Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 December 2014


Blindsided by Karis Walsh is romance between a television news host and a trainer of guide dogs.

Cara Bradley is the host of the television show Around the Sound which highlights people around Puget Sound who do good for other people or the environment. Cara loves her job, but her family thinks she needs to climb up the ladder to a more prestigious position as a news host. Cara just likes meeting people who care about others and not just their own fame.

Lenae McIntyre has just opened her own center to train guide dogs for the blind. She left a life in television news writing to do some good in the world and give others the freedom a guide dog provides. She has matched a few people with dogs and her center is starting with her first batch of puppies.

Cara and her crew show up at the McIntyre Training Center to interview Lenae. After a rocky start to their meeting, Cara and Lenae reluctantly agree to work together to promote the training center. As they learn to trust each other, they realize there is an attraction they cannot ignore.

Walsh has written a sweet romance with two great characters - plus puppies!

Walsh, Karis (2014). Blindsided. New York: Bold Strokes Books.

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29 December 2014

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by AS King is the story of one girl who can see the future - or is losing it.

Glory is about to graduation from high school. She has no immediate plans for her future except to take pictures. She wants to find her place in the world - a place she is not sure is secure since her own mother committed suicide.

Then, after drinking a disgusting concoction, Glory is able to see the past and future of people. Each time she looks into someone's eyes, Glory has visions of his/her great-great grandmother on the Underground Railroad or escaping from Nazis. She can also see future generations - and the next US Civil War.

In order to keep track of what she is learning, Glory starts to write a history of the future. She is also dealing with her mother's death, her father's sadness, and a best friend she doesn't really like.

King is a masterful storyteller. Her characters are either more advanced than average or they are crazy. Readers will have to decide. Read any of her books!

King, AS. (2014). Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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27 December 2014

Personal (Jack Reacher #19)

Personal by Lee Child is the nineteenth book in his Jack Reacher series - Reacher is a retired Army MP who wanders the United States and steps in to solve crimes or inflict justice when he feels necessary.

Though Reacher has been out of the Army for years, you are never really out of the Army. On a bus near Seattle, Reacher finds a copy of the Army Times and sees his name in a personal ad. It says to call General Shoemaker - he is calling in a favor.

Reacher calls from Seattle and is put through to General Shoemaker. He is told to wait in the coffee shop across the street. A half hour later Reacher is on his way to a base to be flown across the country to North Carolina.

There has been an attempt on the President of France. The shot was from almost three quarters of a mile. As there are only a couple dozen people in the world who could make that shot, Shoemaker has brought Reacher in because one of the potential suspects is someone he arrested sixteen years before.

Reacher will be partnered with Casey Nice of the State Department to investigate the few Americans on the suspect list. They will travel to the mid-West, France and England before the case is solved - and the time limit put on the case is running out. They have to find the sniper before the G8 meeting in London.

Child has created a great character in Jack Reacher. Fans will continue to follow his through his travels and adventures.

Child, Lee. (2014). Personal. New York: Delacourte Press.

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24 December 2014

The Job (Fox and O'Hare #3)

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the third book in their Fox and O'Hare series. Nick Fox is an thief who is known for the elaborate cons he uses to steal. Kate O'Hare is an FBI agent who chased Fox for years before catching him. Now they are secretly working together to take down international bad guys.

Fox and O'Hare are getting the team back together to go after a ruthless criminal who disappeared years ago. Rumor has it that when he disappeared, he had plastic surgery but Fox has an idea to lure him out.

Evanovich and Goldberg have created a series that is a cross between the TV shows White Collar and Leverage - the bait set to catch the bad guys is creative and fun, a giant con that only works because of the greed of the mark.

This is a great series. Read it from the beginning!

Evanovich, Janet and Lee Goldberg. (2014). The Job. New York: Bantam Books.

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23 December 2014

Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3)

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes is the third book in her Falling Kingdoms fantasy series.

Mytica has been united through war. Now the king's goal is to find four ancient / mythical stones that contain magic that used to be free in the land. Anyone who controls even one of the Kindred will have access to almost limitless power. But the king is not the only one looking for the stones.

Princess Cleo, married to the conquering king's son Magnus also seek the stones to reclaim her throne. Magnus also wants the stones to overthrow his father. And his sister, Lucia, the most powerful sorceress born in one thousand years seeks the stones to restore the land that has been dying since the magic was trapped long ago.

For reasons of love, greed and vengeance the land of Mythica people are racing against each other to claim a magic that until recently was thought to exist only in bedtime stories - but if they are real, the one who controls them will rule the land.

Rhodes has created a great fantasy series filled with compelling characters. This series is worth reading.

Rhodes, Morgan. (2014). Gathering Darkness. New York: Razor Bill.

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19 December 2014

Cauldron (Priscilla Hutchins #6)

Cauldron by Jack McDevitt is the sixth book in his science fiction series featuring Priscilla Hutchins.

In 2255 the age of space travel is winding down. Though there are faster than light ships, it still takes a while to arrive anywhere far away and the programs have slowly been cut. The Prometheus Foundation is one of the few privately funded agencies who still has a couple of active ships.

Priscilla Hutchins, former star pilot, is a fundraiser for Prometheus. After an event she is approached by a man who says he has a new engine that will make the current Hazeltine seem slow. He claims that space travel can be so much faster than humans could reach the center of the Universe.

If the tests work, a new age of space exploration will be underway. But if it fails, the Prometheus Foundation will only have one remaining ship and little hope of staying in business.

McDevitt has created a great science fiction series featuring an awesome character in Hutch.

McDevitt, Jack. (2007). Cauldron. New York: Ace Books.

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15 December 2014

Gracefully Grayson

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky is the story of a  girl who is trapped in the body of a boy. I believe it is the first middle grade novel to deal with a transgender protagonist.

Grayson Sender lives with his aunt, uncle and two cousins in Chicago. He is in sixth grade and does well in school - at least as far as grades go. He does not have any friends. He has isolated himself from others because he has a secret.

Each morning after Grayson gets dressed he imagines himself wearing other clothes. His pants become a shirt or a dress. It used to be that the image lasted longer, but now it fades by mid-morning and he is wearing boy clothes again.

Grayson is sure that if his classmates knew how he feels they would make fun of him. But his true self is trying to break through. When a notice goes up to audition for the school play, Grayson signs up - and tries for the lead of Persephone.

Polonsky has written a beautiful book exploring what makes a person one gender or the other.  Grayson is a wonderful character readers will love. Read this book today.

Polonsky, Ami. (2014). Gracefully Grayson. New York: Hyperion.

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14 December 2014

The Raft

The Raft by SA Bodeen is a survival story in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Robie lives on Midway Atoll, a 2.4 square mile island northwest of Hawaii. When she gets stir crazy on the small island mostly filled with researchers, she visits her aunt in Hawaii.

After staying with her aunt for a few days, her aunt has to fly to the mainland for work. Robie, at sixteen, is too young to stay on her own in the city. A friend of her aunt promises to check on her each day, but on her first night alone Robie walks to get food after dark and is attacked by a crazy man. After she escapes she decides to fly home.

Residents of Midway can catch a ride on any of the supply planes with no ticket or reservation. As long as there is room (or something can be taken off for the next flight to keep under the weight limit) they can fly home. Robie show up at the small airport about an hour before the flight is to leave. At the last minute she is put on the plane and they take off - a few hours behind schedule. Neither her aunt or her parents know she is going home.

A couple of hours into the flight they hit a storm. After a while of turbulence, one engine dies. Max, the copilot, tells Robie to put on a life vest and get ready to open a life raft once she is outside of the plane. Then he throws her out the door.

Max and Robie make it into the life raft but have no way to know where they are, no way to steer even if they knew which way to go, no fresh water, and one bag of Skittles for food.

Bodeen has written a harrowing tale of survival against the odds. Readers will enjoy the story while being glad they are not in Robie's shoes.

Bodeen, S.A. (2012). The Raft. New York: Feiwel and Friends.

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12 December 2014

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers is the third book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy - an historical series set in 1400s Brittany when Duchess Anne, at twelve years old, inherits the throne.

The Convent of Saint Mortain, the god of Death, trains young women to be assassins. They are educated in combat, espionage, poisons and seduction. When they are ready they are sent out to do Mortain's will - as seen by the Seer.

Annith has been at the convent since a couple of days after she was born. She has seen friends be sent on missions, but she has not been sent out. She knows she is ready - she is better at most lessons than the teachers at this point. With Brittany on the brink of war she needs to be out there helping.

When Annith finds out she will become the next Seer - a skill she has never been shown to have - she fears being trapped in the convent for live. She decides to escape and track down the Abbess to prove she can function as an assassin.

Annith will meet up with both the feared Hellequin who hunt souls in the night and the Arduinna, followers of a goddess wronged by Mortain and therefore enemies of hers. She will make her way to the court of Brittany and do what she can to keep the country from falling to France.

LaFevers has created a wonderful series set in a fascinating time in history. Read them!

LaFevers, Robin. (2014). Mortal Heart. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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11 December 2014

Endsinger (Lotus War #3)

Endsinger by Jay Kristoff is the third book in his Lotus War trilogy a fantasy / science fiction blend about a world based on Japanese mythology.

There is civil war across the Shima Imperium. What is left of the ruling Kazumitsu Shogunate and the Lotus Guild are fighting the Kage rebels and other dissidents lead by a young woman who has tamed a Thunder Tiger.

The four clans have always pledged allegiance to the Shogun. But with his death, two clans have not committed to his successor - a man the Lotus Guild is using as a puppet to take over total control of Shima. 

The Lotus Guild has been keeping people in line with the growth of the blood lotus - a drug to which much of the population is addicted and has taken over so much crop land there is not enough food. The Guild is mechanized and the resulting pollution have gone too far.

In this third volume, war will decide who is to rule the land of Shima - who will be in charge of the final destruction or the slow healing of that land. Kristoff has created a fascinating world combining fantasy / mythology with science fiction machines.

Kristoff, Jay. (2014). Endsinger. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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08 December 2014


Wildlife by Fiona Wood is the story of a semester spent in the woods.

Crowthrone Grammar high school in Melbourne, Australia sends kids to live in the woods for one semester, the equivalent their sophomore year. They still have to take classes, but the focus is on getting in shape and learning to survive outdoors. Each student has to complete overnight hikes and one solo overnight.

Sibylla Quinn will be joining classmates, a couple she has known since kindergarten, living in the woods for nine weeks. She has never been overly popular, but due to a new ad campaign that put her picture on billboards around town, she will come to the attention of the most popular guy in school.

Louisa is new to Crowthorne and is hoping the setting and group of people will help her move on from the death of her best friend. She is not looking forward to meeting new people, but her therapist is hopeful.

Wood has written a well-crafted novel of coming of age and the meaning of friendship. Readers will alternately like and loath characters as Sib and Lou find their place in the world. Wildlife has been short-listed for a few Australian teen book awards.

Wood, Fiona. (2013). Wildlife. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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01 December 2014

Boxers and Saints

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang is his two book series about the Boxer Rebellion in China - each from a different point of view.

Boxers is told from the point of view of Little Bao. Bao is from a traditional Chinese village. His first encounter with a foreigner is when a group of men come to "get justice" for someone by stealing vegetables. While they are there they smash a deity who protects the village.

This leads Little Bao to train to fight and eventually form the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist - traveling from village to village defending people. They call upon the spirits of the gods to save China.

Saints is from the point of view of  Four-girl. She never fit in with her family and decides to become a devil. Since she doesn't know how to become a devil, she talks to a man called a foreign devil, who is a priest. When she hears of a group of men roaming the countryside killing missionaries, priests and Chinese Christians she knows she is destined to be a warrior woman like Joan of Arc.

Bao and Four-girl meet twice in the books which tell their stories in parallels. Yang is a master of the graphic novel - capturing so much with so few words and beautiful illustrations. For a study guide visit goodokbad.

Yang, Gene Luen. (2013). Boxers. New York: First Second.

Yang, Gene Luen. (2013). Saints. New York: First Second.

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