Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 October 2008

Skeletons at the Feast

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian is the story of a group of people walking from Vistula River west to the American and British troops during the end of WWII.

The Emmerich family has live in the Germany for longer than the land was occupied by the Germans. They are a Prussian family thought the war had little to do with them. Two sons served in the German army but at the same time the family helped out Jewish friends. They lived far enough from a town that they were happy to live in their own world.

But with the Russian army advancing on them it is time to move on. Mutti, her daughter Anna, and her son Theo leave home with two wagons full of food for the horses and a hidden Scottish POW.

Along the way they meet up with Uri, a Jew who escaped a train to the death camps and has disguised himself as a German soldier. Together they will travel in the line with other refugees trying to reach the safety of the western front.

Compared to The English Patient, Skeletons at the Feast is a story of love and war and how each affects the human spirit.

Bohjalian, Chris. (2008). Skeletons at the Feast. New York: Shaye Areheart Books.

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27 October 2008

The Unlikely Spy

The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva is a well researched look at the spy networks at play in World War II.

Professor Alfred Vicary is pulled into MI5 at the beginning of WWII to find the spies Germany is sneaking into England. Some spies are killed, some are imprisoned and some are turned- used to feed false information to the Nazis.

Kurt Vogel is in charge of a small network of sleeper agents who were placed in England before the war began. Catherine Blake has been working in a hospital waiting to be activated.
After six years it is her turn.

Blake is to find a way to meet an American engineer who has been sent to London to work on a large project that will - if pulled off - ensure the Allied invasion at Normandy.

Even knowing the outcome of the war, Silva captures readers and makes them wonder how the book will end. With so many double-agents and players on both sides it is a wonder any information could be trusted.

The Unlikely Spy was Daniel Silva's first book. He is currently working on the Garielle Allon series - about an Israeli assassin.

Sliva, Daniel. (1995). The Unlikely Spy. New York: Signet Books.

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23 October 2008

Breaking Point (Troubleshooters #9)

Breaking Point is the ninth book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

After FBI commander Max Bhagat and Gina Vitagliano broke up, Gina went to Kenya to help with medical services to small, remote villages. There she met Molly Anderson who also works to help locals with medical care.

Molly and Gina had a lot in common. Both were missing the man they love. Molly had not seen Grady Morant, aka David Jones, for almost three years - not since he escaped FBI custody in Indonesia.

When a new volunteer comes to the camp, Gina is not impressed. He seems like a man who has not done any physical labor in his life. She is sure that he will be more trouble than help. But Molly instantly recognizes who the man really is, her one true love.

With rumors of Grady's death, brought to Molly by Grady himself, it might finally be safe for them to be together. The warlord who was hunting for him has died and it is possible the next man in charge will not be looking for him.

In Washington, Max receives a list of causalities from a terrorist bombing in Germany. Among the ruin, Gina's passport is found. Max and Jules Cassidy immediately get on a plane to identify her body. But is it really Gina. Isn't she still in Africa?

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2005). Breaking Point. New York: Ballantine Books.

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20 October 2008

The She

The She by Carol Plum-Ucci is about people lost at sea. Local legend has it that ships that disappear off of the New Jersey shore are taken by Ella Diablo Agujero - The She-Devil of the Hole.

Eight years ago Evan listened on the radio as his parent's ship was captured by a freak storm and lost in the night. He was convinced it was The She who took them.

Now one of his classmates, Grey, asks for his help. When a sail boat overturned one of her friends was dragged away and never see again. Grey is convinced it was the same force that stole Evan's parents.

But Evan's brother has another theory about what happened to their parents. He has fought for eight years to stop believing in local superstition and find a logical explanation for his parents' disappearance.

What really happened to them and the other ships that have been lost in freak storm-like settings on otherwise calm seas off of the Jersey coast? Carol Plum-Ucci has written a spell-binding novel that will lead you to the answer...

Plum-Ucci, Carol. (2003). The She. New York: Harcourt, Inc.

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18 October 2008

The Body of Christopher Creed

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci is a Printz Honor book of 2001 (the most prestigious book award for young adult fiction).

Christopher Creed is missing. He left an email note, sent from the school library to the principal, that could be read as both a suicide note or an intent to run away. In the email he mentioned some of his classmates - not as the people driving him away, but as the people he would rather be like than himself. One of those classmates is Torey (Victor) Adams.

Now that he has read the note, Torey feels responsible for finding out what happen to Chris Creed. He and two friends start to investigate. But that they find out will lead to more misery and despair in the town of Steepleton.

A fast-paced, thought-provoking mystery/thriller that explores name-calling and prejudice, The Body of Christopher Creed is another amazing book by Plum-Ucci. It seems she could not write a bad book if she tried!

Plum, Ucci, Carol. (2000). The Body of Christopher Creed. New York: VOLO.

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17 October 2008


Middlesex is Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize winning novel of three generations of a Greek-American family told by the youngest member, Calliope Stephanides.

Cal tells the story of his family from the time of his grandparents in a tiny village near Mount Olympus, Greece just before the Turks invaded to his own life in Germany living as a man, thou raised as a girl.

With beautiful descriptions and captivating history, Eugenides follows the path of one recessive gene as it makes its way through a family until it meets its twin and produces a hermaphrodite - a baby born with the sex organs of both genders.

This is a great epic tale that you will not be able to put down. Written with sensitivity and humor, this is a book not to be missed!

Eugenides, Jeffrey. (2002). Middlesex. New York: Picador.

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12 October 2008

The Zero

The Zero by Jess Walter is a fictionalized account of one man's journey through a terrorist attack.

Set in the days after the September 11th attack, The Zero tells the story of Brian Remy who is an ex-cop and NYC liaison between the police and the city officials. In the aftermath of the attack, Remy's first job is to be a tour guide to all of the celebrities who want to tour the site - athletes, actors, senators.

Then Remy is assigned a more important job. A job so secret that his cover includes going on disability from the city to free up his time. He is on the hunt for a terrorist cell that may be planning another attack.

During all of the time after the attack, Remy is experiencing gaps in his memory. He forgets whole days. He doesn't know what he is doing, where he is, or why. But when he asks for answers everyone misunderstands his questions. All he can do is play along and hope to learn where his path is taking him.

Written in the style of Franz Kafka, readers are no less draw to the story by the mere fact that they are as confused as Remy for most of the book. Any NYC fans will enjoy a gritty history of crime in the city and the attitude that keeps the city alive.

One sentence review: The Zero is a Kafkaesque journey through the mind of one New York City police officer as he lives through the September 11th terrorist attack and its aftermath.

Walter, Jess. (2006). The Zero. New York: Regan.

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10 October 2008

Sleeper Agenda (Sleeper Conspiracy #2)

Sleeper Agenda is the second book in the Sleeper Conspiracy by Tom Sniegoski.

Tom Lovett and his alter ego Tyler Garrett are in a battle for control. They are the split personality of a seventeen year old assassin and his cover. But now that they have been introduced inside of their head, each wants control.

While working with the Pandora Group to override the programming forced upon him by the corrupt Janus Project, Tom is fighting to stay in control. But when the head of Janus threatens the life of Tom's girlfriend he will do anything to stop him.

In this battle of good and evil, Tom's mind will be filled with memories and impulses that will either lead to his survival or destruction - depending upon which half of his personality is stronger.

Sniegoski, Tom. (2006). Sleeper Agenda. New York: Razorbill.

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09 October 2008

Sleeper Code (Sleeper Conspiracy #1)

Sleeper Code is the first book in Tom Sniegoski's Sleeper Conspiracy series - an Alex Rider or CHERUB style adventure series.

Tom Lovett, 16, has narcolepsy. And not just the regular kind that causes people to fall asleep for an hour or so. He has Quentin's Narcolepsy which can knock him out for up to a week at a time.

He and his parents have been trying to stabilize Tom with a lot of drugs. He still has episodes but if he keeps to a regular schedule they may become less frequent.

Along with falling asleep, Tom gets really vivid "daymares" where he has dreams or visions. It is one of these visions of him killing a man that has him scared - because it is not a vision but a memory.

The Pandora Group, a black box group of the US government, has been using Tom and others with Quentin's Narcolepsy as experiments. While Tom thinks he is sleeping, another personality is awake in his body.

And the other personality, Tyler Garrett, is a trained assassin.

Sniegoski, Tom. (2006). Sleeper Code. New York: Razorbill.

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Wounded by Percival Everett is a look at prejudice in the United States.

John Hunt lives on a horse ranch in Wyoming. When he first bought his ranch, a black cowboy was a curiosity. Now most locals know him as a great horse trainer.

When a young gay man is killed outside of town, one of John's ranch hand is arrested for the murder. John never much liked the hired man but does not see him as a killer.

When the son of John's best friend from college comes to town with his boyfriend to march in a rally about the killing, tensions are high. When other hate crimes start to occur, the sheriff does little to help.

Soon the black cowboy, the Native Americans who live on a reservation at the edge of town, and David, the gay friend who is staying with John, are tied together more than ever.

Everett's look at intolerance in the face of race and sexuality takes a meandering, western novel approach to an important discussion in today's world. Balanced with ranch life, including an escape-artist mule and a three-legged coyote, this is story of life is an accurate and insightful look at the people who make up the United States.

One sentence description: The unhurried life of a black rancher in Wyoming is the setting for this riveting look at the pervasiveness of prejudice in America when local skinheads murder a gay college student.

Everett, Percival. (2005). Wounded. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.

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07 October 2008

All Through the Night (Troubleshooters #12)

All Through the Night (A Troubleshooter Christmas) is the 12th book in the Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann.

Jules Cassidy and Robin Chadwick are getting married. Luckily they now live in Boston, where two men can get married. With the help of a training mission in the area, both SEAL Team Sixteen and most of the Troubleshooters will be in attendance.

But all is not going according to schedule. The house that Jules and Robin are remodeling is springing leaks right and left. Jules is sent to Afghanistan to negotiate the release of hostages just in time to find himself in the middle of a terrorist attack.

Will Jules even make it back for the wedding. How will Robin cope with Jules' first dangerous mission? It might help that all of the SEAL's wives show up to wait with him while the SEALs stage a rescue.

I have to say that when I saw the subtitle about Christmas I got nervous. Many authors are encouraged by their publishers to write a Christmas story. And often it doesn't flow with the greater series. But once again Brockmann proves her skill. She uses the extra book as a way to lead Jules and Robin to the alter.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2007). All Through the Night. New York: Ballantine.

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06 October 2008

Into the Fire (Troubleshooters #13)

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann is the 13th book in her Troubleshooters series.

The Troubleshooters have not seen Vinh Murphy since his wife was shot and killed during an assignment to protect a Hollywood movie director. Since then the only person he checks in with is Hannah. Hannah who was his wife's best friend. Hannah who he has been in love with for about twenty years.

But when the leader of a right wing cult/militia is found murdered and Vinh cannot account for his whereabouts for the time, the whole Troubleshooters group is put on the case.

To make matters worse, when Vinh and Hannah break into the militia compound, they see something they are not supposed to see. Now they have become targets.

Into the Fire brings together most of the Troubleshooters, SEALS, and FBI agents that have been in the past twelve books, delving deeper into backgrounds and relationships. It is a great book that at the same time allows the reader to catch up on what favorite characters have been up to.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2008). Into the Fire. New York: Ballantine Books.

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03 October 2008

Out of Control (Troubleshooter #4)

Out of Control is the fourth book in Suzanne Brockmann's Toubleshooters series.

Savannah von Hopf is going to Jakarta to deliver two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to her uncle -in cash. But traveling with that amount of cash is not the safest plan. So first she heads to San Diego to try to convince Ken Karmody - Navy SEAL - to accompany her.

She has only met him a couple of time - in college when he was dating a classmate. But the first time she met him she knew he was the one for her. Before she can figure out a way to explain what she wants of him (without mentioning the woman who broke his heart) he asks her to dinner. By the time she gets around to the conversation that brought her to him, it is the next day. Ken is not pleased at what he sees as being tricked into helping her.

But when they get to Indonesia they have other things to worry about - like the group of men who grab them at the airport, rob them and plan on tossing them out of a helicopter.

Once again Brockmann has written a great novel that combines present day with the past. In this case, Savannah's grandmother who was a double agent for the OSS in WWII. This is a great way to learn about the past while enjoying an exciting story.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2002). Out of Control. New York: Ballantine Books.

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