Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 November 2018

Past Tense (Jack Reacher #23)

Past Tense by Lee Child is the twenty-third book in his Jack Reacher series. Reacher is a retire Army MP who now wanders the country aimlessly while stumbling onto mysteries.

As the summer ends, Reacher plans to leave New Hampshire and head toward the Southwest. But he does not get far. The man giving him a ride gets an emergency call and drops Jack off on the side of the road.

The next sign points, in one direction, to the town where Reacher's father was born. Why not check it out? He has never been there. His father joined the Marines at 17 and never went back.

Sally and Shorty are driving from Canada to NYC to sell something they have in a large, heavy suitcase. They are hoping to make it all the way without stopping, but their car has other ideas. A motel sign in the middle of nowhere has them turning off the tiny road they are on and hoping for the best.

Child has put Reacher into another situation where he both helps and causes trouble - mostly to those who deserve it. His adventures are always fun reads.

Child, Lee. (2018). Past Tense. New York: Delacorte Press.

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24 November 2018

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is the best fantasy book of 2018!

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of money lenders. But her father has stopped trying to collect debts. The towns people are not nice to him - both because of their debts and because he is Jewish.

When Miryem's mother gets ill, she decides to start collecting the money owed. She will not let people off the hook, adding interest for any missed payments. And as her family can afford food and fire wood again, her mother starts to recover.

Wanda has been hired by Miryem to help out at her house to help pay off her father's debt. For each day, Wanda lowers her fathers debt and earns money for herself. Money she plans to use to run away with her brothers once they have enough.

Once Miryem starts to do well, the Staryk - fey creatures of ice who live in the forest, come looking for her. A Staryk man gives her a bag of silver and tells her to turn it into gold. If she fails, she is sure she will be killed. If she succeeds, she is trapped into a bargain with a dangerous, magical being.

Novik has written an amazing book that centers around 3 women - all in a web caused by Miryem's desire to save her family. Buy this book today! You will reread it like a great fairy tale. And it is exciting to see a Jewish character in a great fantasy book.

Novik, Naomi. (2018). Spinning Silver. New York: DelRey.

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09 November 2018

The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is an amazing historical novel about a missing cousin and a female spy network.

1947 - Charlie St. Clair in traveling from the United States to Switzerland with her mother. They are going because Charlie is unwed and pregnant. But Charlie has other ideas - she is searching for her cousin, Rose, who has missing since the middle of the war. Everyone else has stopped looking.

Charlie has the name of someone in London who might know what happened. So when their ship stops in the UK, Charlie ditches her mother and heads to London - based on a name scribbled on a scrap of paper.

Eve Gardiner is in no mood for visitors. In fact, she really only speaks to one person - her driver, Finn. What they don't know is the reason Eve is angry and usually drinking.

Eve Gardiner was recruited to join a female spy network in 1915. She was sent to infiltrate a restaurant in France - a restaurant owned by a man who gladly served German officers.

Charlie convinces Eve and Finn to go with her to find her cousin - who worked for a restaurant and an evil man during the war. A story that will bring up all of the demons of Eve's past.

Quinn has written an incredible book. Go buy a copy right now if you have not already done so!

Quinn, Kate, (2017). The Allice Network. New York: William Morrison.

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27 October 2018

The Prisoner in the Castle (Maggie Hope #8)

The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal is the eighth book in her Maggie Hope series - an espionage / mystery series set in WWII.

Maggie Hope has done a lot for the war effort - from helping to break codes to being dropped into France during Nazi occupation. But someone thinks she knows too much.

After being drugged, Maggie finds herself on an island off of Scotland. She is there with other British soldiers and spies in what amounts to a fancy prison. No one knows when they will be released - an almost no one knows where they are.

When there is a murder, all of the are suspects. And the bodies drop in the Agatha Christie style mystery, other people are starting to wonder where Maggie Hope is hiding. In fact, she is need to testify in a major criminal case in London - without her a serial killer may go free.

MacNeal has created a wonderful character, set in one of history's most interesting times. This is a must-read series.

MacNeal, Susan Elia. (2018). The Prisoner in the Castle. New York:Bsntam.

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23 October 2018

Changers: Forever (Changers #4)

Changers: Forever by T. Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper is the final book in the Changers series. A Changer, as opposed to a plain human, spends each year of high school as a different person. They wake up on the first day of each year in a different body. These changes give the Changer a look at life from different perspectives, creating a more compassionate and understanding adult.

At the beginning of the book, Kim (change #3) has told her best friend / girlfriend about the Changers. Audrey has fallen in love with each of the forms Kim has been so far.

When Kim was Drew freshman year, and kissed Audrey, she got a flash of Audrey's future. She was fighting with a blond, muscly boy and drove off into a car accident.

When Kim wakes up at the beginning of her senior year, she is no longer Kim. She is Kyle - the boy Audrey fought with. So instead of telling Audrey who he is, Kyle tries to prevent the accident from happening.

This final instalment of the Changer series, bring together all that the main character has learned. In the forever ceremony, Kyle/Kim/Oryon/Drew will have to choose a final/forever form.

Cooper, T and Allison Glock-Cooper. (2018). Changers: Forever. New York: Black Sheep.

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17 October 2018

The Radical Elelment: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes and Other Dauntless Girls

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, and Other Dauntless Girls edited by Jessica Spotswood is a sequel to the collection A Tyranny of Petticoats. Both volumes feature some great female YA authors writing about various times in history.

This edition looks at girls who are changing things in their communities, as opposed to those on the outside featured in Tyranny.

In Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler, a young woman in a southern Jewish community longs to learn. She will break any rules to be allowed to learn more about her culture and religion.

Take Me With You by Sara Farizan sees a new immigrant joining her neighbor in a punk band - after escaping from the war in Iran.

These are great stories for fans of history. They offer a different angle on what is usually written about by historians!

Spotswood, Jessica. (2018). The Radical Element. New York: Candlewick Press.

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16 October 2018

Fresh Ink: An Anthology

Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles is a collection of diverse stories from some of the best young adult writers. Giles is one of the founders of We Need Diverse Books - a collective of writers who are trying to expand the typical YA character into a better reflection of who is really out there. Their goal is for teens to see themselves in fiction.

Meet Cute by Malinda Lo is the story of a budding relationship at the Denver ComicCon.

Why I Learned to Cook by Sara Farizan is the story of a Persian American young woman learning to cook with her grandmother - to impress the girl she likes.

Super Human by Nicole Yoon features a superhero who, without a mask, would be targeted for harassment by the police.

Other authors include Jason Reynolds, Sharon G Flake, Melissa de la Cruz and Gene Luen Yang.

Giles, Lamar. (2018). Fresh Ink. New York: Crown.

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14 October 2018

An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon is a look at racism in a science fiction setting.

Aster is part of the forth generation of people on the spaceship Matilda. Stories say it left a dying planet many years ago and will someday reach a (possibly) livable new world.

The ship is massive and carries the remainder of humanity. The floors are set up in a hierarchy that evokes the antebellum South.

Aster has been trained to be assistant to General, the ships main doctor. She has a pass to leave her own deck to see patients. And she has an forgotten part of the ship to do experiments with plants and healing.

With the help of her friend, Aster is trying to decode her mother's journals. Rumor says her mother killed herself, but no one ever found her. Aster is sure she was working on something that got her killed.

Solomon has created an unforgettable story of race and misogyny in outer space. People trapped in their roles, assigned by their skin color and gender. Reader will think of this story long after they have finished the book.

Solomon, Rivers. (2017). An Unkindness of Ghosts. New York: Akashic Books.

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04 October 2018

Competence (Custard Protocol #3)

Competence by Gail Carriger is the third book in her Custard Protocol series featuring Prudence Akledama and her friends who are traveling the world in her dirigible (which looks like a giant lady bug).

Pru and her friends are on their way to South America. They are going to hunt or rescue a different type of vampire - the letter was vague.

Filled with wonderful supernatural creatures from vampires and werewolves to werecats and those who can take any shape, all of Gail Carriger's books are a great ride.

While it is impossible to choose a favorite book out of all I have read, Gail Carriger is definitely one of my favorite writers.

Carriger, Gail. (2018). Competence. New York: Orbit.

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27 September 2018

In Fury Born

In Fury Born by David Weber is a thrilling ride through space, special ops and Greek mythology. A space opera for the ages.

Alicia DeVries is a marine like her grandfather. She is sent to far off planets who are part of the Earth empire. Tapped for an elite squad of drop commandos called the Cadre, she is a killing machine.

Follow Alicia through this store that was originally two novellas and a novel. Readers will encounter pirates, revenge, voices in their heads, artificial intelligence and more.

Weber is a master of science fiction story telling. This stand alone novel is a great introduction to him and his kick ass female characters set in world where men and women are treated as equals.

Weber, David. (2006). In Fury Born. New York: Baen

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29 August 2018

Marriage of a Thousand Lies

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu is the tale of breaking away from what your family expects, to be yourself.

Lucky (Lakshmi) is married to Kris (Krishna). They are both gay. In their families, you grow up and get married - that is the only option that does not bring embarrassment on your family.

Lucky and Kris are friends. Their arrangement is that they can date other people. They live far from their families and do what they want.

When Lucky's grandmother falls, she goes home to help her mother take care of her. When she gets home, all of the rules she had when she was a kid are back in place.

While she is home, her best friend from high school comes over - Nisha was also Lucky's first girlfriend, with whom she is still in love.

Sindu has written a rich story of going against others wishes to be who you need to be for yourself, and the consequences of that choice.

Sindu, SJ. (2017). Marriage of a Thousand Lies. New York: Soho Press.

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24 August 2018

It's Not Like It's a Secret

It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura is a coming out tale.

Sana is Japanese American. She grew up in Wisconsin where she doesn't look like any of her classmates. When her father gets a job in California, she and her parents move. In her new school, there are people from all cultures.

While Sana is getting settled in her new school, the first classmate who talks to her says she will join the other Asian girls group. And she does make friends with them - her first group of friends who understand her culture. But she also makes friends with a punk guy and she has a huge crush on a Latinx chick she met before school started. Sana even tries out for the cross country team to have an excuse to talk to Jaime again.

Sugiura has written a beautiful coming out tale, filled with the stress of not fitting in in a new school. Her characters are courageous and beautiful. She uses poetry for the characters to convey things that are hard to say to each other.

Sugiura, Misa. (2017). It's Not Like It's a Secret. New York: Harper Teen.

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19 August 2018

The Other Woman (Gabriel Allon 18)

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva is the eighteenth book in his series featuring Gabriel Allon, a Mossad spy who just wants to be an art restorer.

In the continued time of every country spying on every other country, whether friend or foe, everyone is fighting for information. Israel has developed an agent from Russia and is sharing their finds with England and the United States.

When that spy thinks he has been burned, Mossad sets up a way to pull him out and resettle him in a safe place for all of his work over the years.

But the layers of espionage have other ideas. There is a French n the mountains of Andalusia whose knowledge could disrupt the spy services of the United States and England. She has been keeping tabs since she fell in love with a spy in Beirut in the 1960s.

Silva is a masterful story teller who weaves current day news into his stories. He is one of the best authors writing today.

Silva, Daniel. (2018). The Other Woman. New York: Harper.

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11 August 2018

The Weight of Ink

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish is an historical fiction discovery of a Jewish scribe in London in the 1600s.

Professor Helen Watts is approaching the age when she will be force into retirement. She is an authority on the Jews of England.

When a former student contacts her about some documents found in a house his wife has inherited, Helen is not too hopeful. Most of those types of finds are in the past. But hidden in a secret panel under the stairs are the papers of a little known rabbi from the 1600s. A possible glimpse into Jewish life of the time - well before the keeping of diaries.

Telling the tale of a Portuguese Jew who moved from Amsterdam to London, the papers are a great find. Even more astonishing - the scribe appears to have been a woman.

Told in alternating chapters between the 2000s and 1600s, this fascinating novel reveals a little explored time of Jewish history. For background, read Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you are a fan of history, archival librarianship or discovery, read this great book!

Kadish, Rachel (2017). The Weight of Ink. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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24 July 2018

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queen Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell is a collection of short stores about queer characters through history. Beginning in 1870s Mexico and continuing to the 1970s, the collection is diverse in culture and time periods hinting at what queer life was like in other times.

Great authors include Robin Talley, Malinda Lo, Dahlia Adler, Tess Sharpe, Sara Farizan and more.

I will admit, I am not a big fan of short stories. When they are done well, I want more and that makes me sad. So when I get a volume of them, I skim for my favorite authors.

For me the highlights are "The Dresser and the Chambermaid: by Robin Talley and "New Year" by Malinda Lo.

Mitchell, Saundra. (2018). All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages. New York: Harper Teen.


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18 July 2018

Imprudence (Custard Protocol #2)

Imprudence by Gail Carriger is the second book in her Custard Protocol series - continuing the world she created in her Parasol Protectorate series - a steampunk Victorian England with werewolves, vampires and adventure.

Rue (Prudence) has returned from her first adventure in her dirigible, the Lady Bug. While she is waiting for the next, something strange is going on with her parents. Her father, Lord Maccon is the Alpha werewolf in the London pack.

If the problem is what we all fear - the aging of an alpha that causes him to lose his mind and his pack to go crazy - there may be something Rue can do to help.

In Egypt there is a god-breaker curse that turns supernaturals back into humans. If her father is no longer a werewolf he can live out his life in peace. Unfortunately, werewolves don't float - making the dirigible the worst way to get him there.

Carriger has created a wonderful world peopled with eccentric and lovable characters. Rue heads the next generation of the beautifully. If you have not read these, get started today!

Carriger, Gail. (2016). Imprudence. New York: Orbit.

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16 July 2018

You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition

You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death, and Transition by Chase Joynt and Mike Hoolboom is a memoir of two lives. Written in letters and responses, Chase and Mike tell of their childhood, coming out, transitioning, and second lives in this beautiful biographic novel.

Chase and Mike are, among other things, both film makers who are fans of the cinematographer Chris Marker. The first meet at the Orly airport in Paris where diehard fans gathered to mourn his passing.

Instantly taken with each other, they quickly decide to do a project together - a book of letters, the original style of novel. The result is a beautiful book of two interwoven tales. One of a trans man finding his way. And one of a man who finds out he is HIV-positive.

Chase or Mike begin a topic, and the other either tells his story, or comments on what was written by the first. Both are excellent writers able to capture feelings in words.

This is a beautiful book. Read it.

Joynt, Chase and Mike Hoolboom. (2016). You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death, and Transition. Toronto: Coach House Books.

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