Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 June 2007

Wolf-Speaker (Immortals #2)

Wolf-Speaker is the second book in the Immortals Series by Tamora Pierce. This book continues Daine's story.

Dunlath Valley has always been a peaceful place - practically utopia for the animals who live there. But when humans start cutting down trees and mining the valley, the wolves know they need help to stop the destruction. They call on their former pack-mate and the only two-legged they trust - Daine.

Daine is not sure that the humans will listen to her pleas from the wolves and other valley animals, but she is sure they are up to no good. Will she be able to stop them before they destroy Dunlath Valley?

Pierce, Tamora. (1997). Wolf-Speaker. New York: Random House.

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28 June 2007

Wild Magic (Immortals #1)

The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce is the series following the Song of the Lioness quartet.

The Immortals series takes place in Tortall after the ending of the Song of the Lioness books. The reign of King Jonathan continues. However, Tortall has been invaded by immortal creatures - not all friendly to humans. This first book -Wild Magic - tells of how Daine comes to Tortall to help with the king's horses.

Daine (Veralidaine Sarrasri) has a knack with animals. She can communicate with them. Her family had her tested for magic but none was found. So why can she talk to animals? Could it be that she doesn't have the Gift, but has a wild type of magic?

Will she be able to communicate with the immortals as she is able to communicate with mammals? Or will the immortals take over Tortall?

Pierce, Tamora. (1997). Wild Magic. New York: Random House.

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22 June 2007

Briar's Book (Circle of Magic #4)

Briar's Book, the fourth book in the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, is about the benefits of plant magic. It continues the story of Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar through a plague that hits the city next to Winding Circle.

The new type of pox is first noticed in a street rat friend of Briar. Unfortunately, even after establishing a quarantine, the sickness spreads. The plant mages are tasked with the job of finding a cure.

Overall the Circle of Magic series is enjoyable and a great introduction to the four characters who will also be the focus of the Circle Opens series.

Pierce, Tamora. (1999). Briar's Book. New York: Scholastic.

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21 June 2007

Daja's Book (Circle of Magic #3)

Daja's Book continues the Circle of Magic quartet by Tamora Pierce. Daja, Tris, Sandry, and Briar travel with Duke Vedris and their teachers to the north of Emelan.

The land in the north is plagued by a drought. The plants are all dying and the people are running out of ways to make money. To make matters worse a fire is making its way through the brush toward the forest and the village. And to top it all off, the friends cannot help because their magic is twisted together.

Briar has the power of lightening, but cannot control it. Daja is making iron sculptures by accident. Can Sandry un-weave their magic as she once joined it? Will it be in time to help the people of the north?

Also, Daja who has become an out cast from the Trader people due to her bad luck, will have her first encounter with a Trader family. How will she react to being as good as invisible to her people?

Pierce, Tamora. (1998). Daja's Book. New York: Scholastic.

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19 June 2007

Tris's Book (Circle of Magic #2)

Tris's Book takes over just after Sandry's Book ends in the Circle of Magic Series by Tamora Pierce.

The Winding Circle is still recovering from an earthquake when strange things start happening in the Summersea harbor. A wall of storm clouds too thick to see through appears but doesn't move it. It looks real enough, but if you look closely you will see that the lightening always strikes in the same patterns.

What forces could have created this storm? Who or what is hiding behind it? And will Winding Circle have the resources and strength to fight whatever may lurk there?

Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar are at the center of things going on around them - even though the adults keep telling them they are not ready for this level of magic.

Pierce, Tamora. (1998). Tris's Book. New York: Scholastic.

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17 June 2007

Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic #1)

After reading The Will of the Empress and the Song of the Lioness series, I decided to read the Circle of Magic series that leads up to The Will of the Empress. (I missed the eight books preceding it when I read it.) Tamora Pierce is quickly becoming one of my favorite young adult fantasy authors!

Sadry's Book, book 1 of the Circle of Magic series, tells the story of how Sandry, Daja, Tris, and Briar come together at Winding Circle. Though they come from very different backgrounds and likely never have spoken to each other elsewhere, once they are brought together in the Discipline House at Winding Circle, they become the most reliable of friends.

When they arrive at Winding Circle, they do not know it is anything other than a school. They have no idea that each of them is a mage or has any magical ability. They do, however, get themselves into enough trouble that they start to notice certain unusual abilities.

Pierce, Tamora. (1997). Sandry's Book. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

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16 June 2007

Wide Awake

David Levithan's Wide Awake takes place in one possible future. It is set "a few decades after 9/11" during a presidential election. For the first time in United States history a gay Jewish man is going to be elected president.

Duncan proud to work for a candidate whose campaign offices welcome the work of those not yet old enough to vote. Duncan and his boyfriend Jimmy, along with a few other friends from his high school volunteer most of their free time to helping the Stein-Martinez campaign.

When the last votes are in, it looks like Abraham Stein will become the new president of the United States of America. But if something has worked once it will likely work again, and the governor of Kansas, where Stein won by 1000 votes, calls for a recount.

Will the same thing happen to presidential hopeful Stein as happened to Al Gore? Not if Abraham Stein can help it. He will not concede an election he knows he won. The popular vote nationwide has him ahead by millions of votes. Instead, he call on all of his supporters to come to Kansas! If the people are in Kansas watching the governor how can he continue this blatant attempt to control the election?

But what sane parent would let there sixteen year old go to Kansas, all the way from Jersey, to protest? And if Duncan can get to Kansas, will having Stein supporters on his front lawn make the governor of Kansas any more or less moral than he already is?

Levithan, David. (2006). Wide Awake. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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15 June 2007

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4)

The final book in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series is Lioness Rampant. Alanna's story continues were The Woman Who Rides Like a Man left off.

Alanna and her man-at-arms, Coram, are still looking for adventure. At the beginning of the book they are in Maren, a country east of Tortall. While there Alanna meets a Shang Warrior. She is eager to learn the Shang style of fighting. This training may be just the thing she needs to survive her next adventure.

It took me a while to read this book even though it is great. I wanted to know what happened next, but I knew it was the last book in the series. Then after looking at Tamora Pierce's website, I found out that there are many other series' that take place in Tortall. Not all have the same characters, but some do.

The other Tortall books include:

The Immortals Series: Wild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, The Emperor Mage, and The Realm of the Gods.

Protector of the Small: First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight.

Daughter of the Lioness: Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen.

Beka Cooper: Terrier, Bloodhound and Elkhound (2009).

Yippee! I will be reading them all as soon as I can get them from the library. These are great books by an easy to read author with a gift for story-telling. I would recommend this series to anyone. It is not only fun to read, but has a female hero which is not always the norm in the fantasy genre.

Pierce, Tamora. (1998). Lioness Rampant. New York: Simon Pulse.

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13 June 2007

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3)

The third book in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man begins just after Alanna goes through the Ordeal of Knighthood.

Alanna of Trebond heads south seeking adventure in the land of Tortall. She and Coram journey through the Great Southern Desert on their way to the coast. But it is forbidden by the Bazhir to travel through their desert without permission.

Will Alanna and Coram be able to talk their way out of the fix they have gotten into? What will the Bazhir tribe of the Bloody Hawk do with the trespassers?

In this volume of the quartet Alanna, after living in the palace for the last eight years, will find out what it means to have to make decisions on her own. Of course, she has never been one to sit back and let others decide for her. What will she choose? And perhaps more importantly, whom will she choose - George, the King of the Rogue, or Jonathan, Prince of Tortall?

Pierce, Tamora. (1986). The woman who rides like a man. New York: Simon Pulse.

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12 June 2007

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2)

The second book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, In the Hand of the Goddess, continues the adventures of Alanna of Trebond. The first book, Alanna, got herself into school to become a knight by posing as a boy.

Now her years of training continue. The mastery of all aspects of knighthood are not as hard to learn as the changes in her body. She is finding it more and more difficult to conceal the fact that she is becoming a woman.

Now that Alanna, known as Alan at school, is the squire to Prince Jonathan her quest to keep him from the evil eyes of those who would usurp the thrown from him. Her skill with swords and sorcery will both be needed to keep him safe during the war with the invading neighbor.

Does Alanna have the knowledge and strength to guard Jonathan and keep her secret hidden from those around her? She will get some help in that department from a powerful source...

Pierce, Tamora. (1984). In the Hand of the Goddess. New York: Simon Pulse.

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11 June 2007

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1)

After reading Tamora Pierce's The Will of the Empress, I decided to check out some of her other books...

Alanna: The First Adventure, is the first book in the Song of the Lioness quartet.

Alanna and her twin brother Thom are about to be shipped off to boarding school - or the equivalent in their country of Tortall. Thom is to go to the palace to become a knight and Alanna is off to the convent to become a Lady. Except Thom wants to go to the convent to become a sorcerer and Alanna wants to be a knight. They solve this small set-back by forging a new letter from their father, saying the twins are two boys. Thom gets to study magic and Alanna is off, in her disguise, to become a knight.

How will she be able to fool all of the others at the palace? Will she be found out? And if not, will she have the strength to battle the boys her age and not flunk out of knight training?

And what will happen when she gets just a bit older and it is more difficult to hide the fact that she is becoming a woman?

This first book is great. It is followed by In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampart.

Pierce, Tamora. (1983). Alanna: The first adventure. New York: Simon Pulse.

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08 June 2007

Out of the Shadows

Out of the Shadows by Sue Hines is an awesome book. It is the story of Rowanna - Ro - and how she came to terms with the fact that her mother was a lesbian.

Ro thinks her family is totally unlike anyone else's family. She may be right, but after becoming best friends with two school mates - Jodie and Mark - she realizes that other families don't necessarily fit the idea of normal either.

Ro and Deb, her mother's partner moved out of Sydney for a new start after Ro's mother was killed by a drunk driver. The small town they settled in is okay but Ro doesn't have many friends - really just Mark. Then Jodie moves to town. Her family moved partly because Jodie was being harassed at school for being a lesbian.

The three of them become best friends. And through out the school year learn more about each other. The book is very well written and I highly recommend it. In fact, the next time I get a B&N gift certificate; it will be the first book I get!

Hines, Sue (1998). Out of the Shadows. New York: Avon Books, Inc.

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07 June 2007


Stigma by Philip Hawley, Jr. is a tense and dramatic thriller. Quite a novel for his writing debut.

Luke McKenna, a pediatric ER doctor in Los Angeles is trying to solve a mystery. A young Mayan boy from Guatemala just died under his care. His symptoms don't make sense. And before an autopsy can be performed the body disappears.

Could the disease that killed the young boy have been caused by the pharmaceutical company Zenavax that is conducting malaria research in the jungles of Guatemala? A doctor who used to work with Luke's father gave Zenavax the key research that lead them to the malaria vaccine they are testing.

Is it even possible to genetically alter mosquitoes to deliver a vaccine for malaria as opposed to them spreading the disease?

Hawley takes cutting edge science and twists it to make a fascinating novel that you will not be able to put down.

Hawley, Philip Jr. (2007). Stigma. New York: HarperCollins.

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06 June 2007

Movie: Saving Face

Saving Face is a dramatic comedy about Chinese Americans in New York City. The story revolves around Wil, played by Michelle Krusiec. One relationship with her mother Hwei-Lan Gao, played by the amazing Joan Chen, focuses on her mother moving in with her because Hwei-Lan was kicked out of her parent's house. She is 48, pregnant and not married. Wil's other relationship is with Vivian, played by Lynn Chen, the woman she falls in love with.

How can Wil find her mother a husband and keep her girlfriend a secret?

This is a great movie by writer and first time director Alice Wu. Anyone who likes films such as Bend it Like Beckham or Tortilla Soup, movies that show the clash of cultures one has to confront in today's society, will love this film.

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04 June 2007

Movie: Imagine Me & You

Imagine Me & You, staring Piper Perabo and Lena Headey, is a romantic comedy with a slight twist. This movie did not do well in the box office because the preview misrepresents the plot of the film.

At the beginning of the film, Rachel (Perabo) and Heck (Matthew Goode) are getting married. But Rachel meets someone she cannot get out of her head - the florist from the wedding.

What do you do when you first catch a glimpse of the person you were meant to be with while you are marrying another? Especially when you have never thought about possibility of falling in love with another woman, and don't necessarily recognize the feelings you are having for her...

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