‘Unearthed’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner Is a Thrilling Young Adult SciFi Ride

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It’s being billed as a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner comes close. It’s the story of a future Earth when climate change has destroyed much of our planet. Scientists on Earth find a message from an extinct alien race that explains how to build a portal to Gaia, another planet, where the astronauts find a piece of technology that powers a clean water supply for all of Los Angeles. Then the astronauts are killed while exploring one of the temples there.

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‘A Place in the Wind’ by Suzanne Chazin Is a Timely, Action-Packed Mystery

 

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With “A Place in the Wind,” Suzanne Chazin writes a mystery that is disturbingly timely as well as engrossing and fascinating because of the crime(s), the characters, and the plot. Although this book is the fourth in the series about Detective Jimmy Vega, reading this one without having read the previous novels did not leave this reader wondering much. In fact, as a stand-alone novel, it works amazingly well. The reader will not feel a need to read the previous novels, only, perhaps, a desire to learn more of the backstory on the main characters and a desire to read the other mysteries that Jimmy Vega has solved.

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‘The Wife Between Us’ by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen Is a Solid Psychological Thriller

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With “The Wife Between Us,” authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen create a psychological thriller that includes twists and turns that will keep readers turning the pages until the final ending twist.

There is Nellie, the young girl falling in love with successful, adoring Richard. There is Vanessa, bitter and divorced from Richard, and remembering their life together. The story is told in alternative voices, one in first person narrative and the other in third person.

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Three Lovely Children’s Picture Books Celebrate Animals

 

Three wonderful picture books — each in its own way celebrating nature, the joys of a pet, and the companionship of animals.

“Please Please the Bees” by Gerald Kelley is the story of Benedict the bear. He loves honey and gets three jars of honey delivered to his lovely home each morning by bees. He eats his toast with honey, drinks his tea with extra honey, practices his violin, bakes his honey cake, knits, runs errands, and drinks one last cup of honey tea before bed. It’s a very fulfilling life until one morning there is no honey. The bees are on strike, and Benedict learns that sometimes, nature — and bees — need a hand. Clever illustrations provide hints of what is to come, with Benedict living in a house where the plants have all died.  Benedict and the young readers of this story learn about what bees need to produce honey, and all live happily ever after. The story is charming, humorous, and important. The illustrations are lovely in watercolor and other media, and the fact that the texture of the watercolor paper is used for much of the white space keeps the illustrations rich and engaging.

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‘How to Disappear’ by Sharon Huss Roat Is a Beautifully Written Story of the Invisible, the Individual, and the Power of Social Media

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“How to Disappear” by Sharon Huss Roat is a book that once begun, is difficult to put down. It starts innocuously enough with the story of a girl with severe anxiety. Vicky can’t function at high school and must disappear into the stall of the bathroom when she just can’t bear going to class and facing others. Since her best friend moved away, she’s been trying to disappear completely, since that’s easier than actually talking to people and making new friends.

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‘Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead’ by Rick Riordan is the Third Book in this Wild Fantasy Adventure Series

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Rick Riordan knows his Greek gods, as has been proved with the “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” series. He also does an amazing job writing a series about Norse gods and Valhalla, the place where those related to the gods go if they die a noble death. Kind of like Camp Half Blood but with different rules.

The main character in this series is Magnus Chase, the son of Frey, the god of healing. In this story, Magnus and his friends must journey to Jotunheim and Niflheim to reach the evil god Loki’s ship before he can leave with his warriors and start Ragnarok, the end of the world.

Over the course of the story, the reader learns that Samirah, the Muslim Valkyrie, is fasting during the day because of Ramadan. Magnus’ good friends Hearth and Blitz must travel on their own adventure, and Hearth must face his very evil father, whom he finally vanquishes with Magnus’ help. Magnus also learns more about Alex, his gender fluid friend. In the last book, “The Hammer of Thor,”  Riordan had hinted that Magnus felt more than friendship toward Alex, about whom Magnus seems to instinctively know which pronoun (he or she) is appropriate to use at what time. In this book, that hint is resolved so there are no uncertainties left.

In the end, of course, Magnus and his team save the world from the end of the world, but the fun is in watching how he does it. Jack, his magic singing sword, is ever-present and ever humorous; Samirah continues to reflect well on the Muslim community; and Magnus, with his self-deprecating narration, continues to enchant and charm readers of all ages. Riordan should be given much credit for his inclusion of many diverse characters and lifestyles in this series.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and humor. Readers should have read the first two books in the series prior to beginning this voyage. Begin with “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer.”

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for review purposes.