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    Best Books Of 2012

Sea of Crises

A stellar thriller that handily juggles its formulaic elements to achieve near-perfect liftoff.

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    Best Books Of 2012

Debut author Steere shows off his air-and-space mastery in this swashbuckling tale of Apollo 18, the moon landing that never was.

In Steere’s version of 1976, astronauts Bob Cartwright, Mason Gale and Steve Dayton head toward the moon to explore the lunar feature known as Mare Crisium, but the landing team of Cartwright and Gale discovers something out of place. Water? Aliens? A black monolith? The world never finds out, since the crew isn’t heard from or seen again until their capsule, a charred wreck containing three crisp corpses, plunges into the Pacific. Thirty years later, Nate, Peter and Matt—the sons of mission commander Cartwright—find themselves tangled in the investigation of what really happened. Peter, a journalist, starts it all by ferreting out NASA documents and questioning Gale’s surviving relatives in Minnesota. Now he’s being followed. Oldest brother Nate, a crack legal consultant, comes to the rescue in LA by using his organizational skills to execute evasive maneuvers against bad guys who send impolite warnings in the form of animal carcasses. The two escape to Idaho in search of Matt, Peter’s twin, who was once attached to an off-the-grid military-intelligence unit known as the Organization. Things get devilishly complicated, conspiratorial and dangerous as the brothers are pushed toward the Atlantic coast amid a series of revelations in the form of flashbacks to the lunar sea. Steere’s high-octane suspense tale takes off with all the intrigue and honor of the best Space-Age Westerns and political thrillers. Good guys, bad guys, damsels in distress, secret tunnels, sexy aircraft, heavy ordnance and gadgets galore are set handsomely by Steere’s deft renderings. A bit of melodrama and some boilerplate dialogue don’t derail this solidly built module whose commanding verisimilitude will enthrall space and tech enthusiasts as well as anyone ready for adventure.

A stellar thriller that handily juggles its formulaic elements to achieve near-perfect liftoff.

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985401405

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Penfield Publications

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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JUPITER STORM

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

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A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.

Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943169-32-0

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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