Good Books and the Random Movie

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29 February 2016

Promising Hearts (Prairie Romance #2)

Promising Hearts by Radclyffe is the sequel to Innocent Hearts, a historical romance / western set in the Montana territory.

Dr. Vance Phelps is heading west after the end of the civil war. She is a surgeon - trained at the women's doctor college in Philadelphia - like her father and her brother. The war was not kind to her. During one of the last battles between North and South, Vance's trauma hospital was hit. Now she is adrift and needs a new start. She will not be the doctor she thought she would be - not with only one arm.

The town of New Hope, Montana Territory, is a place to start again. Her father knows the town doctor and called in a favor. And Vance thinks she might be better off away from the cities and the society rules she grew up around. She does not expect to find happiness, but a distance from the war would be welcome.

What Vance does not count on is the trio of women she is about to meet. Jessie, Kate and Mae will change Vance's life. When the local doctor assigns her to check on the women who work at the Nugget, he tells her to look for the prettiest woman west of the Mississippi. When she see Mae, her heart skips a beat.

Radclyffe has written a wonderful historical novel featuring women who love women and how they might have lived during the late 1800s. Her characters are strong, independent and brave to make lives of their own during the time period.

Radclyffe. (2006). Promising Hearts. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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27 February 2016

The Guilty (Will Robie #4)

The Guilty by David Baldacci is the fourth book in his Will Robie series about a CIA assassin.

Will Robie is one of the best snipers the CIA has in its secret black book. He has been on numerous assignments and has pulled them off professionally. But on his latest mission something goes wrong and an innocent is killed along with his target.

When Robie gets word that his father is on trial for murder, his first response is to try to re-bury the past. But after a fail attempt at work, he decides to head to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the town of Cantrell - a town he left 22 years ago with no intention of ever returning.

After some information hunting - like pulling teeth to get the locals to talk to someone who left - he puts together that his dad is accused of killing a man who was acquitted of murder himself. Robie will get to the bottom of what happened, but unlike his day job, the target is undefined.

Baldacci is a great writer of suspense and mystery novels. Will Robie is a great character who can take care of himself even within the twists and turns of this plot. Great series for fans of good books!

Baldacci, David. (2015). The Guilty. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

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23 February 2016

Black Blade Blues (Sarah Beauhall #1)

Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts is the first book in the Sarah Beauhall trilogy. Sarah is a smith who lives in Seattle. During the day she works the forge and at night she works for a low budget movie as prop manager.

Sarah has loaned her favorite sword to the movie - a black blade she got at an auction. When the annoying main actor swings the sword and does not pull up, but hits the edge of the stage, it shatters.

As a smith, Sarah will be able to fix the sword, but it will not be easy. And she wants to do it right. One of the movie extras (who claims to be a dwarf) wants to watch. He says the sword is old and was not properly repaired or it would not have broken.

When Sarah fixes the sword things begin to happen. With the power of the sword restored, dragons can feel its power. A world Sarah never knew existed is taking notice of her.

Some of her friends in her medieval re-enactment group, including her girlfriend Katie, believe that the stories told as mythology are true. They are ready to help Sarah in the coming battle.

Pitts has created a fascinating world within our own. Sarah is a great, but flawed, character who is trying to overcome a childhood of brainwashing and learn to be happy in her life and with her girlfriend. This is a great book for fangirls everywhere.

Pitts, J.A. (2010). Black Blade Blues. New York: Tor Books.

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20 February 2016

Borderline (Nevada Barr #15)

Borderline by Nevada Barr is the fifteenth book in her Anna Pigeon mystery / suspense / adventure series which follows a National Parks ranger on her assignments in some of the most beautiful places in the United States.

After a harrowing experience, Anna is taking a little time off to recover. She and her new husband, Paul, are going on a rafting trip on the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. It will be a few days on the river with strangers where Anna will not be in any type of leadership role.

Joining four college students and a river guide, Anna is getting used to people again. She is working through PTSD after an attack and is finding it refreshing to be around young people.

Due to some rain upriver, the water levels rise and the rapid around a previous rock slide become more intense - leading to the raft wrapping around a rock and dumping everyone out.

Once on the shore, looking for their gear and each other, one of the college student screams. The body of a woman is tangled in some branches. She appears to be dead. Forming a human chain, Anna reaches her and tries to free her, only to discover that the woman is alive and very pregnant.

Barr's books about Anna Pigeon make up one of my favorite series. Each setting plays a role in the story. The recurring characters - Anna and now Paul - are great people I would love to befriend. If you like mystery, suspense or the great outdoors read these books!

Barr, Nevada. (2009). Borderline. New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons.

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16 February 2016

Innocent Hearts (Prairie Romance #1)

Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe is an historical romance that takes place in New Hope, Montana Territory in 1860.

Kate Beecher's parents are moving from Boston to the Montana Territory. Her father is a newspaper man and has been invited by a friend to join him to grow the newspaper office. Since Kate is eighteen, her parents give her the choice of joining them or staying in Boston. Kate joins them. She sees the move as an adventure. Plus, she is not interested in any of the young men who have been coming by since her debut.

After a difficult couple of months, the Beechers arrive in New Hope - a town nestled in a valley in Montana just before the Continental Divide. Kate is charmed by the town and feels that the relaxed social rules of dress and gender roles to be an improvement over stuffy Boston.

Jessie Forbes is a local rancher. She was going to be sent back East for schooling when her father died. She took over the ranch and continues to produce some of the best horses West of the Mississippi. Everyone in the town of New Hope is used to seeing Jessie in her men's clothing and thinks nothing of it. But for Kate, the first man who peaks her interest -a dusty cowboy bringing a herd of horses to town for the round up - turns out to be Jessie.

Radclyffe has written a beautiful story of love and discovery. Neither of the women have ever considered that they could be attracted to another woman - only that they had never been very attracted to any man they met. Innocent Hearts is a wonderful western / historical romance novel.

Radclyffe. (2002). Innocent Hearts. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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14 February 2016

The Renegade

The Renegade by Amy Dunne is a post-plague dystopian novel.

The Red Death has been killing millions of people. Alex is the last in her family who is not sick. Before he became ill, her father trained her in how to survive - including getting her the best equipment and teaching her how to shoot.

No Alex is on the move, trying to avoid people like her father recommended. But when going through a city she hears voices and gets caught. After getting out of a dangerous situation, she has gained a dog. She didn't realize how lonely she was until she met Paddy.

When an infection knocks her out, she come is nursed back to health by Murphy. She is, at first, afraid that he will be like the men in the city but Murphy is a good guy. Once settled, they travel well together.

Other survivors are living at an abandoned Army camp. It has been named Rapture's Haven and is run by a cult leader, Elijah, who has set back the women's rights movement to the stone age. Once people are found and taken to camp they remain there. Evelyn Bennett is the camp's doctor. As such, you would think she had some say because of her expertise, but that is not the case.

When Alex is brought to camp, she and Evelyn are drawn to each other. But in a camp where the doctrine is procreation, it is a dangerous attraction.

Dunne has written a novel with the feel of McCarthy's The Road, but from the point of view of a single, queer woman traveling alone.

Dunne, Amy. (2015). The Renegade. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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10 February 2016

Winter Study (Anna Pigeon #14)

Winter Study by Nevada Barr is the fourteenth book in her Anna Pigeon series, a ranger in the US National Parks. Each mystery takes place in a different park.

On loan from her current posting, Anna Pigeon is going back to Isle Royale National Park located on an island in Lake Superior between Minnesota and Ontario. Isle Royale is closed to the public for the winter when a fifty-year plus study is being conducted on wolves and moose on the island. Anna is going to learn more about wolves, as a pack has been reintroduced to her park, Rocky Mountain NP.

With the new government focus on terrorism, a representative from Homeland Security is also joining the team - to evaluate whether the remote park could be used by people trying to sneak across the border. Depending on his report, the wolf study could end and the park opened up to winter visitors.

Anna arrives to a winter wonderland on an island you can only be flown into - when weather permits. The scientists there can be trapped for weeks without a supply run if the cloud cover does not cooperate. Due to the Homeland Security man and his research assistant, the team has a strange dynamic.

A few days later, the research assistant goes missing. Alone on the island with no electricity in a frozen land, the team must find her. And when they do, Anna's background in investigation will compel her to find out what happened.

Barr's series featuring Anna Pigeon is wonderful for both mystery fans and those who love the outdoors. The setting always plays a part in the story. Anna Pigeon is someone you would want on your side in the great outdoors.

Barr, Nevada. (2008). Winter Study. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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08 February 2016

Salvage (Salvage #1)

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan is a science fiction book about a young woman in a male dominated society.

Ava was born on the ship Parastrata. Most people from the ship never leave the ship - unless they are a high rank or part of a boarding party - and few ever visit Earth. The Parastrata culture is one of men. The women are there to work and have babies.

Ava has always been interested in figures and how things work, but women do not work as fixies. They are not even taught to read. And as the captain's eldest daughter, she is to be married to someone from another ship.

When they travel to the Aether ship for her marriage - Ava is sure she is to be wed to Luck, a boy she met when he and his sister visited her ship years ago. But the night before the official announcement, Ava breaks a rule. A rule so rigid that she will likely be sent to the Void.

With the help of an ally, Ava escapes to Earth. She knows she has an aunt in Mumbai - but she doesn't know where that is, or even how to read. She will have many obstacles to overcome to make a life for herself planetside.

Duncan has written a book of one young woman overcoming great odds. Ava is a formidable character placed in a world that is against her in this interesting science fiction story.

Duncan, Alexandra. (2014). Salvage. New York: Greenwillow Books.

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03 February 2016

Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable Doubt by Carson Taite follows an investigation into a potential person of interest after a terrorist attack.

Ellery Durant is a former criminal defense attorney. She left the law a few months ago and now spends her time making furniture. She does not miss the life she had. And her furniture is starting to be noticed in the Dallas art/design scene.

Sarah Flores is changing departments in the FBI. She has had enough of the Behavioral Analysis Unit and the serial killers she helped catch. She is moving to Dallas to work in the fraud department. She will not only have a less gruesome job, but she will have time for a social life.

A few days after meeting by chance in the courthouse, Ellery and Sarah are both at a fund raiser when a bomb goes off in the sports stadium near by. While most people run away from the chaos, both Sarah and Ellery run to see if they can help. It is a sight that reminds Sarah why she changed positions and one that leaves Ellery haunted with nightmares.

After a few frustrating days where most agents in the FBI are looking for suspects in the bombing, someone finds a paper trail that points to a potential lead. Search warrants are issued - one of them to search the former law office of a Ellery Durant. While Sarah is sure there must be a mistake, she finds her job once again interfering with a potential social life.

Taite has written an FBI / legal romance with two great characters. I will be reading all of her other books.

Taite, Carson. (2015). Reasonable Doubt. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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02 February 2016


Improvisation by Karis Walsh is the story of two women who are not ready to fall in love.

Tina has agreed to move to Spokane, Washington for a couple of months to help her cousin create a website for his garden store. She doesn't get along with her family and has not seen any of them in years, but she feels obligated to help out.

Jan has settled in Spokane after a lifetime of moving around. She teaches geometry in a high school and loves her job. She would love to find a partner, but now is not the right time. Her father was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

A mutual friend makes Tina and Jan promise to get together. Jan thinks Tina is a player who is shallow and unreliable. Tina thinks Jan is looking to trap a woman into settling down. So when they get together, they both bring a friend as a buffer.

Walsh has written a flirtatious romance between two women who think they have nothing in common. Her books are good, fast reads with steamy parts.

Walsh, Karis. (2013). Improvisation. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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01 February 2016


Wholehearted by Ronica Black is a story of healing.

Madison Clark owns H&S Ranch in Arizona. She set up the ranch for two purposes: to rescue horses who have been abused or abandoned, and to help troubled teen boys heal through helping to care for the injured horses. Over the years she had has success with both groups.

Grace Hollings is a lawyer. Her whole focus was on her career until six months ago. Her sister lost custody of her son, Jake, and Grace has temporary custody. Her sister has had drug problems off an on for years, but at the end it seems like Jake was raising himself - until child protective services stepped in.

Now Jake is in trouble. He has been skipping school and stealing. When he is assigned to work on a ranch instead of going to juvie, Grace is revealed. Until she realizes she has to drive him into the middle of nowhere every morning by 6:45 and pick him up at 4:00. But she loves Jake and will do what she can to help him.

From before they meet in person, Grace and Madison don't like each other. They each find the other rude and inflexible. But there is something (other than Jake) that keep pulling them together.

Black has written a great romance novel around the theme of healing. Both of her main characters are self-sufficient, strong women who feel real.

Black, Ronica. (2012). Wholehearted. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books.

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