Good Books and the Random Movie

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27 November 2007

Deeper (Sequel to The Descent)

In Deeper, Jeff Long takes us back into the underworld he created in The Descent. (Both of which are most likely based on Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne).

It is ten years after a plague destroyed all of Hadal life in the tunnels that run under the Earth's crust. There are settlers and entrepreneurs all over the deep.

One film maker and his crew are following the route of the Helios expedition (from the first book) to create an IMAX film called "Hell." There are other teams also exploring the deep, including a NASA subterranean team that is mapping the largest fresh water lake on the planet.

But something is still killing off the settlers and explorers. At the same time, something is drawing people into the tunnels. Could it be that not all of the Hadals perished?

On Halloween, hundreds of children are kidnapped from the United States by monsters from underground. Now there is proof that Haddie is still alive. Teams are organized to find the children and bring them back.

But there are two snags to the planning - 1) the international peace treaty for the subterranean planet says no military may enter the tunnels; and 2) Ali Von Schade, one of only two people to survive the original Helios expedition, refuses to return to the depths.

Long, Jeff. (2007). Deeper. New York: Atria Books.

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21 November 2007

Protect and Defend (Mitch Rapp Series)

Vince Flynn has done it again. His books are always impossible to put down. Protect and Defend is the ninth book featuring Mitch Rapp.

Rapp is an assassin. He works for the CIA. But he only kills the bad guys.

If you like political thriller, spy thriller, or the like, you will love this series of books.

This is the series so far:
Term Limits
Transfer of Power
The Third Option
Separation of Power
Executive Power
Memorial Day
Consent to Kill
Act of Treason
Protect and Defend

Flynn, Vince. (2007). Protect and Defend. New York: Atria Books.

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19 November 2007

Heir Apparent

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde is the story of a girl who gets trapped inside of a video game.

Giannine Bellisario is given a gift certificate for Rasmussem Entertainment for her birthday. She can use is for either 45 tokens or 1/2 hour of virtual reality gaming. She chooses the virtual reality.

The game is Heir Apparent. The set up is that she is the illegitimate child of the king raised in the country by sheep farmers. Now the king has died and named her their heir.

Unfortunately, while Giannine is in the game, the OPOC (Citizens to Protect Our Children) break into the game center and destroy enough that she is trapped in the game. The only way to safely be removed from the game is if she can manage to win.

Technicians have determined that if she stays in the game too long brain damage will occur. Giannine doesn't know this. Although a hologram has warned her that she must win soon she does not know the risks to herself.

Velde, Vivian Vande. (2002). Heir Apparent. New York: Magic Carpet Books.

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18 November 2007


Holes by Louis Sachar is a great book! It is the story how people are connected through generations. That is to say, what happened to Stanley Yelnats's no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather is still affecting the family today.

Stanley was in the wrong place at the wrong time (the story of his life) and was arrested for theft. He is sent to Camp Green Lake, a boys' juvenile detention center. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake - it has been dry for over a hundred years.

The daily chore for boys at this camp is to dig a hole. One hole each day. Five feet deep and five feet wide. The sooner it is done, the more free time the boys have in the afternoon/evening. The warden claims that digging the holes will build character.

This is a humorous tale of crime and punishment and a curse passed down through Stanley's family line. I highly recommend it! It is a well thought out and written tale that weaves the story of many generations together in parallel tales of chance, justice, and decision that will change the course of the Yelnats family.

Sachar, Louis. (1998). Holes. New York: Frances Foster Books.

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17 November 2007

Letters from the Inside

Letters from the Inside by John Marsden is the story of Tracey and Mandy. Tracey puts an add in a magazine for a pen pal. Mandy answers it. Neither of them thought it would lead to finally having a friend to confide in.

Tracey says she put the ad in as a joke. Mandy doesn't even know why she would answer the ad. She doesn't want a pen pal. But soon they are sharing stories of their lives and families. Or are they?

Soon, things that Tracey says don't add up, they contradict what she wrote before, and no one knows her at the school she says she goes to...

Mandy will not give up. She has promised to harass Tracey with letters until she finds out the truth.

John Marsden is also the author of So Much To Tell You, a riveting story of a girl who doesn't talk (much in the style of the book Speak). He writes about difficult situations in an honest and compelling way that pulls the reader into his stories. He is yet another of Australia great young adult authors. There must be something in the water down there!

Marsden, John. (1991). Letters from the inside. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books.

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16 November 2007

Rashi's Daughters, Book II: Miriam

Rashi's Daughters, Book II: Miriam by Maggie Anton is just as compelling as the first installment - Joheved. This book begins where the first book ended but changes focus to the second of Rashi's daughters.

Miriam is engaged to Benjamin and cannot wait to marry him and start a life together. His is going home for the holidays and will return for the wedding soon. Unfortunately, while he is away he has an accident and dies. Miraim is devastated and cannot imagine marrying someone else.

She focuses all of her attention on being a midwife as her aunt has been teaching her to do. But eventually she will have to start looking at suitors. She is too young to stay single.

Judah ben Natan is a scholar in Mayence - at the yeshiva that Rashi used to attend. He has never been interested in getting married. His only passion is the study of Torah. However, as time passes he starts becoming attracted to his study partner and realises that he must get married to control his yeter hara (evil inclination). But he will not marry just any woman. She must know Talmud.

Where on earth would he find such a woman?

Anton, Maggie. (2007). Rashi's Daughters, Book II: Miriam. New York: Plume.

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15 November 2007

Rashi's Daughters, Book One: Joheved

Maggie Anton writes books that not only read like historical fiction, they teach the reader Torah and Talmud. The first book - Rashi's Daughters, Book I: Joheved - is an informative and engaging read.

Salomon ben Isaac, known as Rashi, is one of the most studied Talmud scholars of all time. His commentary changed the way Talmud is studied.

In the year 1068, Salomon had to return to Troyes, France to take over the family winemaking business. He was heartbroken to be away from the yeshiva and his students and teachers. So he began to teach Torah and Talmud to his daughters - secretly. Women were not taught Talmud in those days (and even now in many places). It was thought to be dangerous knowledge.

His oldest daughter, Joheved proves to be a dutiful and serious student. She keeps her knowledge a secret to save her father's reputation. He is starting a yeshiva in Troyes. She doesn't even tell her betrothed, Meir ben Samuel, until the young couple faces it first crisis and she must decide between marital happiness and her true self.

Anton, Maggie. (2005). Rashi's Daughter, Book I: Joheved. Glendale, CA: Benot Press.

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12 November 2007

The Rules for Hearts (sequel to Empress of the World)

The Rules for Hearts is the second book by Sara Ryan featuring Battle Hall Davies. The first was Empress of the World, where Battle met Nicola at summer camp.

It is now one year later and Battle is moving to Portland, Oregon. She will attend Reed in the fall but is moving early to reunite with her brother, Nick. She hasn't seen him for almost five years, since he left home.

Battle will soon find out that Nick is not necessarily the kind of person she wants her brother to be. In the mean time, she will live in Forest House - a group house where her brother lives - and join the play that everyone in the house is participating in.

Ryan, Sara. (2007). The Rules for Hearts. New York: Viking.

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11 November 2007

Magic's Child (Magic or Madness trilogy #3)

Magic's Child is the final book in Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness Trilogy.

Reason, Jay-Tee and Tom are still reeling from what happened to Reason. She now has more magic. Jay-Tee, on the other hand, has almost used hers up. Unless the vision that Jason Blake had about Reason being able to fix the problem of running out of life when running out of magic comes true, Jay-Tee will not live much longer.

But Jason Blake is not done trying to steal the magic from Reason and is not above using others to trick her into a vulnerable position. Will she be able to defeat him? Will she find a way to save Jay-Tee?

Larbalestier, Justine. (2007). Magic's Child. New York: Razorbill.

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10 November 2007

Eclipse (Twilight series #3)

Eclipse is the third book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.

In the third installment of the series, Bella has to choose between Edward and Jacob. They are both in love with her and she loves them both. What makes this decision more intense than some love triangles, she will be choosing between a vampire and a werewolf.

Again, I really can't say much without including spoilers, which I do not want to do. This is an exciting, well thought out series that is addicting. I cannot wait for the fourth book!

Meyer, Stephenie. (2007). Eclipse. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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09 November 2007

New Moon (Twilight series #2)

New Moon is the second book in the Twilight trilogy by Stephenie Meyer.

Bella is just as klutzy as ever and it soon puts her in an awkward situation with Edward and his family. Although they all care about her, they are not completely immune to the lure of human blood. They are vampires after all.

The story between Bella and the Cullens continues and Bella reconnects with her friend Jacob.

I really can't say much without fear that I will accidentally add a spoiler. So just read it. If you like the first you will like this one, too.

Meyer, Stephenie. (2006). New Moon. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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07 November 2007

Anne McCaffrey's books of Pern

I have now read eleven of Anne McCaffrey's book that take place on the planet of Pern. They have all been great. My one complaint along the way was not knowing the order in which to read them. So, here are two ideas for you. One is recommended by Anne McCaffrey (I found it in the 10th book) and the other is in chronological order in the history of Pern.

McCaffrey Recommeded Order:

Dragonriders Trilogy:
The White Dragon

Haper Hall Trilogy: (overlaps time with Dragonriders trilogy)


Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

Nerilka's Story

MasterHarper of Pern

All the Weyrs of Pern

The Skies of Pern

(4 others - don't know the order.)

Historical Timeline:
It may be that if you read them in historical order you miss things that were revealed by the order thye were written in...

Dragonsdawn - the founding of the planet by people from Earth and nearby planets.
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern - A plague strikes the Northern Continent
Nerlika's Story - Overlaps with Moreta, plague from a different point of view.
MasterHarper of Pern - the story of Robinton
Dragonflight - The story of Lessa who becomes Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr
Dragonquest - A trip back in time to save Pern
The White Dragon - Ruth and Jaxom of Ruatha
Dragonsong - Story of Menolly of Half Circle Sea Hold
Dragonsinger - A continuation of Dragonsong
Dragondrums - The story of Piemur
All the Weyrs of Pern - The discover of the computer Aivas
The Skies of Pern - A new role for dragonriders

Other books (I haven't yet read and will fit add to lists later)
The Renegades of Pern
The Dolphins of Pern
The Chornicals of Pern: First Fall
Plus books written by Todd McCaffrey that continue the series?

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The Skies of Pern (Pern)

The Skies of Pern is the eleventh book in the series by Anne McCaffrey that began with Dragonflight.

Now that the path of the Red Star has been altered and the last Pass is coming to an end, dragonriders need to think about what they will do After. They have always protected Pern from Thread; always kept the skies of Pern safe.

However, the more immediate concern is that a meteor is headed straight for the planet. Best case, it will miss and continue on through space. If it does hit Pern and it lands in the ocean, a tsunami will be released. Will the dragons be able to evacuate coastal holds in time?

McCaffrey, Anne. (2001). The Skies of Pern. New York: Del Rey.

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05 November 2007

All the Weyrs of Pern (Pern)

All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey is tenth book in the Dragons of Pern books, which began with Dragonflight.

At the end of the last book (chronologically, not by publish date but in the time of Pern) Jaxon and Ruth found part of the original settlement. Contained within this facility is the computer Aivas, an artificial intelligence that has been waiting almost 2500 years to hear what happened to the settlers, when they fled the southern continent.

Now Aivas will help the dragonriders, craft halls and holders catch up on the technology that was lost. All in an attempt to destroy Thread forever.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1991). All the Weyrs of Pern. New York: Del Rey.

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01 November 2007

Magic Lessons (Magic or Madness #2)

Magic Lesson is Justine Larbalestier's second book in the Magic or Madness trilogy. Reason, Tom and Jay-Tee are in Sydney to begin magic lessons with Esmeralda, Reason's grandmother.

They already know that they have two choices about magic - use it or go mad. Of course, the more you use magic the more you use up magic. Once you are out you die. So the only logical choice it to use as little as possible only as often as needed to survive the longest. Doesn't sound like magic is quite as fun as we thought!

Before they can further their knowledge, someone or something tries to break through the door - the back door to Esmeralda's house in Sydney, Australia that opens in the East Village of New York City. Is it Jason Blake? Or is it someone else? And whoever it is, why are they trying to get through the door?

Larbalestier, Justine. (2007). Magic Lessons. New York: Razorbill.

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