Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

14 April 2018


Disobedience by Naomi Alderman is a book that will stay in your thoughts for a long time after you finish reading. 

Ronnit Krushka grew up in an orthodox Jewish community in London. She was raised by her father after the death of her mother. Ronnit always pushed against the role she was given as a girl in that community. Now she lives in New York City. She has not been back home to Herndon for years.

When her father dies, she decides to go back. She wants her mother’s silver candlesticks, the things that remind her the most of her mother. Since the rift with her father is no longer a factor, she tells her cousin Dovid that she will be coming. Ronnit wonders where her best friend from childhood is now, she surely left the community like Ronnit.

Ronnit plans to spend a week or two in the place she grew up. She will clean out her father’s house and see some old friends, as well as her favorite cousin. But the community seems strange after so long away. And the men who run synagogue and community – not because they are especially pious, but because they are rich – are not as scary as they once were.

Alderman has written a thought-provoking novel. The three main characters are well developed and humanely flawed. Each has a decision to make. While I was not in love with all the characters for the whole book, that may be why I am still thinking about them well after finishing. This is a great book. (Based solely on the movie preview, they have changed the story quite a bit for the screen version.)

Alderman, Naomi. (2006). Disobedience. New York: A Touchstone Book.

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28 March 2018

Tempest and Slaughter (Numair Chronicles #1)

Tempest and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce is the start to her latest Tortall series – one of the best fantasy worlds ever created in young adult fiction. If you have not read Tamora Pierce, get started today!

In the land across the Inland Sea from Tortall, Arram Draper is in magic school at the Imperial University of Carthak. As a foreigner and younger than his classmates, he does not have many friends. But when his magic gets out of control, showing the masters that his gift is strong, he is moved up to the higher classes. Here he is even younger, but meets Varice and Prince Ozorne, who quickly become his best friends and protectors.

Varice is a strong witch who is interested in practical applications for music. She spends much time in the kitchen learning cooking magic, even though it is thought of as a lower form of magic. Ozorne, seventh in line for the throne of Carthak, is focused on battle magic and types that will help him in the world of politics – even though as the seventh prince there is little chance he will see the throne.

Arram Draper is an especially strong mage whose focus will include water magic, healing arts and an ability to speak to gods – which fans of Tamora Pierce know is not necessarily a good thing!

This new series in the Tortall cannon, is as wonderful as fans would expect. Pierce is a master of story-telling. READ the Tortall books! Buy some today! Do not wait, you are missing out if you have not started yet!

Pierce, Tamora. (2018). Tempests and Slaughter. New York: Random House.

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14 March 2018

A Rising Thunder (Honor Harrington #13)

A Rising Thunder by David Weber is the thirteenth book in his science fiction, space opera featuring the amazing Honor Harrington. After years of war between the star nation of Manticore and the republic of Haven things were coming to an end when a new enemy snuck in and attacked Manticore’s home worlds. Combined with rising tensions with the Sol system this could spell trouble for Manticore.

Weber’s series features one of my favorite fiction characters. Honor Harrington started out as a captain in the Manticore Space Navy. Now she is one of the most powerful figures in her star empire. Filled with politics, military strategy, and (at this point) more characters than I can count, this is still one of my favorite series. If you are a fan of science fiction, strong female lead characters, space opera, politics, military fiction or just good story-telling, read this series. Start with this series, or the companion young adult series about Honor’s ancestor Stephanie Harrington.

Weber, David. (2012). A Rising Thunder. New York: Baen.

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20 February 2018

Conviction (Rebekah Roberts #3)

Conviction by Julia Dahl is the conclusion to her trilogy featuring Rebekah Roberts, a crime reporter living in Brooklyn. She works at a tabloid but gained some esteem when publishing an article with the Center on Crime, Culture and Media detailing the killing of an Orthodox Jewish woman in Gowanus.

Between chasing stories assigned to her, Rebekah attends a lunch for the Center, where she meets other writers they have worked with, including a woman who runs a homicide blog. She lists all deaths in the city, many of which are ignored by the press. People claiming to have been wrongly convicted of a crime have been sending letters to the blog. An in one of those letters, Rebekah finds her next big story.

In July of 1992 there was a triple homicide for which a teen foster son was convicted. After looking through the files, Rebekah sees little evidence linked to DeShawn Perkins, the teen serving a life sentence for the murder of his foster parents and foster sister. Rebekah’s investigation will open a past that a few want to remain hidden, as she is more and more convinced of DeShawn’s innocence.

Dahl has created a great, real and flawed character, in Rebekah Roberts. Her mysteries are wonderfully peppered with clues and revealed, at times, with nail-biting prose. This series also highlights Brooklyn and the Orthodox Jewish communities here. Read them!

Dahl, Julia. (2017). Conviction. New York: Minotaur.

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07 February 2018


Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a classic for a very good reason – you will keep thinking of this story far after you finish the book.

The main character, never named in print, is working as a lady’s companion. She is not from the noble class and has few options outside of a good marriage. She is in Monte Carlo as companion to an American woman she does not really care for when she meets Maximilian de Winter, the owner of he famous house on the cliffs – Manderley.

When her lady becomes ill and she finds herself with free time, she is surprise to find the she and Maxim get along quite well despite a large age difference. He is easy to talk to and they enjoy spending time exploring Monte Carlo.

Soon they are married. After some more travel in Europe, it is back to Manderley in England where the new Mrs. de Winters finds herself well out of her element. Maxim is busy with estate affairs and there is no one to guide her in the new role she is thrust into. She begins to wonder if Maxim is regretting their decision to marry.

The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, keeps comparing her to the late Mrs. de Winters, or Rebecca. Rebecca’s shadow seems to hang over the house and the new, young wife feels that she is not living up to the standard Rebecca set.

In Rebecca, Du Maurier has created a thrilling novel of suspense where all is not as it seems.

Du Maurier, Daphne. (1938). Rebecca. New York: HarperCollins.

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06 January 2018

Jane, Unlimited

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore is a genre blend done really well.

Before Jane’s aunt Magnolia left for her last photography trip, she made Jane promise that if Jane was ever invited to Tu Reviens, the mansion and island off Long Island owned by the Thrash family, she would accept.

When Jane sees her old tutor, Kiran Thrash, and Kiran invites Jane to the house for the seasonal gala, Jane accepts. Since her aunt’s death she has no reason to stay in the city.

What follows is a wonderfully written multiverse. At one point, Jane has the option to choose between five choices. Readers follow each choice to its outcome before going back to that same decision where Jane chooses a different road. Each story varies greatly and include a mystery, espionage, science fiction, fantasy, and a horror. With each option readers learn more about Jane and the person her choice allows her to become.

This is a great book. If you are a fan of the story, you must read it!

Cashore, Kristin. (2017). Jane, Unlimited. New York: Kathy Dawson Books.

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26 December 2017

End Game (Will Robie #5)

End Game by David Baldacci is the fifth book in his Will Robie series. Robie is a CIA assassin and sniper who often teams up with his counterpart, Jessica Reel, one of the best snipers in the world.

After each Will and Jessica complete difficult missions separately, they are called to DC to investigate the disappearance of their boss. Each year he goes back to his hometown in Western Colorado. This year, he has vanished without a trace.

Robie and Reel will work with the local sheriff to sort through the unsavory characters who make their lives in super rural America. They will have many to choose from – cults, skinheads, and more.

Baldacci has written a great thriller, mystery. Though Robie and Reel are not investigators, they are the write team for the job – and their sniper skills will come in handy before they find their boss.

Baldacci, David. (2017). End Game. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

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20 December 2017

Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)

Dreadnought by April Daniels is a superhero with a twist.

Danny Tozer, age fifteen is trapped in the wrong body. She can only show who she really is in private. She is behind the mall about to pain her toenails when a superhero – villain fight breaks own down the street. Everyone knows that it is dangerous to be in the area when there is a fight.

The most powerful superhero in New Port City, Dreadnought, comes crashing through the alley and lands near Danny. Dreadnought has been killed. With his dying breath he passes his superhero mantle to Danny. Which transforms Danny into her best self – a girl.

While Danny is thrilled to finally match on the inside and out, she is not sure how her friends and family are going to react. She will lose some friends but gain others, including a free running, gun toting Calamity. Danny will have to decide what kind of superhero she wants to become.

Daniels has written a sweet, young adult book about a transgirl finding her way in a strange world.

Daniels, April. (2017). Dreadnought. New York: Diversionbooks.  

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14 December 2017

The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher 22)

The Midnight Line by Lee Child is his twenty-second book in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is an ex-Army MP who spent so much time in other counties that he is spending his retirement wandering the United States. And finding mysteries to solve or wrongs to right.

During one of the rest stops of the bus Reacher is riding toward the west, he is stretching his legs and passes a pawn shop. In the window is West Point class ring. He has to go in because no one who earned one would ever willingly part with it.

After buying the ring and pressuring the pawn shop owner to find out where it came from, Reacher is off to track down the owner - a woman based on ring size. The only things he knows are her graduation year and the S.R.S.

Child keeps creating great stories for Jack Reacher. His sense of honor and time as an MP compel him to do what he think of as the right thing. Each of theses books is a great read.

Child, Lee. (2017). The Midnight Line. NY: Delacourte Press.

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09 December 2017

Mission of Honor (Honor Harrington 12)

Mission of Honor by David Weber is the twelfth book in his science fiction series featuring Honor Harrington - a kick ass space navy officer for the empire of Manticore.

After years of war with the Republic of Haven, Manticore is sending Honor Harrington to the capital city of Haven to negotiate peace and an end to the war. Honor is not a politician, but a admiral in the space Navy - one of its most decorated, best strategist and most feared by Haven.

When President Eloise Prichard hears there is a squadron of Manitcore ships near the outer limit of her planet, she is surprised to hear is it to begin a talk. She has never met Honor, like her second in charge Tomas Theisman. The woman she meets is not quite what she expected.

While talks progress, the Solarian League is trying to throw their weight around to intimidate Manticore from another angle. Sol has always been the best, biggest, strongest navy. They have never been challenged by a neobarb on the edge of the galaxy. They will show Manticore what the punishment for encroaching on their territory is.

Weber's series is one of my favorites. I highly recommend this to fans of science fiction, political thrillers and just good stories. Honor Harrington is my hero.

Weber, David. (2010). Mission of Honor. New York: Baen.

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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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