Good Books and the Random Movie

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26 May 2014

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Chathrand Voyage #1)

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick is the first book in his Chathrand Voyage series.

In a world divided between two powers, Arqual and Mzithrin, peace is being cemented by a marriage between nations. Tasha Isiq is to be married to a Mzithrin prince and will be traveling on the giant sailing ship Chathrand, the last of her kind. The Chathrand is an historic ship that will have one of many outcomes based on the different factions on the ship and their ideas about peace with Mzrithin.

Tasha Isiq has been away at school. It is a school with little comfort. The young women who graduate are usually married off to someone who will advance their family's status. Tasha has had enough of it. She is about to quit when she is told that her father is sending for her. She will not be amused to find out it is because she is to be wed to someone she has never met - whose language she doesn't even speak.

Pazel Pathkendle is an Ormaeli - one of the islands conquered in the last war. He is now a tarboy on a ship - practically an indentured servant. While his life is hard and there is much prejudice toward his people, he is looking forward to getting to see the legendary ship Chathrand. Through a series of obviously planned events, Pazel is left by his current ship and will end up working on the Chathrand.

Redick has created a fantasy series set in a complete world. His characters include many races and even species. If this first installment is any indication, this is going to be an epic fantasy series.

Redick, Robert. (2008). The Red Wolf Conspiracy. New York: DelRey.

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16 May 2014

Heaven's Queen (Paradox #3)

Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach is the final book in her Paradox trilogy - a military science fiction series.

Devi Morris is an armored mercenary. She took a job working on the Glorious Fool because it was supposed to be a stepping stone to her dream job working in an elite army for the king of her world. Now she is floating in space in an escape pod with no way to get home and being chased not only by humans, but most of the other sentient beings in the known galaxies.

They are after for two reasons: there is an alien species attacking planets and she is one of the few people who can see them and may be able to defeat them, and because the plan she has could destroy human kind if it fails - so others are reluctant to let her try her idea.

The Paradox trilogy is a combination of military science fiction with a few other genre elements thrown in. The story is fast-paced and will keep readers engaged. There are also elements of romance and humor, a strong female lead character and a well-developed universe. Fun read!

Bach, Rachel. (2014). Heaven's Queen. New York: Orbit.

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10 May 2014

Invisible City (Rebekah Roberts #1)

Invisible City by Julia Dahl is the first book in her Rebekah Roberts mystery series about a New York journalist. Dahl has been a reporter and editor in print and television. This is her first novel.

Rebekah Roberts is a stringer for the New York Tribune and is sent wherever the paper needs a journalist in the five boroughs. Her latest assignment will be her most important story - one she will not let go after one day's reporting and will change the way she looks at her own story.

When the body of a woman is found in a Gowanus scrap yard, Roberts is there to report what she sees. But when the woman turns out to be Jewish, the police allow the Hasidic community to take the body. Roberts is sent into a world she has often wondered about but never visited. Her past and her current assignment collide while Roberts tries to find a killer the NYPD does not seem to want to find.

When Rebekah Roberts was very small, her mother left her father to return to the Orthodox community. Rebekah has been mad at the mother she does not remember, but this case could give her insight into why her mother left. Maybe as an adult she will be able to understand better why her mother abandoned her.

Combining a mystery with a great character, Dahl has started a series readers will devour. Her writing is excellent, her ability to describe an event or setting honed in years of award-winning journalism, and her plot is one that will draw fans of more than just mysteries. Invisible City is an excellent start to a series readers wait impatiently to continue.

Dahl, Julia. (2014). Invisible City. New York: Minotaur.

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07 May 2014

Changers: Drew (Changers #1)

Changers book one: Drew by T. Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper is the first book in a series that looks at gender roles in an interesting way.

It is almost time for Ethan Miller to start high school. He has just moved from New York to a small town in Tennessee. The reason his parent moved him will become clear on his first morning of high school.

Ethan is a Changer. Changers are an ancient human race that change into a different person four times during the ages of fourteen and eighteen. Doctrine states that Changers are the "last hope of the human race on the whole to reverse the moral devolution that has over come it." Living as four different people teaches them empathy.

But Ethan knows none of this until he wakes up for school and is a girl. After some understandable confusion, she is off to school as Drew. Changers are encouraged to participate fully and Drew tries her best to fit in with her new self - while remaining the same person on the inside.

Changers is an interesting look at our genders and the perceived roles that go along with them - nowhere more well illustrated than high school. T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper have created a series that will allow readers to look at gender differently and possibly evolve along with the main character.

Cooper, T. and Allison Glock-Cooper. (2014). Drew. New York: Black Sheep.

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05 May 2014


Transhuman by Ben Bova is a medical science fiction novel that follows a man on his quest to cure his granddaughter of cancer.

Angela is only eight years old, but she is months away from dying from an inoperable brain tumor. Her grandfather, Luke Abramson, is a brilliant cellular biologist who cannot sit by and watch her die. When the hospital board will not approve the use of his untested cure, Luke signs Angela out of the hospital. He has outfitted an SUV as an ambulance and he plans to make his way across the country to a former student's lab where he is sure he can help Angela.

Being chased by the FBI, Dr. Abramson will get Angela help. Of course, being a 75 year old man, he is not in the best shape of his life. He plans to inject himself with a serum that has shown to reverse aging - in mice.

Bova has written a chase across the country within a race for a cure. Many people have a stake in the outcome of the race - either personally or politically - and Dr. Abramson will be changing lives, one way or another.

Bova, Ben. (2014). Transhuman. New York: Tor.

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03 May 2014


Acid (Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense) by Emma Pass is set in a future where a police force controls the government of Britain - now the Independent Republic of Britain.

Jenna Stone is in one of the most secure prisons in the IRB - Mileway Maximum Security. She has been there since she was convicted of killing her parents. She is surrounded by criminals who think they can take advantage of her because she is small. At seventeen her only friend - or the only person who is nice to her - is the prison doctor. He taught her how to defend herself. Now he is helping her more. She doesn't know why, but he is helping her escape.

There are groups at work against Acid, which is not an easy thing to organize in a land where you can be jailed for speaking against the government. Even just a casual comment that seems like a complaint will get the attention of the Acid agents.

Now Jenna is out of prison, living in disguise. But no one has told her why they got her out. Or what her role she will play in the attempt to overtake Acid.

Pass has created a dystopian novel with a strong female character. Her world is well-formed and readers will get lost in the fast-paced plot. Great read.

Pass, Emma. (2014). Acid. New York: Delacourte Press.

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02 May 2014

Music: Rogrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela are an amazing duo of guitarists who will blow you away. If you don't see them live it is hard to believe there are only two musicians on stage.

With backgrounds in flamenco, jazz and rock - including being members of a metal band - Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero attract fans of all ages and musical preferences. They are both amazing musicians. Rodrigo uses the guitar in the traditional manner with skills that would rival the best of the best - even including some slide guitar. Gabriela, while playing a mean traditional guitar also uses the instrument to provide the percussion in the songs.

Go to their website or YouTube and watch one video - you will become a fan. Their latest album 9 Dead Alive came out this week. Previous albums include their self-titled Rodrigo y Gabriela (2006), 11:11 (2009), a collaboration with the 13-piece Cuban Orchestra on Area 52 (2012) and a few live albums from concerts in UK, Japan and France.

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