Posts Tagged ‘Kidnapping’

Best New Books of 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 10, 2014

This is my favorite blog post of the year; a chance to review my favorite new books of 2014. It is hard to narrow it to only five, but here are my selections. I love both fiction and nonfiction, especially those with lots of thrills and edge of your seat action! You never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

Destroyer AngelDestroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger. We think hats, nature lovers, and a big smile right? Not this park ranger. She is fierce and not someone you want to make mad. Anna and her friend Heath, a paraplegic, and Heath’s teenage daughter set out on a canoe trip with Leah and her teenage daughter. Leah designs outdoor equipment and she has a new design to make the outdoors more accessible to the disabled. This is supposed to be a trial run and a nice little vacation. Some bad guys decide to abduct Anna’s friends. Not a good idea. If you have read other Anna Pigeon books you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t, hold on and prepare for a wild ride.

HackerHacker by Ted Dekker
Nyah Parks is a hacker and she is in big trouble. Some bad people want her dead. Not a bad start to the newest Ted Dekker novel. He is known for his suspenseful, sometimes scary inspirational fiction. This tale starts off with a bang and hurtles forward from there. Computer technology, political cover-ups, murder, and a child’s desperate love for her mother cause Nyah to take steps that stretch our level of belief. We have heard that our brains are like a biological computer. Hacking computers is one thing, but how far would you go to save the people you love?

Denali's HowlDenali’s Howl by Andy Hall
Andy Hall more than remembers the events that occurred in Alaska in 1967; he was there. He was a child, the son of the park superintendent at Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Twelve young men set out to climb the mountain, only 5 returned. This is an amazing story of survival, man vs. nature, and mountaineering. We learn not only what happened on the mountain, but also the struggle of those who tried to save them. Hall is now a journalist and he spent years tracking down the true story of this tragedy. Through survivor accounts, radio transmissions, and buried documents he has produced a gut-wrenching, white-knuckled read you cannot put down.

UndetectedUndetected by Dee Henderson
I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s books long ago and her newest series does not disappoint. Naval warfare, romance, and family are intricately entwined as we are pulled into the life of Gina Gray, an ocean researcher. Gina is a genius and her discoveries shatter what we thought we knew of ocean science. Now she finds herself fleeing a broken relationship and seeking solace with her brother, a submariner. There she meets Mark Bishop, a friend of her brother and a nuclear submarine commander. He also happens to be a widower and newly open to the idea of love again. Now she is wrestling with whether she should continue to develop her new ideas, and will her knowledge save those she loves or destroy them?

Artemis AwakeningArtemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Welcome to the pleasure planet Artemis. At least it used to be. This former playground for the wealthy has been lost for centuries. Long after the war that shattered the galaxies, archaeologist Griffin Dane sets out to rediscover its mysteries. And he does, but not quite in the way he had planned. Now he is trapped on a primitive planet with no way to escape. All living things on this planet were bioengineered to better serve their wealthy guests. Rescued by a huntress, Adara, and her psych-linked puma, Sand Shadow, Griffin must solve the mystery of Artemis if he has any hope of surviving. This is a wonderful new book by the author who brought us the Firekeeper series. She is a master of writing stories involving humans bonded with animals. Technology, lost civilizations, and a pretty despicable bad guy all make for some amazing science fiction.

Best New Books of 2014: Sarah K’s Picks

December 5, 2014

Identity and struggle are the themes of five of my favorite books from 2014. How does adversity shape who we are? How much do we control our identities and how much are we shaped by external forces? I invite you to check out these following titles

An Untamed StateAn Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Kidnapped by an armed street gang in Haiti, Mireille trusts her wealthy father to pay ransom to return her to her fairy tale existence with her husband and baby. When Mireille’s father refuses to capitulate to her captors, she must find the strength to endure days of torment while trying to maintain a connection to the woman she was. Gay’s frank treatment of rape and its aftermath with clean understated writing adds to the intensity of this book.

On the RunOn the Run by Alice Goffman
As an undergraduate, Alice Goffman moved into a neighborhood in Philadelphia and began taking field notes as she fully immersed herself in the lives of the families living there. The War on Drugs had created a culture of constant police surveillance of the lives of the residents there, especially among the young men, many of whom were in some sort of entanglement with the legal system. Goffman witnessed arrests, escapes from the police and how police use employment and familial relationships as leverage against suspects. Goffman has written an insightful and sobering critique of the policing of poor neighborhoods and the human toll that it takes on the individuals living there.

The Empathy ExamsThe Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
From the confinement of illness to the traps of poverty and prison, Leslie Jamison’s clear-eyed and far-ranging essays explore the intersection between empathy and pain. If you only have time for one essay, read “Fog Count,” which begins with a prison visit, but then expands to include the larger picture of the prison-industrial complex, strip mining and the economy of West Virginia.  Her curiosity about the human condition brings into sharp focus the capacity and limitations of compassion. She deftly weaves personal experience with the universal to create a collection that rivals early Joan Didion.

The Other LanguageThe Other Language by Francesca Marciano
A woman writes about the ideal Italy while homesick in New York. Another seeks out an old companion on an isolated island in the Indian Ocean; while a third buys a Chanel gown on a frivolous whim. In this collection of nine stories, Marciano travels across countries and cultures with a knack for capturing settings and tone. She vividly captures the lives of her characters at moments of transformation with lovely and fluid storytelling that keeps the pages turning.

How to Build a GirlHow to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
Eager to escape her lackluster existence as a working-class teenager in the Midlands of England, and her unfortunate Scooby-Doo impersonation on local television, Johanna Morrigan decides to reinvent herself as Dolly Wilde, music journalist. After gaining the attention of a London-based music magazine, Johanna/Dolly embarks on a series of professional and sexual misadventures as she tries to figure out how to build her new life. If you were a teenager in the early 1990s, or enjoy bold raucous humor, chances are you will love this book as much as I did.

Best New Books of 2014: Stephen B’s Picks

December 4, 2014

I’ve truly enjoyed my second career as a part-time librarian in the Wake County system. I’m in my 14th year, and that says a lot. My favorite genre is good solid mysteries, but this year a few interesting nonfiction books slipped in.

The Gods of GuiltThe Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly has created some memorable characters – Homicide Detective Harry Bosch, and his half-brother, attorney Mickey Haller. We first met Mickey in The Lincoln Lawyer, where the reader learned his penchant for operating out of the back of his car…a Lincoln. In Gods of Guilt, Mickey gets a text “Call me ASAP – 187.” 187 is the state code for a murder, and murders are Mickey’s bread and butter. Andre LaCosse is accused of murder and contacts Mickey on Giselle Hallinger’s recommendation. There are two problems with this recommendation: first, Mickey knew Giselle by another name; and second, Giselle is the murder victim. With a pace and a plot that are pure Connelly, this book is ready to be made into a movie. Enjoy!  See my full review.

SuspicionSuspicion by Joseph Finder
Danny Goodman becomes a single father when his ex-wife dies and daughter Abby comes to live with him. He’s please when she soon makes a new friend, Jenna Galvin, but surprised when Jenna’s father, Danny, offers him money, supposedly with no strings attached. Danny is financially strapped because his latest book deal is on the verge of collapse. He accepts the money, but eventually learns he was right to be suspicious – the “strings” attached to the money lead right to a Mexican drug cartel! Now Danny finds himself pressure by the DEA to bring down some big time, dangerous operators. Finder doesn’t disappoint with this fast-paced read!  See my full review.

Operation PaperclipOperation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen
Near the end of WWII, the Nazis realized they were losing the war and set out to destroy all evidence of their crimes. Meanwhile, both the United States and Russia were attempting to capture as many of the leading German scientists as possible, with the goal of controlling scientific knowledge, and through that, the world. Much of the documentation about this true story has only been released from the archives in the last few years. You won’t believe what the United States was prepared to do to capture scientists and secure the knowledge they carried!  See my full review.

The CloserThe Closer by Mariano Rivera
This is the story of a tall, skinny kid from Panama, who thought he would end up working in his family’s fishing business, specializing in sardines. That all changed when, in his teenaged years, a baseball scout discovered “hey, this kid can throw a baseball pretty good!” and the rest is history. You will never read about a more humble person, and his 19-season career with the Yankees will surely put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he becomes eligible. I’ve been a Yankees fan for 70 years, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an excellent book and a fascinating story!  See my full review.

The DollThe Doll by Taylor Stevens
Vanessa Michael Munroe is a special person, a survivor who has taught herself all the skills necessary to survive. Working for an agency in Texas, she is sent out all over the world to gather information, rescue people and when necessary, kill someone. On a busy Dallas street, Munroe is kidnapped and thrust into an underground world where women and girls are just merchandise. She must both escape and bring to justice the mastermind of the operation, a mysterious villain known as “The Doll Maker.” This is the third book by Stevens describing the adventures of Munroe. Each of them can stand alone, but it wouldn’t hurt to start at the beginning of the series with The Informationist. Side note: Be sure to read the jacket notes; Taylor Stevens’ interesting background surely gave her an advantage when creating the fascinating character of Munroe.

Best New Books of 2013: Cheryl T’s Picks

December 4, 2013

Although I read all sorts of books, from adult historical and literary fiction to narrative nonfiction and books on nutrition, I am the children’s and teens’ selector, so I keep up with those books, too! This short list contains titles from some of the best YA writers out there, including atmospheric mysteries, mind-bending science fiction, surprising fantasy, and contemporary coming-of-age novels. These are some of my favorite new titles of 2013. Enjoy!

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
When eighteen-year-old Judith returns to her Puritan village two years after she disappeared, even her mother considers her a ruined young woman. After hearing Judith struggle unsuccessfully to tell her tale with the half a tongue that her captor left to her, her mother is so repulsed that she forbids her to ever speak again. Judith knows that the boy she has loved since they were both children is lost to her forever, even though she can never tell him why. Her captor was his father. Thus begins a terrifying and desperate story of guilt and innocence, love and hatred, and above all, sad misunderstandings. See my full post here.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Josie Moraine is the daughter of a brothel prostitute in 1950s New Orleans. She’s smart, pretty, resourceful, and yearning to escape her seedy life in the Old Quarter. Her mother has taken up with a dangerous man who repeatedly threatens Josie’s life. Josie longs to join society-girl Charlotte at Smith College, but it seems like just a dream. Life gets even more complicated when she finds a deceased wealthy man’s watch under her mother’s bed, which entangles Josie in a murder investigation. The anguish in the novel is excruciating at times, as Josie lands in one terrifying situation after another, and the author does not sweeten them up for a minute. A richly portrayed novel of ambition, betrayal, and honor.

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Seth drowns in the very preface of the novel, but he does not move toward a gentle light, nor is this book one big flashback. The reader works to discover the truth along with Seth in this sci-fi thriller, and events unfold ever more quickly, running toward a breathless conclusion. Along the way, Seth grapples with the nature of reality, wondering if his present circumstances justify the feeling he has always had, that there must be more than this. If this is the “more,” is it what he expected? Or perhaps the “more” was always in front of him before, but he didn’t see it.

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives with his dad in the town of Never Better, but things could be much better for them. His grandfather bequeathed Jeremy the bookstore where they live, but his father took out a huge loan on the store, and of course, he can’t pay it back. Along comes the fetching Ginger Boltinghouse, who convinces Jeremy to participate in a harmless prank that goes terribly wrong. The ghost of Jacob Grimm, one of the famous brothers who wrote those dark fairy tales, is trying to protect Jeremy from the Finder of Occasions, a person who will use any event to visit evil upon his unsuspecting victims. The shocking twist proves that this is a Grimm tale, after all.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Bonded together more than ever after their mother leaves, twins Cather and Wren spend their time taking care of their sweet but unstable father and writing fanfiction about the incredibly popular Simon Snow series. When they go to college, Cather imagines that life will continue as usual, fitting in her schoolwork around her fanfiction writing, but Wren becomes a party girl overnight. Cather is dealing with a hostile roommate with a nosy boyfriend, a writing partner who steals her material, and a professor who informs Cather that fanfiction is not original writing. While Cath dithers about raising her failing grade in her most important class and Wren continues to implode, Cath’s romantic life becomes very complicated and their father chooses that moment to have a breakdown. A complex and delightful coming-of-age novel in which every character needs to come of age: the main characters, the roommates, the boyfriends, and even the parents.

Good as Gone by Douglas Corleone

November 8, 2013

goodasgoneLooking for an edge-of-your-seat thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go? Read Good as Gone. Simon, a former United States Marshall, is abducted by the French National Police who desperately need his help. They are looking for Lindsay, a 6 year old American girl snatched from her hotel room. Simon normally rescues kidnapped children, but only from non-custodial parents who abduct their kids. This kidnapping is something else entirely and Simon’s not sure it’s his kind of case. Reluctantly, he agrees to investigate, if only to ease the minds of the frantic parents. Simon understands what these parents are going through: his own child was kidnapped by persons unknown, and that single event destroyed his family. Simon’s daughter Haley would be sixteen by now, and he has not lost hope that he might find her, although as a former law enforcement officer, he knows the odds are not in his favor. He tries not to let Haley’s fate color his present-day investigations, but this case in particular stirs up old memories.

In his quest to find Lindsay, Simon journeys through Eastern Europe, including the darkest realms of pornography and prostitution. But Lindsay isn’t where the majority of runaways end up. This is looking to be a different type of kidnapping. Where is she? For what purpose was she kidnapped?

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All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

October 23, 2013

When eighteen-year-old Judith returns to her Puritan village two years after she disappeared, even her mother considers her a ruined young woman. After hearing Judith struggle unsuccessfully to tell her tale with the half a tongue that her captor left to her, her mother is so repulsed that she forbids her to try to talk. Judith knows that Lucas— the boy she has loved since they were both children— is lost to her forever, even though she can never tell him why. Her captor was his father.

One day, three ships show up in the harbor, and the village is under attack from the “Homelanders.” They have almost no ammunition, but every able-bodied man and boy prepares to defend the women and children who are sent to hide in the woods for at least temporary safety. Judith watches Lucas and her younger brother, Darrel, gather weapons, and when she sees the crates of gunpowder, she has a sudden memory of such boxes in the cabin where she was kept as a prisoner for so long. It becomes clear to her that Lucas’ father—who has been presumed dead for years— is the person responsible for stealing the town’s arsenal. Since she has no way to communicate her knowledge to others, she realizes with dread that she will have to risk her freedom and return to him to beg him to save the village, at least for the sake of his son.

Thus begins a terrifying and anguishing story of guilt and innocence, love and hatred, and above all, sad misunderstandings. Told in second person, Judith relates this tale directly to Lucas in her mind, hoping desperately that he will see beyond the conclusions that the town aldermen draw about her. Each time events seem to lead to a just conclusion, something else happens to bring the innocent into danger again.

One doesn’t usually think of a Puritan village as the setting of a thriller, but Julie Berry crafts this story brilliantly, slowly peeling back the truth and showing us that we, too, have made assumptions about Judith, her captor, and several other characters that turn out to be false. I came to care so deeply for Judith that at times I held my breath to see what would happen to her.
Highly recommended for both teens and adults. You won’t be able to put it down. This review was originally posted on the blog

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The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

November 30, 2011

I remember thinking when this book came out a few years ago that it looked interesting and that I’d like to read it one day. It never managed to make it’s way to the top of my “to read” list, but luckily our Sci-Fi & Fantasy book club wanted to read it and I’m very glad we did. I read it in about two sittings on a recent trip to visit my family up in Massachusetts – the first half while flying up, and the second half while flying back. It’s quite different from many Fantasy novels in that there are no wizards, no heroes with legendary swords, no dragons, elves or quests. It also doesn’t take place in some far off world like Middle Earth or Narnia. Rather, the novel takes place in the middle of the Twentieth century in suburban America and explores the changeling myth.

With roots in cultures all across the world, the changeling myth is the belief that hob-goblins, faeries, sprites, etc. would steal a healthy baby or young child, and leave a damaged, deformed or changed version in its place. The myth came about to explain many infant and young childhood diseases and traumas. The parents would then feel justified in leaving their “changed” child (who they convinced themselves was really a goblin or faerie) in the woods for the fae to re-claim. Another reason this was done is that families would have too many mouths too feed and it was easiest to get rid of the youngest child before bonding happened. Just take a look at the original story of Hansel & Gretel.

In this novel, six year old Henry Day doesn’t want to watch his twin baby sisters while his mom takes a bath, so he runs into the woods and is then “changed” for a faerie-child who looks and sounds just like the real Henry. The faeries have studied Henry and his family so that the new Henry will be able to fool his parents and take over his life. Meanwhile, the orginal Henry is re-named Aniday by his new family of other faerie-children who live together in the woods. A ritual is performed so that Aniday starts to forget his past and gains the magical abilities of these woods-dwelling children, such as swiftness in travel, the ability to see and hear a long distance, and to change one’s features.  He has a tough time adjusting to his new society and no one will speak of the one who took his place or his former family.

Meanwhile, the new Henry Day is an almost exact copy of the original except that he is better behaved, more attentive to his mother and baby sisters, and is a musical prodigy on the piano. Henry also struggles to fit into his new life and keeps having brief flashbacks of another life with a German family and taking piano lessons.  As he grows up – something he has to physically will himself to do, since he’s been a child for the last hundred years or so – he realizes how different life is for a twentieth century boy. Henry’s father has been increasingly distant, and even suspicious, ever since the change – and the two grow further apart. The chapters alternate between Henry and Aniday through the years until the finally come together to share the same events at the end of a captivating and thoughtful story. I should note that about half of our book club members did not care for the book, while the rest of us did enjoy it – but those situations often make for great discussions.

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Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder

September 23, 2011

Joseph Finder has done it again in creating a fast-paced book that won’t let you put it down until you know the outcome. Ex-government agent Nick Heller has returned to Boston and a private investigating practice when his good friend, Marshall Marcus calls him. Nick will never turn down a request from a friend in need and Marcus is seriously in need. His daughter Alexa, once the victim of an unsuccessful kidnapping, has disappeared. Nick answers the call knowing he may have to call on an old FBI flame, Diana Madigan. No one has heard from Alexa or her kidnappers and Taylor Armstrong , the friend she was with when she disappeared, claims to know nothing. Something doesn’t add up and Nick strongly suspects that Taylor, the wayward daughter of a US Senator, knows more than she is saying. Nick, who is trying to find out what the kidnappers want, also thinks that Marcus isn’t telling him everything that could assist him in tracking Alexa.

I guarantee you that Finder is improving with each successful novel. I highly recommend Buried  Secrets by Joseph Finder!

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

July 14, 2011

Are you a fan of teen fantasy, but find yourself a little fatigued by all the Twilightesque paranormal romances that have been filling the YA shelves?  I understand. I’ve been there. It’ll pass. The best cure is to pick up some Sarah Dessen or E. Lockhart and immerse yourself in contemporary chick lit. Then when you feel ready to enter the world of demons and vampires again, pick up Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel.

Set at some point during Queen Victoria’s reign, Clockwork Angel is the prequel story to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, etc.). You don’t need to read Mortal Instruments to understand and enjoy Clockwork Angel, but you will want to pick the series up after you’ve finished. The story begins with our heroine, Tessa Gray, journeying from New York to London to meet her brother. Upon arrival, she is kidnapped and held hostage by the Dark Sisters. The Dark Sisters know something that Tessa doesn’t – she’s a Downworlder and has the power to transform into other human beings at will. The Dark Sisters torture Tessa until she is able to perform the magic herself, then prepare to marry her off to their boss, the evil Magister.

Luckily for Tessa, she is rescued by the Shadowhunters, a group of warriors fated to fight the darkness and keep the demons in check. Tessa is taken to the Shadowhunter headquarters and introduced to the world of demons, werewolves, vampires, and warlocks that she never knew existed. She finds herself befriending the super-hot Will, a dark and brooding Shadowhunter, and his partner-in-crime-fighting, Jem, who’s less dark and brooding, but still really hot.

Tessa enlists the Shadowhunters to help find her missing brother and the book becomes one action-packed scene after another as Tessa becomes entangled in the Shadowhunter lifestyle and they discover a plot to bring the Shadowhunters to an end.

Describing the plot of paranormal books always sounds a bit ridiculous. Vampire hunters? Really? But you’ll have to take my word for it that this is a rollicking good read, full of action, hilarity, a little bit of melodrama, and a lot of spine-tingling romance. Just try it.

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Ratking by Michael Dibdin

July 13, 2011

Book lovers often roll their eyes when they hear a favorite title is soon to be transferred to the screen, whether big (movie) or small (television), and I admit to occasionally being such an eye-roller.  But the mysteries produced by the BBC and shown in the United States on PBS as part of Masterpiece Theatre have always been an exception for me.  Whether it’s Morse or Poirot, Miss Marple or Wallander, I have always been a sucker for these series.

So imagine my delight when I heard Alan Cumming announce a new production based on one of my all time favorite mystery series.  But I still recommend reading the books first and fortunately there’s time to do so before Rufus Sewell makes his debut as Zen this summer (starting this Sunday, July 17).

It’s best to read this series in order, and the first title is Ratking (winner of the 1988 Gold Dagger Award).  As the story opens, Commissario Aurelio Zen is surprised to find himself assigned to a kidnapping case in Perugia.  Zen has spent the last four years idling behind a desk in Rome, ever since he fell into disfavor with his superiors.  So why the sudden change of heart?  Could it be that a scapegoat is needed?

When the case unfortunately changes from one of kidnapping to homicide, Zen knows it is going to take all his skills, both as a detective and as a politician, to solve it.  Tightly plotted, with a streak of cynicism and evocative atmosphere, Ratking is a great introduction to a great series.

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