Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 September 2014

Pantomime (Pantomime #1)

Pantomime by Laura Lam is her first book featuring Micah Grey.

Iphigenia Laurus, who goes by Gene, is the daughter of a noble family. She is expected to do all of the things a proper young woman does and stop doing boyish things with her brother, Cyril. But Gene is not like the other girls of her social class with their fancy balls and dresses. While Gene has been raised as a girl she was born with both female and male parts.

Gene has been to many doctors over the years, but there is little known about the condition. After her last doctor, she has had enough. She runs away, uses a different name and changes her gender. He is now Micah Grey. And always a good climber, he talks his way into the circus to be trained as a trapeze artist. But still, no one knows his secret.

Lam has written a wonder fantasy novel with a great character who is caught between what society says and what is reality. Readers will devour the story and rush to find the second book, Shadowplay.

Lam, Laura. (2013). Pantomime. New York: Strange Chemistry.

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27 September 2014

My Best Friend, Maybe

My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter is the story of a renewed friendship.

Colette and Sadie were best friends for years, until three years ago when they stopped hanging out with each other. Colette is sure is was Sadie's fault. But she have moved on. She has a new best friend and a boyfriend.

One day, out of the blue, Sadie asks Colette to go on a family trip to Greece to her cousin's wedding. The trip would be completely paid for and all Colette has to do is get to the airport on time - and convince her parents to let her go.

Colette is torn. She misses Sadie and their friendship, but she does not want to get hurt again. She does not understand why Sadie stopped being her friend. Sadie thinks she knows why they stopped being friends. She thinks that Colette left her based on some religious bias when she found out a secret.

The trip to Greece will give them time to realize that their friendship ended over a misunderstanding. They will have time to decide if they like each other now and want to become friends again.

Carter has written a sweet novel about giving someone a second chance.

Carter, Caela. (2014). My Best Friend, Maybe. New York: Bloomsbury.

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26 September 2014

Frenemy of the People

Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen is the story of two high school students who are convinced they will not like each other coming together over a shared interest.

Clarissa has had the same friends for years. But when she comes out to them as bisexual, they do not react well. Her response is to try to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at school. The first day of school, she announces the club at the assembly.

Lexie's reaction to Clarissa announcing the club is indignation. As the only out lesbian at school, she would never join a club run by a preppy girl whose only interest seems to be riding horses. So Lexie confronts Clarissa and asks if she have ever even kissed a girl.

While they have little in common, they both want to help Clarissa's sister be nominated for Homecoming Queen. Desi wants to win and while she may not be as obvious a choice at the head cheerleader, she is going to give it her all. It is her last year of school before she has to graduate or stop attending anyway - Down's Syndrome students can attend until the age of 21.

As Lexie and Clarissa begrudgingly get to know each other, the find that they like each other a lot in this teen romance novel. Anyone who doesn't understand the cause of the financial crisis will appreciate Lexie's help in explaining it. This is a complex and sweet novel of first love.

Olsen, Nora. (2014). Frenemy of the People. New York: Bold Strokes Books.

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25 September 2014

Th1rteen R3asons Why

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher is a heartrending and though-provoking look at how people treat each other and the butterfly affects of actions/comments.

Clay Jensen has just received a package in the mail. He has no idea what it contains or who sent it. But when he opens it, he finds a pile of cassette tapes. The tapes were recorded by a classmate, Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks earlier.

The tapes are being sent to thirteen people at school who Hannah feels contributed to her decision to commit suicide. Clay cannot think of anything he might have done to hurt Hannah. He has had a crush on her for a long time and they worked together, but they didn't really know each other.

Clay starts the tapes in his garage on his dad's old stereo, but after his mother walks in he feels he needs a more private way to listen. As he walks around town with an old Walkman, Clay becomes more angry, confused and worried about his part and about how others treated Hannah.

Told in two simultaneous narratives, the tapes and Clay's reactions, Thirteen Reasons Why is a powerful novel in a similar way as Speak or Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson or So Much to Tell You by John Marsden. A great book that is somewhat painful to read.

Asher, Jay. (2007). Th1rteen R3asons Why. New York: Razorbill.

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23 September 2014

Blackbird (Blackbird #1)

Blackbird by Anna Carey is the first book in her series by the same name.

A young woman wakes up and finds herself on the subway tracks with a train coming. Her muscles will not respond. She is sore everywhere, she has a new tattoo on her wrist and she has no idea who she is. There is a backpack next to her that contains one thousand dollars, food and water, a pocket knife and a note that says not to go to the police.

She calls a number from the backpack and a man tells her to meet him at his office which is marked on her map. She goes into a store to get cleaned up and meets a guy her age. He gives her a ride to the office and leaves her his phone number, just in case.

Going to the office does not help her find out who she is, in fact, it puts her in more danger. With nowhere to turn, how will she find out who she is? And who is following her? How does the same man keep finding her after she loses him?

Carey has created a suspenseful novel where readers are as confused as the protagonist - but will keep reading with the hope of finding out what is going on, who the girl is, and how she got into this situation.

Carey, Anna. (2014). Blackbird. New York: HarperTeen.

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22 September 2014

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas is the third book in her Throne of Glass series about Calaena Sardothien, an assassin with a secret past.

Calaena, the king of Adarlan's champion, has been sent Wendlyn across the sea. She was sent there to be out of harm's way. Her job is to assassinate the prince, but she has her own agenda. She plans to use the time to seek out the Fae and ask Maeve, their queen, how to stop the king.

When Calaena meets Maeve, she is told she must train in order to gain entry to the city of Doranelle before she will receive answers. She is assigned a trainer, Rowan, who will decide when she is ready.

Back in Adarlan's capital of Rifthold, Calaena's friends Chaol and Dorian are trying to stay on the king's good side while working secretly to find a way to break the spell that has stopped magic from working.

Maas has created a great fantasy series. Calaena Sardothien is a warrior who readers will love. Her world is fully formed and complex and will delight and capture fans of all ages.

Maas, Sarah. (2014). Heir of Fire. New York: Bloomsbury.

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16 September 2014

The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6)

The Homecoming by Robyn Carr is the sixth book in her Thunder Point romance series about a small town on the Oregon coast.

Seth Sileski is finally coming back to Thunder Point. The sheriff deputy who was in charge has been promoted and Seth will take his place. Seth grew up in Thunder Point and left after high school on a football scholarship. He played on year for the University of Oregon and one year for the Seattle Seahawks before a car accident ended his career. He has been trying to get assigned to his home town for years - partly to spend more time with his family and partly to win back his best friend.

Iris McKinley was Seth's best friend from age four to 18. Then there was a misunderstanding about the prom and they stopped being friends. She has never forgiven him for something he doesn't remember that broke her heart.

Iris is the high school counselor. She remembers the tough times she had as a teen and wants to help others navigate the weirdest time in life. She is dedicated to her students and works with the teachers, coaches, and local law enforcement to give them every advantage. Seth and Iris will work together and run into each other in town and have to deal with the past if there is any hope of them becoming friends again, or more as Seth wishes. 

Carr's Thunder Point series is a look at an idyllic small town in a beautiful setting. Her characters are wonderful and fans will enjoy keeping up with past main characters as new ones are introduced in her stories. These are great light reads and perfect for the beach.

Carr, Robyn. (2014). The Homecoming. New York: Mira.

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14 September 2014

Blackout (Blackout #1)

Blackout by Robison Wells is the first book in his series of the same name about a future virus that causes teens to develop powers.

Aubrey Parsons was never popular before she started hanging out with Nicole. Now she seems popular. But really she is Nicole's spy. Aubrey somehow developed the ability to become invisible. At the prom she is sent to spy on a boy Nicole likes when Aubrey notices soldiers surrounding the site. She keeps hidden as the rest of the teens are rounded up and put on a bus.

After the dance, exhausted from being invisible for far longer than normal, she has collapsed near the dance floor when Jack Cooper finds her. He was watching the dance from up the hill. Though he is a student it is his to clean up after the dance. 

Jack and Aubrey try to avoid the soldiers and make it back to Aubrey's home only to be turned in to the Army by her father. All teens in Utah are being rounded up and taken to a base for testing. They say a virus has caused some teens to develop dangerous powers - powers the Army wants to use to fight the terrorists who have been attacking sites all over the United States - terrorists who are also teens.

Blackout is an exciting young adult novel of great and terrible powers. The main characters are compelling and readers will impatiently await the next book.

Wells, Robison. (2013). Blackout. New York: HarperTeen.

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13 September 2014

Chindi (Priscilla Hutchins #3)

Chindi by Jack McDevitt is the third book in his Priscilla Hutchins series - a superluminal pilot who usually works with archeologists exploring distant planets.

After a narrow escape on her last mission, Hutch is ready to retire. The Academy has other ideas and begs her to do one last flight - taking a group of alien hunters to investigate a radio signal picked up near a neutron star.

The Contact Society is thought of as a bunch of crazies. They train to meet aliens in spite of the fact that after exploring hundreds of planets, intelligent life has only been found on one world (with ruins on others implying that there once was a sentient race).

Priscilla agrees. She has been requested personally by the group. It should be a few weeks flying there and back. It is unlikely that the signal will lead to anything. Another ship is being sent to the possible target of the transmission.

After just a few days on site, Hutch agrees to meet up with the other ship and see what they found. It appears that there is a net of satellites at the end point that monitors the planet they surround and send a signal to another location.

The Contact Society is off to find the next point in the web. And what they find is the most incredible find since space travel began.

McDevitt has created a great character who goes to fascinating, and sometimes dangerous, planets. This is a great science fiction series that combines the far reaches of space, quantum physics, and archeology.

McDevitt, Jack. (2002). Chindi. New York: Ace Books.

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08 September 2014

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Maggie Hope #4)

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal is the fourth book in her Maggie Hope series.

After working her way from the Prime Minster's typist to a spy who was dropped in Germany, Maggie Hope is back in the UK and recovering from her mission. She has been teaching potential spies in Scotland. And spending a lot of time by herself trying to come to terms with what she did in Germany.

When Maggie gets an invitation to see her friend Sarah in the ballet in Edinburgh she decides she would be terrible company. But after a training incident her old teacher sends her to Edinburgh anyway. And it is a good thing he did - three of the ballerinas are ill, including Sarah.

While Maggie talks her way into an investigation, forces in Japan plan an attack on the United States - who have still declined to join the war.

MacNeal has created a great character in Maggie Hope. Set in a full time in our history, the Maggie Hope series is filled with espionage, adventure, friendship and hope. MacNeal is a master. Start reading the series today!

MacNeal, Susan Elia. (2014). The Prime Minister's Secret Agent. New York: Bantam Books.

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07 September 2014

The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson is the story of the Chicago World Fair and one of the first known serial killers in the United States.

After the Paris World Fair, that included the impossible construction of the Eiffel Tower, some people felt that the United States needed to answer with an event of our own to show our place in the world. A few different cities put their names in the hat and Congress voted to have the Fair in Chicago.

The design of the grounds, from where to build, to what to build and how to surpass the Paris event was rife with so many committees that by the time decisions were made there was doubt about time left to build. Architects Root and Burnham who were the top architects in Chicago were put in charge. They recruited architects from around the country and the landscape architect Olmsted. The one decision that had left to be made was who was going to build something that could surpass the Eiffel Tower?

While the Fair grounds began construction, a man calling himself H.H. Holmes moved to Chicago. Through dishonest that had not yet been seen in business, Holmes build himself a small empire beginning with the purchase of a pharmacy. Eventually he built his own building with hidden rooms. Not only was he a dishonest business man who made up people on whom to pile debt, people had a tendency to disappear around him.

Larson is a master story teller and a consummate researcher. His narrative nonfiction flows in a way that others strive to match. If he writes about anything you are remotely interested in, buy the book.

Larson, Erik. (2003). The Devil in the White City. New York: Vintage Books.

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04 September 2014

Falling for Max (Kowalski Family #9)

Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey is the ninth book in her Kowalski family series.

After being in Whitford, Maine for seven years, Max Crawford does not feel like a part of the community. He is fine working from home - most people don't know what he does and the rumors are flying - and seeing some friends on Sundays when they come over to watch sports on his large television. But on his monthly list of things to do he has added 'go on a date.' His friend Josh recommends getting into town more to meet people.

Tori Burns has been in Whitford for two years. She is graphic designer who works on book covers. She also works part-time at the Trailside Diner because she likes the human interactions. Her cousin Gavin is one of the cooks. She moved to Whitford to escape her parents' divorce and has sworn off romance.

When Max walks into the diner, Tori already knows who he is even though they have never spoken. Whitford is a small town and they have some overlapping friends. When Tori finds out about Max's quest for a date and hopefully for a wife, she agrees to help him get ready. He needs practice with small talk and becoming more comfortable around people.

Stacey has created wonderful characters in her Kowalski family series. Her stories are fun and romantic and fans will return to see their favorite characters in future stories.

Stacey, Shannon. (2014). Falling for Max. Ontario: Carina Press.

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