Friday, March 15, 2013

Tempestuous, by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (fiction) - blizzard, robbery, clique wars, corndogs

book cover of Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit Press
Popular crowd versus geek teens,
Trapped together by a blizzard
With bad cellphone reception... and a robber!

It's Gossip Girl  and MacGyver woven into Shakespeare's play The Tempest as authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes throw the Bard's heroine Miranda Prospero into a winter-whipped shopping mall with Ariel as her corndog-cooking sidekick.

Check your local library or independent bookstore for this first book in the Twisted Lit series from new publisher Merit Press.

Kind of crazy, lots of fun! What other Shakespeare remixes do you know of?

Book info: Tempestuous (Twisted Lit #1) / Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2012. [Kim's website]  [Amy's website]   [publisher site]   [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Trudging through the snow toward the mall, Miranda again laments the unfairness of her life. Forced to work at a corndog stand in the mall to pay back the finks who turned her tutoring-matchmaking service into a cheating scam, Daddy taking away her platinum charge cards, wearing this hideous uniform with the revolving-wienie hat… at least other teens working in the mall turn to her for advice in sticky situations.

Thank goodness perky co-worker Ariel also pulled this Saturday night shift at Hot Dog Kebob, so Miranda can throw her a surprise birthday party for her after closing. The petite home-schooled 17-year-old deserves the ice cream cake that Grady the security cop will pick up later. Maybe moody Caleb from the game store and gangly Chad from the sports store will come by, but no one has seen their pal Mike from collectibles tonight.

The news is forecasting blizzard conditions overnight so the food court supervisor leaves early; in fact, most customers are heading out, but the closing employees must stay to lock up. Too bad Miranda’s ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend didn’t go when they could – the mall doors are now completely blocked by snow! No one is getting home from here tonight and the mall cop has just discovered a burglary!

Suddenly shoppers and workers try to find the best places to stay for the night, praying that the power stays on and that the robber stays away. Miranda accidentally gets handcuffed to Caleb, someone stalls the elevator with a panicked teen inside, and boredom threatens to become chaos if something exciting doesn’t happen soon. Finding another teen knocked out cold by the robber wasn’t in the plan!

How long are the rival factions of teens going to be trapped in the mall?

Will Caleb’s impromptu concert keep things from getting crazy?
Can Grady trap the robber before someone else gets hurt?
How can Miranda get out of these handcuffs and get to the bathroom?

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this first book in the Twisted Lit series has more wild and crazy twists than Miranda ever dreamed of, with quotes from the play as chapter headings to add to the fun. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Also Known As, by Robin Benway (fiction)

book cover of Also Known As by Robin Benway published by Walker Books
Diagram of safe's location in apartment? Check.
Plan for entry into said apartment? Check.
Keeping emotional distance from unwitting accomplice? Uh-oh.

Imagine being a 17-year-old lifelong spy! A natural-born safecracker, helping her secret agent parents keep the world safe from evil, Maggie discovers that falling in love on her first solo case could put their whole organization in danger.

Head for your local library or independent bookstore today to jump right into the action with Maggie, wild-child Roux, and handsome Jesse against the bad guys.

Any spycraft skills in your educational future?

Book info: Also Known As / Robin Benway. Walker Books, 2013.  [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Maggie is bored by the usual assignments, but having to go to high school for the first time? This could be the teenage spy’s toughest job yet!

She and her parents work undercover for the Collective, stopping human trafficking and stifling illegal weapons sales through their unique talents for language decoding, computer hacking, and safe-cracking – Maggie’s special gift. A dozen passports with a dozen names and too many moves during her lifetime to count… at least Angelo, the world’s best forger and friend, is always by the family’s side, discreetly, of course.

When they received the call to keep a New York City magazine publisher from running a story about the Collective (with names, aliases, and lots of photos), it falls to the 17-year-old to get the goods through his teenage son Jesse at the posh private high school. And she has to wear a uniform?!

These privileged teens have known one another forever, so being the new kid means being an outsider - almost as much an outsider as Roux, who alienated the whole school last year with her bad behavior. Of course, it’s Roux who takes Maggie under her wing, convinces her to ditch school once in a while, and manages to get them into Jesse’s penthouse during a party.

When the thumbdrive that Maggie liberates from Mr. Oliver’s home office safe doesn’t contain the article notes after all, she has to get closer to Jesse to figure out where the volatile materials could be.

She didn’t count on falling for Jesse himself, or Jesse falling for her, or Roux spilling the beans about their first date, or possibly being pulled off the case and losing them both forever!

How long can she keep Jesse in the dark about why she met him?
Can she find the article documents before it’s too late?
Will her first kiss be her only kiss?

Racing through the streets of Manhattan, avoiding the evil eye in the school halls, trying to imagine how her life will be when this assignment ends – Maggie finds action and adventure and a little romance in this debut novel. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fellowship For Alien Detection, by Kevin Emerson (fiction) - strange memories, time rewind,

book cover of Fellowship For Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson published by Walden Pond Press
Voices in his head.
Time losses that catch her eye.
It really is aliens this time!

It's easy to identify with Dodger's sense of never fitting in or with Haley's alternating affection and annoyance with her family, but entire towns experiencing 16 minutes of missing time? People vanished from each place? Radio transmissions from a town not shown on any map?

Somehow, this is not the summer vacation that Dodger or Haley envisioned... and the extraterrestrials are trying to make them disappearance statistics, too!

Published in late February 2013, Kevin Emerson's The Fellowship for Alien Detection  is a bit more light-hearted than his Atlanteans series (see my review of The Lost Code  here), but the perils for Dodger and Haley are very real.

Any "missing time experiences" in your life?

Book info: Fellowship for Alien Detection / Kevin Emerson. Walden Pond Press, 2013.  [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation:  Awarded money for a short summer trip to investigate their theories of aliens on Earth, two young teens find more adventure than they anticipated and more danger than they could have imagined during their search for missing people and a vanished town.

Haley follows obscure news online that might lead to a reporting breakthrough; that’s how she uncovered “missing time episodes” experienced by people in several towns and knows each place has missing persons now. She’s going to interview folks in those missing-time towns - if she can just get Dad to stick to the travel plan instead of trying to see every oddball attraction on their route west from Connecticut.

The radio station that unpredictably plays in Dodger’s head is from Juliette, Arizona (which is not on any maps) and from a different day and year than now. He’s always felt different, unsettled – and it’s gotten worse as the radio broadcasts started this year. His dad looks at him like Dodger is a disappointment – the trip from Seattle to Roswell, New Mexico is going to be mighty long if Dad has as little to say to him as usual.

Debit cards from the Foundation in hand, the two families depart from opposite coasts on their fellowship journeys. But soon Haley’s investigations are noticed by United Consolidated Amalgamations which owns old mines near every missing-time town, and Dodger becomes a transmitting loudspeaker for the Juliette radio station during the gathering at Bend.

The two fellowship winners aren’t the only folks who have made the connection between UCA mines and missing-time or who have heard KJPR from Juliette, but they’re the only ones who are tracking down the clues step by step – the falling star dream in missing-time towns, the significance of the 16-minute time loss, the radio transmissions from one April day years ago. And the extraterrestrials are tracking down them and their families!

If Juliette is a real place, why isn’t it on the map?
Why does that same day play over and over on KJPR?
Can Dodger and Haley join forces before it’s too late?

This summer before starting high school may be the start of something big…or the end of Earth as we know it!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.