Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 January 2013

I, Q: Kitty Hawk (IQ #3)

Kitty Hawk by Roland Smith is his third book in the IQ series about siblings - Q and Angela - who are on the road with their parents for a year. They are supposed to be learning about US history as they travel through the states, but they are also learning about terrorism.

Q and Angela have only been siblings for a short time. Angela's dad married Q's mom and they have a hit single on the charts which lead them to decide to take the kids on the road while they tour. But there is more to their travels than they first thought. Angela's mother was a Secret Service agent killed in the line of duty - or so Angela thought.

Q and Angela, along with their driver/roadie who is an undercover spy, have been pulled into a web of terrorism and espionage. Angela's mother is undercover trying to infiltrate a ghost cell that is terrorizing the US. Between the skills Angela learned from her mother and Q's magician tricks, they are a great help in uncovering a plot against the President's daughter.

And when the President's daughter is kidnapped by Angela's mother - Q and Angela are part of the team that tracks the SUV holding them in order to get information and then get them out. But things never go according to plan...

Smith has created a great James Bond / Spy Kids like series that is fast paced (the first three books take place within the same week) and will attract readers from grade 3 through adult. Read the first one today!

Smith, Roland. (2012). I,Q: Kitty Hawk. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

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28 January 2013

Merciless (Mercy Gunderson #3)

Merciless by Lori Armstrong is the third book in her Mercy Gunderson series - an ex-sniper who has moved back to South Dakota and is readjusting to civilian life while solving crimes in and around the local reservation.

Mercy is now FBI Special Agent Gunderson. She is newly minted and assigned to Rapid City. Her first case begins when a young woman is murdered on the Eagle River reservation and tribal police ask for FBI help. A clue leads Mercy to research previous cases and finds that there is a large number of unsolved cases involving murdered women, in sets of three, in the fall/winter for the last few years. Each case was written off as some other cause. But this years murder could be nothing else - the young woman was tied to the ground and staked with a wooden spike.

With three different police forces potentially working together, things will either run smoothly or protocols and rivalries will keep the case from being solved. Mercy works on the case while dealing with changes in her private life and life around the reservation.

Armstrong has created a great but flawed character who readers will follow for many more books. Mercy is strong but fragile at the beginning of the series, but her progression back into civilian and family life after twenty years in the military is as fascinating to watch as a train wreck. Great mystery series that will appeal to a wide swath of readers.

Armstrong, Lori. (2013). Merciless. New York: Touchstone.

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23 January 2013

Total Control

Total Control by David Baldacci is a thrill ride from the get go.

Jason Archer is an executive at Triton Global, the world's leading technology company. He is also copying documents in the warehouse and delivering them to someone. For the final transfer his contact changes things. He is to buy a plane ticket to L.A., but at the last minute trade tickets with someone else who will be dressed and made up to look just like him. When he gets to Seattle to make the document exchange, he is shocked to see that the plane to L.A. has crashed.

Sydney Archer, Jason's wife, is a high powered attorney working for a firm that represents Triton Global in their bid to buy a small company that will change the way information is exchanged on the Internet. She thinks Jason is on his way to a job interview with a different tech company while she away in New York to work on the CyberCom deal. She is interrupted during the meeting by the airline calling to inform her of husband's plane crash.

FBI Special Agent Lee Sawyer quickly takes over the plane crash investigation from the NTSB when sabotage is discovered. He will have to find the motivation behind the crash to follow the vague trail of clues to find out who caused it. The only passenger who looks like he could be the target is the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Baldacci has written a great thriller with elements to technology (circa 1997), finance, mystery and more. Total Control is a fun, tense ride from beginning to end. Great read on the beach or when you are hiding from the winter.

Baldacci, David. (1997). Total Control. New York: Warner Books.

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18 January 2013

Taking a Shot (Play by Play #3)

Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton is the third book in her Play by Play series about gorgeous sports stars.

Jenna Riley hates sports. She is surround by them - she has a brother who plays professional football and another who plays professional baseball, and her family owns a popular sports bar that she now manages. She can quote stats for any local team but only because she absorbs it at work and needs to be able to talk about sports with her customers. So in her time off, she wants nothing to do with sports. She will not date anyone who plays sports or obsesses over them on television.

The problem is that she cannot get Tyler Anderson out of her head. She met him through her sister-in-law who is a sports agent but she will not date him because of her rule. Maybe the only way to get him out of her head is to invite him into her bed. Then he will not be some mysterious attraction and she can move on with her life.

Ty knows about Jenna's rule but once he decides something he does not give up. And he has decided that he wants to get to know Jenna better. He is not sure why since she is the opposite of the women he usually dates - she has short spiky hair with blue tips, a row of ear piercings, and wears boots that could squash him - but he cannot stop thinking about her.

Burton has delivered another fun read in this series filled with talented men and the amazing women with whom they fall in love. Great read if you find yourself on a tropical breach anytime soon.

Burton, Jaci. (2012). Taking the Shot. New York: Heat.

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14 January 2013

The Rogue's Princess (Lacey Chronicles #3)

The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards is the third book in her Lacey Chronicles about a family of brothers in 1500s England.

Kit Turner is a half-brother to the Earl of Dorset, the illegitimate son of the previous Earl. Though he grew up without his wealth father's family, he now has a new relationship with his brothers. To support himself, Kit has been a stage actor since the age of twelve.

While in attendance at the home of wealthy patron of the theater, Kit meets Mercy Hart. Mercy would never dream of going to the theater - such base entertainment must lead to sin. But Kit convinces her that she cannot decide unless she sees a play. As the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant, and devout Puritan, Mercy spends her days trying to do what God would want - according to her father's strict interpretation. But Kit's challenge leads her to believe that there may be some theater worth investigating.

What Mercy does not know is that Kit will be on the stage when she sees a play. Though they are already enamored of each other, Kit and Mercy are of different classes and even Kit's ties to the Earl may not be enough to bridge the gap...

The Lacey Chronicles is a fun series of historical romance. The characters are charming and readers will want to follow them through many stories.

Edwards, Eve. (2013). The Rogue's Princess. New York: Delcaourte Press.

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11 January 2013

The Gilded Seal (Tom Kirk #3)

The Glided Seal by James Twining is the third book in his Tom Kirk series - and the best one yet. Kirk is a retired art thief who now helps people recover stolen art.

When Tom Kirk is called to Scotland to the theft of a Da Vinci painting, he is shocked to see the calling card of his nemesis - a man who is supposed to be in prison for another six years. At the same time, Kirk's longtime friend and master forger is murdered. Before he died he left something for Tom.

In New York, FBI agent Jennifer Browne is asked to look into an art forgery. A painting by Gauguin is both on the wall of a Soho gallery and listed as being for auction by a Japanese man. Representatives from both Christie's and Sotheby's would like an answer clearing their client.

As Tom and Jennifer separately investigate the possibility of a forgery ring, evidence that Tom's nemesis Milo is up to something big. Possibly trying to break into the Louvre Museum to steal the most famous painting of all time - the Mona Lisa.

Twining combines action, art, and history to take readers through a maze of plot and history. Kirk both investigates a theft, tries to stop Milo and plans a heist. The Gilded Seal is a great book that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Twining, James. (2007). The Gilded Seal. New York: HarperCollins.

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07 January 2013


Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is a look at two families in the South in 1946.

Laura McAllen was surprised when her husband Henry announced that he had bought a farm on the Mississippi Delta. They had been married for a while, had two daughters, and he had never mentioned his desire to own land. His grandfather was a farmer and Henry always thought he would inherit the farm - until he went to war and his father sold it. Laura grew up in a small city. She had no desire to move to the middle of nowhere - away from her family and friends.

Florence and Hap Jackson are sharecroppers on the land that Henry bought. They work the land with their twin sons and daughter while their eldest son, Ronsel, is fighting in WWII. Ronsel is part of the first group of black soldiers to actually fight for the modern US military. He is part of the 761st Tank Battalion - the Black Panthers - fighting under General Patton.

Henry's brother, Jaime, joins them on the farm after he returns from the war. While friendship between black and white men is still as taboo as it was during slavery, Ronsel may be the only person who understands what Jaime went through in the war. But any version of a friendship between them will cause trouble - not least of all from Jaime's father who has no respect for anyone, least of all a black man.

Jordan's debut novel was praised all over the literary world and won the Bellweather Prize. While this time period in our history is never a comfortable read, she has created a great novel that looks at many types of people in the South in 1946.

Jordan, Hillary. (2008). Mudbound. New York: Workman Publishing.

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02 January 2013


Typhoon by Joseph Conrad captures the feel of a hurricane from the decks of an early-1900s steam ship upon the South China Sea.

Using delightful language, Conrad tells the story of a ship's captain so calm and stead that his men think him dull. He speaks little and does only what must be done. Owners of ships love him because he is reliable. Jukes, the chief mate, things he is about to get them killed.

Captain MacWhirr lives in the moment - not to say that he takes life by the horns, but he has no concern of the events that have past or may happen in the future. He has seen what he calls "dirty weather" before and is not concerned that a typhoon could be any match for his new ship.

What follows is the tale of a ship fighting a hurricane without being prepared for the force of the storm. Conrad describes the violence of the wind like "the sudden smash of a vial of wrath." Having lived through two hurricanes on land, I could not imagine what is would be like to face one on a ship, but Conrad's tale captures the event with both wit and accuracy. Great read.

Conrad, Joseph.(1903). Typhoon. New York: Forge.

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