Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 January 2015

Unwanted (Fredrika Bergman #1)

Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson is the first book in her series featuring Fredrika Bergman. Bergman is a civilian analyst with the Stockholm police - a program to bring people educated in related fields into the department.

A woman and her daughter are traveling by train into Stockholm. When the train makes a longer than scheduled stop due to signal problems, the mother leaves her daughter asleep in the quiet car and steps outside to make a phone call. When a distraction causes the mother to miss the train, she immediately contacts the railroad office and a conductor is sent to sit with her daughter. When the train arrives in Stockholm, there is no sign of the little girl.

Fredrika Bergman and Peder Rydh are assigned to the case under the leadership of Alex Recht. Together they start and investigation which, based on statistics, points them toward the ex-husband and father of the little girl. But Bergman, not relying on the years of police training that Rydh and Recht have between them, is not convinced the father is the only possibility.

Ohlsson has created a great mystery set in the tension between civilian and police inspectors who are working together. Her book has the feel of a Scandinavian mystery - a increasingly popular subgenre - but with none of the gory details the genre is know for. This is just a good read with three main characters readers will root for and against while devouring the book to find out who done it.

Ohlsson, Kristina. (2012). Unwanted. New York: Washington Square Press.

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26 January 2015

The Fire Wish (Jinni Wars #1)

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough is the first book in her Jinni Wars series - a YA fantasy that brings to mind elements of One Thousand One Nights.

Najwa is a jinni. She is in training to join the Corps - the division that goes to the planet's surface to spy on humans. During her first test in transporting she returns with a beautiful rose. The surface is the most magical place she has ever seen and puts the crystal cavern she lives in to shame.

When Najwa returns later to the palace, against her teacher's wishes, she hears that the prince is about to be married - the same prince she saw on her first visit. The same prince about whom she cannot stop thinking.

Zayele lives in the village of Zab - famous for being the place where the war between humans and the Jinn began. She is content with her life and is best friends with her brother. She is shocked to discover she has been chosen to go to Baghdad and marry Prince Kamal.

Again against the wishes of her teacher, Najwa goes to the surface. She must see the girl who is to marry the prince. But it goes very wrong when her wish of invisibility fails and the girl sees her. Zayele grabs her and wishes to be saved from her fate and sent home.

Always be very careful how you word a wish to a Jinni. While Najwa takes Zayele's place in the barge that is taking her to Baghdad, Zayele is sent to Najwa's home not her own.

Lough has created a magical tale of two young women finding their places in the world amid a war between their peoples. Her settings and descriptions are wonderful and evocative. I am hopeful that this will be a great series.

Lough, Amber. (2014). The Fire Wish. New York: Random House.

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24 January 2015

White Tiger (Dark Heavens #1)

White Tiger by Kylie Chan is the first book in her Dark Heavens series - a great fantasy series that reads like a realistic action thriller.

Emma Donahoe is an Australian living and working in Hong Kong. She teaches English at a school for small children and she tutors Simone Chen - the daughter of a mysterious, wealthy business man. When she quits her job at the school, Mr. John Chen offers her a full-time position tutoring and taking care of Simone. The job will include a generous salary and room and board.

Emma move into the penthouse apartments with Mr. Chen, Simone and Leo, the driver and bodyguard. Emma has no idea what Mr. Chan does for a living - his description makes him sound like a spy. Soon Emma is drawn into a world of martial arts, ancient legends and gods and demons.

Chan has created a wonderful beginning to this series. Her characters are full and compelling, her story will have readers staying up late to see what happens next. This is book one in a trilogy that will appeal to fans of Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori and Steve Bein's Fated Blades series. Buy book one today!

Chan, Kylie. (2006). White Tiger. New York: Harper Voyager.

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14 January 2015

Thief (Robin Monarch #3)

Thief by Mark Sullivan is the third book in his Robin Monarch series. Monarch, the son of a thief and a forger, is an ex-Special Forces, ex-CIA thief who grew up in the slums of Argentina.

Robin Monarch escaped the slums because of one woman - Sister Rachel Diego del Mar. Sister Rachel is a doctor who works to improve the lives of those who live in the Village of Misery. Over the years she has received anonymous donations (from Monarch) and has expanded her clinic to include an orphanage. She is Monarch's only family.

Robin is targeting an unscrupulous man who may have had a hand in the kidnapping of the US Secretary of State. Arsenault has a vault of unclaimed riches on his estate and an annual Christmas party to provide cover. Robin plans to take millions of dollars.

But Arsenault is a man who can hold a grudge. Once he finds out who Monarch is, he will take his revenge - targeting the one person Robin loves the most. Now Monarch has to find a way to steal some early scientific research to trade for Sister Rachel's life.

Sullivan has created a team of very capable characters with Monarch at their head. His books are fast-paced and exciting, filled with capers, rescues, and politics.

Sullivan, Mark. (2014). Thief. New York: Minotaur Books.

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08 January 2015

The Paying Guests

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is an historical crime novel set in 1922 London.

The widow Mrs. Wray and her adult daughter Frances find themselves in financial trouble after Mr. Wray passes away. It is not seemly for women of their class to work, so they have decided to take in lodgers. Most of the upstairs of the house has been converted into a suite of rooms - bedroom, parlor and kitchen - to accommodate the young married couple about to move in.

Lilian and Leonard Barber are moving away from his parent's house into their own space. Leonard, as part of the clerk class that will become the emerging middle class, works for an insurance house. Lilian spends her time decorating their rooms with an eclectic mix of items from cultures around the world.

Though Frances thinks of the Barbers merely as a source of income, an unlikely friendship forms between Frances and Lilian. A bond grows as they spend more time together - a bond that will lead to unexpected consequences.

Waters is a masterful story teller. Her historical fiction takes readers back in time in the way of few other writers. Start reading one of her books today - you will be hooked.

Waters, Sarah. (2014). The Paying Guests. New York: Riverhead Books.

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03 January 2015

Smoke and Fire

Smoke and Fire by Julie Cannon is the story of healing, discovery and love.

Brady Stewart fights oil well fires - one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. She is one of the very few women in the field and she had to fight hard to get there. She now works for McMillian Suppression - a leader in the industry and in safety. Brady is being sent to headquarters to be honored for pulling a coworker out of a fire.

Nicole McMillian is the head of McMillian Suppression. Her father started the company and she has helped it grow into the most respected of all oil fire suppression companies. She worked as a firefighter in the company until six years ago when an explosion resulted in burns on sixty percent of her body. Now she works from the office.

When Brady and Nicole meet at the award ceremony, both are surprised by the other. Brady had no idea the head of the company was so hot. Nicole is attracted to Brady - the first time she has felt drawn to someone since her girlfriend left her after she received her burns.

Cannon has written a sweet and steamy romance with two compelling characters - set in a fascinating world most readers know nothing about. This is a great read.

Cannon, Julie. (2014). Smoke and Fire. New York: Bold Strokes Books.

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