Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 July 2013

Thrown by a Curve (Play by Play #5)

Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton is the fifth book in her Play by Play series featuring professional sports players.

Alicia Riley is a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team. She has earned her spot on the sports medicine team through study and hard work and is about to be assigned to her biggest case yet.

Garrett Scott is the starting pitcher for the Rivers, but he is out with a shoulder injury. He has been working for months to get back in shape for the start of the new baseball season, but it is not going quickly enough.

When Alicia comments that he is not recovering faster because he has his head up his arse, he requests to work with her. She has a different approach to his recovery because she recognizes that what is slowing him down is his head an not his shoulder. For the next few weeks they will be working closely together to get Garrett back on the pitcher's mound.

Burton writes steamy romances revolving around great characters. Fun read that will make you blush.

Burton, Jaci. (2013). Thrown by a Curve. New York: Berkley Sensation.

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29 July 2013

The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss is the story of the fight of progress in England.

Lucy Derrick lives with her uncle. She has lived with him since her sister married a horrible man in the hope that he would provide for both of them. While she is from a good family and upper class, she has no money and her uncle wishes to be free of her. So he has agreed to marry her to a mill owner.

Before Lucy can figure out a way not to marry Mr. Olson, a man arrives at the house. He is dressed like a peer but from the knees down his clothing is shredded. He calls her name and tells her not to marry Olson and the collapses on the steps. When the doctor examines him he can find nothing wrong and suspects a curse.

Collecting the woman the doctor recommended, Lucy meets Mary Crawford. It seems like Miss Crawford was expecting Lucy to arrive. Indeed, the woman who admits her to the house gasps with excitement when she sees Lucy. And with her introduction to Mary Crawford, Lucy begins to be introduced to the world of magic.

England is at a time of change and Lucy Derrick will play a part in the outcome.

Liss is a master of historical fiction and his books pull readers into the stories like magic. The Twelfth Enchantment is a fantasy novel that reads like historical fiction, like The Night Circus or The Golem and the Jinni - magic plays an important part of the story but is not the main plot. With the publication of Harry Potter the fantasy genre exploded, but this new trend is a more mature, subtle telling of tales of magic. Fans of historical fiction will be thrilled at this trend.

Liss, David. (2011). The Twelfth Enchantment. New York: Ballantine.

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24 July 2013

The Newcomer (Thunder Point #2)

The Newcomer by Robyn Carr is the second book in her Thunder Point series about a small town on the coast of Oregon.

Mac is the sheriff of  Thunder Point. His job is to keep everyone safe and happy. But now it is his turn. He has been in love with Gina James for a long time, but they had not take their relationship past friendship. They are both single parents, though with the help of an aunt/mother, and they put their families before their own happiness.

Of course about the time they are ready to become more than friends, obstacles pop up to challenge them. Mac's ex-wife, whom he has not seen or heard from in a decade shows up one day to see the three children she left him with. And Gina's teenage daughter goes through a difficult break up with her first boyfriend.

Also, Cooper and Sarah (who started dating in the first Thunder Point book) have some obstacles of their own. Though she is supposed to have a least one more year stationed in Oregon, the Coast Guard may be about to promote Sarah out of town. And Cooper gets a call about one of his ex-girlfriends, who needs to see him before it is too late.

Carr's series is really about the whole town and includes many characters, but each book focuses on one new or changing relationship. So any character you love will be featured in many novels, not just as a cameo, but as one of the main characters - think of the series as a soap opera, with less exaggeration! There is a whole cast of characters with whom to fall in love. This series is a great choice for a beach read.

Carr, Robyn. (2013). The Newcomer. New York: Mira.

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22 July 2013

Three Ways to Capsize a Boat

Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat by Chris Stewart is the story on one man taking the job as a ship's captain and then trying to learn to sail.

When asked by a friend's elderly aunt to captain a boat in the Aegean sea for the summer, Stewart jumped at the chance. Then he realized he knew nothing about boats. Step one: get a book on sailing and learn the language. Step two: find someone with a boat to go to sea... when that goes poorly, step three: sing up for a sailing class.

Buy the time he arrived in Greece, he had the basics of sailing under his belt. Then he had to deal with the fact that the boat he was sent to pick up, a Cornish Crabber, had not been repaired as promised, but was sitting with other decrepit crafts in a pile on the shore.

After a rough start, a beautiful summer sailing the Aegean, led Stewart to a love of sailing. So when his sailing teacher called and said he was putting together a crew to sail from UK to Rhode Island via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, he jumped at the chance. Of course his summer sail did not quite prepare him for dodging icebergs and the storms around Greenland.

Stewart's humorous (and at times harrowing) tale of his early years in sailing illustrates both the joy and power of our waterways. He has been compared to Bill Bryson as an author of travel adventure and folly. This book will either make you want to sail, or never go near the water!

Stewart, Chris. (2009). Three Ways to Capsize a Boat. New York: Broadway Books.

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20 July 2013

Cold Steel (Spiritwalker #3)

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott is the final book in her Spiritwalker trilogy.

Cat Barahal is a daughter of two worlds. She grew up in the regular world thinking she knew who her parent were, but later found out that her biological father was of the spirit world. This dual identity allows her blood to open gates between ours and the spirit world. And this duality has placed her at the middle of both a war for control in Europa and made her a slave to her sire - the master of the Wild Hunt, who collect the souls of the soon to be dead each Hallows Night.

With war breaking out in Europa between General Camjiata and the radicals versus the mage houses and princes who are the top of the current class-based system, Cat must rescue her husband Andevai from the spirit world and then get to Europa to help her cousin Bee fight with the radicals for self-governance.

In this exciting conclusion to a great fantasy trilogy, Elliott brings enough closure to the series to placate readers while leaving them wanting more. Her characters are flawed and wonderful, her world is exceptionally well crafted, and her plot is filled with espionage and intrigue. As a cross-genre recommendation, fans of the Jacky Faber series by L.A. Meyer will recognize many of the traits that make Jacky so lovable in Cat Barahal.

Elliott, Kate. (2013). Cold Steel. New York: Orbit.

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14 July 2013

Stealing from the Dead

Stealing from the Dead by A.J. Zerries is a mystery that combines history, terrorism, murder, a great NYPD detective and a retired CIA agent to lead readers through an intricate, thrilling story of a scam to cheat Holocaust survivors of their right to reclaim funds hidden from them by Swiss banks.

Detective Greta Strasser is in her nineteenth year in the NYPD. Her boss is counting down the days and making sure to make each one as bad as he can. So when Strasser finds inconsistencies with a heart attack in an older Jewish woman, she is told to stop seeing what is not there. But Greta does not give up that easily - it is why she is a good cop.

Then, one late night when she gets back to her Brooklyn apartment, she is approached by an older man. At first she is suspicious - she has had a rough week. But soon he convinces her to trust him. He is an ex-CIA agent (though strictly desk work) who has been following a pattern of supposed heart attacks in older Jewish people whose names appear on a list. The list is of people whose parents or grandparents opened a bank account to try to keep their money safe during World War II. At the end of the war, anyone who attempted to reclaim one of these numbered accounts was told it did not exist. But after years of battle, the Swiss banks have to make the funds available to any living relatives of the men who opened them.

It seems that someone is killing the people who appear on the list. Some person or group is filing out the paperwork and then killing the relative so he/they can claim the funds. And the funds have been traced to an account the funds terrorism against Israel.

Zerries has written a fascinating tale that will capture readers of many genres with this great read. Check it out today. Then join me in hoping Greta Strasser has more books in the future.

Zerries, AJ. (2012). Stealing from the Dead. New York: Forge.

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10 July 2013

Flight of the Intruder (Jake Grafton #1)

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts is the first book in his Jake Grafton series. Grafton is a US Navy pilot - a character so loved he is in a second series after he retires from the Navy.

At the opening of the series Jake Grafton is a US Navy Lieutenant pilot assigned to the Shiloh aircraft carrier stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam war. He flies the A6-A Intruder. He and his bombardier are sent on many bombing raids into North Vietnam.

While on leave in Hong Kong, Jake meets Callie who works for the State Department. On top of meeting the woman we will spend the rest of his life with, Callie provides Jake with a sounding board for his concerns about the war. The idea that he and his fellow pilots are often risking their lives for patches of jungle that look just like other patches of jungle and the need to find meaning in the death of friends during such flights, causes Jake to circumvent the chain of command - an act that could ultimately put him in military prison.-, if he lives through it.
Coonts captures the feel and excitement of flying, the terror of flying in combat and the horror and boredom of war. Fans of airplane fiction like John J Nance will love this series. Grafton is a compelling character. Fans of the new Grafton and Carmellini series will enjoy a look back at Grafton's rise through the ranks of US Navy.

Coonts, Stephen. (1986). Flight of the Intruder. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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07 July 2013

The Heist (Fox and O'Hare #1)

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the first book in their series featuring Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare. Fox is one of the world's best and most creative thieves. O'Hare is the FBI special agent who spent years chasing him.

Each of Nick Fox's heists is more elaborate than the last. He is creative and patient and usually steals via a con instead of straight safe-cracking. And he has been teasing Kate O'Hare most of the time she has been after him, including posting her picture on the wall of his latest con.

Kate O'Hare is an ex-Navy SEAL turned FBI agent intent on capturing Fox - both for his crimes and the humiliation of knowing he was hiding in her own hotel room while she and other agents combed the city looking for him.

But after finally capturing Fox, the FBI has made a secret deal with him. Now O'Hare must work with the man who has been driving her crazy while pretending to still hunt for him. Together they will use Nick's methods to go after the really bad guys - people like the investment banker who stole money from thousands of investors and then disappeared before he could be apprehended.

Evanovich and Goldberg have teamed up to bring readers a fun new series filled with outrageous plots and great characters. Evanovich is best known for her Stephanie Plum series and Goldberg for his Monk series. Together they are over-the-top good.

Evanovich, Janet and Lee Goldberg. (2013). The Heist. New York: Bantam.

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05 July 2013

Isaac's Storm

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson is the story of man's quest to understand (and conquer) weather.

In September 1900 a massive hurricane hit Galveston, Texas killing over 6000 people and destroying most of the island. At the time, the US Weather Bureau was not doing much more than recording daily weather around the country. It was not issuing predictions or forecasts because of past criticism. So even though there was some forewarning in the skies around Cuba and in the view from the shore of Galveston, the people were not told of a likely coming disaster.

Larson uses the 1900 Galveston Hurricane (they were not yet given names unless someone famous was associated with them) as the focal point to look back and forward in time in man's struggle to understand weather. Told in a flowing narrative that reads like fiction but is packed with information, Isaac's Storm is a fascinating read for anyone who have ever experience extreme tropical weather. This book is informative and gives readers a basic, if essential, understanding of the forces that combine to create our world's deadliest storms. And now that those storms are reaching new and terrifying locations, everyone should read it. (A new edition including Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy would be greatly coveted. Hint. Hint.)
Larson, Erik. (1999). Isaac's Storm. New York: Vintage Books.

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01 July 2013

The Traitor (Grafton and Carmellini #2)

The Traitor by Stephen Coonts is the second book in his Grafton and Carmellini series featuring a CIA breaking and entering specialist and a retired Navy admiral.

Carmellini has been given a new assignment by his new boss, retired Navy Admiral Jake Grafton. He is to go to Paris undercover and help ensure the safety of the President at the G8 summit in two weeks. But Carmellini's job is not security, it is to spy on the head of the DGSE - France's intelligence service.

Somehow Henri Rodet, the head of the DGSE and the person responsible for the safety of all of the world leaders coming to France for the summit, helped stop a terrorist attack. But the only way he would have had access to the information would be to have a mole in the upper ranks of Al Queda.

Carmellini is lovable and capable, if sometimes he leaps before thinking. He is a great character who is guided both by instinct and Jake Grafton, who always has more information that he is willing to share. This is a fun, action-packed series.

Coonts, Stephen. (2006). The Traitor. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks.

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