Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 September 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards is a beautiful book. It is the story of what happens in many lives based on one single decision made in 1964 by David Henry.

During a snow storm Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his own twin. The roads are blocked, making it impossible to get his wife to the hospital. Luckily, his nurse Caroline is able to join them at the office. Due to the advances of medical science at the time, Norah and David do not know they are having twins.

When the second child is born, David immediately recognized signs of Down syndrome. In a split second, he make the decision that will haunt all of their lives forever.

He asks Caroline to take the second child to an institution. But when Caroline gets to the institution, she cannot leave the baby there. She takes the child to another city to raise her as her own.

I can't possibly say enough about this book. It is well written with characters so vivid and a story so haunting, it is hard to put into words. Edwards is obviously a master story-teller. Read this book today. Buy it even. (Think about this. I don't purchase books. I am studying to be a librarian and fell that 95% of books can be read from the library. But this one, you can buy!)

Edwards, Kim. (2005). The Memory Keeper's Daughter. New York: Penguin Books.

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29 September 2007

The Saturday Wife

The Saturday Wife is yet another great novel by Namoi Ragen. She writes about Orthodox Jews, usually in Israel or the US. This book is a satire about the rabbi's wife. It is well written and entertaining, but it is a little like watching a train-wreck in slow motion.

Delilah Levi spent her young life dreaming of the perfect match. She would marry a brilliant, gorgeous Orthodox Jew and have the perfect life. But during college, she meets Chaim. He is a rabbinical student who is neither brilliant nor overly bright. In fact, he agreed to get a rabbinic ordination because if he did his grandfather would pay for college.

When her husband is hired by an affluent synagogue in a wealth suburb in Connecticut, she thinks everything will turn out alright. But she will ever be the social climber who is not happy with what she has if she sees someone with more. Partly because of this and partly because she is Delilah, she will set in motion a social disaster that threatens to destroy the entire community.

Ragen, Naomi. (2007). The Saturday Wife. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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28 September 2007

John Rain series

Though I am not sure each book needs it own entry, I would like to introduce you to a dangerous character who you would never want to meet in a dark alley. John Rain is introduced in the novel Rain Fall by Barry Eisler.

Rain is half American and half Japanese and was raised in both Japan and the US. Growing up he never felt like he fit into either culture. During Vietnam, the US Special Forces trained him to become a killer. And since then he has only improved on the skill.

Now living in Tokyo he is known to a select few as the man to hire to make a hit look like the target died of natural causes. He has only a few rules about taking a job. He does not kill women or children. And he only goes after the primary target, not family members or others who are not directly involved.

But he may soon find out that he is not working for the people he thinks he is working for. As you may imagine, this will not make him happy. Fortunately for him, he is a man of determination and he will find out who is really paying him.

John Rain Books:
Rain Fall
Hard Rain
Rain Storm
Killing Rain
The Last Assassin
Requiem for an Assassin

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27 September 2007

Movie: Sahara

Sahara based on the book by Clive Cussler is an adventure to rival Indiana Jones. Though I have never been able to read one of his books (and I have tried several times) the stories are entertaining.

Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, and Rudi Gunn work for retired Admiral Jim Sandecker and make up the NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), a company that sails around the world in search of sunken treasure, usually in the form of historic missing ships.

The NUMA members cross paths with WHO doctor Eva Rojas who is trying to find the source of a new plague in North Africa. Through a series of adventures and follies, they must team up to stop the spread of the deadly plague before it spreads. At the same time, Dirk is convinced that a one-of-a-kind Civil War ship may have ended up in the area.

Staring: Matthew McConaughey
Steve Zahn
Penelope Cruz
and William H. Macy

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26 September 2007

Move: Free Zone

Free Zone is an interesting look at Israeli-Palestinian-US relations through the story of 3 women.

Rebecca, an American living in Jerusalem, talks her way into a ride to Jordan. The driver of the car, Hanna ben Moshe, is on her way to Jordan to pick up money. Leila is the woman who is waiting to pay Moshe (Hanna's husband) in the Free Zone - a market area at the borders of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

After getting lost and arriving late, Hanna is told that the money is not there. The three women end up riding together to find the money.

One drawback to the film is that it was filmed by hand-held camera and has some Blair-witch motion-sickness at times. But is definitely captures the Israeli in the character of Hanna.

Natalie Portman as Rebecca
Hanna Laslo as Hanna ben Moshe
Hiam Abbass as Leila

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24 September 2007

Nerilka' Story (A Novel of Pern)

Nerilka's Story is yet another dragon book of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. The time frame of the story overlaps with Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.

Nerlika is the oldest daughter of the Lord of Fort Hold. Her father is not a great and generous man like the Lord of Ruatha Hold, Lord Alessan (whom we met in Moreta). The first chance she has, Nerlika runs away from to help the people suffering from the new illness that has struck the northern continent of Pern.

For the first time in her life Nerlika, now going by Rill, will be judged on her own character instead of who she is related to. And she will prove herself worthy of praise in the work she does to help the ill and rebuild Ruatha Hold.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1986). Nerilka's Story. New York: Del Rey Books.

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23 September 2007

The Judas Strain

James Rollin's latest book, The Judas Strain, is just as good as every other book he has published. This man has quite and imagination and some great research skills. This is the second book in the SIGMA Force novels.

A horrific plague has bubbled up from the depths of the Indian Ocean and completely decimated life on Christmas Island. The SIGMA team, acting as World Health Organization doctors, infiltrate the cruise ship-turned hospital/research facility. All members of Sigma has some medical or scientific training, making them useful while they are gathering information.

At the same time in the US, SIGMA commander Gray Pierce is enjoying his parent's 4th of July party. But at the end of that party, an assassin crashes her motorcycle into the yard while trying to seek his help.

Somehow everything that is going on can be traced back to the travels of Marco Polo.

James Rollins writes books in the same genre as The DaVinci Code, but he does it well! He is a master storyteller. I recommend any of his books.

Rollins, James. (2007). The Judas Strain. New York: William Morrow.

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20 September 2007

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey tells of life in a Weyr of Pern through the eyes of the Weyrwoman of Fort Weyr. (A weyr is any place that houses a dragon.)

It is nearing the end of a pass of Thread, the parasitic substance that falls from the Red Star and threatens life on Pern. The dragonriders are counting the days until the end of the pass when life will resume a quieter pace. After almost 40 years, they deserve their rest.

But then, without warning, a runnerbeast falls ill. Soon hundreds of beasts and people succumb to the strange new illness. Old records are searched by all who can read - trying to find a mention of this plague in the past.

All must work together to find a cure for this new influenza while maintaining a vigilant watch on the Thread at the same time. The most hopeful news, that the virus does not affect dragons, is the only thing that may save life on Pern.

Moreta and the others who have recovered must find a way to protect Pern from this new threat.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1983). Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. New York: Del Rey Books.

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10 September 2007

Movie - Aftershock: Earthquake in New York

I love disaster movies; they are so funny! Seriously, most have such awful special effects that just have to laugh. Some, though have great special effects. This one is pretty good. (Though not quite as good as The Day After Tomorrow.)

What Aftershock: Earthquake in New York has this is missing in most disaster films is a real cast. The makers did not rely soley on the special effects to carry the movie. Stars such as Charles Dutton, Tom Skerritt, Sharon Lawrence, Jennifer Garner, Lisa Nicole Carson, and others make the movie the better than average disaster.

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09 September 2007

Dragonsdawn (A Novel of Pern)

Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey is the first book in her dragon books about the planet Pern. It was not the first written, but it is in the history of Pern, the first.

The book begins with the space ships holding the people who will settle on Pern - the only people other than the original survey team 200 years ago - to set foot on the planet. The colonists signed up to go to Pern because they were tired of the way Earth and its settled neighbors had been depleted. On Pern they will do their best to live in harmony with the planet instead of destroying it.

Fire-lizards are one of the first animal species found. A cross between a lizard and the mythical dragon, fire-lizards are soon the favorite pet of everyone on Pern. Which is fortunate when, eight years after landing, a strange Thread falls from the sky burning every organic thing in its path. The fire-lizards help to fight the Thread by burning them with their dragon breath.

The new settlers will have to learn to cope with this new and potentially devastating problem if they are to survive their new life on Pern. Of course, with the 18+ books that McCaffrey has written about life on Pern, there is hope that the colonists will survive.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1988). Dragonsdawn. New York: Del Rey Books.

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06 September 2007

Dragondrums (Harper Hall Trilogy #3)

Dragondrums is the final book in Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy. This book follows the adventures of Piemur, Menolly's first friend at Harper Hall.

Piemur came to the Hall as a singer. He was always forced to sing the girl parts, as there were no female harpers and his voice was in the right range. But when he arrived he was young and his voice had yet to change. What use will he be at Harper Hall when his voice starts to change?

Luckily the Masterharper has a plan for Piemur that does not use his singing voice. He will be apprenticed to the Masterdrummer. Drums are used in Pern to send messages between Holds, Forts and Weyrs.

Piemur, being known as much for his pranks as for his voice, gets himself into trouble as easy as he breathes. How will he get himself out of the mess he get into at a Gather in Nabol Hold?

McCaffrey, Anne. (1979). Dragondrums. New York: Bantam Books.

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05 September 2007

So Much To Tell You

So Much To Tell You by John Marsden is a beautiful book. It is written though the journal entries of fourteen year old Marina.

Marina is sent away to boarding school. She is not sure she likes it, but it is better than the hospital and better than living with her mother and step-father. She has been through a tragedy and does not talk. At all.

When her English teacher gives her a journal and tells each student to write in it every night, Marina thinks she will not do it. What if he reads it, even though he said he wouldn't? But before long, the journal becomes a great way to get some of her feelings out.

It is not an easy school year - being the only one in the whole dorm who doesn't speak. Eventually, her roommates get used to her and she starts to feel almost comfortable. How will she react when some of the girls start to reach out to her? All she wants is to not be noticed. But they do seem like they are nice...

So Much To Tell You won Australia's 1988 Book of the Year Award and could be included on a list of book all teens should read. It is a well written, easy to read, sensitive look at coping with tragedy. I highly recommend it.

Marsden, John. (1987). So Much To Tell You. New York: Fawcett Books.

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04 September 2007

Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy #2)

Dragonsinger is the second book in Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy following the story of how Menolly became the first female Harper.

This second book covers Menolly's first week at Harper Hall. She and her fire lizards arrive at the hall where, for the first time in her life, she is encouraged to sing and play music. But it is not all fun. She has many lesson still to learn about her chosen craft.

And many will not respect her right away for being the first woman in her field. Menolly will have to find a way to fit in if she is to stay and become a Harper. Luckily, she is the first person at Harper Hall or Fort Hold. She will be asked to tell others what she knows as they impatiently await the hatching of their own fire lizards.

Will Menolly be able to convince others that she belongs at Harper Hall? Will she be able to convince herself?

McCaffrey, Anne. (1977). Dragonsinger. New York: Bantam Books.

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03 September 2007

Dragonsong (Harper Hall Trilogy #1)

Anne McCaffrey's books of Pern are addictive! Dragonsong is the first book in her Harper Hall Trilogy about Menolly of Half Circle Sea Hold, the first female Harper. We first met Menolly in the Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy, but in this series we learn much more about the memorable character.

Half Circle Sea Hold is all about fishing. It is one of three holds on the ocean the divides the two large continents on Pern. Like the life of any fishing village, there is much work to be done, usually in schedule with the tides and weather. The only part of her daily life that makes Menolly happy is when she is with the Harper. She loves to sing, play music and make up songs. She would be a natural to take over for the old Harper if she was a boy. But there has never been a female Harper.

When the old Harper dies, she gets to fill in for him while his replacement is sent from Harper Hall. Her father, the Holder, does not want the new Harper to know that a girl filled in teaching the children, for fear of disgracing the Hold. When Menolly is no longer allowed to play music and sing, she decides she cannot live in the Hold any longer. She runs away. She does not know that the old Harper wrote to the Masterharper about her before he died. The Masterharper, being so impressed with her songs, sends searcher in every direction to look for her. If he can find her, she will be able to sing and play music to her heart's content. He would let a gift like hers go just because she is a girl.

But, will they find her? How will she survive on her own? Will she be able to live in a cave with the fire lizards?

McCaffrey, Anne. (1976). Dragonsong. New York: Bantam Books.

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