Good Books and the Random Movie

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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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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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11 March 2017

Our Own Private Universe

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley.

Aki Simon is spending the summer in Mexico with her church group. Another group of teens from Maryland and one from farther south will be joining them.

What Aki wants to do this summer is test her theory about being bi. And as soon as she meets Christa from one of the other groups, she knows with whom she would like to test it. And her best friend, Lori, can see it on her face immediately.

Over a few weeks, Aki and Christa get to know each other. Aki contemplates coming out to her father. Christa is sure her parents would never understand and is worried that word might get back to them through another member of the church. Either way, they cannot deny they have feelings for each other.

Robin Talley is one of my favorite authors and she does not disappoint with this novel.

Talley, Robin. (2017). Our Own Private Universe. New York: Harlequin Teen.

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07 March 2017

Read Me Like a Book

Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler is one young woman's story of finding out who she is and who she wants to be.

Ash is a mediocre student in her last year of school. While her very future depends on her A level exams, she is not too interested in school. She thinks of teachers are old, grumpy people who don't care about teaching so much as about discipline. Which may explain why she and her best friend Cat skip class so often.

But the new English teacher seems different. Miss Murray is only a few years older than Ash. And she is making class interesting. Ash wants to spend as much time with her as possible and works hard on her classwork to get a compliment.

It takes a while for Ash to realize she has a crush on her teacher - the results of which may be hard to deal with in the near future, but will spark Ash's interest in a life after school.

Kessler has written a great coming out story set in England. The scene of Ash coming out to her parents (specifically her mother's reaction) is wonderful - and the closest to my own story I have seen in a book.

Kessler. Liz. (2016). Read Me Like A Book. Summerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

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06 March 2017

Windwitch (Witchlands #2)

Windwitch by Susan Dennard is the second book in her Witchlands series, a young adult fantasy series.

After centuries of war and then a twenty-year truce, people in the three nations are wondering what comes next. Some are making plays for power, others trying to keep the peace going.

Safi, after being promised to a terrible man as an alliance, has escaped. The ship she was on was attacked by magic fire. She only escaped because the Empress of Marstock is an ironwitch. Now she is bound to Marstock long enough to weed out traitors. Safi is a truthwitch - she can tell if anyone is telling a lie.

Iseult, Safi's best friend, is on the run and trying to catch up with Safi. She is being tracked by two different groups and the bloodwitch, Aeduan.

Aeduan can track anyone with their own unique blood scent. He knows Iseult from tracking her before, but he cannot sense her. But he will not give up until he catches up to her.

Susan Dennard has created a great fantasy series. It has great characters, political intrigue, mythical creatures, magic, pirates and Hell-Bards, all in a well thought out world. Out of the new fantasy series of the last few years, this is one of my top picks.

Dennard, Susan. (2016). Windwitch. New York: Tor Teen.

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26 February 2017

Vanished (Nick Heller #1)

Vanished by Joseph Finder is the first book in his Nick Heller series. Heller is a private intelligence operative working for a private firm in Washington, DC.

Roger and Lauren Heller are attacked on their way back to the car after eating at a restaurant. Lauren is hospitalized with a head injury. Roger is missing. Nick is contacted by his nephew, Gabe, while he is on a job about a missing cargo shipment.

Nick and his brother, Roger, have not gotten along since they became adults, but Nick would do anything to help his family. He will use all of his skills to find out where Roger is or what happened to him.

Finder is a master of the suspense/thriller novel. All of his book are fast, engaging reads. Nick Heller is a great character with a unique set of skills in a popular genre.

Finder, Joseph. (2009). Vanished. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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22 February 2017

The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #1)

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman is the second book in her Lady Helen series of alternate history / fantasy set in the early 1800s England.

Lady Helen Wrexhall was introduced to the Dark Days Club at the time she was introduced to society. Expecting parties and potential suitors, instead she got creatures that look human but feed off of those around them.

Now Helen is in training to fight these creatures, to keep a balance. She is in Brighton with her members of the club, the Hammonds. Lord Carlston is helping to train her.

Unfortunately, Lord Carlston is fighting something within himself. And to make matters worse, the man Helen turned down for marriage has followed them to the shore.

Goodman has created a great fantasy series set within the confines of British society at its height.

Goodman, Alison (2017). The Dark Days Pact. New York: Viking.

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14 February 2017

South of Sunshine

South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf is the story of first love.

Senior Kaycee McCoy is tired of attempting to date boys. She has no interest in them. She just needs to stay hidden until the end of the school year. Then she will start breaking free of Sunshine, Tennessee.

But her plan begins to fall apart as soon as she sees the new student. Bren Dawson, from Boston, has lived all over the place. Even in Africa. She is tall and beautiful and stands out because of her skin. Her mother is Cuban.

Kaycee tries to avoid Bren. But then she wonders if she will be too obvious by not being her friend. Van and Sarabeth, Kaycee's best friends since childhood start to notice her strange behavior. Van, who is not closeted, but is not shouting to the small conservative town that he is gay wants Kaycee to admit to him her feelings. Sarabeth is acting strange and trying to force a new boyfriend on Kaycee.

Elmendorf has written a beautiful coming out story with a brave and wonderful ending.

Elmendorf, Dana. (2016). South of Sunshine. Illinois: Albert Whitman & Co.

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11 February 2017

Archetype (Archetype #1)

Archetype by M.D. Waters is a dystopian tale on the order of the Handmaid's Tale.

Emma wakes up with no memory. Her husband, Declan, is a patient and powerful man who helps nurse her back to health. She is staying in a clinic which seems more like a lab where she has tests everyday.

There is a voice in her head that warns her not to talk about the dreams and memories that begin to surface. Memories of a camp / school where girls are trained to be mothers. And dreams of a beach with a man who is not her husband.

Waters has created a creepy futuristic novel about a woman with no memory who has to rely on instincts about who to trust. The feel of reading this book invokes a confusion and tension - and a need to find out the truth!

Waters, M.D. (2013). Archetype. New York: Plume.

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05 February 2017

Front Lines (Soldier Girl #1)

Front Lines by Michael Grant is the story of what it would have been like if US women could have been drafted during World War II - focusing on three young women who sign up.

The court case Becker v. Minneapolis Draft Board in 1940 ruled that the Selective Training and Service Act (the military draft) unfairly singles out males, and extends the draft to all United States citizens 18 year of age or older.

Rio Richlin of Gedwell Fall, California, just heard that her sister died in the Pacific when her Navy ship was sunk by the Japanese. When her best friend Jenou announces that she is joining the Army. Rio decides to join with her.

Frangie Marr of Tulsa, Oklahoma, wants to be a doctor. She doesn't know any black women doctors, but it is her dream. She is going to sign up for the Army and try to become a medic. The stipend will help her family's income since her father's injury.

Rainy Schulterman of New York City wants to join the Army to kill Nazis. Her relatives in Europe have been silent since Germany invaded. Her brother, who is her best friend, is a Marine being assigned to the Pacific. Rainy will be assigned to Army intelligence.

Grant has written a great historical novel that is also a what-if. The book explores the sexism and racism at the time with three great main characters. Front Lines is the first book in a series. Buy a copy today! Book two is already out.

Grant, Michael. (2016). Front Lines. New York: Katherine Tegen Books.

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03 February 2017

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet by HP Wood is a look at Coney Island at the turn of the 20th century.

Zeph works at the museum known as Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet. It is a collection of strange and bazaar artifacts. Zeph enjoys the days when no customers come to see the exhibits. He is content to sit at the counter and read.

As one of the Unusuals, Zeph doesn't feel the need to interact with Dozens. They have not proven to be overly kind people, especially to Zeph, who lost his legs and is now seen as one of the many freaks who hang around Coney Island.

Kitty Hayward has adopted a bench on Coney Island as her current home. She and her mother just arrived on a steamer ship from abroad. She left her mother at the hotel to go for a walk and when she returned was treated like she did not belong in the hotel. The bell boy acted like she was lying about staying there. Now Kitty doesn't know what to do. She knows no one in America.

As Kitty meets the Unusuals, a few of them vow to help her find her mother. But on top of dealing with a missing mother, they ship they can in on has been quarantined and people are starting to get sick. It is not unlikely that politicians will use this as an excuse to try to close Coney Island.

Wood has taken an American landmark and created a story of the wonderful, colorful people who may have live there 100 plus years ago. This is a book for anyone who loves New York. Read it!

Wood, H.P. (2016). Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet. ?:Sourcebooks Landmark.

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23 January 2017

Guilty Minds (Nick Heller #3)

Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder is the third book in his Nick Heller series. Heller is a private intelligence operative based in Boston.

A Washington power broker hires Nick to stop a story that is about to break on a gossip news site. Slander Sheet is about to print a fake story - set up to withstand a cursory investigation - about a Supreme Court Justice. Heller has 24 hours to bring them proof that the story is fake and stop them from releasing it to the public.

But someone has got to great lengths to have this story printed, and the Justice ruined. Heller finds a witness, only to have someone kidnap her.

Finder writes great thrillers. I discovered this series at book three, but had no problem following the story. I will go back and read the previous novels. It is a fun read if you like thrillers.

Finder, Joseph. (2016). Guilty Minds. New York: Dutton.

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21 January 2017

Before the Wind

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch is a humorous look at people who love to sail. Written like a memoir, this novel follows the Johannssen family outside of Seattle.

Josh comes from a sailing family. His grandfather designs boats, his father build them. The Joho sailing boats are famous through out the Pacific Northwest and the racing community. Josh is the middle child who, as an adult, repairs sailboats - no matter how broken down. His older brother, Bernard, has taken off for points unknown - in a stolen sailboat. His younger sister, Ruby, is a sailing savant who could have gone to the Olympics but had other ideas.

Lynch has written a laugh-out-loud story about a single man in a boat yard. It is at times inspirational - stories of sailing on the open sea. And at times heartbreaking. This is a great book. Read it if you have any interest in sailing!

Lynch, Jim. (2016). Before the Wind. New York: Borzoi Books.

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