I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall


This is the Cinderella story you have been waiting for your whole life. I've read the original and it's gruesome and good. I grew up with the empty-headed, impossibly nice blonde Disney version. This is the one you want your sons and daughters to read because it's cool and it rocks.  It takes the story and turns it on its head and creates a whole tumultuous world to put it in.

Nicolette Lampton's mother was an inventor. She made mechanical insects that did household chores but were also pretty enough to wear as an adornment. Her husband sold them, because he was a really good salesman and she was not and because the people of Esting would find it hard to accept a woman inventor. Long ago, a king of Esting went searching for a bride (no one talks about it aloud, but the royals and nobles go to other lands to seek spouses due to inbreeding). He discovered the land of Faerie and since they were stronger, he planted his flag and declared himself in charge of the place. In Faerie, there are no husbands or wives. They live with friends and when they want a child, one is chosen to bear the child and they get together and wish it into being. This is also how they create their officials, who are a combination of everyone.  A human and a fey can also wish a child into being, which the Brethren (the religious order of Esting) see as an abomination. The fey are seen as savages, of course. But they have magic, which Esting can use.  Nicolette's mother's inventions run on that magic.

Nicolette's father spends a lot of time traveling and her mother spends a lot of time in her lab, but her mother does spend time teaching her, and Nicolette works on fixing her mother's machines around the house. They have a housekeeper, Mr. Candery, who is half-fey.  She and her mother have fey wallpaper and drink fey tea. Her father is not so enamored with the fey as his wife who tells him that they can't keep treating the fey the way they do, or there will be consequences. The king's wife Nerali comes down with fey croup (for once the dominated group that usually gets sick from the diseases of those who take over, is the one getting sick). This is a very treatable illness.  A fey doctor is sent for and she is given lovesbane. Unfortunately, she is given too much, which is deadly, and she dies. So the king outlaws lovesbane. Then he outlaws magic and makes all the fey go back to Faerie (but not the half-fey). At this time, Nicolette's mother comes down with fey croup herself and her father refuses to try to get lovesbane to treat her and she dies. Nicolette is nine.

When her father remarries, Nicolette is excited, because she will get two step-sisters, Piety and Chastity, and she imagines all the things they can do together. She makes up their rooms herself with great care. They, of course, trash them.  Her father and new step-mother return early from their honeymoon when Heir Phillip is assassinated. Tensions rise in Esting. The king cuts off all trade with Faerie. No ships are to leave or come into Faerie. Then a skirmish happens in the market, and Nicolette's father is killed.   Nicolette is ten. Mr. Candery comes to her briefly before he is forced to leave and shows her where all the magic powders are stored so she can use them with the machines to make cleaning the house easier.  He also warns her to be very careful of her step-mother. She won't be, of course. Kids never are.

The next six years pass in a haze. On her sixteenth birthday, a letter appears under her door. It is from her mother and says it supposed to be given to her on her sixteenth birthday. She is happy that her step-mother did this for her. When she opens it up, her mother leaves her a message about where to find the key to her secret lab that Nicolette thought had been burned when she died.  She finds the key and opens the door to a wondrous place. It takes some coaxing, but soon the insects and other things come out from hiding to greet her, including a very special horse named Jules II, who seems almost alive, even though he can be held in her hands and is made of glass and copper, with coal in his belly.  There's also a sewing machine, which is great for her, as she hates sewing, and it takes so much of her time. She spends a great deal of time at night in the lab learning as much as she can from her mother's books and from the journals she slowly finds, that tell her more than just how to make something, but also personal information from her mother.

The king has decided to hold an Exposition of Arts and Science with a ball.  He wants to show how Esting can be incredible without magic. The steps are excited because Heir Christopher will have to be at the ball and this is their chance.  The king, worried about another assassination, has kept him hidden from view his whole life.  Heir Christopher will also be judging the inventions. Nicolette couldn't care less about the ball. She's interested in the Exposition. If she can show something there and get a patron, she can leave the steps and make enough money to buy her family's home.

She needs money, though for supplies. So she invents the knitting machine that knits lace. And she has just started learning to blow glass and has some glass beads.  When the steps send her into town to get material for a whole wardrobe to wear in preparation for the teas, luncheons, and of course ball gowns they will need, she goes to Mr. Waters. He is having a great deal of trouble with his sewing machine. It is completely broken and without it, he will go bankrupt. He had always been nice to her and Nicolette sees an opportunity for a swap. She fixes his machine and the only thing she asks for in return is some material for a dress to wear to the Expedition. She knows if she wants to sell her invention, she has to look the part. In her lab, she has hooked up the insects and Jules to the sewing machine and they now sew, but Jules, in seems, can also design clothes too. This frees her up to do other things. With the spare cloth from the clothes, she dyes the beads different colors.

She waits until a Saturday when the steps will be out for the day and heads into Esting, a place she hasn't been to in years. It's Market Day and she has no idea how it works. Luckily, she comes across Caro, a very fair girl, and Fin, a young man with chocolate skin and dark curls. Cari is immediately friendly and Fin is a bit of a flirt, with an easy smile and a wink. He makes gorgeous carvings and she makes music boxes. She calls herself Nick Lark, as Nick is the name the steps call her by, and Nicolette seems too formal for where she is. They make room for her at their booth and she promises to pay her share of the booth rent money as soon as she earns it. She only has one knitting machine, but right away a Lord Alming, whom she remembers reading about in her mother's journals, shows up and wants to buy one. She sells five more and then has to put it away because she can only make so many right now. She also sells out of beads.

When she gets home, she finds that her step-mother has discovered her lab and the steps have trashed it (except for the sewing machine, of course). They now know she is a mechanic. So they dub her Mechanica. They lock her in her room (she knows how to pick locks), but Cora appears at her window and Nick finds a way down. Cora takes her into the forest to a special place that Nick's mother told her about in a story. A long time ago there was an evil king and the Queen of the Forest provided shelter to the people in the treetops for all time.  These shelters still exist. She talks with Cora and Fin about her situation and Cora tells her that she will sell her stuff at the market and buy her her supplies, for a fee. It seems that Cora's mother has the fey croup and is dying and Cora will not accept charity money from anyone to buy lovesbane at the secret Night Market.

Nick cleans up the lab and gets to work. Cora provides more than just supplies; she gives her long letters filled with stories about her large family and such and the two begin a rich correspondence, becoming really close friends.  She also finds herself falling in love with the handsome Fin, who appears to be the bastard son of a foreign nobleman who married a woman from Esting. She has long conversations with him in her head, imagining a possible romance. All the while, she is also working on her special invention for the Exhibition.

Yes, she does go to the ball the night before the big Exposition, in mechanical glass slippers she made herself (this is just one of the reasons why she is way cooler than Cinderella), dances with a prince, loses a shoe, and leaves at midnight. But not for any of the reasons you think. And there's even a reason why the steps don't recognize her. After that, though, you leave the fairy tale in the dust (what there was of it to begin with). In the end, Nick doesn't need a fairy godmother to save her, or a prince. She saves herself, with a little help from her friends. And that is a lesson we should all learn.

Quotes
I had not yet begun to fathom that when Mother and Father disagreed about something, it meant that at least one of them had to be wrong; it had only recently occurred to me that they fought more often than they did anything else.
-Betsy Cornwell (Mechanica p 26)I was filled with a sudden curiosity and envy. Dance was hardly something Mother would have taught me. There wasn’t much time for it between engineering and theoretical physics, and neither she nor Father had been much for dancing.
-Betsy Cornwell (Mechanica p 53)Of course I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to talk to him too much, which was precisely why I couldn’t think of anything to say.
-Betsy Cornwell (Mechanica p 156)I’d spent so long trying to make the world think I was unremarkable; I realized now that I needed people to think of me that way. If anyone really thought I was special, they would ask things of me, things I didn’t think I could give.
-Betsy Cornwall (Mechanica p 161)Wishing is a frustrating business. There are far too many variables, infuriating for the scientific mind.
-Betsy Cornwall (Mechanica p 197)Nothing exists in your mind the way it does in the real world, she’d said. One must always account for the vagaries of truth.
-Betsy Cornwall (Mechanica p 207)Caro was right. None of us could truly promise the others that we would always be friends.  But always, I knew, was a long time—a time in which mothers could die and fathers be killed, housekeepers be sent away. Steps come and go. A whole life could change, and change again, in the smallest fraction of forever.-Betsy Cornwell (Mechanica p 207)


Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mechanica-Betsy-Cornwell/dp/0547927711/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461936626&sr=1-1&keywords=mechanica

Friday, April 22, 2016

Deadlock by Iris Johansen



Emily Hudson is an artifacts expert for the UN.  Her and her fellow archeologist friend, Joel, have been asked to move museum pieces from a museum to a safer place until the area is safe from bandits intent on stealing them.  Oddly enough, there are no really valuable pieces in this collection, but they move them anyway.  Their military escort is delayed and they travel down the mountains alone.  They find two of their men in the other truck are gunned down on the side of the road.  When they get out to investigate, they get captured by a man named Staughton, who is searching for Zelov's hammer and what is inside it.

Staughton tortures Joel in front of Emily in order to get her to talk and tell him where the hammer is; unfortunately, Emily has never heard of it.  Eventually, Joel is killed and Emily is being sent to the leader of the local bandits as a present.

Garrett has worked for the CIA, MI6, and any organization that will pay him.  He was once a smuggler and has an inside man in Afghanistan.  He speaks nine languages and is a very mysterious man, indeed.  Ferguson of the CIA hires him to find Emily and Joel and bring them home, or Garrett's friend's illegal activity will cause him trouble.

Just as Emily is about to be raped, Garrett arrives and rescues her, blowing up as much of the camp as he could get to.  Emily vows revenge and Garrett promise her that he will help her get it.  They figure the easiest way to flush out Staughton and the people who are funding him, is to find the hammer.

Garrett sends Emily to an island retreat off of Greece where his friend, Irana, a former nun now a doctor, runs a hospital.  It is there that Emily spends time recuperating and healing from her ordeal.  Meanwhile, Garrett and his friend Dardon, look for Straughton and the elusive hammer.  The hammer turns out to something extraordinary, that any man would sell his soul for.

This book is fast paced, action packed, suspense with surprising twists and turns at every corner.  Straughton has become determined to kill anyone who knows about the hammer, or whom Emily or Garrett care about in order to get it.  It's a race against time to see who can kill each other first and find the hammer.  This thrill ride is a great Johansen work and a delight to read.

Quote
She won’t pray for herself…She told me once that prayers should be for those who can’t help themselves.  She’s not sure if she wasted them on herself that God would pay attention when she prayed for someone else.
---Iris Johansen (Deadlock p 311)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Deadlock-Novel-Iris-Johansen-ebook/dp/B002GYI93I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498396183&sr=8-1&keywords=Deadlock

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Self-Defense by Jonathan Kellerman


In this ninth Dr. Alex Delaware series, Detective Milo Sturgis recommends him to a juror, Lucy,  who was on the trial of a sadistic serial killer and whom is now experiencing stress and nightmares.  In the nightmares, she is four and in the woods near a log cabin and her father, the once famous writer Buck Lowell is there with two men who are carrying a woman and digging a grave for her. 

One night, her estranged half brother, Ken, is looking for her junkie brother, Puck, who failed to show up for dinner and finds her with her head in her oven with the gas on and with her nearly dead.  After a stay in the hospital, where she insists that she didn't try to kill herself and that someone is after her (she's been receiving hang-ups, her underwear drawer is mixed up, and a nasty note is left on her kitchen table).

In the late sixties, Buck Lowell opened up a retreat for artists called Sanctuary, which is in the woods and contains log cabins.  Delaware and Sturgis dig into missing persons cases around that time and come across a young girl, Beth, who fits the description of the young girl Lucy sees in her dreams.  Beth, walked out of the diner she worked at and just disappeared.  However, one of the other waitresses there, had a side-line of hiring others to work parties for a friend's catering business.  So, its possible that Beth was working the night of the party that Lucy sees in her nightmare.  Lucy only gets a view of two of the men; her father and a man with a dark drooping mustache.   

Someone doesn't want Lucy to remember any more of her nightmare and those left of the Sanctum, which closed down shortly after Beth's disappearance,  and try to blame it on the dead.  There are two evil forces at work here, which makes this novel, deviously clever and keeps the reader on their toes.  Great Book!

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_n_3?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A283155%2Cn%3A10457%2Ck%3Aself+defense&keywords=self+defense&ie=UTF8&qid=1461173365&rnid=1000

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Mind To Murder by P.D. James


P.D. James is a classic.  This book was written in 1963 and is the second in the Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh mystery series (the first, Cover Her Face was wonderful; you hated the victim and liked all the suspects).  You don't need to read the first book to read this one. 

One evening, in a psychiatric clinic, the administrative officer is found murdered in the basement file room with a chisel cleanly piercing her heart.  This is a unique take on the locked door mystery, as the porter at the front desk would see anyone coming in, the murder was discovered forty minutes after someone last saw her, and the building was quickly searched and locked up tight.  So the killer has to be one of the psychiatrists, nurses, secretaries, or porters working that night.  Some people alibi each other out, while a few have no alibi at all and nearly all of them had the medical knowledge to stab someone directly in the heart without missing. 

Is it Dr. Baugly the ECT and LSD therapist, whom the victim, Miss Bolan, told his wife about the affair he was having with Miss Saxon, one of the therapists there, and neither of whom have alibis.  Or the Freudian therapist who despised her and went missing right before his 6:15 appointment?  Was it Nurse Bolan, her cousin, who stands to inherit Miss Bolan's sizable fortune?  No one really liked Miss Bolan.

Right before she died, she called one of the Administrators to discuss a matter.  She suspects someone is being blackmailed and perhaps is going down to the records room to find out who and maybe the blackmailer wants her dead before he is found out.

This great mystery has no shortage of suspects and confounds Dalgliesh to the point that he begins to believe that this may be the first case he will not solve.  There are a lot of twists and turns and unexpected surprises in store for the reader.  Good Read!

Link to Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Murder-Adam-Dalgliesh-Mysteries/dp/0743219589/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460989967&sr=1-1&keywords=a+mind+to+murder+p.d.james

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny



While this is the fourth book in Penny's Superintendent of the Surete Armand Gamache mysteries, you don't have to have read the other books to read this one as it doesn't take place in Three Pines like the others do.  July 1st is Gamache's wedding anniversary and for the past thirty-five years he has taken his wife to the remote luxury hotel, Manoir Bellechasse in Quebec, Canada, made of old wood that has been there since the robber barons.   The Morrow family are there having a family reunion.  The mother remarried a man named Bert Finney, who worked for her husband.  Her children included Thomas, the eldest, then Julia, Peter (who is from Three Pines and you get to see a side of him that is quite ugly), and the youngest Marrianna who named her child Bean and refuses to tell anyone the sex of her child, in order to piss off her mother, not that anyone in the family feel it is a proper thing to ask.  They are there to unveil the statue on a huge piece of marble of their dead father.

"On the outside the Morrows were  healthy, attractive even.  But you can't diminish so many people without diminishing yourself.  And the Morrows, inside, had all but disappeared.  Empty."  This was a family where murder was more acceptable than using the wrong fork or littering.  The mother was distant and each of the siblings hated each other.  Thomas is a businessman, Julia married an insurance tycoon, who defrauded a lot of people and went to jail, Peter is a painter who does ok and accepts no money from either his father's estate when he died or from his mother, and Marrianna is an architect, who makes millions.

One night, the statue falls on top of Julia and kills her.  The big question is not who could have done it, as there is no lack of suspects in her family, but how did a statue made of petrified wood, which is heavier than marble fall on top of her without leaving a scratch on the marble base.

Gamache calls in his team.  "Inspector Beauvoir was the alpha dog, the whip-smart, tightly wound second in command who believed in the triumph of facts over feelings. He missed almost nothing.  Except, perhaps, things that couldn't be seen.  Agent Lacoste...she was the hunter of their team.  Stealthy, quiet, observant.  Gamache, the leader, believed that the key to solving a murder was to uncover the emotions, feelings, and secrets people kept, as it is often these things that drive someone to commit murder.

The longer things go on, the more the tension and emotions begin to rise at the Manoir Bellechasse.  The night Julia died she vented her anger at each member of the family in a tirade that ended with her saying she knew father's secret.  Did one of the Morrow family kill her over that?  And most important, how did the statue fall?  It was to heavy to be pushed by less than twenty football players.  Once Gamache figures that secret out, he realizes who the killer is.

One thing about these books (the first one, by the way is Still Life, and I can't recommend it highly enough, Three Pines is a wonderful town with lively characters) is the food.  It does take place in Quebec and most of the people are considered French and the French pride themselves on their food.  So you have to read about the most amazing food, the luscious croissants , the cheeses, the pastries.  It will make you hungry.

Quotes
Funny, he thought, how dyed hair, heavy make-up and young clothes actually made a person look older.
---Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p10)
She said she’d been flattered at first until she’d read the description in the catalogue.  Eleanor Roosevelt rose: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.
----Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p35)
She’d taught him that order was freedom. To live in chaos was to live in a prison.  Order freed the mind for other things.
Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p 40)

But you want murderous feelings?  Hang around librarians…All that silence.  Gives them ideas.
Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder p 62)
God murdered Julia Martin?
He is a serial killer.
--Louise Penny (A Rule Against Murder (Jean Guy Beauvoir to a sculptor) p 205)

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Against-Murder-Inspector-Gamache/dp/0312614160/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460750369&sr=1-1&keywords=a+rule+against+murder+by+louise+penny

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor


In 2012 Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor began the podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, set in the "average desert town" of Night Vale, and from what I understand, is done as a radio broadcast filled with such things as Community News, Science Time, announcements from the City Council, and of course words from their sponsors.  The interns at the radio station remind me of the drummers for Spinal Tap and share a bizarre fate. Cecil is the friendly voice people hear who tell you all about the town and the people in it.

The book opens up in the Pawn Shop. Jackie Fierro, who has just turned nineteen for as long as she can remember, runs it.  If you have something you want to pawn, you go in and must first wash your hands and lay the item on the counter. Jackie will offer you eleven dollars for it. You will say nothing. Then she will offer her real price. It may be more money, less money, or something else, such as dreams, experiences, or visions. Then you die, but only for a little while. The item is given a price tag of eleven dollars and you are given a ticket for it you can exchange for the item. You can look at the ticket and remember the item at any time for free. Jackie opens and closes the shop when her gut tells her it's time. This is her life.

One day, Old Woman Josie, who lives with angels (which you are illegal to admit exist), comes in with some wrapped up plastic flamingos she doesn't want anyone to touch. Jackie takes them and gives her a good nights rest in exchange.  A man came in with a Mercedes that was put on top of the shelf (she gave him five dollars). Right before closing Diane Crayton, whom Jackie recognized as one of the PTA organizers, came in. Diane offered a tear and Jackie gave her eleven dollars.  This was when the man in the tan jacket and deerskin suitcase showed up. He looked completely normal and completely forgettable. He gave her a slip of paper with the words KING CITY on it to pawn. She gave him thirty dollars and an idea about time. Then she gave him his ticket, while holding the paper he had given her. Then he was gone.  Jackie would find that she would be unable to remember anything about him other than his tan jacket. Also, she could not get that piece of paper to leave her hand.

There is a house with a personality and a soul with a faceless old woman hidden inside it. More importantly, though, it is Diane and her son Josh's house. Josh is fifteen and can take any shape he wants. His father, Troy Walsh, left when he was born, and now Josh is becoming rather curious about him. Diane tries really hard with Josh and Josh, who does not socialize well, often misunderstands her, as she does him. She is trying to teach him to drive, which is difficult when he refuses to take a form conducive to the task. She really doesn't date and has few friends. Diane works for a company that sends out mailers to people (uh, huh) and her job is to provide the marketing department with information from the database she has created that includes very detailed information about the people of Night Vale, so they can target the right people. At work, everyone is rather worried about two missing people: Dawn and Evan. There's talk of checking in on them at home. Then Evan, acting weird, wearing his usual tan jacket, shows up at her desk and then her phone rings with Evan telling her he can't come in and can she tell their boss Catherine?   When she walks out to where everyone else's desks are, there's Dawn who says she's just been out sick for a couple of days and no one remembers Evan, whose desk is gone.  She also has to sweat it though a meeting with her boss about why she's asking about a person who never worked there and things that never happened. These are things that can get you fired or worse (I guess this is when I mention the Sheriff's Secret Police and the sedans around town with the mysterious people who take pictures, but forget to turn off the flash and ruin the picture. There's also microphones all over the place and mysterious lights in the sky.) and besides, maybe she was wrong.

Jackie is now at the Moonlite All-Nite, the most popular place in town to eat (some of their regulars really are regulars because they are stuck in a time-loop).  They now serve invisible pie, but it's not for everyone. Laura, the waitress, has many branches from which fruit grow that you can pick some if you want.  For Jackie, coffee at the Moonlite in the morning was part of her routine. When she was done, she would whisper into her water glass for the check, get it from under the sugar packets, put the cash under them, and wait for the sound of swallowing to know that the bill has been paid. Then she would open the pawn shop. But she did not do this today. Everything was off since she had picked up that piece of paper. She had tried burning it, taking a shower with it, ripping it up, but it just kept reappearing in her hand. She had no friends, as they had all grown up, but that never bothered her, because she had her life, her routine. Now that was being messed with by this piece of paper, that was also making her only be able to only write the words KING CITY.  She needed to find the man in the tan jacket.

Jackie heads out to see Old Woman Josie and the angels all named Ericka for answers. It seems this man has been giving out pieces of paper all over town and no one can remember much about him. Josie does know more than she can tell Jackie. What she can tell her is that he comes from a dangerous place it may not be possible to come back from. She also tell Jackie that what she is going to go through will be very dangerous and that if she lives though it, she will not be the same person she was before. Josie also tells her she has to go to the most dangerous place in Night Vale if she wants answers: The library. Instead of going to the library, Jackie goes to her mother's house, since her mom had called her earlier. She knew exactly how to get there, but once there, she had no memory of ever being in that house, even as her mother was telling her stories of her childhood that she also did not remember. Instead of going to the library, she next goes to the scientists for answers and only finds out that King City is a place, but it is a place that seems to be totally inaccessible by any means.

One thing Diane and Josh had together was movie night. When they went out one night, Diane saw a man working there who looked just like Troy. Later that week she went back the the theater to ask the ticket girl who he was and when he'd be back. At work, she's now getting little done. She found a notebook in her car and on a piece of it is written in Josh's hand "I want to meet this guy." Below that in someone else's "I'll get you his number, but don't call him yet." "I won't. Duh. Does he have a picture? I want to know what he looks like." "If he doesn't I can get one." "What's his name?" Diane assumes that Josh must be interested in a guy, but how does she bring this up to him considering how she found out? On the way home she is pulled over by a cop who is like a clone of Troy. Later when she goes to the Moonlite, she finds a Troy working there. Getting desperate for answers about Troy, she stays late at work and sneaks into her co-workers computers for information, including her boss's, but finds nothing. The next morning Josh confronts her about why she's been gone so much lately, so she invents a relationship. She takes this opportunity to ask him about the mysterious note, which Josh had been dreading she would find, not because it was about a boy, but because he was tying to find out about his father. When Diane asks about the boy he is interested in, he lies just as she just did. For a moment, they actually had a connection, even if it was based on a lie. Then Josh asks to borrow the car and when she tells him no, he tries to wheedle her a bit, which of course backfires and the two start their days badly.

Later Josh calls Diane and comes clean about looking for his father and wants to know why he can't meet him or know about him and Diane does not have an answer for him. She just knows that its more important than ever to find out why there are so many Troys and what they are up to and want before Josh finds him, and why she is looking so hard for Evan. At this point she gets a text "evan" with a photo. Then, "remember?" She texts back: "evan. I remember, but no one else does. i've been looking for you. where are you." He texts that he'll come to her and the next thing Diane know she is no longer in her house, but in the Moonlite.  She takes pictures of him and he gives her one of those pieces of paper with his name on it and King City.  Evan knows Troy, but won't say how. He wants Diane to give the KING CITY paper to Josh. Then he's gone.

Someone told Jackie that Diane has something to do with the man in the tan jacket. Jackie also saw Troy hanging around her mom's house and has been tracking them down. In this process, her and Diane keep running into each other, which makes Jackie suspicious about Diane, and Diane pissed of about a teenager trying to dig into her business. Both of them come to realize that the information they need can only be found in one place: the place you can always find information (even today--do visit!) The Library.  The two run into each other at the entrance and decide to help each other out. Diane wants to know about Troy and Jackie wants to know about King City. There really is no way to describe the library scene, so I won't. You'll just have to read the book. But I promise. It's totally worth the price of admission.

This book will remind readers of the late-great Douglas Adams in writing style. It has that same absurdest language set in a rather upside down worlds (though this one is on Earth, not in space, but both do have houses), with that undertone of sadness that courses through. It is excellent storytelling and such a well crafted town you have no trouble imagining it. The characters are delightful, dastardly, motherly, teenagerish, bizarre, tough, caring, determined, bull-headed, willingly clueless, and unlike anything you will encounter anywhere else. And you will love them and Night Vale. These are people who accept Night Vale as it is. They say nothing when rules arbitrarily change, the City Council requires a ritual sacrifice, the clouds glow, there are lights glowing above the Arby's, it can be hard to get a job and when you do, it can be a very weird one, or how the byzantine traffic laws are on a need-to-know basis and you can get a speeding ticket in bed. No one ever leaves Night Vale and no ever comes to Night Vale, until the recent arrival of the scientists. And it's all fine.

The good news is that you do not have to wait for another book (who knows when they might get around to another one). They have a pod cast that can take you there anytime you want and they have it archived all the way back to the beginning, so if you are like me who likes to start there you can. They are on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbay.fm, Soundcloud, etc. Also youtube.com/welcometonightvale and welcometonightvale.com. It airs twice a month and is totally FREE! What can be better than that?

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Night-Vale-A-Novel/dp/0062351427?ie=UTF8&keywords=welcome%20to%20night%20vale&qid=1460645670&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (based on the true story of Ruth and Jack Gruener)


This fictionalized account of Yanek, who was a boy of ten when the Nazis invaded Poland and took over their town of Plaszow, Krakow.  He survived living in the Jewish ghetto and has his bar mitzvah in a secret warehouse with a small group of men.  Soon after he was sent to his first of ten concentration camps.

"The red armbands belonged to political prisoners.  Green meant criminals.  Black armbands were worn by gypsies, though there were very few of those, as they were usually killed straight off.  Purple meant Jehovah's Witness. Homosexuals wore pink.  And all of them had a little letter in their triangle to tell you where they were from: P meant Polen, or "Pole"; T menat Tschechen or "Czech"; J meant Jugoslawen, or "Yugoslavian".  There was no letter for the Jewish stars though.  No matter where we had come from, we had no country.  We were only Jews."

He meets the only member of his family left, his Uncle Moshe, who tells him he no longer has a name, to not give the Nazis any reason to notice him, and to think only of himself and that will be the way he will survive.  This first camp was run by Amon Goeth, who couldn't eat breakfast without first killing a Jew.  Every day the Jews kept track of how many he had killed that day: Goeth 19, Jews nil.  He often sicced his dogs on prisoners that ripped them to pieces, in a horrid death.

In the camps he strived not to become a Muselmann, one who could barely get up or eat, the way they dragged their feet when they walked and breathed through their mouths in difficult ways.  Muselmanns were the ones that were the walking dead.

He worked in the famous salt mines of Wieliczka, where hundreds of years ago miners carved out salt statues and an alter and vestry for Catholics.  He tried hard to get special jobs, to avoid the hard labor of breaking stones, that killed so many.

Yanek not only survived 10 concentration camps, but also two death marches in the frigid snow.  Each concentration camp was bad, but each was horrid in its own way.  But no matter what they did to the Jews (torturing, killing) they had role call every morning and night, because the efficient Germans insisted on counting them.  He would get his tattoo at Birkenau in 1944, marking him for life.  However, no matter what the Nazis did to him, he survived the hell of the war and would be rescued by the Americans in 1945.  This is technically a Young Adult book, but like most YA novels, can be enjoyed by an adult.  This was a harrowing and amazing book of bravery and the power of the human spirit to not be extinguished.

Quotes

Life is but a river.  It has no beginning, no middle, no end.  All we are, all we are worth, is what we do while we float upon it—how we treat our fellow man.  Remember this, and a good man you will be.
---Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087 p 46-7)

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Prisoner-B-3087-Ruth-Gruener/dp/054545901X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460558976&sr=1-1&keywords=prisoner+b-3087+by+alan+gratz

Monday, April 11, 2016

Shadow Spell: Book Two of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts


This series keeps getting better and better.  Conner O'Dwyer and Meara Quinn have been best friends and see each other as almost brother and sister, until one night when Connor almost dies, she finds herself kissing him in an un-brotherly way.  Cabhan is back in full force and he is after Connor and Meara.  Connor finds himself dreaming/visiting his ancestor, and Sorcha's son, Eamon.  After saving the boy from Cabhan, they begin to visit each other in the dream world, where Cabhan hopes to kill Eamon and his sisters, since he while he can travel through time, he is stuck to Sorcha's cabin and can't travel far from it and Sorcha's children are far away, but in their dreams, he can attack them through Connor.  

Meara is an Irish Amazon woman with gypsy blood who wields a sword and rides a mean horse.  She can cuss up a storm and drink most men under the table.   Meara has been having troubles of her own for quite some time.  Her mother is a bit of a useless soul, who was better suited to hosting the dinner parties her and her husband held before he left them without a dime.  Meara's sisters want her to move in with her mother, because she really shouldn't be living alone, but Meara turns the tables and sends her mother to live with her sister, who has kids her mother can help watch. 

Connor is the most easy going person in the world.  He's every man's best friend and every woman's dream guy.  He likes to pull her braid in such a cute schoolboy way.  He is also the most patient one in the world, which helps when he realizes that he loves Meara and she thinks she can't love anyone, because she could turn out to be like her dad and not stick around, or worse, her mother, who still pines for a man who didn't stick around.  Connor runs the falconry and his familiar is Roibeard, a falcon. 

After Cabhan comes after Meara and nearly kills her the group realizes they must do something soon to stop him.  When Meara dreamwalked with Connor, she spilled some of Cabhan's blood, so Branna, Connor's sister, has one more ingredient to use in a potion to try to end this on Sabhain, Halloween, when the veil between this life and the after life  is the thinnest. 

I loved reading about Connor and Meara.  I had no idea how they would manage to get together, even though in these books, you know it will happen, because of the way they always treated each other as brother and sister.  This was such a great book.  It was better than the first and the third book, which hasn't been published yet and will feature former teen lovers Branna and Flin, who stopped seeing each other when Cabhan's mark appeared on him on his eighteenth birthday and even though he would have nothing to do with him, she refused to have anything to do with him then.  Now, his help is essential.  I can't wait to read their story, as it will probably be the best one yet.

Link to Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Spell-Cousins-ODwyer-Roberts/dp/0425259862?ie=UTF8&keywords=shadow%20spell%20book%20two%20of%20the%20cousins%20o%27dwyer%20trilogy&qid=1460386428&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Friday, April 8, 2016

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

Ann Morgan is the author of the acclaimed book The World Between Covers, which she wrote about her year-long quest around the world via books. I'll just jump in now, because this is one of those books that will keep you up all night reading (it did me). Wow. I don't like to use such language, but this book is a real mind f***. Not for you the reader, but for the character. When twins Helen and Ellie are six, Helen talks Ellie into playing a prank on an elderly neighbor and switching their clothes and hairstyles (Helen wears hers in a plait, while Ellie has hers in two bunches) and pretending to be the other one. It's so much fun when it works that Helen thinks they should try to pull the prank on their mother. When they get home though, their mother has a surprise for them. Akela Greene, her new boyfriend, is moving in with them. Now it is time for the game to be over. But Ellie doesn't want to change back.  Helen tries to tell her mother about the switch and that she is Helen, not Ellie, but her mother does not believe her. Helen is the smart, well behaved, leader of the two. While Ellie is the slow, bad behaving twin who always needs to be taught a lesson, and whom, Helen finds out later, is prone to telling tales. But now, Ellie is acting just like Helen and all she can do is wait for Ellie to mess up like she always does.

Her one hope is that at school her friends will know who she is and Chloe, the one who works with Ellie, will as well. But Ellie convinces her friends that she is Helen and when she tries to explain to Chloe about the switch and how horrible the whole thing is, Chloe believes she is telling another tale. And that is when Helen begins to go down the rabbit hole. The teacher puts Helen in the dumb kids corner of the room to use Ellie's workbook from last year that she didn't finish and Helen watches as Ellie gets good marks and behaves well, just like she would. She watches as Ellie plays with her friends, as Ellie steals her life.  One day while hanging out in the park in the upside down tree, Helen's favorite spot, Ellie tricks her into staying while she leaves and Helen gets into trouble for going missing for a long time. Their mother takes Helen to a psychologist and at this point she has had it with no one knowing who she is, with living the wrong life, and she finds that well of anger deep inside of her and it erupts all over the place as she begins screaming and throwing everything around the office in a mad rage. She has effectively been trapped in a cage and put in a dungeon and everyone treats her like she is Ellie and soon she begins acting like the problem child Ellie was, only worse, because someone who has lost everything can be capable of anything.

The book swaps back and forth from the present to the past. In the present is a young woman named Smudge, who is really Ellie, and is living in a crappy flat in London trying to keep the voices in her head away. She has just come out of a long sleep after a marathon painting session, the kind where time ceases to exist. You could easily say that she just went through a manic episode, but lots of creative people do this. Of course, they don't also hear voices in their heads as well. Her phone is ringing and her mother is on the other end telling her that Hellie (as Smudge calls her) has been in a car accident and is in a coma, but Smudge just drops the phone and says nothing. Later, Hellie's husband Nick shows up at her door knocking on it trying to get her to talk to him, but she just can't deal with that. The next day she goes to her ESA interview, where she lies about her not drinking and that everything is going well, when it is far from that and her caseworker is so happy about all the progress she has made, especially working in the community garden, which made it into the paper. She believes Ellie is ready to start looking for work, which would mean ESA would stop depositing money into her account every week, but Ellie hasn't picked up on this as she is trying really hard to appear normal. When she leaves, Nick runs into her on the street and in her attempt to run away from him, she runs into traffic and gets hit by a car and is sent to the hospital.

At school, Helen starts making up stories on the playground to get attention and sympathy from the other kids. She also starts to have darker thoughts about Ellie and ways to get her life back. Her mother and Akela have baby Richard, whom they won't let her touch, because of something they suspect she did. And when Mother, Akela, Ellie, and baby Richard sit together in the living room they look like the perfect family and no notices her anymore, even when she slips out of the house to go to the park by herself. Years pass by and the end has come for this school, which means a kind of talent show. Ellie recites a funny poem doing all these different voices, which is something Helen would have never done. At this point, Ellie has rearranged Helen around to something new, so Helen starts to refer to her as Hellie. And Helen, herself has changed quite a bit. She escapes to the upside tree (which is such an appropriate name, since that's what her life has become) often and meets up with older kids who drink and sniff glue. And one day something happens that will shatter her mind completely, leaving her barely holding on to the pieces. She becomes more and more out of control as Hellie becomes more and more the perfect daughter. When she makes an attempt out of desperation to reach her mother, it almost works, but then her mother lashes out and calls her a monster and that she is toxic and will poison everyone and everything around her. She ends up getting a tattoo on the side of her forehead with the word monster on it. Now no one will ever be able to mix up her and Hellie again.

When Smudge wakes up in the hospital, Nick is there and he tells her that Hellie was on her way to see her when her car crashed. He really wants Smudge to go visit Hellie in the hospital and see if maybe listening to her voice will bring her out of her coma. Smudge tells him that the two of them can't be in the same room together and checks out and goes home. When she goes through her piled up mail, she sees a letter addressed to Helen Sallis in Hellie's handwriting, but she just can't look at it right then. When she goes to try to get cash out of the teller machine, she finds that ESA did not deposit the check and she's broke. Nick had been following her and was there when she passed out on the street and took her back to the doctor. Her wound got infected and she has a fever. He insists she come and stay at his house to recuperate, especially since she has no money. Her mother and Akela are staying there, but she doesn't meet her mother right away. She does, however meet Hellie's little girl, Heloise, who takes to her instantly, but whom Akela and her mother try to keep her away from, which doesn't work of course (how many little girls do you know that always do what they're told). Heloise is such a precocious and observant girl who shows Smudge the little grave where her dead twin lies.

Helen's life just continues to get worse for a while as she floats about lost at sea after her family has well and truly abandoned her. But as Rick tells Elsa "We'll always have Paris", Helen will always have Amsterdam. Then of course, as always, just when things are going well, the world crashes around her, and Helen (actually, after leaving home she changes her name many times, reinventing herself over and over again) becomes Smudge. Most everyone in this book seems to have an angle and is looking after themselves, willing to hurt anyone to get what they want, though not Smudge, she seems to be on the losing end of things too often.

Helen was diagnosed as manic depressive at one point in the book, which is a genetic disease. Helen and Ellie's dad was very likely manic depressive and committed suicide when they were four. The going theory (which some are challenging) is that you can carry the gene, but that it takes some kind of environmental event to trigger the gene to turn on. When you look at Helen's history it's chock full of childhood trauma that would have driven anyone mad even if they didn't have a genetic predisposition for it. Ellie does not get off so easy either. You have to ask the question why did she decide to keep up the charade in the first place? If she had the ability to behave and get good grades why did she not do just that? Close to the end of the book, you will experience a punch to the gut, because people are always able to surprise you, right up to the very end. The incredible thing, you will find, is that even when Helen/Smudge has been laid low and completely given up any hope of anyone believing her or of having a happy life, all it takes is a small match to be struck to light up that hope again in her. The human spirit is amazingly resilient.  Just talk to anyone who has gone though any horrid tragedy, such as the camps or the POWs. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how many times we swear we are giving up, we always seem to find our feet again.

The writing of this book is amazing and quite fascinating. When you read the parts that take place in the past, they are written in the second person (where a some general you is the focus of the narrator's story) and the part written in the present is written in the third person (where the narrator refers to the characters as he and she and can know whatever the author wishes them to know).  Ms. Morgan's unique and careful use of words that conjure up exactly the right thing, is amazing. For example: "And with that, she turned on her heel and bustled away up the ward, her shoes squeaking like basketball players dodging around a court....The sound of a team of basketball players ducking and feinting its way across the court came towards the cubicle."

While reading this book I wondered how Ms. Morgan was able to get the details of manic depression so spot-on accurate. It was like she was able to climb inside someone's head and take notes, or that she was maybe manic depressive herself. I don't believe I've read a more exact, precise, and authentic portrayal of someone with this disease. As far as I know, she is not manic depressive. When I got to the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, it shed a little light. She thanked her family for answering her medical questions and her friends and acquaintances on answering, among other things, questions about living with manic depression. As a person who has friends who are manic depressive, thank you, Ms. Morgan for caring enough to get the detail right. 

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beside-Myself-Ann-Morgan/dp/1632864339/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460040073&sr=1-1&keywords=beside+myself+ann+morgan

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson


This book, by the author of Devil in the White City about the making of the Chicago World's Fair and the serial killer hidden beneath in 1893 (which is a most excellent book), has written a book about a poor professor called the Cassandra of the Embassy for trying to tell President Roosevelt what Hitler was doing and that America needed to do something about it.  William E. Dodd, from Chicago, became an unlikely Ambassador to Germany in 1933, a very important year in German history, as it is the year that Hitler begins his rise to power.  Most Ambassadors were independently wealthy and spent lavishly on their lifestyles and parties at their homes.  Dodd believed in living within the means he was being paid (around $17, 000) to rent a house and hold important parties.  Dodd had spent some time in Germany in his youth and was surprised to see how it was changing.  As Hitler gained more power even Americans were being attacked in Germany and Dodd was helpless to do anything about it, though he tried his best.  The government just wanted him to get Germany to pay the banks they owed for reparations during World War I.

This book is also about Dodd's daughter Martha, who was to put it bluntly, kind of a slut.  She slept around with different men from the Nazi party and others including Rudolf Diels, the head of the Gestapo, who is surprisingly honorable and has many close calls to getting himself killed by the Nazi Party.  Goring couldn't stand him.  She also had a love affair with a Russian KGB agent who was trying to recruit her to be a spy.  Martha was dazzled by the Nazi Party and all they had done to Germany to bring it back from the brink of despair.  For a long time she ignored all that that they were doing, even when she witnessed an attack on some Americans herself. 

This book which takes place between 1933-34, gives a rare account, from Dodd's own diaries and other sources, into what was really going on in Germany and how maybe America could have done something to stop the following events from happening if they had just done something early. 

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Beasts-Terror-American-Hitlers/dp/030740885X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460062188&sr=1-1&keywords=beasts+in+the+garden

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Red Glove: Book Two in the Curse Trilogy by Holly Black



This series just keeps getting better and better.  Cassel and his mother spend the summer grifting in Atlantic City, until a con goes wrong and they have to leave.  Its now Cassel's senior year at school and the girl he loves, Lila Zachorov, the mob boss's daughter, is going there too, which is a torture to him.  His roommate, Sam, and his girlfriend, and worker's rights advocate, Daneca, is too.  Cassel is still acting as a bookie, trying to pretend that everything that happened last year was an all true nightmare.

Then Cassel is approached by two government agents, who inform him that his older brother, Phillip, has been shot dead, by what appears to be a woman wearing red gloves.  Phillip was going to give them information on the mysterious deaths that he made Cassel do, in exchange for being put into witness protection with his missing wife and son.  Cassel eventually agrees to find the Phillip's killer, who could be anyone: the Zachorov family, his mother (for going to the cops), his brother Barron (who may know more than he has let on about his falsified memories). 

But the feds are not the only ones interested in Cassel working for them, the Zachorov's want him too, as do his mother and brother.  When he figures out who killed Phillip, he realizes he must cover it up and find a way to keep Barron from telling the feds that he is the one who killed all those people.  On top of this, New Jersey is voting on whether or not to make testing for working abilities mandatory, which would destroy a lot of lives.  And his mother is up to something so dangerous, the blowback, may do more harm to workers than anything else.

As you watch Cassel jump from one fire to the next, trying not to get burnt and come out of this alive, you really feel for him who is in a very dangerous situation, that even a con man as good as he is, may not be able to escape from.  This is an excellent trilogy really worth reading.  It easily grabs you into its clutches and will not let go.  I am only sorry that there is only one more book to read from this world.

Quotes
I’m useless in classes the next day.  I fail a quiz in physics and conjugate my verbs completely weirdly in French.  Luckily, I probably won’t need French in my future assassination career, unless I’m one of those fancy movie assassins who travel the world and also steal jewels.  Physics I might need—got to calculate the trajectory of bullets somehow.
--Holly Black (Red Glove p 91)
 
Changing is what people do when they have no options left.
--Holly Black (Red Glove p 146)
 
I thought that I could never betray my family, never work someone I loved, never kill anyone, never be like Phillip, but I get more like him every day.  Life’s full of opportunities to make crappy decisions that feel good.  And after the first one, the rest get a whole lot easier.
--Holly Black (Red Glove p 253)
 
Lies work when they’re simple.  They usually work a lot better that the truth ever does.  The truth is messy.  It’s raw and uncomfortable.  You can’t blame people for preferring lies.
--Holly Black (Red Glove p 268)
 
No troubles ever got fixed late at night. Midnight is for regrets.
--Holly Black (Red Glove p 303)
Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Red-Glove-Curse-Workers-Book-ebook/dp/B003V1WXNM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499189639&sr=8-1&keywords=red+glove+holly+black

Black Heart: Book Three of the Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black




Holly Black, author of the Spiderwyck Chronicles as well as many excellent young adult novels, finishes the Curse Workers Trilogy and I am quite sad to see it end, even though I was really satisfied with how it ended.  It seems every time I read one of her books I want her more books about those characters.  I do not want to let them, or the world they live in, go.

This book opens with everything a complete mess.  Cassell's mom is wanted by the authorities for working Patton, the Governor of New Jersey into supporting the workers and not passing anti-worker legislation.  She is uncovered by his staff and suddenly becomes a bit unhinged and is now possibly pushing to send workers back to camps like they did decades ago.  His mother also stole the head of the Russian crime family, Zachorav's Resurrection Stone, which is said to have been worn by Rasputin and protects the wearer from harm.  She did this years ago and replaced it with a copy, but when she got out of prison and went on the lam, she needed the cash, so she (through an intermediary) tried to sell it back to him.  He figures out it was her and is holding her captive in his penthouse until Cassell can find the stone. 

Daneca and Sam are still not speaking to each other.  It is really complex as only teen romances can be.  Sam was mad at Daneca for not revealing she was a worker and then Daneca got mad at him for not speaking to her about it.  Then she tells him she is seeing another guy and Cassell feels he must do something to bring his two friends back together. 

Cassell is also approached by a mysterious girl at school, Mina, who says she is being blackmailed by someone who stole her camera that had pictures of her nude on it.  Cassell can tell she is lying all over the place, but he doesn't know exactly what she is lying about and what her angle is, because he knows she has one. 

Cassell's brother, Barron, is enjoying working for the Feds, as he is finding ways to scam them. The Feds, with whom Cassell still has not signed up to work for, have him learning to follow someone and learn things that, quite frankly, both learned at an early stage in life.  He chooses Lila to follow, the girl he cannot get over, even though she hates him.  Its interesting that Lila is the one person who truly understands him in a way that even he does not understand himself. 

Soon the Feds have an assignment for Cassell, even though he does not work for them.  He is not sure if they are trying to set him up or not.  He just wants to be a good person and do the right thing.  That's why he chose to make a deal with the Feds and join them after high school.  He thinks they are the good guys.  But what if they are no better than grifters in his family or those in the mobs, who all want to use him for his curse work power?

Cassell is walking on a thin line and any moment he could fall and destroy his life, or worse yet, someone he cares about.  Cassell has come a long way by the time this book ends.  Life is complicated and it's not always easy to see which path to take, especially when you have trouble separating the lies from the truth.  In this last book, Cassell finds his own moral compass and figures out, at least for now, which road to take.  What the future holds for him, I would love to find out, so Holly Black, please keep writing.

Quotes
Mine.  The language of love is that, possessive.  That should be the first warning that it’s not going to encourage anyone’s betterment.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 4)
That’s the problem with temptation. It’s so damn tempting.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 6)
Cassel, she said, you want to know how to be the most charming guy anyone’s ever met?  Remind them of their favorite person.  Everyone’s favorite person is their own damn self.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 10)
Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless.  They are always hungry. They are bad news.  They will drink you down like a shot of whiskey. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 18)
She’s right, of course.  I’m not a good person.  The funny thing about good people—people like Daneca—is that they really honestly don’t get the impulse toward evil.  They have an incredibly hard time reconciling with the idea that a person who makes them smile can still be capable of terrible things.  Which is why, although she’s accusing me of being a murderer, she seems more annoyed than actually worried about getting murdered.  Daneca seems to persist in a belief that if I could just listen and understand how bad my bad choices are, I’d stop making them.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 32)

My family are lunatics who set a high bar for lunacy.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 78)
When we fall that first time, we’re not really in love with the girl.  We’re in love with being in love.  We’ve got no idea what she’s really about—or what she’s capable of.  We’re in love with our idea of her and of who we become around her.  We’re idiots.
--Holly Black (Black Hearts p 82)
Love changes us, but we change how we love too.
--Holly Black (Black Hearts p 82)
 Whatever else I’m shaky on, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to con the people you love.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 86)
“You looked at porn with my grandfather?”
“It wasn’t porn!  Your grandmother was one of the ladies.”
Of course she was.
“The costumes were amazing,” he says dreamily. “Feathers and masks and sets like you wouldn’t believe.  Crescent moon thrones and a massive rose with petals that swung like doors.”
“You were looking at the sets?”  Now I’m laughing for real.
“I didn’t want to stare at the women.  I wasn’t sure which ones were your relatives!  And your grandfather was right there!”
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 118)
The problem with cell phones is that you can’t slam them down into a cradle when you hang up.  Your only option is to throw them, and if you do, they just skitter across the floor and crack their case.  It’s not satisfying at all.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 122)
At the end of a criminal’s life, it’s always the small mistake, the coincidence, the lark.  The time we got too comfortable, the time we slipped up, the time someone aimed a little to the left.  I’ve heard Grandad’s war stories a thousand times.  How they finally got Mo.  How Mandy almost got away.  How Charlie fell.  Birth to grave, we know it’ll be us one day.  Our tragedy is that we forget it might be someone else first.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 223)
I thought grifters and con men were just born bad.  I thought there was some inner flaw in us.  Something corrupt that meant that we’d never be like other people—that the best we could do was ape them.  But now I wonder—what if everyone is pretty much the same and it’s just a thousand small choices that add up to the person you are?  No good or evil, no black and white, no inner demons or angels whispering the right answers in our ears like it’s some cosmic SAT test.  Just us, hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, making the best choices we can.  The thought is horrifying.  If that’s true, then there’s no right choice.  There’s just choice. 
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 242)
Simple lies are always better than a complicated truth.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 259)
A girl like that, Grandad said, perfumes herself with ozone and metal filings.  She wears trouble like a crown.  If she ever falls in love, she’ll fall like a comet, burning the sky as she goes.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 267)
Do you know what the Turkish say about coffee? It should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 278)
Maybe I should regret that, but I can’t.  Sometimes you do the bad thing and hope for the good result.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 282)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Black-Heart-Curse-Workers-Book-ebook/dp/B0055OIE2C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499189500&sr=8-1&keywords=black+heart+holly+black

White Cat: Book One of the Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black



The first in a trilogy, this novel by the author of The Coldest Girl in Cold Town (yes, I'm still waiting for a sequel) and the Spiderwick Chronicles, concerns the life of Cassel, a teen from a family of "workers", a term that comes from 1920, when those who could wield curses by touch, whether it be luck, death, pain, emotion, memory manipulation, or the rarest of all, transformation, were outlawed and put in camps for years before the law could figure out what to with them.  Nowadays, people wear gloves and cursed stones to protect themselves.  Also, when one practices curse work, there is always "blowback".  In the case of a death worker, he may lose part of a finger.  Cassel's grandfather is a death worker, his elder brother, Phillip can cause physical harm, his brother Barron is a luck worker and law student, and his mother, who is in jail for using her emotion curses and con-artist skills to get money from a wealthy man.  His grandfather, and Phillip, work for the Zacharov mob family, of which there are six in America.  Cassel has no ability, to his chagrin, but he is an expert grifter, with a bookie business going on in his private school.

The book opens with him having a dream that causes him to sleepwalk onto the roof of his dorm.  When he wakes up, he is forced to ask for help to get down, the result being that now he is on suspension from school until he gets checked out by a doctor.  This isn't the first time he has sleepwalked, but it has been a long time.  The last time, he was thirteen and he woke up to find Lila, the daughter of Zacharov, whom he had a crush on, lying dead in front of him and him holding a bloody knife.  His brothers told him to forget it happened and that they'd take care of it.  But he is haunted by it and finds he has to lead a pretend life in order to be "normal" and fit in like everyone else at his school and he is scared to get close to any girl, because he fears he might kill her.

 The dream that led him onto the roof was of a cat, and when he goes to his empty, yet very cluttered home, with his grandfather to clean it, he finds cats in the backyard, and one, in particular, a white one, seems familiar.  He begins to dream of that cat and discovers that it is Lila, who tells him, that he is the only one who can un-curse her.  He also realizes that someone has obviously been altering his memories, since she is alive and he did not kill her.  He must find a transformation worker, but has no idea where to look.  He is a con-man being conned and he has no idea by whom.  He cannot trust his brothers or any of the rest of his family, since they work for the Zacharov family, and Phillip is best friends with Zacharov's nephew. 

With the help of his roommate Sam, an Asian-American student who wants to do special effects work in horror films and drives a hearse that runs on grease, and a girl who believes in the freedom of workers, named Daneca, he is able to keep Lila, the cat safe.  Cassel also takes the precaution of implanting protection stones from memory curses in his leg, just in case.  It turns out, that he has many lost memories that span most of his life, but they are blocked to him.  The people who have been playing with his memory have been using him for a worker ability he did not know he had and has one more mission planned for him. 

He must find a way to change Lila back into a human and stop an assassination.  This is an incredible book that looks at prejudices against workers, who turn to organized crime in order to get work  because of this and how the mind of one young man can be manipulated without his knowing it to do deplorable things, that even though he cannot remember them, he is finding it hard to cope with that knowledge.  With the help of his friends he will try to find his way to once more, con his way out of this situation and save himself and others.  The twist at the end is a real kicker and such a complete surprise it will leave you dying to get your hand on the next book in the series.

Quotes
It takes a lot of effort to pretend you’re something you’re not.
--Holly Black (White Cat p 9)
 
Once someone’s hurt you, it’s harder to relax around them, harder to think of them as safe to love.  But it doesn’t stop you from wanting them.  Sometimes I actually think it makes the wanting worse.
--Holly Black (White Cat p  53)
 
Lie until even you believe it—that’s the real secret of lying.
--Holly Black (White Cat p 106)
 
All friendships are negotiations of power.
--Holly Black (White Cat p 91)
 
We are largely, who we remember ourselves to be.  That’s why habits are so hard to break.  If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.
--Holly Black (White Cat p 236)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/White-Cat-Curse-Workers-Book-ebook/dp/B003HC5EDQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499189264&sr=8-2&keywords=white+cat+holly+black

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rememberance: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot


                                                                                            


                                                           
Yes, this is the Meg Cabot who writes the Princess Diaries books. Now, let's put that in a box and set it to one side because she is a versatile writer who cannot be stuffed neatly in one box like we all like to do. She's also written the YA series Abandon about a young woman who becomes involved with the guy who looks after the Underworld (Still waiting patiently for the next book in that series, Ms. Cabot. It's been three years, though. Just saying.). She has an adult mystery series about a full-figured woman (The Heather Wells Series). There's also the adult series Insatiable about a woman who can tell by looking at you when you're going to die. She also has a tween series called Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls. And let's not forget the various single title YA books like Jinx about a girl with bad luck or her many adult romance books.

Now that that's out of the way, this book is the seventh book in the Mediator series. The first book, Shadowland, came out in 2000. The sixth book, Twilight (Heaven Sent) was published in 2004. I read these books about ten years ago, or so. It is a fabulous series and she wrapped it up all neatly with a very lovely bow, so I was rather pleasantly surprised to see that she was writing another book in the series that picks up about six years after the end of the series. This book, however, will be found in the adult section, which makes sense, as Suze Simon, is now an adult, and it gives Cabot a lot of freedom with the characters and the plot. If you haven't read the series, you will not be lost. You will, however, know some things that could taint your experience if you decide to go back and read the series (which you really should). Of course, the argument can be made that after watching the Star Wars Trilogy, you know a lot of what is going to happen to go into the Prequels (And no, I am not comparing her wonderful books to those movies, that were not, perhaps, what they could have been).  So, it's your decision.

Suze (Susannah) Simon is getting her Ph.D. in psychology so she can become a counselor. Jesse de Silva, her fiancee now, is a medical resident. She is hoping desperately that they will finally get married next year as she has been waiting a very long time for him and Jesse respects her way too much to sleep with her before marriage, much less live together. He's also Catholic. And died in 1850. So his views can be a bit old fashioned. When they both went off to college, he insisted on keeping in touch by letter. She's finally gotten him to use a phone now. She's not having much luck though, on dragging him completely into the 21st century. Suze is doing an unpaid internship at her old high school, Junipero Serra Mission Academy, where Father Dominic is still principal and still offering up advice and help.  The school is also a historical site, so they get tourists all the time and have a gift shop, which helps pay to keep the place open. Suze's mouth always did get her into trouble and now there are swear jars in the office, her apartment, and other places, as some are trying to get her to clean up a bit (The really, really bad swear words you will have to fill in with your imagination, as they do not appear on the page. And that is not a complaint about the book, by the way, I respect and admire Ms. Cabot for this choice.).  Like that is ever going to happen.

Suze's unofficial, other nonpaying jobs, is a mediator. A mediator is someone who can see the dead who haven't realized that it really is time to move on, even if she has to kick their butt to get them to do it. On rare occasions, the NCDP (non-compliant dead person) may just need you to get a message to someone so they can move on. Usually, it's much more complicated than that and the ghosts are not always nice. Jesse was a ghost that haunted the home her and her mother moved into when her widowed mother married Andy Ackerman (of the TV show "Handy Andy" fame). Andy had three teenage sons: Jake ("Dopey"), Brad ("Sleepy") and David ("Doc"). There was also Max the dog, who could sense ghosts when he wasn't busy chasing Spike the cat. Suze's mom and Andy have sold the house and moved to L.A. Jake is a successful pot shop businessman, Brad knocked up his girlfriend, Debbie (Suze's enemy) right after high school with triplets and works at her father's BMW lot, and David is at Harvard studying to be a lawyer. Suze gets along a lot better with Jake and Brad now than when they were teens (she and Doc always got along and he knows about her abilities and has helped her in the past).

While at work Suze gets an e-mail from the last person she ever wanted to hear from again: Paul Slater. Paul, it seems, now owns her old house, the house Jesse died in. This is when the first of many mistakes she is going to make, happen in this book. She calls Paul. It seems that his grandfather has died and left him everything, including the old Egyptian texts that he had. Both Paul and his grandfather were mediators. According to these texts, if you tear down the place that was once haunted, " a demon disturbed from its final resting place will unleash the wrath of eternal hell-fire upon all it encounters, cursing even those it once held dear with the rage of a thousand suns." and that "any human who attempts to resurrect a corpse will be the first to suffer its wrath when the demon inside it is woken." When you do something there is always a cost. This is apparently the cost. But, Paul, of course, will not tear down the house if Suze will have dinner with him and all that comes after it.  Paul was always a sleaze, especially on graduation night. Sometimes, though, he could be helpful. This, however, was not going to be one of those times. It seems he was still holding a grudge on losing out on her to Jesse. And Suze can't tell Jesse. She never told Jesse about what happened on graduation night for a reason. She'd like to keep him out of jail. He'd really lose it if he knew about this. She would just have to put Paul off until she could figure something out.

From one crisis to another. In walks Sister Ernestine with a teenage girl, Becca, and her not so friendly ghost companion clinging to her, nearly dragging her down. While Sister Ernestine went into the office to call Becca's stepmother, Suze gets a look at her bleeding arm.  The letters STU have been cut into it and Suze is pretty sure this is not the first time Becca has done this. The big question is, is the NCDP the cause of it, or is it something else? When she tries to tend to her wounds, she finds out just how powerful the little angelic ghost is, because she comes right after her, believing that she is trying to hurt Becca. After an "earthquake" (they have a lot of those at the school), Suze has a few moments to try to get some information out of Becca. It seems her mother lives in New York now after an "accident" and when Suze asks about the horse necklace she is fingering, she clams up. The NCDP, whose name is Lucia, was wearing a riding outfit and holding a stuffed horse. Becca's stepmother then shows up and turns out to be Kelly Prescott, Paul's old girlfriend from high school. Poor Becca.

Suze turns to her good friend CeeCee, an albino she met in high school who became a huge help to her with her awesome research skills. CeeCee now works at the local paper She's not too happy to be looking up the name of another dead person when she only has the first name and no real idea when or where the person died. CeeCee is amazing, but she can't perform miracles, but this is for a kid, so she's game. Suze goes home to her apartment, which is protected to the hilt against humans and ghosts alike. The pool, however, is not, and when she goes for a swim Lucia shows up attacks her. Jesse and Suze had a connection when he was a ghost that never really went away when he was brought back to life. He always seems to know when she's in trouble. Like now, which is a good thing, because he is there to pull her out of the water away from Lucia. Of course now Jesse wants to have her exorcised and sent to hell. He is a macho, old-fashioned guy who doesn't like anyone coming after the woman he loves, who can usually take care of herself.

Father Dominic has finally returned back from his conference full of apologies for not noticing Lucia in the first place. Father Dom, is also a mediator and at the beginning of each school year he looks over each child carefully for spirits. The mission is also blessed often to try to keep spirits out as well, not that this works all the time. Father Dom insists on going over to Becca's house to try to mediate the situation and Lucia sends him down the stairs breaking many bones and sending him to the ICU. Suze is able to convince Jesse not to hunt down Lucia and exorcise her when she shows him the article about her CeeCee was able to dig up, once Father Dom made the connection as to who she might be. Becca and Lucia Martinez were friends in first grade at Sacred Trinity when she died from a horrible horse riding "accident" (the horse was also put down).  Lucia is still protecting Becca from someone who could harm her from that time period. All they have to do is convince a really angry, confused ghost to stop trying to kill them because they are here to help both her and Becca and to somehow get Becca to talk about what happened to Lucia all those years ago. A piece of cake, right? Yeah, no.

On top of that Suze still has Paul to deal with and to try to keep Jesse from finding out about it, which isn't easy as he is rather perceptive. But Suze always thinks of something. Does it always work out the way it's supposed to? Of course not. Nothing in life ever does. But that's what makes it exciting. And terrifying. This is, of course, why Suze really needs those boots she was bidding for on-line. This book is filled with lots of surprises and old friends. I was beyond pleased with it. I was over the moon and into another galaxy. I was quite content with the series ending the way it had, but I so very glad to be given this gift.  Meg Cabot has really topped herself.

Note: I am rather embarrassed by this, but feel you should have a little fun at my expense. I was watching Jeopardy last week and the category was something like statues in state capital buildings. They showed a picture of a man holding a cross and said that this statue was in California and was a man who had just been canonized by Pope Francis for setting up missions. This was the day after I had complete this book and I'm looking at the statue wondering who it was, thinking that it wasn't St. Francis, who is pretty much the only person I could think of. A woman rang in and said Father Serra and my jaw dropped because it never occurred to me that Father Junipero Serra was an actual person. It's an unusual name, to my ears. A name only a creative mind could come up with. In my defense, one, though I am a history nut, my knowledge of the eighteenth century California history is pretty much non-existent, and two, I'm not Catholic. It turns out, Father Serra went up and down the coast building missions to convert the Native Americans, by force, if necessary (depending, of course on your viewpoint and which texts you read). Suze, by the way, is accused of chopping off the head of the Father Serra statue at the mission while in high school.

Note: I found out after I read this that there is an e-book short story that came out a month before this with the title "Proposal". Downloading now.

Quotes
When you’re a regular girl and a guy is horny for you, he invites you over to his house after school to watch videos. When you’re a mediator, he invites you over to study his grandfather’s ancient Egyptian funerary texts, so you can learn more about your calling.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 17)
I believe in facts. And the fact is,  I want to be with Jesse because he makes me feel like a better person than I suspect I actually am.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 23)
Even complete monsters can have one or two likable characteristics. Hitler liked dogs, for instance.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 23)
I was so stunned, I was temporarily unable to form a reply, even a four-letter one, which for me was unusual.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 24)
It’s completely humiliating that after nearly six years of post-secondary education, the only place in the entire state of California where I could find employment (and not even paying employment) is my former high school. But there are a few upsides. At least here I can tell when kids are lying to my face about the teachers.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 34)
This is why I needed a new pair of boots. You never knew when you were going to have to keep a ghost from using your computer to crush you (and a student) to death.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 44)
I’m certain when I die, if there actually is some kind of higher power sitting in final judgment of all our souls, mine’s going to take a really long time to read off all my sins, considering all the lying I’ve done, especially to people of the cloth.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 48)
“What did Sister mean by ‘the girls’? Do you have kids in this school?” “No, I don’t have kids in this school,” I stared at her, horrified. “Seriously, how old do you think I am?” “I don’t know. About thirty-sev-“ “Forget I asked. The kids are my brother Brad’s. Stepbrother’s, I mean.” Brad and I were actually the same age, but had always had vastly different tastes and attitudes. “He knocked up his girlfriend with triplets right after high school, and now their daughters are in kindergarten here. See what can happen if you don’t practice safe sex?”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 50)
One of the things they’re always drumming into our heads in class is when in doubt, look to the patient’s home life, especially the mother. It always goes back to the mother. Thanks, Freud.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 52)
The professor had warned us in advance not to grow too attached to our rats. It doesn’t pay for clinical researchers to become emotionally attached to their lab animals, any more than it does for therapists or physicians to become emotionally attached to their patients. In order for the professional to best serve their client, they need to remain detached. And virtually every achievement in medical history owes its lifesaving advancements to animal testing. Eventually most lab rats end up getting dissected. But I only took the class because it was a requirement. I no more planned on getting into clinical research than I planned on becoming emotionally attached to my rat.  As soon as the final was over, I swapped out Romeo for a look-alike I’d found in a pet store. Rats are a lot cleaner and smarter than people give them credit for. Romeo and I have grown to share a genuine and totally unique personal bond. He’s paper trained, and likes to sleep on my shoulder while I watch TV. No way would I have left my little buddy in that lab for some PhD candidate to experiment on—possibly even kill—over the summer. Paul was right: I’m probably going to be world’s crappiest counselor.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 84)
Not that I believed for one minute that Jesse was going to sit still for a blessing—at least not without an explanation. He went to mass every Sunday, and on holy days of obligation, as well. If there was a demon living inside him, it was going to take one hell of a blessing to drive it out. I was probably going to have to come up with an imam, a rabbi, and a Wiccan high priestess in addition to Father Dom to get rid of this curse.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 92)
“Hey, kids,” I said brightly, reaching for my wallet. “Are you thirsty? Why don’t you go get a soda? I see some machines over there.” Shrieking with joy at the prospect of sugar, which they were not allowed at home, the girls snatched singles from my hand and tore from the reception area at top speed, nearly crashing into several people who were waiting to see the triage nurse. “Be sure to get lots of candy bars, too,” I called after them. “The kind that rot your teeth. And don’t talk to strangers. Look.” I turned back to Peggy, leaning in very close and lowering my voice so that only she could hear me. “I am not in the mood for this right now. You’re going to tell me where they’ve taken that priest, or I’m going to let those three unholy terrors you think are so cute get all hopped up on sugar, then turn them loose in your ER. I’m going to let them touch everything, and you do not want that, because guess what? They haven’t had any of their shots. Who knows what kind of weird diseases they’re carrying without even showing symptoms? Mumps. Polio.  Whooping cough. Measles. Did you know that measles is still one of the leading causes of death in children worldwide? That because it’s so infectious, nine out of ten people who haven’t been vaccinated against it who come into contact with someone who has it will catch it. Is that really what you want? All those vulnerable, unvaccinated babies in your maternity ward to come down with measles in a matter of hours?” Peggy’s eyes widened to their limits, and she scooted her wheeled chair away from me, “I’m…I’m …I’m…I’m going to go get my supervisor.” “You do that.” I said. “But remember, the longer you make me wait, the more contagions are festering on those little girls’ hands. I hope you have a vat load of antibacterial lotion nearby.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 141-2)
“Right,” I muttered. “Doctors. Everybody’s got a disorder.” “Counselors,” he shot back. “Everyone needs therapy.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 155)
“You’re the one who keeps insisting she’s an innocent child in pain.” “She is,” I said hastily. “I’m sure.” “You’d better hope so. Otherwise, if she murders Brad and Debbie in their sleep tonight, we’ll end up with custody of your nieces, since we’re their appointed legal guardians.” “Why do you think we’re here? Brad and Debbie don’t have life insurance. We can’t let them croak. We’ll have to put off having our own kids in order to be able to afford to raise theirs.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 178)
“David,” I said when I found my voice again, “That’s a great plan. Honestly. But it isn’t going to fly. Mediators can’t go popping back and forth through time without having to pay the consequences in the form of major loss of brain cells and cosmic tears in the universe.” Quoting Paul left a bad taste in my mouth. “That’s how this whole mess got started in the first place.” “Oh.” David sounded let down. “I hadn’t considered that.” “Yeah. And really, if time travel were that easy, don’t you think I’d be doing it all the time, trying to prevent plane crashes and Hitler and stuff?” Now he sounded shocked. “Of course not. That would be a complete violation of the grandfather paradox—“
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 207)
“And Jesse would never in a million years want to live there.” David’s voice went up several octaves. “Why not?” “Because our old house is where Jesse got M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D, remember?” The girls immediately began murmuring the letters of the word I’d just spelled, but fortunately got nowhere as it was too advanced for the kindergarten set. Plus reading at the academy was being taught by sight or “whole language” rather than phonetically, which meant most students were reading well below their grade level (an opinion I’d been told by Father Dom to please keep to myself).
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 207)
The second I said the name, her mouth twisted as if she’d just bit into the foulest tasting thing she’d ever had the misfortune to eat. I should have known. Even Sister Ernestine had a him. Maybe every single woman in the world has a him. Men, too. I’d had the misfortune of meeting Jesse’s him once.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 234)
“Exactly. No parent who could afford Sacred Trinity would be caught dead in my car. Do you remember our names?” I could tell by the tilt of his head that he’d rolled his eyes. “Dr. and Mrs. Baracus. Am I supposed to be Greek?” “B.A. Baracus isn’t Greek. He’s a character from The A-Team, a television show, played by a man named Mr. T.” At Jesse’s disapproving expression, I said quickly, “Don’t worry, it’s a very old TV show, no one will remember it. Well, there was a movie, but I had to think of something fast. I didn’t expect  to get an appointment for a private tour on such short notice. But who cares? It worked, didn’t it?” “What if they decide to look up Dr. Baracus on the Internet?” “All they’ll find is that the word baracus means bad attitude. There’s a kind of poetic justice in that, don’t you think?” “Yes, considering I have in the trunk all the equipment I need to beat a confession out of the priest,” he said. “Everything Jake had in the house to subdue an intruder—“ I swiveled at him shocked. “Jesse, no! No one is beating a confession out of anybody. We’re on a fact-finding mission only.” “I think we could discover more facts more quickly if we handcuffed the priest to a radiator, then doused him with water, then shocked him several times with your stepbrother’s taser.” “I hate child killers, too, Jesse, but how about going for a more subtle approach that won’t get either of us charged with assault?” “Your attitude,” Jesse said, “really isn’t as bad as our name implies, Mrs. Baracus.” “I’m only asking that you think of our darling daughter, dear sweet little Penelope.” He shook his head. “No imaginary daughter of mine will be called Penelope.”  “You didn’t really put all that stuff in the trunk, did you?” I asked. “Of course. Along with Brad’s .22 Hornet.” At my disbelieving glance, he shrugged. “What was I supposed to do with it? He wanted to go raccoon hunting last night, remember? I had to hide it from him somewhere.” “So you brought it along today? Great. Just great, Jesse.” I eyed the armed guard who was checking each car before collecting their toll and then waving through the gate… “Do I have to remind you that you are not actually Dr. Baracus,” I asked Jesse, “but a medical student and former ghost, and one with forged identity papers?” “Actually,” he said, lowering his sunglasses and glancing at me, “I’m a medical resident, not a student. And why are you so suddenly concerned about my identity papers, Mrs. Baracus?” “I’m just wondering if driving with a rifle, handcuffs, and tasers in the trunk of a BMW that doesn’t even technically belong to you is such a good idea.” “Are you afraid I’ll be racially profiled on 17-Mile Drive? Nombre de Dios, Susannah.” Jesse clicked his tongue at me. “Have you so little faith in your fellow man?” I snorted. “Nothing I’ve heard lately about my fellow man has done much to restore it.” He grinned and slipped his glasses back into place. “I’ll have to work on that later. And anyway, I’m not Jesse de Silva, medical resident, anymore, but Dr. Baracus, wealthy plastic surgeon, father of Penelope, remember? They’d never check his trunk for implements of torture.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance P 241-3)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Remembrance-Mediator-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00XHRR3EE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499188731&sr=8-1&keywords=remembrance+meg+cabot