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29 November 2015

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant (Maggie Hope #5)

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant by Susan Elia MacNeal is the fifth book in her Maggie Hope series - about a spy during World War II.

Maggie is traveling to the United States as Prime Minster Churchill's secretary, though she has been promoted far beyond typing confidential memos. Mr. Churchill is on his way to meet President Roosevelt to insure the US military support of the Allies in Europe.

The day they arrive at the White House, one of Mrs. Roosevelt's staff members fails to come to work. By the end of the day with no call, Mrs. Roosevelt decides to check on the woman. Maggie Hope accompanies her to the apartment only to find the secretary dead of an apparent suicide.

While US involvement in WWII is assured by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt still needs support of the Congress. Racial tension over the death sentence of a black farmer is the main debate around D.C. and may affect how southern officials will vote - especially if the President interferes with the sentence like his wife would life him to. Civil rights lawyer Andi Martin is leading the protests and public debate about a man, Wendell Cotton, who was convicted not by a jury of his peers, but by white sharecroppers who paid a tax to be a part of the jury.

MacNeal captures the time period, December 1941, and seamlessly weaves a mystery into the politics of the time. Over two weeks beloved characters from the series add a new dimension to this wonderful historical series - the addition of the United States into the war. Fans of mystery, history, or just great writing will love this series - and the great protagonists whose stories guide it.

MacNeal, Susan Elia. (2015). Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante. New York: Bantam Books.

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24 November 2015

She's Not There

She's Not There by PJ Parrish (a pseudonym for sisters Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols) is a story about fleeing a past that will not let go.

Amelia wakes up in the hospital with no idea who she is or why she is in the hospital. She can remember the name Brody, but doesn't know if it is hers. Amelia has bruising that could be consistent with a car accident. A man in a pick up truck dropped her off in the emergency room and left.

Feelings come back before actual memories. She knows she is not safe where she is. When a man claiming to be her husband comes to her room, she pretends to be asleep. She fears him and/or a man with dark hair. It is all confused.

Amelia flees the hospital wearing a dress, hospital slippers and her diamond wedding ring. Her first need is clothing. Then she must come up with a plan to get far away.

Unsure of who to trust or where to go, Amelia leaves Florida to put distance between herself and whoever is following her. She is still not sure what really happened to her, but feels unsafe. She will keep moving while trying to regain her memory and find answers.

Parrish has written a fast-paced, suspenseful novel with a strong lead character. Even with amnesia, Amelia is a force with which to be reckoned. This is a great read!

Parrish, P.J. (2015). She's Not There. Seattle: Thomas & Mercer.

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23 November 2015

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)

Make Me by Lee Child is his twentieth book in the Jack Reacher series. An ex-Army military police detective, Reacher has been traveling aimlessly around the United States, stumbling across mysteries that he helps solve.

Reacher is on his way to Chicago, but is intrigued by a town called Mother's Rest, Oklahoma. Reacher wants to know if the name comes from a place on the wagon trail where someone stopped to give birth or where someone was laid to rest. He figures if he gets off the train and stays for one night he can see the historical marker or grave.

When Reacher leaves the train, a woman starts toward him as if she recognizes him. She, Michelle Chang, is a private investigator and ex-FBI who is looking for a colleague. Keever was on to something and called her for backup, but when she arrived she could not find him.

Reacher, always interested in a mystery, decides to stick around and help look for Keever. Unfortunately, the townspeople, who have something they would like to keep hidden, don't want anyone snooping around.

Reacher is a practically unstoppable character. He is smart, logical and has his own code of ethics. Child is a great mystery writer who comes up with a new mystery set in a new location for each books. This series is well written and creative - a great bet for mystery and suspense fans. (Speaking of fans - us fans are still waiting for a spin-off series about Frances Neagley!)

Child, Lee. (2015). Make Me. New York: Delacourte Press.

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18 November 2015

What We Left Behind

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley is a book about first love and finding oneself.

Toni and Gretchen fell in love the night they met - at a Homecoming dance. Toni walked into the dance a local celebrity after winning a lawsuit against the all girl's school allowing Toni to wear pants. Gretchen came to the dance with a family friend after moving to town the day before - it was her introduction to her new school.

Toni and Gretchen are a couple that everyone envies. They are completely in love, never fight and are going to college in the same city. Except they are not. Gretchen tells Toni the night before they leave that she will not be in Boston because she will be going to New York University.

They are both sure that, though they will be a few hours apart, their relationship is strong enough to make it. Toni starts Harvard, making new friends and joining one of the queer groups on campus. Meeting new friends, including some trans people, has given Toni the idea that maybe instead of being genderqueer, maybe Toni is actually trans.

Gretchen starts at NYU. She meets a couple of new friends and runs into someone she competed against in debate all around the country. She is sad about the distance between herself and Toni, but excited to be back in New York where she grew up.

Talley has written a story of first love, expanding horizons and self discovery. Her debut novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, established her a brilliant storyteller whose characters are people we would want in our own lives. Her portrayals, both race and queer issues, are thought-provoking and spot on. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. If you haven't yet read either of her books, start one now.

Talley, Robin. (2015). What We Left Behind. New York: Harlequin Teen.

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16 November 2015

This is Where it Ends

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is the story of a school shooting from four different student perspectives. The entire novel takes place over 54 minutes.

It is the first day back from Winter break at Opportunity High School in Opportunity, Alabama. As on the first day of each semester, there is an assembly during first period where the principal will give a speech. Of all students who came to school, only a few are not in the auditorium.

The track team is practicing. They have been in the championships for a few years and the coach will train them to death to win this year. Claire is running with her teammates. She and Chris just finish running when they hear two gun shots.

Tomas is in the principals office with Fareed. They are looking through student files to check on someone Tomas is worried about - a kid who dropped out but is rumored to be returning, a kid who scares Tomas's sister Sylv.

Sylv and Autumn are in the auditorium listening to the same speech they have heard every semester. When the speech ends they are talking and waiting for the room to clear, but people are not leaving. Someone has locked the doors, trapping almost every student and every teacher.

Told in two minute chapters, This is Where it Ends is both a thriller and a look at the life of four high school students through flashbacks. The story captures the horror of the shooting and characters within the try to figure out why the shooter is seeking revenge on his fellow students. Nijkamp offers no step by step process to explain the shooters reasoning, but looks at the ups and downs of the lives of a few students in the school - all of whom had a hard time but only one of whom decided to attack others. This is a great book on a subject that, unfortunately, is more and more common.

US release date for This is Where it Ends is January 5, 2016.

Nijcamp, Marieke. (2016). This is Where it Ends. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Fire.

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10 November 2015

The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)

The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the fourth book in their series featuring Fox and O'Hare - an FBI agent and one of the world's most successful thieves.

Kate O'Hare spent much of her career in the FBI chasing Nick Fox. But when she finally caught him, her boss made a secret deal. They now work together, slightly outside of the law, to get the bad guys who cannot be caught in the usual way. Fox is a mastermind at planning a con. O'Hare is ex-special forces and a great investigator.

After their previous success, Kate and Nick are being sent after a money launderer. Evan Trace owns a casino in Las Vegas and one in Macau. He is thought to lander money for everyone from the mob to terrorists. Nick and Kate are to come up with a plan to take him down.

Evanovich and Goldberg have created a fun series filled with both humor and brilliant scams. Fans of heist books will love this series.

Evanovich, Janet and Lee Goldberg. (2015). The Scam. New York: Bantam Books. 

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08 November 2015

Manners and Mutiny (Finishing School #4)

Manner and Mutiny by Gail Carriger is the fourth book in her Finishing School series - about a school that teaches girls espionage along with etiquette.

England is awash in the latest technology - mechanicals used as maids, butlers and more. They have all been recently updated with a special valve - a valve that Sophronia and her friends think will lead to something big. Months ago all of the mechanicals stopped working and started to sing the same song - surely a test.

Sophronia, Agatha and Dimity continue their education at a strange school that floats in a large dirigible in the moors of England. They seem to be having a hard time getting any adults to believe the severity of the problem.

In this conclusion to the series, Carriger continues her wonderful alternate history of England in the 1850s. Her characters are delightful - fans will be excited to see some of them in her other two series. If you are looking for a fun, light read, start one of her series today. Her world is brilliant!

Carriger, Gail. (2015). Manners and Mutiny. New York: Little, Brown and Co.

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02 November 2015

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Queen of Shadows by Sarah Mass is the forth book in her Throne of Glass series - about Calaena Sardothien who is the heir to the throne of a nation taken over by the king of Adarlan. She escaped the murder of her family and was raised by a thief lord who knew her true identity but never told her. 

Now Calaena knows she is really Aelin Galathynuis. She has promised to take down the evil king of Adarlan and free her citizens from his rule. But the evil that has been growing for years has other plans in place.

The Ironteeth witches have been training as a flying army, ready to attack on a duke's orders. While the witches are not used to taking orders from mere mortals, Manon and her elite team of 13 are an unstoppable force. But when the duke starts a program that puts some of her fellow witches in danger - and the lifetime of obedience wavers.

The different groups of people (and creatures) who have been building toward war come together in this volume of the Throne of Glass series. While some fantasy series have lulls in the middle or fade after a great start, these books keep getting better. If you are a fan of fantasy or kick ass female characters, read this series.

Maas, Sarah. (2015). Queen of Shadow. New York: Bloomsbury.

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