Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

October 6, 2014

Star Wars: A New DawnA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The legendary “Dark Times” in Star Wars span about twenty years between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. This is when the Empire rises, growing in power and taking over across the galaxy. A New Dawn takes place about six years before the events in the new Star Wars Rebels cartoon. This novel is also the first in the new, official Star Wars Expanded Universe – created in consultation with Lucasfilm.

In this story we’re introduced to a whole new cast of characters. Kanan Jarrus is a drifter, a loner who never stays in one place too long. He’s been hauling miners and explosives between the dark side of the planet Gorse and its moon, Cynda, when he gets sucked into larger events beyond his control. Hera Syndulla is a Twi’lek female and one of the earliest members of the secret, underground rebellion. She’s come to Gorse to observe the Empire’s takeover of the mining operations and to scout for potential recruits. Skelly is a Clone Wars veteran and munitions expert who believes that the moon Cynda is in great danger of being destroyed through unsafe mining practices. Unfortunately for him, he can’t seem to get anyone in power to listen to him and he comes off as if he’s got a few screws loose.

Count Vidian, Emperor Palpatine’s efficiency and business expert, has been dispatched to Cynda aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer to increase production of the mining facilities – by whatever means necessary. Count Vidian is a cyborg, part human and part machine, similar to other baddies like General Grievous and Darth Vader. The Count makes for a ruthless villain, treating everyone from the Captain and crew of the Star Destroyer ship to the mining industry representatives with contempt and violence. He cares only that the Emperor’s demands are met – and that he’s able to turn a tidy profit while doing so.

There’s plenty of action as the events unfold, and some great world-building too, since just about everything happens on either Gorse or Cynda. We learn quite a bit about the unusual relationship between Gorse and Cynda, as well as the hardy miners and rough civilization that has settled on a planet that has a permanent dark side. One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel is that the characters and setting were all new, while still very much a part of the larger Star Wars universe.

John Jackson Miller also wrote the great Sci-Fi Western story, Kenobi, which I reviewed last year.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Join us on Saturday, October 11 from 3-5 p.m. for Star Wars Reads Day when we’ll have fun crafts, trivia, books, and more in an event for all ages to celebrate all the reasons why we love Star Wars.

Deception Point by Dan Brown

March 27, 2014

Deception Point is a novel written by the famous author Dan Brown. His bestsellers The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons were made into movies. President Zach Herney is fighting for his life in an upcoming election against the slick and sly Senator Sedwick Sexton. Herney is a supporter of NASA, while Sexton is not. Sexton has been using the expensive, nonprofit agency as a convenient way to fight against Herney. Rachel Sexton is the senator’s daughter. She works for the National Reconnaissance Office, where she uses information into reports used by the White House. The fact that she works so closely with the president create a lot of tension between her and her father.

NASA is struggling to rebound from a series of embarrassing blunders that have jeopardized its political life. Then NASA makes an astounding discovery. There is a meteor embedded deep within the arctic ice. Inside the huge rock, which crashed to earth in 1716, are fossils of giant insects which is proof of extraterrestrial life. Now with NASA’s slipping reputation, the question arises: Is the meteor real or a fake? So Rachel is sent somewhere near the Arctic Circle where NASA is trying to recover this meteor. Trying to determine the truth are intelligence agent Rachel Sexton and popular oceanographer Michael Tolland. They both suspect something is amiss when the meteor is pulled from the ice. Their doubts quickly make them the targets of a mysterious death squad controlled by someone that doesn’t want the public to hear the meteor may be a fraud. Together, Sexton and Tolland scramble across arctic glaciers, taking refuge on ice floes. They are finally rescued by a nuclear submarine, but then find themselves trapped aboard a small research vessel. All the while, the nation’s capital is buzzing as to whether NASA has engaged in deception.

Deception Point is an excellent thriller. You will not want to put this book down till the end. It is a big yet believable story unfolding at a quick pace; it has just the right mix of likable and hateful characters. Brown has also done his research well, putting in sophisticated scientific and military details that make his plot far more fulfilling than the norm. If you are a fan of Dan Brown you will love this novel. It is totally different from his usual theme.

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The Ophelia Cut by John Lescroart

January 23, 2014

Dirty NYC cop Anthony Xavier Ricci is about to get a second lease on life, after being caught up in a Federal sting. If he cooperates with the Feds, he will not be charged with any crime and will be given a new persona, a new name and he will be placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program. And so Ricci becomes Tony Solaia and is born anew and relocated to San Francisco.

And thus begins John Lescroart‘s latest novel, ” The Ophelia Cut .” Meanwhile our main protagonist, attorney Dismas Hardy is facing a mid-life crisis. The kids are grown, the practice is shrinking and a six-year old secret may yet raise it’s ugly head. His brother-in-law Moses McGuire and his best friend, Detective Abe Glitsky are all nervous about this secret. Only six people know the secret and from time to time it threatens to come to the surface. But everything is soon going to become more complicated. Moses McGuire’s daughter, Brittany is brutally raped by Rick Jessup,a councilman’s chief of staff. McGuire roughs up Jessup and a couple of months later, Jessup ends up dead…..and McGuire is the prime suspect. Hardy will defend McGuire but his friendship with Glitsky will also be called into question and the 6-year old secret involving all of them may yet surface ! John Lescroart’s latest book starring all his leading characters may be his best yet.

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Greatest Hits: Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

January 6, 2014

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

We’ve kicked off the new year with The Book-A-Day Blog’s most popular posts of 2013!

“Princesses should be beautiful and smart and clever, but Princess Elisa feels like none of those things. Elisa would rather be off reading a book than among the court, unlike her older sister Alodia who enjoys the court scene.

As princesses of the kingdom of Orovalle both girls are destined to have certain obligations they must fulfill. Elisa, however, has a second obligation as the Chosen One; she has a gem embedded in her stomach called a Godstone. The bearer of a Godstone shows up once every 100 years to perform a great act of sacrifice for God.

As The Girl of Fire and Thorns opens up Elisa is turning sixteen as well as getting married to King Alejandro from the neighing kingdom Joya d’Arena. When she arrives at her new home she finds a court not much different from her own, but with more political intrigue. They are not sure what to make of this newcomer. When tragedy strikes, can Elisa summon up the internal strength to do what needs to be done?

Once she makes it to Joya d’Arena she finds a Court not much different than her own, but with more political intrigue. They are not sure what to make of this newcomer.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is a book that is hard to put into a nice neat little box. However, I could see it appealing to those who like Games of Thrones by George RR Martin (albeit a lot less bloody) and The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

November 12, 2013

otherwomanHank Phillippi Ryan is an award winning television investigative reporter. Hank Phillippi Ryan is an Agatha, Anthony and Macavity award winning mystery author. Whatever Hank Phillippi Ryan does, she does very well. Most recently this includes her first suspense thriller novel, The Other Woman. A first rate suspense thriller that is a finalist for the Mystery Writers of America Mary Higgins Clark Award.

Jane Ryland’s life is in disarray. She has refused to reveal her source in a high profile prostitution case, resulting in a million dollar judgment against her. Jane has been sent packing from her high profile job as a Boston TV investigative reporter and is now reduced to writing puff pieces for a newspaper. Needless to say, things aren’t working out well for Jane right now.

Trying to rebuild her professional life and overcome the stigma of being “Wrong Guy Ryland”, Jane is researching an article about the wife of Massachusetts Senate candidate Owen Lassiter. She notices the frequent appearance of a very attractive young woman at many campaign events. Is she the candidate’s other woman?

Worlds collide when Ryland begins to investigate the candidate’s possible affair and Detective Jake Brogan attempts to solve a series of murders terrorizing Boston. Is there a possible connection?

After reading The Other Woman you will certainly want more of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s books. Don’t overlook her traditional mystery series Prime Time, Face Time, Air Time and Drive Time featuring Charlotte McNally. You won’t be disappointed as these have earned Hank Phillippi Ryan many awards.

If you like Lisa Scottoline, Hallie Ephron and Mary Jane Clark then The Other Woman is for you.

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The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad

July 1, 2013

Looking for a great summer read? I recommend this well written thriller. It has locales that range from India to Boston to Martha’s Vineyard, lots of action, and sharply drawn characters.

The protagonist, Ranjit Singh, is a Sikh and a former member of the Indian military. Discharged from service due to scandal, Ranjit immigrates to the United States where he barely makes a living doing odd jobs on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s thrilled to land several jobs as winter caretaker for some of the expensive homes. At least until he and his family find themselves running for their lives from mysterious men who want to steal something from one of the homes under Ranjit’s care. The targeted house belongs to a charismatic United States senator, with a beautiful wife of whom Ranjit is particularly fond.

The scenes on Martha’s Vineyard alternate with flashbacks to India and the failed mission that ended Ranjit’s army career so suddenly and spectacularly. I think Ahmad is particularly good at describing setting. I really felt like I was on the glacier with Singh and his men in the scenes set in India. When the action moves to the Vineyard, I could see the empty houses of the rich as Ranjit tended them during the somber days of the off season.

Ranjit Singh is an appealing character with a background I’ve never run across before in a thriller. I found the details of his army career fascinating. The sense of honor that made him a good soldier carries over into his civilian life and is, for me, one of Ranjit’s most endearing qualities. He stubbornly insists on behaving honorably, even if it’s not convenient or worse yet, downright dangerous.

The Caretaker is the first in a trilogy featuring Ranjit Singh from debut author A.X. Ahmad. The second title in the series, Bollywood Taxi, will be published next year. I look forward to reading it.

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The Intercept by Dick Wolf

June 12, 2013

Jeremy Fisk is a detective in the NYPD, on special assignment with the Joint Terrorism Task Force or JTTF. JTTF is a joint operation consisting of most of the government agencies involved in foiling plots against the United States. It has been live since 09/11 and is concentrated in NYC because everyone thinks NYC is Al-Queda’s main target. And this is how we are introduced to Jeremy Fisk in Dick Wolf’s literary debut, The Intercept. Many of you are familiar with Wolf as the creator of all the ‘Law & Order‘ programs on TV.

Initially, Jeremy and the task force stop a plot by one terrorist to set off a bomb in a NY subway. On his team is Krina Gersten, also a NYC police officer with some special skills that Fisk feels will aid his team. It is now several years later and events are breaking fast because of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden has been killed and the various agencies are trying to examine all the data that may have been hidden in his residence. Some of the computer experts discover what may be messages hidden in innocent looking pictures. The science of finding these messages is called Steganography. Now it becomes a race to decipher the hidden messages and perhaps prevent a new and larger attack.

An event aboard a SAS jet bound for NYC sets the team in motion. A single terrorist is foiled in his attempt to bring down the jet. The passengers and stewardess who helped stop the terrorist are being treated as celebrities in NYC, as well they should be. However, something doesn’t sit right with Fisk. The foiled incident was too easy and Fisk is sure that another passenger on the plane has bigger plans for NYC. He convinces the team that they must locate another passenger who has disappeared off the ‘grid.’

This fast paced novel created out of today’s headlines will keep your attention. Please enjoy The Intercept by Dick Wolf.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

February 6, 2013

“Princesses should be beautiful and smart and clever, but Princess Elisa feels like none of those things. Elisa would rather be off reading a book than among the court, unlike her older sister Alodia who enjoys the court scene.

As princesses of the kingdom of Orovalle both girls are destined to have certain obligations they must fulfill. Elisa, however, has a second obligation as the Chosen One; she has a gem embedded in her stomach called a Godstone. The bearer of a Godstone shows up once every 100 years to perform a great act of sacrifice for God.

As The Girl of Fire and Thorns opens up Elisa is turning sixteen as well as getting married to King Alejandro from the neighing kingdom Joya d’Arena. When she arrives at her new home she finds a court not much different from her own, but with more political intrigue. They are not sure what to make of this newcomer. When tragedy strikes, can Elisa summon up the internal strength to do what needs to be done?

Once she makes it to Joya d’Arena she finds a Court not much different than her own, but with more political intrigue. They are not sure what to make of this newcomer.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is a book that is hard to put into a nice neat little box. However, I could see it appealing to those who like Games of Thrones by George RR Martin (albeit a lot less bloody) and The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner.

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

January 29, 2013

It’s the autumn of 1938. France is almost completely surrounded by fascist dictatorships and a Germany governed by NSDAP. The hounds of all-out war have not yet been unleashed, but Germany is waging political warfare against France. The Germans have allied themselves with French right-wingers who abhor and want to destroy democracy in the country, and who wish to replace it with an authoritarian government that will rid France of socialists, communists, and labor unions once and for all.

And now Frederic Stahl, a Hollywood star born in Vienna, Austria, with a Slovene father, sits in his Parisian hotel room. He’s in France to make a movie, loaned out by Warner Bros., and in the newspaper Le Matin he reads, “Hollywood Star Frederic Stahl Speaks Out for Rapprochement.” The quotes in the article are not inaccurate per se, but they are presented in a way that turns Stahl into something he is not. Forces he wants nothing to do with are using his name and public image to promote their ideas; they have him speak out against French re-armament and preparation for war.

Being a famous and important person from a powerful part of the world, people will listen to Stahl and perhaps even change their minds when they hear him share his opinions. He is an agent of sorts, an agent of influence. Stahl understands this and wants to do “something, anything, even a small thing,” to fight back, and he becomes part of an informal espionage service run out of the American embassy in Paris.

When the actor arrives in Berlin for a film festival, his worst fears are confirmed as Kristallnacht breaks out and destroys tens of thousands of Jewish lives – soon enough Frederic Stahl’s own life is in danger.

Like so many of Alan Furst’s heroes, Frederic Stahl is (to use a phrase from the novel) “a warm man in a cold world,” and in a time of fear and resignation he takes a stance for what he believes in – a world where dialogue and not violence shapes societies. Mission to Paris takes place just before World War II, but it has distinct contemporary resonance, and the novel asks the reader, “What do you want to do?”

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See previous blog posts of other Alan Furst titles, Red Gold and Dark Star.

The City & the City by China Mieville

August 20, 2012

The City & the City begins like a typical hard-boiled detective novel: the body of a young woman dumped on a back street, a police detective protagonist tasked with finding out who she was and what happened to her.  The setting is the fictional, vaguely eastern-European city-state of Besźel, but the trappings seem strictly realist.  It soon becomes apparent, though, that Besźel has an unusual relationship with its sister city, Ul Qoma—one that requires citizens of each to vigilantly maintain a practiced obliviousness of the other’s influence.  To say more would give the game away, but what appears to be a routine murder case grows to implicate the centers of political power and dissent in both cities, and draws the characters closer to the secret that may lie at the heart of their unique history.

Like the best science fiction and fantasy, The City & the City by China Mieville presents an outlandish idea and takes it seriously, in the process teasing out the human implications of its scenario and its echoes of our own world.  As I read I was not only caught up in the plot, but found myself pondering the ways I willfully blind myself to aspects of my environment I don’t like.

This author is known in his other books for an overt H.P. Lovecraft influence, and a tendency toward meta-fictional messing about…but if you’re like me and neither of those things are your cup of tea, you’ll still enjoy The City & the City.  Fantasy, mystery, political thriller—this book isn’t fully any of those, but it’s a great read for fans of them all.

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