Good Books and the Random Movie

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10 November 2017

The Spanish Pearl

The Spanish Pearl by Catherine Friend is a historical fiction novel in which the main character is somehow transported from modern day Spain to 1085 in the same location.

Kate Vincent and her girlfriend Anna are in Spain to adopt a son. Due to him having a fever they cannot take him from the orphanage yet. So on their free day they have to decided what sites to see.

Anna, a history scholar, wants to see the Palace that is now a museum. But after a quick walk around, Kate wants to see the cave Mirabueno that their soon-to-be son thinks is great. A man at the museum warns Kate that the cave is not safe, but she goes anyway.

During the group tour of the cave, an ankle injury causes Kate to fall behind. She decided to cross the rope barrier to sit on an obvious shelf until the tour returns.

What feels like hours later, she wakes up in a totally dark cave. The lights and guide ropes are gone. When she goes outside, the city of Zaragoza is also missing. Only the Palace remains on the horizon.

Kate is back in the time that her girlfriend studies. The time to El Picador , El Cid and the wars between Moors and Christians for control of Spain. Friend has thrown in a twist that makes this a great read in what could become a terrible situation for any woman, but a lesbian maybe even more. At a painter, Kate has a still that just might keep her from being married off to the first man who asks.

Friend, Catherine. (2007). The Spanish Pearl. NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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24 October 2017

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass 6)

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas is the sixth book in her Throne of Glass fantasy series. If you are a fan of fantasy, or want to become one, read this series!

Chaol and Nesryn are headed to the southern continent of Antica to both find a healer who can help Chaol and to try to become allies with the Khagan for the war against the Valg.

Nesyrn, whose family is from the city of Hafiza, the capital. She has an aunt and uncle she hopes to visit if time allows.

The Torre Cesme, the school of the famed healers of Hafiza, has sent their best healer to work with Chaol. Yrene is from the northern continent and is, at first, put off by Chaol's accent. She has nightmares about what happened to her family under the Glass Throne.

This installment of the series introduces a new factor in the Khagan's court and army. This book takes place at the same time as the fifth book.

READ THIS SERIES! It has become one of my favorites.

Maas, Sarah J. (2017). Tower of Dawn. New York: Bloomsbury.

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13 October 2017

The Paris Spy (Maggie Hope 7)

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal is the seventh book in her Maggie Hope series of mystery / espionage historical fiction.

Maggie has gotten herself to Paris - in the midst of the Nazi occupation. It is not only a dangerous place to be anyone at the time, but she must avoid an SS officer who would recognize her as a British spy. But she felt she had to go to look for her half-sister.

Sarah and Hugh are also in Paris, their cover a ballerina and her husband who plays in the orchestra. Their task is to find the report and samples of another spy - the information that will determine on which beach the Allied invasion will take place.

MacNeal is a master of making tension in her readers. Each page is both wonderfully written and crafted, and on the edge of discovery by the Nazis.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is a must-read series.

MacNeal, Susan Elia. (2017). The Paris Spy. New York: Bantam Books.

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07 October 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas is the third book in her Court of Thorns and Roses fantasy series.

Feyre is back in the Spring Court - as a spy. Everyone knows a war is coming with Hybern. It is important to know who is on whose side before the battles begin. It is time to form alliances.

Feyre has changed a lot and one slip will ruin her cover. But she must find out if Tamlin is working with Hybern.

I cannot say much else without risking spoilers. This is a well-written, exciting fantasy series with a kick-ass female protagonist. Read it! At this point, I would go far as to say read everything Sarah J Maas publishes!

Maas, Sarah J. (2017). A Court of Wings and Ruin. New York: Bloomsbury.

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19 September 2017

A Court of Mist and Fury (Court ofThorns and Roses #2)

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas is the second book in her Court ofThorns and Roses fantasy series. Feyre, a human, has been in the fae realm for a few months – at a time when an evil woman has enslaved most of the fae. To survive she had to make a bargain.

Feyre is tied to the Spring Court and the lord there. She got there because of the ancient treaty. She has returned because of her skills and a bargain she made with the lord of the Night Court – the court thought to be filled with vile creatures and danger to all who enter. The bargain was the only thing that saved her life, but now her debt is about to be collected.

Feyre is taken from the Spring Court in the middle of a ceremony. The debt to be collected is that she must spend one week per month with the lord of the Night Court – Rhysand. Tamlin, the lord of the Spring Court tries to stop it, but bargains are an old kind of magic with harsh consequences if you break them.

Feyre was expecting the Night Court to always be dark, as the Spring Court is always in full bloom. But that is not the case. She is taken to a beautiful palace on a hill overlooking the mountains. While she resent being there, the place gives her a chance to rest and not fell closed in – a feeling that brings back the terror of fighting for her life. The open space is calm and inviting. She is not forced to do anything but be there for the week. For one week each month of her life – if she does not find some way around it.

 Maas is a great story teller. Her books read like she knows exactly where the overall story is going. Her creation of the different Courts is well-thought out and creative. Her characters are either people you want to have your own life or would never want to meet in the dark. I love this series. As a librarian and a great promoter of the public library, I could not wait my turn. I went immediately to the local bookstore and bought the next book!

Maas, Sarah J (2016). A Court of Mist and Fury. New York: Bloomsbury.

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10 September 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is the first book is a fantasy series of the same name. Set in a world where there was a war between human and fae, a wall of magic separates the two sides. There is a treaty in place to keep humans and fae from interacting with each other.

Feyre lives with her two sisters and her father near the wall. Her father, a merchant, lost his fortune when a ship carrying his investment sank. They lost their manor and are now living in a small, rough house in the woods. Feyre has taught herself to hunt – it is the only thing keeping her family from starvation.

On a day when she must catch something for them to eat, Feyre sees a wolf about to kill the animal she has in her sights. If the wolf gets it, her family may not live past the week. While she thinks the wolf might be fae, she must risk it. She kills the wolf and her family’s meal for the week.

A couple of days later, there is a beast at the door. He says that the treaty proscribes a life for a life. Her choice is death or to come to the fae realm to take the wolf’s place. She is put on a horse and under a sleep spell. When she awakes, the beast is walking her up to an estate. And once the beast turns back to his more human for, he is a beautiful and powerful fae lord named Tamlin.

But don’t think that this is a love story with a twist. This is the first book in a great fantasy series. Maas has created a complex fae world with many kinds of dangers to a human. If you are a fan of fantasy and you have not read Maas, start now! Her other series, Throne of Glass, is equally complex and wonderful. She creates characters who will stay with you.

Maas, Sarah J. (2015). A Court of Thorns and Roses. New York: Bloomsbury.

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24 August 2017

House of Spies (Gabriel Allon #17)

House of Spies by Daniel Silva is the seventeenth book featuring Gabriel Allon, a Mossad agent who was first recruited after the terror at the Berlin Olympics. Since then he has been a top agent who wants nothing more than to be a paint restorer and spend quiet time with his family. If only the world would allow it.

Gabriel is now the head of the office. Most chiefs stay in Jerusalem and run things from a desk. But Gabriel has a personal reason to need to catch the ISIS terrorist calling himself Saladin. One of his bomb killed a friend in Paris. Gabriel will join his team in Europe to track any trace of the terror mastermind.

Christopher Keller, ex-SAS, will give the team a criminal element needed to catch a criminal. Keller has been living in Corsica working for a mafia don and has connections to the underside of Europe.

Silva is an amazing writer who grabs readers with the first paragraph. His characters are compelling, his plots sometimes a bit too close to our current reality, and his twists and turns are the work of a master planner. Anyone who likes to read needs to read a Daniel Silva book. Start at the beginning with The Kill Artist or read his stand along spy masterpiece TheUnlikely Spy.

Silva, Daniel. (2017). House of Spies. New York: Harper.

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20 August 2017


Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a well-crafted, brilliantly delivered fantasy story set in the times of fairy tales.

Every ten years in the valley next to the corrupted wood, a girl is picked to serve the magician who lives in the tower. Agnieszka is sure that her friend Kasia will be picked. He always chooses the pretties girl. Even the girls from the other villages couldn’t compete with Kasia. She has been training to serve the magician, known as the Dragon.

No one knows how the girl will serve the dragon. But at the end of each ten years, those girls come home and almost immediately move away. Kasia and Agnieszka have promised that they will still be best friends after they are separated for a decade.

When all the girls of the village are lined up, the dragon appears. But he does not pick Kasia. He chooses Agnieszka. And they are off to the tower before the shock can wear off. He always has to pick a girl with magic if one presents herself. Of course, Agnieszka has no idea she has magic… Nor does she know how to cook or do any other domestic things that Kasia has been trained for.

Novik has created a great story. It has all of the elements of a great fairy tale. This is a must read!

Novik, Naomi. (2015). Uprooted. New York: Del Rey.

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05 August 2017

The Sea Hawk

The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock is a time-traveling pirate adventure.

Dr. Julia Blanchard is a marine archeologist working on the Georgia coast. She and her team are slowing exploring and excavating the ship they are calling the Georgia Peach. She knows it is not the safest plan, but she has to get one more look at the ship. She takes her boat out and anchors to the buoy. But the shadow of another boat looms above as she is diving.

Once her friends realize she is missing, Julia is floating near the marker buoy hoping for a rescue. Unfortunately, a storm is coming in. Rescue boats will not be sent out until it passes. At which point Julia will have been blown away from the sight of the wreck.

Just when Julia is starting to give up hope, a ship come by. When she is brought on board she is sure it is some kind of reenactment. But it soon seems like she is actually back in the 1800s.

Before Julia can get comfortable on her strange rescue ship, that ship is attacked by pirates. Julia is taken captive by a female pirate named Simone Moreau on her ship Le Faucon de Mer. The very ship Julia has been excavating.

Adcock has written a great tale of romance set in two different time periods, perfect for anyone who like stories of swashbuckling female pirates.

Adcock, Brenda. (2008). The Sea Hawk. Nederland, TX: Yellow Rose Books.

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27 July 2017


Cataclysm by Tim Washburn is a disaster novel about what would happen if the caldera volcano under Yellowstone exploded, creating the worst ecological disaster since the end of the dinosaurs. Told in short, tension building chapters, from many points of view (including survivor interviews) this book is a geological terror of an adventure. There are some great characters for readers to root for along the way.

If you like disaster movies, this is even better.

Washburn, Tim. (2016). Cataclysm. New York: Pinnacle Books.

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16 July 2017

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown is a coming out story - for the second time.

Joanna Gordon has made a deal with her father. He is getting married to wife number three and they are moving from Atlanta to a small town in northern Georgia. Jo has agreed to go back in the closet. She figures it is only ten months until she graduates and leaves for college.

Part of her dad's reason for asking this is that he is worried for her safety in small town, religious American south. Jo agrees with it to not make waves with the new in-laws.

Then she meets Mary Carlson. And it seems like it is going to be harder to keep her promise. All of the reasons she agreed to this awful idea seem less important that being herself.

Brown has written a sweet, complicated story of love and coming out. She has included religion and shown how it is possible to be out and faithful. The book is filled with great characters that make small town America seem less scary to us city lesbians. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is a great read.

Brown, Jaye Robin. (2016). Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. New York: Harper Teen.

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14 July 2017

The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman is an amazing commentary on our times. And just what us left leaning women needed in this political climate!

Written as an historical novel, looking back five thousand years to our current day, The Power looks at what happened to shift the political and social power from men to women.

Roxy is the daughter of a London gangster. When men come to attach her mother, thinking she wouldn't be home, Roxy fights back. She has something inside of her that tells her she can hurt the men who are trying to hurt her family.

Margot is mayor. The power in her is awakened by her daughter - teen girls can trigger it in older women. But Margot keeps her power a secret. The political climate is not reacting well to girls being able to defend themselves - and occasionally attacking some guy.

Allie is an orphan who is being abused. When she feels something in her chest she fights back. And her step father reacts as if electrocuted. Then she runs.

Tunde is a witness. He is excited for young women to be able to defend themselves. In some parts of the world they will rebel against religious laws that keep them from having rights. Tunde will start traveling the globe to help document the changes and the revolution.

The Power is so good. Alderman has written a book that shows the opposite future to the one in The Handmaid's Tale where women rule the world and men are seen as the weaker sex. This is a refreshing novel that is brilliantly conceived and written. Go buy a copy today - and buy one for the women in your life.

Alderman, Naomi. (2016). The Power. UK: Penguin.

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29 June 2017

At All Costs (Honor Harrington #11)

At All Costs by David Weber is the eleventh book in his Honor Harrington series, a space opera featuring a kick ass female protagonist.

The uneasy truce in the war with Haven is on the brink being broken. Someone has been altering the documents of negotiation in route between the star nations. Both the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven think it is someone from the other side.

The new government in Manticore has been cutting military budgets left and right. If war does restart, Haven will be at an advantage for the first time in the history of their animosity. But a secret production facility hidden in space will shock Manticore at how quickly Haven has closed the technology gap.

Tension within Haven mounts when it looks like it was someone from their side, especially with the new constitution that is supposed to stop the unilateral assassinations of the last government.

Honor Harrington’s life is altered in an interesting way in this book, but I don’t do spoilers! This is a great science fiction series. Read it if you like scifi at all!

Weber, David. (2005). At All Costs. New York: BAEN.

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26 May 2017

In This Grave Hour (Maisie Dobbs #13)

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear is the thirteenth book in her Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is an investigator and psychologist.  This may be my favorite book series.

September 3rd, 1939 England declared war against Germany. When Maisie returns home from her best friend’s house where they listened to the radio announcement from the king, a Doctor Thomas is waiting for her. Maisie knows her to be a spy. Dr. Thomas wants Maisie to investigate the death of a Belgian. England took in many Belgian refugees during WWI. Some of them stayed. But the attitude toward other cultures within England has changed since the war started. Dr. Thomas is concerned that the police are not looking in the right place, if at all. Maisie takes the case.

At the same time, operation Pied Piper is put into effect. Children in London, a city likely to be bombed by the Nazis, are being evacuated to the countryside. Maisie’s estate has gotten three children. Her father is going to get the two boys working with horses. But the small girl who doesn’t speak is a mystery. She came without any paperwork. None of the other children know where she came from.

Winspear is a brilliant writer. Her books will grab you from the first page. Plus, if you listen to the firstbook on audiobook read by Rita Barrington will put the wonderful accents in your head for the rest of the series!

Winspear, Jacqueline. (2017). In This Grave Hour. New York: Harper.

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15 May 2017

A Pirate's Heart

A Pirate’s Heart by Catherine Friend is a lesbian romance for fans of both pirates and librarians!

Librarian Emma Boyd works at a rare book library. She is overworked and has little time for a social life but she know just about everything there is to know about the pirate captain Tomasina Farris who disappeared in 1715.  So when a thief steals a map from her collection she wants to help catch the person who did it – someone who may be searching for Tommy Farris’s lost treasure.

Investigator Randi Marx does not want help from any stuffy librarian. She is a map expert in her own right and works for one of the best private investigation firms in the country. When it is suggested that she and Emma go to the other libraries where there have been map thefts, she is less than thrilled.

Friend has combined two stories – one of Tommy Farris in the height of piracy in the Caribbean – and a chase across the US and a search for a lost treasure. This is great romance story.

Friend, Catherine. (2008). A Pirate’s Heart. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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20 April 2017

War of Honor (Honor Harrington #10)

War of Honor by David Weber is the tenth book in his science fiction series featuring Honor Harrington.

The war between the star kingdom of Manticore and the star nation of Haven has reached a cease fire. The timing has possibly saved one side from outright losing the war. Treaty negotiations are going slowly – no solely due to the enormous distance between home worlds of the two governments.

In Manticore the parliamentary style government has changed parties. The new leaders have no use for the Navy. They plan to systematically take money from the Navy to bolster social programs that have suffered due to the war. They don’t have any impetus to reach a treaty with Haven because then the war funding they are syphoning off will dry up.

The new government, due to some previous personality clashes, wants Honor Harrington away from the spotlight, and unable to speak against their policies. So when they see an un-winnable situation forming, they put her in charge – sure that the “Salamander” will either make them look good or die in the process.

Weber is a great science fiction author. This series is one of the few military science fiction / space opera series with a female lead character. And Honor is an amazing protagonist!

Weber, David. (2002). War of Honor. New York: Baen.

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18 March 2017

Silver Stars (Soldier Girl #2)

Silver Stars by Michael Grant is the second book in his Soldier Girl series – an alternated history where there was not gender restriction in the draft for WWII in the United States. The story follows three American young women as they experience the horror of the War to End All Wars.

The story continues as each character has experienced battle and is just trying to get home safely. Rio Richlin, whose proficiency with a rifle has put her on the front lines, will be sent with her squadron to a new theater. Frangie Marr, who is a nurse, will continue to help people while facing the double burden of being a black woman in the US Army. Rainy Schulterman, trained in Army intelligence, will have the chance to help the war – but at the cost of being stuck behind enemy lines.

Grant has done a good job of realistically placed female soldiers into the US Army of the 1940s. This is a great young adult series.

Grant, Michael. (2017). Silver Stars. London: Electric Monkey.

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