Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

30 May 2012

The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is a novel about a secret intelligence service in Britain, the Checquy Group. It is like the Men in Black movies met author Jasper Fforde - pure brilliance.

The book opens with a letter that begins, "Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine..." The woman reading the letter found it in her jacket pocket after she came to in a park surrounded by a ring of dead people all wearing latex gloves. The letter goes on to tell her how to cover her tracks and find her wait to safety.

Now Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas - or the woman currently in her body - has a decision to make. Based on the information in the letter, written by Thomas, she can study fast and take over Myfanwy's life or she can run.

If she takes over Myfanwy's life and job she will be in for a surprise - she will be working as a Rook in the Checquy Group. But within a group of people, many of whom have supernatural powers of some kind, all of whom are taught to look for the out of the ordinary - how will she pull off becoming someone who has been part of the group all of her life - using just a few letters and a binder of information on the Checquy?

O'Malley has created an espionage thriller with a twist. It has the creativity of a Jasper Fforde book and is brilliantly crafted and written. It will suck reader in and hold their attention until long after the last page. It is not clear if there will be a sequel, but if there is I will be first in line to read it!

O'Malley, Daniel. (2012). The Rook. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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24 May 2012

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls #2)

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter is her second book in the Gallagher Girls series about an upscale boarding school that is really a training ground for spies.

When Cam and her friends return to school after winter break, the east wing of the school is closed off along with the secret passages that lead there. They are told that it is due to a leak from the chemistry lab in the basement, but that may not be the real reason.

Their first class of Cover Operations is a test on evasion - the hardest part of being an agent - they are dropped off and have to identify who is following them and then lose them before they meet the teacher at a coded location.

Cam, Bex, Liz and Macey will have a full semester of harder challenges - including guest from another spy school they did not even know existed.

Carter's Gallagher Girls series is a must for any fans of espionage fiction, as well as fans of fun stories that don't take themselves too seriously. Fans of the TV show Cover Affairs will love these books!

Carter, Ally. (2007). Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. New York: Hyperion.

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22 May 2012

The Calling (Darkness Rising #2)

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong is the second book in her Darkness Rising series.

Maya and her friends live in the town of Salmon Creek on Vancouver Island. The town is owned and operated by the St.Cloud corporation, a company that does pharmaceutical research. But it is beginning to look like they do more than that - Maya a some of her friend have started to notice strange thing happening to them. Could it be that they part of a St. Cloud experiment?

Maya has always been good with animals. She helps her father, the forest ranger, heal injured animals and they seem to heal more quickly with her attention. And she has always had a connection to cougars - possible part of her Native American heritage. Now, Maya and her friends are getting closer to guessing what it going on, thanks to a reporter who came to town, a forest fire breaks out and they must be evacuated.

This second book begins with Maya, Daniel, Sam, Hayley, Nicole, Corey and Maya's dog Kenjii in a helicopter leaving the island. When it seems like they are flying in the wrong direction to get to the mainland, there is a struggle with the pilot and the helicopter crashes. Now Maya and friends must find their way back to Salmon Creek - but they are being tracked by the men who started the fire, who are determined to capture them.

Using her skills in the forest and the growing suspicion that she is a skin-walker who can turn into a cougar, Maya must lead her friend through peril to the hopeful safety of their parents. Of course there is the possibility that some of their volunteered for the experiment...

Armstrong's Darkness Rising series is a fast-paced, supernatural read that will keep readers checking stores for the next book as soon as they finish this one.

Armstrong, Kelley. (2012). The Calling. New York: Harper.

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21 May 2012

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter is the first book in her Gallagher Girls series about an elite boarding school that trains spies.

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Girls is full of geniuses, but they are not there to become smarter. They are there to learn to be spies. They will be the future agents at the whole alphabet of intelligence agencies. The school was founded by the Gillian Gallagher who stopped an assassin from killing President Lincoln - the first in a line of women who make great intelligence agents not just because of their skills, but because men always underestimate them.

Cammie Morgan is a sophomore. She and her suite mates, Liz and Bex, have been at Gallagher since seventh grade. They are now, finally, old enough for their first Covert Operations class. Covert Ops will not be an easy class. The new teacher takes his job very seriously and knows that this is the first test to see if these girls will be able to work as agents - if he does not do his job well, he will be leaving them open to getting caught, or worse.

Along with Coverts Ops Cammie, Liz and Bex will also have to deal with a new roommate - Macey McHenry - who has been kicked out of just about every other elite boarding school in the country.

Carter has created a fun, exciting series filled with espionage, friendship, humor and romance. It reminds me a bit of the movie D.E.B.S. in its theme and levity.

Carter, Ally. (2006). I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. New York: Hyperion.

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19 May 2012

Immortal War (Vampirates #6)

Immortal War by Justin Somper is the sixth book in his Vampirates series.

Almost a year ago, twins Connor and Grace left the lighthouse they knew as home and set sail in their father's boat. After capsizing in a storm Connor was rescued by pirates from the Pirate Academy. Grace was rescued by the Nocturnal, a ship of Vampirates - vampires who refuse to kill humans for blood.

Now a growing group of rebel Vampirates threaten the seas and those now calling themselves Nocturnals have joint with the Pirate Alliance to fight back. Connor and Grace are at the center of the war and according to a 500 year old prophesy will be the ones who influence the outcome - though one may die in the process.

Somper has created a great series for fans of multiple genres. Vampires and pirates - what more do I need to say! Start the first book, Demons of the Oceans, now.

Somper, Justin. (2012). Immortal War. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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15 May 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is a coming of age story about a girl who is becoming someone her community does not want her to become - and their reaction to her "lifestyle."

At the beginning of the book, in 1989, Cam is enjoying her junior high school summer break with her best friend when her parents are killed in a car accident. Her first reaction is relief that they will never know she has been kissing another girl. But Cam's range of feelings and stages of grief are also influenced by the fact that her Aunt Ruth, who comes to live with her, a very religious. And not just religious, but evangelical, right-wing conservative religious.

Readers will follow Cam through swim team, track, and being a lifeguard. She does a good job of staying under the radar while watching every movie made and experimenting with a few girls - that is, until she meets Coley Taylor.

While she is spending time with Coley, Cam is caught and sent to God's Promise Residential Discipleship Program to find her way closer to God and forget about her incorrect ways. Of course, a school full of queer kids who range from those who want to become straight to those who feel there is nothing wrong with being gay is the perfect place to find yourself if you are a tough young lesbian.

Danforth has created a brilliant, positive queer novel for anyone who has been through the process of coming to terms with themselves and/or coming out. Great book!

Danforth, Emily. (2012). The Miseducation of Cameron Post. New York: Balzer and Bray.

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10 May 2012

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the great first book in the His Fair Assassin series - an historical fiction series that takes place in the late 1400s in Brittany (now part of France).

Ismae has had a rough life and it is not about to get any better now that her father has sold her to a husband. But the morning after her wedding she is whisked away from her new brute of a husband. She is taken to the convent of St. Mortain - the god of Death. It has been said of her all her life that she is the daughter of Death himself. Now she will have a chance to serve him.

Those who live at the convent serve Death by becoming assassins. Ismae will be taught hundreds of ways to kill - from knives to crossbow to poison. She will be taught ways to get close to a man in order to kill him - though she would prefer never to see a man again.

Her first assignment will lead her to the high court of Brittany. Duchess Anne has inherited duchy, but is not old enough to rule in her own right. She has a Privy Council, a Chancellor and a chaperone. Because Anne is not old enough and because she is a woman, there are dozens of plots to take over control of Brittany. And Ismae finds herself at the center of the intrigue, trained to kill but unsure who deserves it first.

LaFevers has written a fascinating book that will capture readers and not release them until the end. This is the kind of book that will make you stay up late and/or miss your train stop because you have no idea what is going on in the world around you - seriously I did missed my stop today and ended up deep in Queens. Read it! And then wait impatiently with me for the sequel...

LaFevers, Robin. (2012). Grave Mercy. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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06 May 2012

Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs #9)

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear is the ninth book in her Maisie Dobbs series - an historical mystery series set in London in the early twentieth century.

When a group of costermongers (vegetable sellers) who used to work with Maisie's father come to tell her of the death of Eddie Pettit, Maisie begins an investigation close to her heart. She has known Eddie most of her life. He was the gentle giant who had a gift with horses.

Now Eddie is dead - killed in an accident in a newspaper factory. The costermongers do not think it was an accident. They are sure that someone had it in for Eddie.

Winspear delights readers with the latest installment of the Maisie Dobbs series. These books are always engaging, historically accurate and filled with compelling characters.

As a prolific reader it is hard to say who is my favorite author or which series is my absolute favorite, but I can say that the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is in the top five...maybe the top three.

Winspear, Jacqueline. (2012). Elegy for Eddie. New York: Harper.

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