Beha, Eileen. The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea
August 26th 2014 by Beach Lane Books
Annaliese's great grandmother is celebrating her 90th birthday, and is issuing invitations to all of her progeny, inviting them and their sock monkeys, which she made for all of them. The sock monkeys are all personalized and have a secret hidden within them. Annaliese is very fond of Throckmorton, so she helps find sock monkeys, many of which are hidden in the attic. She and her brothers have been forbidden from going there because there are secrets about her mother that her father doesn't want her to find out. The children manage to be a big help with both the sock monkeys (who talk amongst themselves, but not actually to the children) and the party. Family secrets are revealed, however, and Annaliese finds out much that she wanted to know.
Strengths: A cozy winter mystery for children who are inordinately fond of sock monkeys. This had a much older feel to it.
Weaknesses: Think this might take place in the 1920s or 30s, because there are nannies and flappers, but it's never really specified, which I found distracting.
What I really think: Sentient sock monkeys. I'm just not sure I have readers for this, although I rather like the cover.
Easton, Tom. Seven Second Delay.
February 1st 2015 by Holiday House (first published May 1st 2014)
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Mila is trying to get into the UK in a dystopian future when the island is blocked to people from the Third. Her companion, Julian, is killed, and she is thrown into a detention center. Since she doesn't have a phone implanted in her head, the authorities know she is an interloper. They offer (at first) to try to rehabilitate her and make her a citizen, install a phone, and link her to Adam, an agent, so he can keep tabs on her. When the doctors find what they think to be a bomb in her head, though, they want to kill her, and even bomb the entire complex, killing a number of agents, in an attempt to do so. Since Julian trained her very well, she was able to go on the run. Adam thinks she is okay, and hides her from the authorities as much as he can, putting his own career in danger. When it looks as though Mila is killed on the run, Adam is put on "gardening leave", but Mila has utilized the fact that she has "seven second delay" on her feed, and has escaped. Never for long, however-- she is constantly being tracked down, and frequently innocent people around her are killed by the government. Eventually, she is found by Adam, who takes her to a friend to get the bomb removed. Will they be able to do this? How will Mila be able to survive?
Strengths: This is a mix between a dystopian novel and a spy one. LOTS of action, many things blowing up, people being killed in violent ways. Also has a rather philosophical bend about CCTV and modern communications. Interesting. For Holiday House, a good cover.
Weaknesses: This lost me somewhere in the middle. Mila ran and ran, and the mystery of her involvement with Julian was addressed a little late for my taste.
What I really think: Too much human-on-human violence for my taste, but if your library has an insatiable need for dystopian books and you can stomach people getting their jugulars severed by corkscrews and getting shot in the face, go for it.