Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 August 2007


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a highly awarded and highly challenged book. As usual, I didn't see any reason to want to ban it, but I guess the argument is that the subject is mature for some teens. However, that is the point. The book deals with rape and unfortunately, you can never be too young to learn the facts.

Melinda Sordino called the police and broke up an end of the summer party. No one know why she called, but all of her classmates and friends are upset with her. When the new school year begins, she finds she is quite without friends. The only girl who will talk to her is a new student from Ohio.

Speak is written through the thoughts of Melinda. It is a sensitive and at times funny look at life from the prospective of a 14-year old who has withdrawn from society into her head. She speaks very little and her grades are suffering. It feels like the only person trying to reach out to her is her art teacher. He encourages her to put her feelings into her art. She has no idea what he is talking about. How do you put feelings into art?

By the end of the school year, Melinda cannot keep her feelings inside any longer. She realizes that if she doesn't speak up, she may lose her voice completely.

Speak has been made into a movie. I will re-watch it and post an entry about it soon. It was very good, but the book is better!

Anderson, Laurie Halse. (1999). Speak. New York: Penguin Books.

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27 August 2007

The White Dragon (Dragonriders of Pern #3)

The White Dragon is the third book in the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy by Anne McCaffrey.

At the end of the second book, a white dragon is born in Pern. He is the first white dragon ever born. Many think the small dragon has not developed enough to survive. But the boy who Impresses his has higher hopes for this dragon. He wants the dragon, Ruth, to be able to learn to eat firestone and fight Thread like other dragons. He is only half the size of the others, but he is incredibly agile while flying.

And his rider, the boy who helped Ruth out of his shell, doesn't seem to conform to the normal dragonrider. He is, in fact, not allowed to become an official dragonrider - partly due to Ruth's small size, and partly due to other obligations. This doesn't, however, stop them from doing things that other dragonriders would be afraid to try. Like Lessa's jump back in time in the first book, this dragonrider will make a leap that will save all of Pern.

I can't say much else without giving anything away. This is a great series. My only complaint is that out of McCaffrey's 18 books, I don't know if any continue the story where The White Dragon leaves off. I am not ready to let go of these characters!

McCaffrey, Anne. (1978). The White Dragon. New York: Del Rey.

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25 August 2007

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern #2)

Dragonquest is the second exciting book in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern trilogy.

Dragonquest begins seven years after the first book ends. Treads are still falling from the Red Star, threatening to destroy all plant life on Pern. At the beginning of the Treadfall in the first book, a miraculous between time trip saved the planet.

Now there is a clash of cultures between the Oldtimers and the contemporary Weyrs. There is dissent between the dragonriders and the crafters and the land holders. Something must be done to keep all working together against the Thread.

A few of the more vocal Holders don't understand why the dragons can go between places on Pern but cannot just go between to the Red Star and fight the Tread at its source. It would be a suicide mission for any dragonrider to attempt it, but what other way will the non-dragon people of the Pern be satisfied that the dragonriders are doing their best to protect them?

McCaffrey, Anne. (1971). Dragonquest. New York: Del Rey.

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24 August 2007

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is a Science Fiction classic that has inspired generations of writers - written in 1864. For example, Jeff Long's The Descent could not have been written as it was if not for the original creativity of Verne.

Harry and his uncle, Professor Von Hardwigg, make an astonishing discovery in an old text written by an explorer from Iceland. Once deciphered, the text claims the location of an entrance to journey to the center of the world.

And just like that, they are off on an adventure. By all means of transportation, the two make their way to Reykjavik. There they hire a guide and head to a hopefully extinct volcano where the doorway lies.

The fantastic adventures to follow are possibly tame by today's science fiction standards, but no less amazing. It appears that as long as you take the right tunnel, you can reach pretty close to the center of the Earth.

Verne, Jules. (1986). A Journey to the Center of the Earth. New York: Signet Classics.

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23 August 2007

The Dark River (The Fourth Realm #2)

The Dark River is the second book in John Twelve Hawk's Fourth Realm Series. The first book was The Traveler.

As many second books in a trilogy, this one was not as exciting as the first book. A lot happens in the book, but not a lot of progress is made toward the conclusion. It doesn't have the punch of the first book.

The Dark River begins a few months after the Traveler ends. Maya is still recovering from her wounds. Maya, Gabriel, Hollis and Vicki are hiding from the Tabula. At the same time, the Tabula murder everyone who has helped them along the way.

Gabriel goes to London in search of his father. The others follow after being separated in a chase through New York City. While Gabriel does not find his father in London, he does find allies. By the time Maya catches up to Gabriel, it is evident that Gabriel will only be able to find his father in a different dimension. He knows that his father has gone into the first realm - a realm that is very difficult to return from.

Twelve Hawks, John. (2007). The Dark River. New York: Doubleday.

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21 August 2007

Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern #1)

Dragonflight is the first book in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. It was originally published in 1968. At last count the books that take place on the planet of Pern number 18! I will be reading them all, but the first trilogy is the Dragonriders.

It has been almost 400 years since the planet of Pern has been threatened by the Red Star. They are a part of the same solar system (Rukbat), but their orbits vary greatly. When the Red Star is close enough, it sends Thread onto Pern to try and take over the more temperate and hospitable planet. It is the job of the dragons and the dragonriders who ride them to keep Pern from being invaded.

But after 400 years, the traditions seem little more than legend or superstition. The Weyrs, where the dragonriders live, have always been supported by the Holds of the upper reaches. The Holds supply food and goods to the Weyr in return for protection. The Holds are getting a bit tired of tithing to a group they don’t think does anything but lay around and eat their food.

Ten years ago, Ruath Hold was taken over by a neighboring lord who slaughtered all with the the blood of Ruath. Or did he? Lessa has been hiding in plain sight for ten years, waiting for a time to reclaim the Hold in the name of her family. At the same time, a Search is going on for a woman to become the next Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr – someone to Impress with the soon-to-hatch dragon queen. And though Lessa has been able to hide her power from Fax, the ruler of her Hold, she may not fool the dragonriders as easily.

Some of the dragonriders are aware of the Red Star becoming more prominent in the dawn sky. But they will need the help of all, including a strong Weyrwoman if they have any hope of surviving the next Thread invasion.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1968). Dragonflight. New York: Del Rey Books.

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20 August 2007

The Broken Bridge

The Broken Bridge is unlike any other Philip Pullman book I have read. It has no fantasy, no exciting historical time period, no talking animals... but of course, since Pullman wrote it, it is excellent.

The Broken Bridge is about Ginny Howard. Ginny is a girl from Wales who lives with her father in a small beach town. She feels different from the people around her but know that she and her father are a great family. They get along well and share everything. At least that is what Ginny thought, until one day she finds out that she has a brother. Robert is Ginny's half-brother. They have different mothers. And if Ginny didn't already feel different being only one of two black people in town, her new white brother would make her feel awkward anyway.

Ginny and Robert do not like each other. But they decide to put their differences aside to try and find out what really happened - how they could have not known about each other.

Pullman, Philip. (1992). The Broken Bridge. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


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19 August 2007

Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4)

Something Rotten is Jasper Fforde's fourth Thursday Next book.

After living in fiction for her safety and the safety of her son, Thursday moves back to Swindon. A few things have changed in the time she was gone. The fictional Yorrick Kaine has been elected Chancellor of England. This administration has started a campaign against Denmark.

Why Denmark and not the Socialist Republic of Wales? I can't tell you without giving away a secret. But Thursday has many different problems to solve in this novel!

The following is an example of what makes Jasper Fforde so enjoyable to read:

Danish Car a "Deathtrap," Claims Kainian Minister

Robert Edsel, the Kainian minister of road safety, hit out at Danish car manufacturer Volvo yesterday, claiming the boxy and unsightly vehicle previously considered one of the safest cars on the market to be the complete reverse - a death trap for anyone stupid enough to buy one. "The Volvo fared very poorly in the rocket-propelled grenade test," claimed Mr. Edsel in a press release yesterday, "and owners and their children risk permanent spinal injury when dropped in the car from heights as low as sixty feet." Mr. Edsel continued to pour scorn on the pride of the Danish motoring industry by revealing that the Volvo's air filters offered "scant protection" against pyroclastic flows, poisonous fumes and other forms of common volcanic phenomena. "I would very much recommend that anyone thinking of buying this poor Danish product should think again, said Mr. Edsel. When the Danish foreign minister pointed out that Volvos were, in fact, Swedish, Mr. Edsel accused the Danes of once again attempting to blame their neighbors for their own manufacturing weaknesses.

Fforde, Jasper. (2004). Something Rotten. New York: Penguin.

Fantasy / Alternate Reality. Literary Detective. Mystery.

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16 August 2007

The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)

The Well of Lost Plots is Jasper Fforde's third Thursday Next book.

Thursday decides that for her safety she should hide out for a while. The safest place she can hide is in fiction. Out of all of the book in the Great Library, Thursday decides to hide in the Well of Lost Plots, the books that have not yet been published.

Her world for the next year or so will be in Caversham Heights a detective story that has little hope of being published. Through the Character Exchange Program, Thursday takes the place of Mary Jones, a police officer. Her life within fiction will be quite different than it was in the "outland."

Along with everything else going on in the crazy Well, the book world is about to introduce a book upgrade. Not since the upgrade from SCROLL to BOOK, has there been a change like this.

Fforde, Jasper. (2003). The Well of Lost Plots. New York: Viking.

Fantasy / Alternate Reality. Literary Detective. Mystery.

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Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next #2)

Jasper Fforde's second Thursday Next book is Lost in a Good Book.

It seems as though someone it trying to kill Thursday. She is encountering too many coincidences to be a coincidence. The problem is, after the first book, it could be so many different people. The Goliath corporation is after her to release Jack Schitt from the book he is trapped in. The Chronoguard is after her for information on her father. SpecOps own PR woman Cordelia Flakk is after her to do more interviews about her rescue of Jane Eyre. And could it be that Hades is alive?

Thursday's life keeps becoming more complicated. She is due at a trial in the book world for committing a Class II Fiction Infraction when she changed the ending of Jane Eyre. But the trial is to take place in the Kafka book The Trial. Thursday has to figure out how to go about getting into the book before she misses her court date.

Fforde, Jasper (2002). Lost in a Good Book. New York: Pengiun Books.

Fantasy. Literary Detecitve. Mystery.

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14 August 2007

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1)

Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair is the first book in his Thursday Next series.

Thursday Next is an officer with the Special Operations Network. SpecOps was created to handle things outside of normal police duties - situations either too unusual or too specialized. It is made up of 30 departments. SO-27 is the department is the Literary Detective Division. It is the division Thursday usually works in. A typical day for her would include examining possible forgeries of Shakespeare's plays or tracking down a stolen manuscript.

But the theft of the original manuscript of Charles Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit is not an everyday theft. It was stolen by the third most dangerous criminal in all of England - Acheron Hades. Acheron is also a former professor of Thursday's. That is why she is temporarily promoted to SO-5: Search & Containment.

The manuscript must be recovered before Hades can find a way to alter the story. The original manuscript of a story is the most volatile. "All copies anywhere on the planet, in whatever form, originate from that first act of creation. When the original changes, all the others have to change too."

So why is the book called the Eyre Affair and not the Chuzzlewit Affair? Well, Acheron Hades a very notorious criminal. Do you think someone like that, if not stopped, will be satisfied with changing only one manuscript? What will happen to the novel Jane Eyre (written in the first person) if Jane is kidnapped?

Fforde, Jasper. (2001). The Eyre Affair. New York: Viking.

Fantasy / Alternate Reality. Literary Detective. Mystery.

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