Tag Archive | travel

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.

Solve his life by DOWN AND ACROSS? by Arvin Ahmadi (book review)

cover image of Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His life needs focus, purpose.
Consult an expert?
Yes! Go now!

Almost 17, Saaket (call him Scott) has bumbled his way through school and life, much to the dismay of his doting Persian parents. Surely he can stick with this lab internship for a month while they are away…

On a whim, he travels to DC instead so he can ask an expert how to get grit, that ability to follow through with things. He’ll be back in Philadelphia long before his parents get back from Iran…

Meeting Fiora on the bus as she goes back to Georgetown University is a stroke of luck since that’s where Professor Mallard works! Fiora is a crossword fanatic and a daredevil who introduces him to Trent and a crazy bar, dares Saaket to get out of his comfort zone…

Professor Mallard has a project for him – great!
Fiora has a plan to connect Trent with a mentor – fantastic!
Saaket is running out of time and money – where’s that grit?!

Family expectations can be a balloon or an anchor – Saaket and his new friends are deciding how the answers of their pasts will fill their personal crossword puzzle of future possibilities.

How far can grit take you in life?
**kmm

Book info: Down and Across / Arvin Ahmadi. Viking, 2018, Penguin paperback, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

48 HOURS to find THE VANISHING! by Gabrielle Lord (book review)

book cover of 48 Hours: The Vanishing, by Gabrielle Lord. Published by Kane Miller EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friend kidnapped!
She’s being watched, too –
a ‘cold case’ getting hot again?

Anika has been publishing those old diary entries on her blog. Was there a murder 20 years ago in the spooky mansion in their Australian neighborhood?

“No police!” the kidnapper tells Anika’s parents, so her best friend Jazz quietly starts gathering clues and enlists the help of tech whiz Phoenix to help analyze them in his mum’s lab.

Collecting hair samples, footprints, and other observations in their CrimeSeen app, Jazz and Phoenix race to identify the kidnapper.

Jazz knows the first 48 hours of a case are the most important – and Anika’s life is at stake!

The kidnapper is searching for them, too…

Followed by 48 Hours: The Medusa Curse, as Jazz and Phoenix work to retrieve a stolen supercomputer and prove their friend Mack’s father had no part in the museum heist.

When something goes missing, what’s your first step?
**kmm

Book info: 48 Hours: The Vanishing (48 Hours series, book 1) / Gabrielle Lord. Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.

Listen to classic tales – with a twist!

Cool down this week with two winter-season tales free from AudioSYNC – Scrooge’s Christmas story gender-flipped and Shakespeare’s “which twin is which” masquerade of Twelfth Night.

Be sure you have the Sora app on your phone or tablet, then download your choice(s) before the stated deadline. As long as you set your Sora shelf as directed, you can listen to these professionally produced audiobooks any time.

CD cover of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; freely adapted & read by Alison Larkin. Published by Alison Larkin Presents | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Christmas Carol (download free 9-15 July 2020)

by Charles Dickens, Alison Larkin. Read by Alison Larkin. Published by Alison Larkin Presents

If Scrooge were a woman, well-educated and her own boss in the 1840s … how would she react to Tiny Tim’s plight?

Choosing money over the woman she loves, meeting the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future – Miss Scrooge has many life-changing decisions to make!

CD cover of Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare. Read by Stella Gonet, Gerard Murphy, Jonathan Keeble, Daniel Philpott, Nick Fletcher, Peter Yapp, Jane Whittenshaw, Malcolm Sinclair, David Timson, Lucy Whybrow, Christopher Godwin, Brian Parr, Adam Kotz, Benjamin Soames.
Published by Naxos AudioBooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Twelfth Night (download free 9-15 July 2020)

by William Shakespeare. Read by Stella Gonet, Gerard Murphy, Jonathan Keeble, Daniel Philpott, Nick Fletcher, Peter Yapp, Jane Whittenshaw, Malcolm Sinclair, David Timson, Lucy Whybrow, Christopher Godwin, Brian Parr, Adam Kotz, Benjamin Soames. Published by Naxos AudioBooks

Duke Orsino believes that shipwrecked Viola is a boy and sends her to Olivia with messages of adoration.

Of course, Viola falls in love with the Duke, wonders about the fate of her long-lost twin Sebastian, and encounters courtiers staid and silly during holiday celebrations in this full-cast Shakespeare comedy.

What other familiar stories would you like to gender-switch?
**kmm

STEPPING STONES, from city to farm life – graphic novel by Lucy Knisley (book review)

book cover of Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley. Published by RH Graphic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From bustling city to quiet farm,
from only child to a trio of girls,
chores, chickens, snakes? (please, no snakes!)

Jen’s mom and her boyfriend are the ones who dreamed of living on a farm and selling their produce at the summer market, not Jen who would rather spend summer with Dad (who’s too busy in the city to talk on the phone).

The pre-teen gets flustered trying to make change at their market stand, is annoyed with chicken-keeping chores (twice. every. day), enjoys time alone in the hayloft to sketch, read comics, and play with the barn kitties.

Then Walter’s daughters come to Peapod Farm for the summer – younger Reese is okay, but same-age Andy is a smartypants, pointing out Jen’s problems with math and changing things at their market stand.

Can Mom and Walter make Peapod Farm a success?
How can Jen’s sketching talent compete with Andy’s intelligence and Reese’s utter cuteness?
Will the nearly-sisters ever get along?

Jen’s summer on the farm begins getting better, one step at a time, in this graphic novel sprouting from Knisley’s own experiences growing up. Find this first book in the Peapod Farm series at your local public library or indie bookstore.

What “oh no!” experience turned into “okay” for you?
**kmm

Book info: Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm, book 1) / Lucy Knisley; colored by Whitney Cogar. RH Graphic, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Short stories carry big meaning – read with your ears!

Personal vignettes, imagined occasions, inspiring moments, heart-rending choices – this week’s pair of free, professionally produced audiobooks brings us three dozen short stories by a wide array of YALit authors, courtesy of the publishers.

So easy to get these AudioSYNC selections – register free, have the free Sora app on your phone or tablet, then download either title (or both) using the links below, free through late night Wednesday, 8 July 2020.

CD cover of Fresh Ink,  by Lamar Giles [Ed.]. Read by Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Bahni Turpin. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fresh Ink (download free, 2-8 July 2020)

Edited by Lamar Giles. Read by Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Bahni Turpin. Published by Listening Library

These short stories from 13 well-known YA authors are ‘windows and mirrors’ into the lives of teens in cities, schools, neighborhoods, and their own thoughts.

Sponsored by We Need Diverse Books, Fresh Ink includes 10 short stories, a one-act play, and a graphic novel (complete with sound effects).

CD cover of Hope Nation, edited by Rose Brock.  Read by a Full Cast. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Hope Nation (download free, 2-8 July 2020)

Edited by Rose Brock. Read by a Full Cast. Published by Listening Library

Cutting through today’s bleak news, 23 YA authors share moments and stories that have personally inspired them.

Uplifting messages and honest concern, dark times becoming better, true tales – all remind us that hope can be found and should be shared.

A well-crafted short story is a memorable gem – what’s your favorite?
**kmm

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Life beyond the cult for AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD? by Kelly McWilliams (book review)

book cover of Agnes at the End of the World, by Kelly McWilliams. Published by Little Brown | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.