kristen Chandler (book review) – dreams, family, blue-footed boobies

book cover of Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler published by VikingA chance to study far away instead of babysitting all summer…
Maybe go to the university instead of dental hygienist school….
Prove to ex-boyfriend Erik that she’s better off without him.

Myra imagines herself in the Galapagos Islands with its Darwin’s finches and blue-footed boobies, famous tortoises and amazingly blue sea waters, even as her little brothers break things and mud-wrestle, her big sister drops out of college and moves back home pregnant, both parents work long hours, the family’s carpool schedules look like battle plans – no wonder that Myra feels like she’s holding everything together, even when Erik breaks up with her.

Visit Myra’s study group site at Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake in the author’s slideshow, watch for the next little brother disaster, and cross your fingers that Myra wins that scholarship!

Find Girls Don’t Fly  at your local library or independent bookstore; if you order from the author’s favorite  local indie bookstore, be sure to request an autographed copy!
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Book info: Girls Don’t Fly / Kristen Chandler. Viking, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Book Talk: Oh, how Myra feels trapped! Her perfect big sister is suddenly pregnant, her three little brothers are a constant noisy mess, and now Erik wants “some space” – this isn’t how spring of senior year should go!

When their AP Biology teacher announces a scholarship to study birds in the Galapagos Islands, Myra decides to go for it, even if it does require early morning Saturday excursions to Great Salt Lake Marina’s bird observation area and a “high level” scientific study proposal write-up and… $1,000 toward travel costs. Maybe she can scrape together that much money in just 3 months working part-time at the ice cream shop, right?

Saturday 6 a.m. really is early, but the University of Utah graduate assistant who’s leading the bird studies is enthusiastic enough to wake everyone up. Pete is excited that two high school kids from his hometown have a shot at this scholarship, so he helps them all with their project proposals as much as the rules allow.

Erik makes yet another mistake at the ice cream shop and expects Myra to cover for him like she did while they were dating. When she doesn’t and the manager insinuates that she’s irresponsible like her big sister, Myra just quits.

Now she’s got to find another job in this little town. Mom and Dad think she’s saving money to go to dental hygienist school; Myra hasn’t exactly told them that the scholarship requires that $1,000 travel fee, and they don’t seem too optimistic about her winning it anyway, especially when future-dentist Erik is also a competitor.

When the marina secretary quits, the Lake ranger offers Myra the job, part-time till school’s out, then full-time in the busy summer. Alright! A chance to earn the money she needs, do some extra bird-watching for the seminars, and Pete is at the marina whenever he’s not in class.

But can Myra really get away from this town where her family is judged because they don’t go to church like everyone else?
Can she come up with a scientific study idea that’s better than Erik’s so she can win the scholarship?
Can she keep thinking of Pete as only the group’s study leader instead of something more?

Everyone knows that Girls Don’t Fly, but Myra is determined to change all that in this story of family, dreams, life, and longing. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Dinosaurs & time travel! Chronal Engine, by Greg Leitich Smith (fiction)

book cover of Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith published by Clarion Books
Rare fossilized dinosaur footprints.
Heart attack, kidnapping, possible murder?
What a way to start a summer!
No one has seen the Loblolly dinosaur tracks on their grandpa’s ranch in years. Max can’t wait – he got the family “dinosaur-hunter” genes, Mom says. Kyle and Emma would rather stay home in Austin the summer before their sophomore year , but with Mom leaving to excavate feathered dinosaurs in Mongolia, they’ve all got to stay somewhere. At least Grandpa’s housekeeper has a daughter their age; Petra seems glad to have some other teenagers on the ranch for a while.
Grandpa’s security-locked basement looks like a 1920s library, if the library had a humming time-travel device in the center. Predicting his own heart attack to the minute, leaving messages in places no one can reach – has Grandpa really used the Chronal Engine to travel through time?
Greg Leitich Smith’s fascination with dinosaurs is firmly woven into this exciting action tale, as our adventurers meet teeny Tyrannosaurs (meat-eaters have horrible bad breath), massive Apatosaurus (even dinosaur expert Max still loves the old name of Brontosaurus), and some human villains back in the Cretaceous Era. You’ll enjoy Blake Henry’s manga-influenced black and white illustrations, too.
I didn’t see any boot prints in the fossilized dino tracks when I visited Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, but that’s well north of Chronal Engine‘s setting in the Texas Hill Country, so who knows? Grab this summer thrill-ride read at your local library or independent bookstore soon!
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Book info: Chronal Engine / Greg Leitich Smith; illustrations by Blake Henry. Clarion Books, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site
My Recommendation:
All summer out at their grandpa’s ranch? Max, Kyle, and Emma know that rare dinosaur tracks are located there, but they’ll miss their friends and Austin’s city comforts so much. His wild time-travel theories turn out to be truer than they could ever imagine!
Sure Mom is headed for the most important dinosaur dig in Asia, but the teens have met her father just once; the only time in 15 years that he left the ranch was to attend their own dad’s funeral five years ago. For decades, Grandpa has refused to let researchers on his land to study the dinosaur tracks, even though that “hard science” might erase the taint of craziness left by great-great-grandfather Mad Jack Pierson’s insistence that he’d invented a time-traveling engine.
At the ranch house, it’s nice to meet Petra, who is their age and enjoys the outdoors as much as Max does. She knows the way to the dinosaur tracks and what perils to avoid in the Hill Country.
When Grandpa refuses pecan pie during their first dinner together because he knows an ambulance will arrive in 15 minutes because of his upcoming heart attack, they wonder about it. After he gets Max to promise that all four teens will go to the fossil tracks in the morning and gives him a heavy envelope to open later, Grandpa shows them the Chronal Engine and its last recall device to return to the present time – then has a heart attack, just as the medflight helicopter touches down! If he knew the timing of his own heart attack, does that mean Grandpa has used the Chronal Engine?
Visiting the dinosaur tracks the next morning, they find human bootprints in the fossilized mud! And Emma’s boot fits the print exactly… but how? A sudden flash of light and a man appears next to their sister, grabs her, and disappears into another flash of light. So Emma has been kidnapped…to the Cretaceous Era? Suddenly Max, Kyle, and Petra decide to travel back in time using the Chronal Engine to rescue her.
Will it work? Will their compass work? Can they survive among huge herbivorous dinosaurs and speedy meat-eaters? Can they outsmart other time-traveling humans who have guns and are ready to use them? Will any of them get back to the present – alive?
This mile-a-minute adventure story includes dromaeosaur babies and bow-hunting, toothed prehistoric birds and T. Rexes and 40-foot-long crocodilians among the adventures encountered by four young teens on a time-traveling mission. The author notes currently known facts and recent theories about prehistoric life at the end of the book, which includes funny/accurate illustrations by Blake Henry. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.