Good Books and the Random Movie

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26 February 2015

Red Phoenix (Dark Heavens #2)

Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan is the second book in her Dark Heavens series - a fantasy series set in modern Hong Kong and based on Chinese mythology.

Emma Donahoe is the nanny for Simone, daughter of John Chen. Chen is actually Xuan Wu, a god and one of the four winds. His daughter is half shen (god) and half human, and due to the greed of demons, she is a target.

Emma has been training in martial arts in order to be able to protect Simone. She has also become part of the family, along with the other protector, Leo. Because of the energy it takes for the gods to remain in human form, it will be necessary for John Chen to return to the celestial plane soon. He wants Simone to be as protected and skilled as possible by that time.

While Emma, Leo and Simone continue their martial arts training, a particularly vile demon is plotting to capture one of them in order to present to the demon king. Any demon who accomplished it would be made second in command.

Chan has created a universe with gods moving among humans. Readers will devour the books to see where the story leads.

Chan, Kylie. (2007). Red Pheonix. New York: Voyager.

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22 February 2015

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is the story of young love and a high school play of epic proportions.

Will Grayson has been friends with Tiny Cooper since they were very young. Now, in high school, they are still friends but have different interests. Tiny plays football and is a founding member of his school's gay-straight alliance. Will's is interested in not being noticed, but with Tiny as a friend it is not always possible. For example, Tiny has written a musical about his life and there is a character in it called Gil Wrayson.

Across Chicago, in another suburb, is another Will Grayson. He is also in high school. The highlight his day is when she is online chatting with Isaac. They have been chatting for almost a year. And they are finally going to meet. Will is going to make his way into Chicago and finally meet the guy who has been filling his thoughts.

After getting a fake ID to attend a concert, Will joins Tiny and a new friend Jane, in Chicago. But after not being allowed in due to a math problem, Will goes across the street to the only store that is open - and inside meets the other Will who is looking for Isaac.

Green and Levithan have joined together to write the story of two Wills. The story has many twists and turns as the Wills meet and Tiny works on his play - coming together at the end to create a story about love and appreciating those great people in life.

Green, John and David Levithan. (2010). Will Grayson, Will Grayson. New York: Dutton.

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19 February 2015

Elantris

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson is a fantasy masterpiece - combination of politics, religion, relationships, a land on the brink of destruction and a complete world created out of a great imagination.

Sarene, Princess of the island nation of Teod, is on her way to Arelon to meet her finance - Prince Raoden of Arelon. While the marriage is a political one to give Teod an ally and Arelon a navy, Sarene and Raoden have been communicating and are looking forward to getting to know each other better.

But when Sarene arrives, a few days early to surprise Raoden, the King tells her that he is dead and that according to the contract, she is officially married to the deceased Prince.

Prince Raoden, is not dead, but has been afflicted by a transformation - one that used to make the gods of Elantris, a city within Arelon that used to govern but somehow when wrong ten years ago. Now when a person is chosen they do not become god-like, they become spotted with an apparent disease and are considered dead - thrown into the city of Elantris with the gate locked behind them. But, as Raoden discovers, they are not dead.

While Sarene tried to find out what happened to her prince, forces are at work to prepare the people of Arelon to a religious take over by a priest whose country controls all lands except Arelon and Teod. Sarene must work with the royalty - the lords who before Elantris fell were the merchant class - to try to save her new kingdom.

Sanderson has created a land of intrigue, a web of politics and religion, and a world where magic has died. This is a great book set in a similar world to his book Warbreaker but at a different time.

Sanderson, Brandon. (2005). Elantris. New York: Tor.

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07 February 2015

Starhawk (Priscilla Hutchins #7)

Starhawk by Jack McDevitt is the seventh book in his Priscilla Hutchins science fiction series.Starting in the middle of her qualifying flight, Starhawk, follows the early days of Priscilla's career as one of the best pilots in the skies.

During her qualifying flight, Hutch and her instructor fly to different parts of the know universes so he can evaluate her knowledge and response to simulated problems. When a real situation develops, Hutch is called to save a group of teens whose ship is stranded and is drifting toward a planet.

Gaining stardom on her first official flight, Priscilla returns to look for a job as a newly minted pilot amid the turbulent politics of star flight and the terraforming of a planet. Protestors are threatening to do more than the previous stranding of a ship - a ship that was scheduled to run supplies to the company killing off life on a planet to make it habitable for humans but was re-tasked for students.

McDevitt has a firm grasp on the future he has created in the Hutchins series. Both the science of space travel and the politics on the Earth are believable and readers will become fans before they complete the first book. Hutch is a great character who readers will follow as far as the known edges of technology and space.

McDevitt, Jack. (2014). Starhawk. New York: Berkley Publishing Group.

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04 February 2015

Mounting Danger

Mounting Danger by Karis Walsh is the story of a fledgling mounted police force in Tacoma, Washington.

Sargent Rachel Bryce of the Tacoma is an outcast. She had a fellow officer arrested when he broke the law instead of looking the other way or handling it in house. Now very few officers speak to her and it is making her job difficult.

When she is called into her boss's office she is surprised to find she is being assigned to the new mounted force. The program is so new that the horses and riders are still being trained. Luckily, Rachel grew up on a ranch and knows horses better than people. But she has little time to get them ready for their debut.

Callan Lanford, a local celebrity and polo player, has been asked to help with the training. She was going to turn it down until Rachel talks to her. Cal remembers Rachel from college. They played polo against each other. Now, if Rachel can score a point on her she will help.

Walsh has written a suspenseful mystery with two compelling main characters. The plot has twists and turns as the characters try to figure out who is sabotaging the mounted program and how to overcome each obstacle. Walsh is one of the stars of the small publisher Bold Strokes Books.

Walsh, Karis. (2013). Mounted Danger. New York: Bold Strokes Books.

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02 February 2015

Flight Risk

Flight Risk by Kim Baldwin is the story of one woman on the run from the mob after she witnesses an execution.

Blayne Keller works with her best friend at a travel agency in Chicago. During the winter they take turns going out in the cold to get lunch, so when Claudia forgets drinks Blayne volunteers to sneak next door to the soda distribution warehouse to grab some of the extra cans that are always laying around. Luck is not on her side when her visit overlaps with a mob boss exacting payment for an underling who has been skimming profits.

The FBI gets inside in time to save Blayne from the mob boss, but she will have to stay in protective custody until the trial. Unfortunately, there seems to be a leak because the mob keeps finding her.

In an out of the box move, a supervisor at Witness Protection calls in a former agent who can work off of the radar and keep Blayne safe. Alexi Nikolos was a great agent until someone under her protection was killed. She will not let it happen again with Blayne - especially after she begins to develop feelings toward her.

Baldwin has written a series of events that keep her main characters on the run from the US to Canada to Europe while trying to escape the hitmen on their trail in this romantic suspense novel. Flight Risk is a fun read for those who want some action with their romance.

Baldwin, Kim. (2007). Flight Risk. New York: Bold Strokes Books.

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