Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 July 2009

Hot Pursuit (Troubleshooters #15)

Hot Pursuit is the 15th book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series of romantic suspense novels.

Alyssa Locke takes a small team of Troubleshooters to New York City to help out a friend - a simple assignment in self-defense training. What she doesn't realize is that she is being lured to NYC by a serial killer she chased for years in the FBI.

Maria Bonivita is a newly elected Assemblywoman. Her two best friends helped get her elected - one of them, Jenn LeMay, is now her Chief of Staff. When she starts getting threatening letters, Maria thinks it is part of the job. But Jenn thinks there might be more to it.

The serial killer sent the note - along with the surprise waiting in Jenn's desk drawer. It is all part of the plot to finally get close enough to Alyssa to control her. But what killer stands a chance against Alyssa, especially backed up by Troubleshooters' ex-Navy SEALS?

Brockmann is one of the top romantic suspense writers. She is great because her books are really thrillers with a romantic sub-plot. She has created a team of Navy SEALs and FBI agents that can solve any mystery and look great doing it, but they are not over the top. I would recommend her books to any suspense readers.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2009). Hot Pursuit. New York: Ballantine Books.

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29 July 2009

Storm Cycle

Storm Cycle is the second book by mother and son writing team Iris and Roy Johansen.

Rachel Kirby has always been driven. She has made a career out of the two most important things in her life - computers and her sister. She is racing against the clock to find a cure for the disease that is threatening her sister's life.

John Tavak is a genius, literally, and because of it, he gets bored easily. He has tried most high risk professions just to keep life interesting. Currently he is a treasure hunter. He is on the trail of an ancient Egyptian doctor's cures - rumored to be more advanced that current medicine in many fields.

In order to continue his quest, he steals computing power from Rachel's supercomputer. But once she is on to him she may be willing to help him - one of the promised cures could save her sister's life.

This Indiana Jones meets computer nerd thriller is a race around the world for clues hidden almost 4,000 years ago. Readers of adventure sprinkled with history and science will be pleased.

Johansen, Iris & Roy. (2009). Storm Cycle. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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27 July 2009

Hawkes Harbor

Hawkes Harbor is S.E. Hinton's first adult book.

Jamie grew up in an orphanage. The nuns were less than encouraging about his future. After a stint in the Navy he decided he loved the sea but could do without all of the rules.

Told in flashbacks, Jamie's life twists and turns through a life at sea that includes smuggling precious gems, running guns, a close encounter with a shark, and a short trip to prison in a foreign country.

In the current setting Jamie is in a hospital. The vital man in the past has been reduced to a paranoid, frightened shell. His doctor tries to piece together what happened in a place called Hawkes Harbor that led to Jamie's current state.

This story has parts (the past) that are engaging and entertaining coupled with other parts (the present) that are confusing and odd. Eventually the truth is revealed and the past and present intersect.

Hinton, S.E. (2004). Hawkes Harbor. New York: Tor books.

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25 July 2009

The Defector (Gabriel Allon #9)

The Defector is the latest Daniel Silva book featuring Gabriel Allon - the Israeli assassin who keeps trying to retire to a life of restoring paintings but keeps getting pulled back into service.

The Defector is a continuation of the previous book, Moscow Rules. Business that Gabriel though was wrapped up begins to unravel when a man who helped save him disappears from his home in London.

Gigori Bulganov would never willingly go back to Russia - as a defector who used to work for the FSB (the current day version of the KGB) he would be killed as a traitor.

Gabriel thinks of it as his responsibility to find Gigori and bring him back to England.
The man whose life was disrupted in the previous book is out for revenge and will stop at nothing to get the people who hurt him.

I can't really say much more without giving away this and the previous books. What I can say is that Daniel Silva is a brilliant author whose stories and characters pull reader into his created world from the first page. Readers of espionage, thrillers, or politics will quickly become addicted to his writing. This book The Unlikely Spy was the most fascinating and plot-twisting book I have ever read.

Silva, Daniel. (2009). The Defector. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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Country Girl, City Girl

Country Girl, City Girl by Lisa Jahn-Clough is a story about discovery.

Phoebe lives on a farm in Maine. She lives with her father and brother. Her mother died when she was two. She doesn't have many friends - partly because she lives so far out of town - and spends most of her time reading and taking pictures.

When the daughter of her mother's best friend from college comes to stay for the summer, Phoebe is not sure how she feels about it. Melita is from the city. She was born in New York and has lived all over the place. Her mother is an actor and Melita herself has even done some commercials.

How will Phoebe and Melita get along? What will they have in common? And how will Phoebe react when she discovers that she is falling in love with Melita?

Country Girl, City Girl is a sweet book that introduces readers to two different ways of life and gently portrays new love between friends.

Jahn-Clough, Lisa. (2004). Country Girl, City Girl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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24 July 2009

Movie: The Secrets

The Secrets is a beautiful Israeli movie about love and knowledge.

Naomi wants to postpone her wedding for a year to study at the first women's yeshiva in Israel. She moves to Sfat to immerse herself in Torah with other young women who have a quest for knowledge beyond what is generally required for an Orothodox wife and mother - which is likely to be her role in life.

Michel is a bad girl who grew up in Europe and is at the seminary partly as a punishment. She has little desire to study and is not concerned about finding a husband like many of the other students.

Together they are assigned to deliver food to a woman who is ill. She is someone who is overcome with guilt and trying to find a way to make peace with G-d before she dies. Naomi and Michel agree to help her by studying ancient texts for rituals.

Ania Bukstein
Michal Shtamler
Fanny Ardant
Adir Miller

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21 July 2009

Down to the Bone

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole is a coming of age and coming out story about a Cuban young woman in Miami.

Laura is days away from completing her junior year at a Catholic high school when she is caught reading a love letter in class. The nun/teacher decides to read the letter out loud as punishment (or because nuns are just mean). The punishment and embarrassment changes when it becomes evident that the note was written by another girl.

Laura is expelled and told not to come back for her senior year. Her mother is called and will not let her stay in their house until she becomes "normal," dates a guy and names the girl with whom she has been sleeping.

With nowhere else to go, Laura moves in with her best friend and her mother. They are totally accepting of Laura even though Laura herself has a way to go before she will be comfortable being a tortillera.

In this story of coming out in a culture that has strong beliefs about the role of men and women and where family reputations can be broken by one member, Dole fills a gap in GLBTQ young adult literature. She writes in a fun style that tones down the serious issues being addressed while packing in all types of queer characters.

Dole, Mayra Lazara. (2008). Down to the Bone. New York: Harper Teen.

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20 July 2009

Sword Masters

Sword Masters by Selina Rosen is, in spite of the cheesy cover, a great book for anyone who likes medieval battles, lesbian warriors, Xena, or fighting against religious zealots.

In order to fight the Amalites, Tarius poses as a man and travels across the sea to Jethrik to become a sword master. Her skill already far surpass most Sword Masters. But she is willing to be subjected to their training and strange ideas to avenge her family.

Her plans to hide as a man and fight works until Jean, the daughter of the man who runs the sword school, falls in love with her.

Now, even though she has saved the life of the King in battle, if anyone finds out that she is a woman, she may be killed. Tarius does not care about herself, but doesn't want anything to hurt Jena.

Sword Masters follows Tarius and her quest to rid the world of the Amalite horde - a religious cult whose god tells them to kill everyone who thinks differently from themselves. They will stop at nothing until they rule the world. Tarius knows that until the last of the Amalite warriors and priests are dead, not will be safe from invasion. But she also has to deal with the fact that her gender cannot stay hidden forever and there will be life-altering consequences when she is found out.

Put a post-it on the cover to reduce embarrassment, and read it!

Rosen, Selina. (2008). Sword Masters. Calgary: Dragon Moon Press.

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16 July 2009

Another Kind of Cowboy

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby is about a young man discovering his place in the world.

Alex Ford has always loved horses. As a little kid he treated his bike as a horse - going so far as to leave grass clippings near it each night before he went to bed.

Now Alex is a teen. He has a real horse, Turnip, that his dad won in a poker game. He has been competing in local shows, but his dream is to ride dressage - a sort of dancing on horseback and one of the most complicated events involving horses.

When he finds a trainer who will teach him dressage his life changes. All of the parts of his life that he has kept separate - his family, horses, the fact that he is gay - come together to alter his world.

Another Kind of Cowboy is a serious but light look at one teen's coming out story. It will be a hit for anyone who like horse books like Marilyn Halvorsen's Cowboys Don't Cry (one of my all time favorites!) or S.E. Hinton's Tex, but without the melodrama that sometimes make those books too much.

Juby, Susan. (2007). Another Kind of Cowboy. New York: Harper Teen.

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14 July 2009

Black Hills

Black Hills is the latest novel by Nora Roberts. Not surprisingly, it takes place in North Dakota.

Since the summer when Cooper Sullivan was eleven he considered his home to be in North Dakota with his grandparents. In spite of that, he grew up in New York. Each summer and break that he could, he went to the ranch in South Dakota.

On his first visit, along with meeting his grandparents for the first time, he met Lil. He and Lil became best friends. That first day they were together, playing baseball behind the barn, they came across a mountain lion.
Copper's reaction was fear; Lil's reaction was fascination.

Years later, Cooper retires from his career and moves to the ranch to help out his aging grandparents. Lil still lives next door. She has opened a wildlife refuge for big cats.

But not everyone thinks that the wildlife refuge is a good thing. Someone is stalking Lil, taunting her. If they don't find him, Lil will lose her life and Cooper will lose the only woman he has ever loved.

Though I am not a huge reader of Nora Roberts, her romantic suspense books can be quite fun to read. This one had the setting I was interested in reading at the time - a ranch in the Black Hills.

One sentence review: The eccentric group of characters who live in Lunacy, Alaska will not let Nate Burke lead the quiet, peaceful life he was hoping for when he took the job as chief of police 3,000 miles from his old life in Baltimore.

Roberts, Nora. (2009). Black Hills. New York: Putnam.

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11 July 2009

My Bonny Light Horseman (Bloody Jack #6)

My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War is the sixth book in the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer.

Jacky has been captured by the British. They have had a price on her head for a while but she is very hard to catch and hold on to. Now she is on her way back to London.

But it is not the hangman's noose that awaits her. British Intelligence has other plans for her - plans that require her to go undercover behind enemy lines.

I can't say much else without giving too much away. Read the series if you enjoy historical fiction, adventure, pirate books, strong female characters, or because I recommend it, just read it.

*The seventh book is due out in September.

Meyer, L.A. (2008). My Bonny Light Horseman. New York: Harcourt.

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08 July 2009

Mississippi Jack (Bloody Jack #5)

Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne Adventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady, and the Lily of the West is the fifth book in the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer.

Jacky and the girls from the Lawson Peabody school have made it back to Boston after escaping from their kidnappers. Jacky is ready to settle down for a while. But, alas, that is not to be.

Upon arrival in Boston, Jacky is arrested by the captain of a British Navy ship and bound for London. After a sneaky rescue by Higgins, she has to leave Boston to lay low for a while.

Jacky is off to see the Wild West. Craving water as she does, and the Atlantic not being safe, she is headed for the mighty Mississippi. And the Western US of the time will never be the same.

The Bloody Jack books are great. They are historical fiction, adventure, and an awesome female protagonist.

Meyer, L.A. (2007). Mississippi Jack. New York: Harcourt Inc.

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06 July 2009

Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #1)

Transfer of Power is the first Vince Flynn book featuring Mitch Rapp.

Mitch Rapp is the CIA’s top counterterrorism operative, specifically hand-picked for his particular skills and history. Now Rapp is faced with his most important mission/assignment yet – to recapture the White House and the President after terrorists have taken them hostage.

Mitch has a daunting task of freeing the hostages while successfully navigating the competing interests of politicians, media, law enforcement agencies, military bigwigs and terrorists.

Flynn's series is a must for any reader who enjoys suspense/thriller novels with a political twist.

Flynn, Vince. (1999). Transfer of Power. New York: Pocket Books.

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04 July 2009

The Apostle (Scot Harvath #8)

The Apostle is the latest Brad Thor book featuring Scot Harvath.

Harvath has been an Olympic skier, a Navy SEAL, a Secret Service Agent, and an agent of the Office International Investigative Assistance in the Department of Homeland Security. But now, with the election of a new president, he finds himself out of work.

Before he can entertain the idea of finding a new job, the new president - the very man who closed the OIIA office - calls him for a meeting.

A doctor working in Afghanistan has been kidnapped. She is the daughter of the woman who basically got the president elected, the owner of a large media network.

Now Scot is going to Afghanistan - without back up. He is not working for the government or the president but a private citizen. He has all of the money he could need but will have to rely on old friends to be his support as he goes up against one of the highest ranking men in the Taliban.

Thor's Scot Harvath, though not actually bulletproof, is practically unstoppable. He is the type of hero we all hope is out there protecting the good guys. Thor's books are impossible to put down once you start reading - so clear your calendar before you begin reading!

Thor, Brad. (2009). The Apostle. New York: Atria Books.

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01 July 2009

Traitor (Boy Soldier #1)

Traitor (called Boy Soldier in the UK) by Andy McNab is the first book in the Boy Soldier series.

Danny Watts has his future planned. He will be accepted to the British Army officer training program. They will pay for him to go to University and then Military Academy. He knows he did well on the tests.

However, there is one problem with his background check. His grandfather, a man he has never met, was a SAS traitor. He was captured in Colombia, sent to prison, and pulled off a major escape. Now he is on the run.

Danny is so mad that he decides to track down his grandfather and turn him in... but is he playing right into the hands of the real traitor?

This first book is in the style of other YA espionage novels - CHERUB and the Alex Rider series. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon though not as intense as the adult versions. McNab is actually an SAS member, so he knows all of the details to include.

McNab, Andy and Robert Rigby. (2005). Traitor. New York: Speak.

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