Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

30 June 2015


Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy is the story of Nikki - who is going to jail for her boyfriend.

Nikki has had a rough life. She moved out of her mother's house and is living with her friend Bird and Bird's young daughter. Life has been better living with someone who cares about her. And she has a boyfriend.

After breaking up for a while, Nikki is seeing Dee again. Bird doesn't like Dee, but doesn't object to him spending the weekend at the house with Nikki. After Bird leaves to go shopping for the day, Dee returns from the gym and tells Nikki to get ready to leave.

Nikki thinks they are going to have a great day together. There is excitement in the air. But what Dee has planned is the opposite of a romantic weekend day together. Before Nikki knows what is happening, Dee has two guns and tells her to drive the car.

On the news the next day, Nikki sees that the man Dee shot was not gang related - it was a police officer. And now the police are questioning her and Dee is telling her they cannot talk until things cool off.

McVoy has written a book about a girl who made poor decisions to try to hold on to someone - someone who didn't love her, but she didn't know that until it was too late. Nikki's story is like a train wreck in slow motion. Readers can see what is coming long before she realizes it herself. Criminal is a novel written for teens - likely with the hope of teaching them take care with their own lives.

McVoy, Terra Elan. (2013). Criminal. New York: Simon Pulse.

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29 June 2015

Flirting with Disaster (Girls Night Out #3)

Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl is the third story in her Girls Night Out romance series - a series that follows her Jackson Hole series. The paperback also includes the novella that started the series - Fanning the Flames.

Isabelle West is a painter. She lives a fairly isolated life in a cabin in the mountains above Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She does have a few friends - her neighbor Jill and the women she meets for girls' night out every other week.

US Marshall Tom Duncan is in Jackson Hole on a case. A local judge is presiding over a case where the defendant's family has promised to stop the trial. Tom and his team will be staying at the judge's house - behind Isabelle's.

Isabelle is sure that Tom is there for her. She does not believe for a minute that there is another reason for his knock on her door. Isabelle has been on the run for years. Part of her hermit-like life is because she is actually hiding.

Dahl is a masterful storyteller whose novels of full of steamy characters and scenes, sprinkled with a dose of humor. She is my favorite romance writer.

Dahl, Victoria. (2014). Flirting with Disaster. New York: HQN.

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27 June 2015

Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3)

Blameless by Gail Carriger is the third book in her Parasol Protectorate series - a steampunk series that takes place in an alternate Victorian England.

Lady Alexia Maccon is in the middle of a scandal. And with the morning's paper it is obvious that everyone knows. It is enough for her stepfather to kick her out of his home - a home she should not be in in the first place being a married woman. And to add insult to injury, on her way to a friend's house with all of her belongings, her carriage is attacked my mechanical lady bugs.

Alexia calls a meeting of her likely helpers, to be conducted at Madam Lefoux's hat shop - where Alexia decides to get out of London for a while. She, Genevieve Lefoux and her butler turned secretary are leaving for Italy.

Carriger has written a mad chase through Europe as the continuation of her fabulous Parasol Protectorate series. If you like to read, read this series. Alexia Tarabotti is a wonderful character everyone would want on their side in a fight. And Madam Lefoux is delicious.

Carriger, Gail. (2010). Blameless. New York: Orbit.

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23 June 2015

Being Emily

Being Emily by Rachel Gold is a coming of age tale about a young woman trying to be herself.

On the outside Chris looks like the typical high school junior. He is on the swim team, has a girlfriend and does well in school. On the inside he is a she. Since a very young age Chris, would would like to be called Emily, was confused when people kept saying she was a boy. She never felt like a boy and always got in line with the other girls in school - but the teacher always moved her to the boys line. Eventually, Emily decided to pretend to be a boy to stay out of trouble.

But now, at seventeen, it is time to tell Claire, Chris's girlfriend. Claire is the most unique person at school. She dresses goth, quotes famous poems and the Bible, and is an out bisexual. Chris is scared to tell Claire the truth and risk losing the most trusted person she has, but knows she has to talk to someone.

Gold has written a loving account of one young woman's struggles to find the courage to be herself in a small town in the Midwest. The book is factual and informative as well as a great novel. This is an important book for people who are not trans to begin to understand some of what it is like to have to fight to be your own gender.

Gold, Rachel. (2012). Being Emily. Tallahassee, FL: Bella Books.

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21 June 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is the story of integration in a Virginia high school in 1959. The story is told in two perspectives - Sarah, one of the ten black students going to the white school, and Linda, a white student whose father is the voice of the town paper and the segregationists.

In February of 1959, the town of Davisburg could no longer postpone allowing black students into the white high school. The mayor had closed the school to prevent integration, but by court order school had to be reopened. Ten of the top honor students from Johns High School transferred to Jefferson High School.

Sarah, a senior, along with nine others had to push their way through the protesting white students to enter the school. From there they were to spend each day being pummeled by spit balls, call names, tripped and when they sat down in class having the white students move away from them. Sarah is put into remedial classes due to the prejudice of the school staff.

Linda has never thought about how the blacks are treated. It has just always been that way in Virginia. When she meets Sarah and sees how she and the other students are treated, she begins to consider whether it is right.

Talley has written a moving story of part of our county's history. Though the school and characters are fictional, they represent real accounts of what lengths racists went to try to prevent integration. There were areas that didn't give in until twenty years after Brown v. Board of Education. This novel is an important reminder of the people who fought to give us the civil rights we have today. It is amazing - read it today.

Talley, Robin. (2014). Lies We Tell Ourselves. New York: Harlequin Teen.

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17 June 2015

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2)

Changeless by Gail Carriger is the second book in her Parasol Protectorate series - an alternate history, steampunk fantasy set in Victorian England.

Lady Woolsey, Alexia Tarabotti Maccon, is one of a kind. In a world with vampires and werewolves, Alexia is the only preternatural person in England - and as such, any werewolf or vampire she touches reverts to human form until she lets go. She has recently gotten married to Conall Maccon, Lord Woolsey, leader of the Woolsey pack and head of the BUR - Bureau of Unnatural Registry of the British government.

Alexia herself was just appointed to the Shadow Council that advises Her Majesty, Queen Victoria on political and military matters. So when all of the supernatural creatures near the Thames revert to human - a plague of humanity -  one night, both Conall and Alexia investigate.

Carriger's series and world are wonderful. Characters from her YA series, the Finishing School, are seen in this series, twenty years later - including my favorite character, Genvieve Lefoux. If you are a fan of humor, fantasy, supernatural, mystery, steampunk, historical fiction or just great books, read this series!

Carriger, Gail. (2010). Changeless. New York: Orbit. 

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09 June 2015

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Soulless by Gail Carriger is the first book in her Parasol Protectorate - set in an alternate, steampunk Victorian London.

Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster. She is twenty-six - much older than the average marriage prospect. Her mother and half-sisters have convinced her she will never wed because of both her forceful opinion and her Italian heritage.

While Alexia is at a ball, as chaperone for her sisters, she sneaks off to the library - her favorite room in any house - where she is attacked by a vampire. What the hungry vampire did not know, and what saved her, is that she is preternatural. Vampire and Werewolves can be changed because as humans they had an excess of soul, which refuses to die. Alexia has a lack of soul and neutralizes any supernatural creature she touches.When the vampire is not convinced to stop, Alexia hits him with her parasol - which accidentally kills him.

Lord Maccon, Alpha of the Woosley Werewolf Pack and in charge of supernatural investigations for Queen Victoria, is not surprised to find Alexia at the center of any controversy. They have been butting heads for months. New vampires have been appearing and rove werewolves have been disappearing, but Maccon does not think Alexia the cause.

Carrige has created a wonderful world of alternative history in Victoria England. Her werewolves and vampires are not the norm, but great characters who are within the stories instead of at the fringe of society. The Finishing School series (YA) takes place in the same world, roughly twenty years earlier. Carriger's books are fabulous! Read them for a refreshingly original, highly entertaining read.

Carriger, Gail. (2009). Soulless. New York: Orbit.

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03 June 2015

Run You Down (Rebekah Roberts #2)

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is the second book in her Rebekah Roberts mystery series.

Roberts is recovering from an injury that resulted when she was chasing a story. As a crime reporter for the New York Tribune, Roberts put herself in danger to find the truth. Now she is taking a break from running down stories. She is working the desk for a while.

When someone who read her articles on the death of an Orthodox Jewish woman wants to talk to her, she agrees to meet with him. Levi Goldin is concerned that his wife's death was foul play. The ultra-orthodox community he lives in would rather not investigate - it would make her sister's marriage prospects difficult if it was found to be suicide. Levi is sure his wife would not kill herself and is seeking another answer.

Rebekah agrees to follow up. She uses the story as a way to investigate the town of Roseville, New York. A town where her own mother may live. Rebekah has not seen her mother since she was a baby. She and her father have no idea what happened to Aviva after she left them.

Aviva Kagan was a teen when she ran away from home with a good looking non-Jewish boy. After having a child, she left them both to go back to her family. She has thought of Rebekah every day and often talks to her in her mind.

Rebekah finds a whole world of people on the edge of the Hasidic community - people who have wandered off of the path. And into this world Rebekah searches as her mother does her part to help those questioning their faith and roles in society.

Dahl has upped her game with this second Rebekah Roberts mystery. Readers of mystery will love this series. Run You Down will be available June 30, 2015.

Dahl, Julia. (2015). Run You Down. New York: Minotaur.

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