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29 March 2011

One Shot (Jack Reacher #9)

One Shot is the ninth book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series - about an ex-military cop who spends his time wandering the United States.

Reacher is in Florida when he sees someone he knows on the new. In Indiana a man has killed five people using a sniper rifle. The police have arrested James Barr based on overwhelming evidence.

Reacher heads for Indiana - not to help an old friend, but to make sure Barr is convicted of the crime.

Reacher is a compelling character with a strong sense of right and wrong. Child has given himself unlimited possibilities with storylines and locations keeping the series surprising and fresh.

Child, Lee. (2005). One Shot. New York: Dell Books.

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25 March 2011

Dreadnought (Clockwork Century #3)

Dreadnought is the third book in Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century books. The books take place during an alternate history, steampunk US Civil War.

Mercy Lynch is a nurse who works at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia. When she get word that her husband has died in the war. At about the same time she receives a telegram about her father - who she has not seen since she was a child - asking her to make her way to Tacoma to see him.

With nothing holding her in Virginia anymore, Mercy leaves for the West. But with a war being fought around her and travel being slow and difficult, it will be an adventure. She will make her way by dirigible, river boat, and train.

Combining the feel of the Civil War with a steampunk twist, Priest has created another great character who is making her way through a crazy world. Mercy must survive elements from the Union, the Confederacy, an independent Texas, and Mexico, plus zombies to make her way to her ailing father.

The ride is well worth a read. Characters from Boneshaker make an appearance toward the end of the book as Mercy reaches her destination.

Priest, Cherie. (2011). Dreadnought. New York: Tor.

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22 March 2011

An ABC of Pirates

An ABC of Pirates by Caroline Stills, illustrated by Heath McKenzie is a treasure hunt of fun!

Each page of this alphabet book has a pirate shanty with words about the letter. For example, " S is for shanty a sailor's rhyming song. It cheers us up while trimming sails and toiling all day long."

Plus each page's illustrations include many, many things that also start with the same letter. On the S page, there are 26 things in the picture that start with the letter S.

This is a great book for kids of all ages who like pirates, great and silly songs, and puzzles.

Stills, Caroline. (2010). An ABC of Pirates. Sydney, Australia: Little Hare Books.

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The Enemy (Jack Reacher #8)

The Enemy by Lee Child is the eighth book in his Jack Reacher series and a flashback to Reacher's life in the Army.

A great change was taking place in the world around New Years of 1990. The Berlin Wall was coming down and the USSR was on its way out. In the Army, Reacher was suddenly transferred from Panama to Fort Bird, North Carolina.

When a two-star general dies in a sleazy motel, Reacher goes - not to investigate, but as a sign of respect for the man's rank. From a simple heart attack, the plot twists and turns in a way only Child can do.

Fans will be grateful for chance to get to know Reacher's brother Joe and even their mother. Readers who haven't yet started the Jack Reacher series - what are you waiting for?

Child, Lee. (2004). The Enemy. New York: Dell Books.

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18 March 2011

Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider #9)

Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz is the final book in the Alex Rider series. Alex (now 15) is a reluctant spy for MI6.

After not hearing from MI6 for months, Alex and his guardian Jack Starbright are hopeful that his time working for them is at an end. Alex is happy to be just an ordinary boy - going to school and playing soccer.

But one day in class, his instincts have him looking across the school yard to the roof of a construction site, where he sees a man with what can only be a sniper rifle. And once again, Alex is pulled into the world of espionage.

The evil organization Scorpia, that Alex has defeated twice already, has a plan in mind to rebuild their reputation and get rid of Alex at the same time. They are going to use him to blackmail the English government.

This last novel is a fight to the finish. Horowitz packs so much action into so few pages that readers' heads will spin. Don't start this book (or the series) on a school night - you will be staying up late to finish it.

Horowitz, Anthony. (2010). Scorpia Rising. New York: Philomel Books.

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16 March 2011

The Reckless Bride (Black Cobra #4)

The Reckless Bride is the final book in Stephanie Laurens's Black Cobra Quartet. Four soldier are travelling separately back from India to England to deliver evidence that could stop the reign of the Black Cobra.

Captain Rafe Carstairs is the last of his group to return to England though he left first. When the group split up and left Bombay, none knew where the others would travel on their paths back to England. Carstairs has the longest journey but so far has not run into any of the cult members out to stop him.

Once he and his man reach Europe he has to decide how to proceed. His instructions, sent by Wolverstone - a man who has the power to see that the evidence is heard - tell him where to land on English soil, but before then his route is flexible.

It is in Budapest when Rafe meets up with Lady Esme Congreve who is traveling with her great niece Loretta Michelmarch. The women have lost their guard and Rafe needs them for camouflage.

Together they travel up the Danube River to the Rhine on their way back to England. Combining a historical romance with enough detail that readers will wish to hire a boat to follow those two rivers, Laurens has brilliantly completed her series. It is a must-read for fans.

Laurens, Stephanie. (2010). The Reckless Bride. New York: Avon Books.

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14 March 2011

The Ballad of the Pirate Queens

The Ballad of the Pirate Queens by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Shannon, is the story of Anne Bonney, Mary Reade.

Told in verse, this picture book tells of the capture of Calico Jack Rackham's ship Vanity and the notorious female pirates in the early 1700s.

Yolen has done a great job of telling this story for a young audience. Shannon's illustrations are beautiful.

Yolen, Jane. (1995). The Ballad of the Pirate Queens. New York: Voyager Books.

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13 March 2011

Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher just won the 2011 Stonewall Book Award - awarded for the best GLBT books of the year.

Logan Witherspoon is a high school senior in a small town in Missouri. He has been adrift since his girlfriend of three years broke up with him. But when the new girl, Sage Hendricks, walking into his biology class his focus changes.

Sage is not like the other girls at the school. She is outgoing and bold - the opposite of how a new student usually acts - and she is beautiful. Logan immediately stops thinking about his ex and starts thinking about Sage.

When he asks her out to a movie in the college town 30 minutes away, Sage says she would love to but cannot. She is not allowed to date. She has been home schooled since seventh grade and is only in public school now because she is 18 and her parents couldn't really stop her.

By sneaking out and meeting Logan, Sage and Logan start to date. But when Logan tries to kiss her, Sage runs away. Because Sage has a secret. Although she is a girl, she was born in the body of a boy. After an initial freak out when he finds out, Logan attempts to understand what Sage is telling him.

Katcher has created a realistic story of one woman's difficult journey to becoming who she was meant to be. There are definitely painful parts of this novel, but there would have to be for the story to be authentic. Katcher's book is beautiful and raw and an important piece of literature for our time.

Katcher, Brian. (2009). Almost Perfect. New York: Delacourte Press.

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09 March 2011

The Pirate Captain's Daughter

The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting is the tale of a girl joining her father on the open seas.

Catherine knows her father is a pirate even though he tells her that he is a Navy Captain. He is away for months at a time while she lives with her sick mother.

When her mother dies, her father comes home to comfort her. He suggests she move in with an elderly aunt, but she insists on joining him on his ship.

Of course, it is bad luck to have a woman aboard according to pirate lore, so Catherine cuts her hair, changes her clothes and is introduced to the crew as Charlie.

Bunting's tale of piracy has none of the swashbuckling fun of some pirate adventures, but show a more brutal side of lawless men bent on murder and pillage. Though listed as a young adult book, it feels more appropriate for tween readers.

Bunting, Eve. (2010). The Pirate Captain's Daughter. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

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08 March 2011

The Captain's Wife

The Captain's Wife by Douglas Kelley is a beautiful story based on the life of Mary Ann Patten - wife of Joshua A Patten, a captain of the merchant clipper ship Neptune's Car.

In 1856, Mary set sail with her husband leaving from New York for San Francisco around Cape Horn. During a previous journey, Mary had convinced her husband to teach her how to use a sextant to plot the location and course of the ship.

A few weeks into the trip, that skill came in very handy when her husband took ill leaving the second mate in charge of the ship. Mary kept the ship on course while second mate Hare kept the ship sailing smoothly. Together they traversed some of the most hostile waters on the planet.

As with any sailing story, the ship herself is a main character, and none has been more lovingly described than Kelley's description of Neptune's Car, making The Captain's Wife a must-read for any fans of the sea.

Kelley, Douglas. (2001). The Captain's Wife. New York: Plume Books.

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07 March 2011

Cloudette

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld is as uplifting a story as the classic Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

Cloudette is smaller than the other clouds. She mostly likes being small, but feels that she is missing out on some of the things the big clouds could do - like making storms, watering crops, and making rivers flow.

When one of the storms from the big clouds blows her out of her usual neighborhood she finds the chance to make a difference.

Lichtenheld's story and illustrations are beautiful. Also check out his book Duck! Rabbit!

Lichtenheld, Tom. (2010). Cloudette. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

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02 March 2011

Without Fail (Jack Reacher #6)

Without Fail is the sixth Jack Reacher book by Lee Child.
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Reacher has no address, carries no identification, and rarely stays in the same place two nights in a row. It has been this way since he got out of the Army. But now someone is trying to find him.
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Secret Service agent M.E. Frolich is in charge of the safety of Vice President elect Armstrong. She is newly in her position and would like to run a test against their protocols. She wants to hire Jack based on something his brother said about him six years ago. And if anyone can illuminate hole in the Secret Service detail it is Jack Reacher.
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In my favorite Reacher book yet, Child spins a web of politics, law enforcement, assassins, and more to create a great book. If you are not up for starting at the beginning of this (now 15 book long) series, read this one first!
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Child, Lee. (2002). Without Fail. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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