Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 September 2008

Moscow Rules (Gabriel Allon #8)

Moscow Rules is the latest Gabriel Allon book by Daniel Silva. (Unfortunately, I read the others before I began to blog - may add them later...)

Gabriel Allon is an art restorer. He is one of the best in the world. Had he wanted to he could have been the most successful forger in the world. However, before he could finish art school he was called to help his country.

Now, when not restoring art, Gabriel is an assassin. He has been part of the Israeli counter-terrorism team since just after the Munich Olympics. Every time his boss, Ari Shamron, calls Gabriel stops painting and hunts down another enemy of Israel.

In Moscow Rules, Gabriel is only supposed to meet with a Russian newspaper man. It should only take a couple of hour - which is good since he is on his honeymoon. But like all things that Gabriel gets involved with, something will draw him further into the race. In this case it is a race to track down a Russian arms dealer who has just sold anti-aircraft missiles to the same group that attacked the US on 9/11.

Silva is a master of international espionage. His books are face-paced and exciting from the first page to the last. His settings are alluring and the action heart racing. Start at the beginning of the series:

Gabriel Allon:
1-The Kill Artist
2-The English Assassin
3-The Confessor
4-A Death in Vienna
5-Prince of Fire
6-The Messenger
7-The Secret Servant
8-Moscow Rules

Silva, Daniel. (2008). Moscow Rules. New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons.

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27 September 2008

Into the Night (Troubleshooters #5)

Into the Night is the fifth book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter's series.

SEAL Team Sixteen is to be given a commendation from the President. The ceremony will be held on a military base but open to the public. So not only will the Team be in the ceremony - performing an elaborate demonstration - they will have to protect the President at the same time.

White House staffer Joan DeCosta arrives at the base a week before the President. Lt. (jg) Mike Muldoon is assigned to be her liaison. In the mean time, a terrorist is making contact with SEAL wives and girlfriends in an attempt to smuggle guns onto the base. He will target anyone who looks like an easy mark - like someone who is unhappy in her marriage to a SEAL - someone like Mary Lou Starrett. Sam married her when she became pregnant, even though he was (and still is) in love with FBI Agent Alyssa Locke.

Given the right conditions, the terrorists' plan could succeed. Team Sixteen will have it's work cut out for the next few weeks.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2002). Into the Night. New York: Ballantine Books.

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24 September 2008

The Arizona Kid

The Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge.

Billy, from Bradleyville, Missouri, will be spending the summer with his uncle in Tucson - his gay uncle who he has not seen for so long he has to bring a picture on the train so he knows who to look for at the other end.

Uncle Wes has gotten Billy a job at the racetrack, caring for horses. He will be working with a kid a couple of years older - Lew - who is a survivalist. He is convinced (0r at least his dad is trying to convince him) that the world could end at any minute.

Once Billy gets a pair of boots and a hat, he starts to fit in with the locals - most of whom are really only there for the summer racing season.

The Arizona Kid is a coming of age story with fast-paced dialogue and humor. It is the story of first love, horses, and learning to be alright with yourself.

Koertge, Ron. (1988). The Arizona Kid. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.

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23 September 2008

Force of Nature (Troubleshooters #11)

Force of Nature is the eleventh book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

Annie Dugan needs a change in her life. She spent months living with a friend who was dying of cancer and has not been able to get her life back to normal since. Her solution was to quit her job and go back to her home town - Sarasota, Florida.

Now she is working for her brother's best friend, Ric Alvarado - a PI and ex-cop. Only she wants to become his partner while he wants her safely behind the receptionist's desk.

When what looks like a simple case crosses paths with a current FBI investigation, SAC Jules Cassidy recruits Ric and Annie. But while he is in town he runs into Robin Chadwick - the love of his life.

Robin and Jules first met in Hot Target, when Jules was assigned to help protect Robin's sister. Now they are back together and their feelings for each other are about to reach a boiling point.

Suzanne Brockmann is not only a great suspense / romance writer, she includes characters stereotypically not found in the mainstream. Her diversity includes many different types of people and her gay romance between Robin and Jules has some traditional romance groups cringing - but get with the time. These days anyone who doesn't include the occasional gay character is living in a closet.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2007). Force of Nature. New York: Ballantine Books.

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22 September 2008

Gone Too Far (Troubleshooters #6)

Gone Too Far is the sixth book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

Lt. Sam Starrett and Special Agent Alyssa Locke are back together again. After a brief affair, they have not seen each other for three years. Now Alyssa is assigned to help Sam find his missing ex-wife and daughter.

At the same time Tom Paoletti, commander of SEAL Team Sixteen, is being questioned about a terrorist plot to kill the president. An assassination attempt that Team Sixteen stopped six months ago. Now Tom is piratically being accused of being part of the terrorist group.

Gone Too Far, though the sixth book in the series, is the book where Tom forms his Troubleshooters, Inc. counter terrorism group - designed to be a civilian version of the SEAL teams.

As usual, Brockmann captures the readers attention from page one and keeps the action going through the entire book. Her flashbacks to WWII - this time with Sam's uncle and his wife - create a more complete story than the average mystery or romance writer. She is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2003). Gone Too Far. New York: Ballantine Books.

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17 September 2008

The Coldest Winter Ever

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah is a raw look at gang/drug life in Brooklyn.

Winter Santiaga, the daughter of an infamous drug lord, thinks she has it all. She lives in Brooklyn, she has more fancy clothes than anyone could ever need, and no one messes with her. But all of that changes when her father moves the family to Long Island.

Isolated from her friends, Winter longs to be back in Brooklyn. But there is a reason Santiaga moved his family away. It is not safe for them anymore. Other dealers are moving into his territory, sparking a drug war.

When her mother is shot and her father arrested, Winter finds herself on her own. Her three younger sisters are put into foster care but she tries to escape the system.

She meets Sister Souljah who is trying to help the black community to strive for more. (I am a bit put off by anyone who puts themselves into a book as a main character - especially one who has all of the answers.) No matter what advice Souljah gives her, Winter is on her own path - a path that will ultimately lead her to prison.

Souljah, Sister. (1999). The Coldest Winter Ever. New York: Pocket Star Books.

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16 September 2008

Hot Target (Troubleshooters #8)

Hot Target is the eighth book in the Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann.

Movie producer Jane Mercedes Chadwick is getting death threats because she is making a WWII movie about two soldiers who fell in love on the battlefield. Though she is not taking the threats seriously, the studio is. The security specialists from Troubleshooters, Inc. and FBI agent Jules Cassidy are on the case.

As the danger escalates on the set of the movie the Troubleshooters are in a race to find the suspect before he can get to Jane - the same suspect being sought for killing a federal court judge.

Brockmann goes out on limb in this mystery/romance - reflecting actual life - and includes the love story of a gay character. Jules was introduced in a previous Troubleshooters book but plays a more prominent role in Hot Target. (His story continues in Forces of Nature.)

One again Suzanne Brockmann dispels the stereotype of the romance novel - her books are well written with an actual plot! If you are not a "romance" reader, give Brockmann a chance to change your mind.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2005). Hot Target. New York: Ballantine Books.

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12 September 2008

The Lady Rode Bucking Horses: The Story of Fannie Sperry Steele, Woman of the West

The Lady Rode Bucking Horses by Dee Marvine is the biography of Fannie Sperry Steele, honoree of the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Fannie Amanda Sperry was born in March of 1887 in the Montana Territory, the fourth of five children. Possibly due to the fact that her father had a medical condition that kept him off of horseback Fannie's mother and all five children became excellent riders.

Fannie was five when she was given her own horse, and caught and broke her first wild horse when she was barely a teenager. She rode in her first bucking horse contest (not yet called a rodeo) at a local fair when she was fourteen. That first ride started a career that led her to the title Lady Bucking-Horse Champion of the World - first crowned at the Calgary Stampede in 1912 (now the largest rodeo event in North America).

Marvine's book details a fascinating story of a strong, brave woman who loved horses. It is a great read that captures a unique perspective of history.

One sentence review: This compelling biography of a little known American legend follows Fanny Sperry Steele from birth in the mountains of the Montana Territory in 1887 to her first bucking horse competition at the age of fourteen to her crowning at Lady Bucking Horse Champion of the World.

Marvine, Dee. (2005). The Lady Rode Bucking Horses. Guildford, CT: TwoDot.

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10 September 2008

The Defiant Hero (Troubleshooters #2)

The Defiant Hero is the second book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

Meg Moore is targeted by a terrorist group. Her daughter and grandmother are kidnapped and will be killed unless Meg agrees to assassinate a rival terrorist leader. She was chosen for her ability to get into the Kazbekistan embassy in D.C.

Though Meg has never killed anyone, or even fired a gun, she will do anything to save her daughter. She must somehow capture her target and deliver him to the kidnappers. She has no idea how she is going to do it, but if she can secretly contact John Nilsson, a Navy SEAL, she will have a better chance of success.

Not knowing whether she has even a remote chance of succeeding, Meg will race against the clock to save Amy. John Nilsson will do what he can to help Meg, but she will only allow him so much involvement. If the terrorists find out she has gone to the authorities, Amy will be killed and Meg's life will not be worth continuing. How far can she trust Nils without putting Amy's life in jeopardy?

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2001). The Defiant Hero. New York: Ivy Books.

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08 September 2008

A Gentle Rain

Bestselling romance author Deborah Smith's latest book, A Gentle Rain, contains an interesting story filled with every cliche that the romance genre brings to mind.

Kara Whittenbrook is a down-to-Earth billionaire. She was raised in the rain forests of Brazil by her environmentally responsible parents. At the same time she managed to go to boarding school, earn a degree from Juilliard (in harp performance) and get two master's degrees - library science and world cultures. Oh, and she speaks at least six languages.

When her parents die in a plane crash, she discovers that she is adopted. In order to meet her biological parents, she hides who she is and shows up on the ranch in northern Florida where they live. Kara falls in love with her biological parents and the head of the ranch, Ben Thocco.

Though there are parts of this novel that are interesting, the uses of cliches - like the damsel in distress being saved from a gator (read Dragon) - and the fact that Kara quotes famous authors from Austen to Shakespeare almost as often as she has her own lines left this reader thinking that the author was trying too hard. The plot is interesting, if predictable, but (maybe because I am not a great connoisseur of the romance genre) I think the readers deserve more respect that they are given in A Gentle Rain. Considering Smith has sold over 2.5 million copies of her books, not everyone agrees with my assessment!

Smith, Deborah. (2007). A Gentle Rain. Smyrna, GA: Belle Books.

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06 September 2008

Flashpoint (Troubleshooters #7)

Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann is the seventh book in her Troubleshooters series.

Jimmy Nash and Lawrence Decker are sent to Kazbekistan as relief workers after a major earthquake. Their real assignment is to find the laptop of a terrorist who died in the quake. If they can find it, it may prevent future terrorist attacks. Tess Bailey, a former CIA agent who quit the Agency because they would not let her out in the field, will be joining Nash and Decker as the computer specialist. For safety, she will be undercover as Nash's wife.

Troubleshooters' founder has also tasked Decker to look for a business man and his partner whom he wants to recruit. What they doesn't know is that the man is dead. And his partner (and wife) is being held captive as a slave by the warlord now in control of Kazbekistan.

Flashpoint is yet another action-packed adventure by Suzanne Brockmann that blurs the line between the romance and mystery/thriller genres.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2004). Flashpoint. New York: Ballantine Books.

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05 September 2008

What Happened to Lani Garver

What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci is an interesting look at how people put others into boxes and don't understand what to do with the people who don't neatly fit into those boxes.

On Hackett Island there is a glaring line between the locals and the summer people. When a new mom and teen move to the island it causes a stir. In the case of Lani (pronounced Lonnie) Garver, it is more of a hurricane.

Claire, a local, is part of the popular crowd. She feels like an outsider sometimes because she missed a year and a half of school in junior high while she was having chemo treatments. Now her decision to make friends with the strange new kid - who no one is even sure if Lani is a he or a she - may push her out of the in crowd and off of the island.

This is a fascinating look at gender, identity, popularity, and deciding whether it is better to fit in or be yourself. Plum-Ucci is a great author.

Plum-Ucci, Carol. (2002). What Happened to Lani Garver. New York: Harcourt, Inc.

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03 September 2008

Nineteen Minutes

Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes is an excellent book. Not only is the subject - a school shooting - timely and interesting, but she is a great writer who captures the essence of each of her characters to the point that they are rich and compelling. By the end of the book you have sympathy for the "bad guy" and anger toward some of those who were shot.

A small town in New Hampshire is knocked off of its axis when there is a shooting at the high school. The suspect, who has been taken into custody, walked through the school for nineteen minutes shooting students and teachers. The police reached him in the boy's locker room just as he was about to take his own life.

Beginning with the day of the shooting and then traveling back and forth in time, Picoult illuminates the lives of those effected by the shooting. Though she does not presume to speak for any actual shooting, she captures the emotions and trials of anyone who is forced to deal with tragedy on a large scale.

Picoult, Jodi. (2007). Nineteen Minutes. New York: Atria.

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01 September 2008


Annie Solomon's Blackout - Imagine waking up and thinking everything is fine, only to find out that you are missing a month of memories. Your friend swears she hasn't seen you for just over four weeks. She thought you were in Spain buying antique books for your store.

This is what happens to Margo. Not only has she lost time, she soon begins to discover that her life is not as it seems. She thinks she is the owner of a bookstore and that she lives in her great aunt's house. What she doesn't know is why she cannot find a phone number for the sister she is sure she has or why she is a great fighter who is familiar with guns.

As the twists and turns unravel, Margo can rely on only one person - Jake Wise. Jake is part of a secret division of the CIA. He was asked to keep an eye on her by the man she is accused of murdering. A man she has no memory of in spite of the photo of them together. To make matters worse, there seem to be men who are trying to kill her.

She has to find the truth before she runs out of time...

Solomon, Annie. (2006). Blackout. New York: Warner Forever.

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