Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 July 2015

Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler is the first book in her Daylight Falls series.

Ally Duncan and Vanessa Park have been best friends since they were three. Now seventeen, Ally is a senior in high school and Vanessa is an actor in Hollywood. Though their lives are very different, they remain best friends.

Vanessa is auditioning for a role in the hot new teen drama Daylight Falls. She was going for the part of the best friend, but is surprisingly cast as the lead. Surprising because in Hollywood the lead is usually a blonde girl, not a Korean American.

Ally is dealing with her father's cancer treatments and school work. When the medical bills put Ally's dream of going to Columbia, Vanessa offers her a job as assistant. While Ally is jaded about Hollywood and hanging out on the set with the other actors, she agrees. What she finds is that not all actors live up to her stereotype. Liam Holloway, the male lead, is not only more beautiful in real life, he is smart and nice and funny.

Alder has created a fun romance story set in a world few people can access. Her characters are great and fans will be excited for the sequel, Under the Lights.

Adler, Dahlia. (2014). Behind the Scenes. Contooncook, NH: Spencer Hill Press.

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28 July 2015

Hero

Hero by Perry Moore is a superhero story with a twist.

Thom Creed is a basketball start in high school but his teammates keep their distance. There is something about him that is different. And his father has an infamous history as the most popular superhero until a rescue went wrong and now he is an outcast.

Thom doesn't want to make his father's life harder so he is keeping secrets. Secrets about powers that he has. Secrets about who he likes. Secrets about who he wants to become.

When Thom is on a bus that is attacked by villains, he uses his healing powers to help the injured passengers. When the League superheroes show up to help, he is invited to a tryout to become a hero in training.

When Thom is assigned to a team of hero misfits - Scarlett who can control fire but not her temper, Larry who can infect people with diseases, Ruth who is an old lady who can see the future, and Golden Boy who has been demoted back to rookie - he does not tell his father. His father has no use for superheroes with powers. He didn't need powers in his day - plus they have been shunning him since his fall from glory.

Moore has created a fun hero story with some serious underlying themes. Thom is an unlikely hero with whom readers will fall in love.

Moore, Perry. (2007). Hero. New York: Hyperion.

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25 July 2015

Desolation Point

Desolation Point by Cari Hunter is a race through the wilderness running from a madman.

Alex Pascal was a Los Angeles cop. When chasing brothers who were wanted for rape and torture, Alex was captured and tortured before her partner could find her. After multiple surgeries, Alex went back to work, but her heart was no longer in it. Eventually, she took a job in Washington on a small farm.

Sarah Kent was in a car accident with her sister and mother. She was the only one who survived. After months of surgeries and physical therapy, she decided to do some traveling and get out of England.

Sarah and Alex are both hiking in the North Cascades. A storm is moving in and Sarah is hoping for a couple more days before weather runs her off of the mountain. Alex is sure it will storm soon, but when she reaches the last boat out, two men tell her about Sarah and that she is still on the mountain. Alex decides to look for her.

After reaching the top, Sarah gets disoriented in the fog. After hiking for a while she hears voices. But the voices are not friendly. One belongs to an escape convict who is the target of a state-wide manhunt. When Sarah flees, she grabs a bag instead of her backpack, but she is too scared to go back because of the armed man behind her.

Hunter has written a fast-paced thriller set in an unforgiving wilderness. Her characters are well developed and compelling. Fans will be glad to know that there is a sequel, Tumbledown, that takes place a couple of years later.

Hunter, Cari. (2013). Desolation Point. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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22 July 2015

Batwoman: Elegy

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka, drawings by JH Williams, is Batwoman re-imagined by a genius. After a break in the series, due to the main character being stabbed in the heart, Rucka has brought back a great superhero and made her better.

Katherine Rebecca Kane is Batwoman. The path she took to get there is told in flashbacks through the book. Kate grew up in a military family. When she was young, she and her twin sister, along with their mother were in a car accident. It was a kidnapping. Her mother and sister were killed. After that, she vowed to follow in her father's footsteps and join the military to help make the world a better place.

Kate was on her way to becoming a fine soldier, but was separated from the military under Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 125, known as don't ask and don't tell. Because of the honor code, Kate could not lie and say she was not guilty of being a lesbian.

It was still a long journey from the military to becoming Batwoman, and Rucka and Williams tell it with style and depth. I am not usually a fan of graphic novels or comics, but this series is awesome. Continue after Elegy with: Vol 1: Hydrology; Vol 2: To Drown the World; Vol. 3: World's Finest; and Vol. 4: This Blood is Thick.

Rucka, Greg. (2010). Batwoman: Elegy. New York: DC Comics.

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21 July 2015

Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5)

Timeless by Gail Carriger is the fifth book in her Parasol Protectorate - an alternate history of Victorian England peopled with vampires, werewolves, and the usually manners of the time period.

Three years has passed since Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, relocated to a house in London to raise her daughter with the help of the vampire Lord Akeldama - a compromise because of the unusual nature of the offspring between a werewolf and a preternatural.

Prudence Maccon Akeldama is a creature not seen for thousands of years. Unlike her mother whose touch turns werewolves and vampire human, Prudence is a soul-stealer. If she touches a vampire or werewolf, she will become one until the next sunrise, and he will become human.

A summons, in the guise of an invitation, arrives for Alexia and Prudence to visit the oldest living vampire, Queen Matakara, in Egypt. So, using the disguise as a traveling stage production lead by Ivy Tunstell, the Maccons set off for abroad.

Carriger has created a wonderful alternate world. Timeless is the last of the series featuring Alexia, but you can continue with her young adult series, The Finishing School, and then Prudence's own series, the Custard Protocol. This has quickly become one of my favorite reads!

Carriger, Gail. (2012). Timeless. New York: Orbit.

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15 July 2015

Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel volume 1, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona is the latest version of Ms. Marvel.

Kamala Khan is a New Jersey teen. She is a Pakistani-American Muslim who is a fangirl. She loves the Avengers. She is a normal teen until she sneaks out for a party one night after her parents tell her she cannot go to a party with boys and alcohol.

After just a few minutes at the party, she agrees that it is not a party for her. As she is leaving a strange fog descends on the town. She passes out, has a vision of the Avengers and wakes up with superpowers she doesn't know how to control.

At first Kamala appears to be Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel. But once she realizes she can shape shift, she can find a look that fits with who she is better. A look that fits within her ideals and beliefs.

Wilson's Ms. Marvel is a more diverse character than the traditional superhero comic character. Kamala is great and the first book is about identity. If you are a fan of graphic novels or strong female characters read this series.

Wilson, G. Willow (2014). Ms. Marvel: No Normal. New York: Marvel Now.

Volume 2: Generation Why
Volume 3: Crushed

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14 July 2015

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs is an awesome guide for all types of fans - gamers, book nerds, Browncoats, Trekkies, Cosplayers, etc...

Fangirl is a term that has been used negatively by guys trying to keep chicks away from what they see as their areas - video games, science fiction, graphic novels - but it can also be a self affirming title. Women who are passionate about and invested in what they love are fangirls.

Maggs has included many of the possible targets of fandom, but writes in a way that if your particular passion is not listed, you still get great tips and ideas for advancing your passion and sharing it with others.

Subjects include: how to make nerdy friends, how to kill at cosplay, how to write fan fiction, how to react to trolls, and tips for attending conventions. And one of my favorite sections - Kick Ass Female Characters You Should Know - which includes some of my favorite tv and book chicks.

This is a great resource that everyone should have on hand. Buy a copy today. You can probably find Sam at your next convention and get her to sign it. She is the queen of fandom!

Maggs, Sam. (2015). The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.


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13 July 2015

I Crawl Through It

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King is the story of four teens who are trying to deal with too much.

Stanzi is obsessed with biology. To calm herself she dissects frogs. The order of the insides calms her. For the last few weeks at school there has been an almost daily bomb threat. They are having most classes outside now. And when Stanzi gets home, a note says her parents are in bed, to make a frozen dinner and turn out the lights.

Gustav hasn't been to school in a long time. He spends all of his time building a helicopter in his garage - an invisible helicopter that he will use to fly himself and Stanzi away from their town.

Lansdale Cruise is a liar. She tells a lies all of the time. Her long hair grows each time she lies, like a hair-Pinocchio. She lies so much she doesn't remember how to stop.

China Knowles has turned herself inside out. Something bad happened that she is not talking about, but everyone knows. She mostly communicates by writing poetry, but has found a friend in an online support group and is thinking of running away to be with him.

King is a brilliant writer who writes weird book that make people think. Her characters are great and readers never know if they are going crazy or making a breakthrough. If you are a fan of reading, read something by A.S. King. It will be worth it and you will remember the book forever.

[I Crawl Through It will be released on September 22, 215.]

King, A.S. (2015). I Crawl Through It. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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12 July 2015

Just Girls

Just Girls by Rachel Gold is an amazing book that highlights many of today's civil rights issues and the ongoing need to push for equality - all in the guise of a coming of age, first year of college novel.

Jess Tucker is in line in her college cafeteria at the beginning of the school year when she overhears someone behind her saying she saw a memo about a trans woman in the dorms. The girl goes on to say pretty negative things about "him" and before Tucker can think anything past some poor woman has to deal with this crap all of the time, she outs herself as trans and confront the girl and her friends. Tucker thinks that she got through high school as an out lesbian, this will be similar.

What Tucker doesn't count on is the level of transphobia being much higher than that toward gays and lesbians. She tells her friends in the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Allies) student club what she did and they back her up. But when someone spray paints her dorm room with anti-trans slurs, her girlfriend decide Tucker should move in with her.

Ella Ramsey is the trans woman who Tucker is protecting. They have never met and only a couple of people in administration know she was born into a boy's body. She has a two suite dorm to herself as a result.

When Ella sees the paint on Tucker's door she stops and stares. Tucker catches her and is surprised she is not there to add insult to injury. After a short talk, Ella invites Tucker to move to her extra room so she can start over.

This is Gold's second novel featuring trans characters. Claire and Emily from her book Being Emily appear in this book, too. Gold creates real characters who readers will want to befriend. Her books are great. Buy a copy of each and start reading today.

Gold, Rachel. (2014). Just Girls. Tallahassee, FL: Bella Books.

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11 July 2015

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves #1)

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes is the first book in her Spirits and Thieves series - which partly takes place in her world of Mythica from the Falling Kingdoms series.

Crys and Becca Hatcher live in Toronto above their family's bookstore, the Speckled Muse. Becca and her mother love books more than anything. Crys stopped reading about the time her father left and is more focused on photography. When a package comes from their aunt, Crys opens it - even though it is addressed to her mother.

After Crys looks at the old book she passes it on to her sister. But when Becca opens the book, she is frozen in place. A light comes out of the book and swirls around her. Then she falls to the ground unresponsive.

Farrell Grayson is part of a secret society in Toronto. The Hawkspear society has been around for sixty years. And its members believe it is run by a god. Farrell is about to move up to the inner circle.

Maddox lives in the land of Mythica. He has the ability to see spirits, but witches are put to death in his land by decree of the ruler - the goddess Valoria. For his whole life, spirits have been a dark, angry presence. But now, Maddox can see a beautiful girl who says her name is Becca.

Rhodes created a wonderful world with Mythica. This new book combines that world with present day Toronto is an all new series. Rhodes is a great fantasy writer.

Rhodes, Morgan. (2015). A Book of Spirits and Thieves. New York: Razor Bill.

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07 July 2015

Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)

Heartless by Gail Carriger is the fourth book in her Parasol Protectorate series set in an alternate history Victorian England.

Lady Alexia Maccon is not your average Victorian lady. While her manners are impeccable, she does not defer to  her husband or merely run a household. Alexia is on the Queen's secret council, married to a werewolf, very good friends with a vampire, and a preternatural - one who can cancel out supernaturals, making them human while in contact with her.

When a ghost who is almost dissolved visits and tells Alexia of a plot to kill the queen, Alexia jumps to investigate. All the while, the vampire of London have a price on her head, the latest attack utilizing what appeared to be zombie porcupines.

Carriger has created a wonder version of the Victoria era - complete with supernatural creatures, dirigibles, clockwork machines, and a lot of humor. Start the series today!

Carriger, Gail. (2011). Heartless. New York: Orbit.

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02 July 2015

Blood Will Tell (Point Last Seen #2)

Blood Will Tell by April Henry is the second book in her Point Last Seen mystery series about three teens who volunteer for Portland Search and Rescue.

Nick, Alexis and Ruby are still working toward their hours to become official Search and Rescue (SAR). They can be called to help with a search for a missing person or an evidence search. As long as they maintain their grades, they can leave school to help.

When the body of a woman is found, SAR is called to do an evidence search - basically a line of people crawling shoulder to shoulder looking for clues. They have one hour to meet at the Sheriff's office, but Nick has seen the ambulances and police go by and knows the scene is only a few blocks from home so he meets them there.

When the police find partial DNA on the body, Nick become a suspect. Alexis and Ruby know he did not do it. But the police see his drawings, video games and a large knife as signs of his guilt. Can his friends prove it wasn't him?

Henry has created a great, fast-paced mystery series with an interesting setting. The series reminds me of a young adult version of the Anna Pigeon books by Nevada Barr - set in National Parks where the setting is one of the characters.

Henry, April. (2015). Blood Will Tell. New York: Henry Hold and Company.

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01 July 2015

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir by Gaby Rodriguez is the story of one young woman faking a pregnancy during high school to study people's reactions.

Gaby Rodriguez grew up in a family where her older siblings were setting a trend of becoming teen parents. Gaby felt like it was expected that she would follow this pattern, but she had already decided she wanted to go a different route - college.

When considering her upcoming senior project - on a topic of her choosing - one of her brothers made a comment. He said that he drank because his father drank. It was genetic. He got Gaby to thinking about who people are perceived by others and the stereotypes that form - and that people did not have to live up to.

Convincing her school to let her do the project, she told only a few people what she was planning. Her boyfriend had to be in on the secret. Her mother knew. And one sister and one friend from school who could keep track of the comments said about her. Gaby was convinced she could handle the comments because the pregnancy would not be real.

The Pregnancy Project is the story of Gaby's project and how people reacted - both during and after she announced the truth. Her project gained so much attention that she ended up on nation wide news and Lifetime made a movie about her story.

Rodriguez, Gaby and Jenna Glatzer. (2012). The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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