Friday, February 8, 2013

A Girl Named Digit, by Annabel Monaghan (fiction) - FBI takes teen math genius undercover

book cover of A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan published by Houghton Mifflin
A brain for numbers that never, ever stops.
A hunger to have a normal senior year.
A set of digits on television that shouldn't be there...

And now Farrah goes from understated jeans to completely undercover as the FBI realizes that her OCD about numbers and patterns is their best bet for catching an ecoterrorist whose been sending others out to do his dirty work for years.

Grab Digit's first adventure now in hardcover or eBook at your local library or independent bookstore (it won't be out in paperback with the much-better cover until late May 2013) then hang on for Digit's first year at college when Double Digit  is published in January 2014!

Which of life's codes would you be most anxious to crack?

Book info: A Girl Named Digit / Annabel Monaghan. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site] [fan-created book trailer]  

My Recommendation: To get away from the kids who nicknamed her “Digit” for her math abilities, Farrah transfers to another high school for her senior year. But it’ll take the FBI to keep her safe from the terrorist group that she accidentally exposes. Faking her own kidnapping wasn’t quite the way she’d planned to stay unnoticed at her new school…

Farrah wishes that she didn’t see patterns in everything and has had to learn extreme coping strategies to blunt her obsessive-compulsive tendencies when real life is uneven and disorganized. Her math professor dad says she can put her “gift” to work later in life and urges her to enjoy being a teen for now. Wish it were that easy…

Numbers pop up on television when they shouldn’t be there, but the station says she’s imagining them. Her genius skills crack the code, pointing to a terror attack at JFK Airport, but her report to the FBI is ignored…until it happens.

Now a ruthless band of ecoterrorists is gunning for Digit, so she has to fake being kidnapped and go undercover to help the FBI break the rest of the code to prevent more attacks and catch the terrorists. Nice to really be appreciated for her skills, even nicer to be undercover with cute young FBI agent John as they race to interpret more clues.

But somehow, the bad guys find one of the safe houses, John and Digit have to go into deep cover without contacting anyone, and the stakes in this math puzzle get deadly in a hurry.

How fast can they unravel the last parts of this puzzle?
What will the ecoterrorists’ next move be?
Will Digit’s “kidnapping” have an unhappy ending?

(One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Safekeeping, by Karen Hesse (fiction) - on the run, will home still be there?

book cover of Safekeeping by Karen Hesse published by Fiewel and Friends
The president assassinated!
Martial law declared.
No travel without permits.

She got her plane ticket home as soon as she could, leaving the sweet children at the Haitian orphanage where she volunteered. But there was no way for Radley to know that her parents would not be at the airport waiting for her and that everything she knew as safe would be gone.

Listen to the first chapter of Safekeeping  here, then grab the book at your local library or independent bookstore so you can consider each of each black-and-white photograph as you worry through Celia, Radley, and Jerry Lee's desperate journey away from despair and danger.

What would you do to survive if you were in Radley's mud-soaked shoes?

Book info: Safekeeping / Karen Hesse. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2012. [author's blog]  [author video interview]  [publisher site]

My Recommendation: When the president is assassinated, Radley rushes home from volunteering at a Haitian orphanage, but everything is going wrong. Her parents should be waiting for her at the airport, but they’re not. No one answers the phone at home, her credit cards no longer work, her cellphone is dead, and US marshals are everywhere.

New curfews and travel restrictions mean that the teen must walk for days to cover the hour’s drive home, avoiding checkpoints and scavenging food where she can find it. Arriving at her empty house, Radley passes dark stains on the pavement and hides in a secret attic room as police pound on the door in the morning, over and over.

No electricity, no food left, only mom’s photos escaped the looting. She can’t stay here, she’s got to get away – from the marshals, from the uncertainty about her parents’ whereabouts, from the totalitarian state that New Hampshire has become.

So she heads north to Canada, traveling by night, avoiding other people and their potential dangers, staying clear of the small towns swarming with soldiers, until a big dog comes to her and begs that she follow him. Radley finds Celia ill and feverish, nurses her until the trio can continue plodding north through the rainy woods.

A small, safe place – that’s all they need – somewhere away from the soldiers and curfews and guns.

Can Radley, Celia, and Jerry Lee actually make it to Canada?
Where are their parents, their neighbors, their friends?
Will they ever be able to go home, or will martial law grip the US forever?

Karen Hesse’s own black-and-white photographs of the places where the girls and dog travel fill this book with darkness and light, as the cadence of her words measures the steps and steps and steps that Radley takes on this long journey.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cinders & Sapphires, by Leila Rasheed (fiction) - British high society & true goodness collide

book cover of Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed published by Disney Hyperion
England and India are so different,
Not even the green of the trees is the same,
But whispers and rumors are too close in both lands.

The objections to British rule over India have moved from prayers to violent demonstrations in 1910, especially following Lord Curzon's partition of the country to split off Muslim-majority Bengal.

This first book in the At Somerton series will appeal to both fans of Downton Abbey and lovers of historical fiction with its upstairs-downstairs intrigues and political unrest abroad in the time just preceding "The Great War" which we call World War I.

What's ahead for the Averley sisters and the others At Somerton as 1911 dawns?

Book info: Cinders& Sapphires (At Somerton, book 1) / Leila Rasheed. Disney Hyperion, 2013. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation:  High society and propriety will encircle Ava’s life in 1910 once the ship reaches England, but an accidental (and unchaperoned) meeting on deck leaves her breathless, hopeful, and confused. People would be shocked if they discovered that she’d kissed a man before her debutante season, utterly appalled if they found out he was Indian!

How dreadful for her father to leave India under a cloud of suspicion after his distinguished career there! Now they are returning to their family estate with her sister Georgiana so that he can marry a wealthy and beautiful widow to keep it afloat for now. The suddenness of the wedding and so many guests descending on quiet Somerton has the servants running to and fro, especially housekeeper Mrs. Cliffe whose daughter is now a housemaid.

Suddenly, Lady Ava and Lady Georgiana will have brothers and another sister (so jealous of everyone), plus a fashionable stepmother who will steer Ava through the intricacies of the London Season to find a husband. Never mind that Ava wants to attend Oxford, wants to think for herself, wants to think at all! And Ravi is at Oxford, might even visit London…

When Rose Cliffe is promoted to ladies’ maid for Ava and Georgiana, she’s sad that her evenings at the piano in the friendly servants’ sitting room are over. Music just flows through her veins, but a country girl like her could never afford piano lessons. The ladies’ maid to the new Lady Westlake hints strongly that learning secrets is the best way to get ahead in this world. The clandestine letters between Ravi and Ava, hinting of violence against the British in India, go through Rose’s hands…

Is there any hope for Ravi and Ava to be together?
What other secrets glide through Somerton’s elegant halls?
Must Ava marry someone, just to keep the estate intact?

As upstairs murmurs and belowstairs whispers collide, more stories At Somerton will follow this debut tale of keeping up appearances, societal expectations, and scandalously delicious secrets. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hysteria, by Megan Miranda (fiction) - murder, memory, missing pieces

book cover of Hysteria by Megan Miranda published by Bloomsbury Walker Books
Thudding heartbeats in the night,
bruises appearing each morning,
the rumors, the gossip, the lies...

Welcome to the tradition-filled halls of Monroe Prep, Dad's alma mater, where Mallory's reputation precedes her - the knife, Brian's blood on her kitchen floor, the self-defense verdict.

Are her nightmares just reaction to the trauma or something more sinister? Surely Reid believes that Brian's mom's car was parked outside the school gates, that someone keeps entering her room, that she's not seeing things - they've known each other since they were kids because their dads were high school roommates up here.

The crazy things happening now at Monroe cannot just be Mallory's imagination... can they?

Read chapter one of Hysteria free here, then rush to your local library or independent bookstore to get it tomorrow on its publication day.

Megan Miranda crafts another chilling story teetering between paranormal and murderous; her debut novel Fracture  (my review) just came out in paperback - don't miss either mysterious book!

Book info: Hysteria / Megan Miranda. Bloomsbury/Walker Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation:  The blood, the knife, the holes in her memory – Mallory knows she should be glad for the “self-defense” ruling, but the pulsating hum in her brain won’t stop. Neither will the nightmares or Brian’s mom stalking her, asking where her dead son is.

Maybe boarding school in the New Hampshire woods will be far enough from her seaside house where Brian died in a pool of his own bright-red blood. Dad pulled strings to get her admitted to his alma mater at the last minute; he couldn’t stop the rumors about Mallory from getting there first.

Being a new student at Monroe Prep is worse than being at a regular high school since the snooty rich kids have known each other forever. Well, Reid is nice to her, probably because their dads were roommates here and their families got together often over the years. Last time she saw him was his dad’s funeral, not a good memory on lots of levels.

Despite her sleeping pills, Mallory still has nightmares, hears the booming echoes of Brian’s heart, wakes up with a handprint-shaped bruise on her shoulder that she couldn’t have done to herself, window unlocked when she knows she locked it. No cellphone service in these mountains, so she can never get through to her best friend Colleen at home, the only person who understands what she’s enduring.

A green car glimpsed through the fog - is Brian's mother stalking her again?
A red handprint on her door, vandalism in her dorm room, menacing whispers – is her presence threatening someone at Monroe?
A hidden ruin in the woods, tribute to a lost student – is she supposed to be next?

Once again Megan Miranda crafts a chilling story of the hazy boundary between death and life in this psychological thriller with traces of the paranormal. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.