Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 May 2016

Boar Island (Anna Pigeon #19)

Boar Island by Nevada Barr is the nineteenth book in her Nevada Barr series about a national park ranger. Each book takes place in a different US nation park, this one in Acadia.

Anna has a small family. Biologically, it is just her and her sister Molly, who is a therapist in New York. Anna recently married Paul, a sheriff and pastor in Mississippi. And she has a few friends close enough to consider them family - Heath and her adopted daughter Elizabeth, Anna's goddaughter, and Heath's aunt Gwen. So when Heath calls in a panic about Elizabeth, Anna races over to help.

Elizabeth is the victim of cyber-bullying. Online and on her phone she is receiving photos and messages that are filled with lies and threats. When Heath finds out, she calls in reinforcements - Anna and Gwen. Together they decide to get away for the summer and let things cool off. The police are not very helpful - some issues over the jurisdiction in cyberspace.

Anna is being sent to Acadia National Park, Maine to cover for the district ranger. And Gwen has an old friend who owns an island in the area - really just a big rock with a lighthouse.

But the online stalker follows them. The threats get more violent and it sounds like he/she is in Bar Harbor. Who would follow a teenage girl almost three thousand miles to harass her?

Barr has been writing Anna Pigeon books for a while (since 1993) and the character has grown over the years. While she has changed a bit, she is still one of the best female characters solving mysteries. If you have any interest in the out of doors or the national parks, check one out.

Barr, Nevada. (2016). Boar Island. New York: Minotaur Books.

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25 May 2016

Japantown (Jim Brodie #1)

Japantown by Barry Lancet is the first book in his mystery series featuring Jim Brodie. Brodie grew up in Japan until the age of seventeen when his mother returned to California and his father stayed. He now lives in San Francisco where he runs an antiques business. He inherited half of his father's P.I. business - the main office is in Tokyo with a satellite in his antique shop in S.F.

When a family is murdered in the Japanese part of the city, SFPD Detective Renna calls Brodie in to consult. Brodie is an expert in the language and culture. At the scene, the kill has left a kanji, or Japanese character. Renna hopes that Brodie can read it. Unfortunately, Brodie has seen it before but could find no trace of it's origin or meaning.

As Brodie starts investigating, he gets the attention of a couple of people. A famous Japanese business man wants to hire him to do what the police have already hired him to do - but in exchange for a lot of money he wants the killer dead when found. And someone who was left behind to make sure the police investigation goes nowhere is wary of Brodie's involvement.

Lancet has created a great character in Jim Brodie. He has some Veronica Mars qualities, as he was trained by his father from an early age to be an investigator. His background and knowledge of two cultures makes his moves between the two seamless. I will be devouring the next two books right away and then impatiently awaiting the next.

Lancet, Barry. (2013). Japantown. New York: Simon and Schuester.

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18 May 2016

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is a beautiful story of a young woman becoming who she is meant to be.

Amanda is moving to a small time outside of Atlanta. She will be living with her father for the first time since her parent's divorce six years ago. She is ready to start a new school - one where no one knows her. Her plan is to keep her head down and finish and get into a good college in a big city.

Amanda makes friends on her first day of school. Grant asks her out for his friend Parker. Amanda thinks that he is tricking her - she is not used to good attention. She does not think she is pretty - but her new classmates seem to think so. At her last school, Amanda was passing as a boy - the body she was mistakenly born into. Most of the attention was focused on shoving her into lockers. But now, after hormone therapy, starting over, she is starting to feel like herself.

After missing the bus home - due to a rather unscheduled art period - Amanda is picked up on her walk home (6 miles in 113 degrees) by three new classmates. Layla, Anne and Chloe are a group. They want to get to know the new, pretty girl, and add her to their group.

Readers will follow Amanda through a school year and her decision about whether to tell people about her past - her new friends and her first boyfriend. Amanda is a great and sympathetic character - she was written to be appealing to a wide audience in that she fits in as a girl (no trouble passing) who has had access to medical therapy (very expensive and hard to get so early in development) and she is straight. These choices Russo made do not make Amanda a less realistic character. She has obviously worked hard to get where she is at the beginning of the story. This book is a great introduction to a trans character.

Russo, Meredith. (2016). If I Was Your Girl. New York: Flatiron Books.

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17 May 2016

The Regional Office is Under Attack!

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales is a story of female superheroes who regularly save the world from forces of darkness - until some of them decide to attack the very office that safeguards the world.

Sarah is the right hand of the person who runs the Regional Office - located a mile underground in midtown Manhattan. She was tracked by Mr. Niles until she was old enough to recruit. She doesn't know why Mr. Niles took her under his wing and seems to be grooming her to take over.

Mr. Niles started the Regional Office with Oyemi. She found the oracles who tell them what is going to happen. Henry picks up the recruits who help save the world. It is a strangely effective set up.

Rose was recruited by Henry - but not to work at the Regional Office. Rose was recruited to help attack the Office. Someone wants to bring the whole system down.

Told from the perspectives of Rose and Sarah, the attack on the Regional Office, is carried out with flashbacks to how each of the arrived there - plus interspersed papers from an academic study of the office. While there are superheroes and oracles, this book is a literary novel. It does not read like a Marvel comic. Gonzales beautifully writes about the characters in the style of someone like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Ann-Marie MacDonald. 

Gonzales, Manuel. (2016). The Regional Office is Under Attack! New York: Riverhead Books.

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09 May 2016

The Short Victorious War (Honor Harrington #3)

The Short Victorious War by David Weber is book three in his Honor Harrington series. Honor is a space captain from the Royal Manticore Navy.

After a long recovery from battle injuries, Honor is ready to go back to work. She is surprised at her orders - she is assigned captain of the newest battlecruiser of the Navy, the HMS Nike.Honor's new crew includes on of her oldest friends - Mike Henke - from the naval academy.

The Nike is being sent to Hancock Station - a repair and staging area in the middle of know-where, halfway to the farthest wormhole station controlled by Manitcore.

The Peoples Republic of Haven and Manticore have been in a cold war for more than half a Terran century. Haven has been taking over small planets and systems, growing a larger presence. But the cost of the increasing population has taken its toll on the economy. People are starting to become restless. That is why the leaders believe they need a short, decisive war with Manticore to refocus attention.

Captain Harrington will be position to see battle if Haven attacks. Hancock is a strategic base because it lies at the edge of Manticore space.

Weber has created a great series with Honor Harrington. She is a great character - what I hope humans evolve into once we spread through out space. If you are a fan of science fiction or great female characters, read this series.

Weber, David. (1994). The Short Victorious War. New York: Baen.

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03 May 2016

Merchant of Alyss (Legends of the Realm #2)

Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke is the second book in his Legends of the Realm fantasy series.

Hyam, the reluctant hero who fought the Red Mage, is slowly recovering from battle. He and his wife, Joelle, live outside of Fallmouth Port. The city has grown with those who are against the tyrant king and want to live under a reasonable ruler - the rightful ruler of the realm.

When a mage arrives with a cart full of ancient scrolls, Hyam is drawn toward their power. Though no one else can even see writing on the page, Hyam can see and read the forbidden language of the Milantian. Also included are two small scrolls in a language Hyam has never seen.

The Earl puts together a group to travel with Hyam and Joelle to find more scrolls and a way to translate the new language. But their quest will soon change focus as evidence of a new evil appears.

Locke's first Legends of the Realm book, Emissary, is one of the best fantasy books I have read. Merchant of Alyss is of equal interest and quality. This is a great series for fantasy fans - and an approachable series for those who are not yet fans of the genre.

Locke, Thomas. (2016). Merchant of Alyss. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

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