Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 May 2011

Riding Wild (Wild Riders #1)

Riding Wild by Jaci Burton is the first book in her Wild Riders series. Wild Riders is the secret group that goes after things that have been stolen from the US that cannot be retrieved by legal means.

Lily West is an ex-cop private detective in Chicago. Her latest job is to evaluate the night security at an art museum. She is about to break in to show how simple it would be for a thief to do, when a man rides up on a motorcycle and breaks in himself.

Lily cannot believe her eyes. Not only does some thief have the bad timing to break in while she is on the job, she is pretty sure it is Mac Canfield. She has not seen Mac for ten years.

When she approaches him she sees that he has an artifact in his hand. But before he can reason his way out of the theft, someone starts shooting at them. They jump on his motorcycle and begin a wild ride that takes them all over the country.

Fans of Suzanne Brockmann's books will find Riding Wild worth a read.

Burton, Jaci. (2008). Riding Wild. New York: Heat.

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27 May 2011

Night Over Water

Night Over Water by Ken Follett is an historical fiction page-turner that will keep readers up overnight devouring the story.

Just before England declared war on Germany in 1939, Pan American Airline had begun service of the Clipper, a luxury airliner that took passengers from England to New York in only 30 hours - as opposed to 4 or 5 days by ship. Service was suspended with the outbreak of war.

Night Over Water takes place on an imaginary last flight - just days after England declares war. The plane is filled with people who can afford to leave England - either to return home to America, to flee the Fascists, or to flee Parliament because they themselves are Fascist.

From the very first pages, Follett shows why he is a brilliant writer - his characters come to life like few others. Regardless of setting - and his are usually pretty spectacular - the interactions between his characters are what make him a master storyteller and draw in readers like a drug.

Passengers on the Clipper flight comprise all of society from a rich man fleeing to avoid arrest to a man being extradited back to the US on murder charges, from a boy who is just learning to assert himself against his tyrannical father to an older physicist fleeing the Nazis, the characters mix in ways that would have been impossible given any other setting. This novel captures the feelings of a world on the brink of war. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Read it today - you will be captured until the last sentence - which made me laugh out loud with delight.

Follett, Ken. (1991). Night Over Water. New York: Signet Books.

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26 May 2011

The Choosing

The Choosing: A Rabbi's Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days by Andrea Myers is the story of her conversion to Judaism and path to becoming a rabbi.

At times The Choosing is as funny as David Sedaris's Naked. Filled with humorous, sometimes painful memories of family, Andrea has chosen moments in her life that make her the person she is today. Throughout all the stories, the love her family feels for her is evident in their actions.

In the style of rabbis since the beginning of the written word, Rabbi Myers brings events in her life back to the traditions and meanings within Judaism. The Choosing will show a different perspective on holidays - one that can only be achieved by a mixing of cultures - from the Hanukah stockings on the fireplace, to the stealing of chickens on Rosh Hashanah - readers will be entertained, educated, and inspired by the honest, sometimes raw, descriptions and stories.

Myers, Andrea. (2011). The Choosing: A Rabbi's Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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20 May 2011

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises is the story of food and finding your own way.

Stella Madison's parents are both chefs. Her father is rather famous and has his own restaurant. Her mother is also a well-known chef and the owner of The Open Kitchen - a gourmet kitchen where guest chefs come to teach patrons how to make the food they are about to eat.
Stella's favorite restaurant is Burger King. She doesn't understand foodies. When they talk she just tunes out. But when the local newspaper calls her about a summer internship she cannot pass up the chance to earn enough money for a car - even if they want her to be a restaurant reviewer.

Zeises has written a delicious novel of finding your own voice. Stella is a compelling character to whom readers will relate. Just don't start the book while hungry!

Zeises, Lara M. (2009). The Sweet Life of Stella Madison. New York: Delacorte Press.

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19 May 2011

Gideon's Sword (Gideon Crew #1)

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is the first book in their new Gideon Crew series. Along with their individual books (Child & Preston) they co-write the Pengergast series.

Gideon Crew has grown up in the shadow of people thinking his father was a traitor. He was killed by a SWAT team after an incident involving a hostage and an encryption code. A few years later, as Gideon's mother was dying, she told him that his father was made a scapegoat and warned the government of the faulty code that lead to the death of 26 undercover agents. She wants Gideon to avenge his father's death and clear their family's name.

Now, after years of searching, Gideon may have found a link to prove his father's innocence. And with the new information he can finally take care of the man who had his father killed.

But someone else is watching Gideon. Someone who sees the skills he has used to track down his father's evidence and the man who hid it. And that someone wants to hire Gideon to get information from someone else.

Preston and Child have created a character with the skills to find his way out of almost any situation. He is not a trained operative, but he is smart and determined. Readers of suspense thrillers have a great new series to follow.

Preston, Douglas and Lincoln Child. (2011). Gideon's Sword. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

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17 May 2011

Scimitar SL-2 (Arnold Morgan #7)

Scimitar SL-2 by Patrick Robinson is the seventh book featuring Admiral Arnold Morgan.

With the new presidential election, Admiral Morgan is out of a job. He has been wanting to retire for a while, but he may have trouble separating himself from the dangers facing the United States - especially with General Ravi Rashood, ex-British SAS, leading Hamas against the US.

Written before the tsunami in the Indian Ocean (and therefore far before the Japan earthquake and tsunami), Robinson came up with the idea that the science of a massive tidal wave is a good backdrop for a thriller. When you add in a terrorist with access to weapons that could help trigger a volcanic eruption and potential tsunami, the thrill ride becomes even more intense.

Robinson, Patrick. (2004). Scimitar SL-2. New York: HarperCollins.

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13 May 2011

Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution (Hannah Pritchard #1)

Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution by Bonnie Pryor is the first of a trilogy about a female privateer for the new US against the British.

When Hannah's parents and brother are murdered by British soldiers, Hannah wants revenge. As a girl of fourteen, there is not much she can do. She has nowhere to go and no food or shelter on her parent's property that has been burned to the ground.

After making her way to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to work at an inn but she is taken with the ships in port and the idea of sailing the seas to take her revenge on the British. So one morning, dressed in her brother's clothes and using his name, she signs up to be a cabin boy on the new privateer ship Sea Hawk.

Pryor has written a great historical adventure of a strong girl who did not let society's rules get in the way of what she needed to do. Reader's will be pulled in by the end of the first page and keep reading until they run out of words.

Pryor, Bonnie. (2008). Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

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12 May 2011

Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher #15)

Worth Dying For is the fifteenth Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child.

After the previous book I was not sure that Reacher was still alive. His adventures are always dangerous, but it did not seem likely that he could live through the last.

But here he is in Nebraska. He is on his way to Virginia to see a woman he might want to spend time with. Of course, when Reacher sees something he thinks is wrong, he fixes it.

This time he is mixed up in an area that is run by one family - the Duncans - who have everyone in the area dependent upon their trucking company for supplies. The nearest town is 60 miles south and other than one motel the land is all farms.

Lee has written another great story where layers upon layers are revealed with his unfolding of events. Reacher is a compelling character who takes the law into his own hands and brings bad guys to their knees.

Child, Lee. (2010). Worth Dying For. New York: Dell Books.

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10 May 2011


Shine by Lauren Myracle is the story of a hate crime and how is triggers one person to find out the truth about her town.

Cat has withdrawn from all of her friends over the last couple of years. Something happened. She does not talk about it. She does not talk unless she has to. But when her best friend, Patrick, is beaten up and tied to a gas pump with a homophobic statement carved into his chest, Cat has to speak up.

Now she is trying to talk to everyone who might know who hurt Patrick. She is sure that the sheriff will investigate, assume it is college boys passing through town, and close the case.

Told in flashbacks as Cat see old friends, Shine is the story of healing. Though the story is centered around a gay bashing, it is more about relationships, small towns, economic hardship, and learning to speak up for what is right.

Myracle, Lauren. (2011). Shine. New York: Abrams.

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09 May 2011

Escape Velocity (HIVE #3)

Escape Velocity is the third book in Mark Walden's HIVE series. HIVE stands for the Higher Institute of Villainous Education. The series has been described as Alex Rider meets Harry Potter.

At HIVE, the school designed for those criminal masterminds who will one day rule the world, things have a bad habit of going wrong. When the headmaster goes missing he is replaced by a former teacher - one who tried to destroy the school in the past.

Only four of the students know how dangerous the new head of the school can be. And before they can do anything to help ensure the safety of the school, they must find the missing headmaster. And the only way to do that is to break into MI6's computers.

Walden's fun and thrilling series will draw readers from many fields. His characters are compelling, his stories are fast-paced, and his world is exciting enough that readers will be up late to finish the book.

Walden, Mark. (2011). Escape Velocity. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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08 May 2011

Breaking the Rules (Troubleshooters #16)

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann is the sixteenth book in her Troubleshooters series.

Izzy Zanella and Dan Gillman are part of SEAL Team Sixteen. They have never been good friends and since Izzy married Danny's sister, they have been even worse friends.

Sure they got married to make sure that Eden's baby would have a home and insurance, but that was not the only reason. But then Eden miscarried and she went to Germany to stay with a friend to recover. Now it has been months since Izzy and Eden have spoken.

When Izzy finds out that Eden is back in Las Vegas trying to get custody of her little brother, he flies there to see that she is alright. But the custody battle is not straight forward and other factors make it safer to have a SEAL to help out.

Brockmann's characters are great. Though each book in the series focuses a different person, they group of SEALs and Troubleshooters overlap and it is great to read about a familiar character from the background of a previous book. Her suspense is knuckle-bitingly good, her romance is steamy, and overall she is one of my favorite writers. She is also one of the few mainstream romance genre authors who includes and speaks up for gay characters in her books.

Brockmann, Suzanne. (2011). Breaking the Rules. New York: Ballantine Books.

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04 May 2011

61 Hours (Jack Reacher #14)

61 Hours is the fourteenth Jack Reacher book by Lee Child. Reacher is an ex-military cop who keeps finding situations that need his expertise.

Reacher is passing through South Dakota when the bus his on breaks down outside of the town of Bolton. Because there is a storm coming in that will shut down the highway, the 22 people on the bus - 20 seniors on a tour, the driver, and Reacher who paid for a ride to the Rapid City - will stay in town until a new bus can be delivered.

When Reacher sees that the Bolton police department has a situation, he asks about it. Reluctantly, Deputy Chief Peterson fills Reacher in on the facts. He also explains that in order to get the new prison on the edge of town, the Police department has some rules to follow. Now Peterson is worried about protecting a witness if the prison siren goes off - and all police officers are required to report to a security perimeter.

Reacher figures since he is stuck in town anyway he may as well meet the witness so he can guard her if anything happens at the prison. And what follows is Reacher -style justice for the bad guys.

Child has created a compelling, likable character with a firm sense of right and wrong, and the muscle to hold others up to his standards. He is the cop you want on your side in a fights. Fans of mystery and suspense novels should read the books from the beginning and get sucked into an addictive series.

Child, Lee. (2010). 61 Hours. New York: Dell Books.

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03 May 2011

Vampirates: Empire of Night (Vampirates #5)

Empire of Night is the fifth Vampirates book by Justin Somper.

It has been a while since twins Connor and Grace have been living on the sea. Connor is assigned to a pirate ship under Captain Li - a ship that is made up of a crew created especially to fight Vampirates.

Grace is on The Nocturne, the original Vampirate ship - made up of peaceful Vampirates who do not kill humans in their search for blood. They live in relationships with donors who exchange blood weekly in return for eternal life.

But there are now other ships of Vampirates - those who craved human sacrifice for their meals, and those they have since turned into vampires. They roam the seas preying on seaside villages. Now they are turning their attention on pirate ships- both to feast and to build an armada of Vampirates.

In this volume of the series, Connor and Grace play an important role in how things in the coming war will play out as Somper's vision continues to trill readers and leave them wanting more.

Somper, Justin. (2010). Vampirates: Empire of Night. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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01 May 2011

Threshold (Chess Team #3)

Threshold is the third Chess Team novel by Jeremy Robinson. The Chess Team is a Delta team used for military actions related to strange science and historical phenomenon. Members' code names are after chess pieces.

A year after a terrorist attack on a Native American reservation that left only one survivor, the Chess Team is studying for upcoming assignments. The lone survivor of the attack, twelve year-old Fiona, is in the care of team leader King.

While King is away from Fort Bragg where they are stationed, the base is attacked - apparently by the same group that attacked the reservation. Fiona is kidnapped.

Now the team must find Fiona and deal with a supernatural terrorist attack on American soil.

What follows is a fast-paced thrill ride that will keep readers up all night finishing the book. Robinson's series includes history and science with some crazy creatures and a team of five elite warriors who are charged with keeping the planet on track and safe for human life.

Robinson, Jeremy. (2011). Threshold. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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