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25 November 2013

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas is the second book in her Throne of Glass series - a great fantasy series about a female assassin in a medieval setting where magic has been forbidden.

The King's Champion, aka Adarlan's Assassin, Calaena Sardothien is not your average champion. She hates the king she works for and would love to overthrown the crown. But her role as champion is a trade - four years of service for her freedom.

Princess Nehemia, from the land of Eyllwe, that the king recently conquered is staying at the castle and has become Calaena's best friend. Together they are trying to defy the king without getting caught. Nehemia wants her land to be freed and knows that the king is using some ancient power to keep the people in line.

Though magic has been outlawed, Calaena is finding evidence of it under the castle in the ancient catacombs. She will continue to explore and study the wyrdmarks to find out how the king came to power so quickly and how to free those he has enslaved.

Maas has created a great fantasy series. Fans of Kristin Cashore will love this series!

Maas, Sarah. (2013). Crown of Midnight. New York: Bloomsbury.

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20 November 2013

Champion (Legend #3)

Champion by Marie Lu is the third book in her Legend series - set in a dystopian future in the Republic of America.

After the floods and famine and fighting, the world looks different. What used to be the United States is now made up of the Republic of America in the west and the Colonies of America in the east. At the moment there is an uneasy truce between them in preparation to write a peace treaty. But when a plague begins to sweep the Colonies, they blame the Republic and give them three days to send a cure or face more attacks.

The Elector of the Republic knows there is no cure for the many sick kids his father sent to the Colonies to spread disease. But that does not change the fact that he has to do something or his country and people will be attacked. His one hope lies in a boy who was experimented on and then rescued by his brother - the infamous Day, who spent most of his youth fighting against the Republic that destroyed his family.

As the tension increases for what may be the final round of fighting between the Republic and the Colonies - deciding if the people will be ruled by a Senate and Elector or by corporations - Day will play a role in how the people respond. This thrilling conclusion to Lu's trilogy will delight readers as they stay up all night to finish it.

Lu, Marie. (2013). Champion. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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18 November 2013

Year of the Demon (Fated Blades #2)

Year of the Demon by Steve Bein is the second book in his Fated Blades series - revolving around ancient Samurai swords created by the Inazuma, who put so much into each blade he created that the blades were though to have magical properties.

Detective Sergeant Oshiro Mariko of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department works in narcotics. She is famous in the papers for a sword fight she had against a yakuza enforcer that ended in his death. In her latest case she is about to join a SWAT raid of a drug buy at a warehouse owned by the Kamaguchi-gumi.

Okuma Diagoro is a Samurai who lives in the late 1500s. He inherited the sword, Divine Victory Unsought, from his father. The sword will help the wielder win every battle - as long as it is an honorable fight and not for glory.

Kaida, an Ama diver who lives in a fishing village in the late 1400s. She is a young girl who spends her days diving for oyster and abalone. But she dreams of getting out of her village where her step-sisters make her life hell. Her only consolation is that she is a better diver than they are, even with only one hand. When outsiders come to her village in search of something lost, she may get her wish.

All three main characters, separated by time, are linked by either Glorious Victory Unsought, or by a demon mask that seems to seek the sword. Each of their lives will be greatly changed by the intention that apparently comes from the mask by altering the desires of its wearer.

Bein has created an amazing series combining mystery, Japanese history, and compelling characters. This series will appeal to many readers and each one will likely wait impatiently for the next installment of the Fated Blades series. This is a read-alike for the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hern.

Bein, Steve. (2013). Year of the Demon. New York: A Roc Book.

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12 November 2013

Outlaw (Robin Monarch #2)

Outlaw by Mark Sullivan is the second book in his series featuring Robin Monarch, an ex-Special Forces and ex-CIA agent and master thief.

Now retired, Robin Monarch is asked to meet with the President of the United States. He is flown on a military jet to Washington, D.C. where he is told that the Secretary of State has been kidnapped along with the foreign ministers of China and India. The three were meeting in secret on an oil carrier in the South China Sea.Monarch is being hired to find them.

Working with a Chinese Ministry of State Security agent and an Indian National Investigations Agency operative, Monarch will track clues all over Asia. Once word is out, they will have only a few days before the three captives are either rescued or assassinated live on the Internet.

Sullivan's character, Robin Monarch, could be compared to many other character in the genres of suspense, thriller or espionage, but I find him more compelling than most. He has not only the skills to get the job done, his heart is in the right place. His background makes him more compassionate and likable. Fans will hope for a whole slew of books featuring Robin Monarch.

Sullivan, Mark. (2013). Outlaw. New York: Minotaur Books.

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08 November 2013

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky recounts the history of New York and the surrounding waterways...and how we destroyed an ecological marvel to rival the Everglades.

Told from the time of the first European contact with the Lenape Indians up through the year 1999, Kurlansky explains the history of New Yorks estuaries through the life and consumption of oysters. At one time New York was famous for oysters, which grew in most of the waterway from the Hudson to the Gowanus canal. At one time oysters were New York's biggest export.

Oysters, along with apparently being delicious, clean the water in which they live. They pull in sea water and extract the nutrients expelling the water cleaner than it was.But with colonization and the influx of more people than the land was used to supporting, plus their habit of dumping waste and sewage in the water, the beautiful and clean water around Manhattan began to show signs of oyster die off.


Highlighting some of the many colorful characters who helped shape the city of New York, Kurlansky tells the ecological impact of the area. He shows how a rich, beautiful estuary can become what it is today - including the once oyster-rich Gowanus canal that is now a Superfund site of toxic waste. The Big Oyster is a fascinating and important read for all New Yorkers.

Kurlansky, Mark. (2006). The Big Oyster. New York: Random House.

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05 November 2013

So Tough to Tame (Jackson Hole #3)

So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl is the third book in her Jackson Hole romance series.

Charlie Allington just moved back to Jackson Hole. She had been gone since just after high school, but now she is in need of a change and is moving home where she can regroup. Also, her friend from high school is about to open a resort and Charlie is a trained security specialist. And after what happened, no one else will give her a chance.

When Walker Pearce hears that his high school tutor is moving back and needs a place to live, he asks his landlord if she can rent the empty apartment across the hall. Pearce thinks it will be nice to have a friendly face close by as he looks for a job. He is a ranch hand who has been working in dude ranches, but needs to line something up for the winter season.

But when Walker sees Charlie, the image in his head is shattered. She is not the cute, athletic girl from high school. Well, she is still athletic, but all grown up. And though they both have secrets they will risk being exposed for a chance to get to know each other as adults.

Dahl is a fantastic romance writer who captures characters' personalities and quirks while leading readers on un-put-downable romantic journeys. Her books are some of the best romance written.

Dahl, Victoria. (2013). So Tough to Tame. New York: HQN.

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04 November 2013

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher #18)

Never Go Back by Lee Child is the eighteen book in his Jack Reacher series. Reacher is ex-Army and was the head of the MP Special Unit, the 110th. Since retirement he has been traveling around the United States and both getting into trouble and solving problems he finds along the way.

Reacher just arrived in Virginia from North Dakota. He is back at the 110th headquarters in Rock Creek, just outside of Washington, D.C. He came all this way because he spoke to the current commander, Major Susan Turner and wanted to meet her in person.

But when he arrives, it is not Major Turner in the office. Major Turner has been replaced by a temporary officer because she has been arrested for taking a bribe. And Reacher is told not to leave, that there are two cases pending against him.

Child's series just gets better. Fans will read any adventure involving Jack Reacher, and this one includes a jail break, a manhunt including the FBI, Army, DC police and four unknown thugs, and a conspiracy that reaches up the military command chain.

Child, Lee. (2013). Never Go Back. New York: Delacourte Press.

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01 November 2013

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is the first book in her Throne of Glass series about an assassin who must pass a test to become the king's champion or be doomed to a short life in a work prison.

Calaena Sardothien is the Assassin of Adarlan. But few know that the infamous assassin is a woman who is only eighteen, though her work is well known. After a year in the salt mines of Endovier, Calaena is told she is to return to the capital city of Rifthold to a contest to become the king's champion. She is being sponsored by his son, crown prince Dorian, partly to spite his father. If she wins, she will serve the king for four years and then earn her freedom.

Twenty-three members of the king's counsel are sponsoring possible champions. Calaena is the only woman, but not the only assassin. Others include soldiers, jewel thieves and murderers. They will face a series of tests by the weapon master, each test eliminating one contestant until the last four face off in a duel. But someone or something in the castle is killing contestants.

Maas has created a world where readers will lose themselves. Calaena is a complex and compelling character fans will cheer. Great beginning to the series that has been called a cross between Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.

Maas, Sarah. J. (2012). Throne of Glass. New York: Bloomsbury.

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