Tag Archives: Katy

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow

fatalfeverWho was Typhoid Mary? Was she a villain or victim?  Were her assessors after fame or just doing their job?  Or was Mary just the scapegoat for officials who waited too long to clean up their cities?

Typhoid fever at first caused headaches and fatigue, then by a high fever, stomach pain, chills, and a red rash. One out of three people who contracted typhoid died. And as the deadly disease broke out in New York cities, thousands died.

George Soper’s job as a sanitation engineer made him an expert on germs that caused disease. Now it was his job to stop this contagious disease from spreading.  He found the filthy living conditions in cities, with their open sewers, contaminated water, dead animals in the streets and horse manure  were spreading disease and death. Soper came to show the city officials how to clean up their streets but he found more.

He found a cook named Mary Mallon.  She was a young teen when she crossed the ocean to America from Ireland. She learned her trade as a cook the hard way, working as scullery maid, until she mastered the knowledge to become a cook to the very rich.  She also was believed to be a carrier of millions of typhoid germs.

Hell Gate was an island in New York’s East River originally set up to quarantine smallpox victims.  By the turn of the century, a hospital there held anyone  who needed to be isolated and forgotten.  Mary was imprisoned on Hell Gate, released, and later returned to quarantine when found to have return to her original occupation.

Mary died in captivity at the age of 69.  She never offered her side of the story. All that is known of Mary’s beliefs were that she never saw herself to be sick or to be the source of the various outbreaks of typhoid left in her wake.



Hell Gate Hospital today.

A tale straight out of the history books – laced with original photos, documents, illustrations and cartoons from newspapers and magazines – yet it reads like a murder mystery. This is a good read but would equally make a good source for a school report.

You be the judge.  Pick up Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow.

Note: The illustrated cartoon demonstrating how flies spread the disease was drawn by illustrator Vernon Grant who would later draw Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop.

Format Available: Book

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

thisiswhereitendsThis fictional tale could have been taken from today’s headline news.

It is the story of a teen that has lost contact with reality and blames others for his feelings of abandonment and loneliness.  He enters his former high school armed with the means to lock down the school on his terms, with a deadly weapon to “show the world” and “to be remembered.”  The reader is initially placed outside when the gun shots are heard for the first time, locked out of the auditorium.   As the story progress, the author places you right there inside the auditorium facing death.

The story unfolds in four voices:

  • Claire is a senior on the track team who was excused from the school assembly this morning along with several other team mates for early morning practice. 
  • Tomas, on detention with his friend Fareed, for gluing the desk drawers of a teacher, also excused from the assembly. 
  • Sylv is a senior with her choice of college. 
  • Autumn is a junior and a gifted dancer with a dream.

The last two aren’t so lucky.  They are seated in the auditorium with a thousand other teens listening to the Principal’s speech.  That is until a young man steps up on stage to ask a question.  A young man with a gun named Tyler. 

Tyler is Autumn’s brother.  He is the son of an abusive alcoholic and their mother died two years ago in car accident.  Tyler’s girlfriend broke away from him when she saw the mean, abusive side he had hidden for so long.  In his eyes, he has lost everything and everyone he ever loved.  Tyler believes that it’s his turn to make people sit up, take notice of him, and pay for the pain they have caused him.

You are there, watching while innocent teens are murdered or maimed.  You are running for help but feel helpless to do anything about what is going on inside the school.  You are the heroes that, in spite of their bad boy images, risk their lives to free those students under fire.

Through flashbacks and memories you will learn about Claire, Tyler’s ex-girlfriend and her disabled brother Matt, who is in the auditorium.  Fareed, Tomas’ cohort in crime, is an A student who happens to be Muslim.  Tomas and Sylv are twins who were so close until a year ago and whose mother is mentally drifting away.  Autumn  dreams of going to Julliard when she graduates.  She is also Sylv’s girlfriend.  

The story draws you in and places you in seat at the center of the terror.  It locks you outside, scared for those inside the assembly hall, feeling helpless and places you in a heroes shoes.  This isn’t just a headline story anymore.  The fictional story has all the grit of a true tale.

This Is Where It Ends is a drama filled novel, full of emotion that may have you taking a second look at some of the people around you and realizing that there is more to them than what you can see on the outside.  And while Marieke Nijkamp has given us a diverse group of characters (various ethnic origins, different religions, and gay teens), each has their own perspective of what’s happening and what they are capable of doing.  Some are too terrified to move, some try to escape where there is no escape, some are targeted for death, and a few are foolishly brave, heroes.

By the end of the story, I really cared about this group that I had only met for a few hours before, and wondered where the the survivors would be a year from now.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Six by Mark Alpert


In the not too distant future six teens, each with a fatal illness, have transfered their “memories and personalities” to Pioneer robots, eight-hundred pounds of metal and neuromorphic electronic circuitry.  Leaving their human shells behind is only the beginning for these adventurers.  At first, there is pain and anger at losing their human form.  Then, the fear of losing their memories, their humanity, or of simply disappearing.

They must learn to harness the technology, as well as come to grips with the power and strength given their robotic forms.  This second chance at life comes with a very high price as The Six must confront Sigma, a highly developed artificial Intelligence, and stop it.  Sigma has escaped human control and is out to rid the world of what it perceives as its greatest nemesis, humans.

Adam, Jenny, Zia, Shannon, Marshall and DeShawn are the Six.  Adam is a geek, who has spent years writing computer games. Zia has street smarts and is tough as nails. Jenny is a debutante who had everything. Shannon, a classmate of Adam’s, is a wiz at math. Marshall never let his deformity label him. And DeShawn has a wicked sense of humor.  Each distinct personality demonstrates you can still be unique even when housed in identical forms. One of the most difficult tasks for these teens will be learning to work as a team, caring about each other, fighting together, and just plain getting along.

Full of adventure, heartache, and intriguing scientific facts, this tale is a roller coaster ride of emotions as well as a rousing battle for control of the Earth.  The Six face painful losses, death, and decisions many adults couldn’t handle.  And while they don’t come away unscathed, they command respect for who they are and how they handle what life throws at them. The final pages will have you searching the skies, or at least the Internet, for the next installment to hit the streets.

Mark Alpert takes us into our scientific future and asks if can we hang on to our humanity, compassion, knowledge and understanding of others if we no longer hold a physical human form.  Can we handle being given great strength and almost unlimited power to control the world around us?  I had a hard time putting The Six down even though at times I was slowed down a bit by where Mark Alpert was going with his scientific knowledge.

I could hear the teen’s voices clearly in the characters, right down to the misbehavior antics and lack of emotional control at times.  The commander was a stereotypical military leader of the “my way or the highway” mold but fit in with the storyline. There was plenty of high adventure, strife, just a hint of romance, and enough battle action to make me feel like I was watching a World War II movie.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

neptuneprojectGlobal warming has ravaged the planet in this dystopian tale of dwindling land and water needed to grow food and a government with little care for its people.  Nere is a young teen whose world is falling apart around her, even faster.  The supply of a rare medicine needed to help her breathe on land, is running out. Two years ago she lost her father in an accident, or so she thought. Then her beloved brother left after an argument with Gillian, their mother. Cam, her best friend, is involved with smugglers that could cost him his freedom, if not his life.  Her only escape from all the chaos around her is the time she spends in the water training and communicating, telepathically, with a family of dolphins.

Then the day comes, when the Western Alliance, the world’s rulers, have decided to move the people of the village away from sea. For three young teens Nere, Rory, Cam’s little brother, and Lena, an old school friend time has run out. In a final act of desperation, Gillian reveals the secrets she has been keeping. Nere and the others are part of an experiment; their genes had been altered so they could live in the world’s waterways and they must take the final steps that will make living on the land impossible.  James, her brother, had been part of the experiment too, but something had gone terribly wrong. The three teens must now set out on a journey to find the underwater settlement her father has been building for years, thousands of miles away. Gillian, Cam and Lena’s parents gather to say goodbye and give them instructions when soldiers show up to prevent them from leaving. A fight breaks out. Not everyone escapes.

The surface world is dying and humanity’s only chance for survival may be life under the sea. The journey is more than just the miles the teens will have to travel. They must face the reality that they will never be able to live on land again and while life under the sea is beautiful it is also deadly.  While, not all the danger they face comes from the marine life. The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke is the first in a trilogy.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Sylvie Davis was a Prima Ballerina.  One step, two steps, then she heard a crunching sound.  Now Sylvie Davis a broken doll.


It was hard not to be bitter, she would never dance again. And now, Sylvie’s mother was sending her off to her father’s old family home in Alabama to stay with a cousin.  It was for the best she was told, recuperate away from everything she’d lost. The alternative was to be shut away in an institution for drug and alcohol abuse. At least Gigi, her dog, was going with her. What she hadn’t expected to find was the Southern plantation type of home complete with secrets, ghosts, a steel magnolia relative who wasn’t fond of dogs and two guys playing dangerous games, with Sylvie at the center of it all.

At first it was hard not to be cynical. All she wanted was to be left alone. It was Gigi who found the over grown garden with the large blue stone, similar to those at Stonehenge, at its center.  Just what Sylvie needed to take her mind off of herself for a time. As she worked to restore the garden, she began to open her eyes to those around her, including Shawn, the charismatic leader of the Teen Town Council and Rhys, the young Welshman, doing research at an archeological dig nearby. Then she heard the sound of a baby crying, saw a young woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing, running towards the cliff and the cold, the incredible cold that followed.  There was a supernatural power in the earth and what Sylvie didn’t know was that she had the ability to draw it out for good or bad, just as she would have to choose between Shawn and Rhys.

While not a speedy read, the story is in the telling.  This paranormal romance has a mash of history, a few hints at environmental lessons, a splash of magic, a smattering of mystical folklore and a bit of greed. It’s peopled with the good, the slightly self-interested and finally those who will find their way in the end. Puzzling out how it all fits together can be fun in itself. You won’t find all the answers, for some of the story you can simply fill in the blanks. However, if you are looking for a rainy day read, this one can while away the hours with a bit of Southern charm, romance in the air and a touch of magic.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey


Gears, wheels and clockworks.  Oh, my!

Plus mechanical beasties, horses and ships, murder and mayhem, romance and adventure.

Once you start, you are dropped down in the middle of a Steampunk tale that will introduce you to a time that is both dark and tantalizing.  This high adventure is peopled with villains, heroes and the in-betweens that pull you into an alternate world where knowledge of science and steam can indeed make magic happen.  But it’s Kristen Bailey’s heart as a storyteller that will keep you turning the pages until you reach the final line on the first leg of a long journey for Meg, Will, Lucinda and Oliver.

This harrowing tale is filled with the imagination, creativity and ingenuity.  Bailey brings to life mechanical beings, weapons and amusements, almost leaping off the pages of the book.  This first installment in The Secret Order trilogy opens a world misplaced in time that will intrigue and delight teens of fantasy, sci-fi, mystery and romance.

Meg’s life as the daughter of a clockmaker was comfortable, but after the fire that took the life of her parents all she has left to remember them by is a cindered pocket watch.  As housemaid to an eccentric Baron, life is anything but comfortable with long hours of drudgery, dusting and cleaning until the winding of a clock opens a secret door.  Within the hidden workshop there are fantastic machines and a spyglass like nothing Meg has ever set eyes on before.  Some allow her to see into all areas of the estate by means of disguised cameras.  Among the detailed drawings are the inner workings of a bizarre egg shaped contraption, Meg finds a letter that sends her on a search for the grandfather she had thought was dead.

The trail she follows leads to a secret society of men that can create almost anything you might imagine with gears, wheels and clockworks.  Along with Will, a former stable hand, she makes her way to London, to meet with Lucinda, the widow of an Amusementist to begin their search for clues which can lead them to a machine that may well tear apart the very fabric of time.  With a murderer on their trail, a weapon of deadly destruction, that only she has the key to stop, clues to search out and inventions that could be the death of them, this harrowing adventure has just begun.

If this sounds exciting and you want to know more, check out the book trailer or the author’s website.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards



Ever heard your-self say, “I don’t remember what I did yesterday?”  Imagine waking to find that you have lost six months of your life and in the interim you have changed into someone you don’t even recognize.

It was May when Chloe drifted off to sleep in detention class but when she awoke it was November, snow falling outside the dark cafeteria window.  Her fingernails were caked with dirt, the knees of her jeans, too, were dirt packed.  Then he was there, behind her, asking why she had called him. Called him? Never in her right mind would she have called Adam Reed, the quintessential bad boy at school. Was this a nightmare or reality?

Chloe, formally an average student, was now at the top of her class, her boyfriend was Blake Tanner the most popular guy in the school and her best friend, the reason she had gotten detention, hated her. She had everything her parents ever wanted for her, grades that could get her into the best college, a boyfriend who was the catch of the school, friends that were from the best families in town and yet, something was definitely wrong.

When had she and Adam Reed had become more than just friends?  Why had a family that had lived here since the beginning moved away and why did Chloe care?  Even Adam and Blake seemed to have secrets between them that centered around her. Then, the psychiatrist she had gone to for answers turns up dead. Chloe had better find answers soon or she could very well be next.

The characters are brought to life with all their imperfections. Some you may want to hug, some you may want to cry for, some you may want to shake some sense into and some you just want to choke. There is intrigue and mystery, murder and mayhem, romance and friendship and a whole lot of questions. In the end, one of the most important questions is left up to the reader to decide for themselves. “How could this have happened in the first place?”  Get ready to curl up in a warm spot because Six Months Later could make your blood run cold.

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Shades of Dr. Moreau: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Before Delaney (Lane) McEvoy was born, the Ferae Naturae virus ravaged the United States causing millions of humans to mutate into an animal/human form. Many died within days but those who did not succumb went crazy and cannibalistic. With just a single bite from an infection creature the bitten is turned into one of the infected. Now these creatures inhabit the Feral Zone.

Fast forward to Lane’s world almost 20 years later where a 700 foot wall was erected to section off the East – the Feral Zone – from the West. To go beyond the wall is forbidden, punishable by death. Even so, there are” fetches” who are willing, for a price, to chance death slipping past the wall to bring back valuables left behind in the exodus two decades before.

Lane was never sure why her father made her learn survivor skills but she is very grateful for them when she is sent beyond the wall to find him. Lane is on a desperate mission to save her father; she must go into the Feral Zone find her father, collect a photo for a high ranking official and come back free of the virus. Along the way she joins forces with two totally different young men, each with his own reasons for helping her. One is of her world, Everson, an up-tight sentry guard; the other, Rafe, is a rouge hunter who seems right at home in the wild environment of the Feral Zone.

Once beyond the wall Lane struggles with her own notions of humanity, faces death square in the eye, learns too late that you don’t have to be a human being to be human, and faces her fear of the unknown. She also grapples with her growing feelings for both young men.

Inhuman by Kat Falls is fast paced with a world fully realized and drawn before our eyes. It has fantastical creatures, romance, adventure, horror, intrigue and mystery in a world that pits man against beast and begs us question our treatment of the beasts of this Earth. This book had me smiling, crying, biting my nails, and looking over my shoulder into the shadows.

And this is just the beginning of Lane’s tale. Falls intends to write a trilogy and is half way through writing the second book. The release date of the next installment is rumored to be sometime this fall.