Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

9780399184291_01f70

Originally published in Library Journal, June 2018.

Historical fiction fans will delight in this romantic mystery set in World War II California. Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada have grown up as neighbors being civil to one another, despite the Thorn family’s claim that the Yamada’s stole part of their land. The pair of daredevils become unlikely comrades after joining the Earl Shaw Flying Circus as wingwalkers Eagle and Crane, where they share a love of flying and of Ava, Earl’s spunky, independent step-daughter.  Though both business partners need the money from their aerial stunts, the young men’s relationship is complicated by race, family, and love. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Harry’s family is interned at Tule Lake simply for being Japanese. Then, a mysterious plane crash brings determined FBI Agent Bonner to the Yamada home to investigate. Bonner’s past experience with a Japanese family and connection to the Thorn family compels him to uncover the truth at all costs. VERDICT: Rindell joins the ranks with Kristin Hannah and Kate Quinn with this fast-paced, gripping novel as it charmingly explores a tumultuous era of history.

Advertisements

Crucible by James Rollins

y648The latest title in the fast-paced adventure/thriller Sigma Force series, Crucible, will be available from William Morrow on January 22, 2019.

Well-known skilled Sigma operatives Monk, Gray, Kowalski, Painter, Seichan, Kat, and Lisa are back for another action-packed race against time. The subject matter of artificial intelligence (AI) is both timely and terrifying to readers. Rollins highlights some of the amazing abilities of human-like AI, while also warning of the uncertainty in unleashing such an uber-intelligent entity into the world. As with all of his Sigma Force series, Rollins weaves the latest in scientific and technological advances into the story. He includes a very helpful and interesting “check the facts” section at the end, in which readers discover in annotated detail that most of the technological, scientific, and medical situations which seem impossible and far-fetched in the story are actually in fact NOT fiction. Perhaps because Rollins expertly shows that AI could be all too real in the near future, Crucible is truly captivating and thrilling.

Crucible is an engrossing read, written through multiple narrators, alternating chapters between different groups of Sigma members. I won’t give away too much of the plot, because what would be the fun in that?! No spoilers here, folks! The story starts on Christmas eve with a very pregnant Seichan home with Kat and her two young daughters, while their men are out having a drink celebrating Gray’s soon-to-be fatherhood. Upon arrival home they find the Gray’s home ransacked, Seichan, Penny, and Harriet missing, and an unresponsive Kat on the floor, unable to offer any clues as to what happened or who took their family.

Meanwhile, across the continent in Portugal at the University of Coimbra, a modern day group of witches called Bruxas is meeting to view a cutting-edge form of AI known as Xenese, created by brilliant young programmer and scholarship student of Bruxas, Mara. As Mara watches unnoticed from the webcam thousands of miles away, nine robed assailants brutally murder the five women, and the only clue caught on camera is a fifteenth century book known as The Hammer of Witches, with historical ties to witchcraft trials during the Spanish Inquisition. Now it’s up to Painter and his team to connect the mysterious, tragic incidents, with two main goals in mind. First, they must track down Xenese before it gets into the hands of those who wish to use AI for destruction and evil. But, most importantly to best friends Monk and Gray, they must find Seichan and Monk’s daughters before it’s too late. A pulse-pounding race against the clock ensues.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though much of the time I felt ignorant of the high tech programming and medical breakthroughs being carried out. It really is amazing how much research Rollins would have had to undergo for this novel. It is packed with science, historical details, and action. What more could a reader ask for? Oh…romance! There’s a bit of that in there as well, but not too much. Who has time for romance when the fate of the world is at stake, you know?! I’m a sucker for romance, but I have always been an extremely loyal fan of James Rollins and, as such, I trust that each new volume in the Sigma Force series will not disappoint. I hope you enjoy it as well!

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A. E. Hotchner

9780385543583_3fe50

Originally published in School Library Journal.

Gr 9 & up – Hotchner’s historical fiction, coming-of-age tale set in Depression-era St. Louis will capture readers at the start with a mysterious robbery which creates an uncertain future for the amiable protagonist. Aaron Broom, is street-smart beyond his 12 years, fending for himself with a mother in the sanitarium for consumption and his father peddling watches, while trying to avoid the repossession of his Ford. When Aaron’s father is held in connection to the J & J Jewelry robbery, he first feels helpless, but then enlists the help of a motley group of friends to solve the mystery and release his father before he is caught by the juvenile welfare department. Athletic and smart, Aaron enjoyed playing sports and writing, but has bounced to almost a dozen schools since his family lost everything when the bank closed. Though he now is hungry and down to only pennies, Aaron keeps a positive outlook. He is rich with friends and kindness from strangers, including a successful lawyer, a newsboy, a retired prizefighter, and an old friend named Ella living in a Hoovertown camp. With bravery and perseverance, Aaron will keep digging until he uncovers the truth. VERDICT: Recommended for additional purchase, this fast-paced detective story will likely only appeal to teen readers interested in history.

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

9781501169649_53886

Originally appeared in Library Journal, May 2018.

Since the Unforgivable Thing, Lucy Albright refers to her mother as CJ, refusing to forgive or forget the scandalous act. Readers first meet 25 year old Lucy, who gave up a dream of being a travel journalist, settling as an account executive for an online publication in New York City. A bridesmaid in her best friend’s upcoming wedding, Lucy is hesitant to be entangled or seduced by Stephen yet again. Lucy’s toxic, heated relationship with Stephen DeMarco is revealed in alternating points of view spanning four years of college at Baird in southern California. First meeting during Lucy’s freshman year, a time of heavy recreational drug use and sexual exploration, Lucy falls hard for Stephen, despite unbearable pain and betrayal. Regularly depriving herself of food, Lucy struggles with body image. Confident, narcissistic Stephen makes her feel beautiful and loved, stringing her along in his warped view of a real relationship. Will Lucy finally rip off the Band-Aid of Stephen for good, or let herself fall back into the dangerous spiral of her past? VERDICT: Fans of Colleen Hoover will devour Lovering’s new adult debut full of toxic love, secrets, and intense romance.