Good Books and the Random Movie

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26 June 2008

Incurable (Ellie Chronicles #2)

Incurable is the second book in the Ellie Chronicles by John Marsden. The Ellie books follow the seven-book Tomorrow series.

Ellie and Gavin are struggling to run the farm, go to school, and find time to sleep. The war has ended but the settlement that gave half of Australia to the invaders has taken its toll on the Aussies. Ellie is trying to save the farm while having to lease her own land from the new owners. Gavin is her only daily helper.

Along with farming and financial problems, the Liberation group is still raiding across the border. Ellie doesn't want to be a part of Liberation, but cannot let her friends walk into situations they may not live through. It is like the war will not let her go.

Ellie's continued narration (now for nine books) is compelling and engaging. She is a character who captures the reader. Marsden is a genius.

*Note to potential readers: This book is not yet available in the US. Though it has been out in Australia for three years, publishing rules and copyright law is holding up the process for Scholastic to release it here. This is one of my greatest annoyances! It is already in English (basically). It is ridiculous that it takes so long to be printed here.... Lucky for me, my friend's mom brought me this and the final book from Melbourne!

Marsden, John. (2005). Incurable. Sydney: Macmillan.

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24 June 2008


Labyrinth by Mark T. Sullivan is a tense journey.

Whitney and Tom are cave researchers. They and their daughter are experts in caving. But after an accident that killed her assistant, Whitney is terrified of caves.

One year later, Tom is leading a NASA expedition into a cave. The journey will be a training mission for astronauts who will be mining on the dark side of the moon in the upcoming years. Tom's daughter will accompany him on the first part of the trek.

Unfortunately, due to a prison break, Tom and his daughter are held hostage in the cave by the escapees. Now Whitney has to save them!

Though the author includes everything that could possibly go wrong - to the point of the absurd - the book is exciting and a fun read.

Sullivan, Mark T. (2002). Labyrinth. New York: Atria Books.

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17 June 2008

False Impression

False Impression by Jeffrey Archer is an intriguing race through the world of fine art.

Anna Petrescu is an art expert who works at appraising art for a bank. The owner of the bank, in fact, only allows large loans to be secured with art - with the hope that instead of being able to pay back the loan, he will add another priceless painting to his private collection. He is currently being investigated by the FBI.

Anna doesn't realize her boss is a crook. She loves art and likes her job because it allows her a look at art in museums and private collections all over the world.

Beginning on September 10, 2001 False Impression takes readers on a thrilling ride through the world of high priced art on three continents, the attack on the world trade center, the mind of an assassin, and a family who has been collecting art for centuries. The novel is filled with art history trivia.

Archer, Jeffrey. (2006). False Impression. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks.

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16 June 2008

My Tiki Girl

My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon is about healing and first love. After a car crash that killed her mother, Maggie Keller is a different person. She is no longer the popular, happy girl she was BTA (before the accident). Now a sophomore in high school, there is no one she would call a friend.

When she notices a new girl who sits by her self at lunch, Maggie thinks maybe she has found someone who will see her and not either the girl she used to be or the Frankenstein girl she feels like because of her limp.

Dahlia and Maggie become friends instantly. Dahlia lives with her brother and mom. Her mother has spent time in an institution but refuses to take her medicine. When she does, the dolls stop talking to her. The family's course is set by what the dolls tell her mother. Each member of the family has a doll who represents their true selves. Dahlia is a Tiki Girl. When Maggie joins their lives, she gets a doll and becomes LaSamba.

Maggie is thrilled to have this change in her life. Although she knows it is odd, she goes along with the fun. The guilt that consumed her about the car crash that killed her mother is no longer her main train of thought. She spends all of her time with Dahlia and family. It isn't too long before she begins to notice that she has fallen in love with Dahlia. Though she tries to deny it at first, she realizes there is no lying to herself about her feelings. But does Dahlia feel the same way about her?

When Dahlia wants to start a band and invites a popular boy to be the guitarist, Maggie is jealous. She doesn't want to share Dahlia - especially with someone she knows is a jerk. She keeps her feelings to herself until she sees Troy and Dahlia kiss. When she confronts Dahlia, how will Dahlia react?

McMahon has written a book that captures the feelings of being a teen who realizes she is different. The book embraces difference without ignoring the usual reactions from others. Overall an accurate portrayal.

McMahon, Jennifer. (2008). My Tiki Girl. New York: Dutton Books.

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15 June 2008

Deadly Exposure (a Joanna Blalock Medical Thriller)

Deadly Exposure is the fifth Joanna Blalock medical thriller by Leonard Goldberg. (Unfortunately, it is the first one I am reading. I may have to go back and start at the beginning.)

Dr. Joanna Blalock is a forensic pathologist. She is in the middle of an outbreak of unknown origin when she is called away from Los Angeles by a Navy team of scientists - ETOX.

(ETOX was started before the 1969 moon landing. It is a team of scientists of all fields who would be the first response to any dangerous alien threats. Of course, none came back from the moon. But ETOX was not disbanded. The group is now sent in where unknown toxin, bacteria, etc... is found.)

In Alaska, an iceberg has been found with a deadly toxin. Test confirm evidence that the substance found in the iceberg is from a meteorite that crashed onto Earth 65 million years ago. Now the icecaps are melting and the toxin could threaten all life on the planet.

Can Dr. Blalock and the ETOX team learn enough about the bacteria to save humanity?

Deadly Exposure is a medical thriller - for the first 4/5ths of the book - then it switches to a Titanic-like ship-sinking adventure. Strange shift, but both parts are good reading.

Goldberg, Leonard. (2000). Deadly Exposure. New York: Signet Books.

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13 June 2008

Icecore (Carl Hobbes #1)

Icecore by Matt Whyman is the first book in the Carl Hobbes series of thrillers. (This book is known as Inside the Cage in the UK.)

Carl Hobbes is a hacker. Maybe the best at getting into places that are supposed to be impossible to get into. He is now wanted for questioning by the CIA for opening the vault at Fort Knox - thought to be the most secure place on the planet.

His lawyer convinces him to go with the CIA to answer questions - he is promised he will be flown to meet with the CIA expert on computer code and then returned to London by the end of the weekend.

Of course, once his is in CIA custody, plans change. He is stripped of his clothes, assigned orange coveralls, put into plastic handcuffs, and put on a plane with some of the most notorious terrorist in the headlines.

They are taken to Icecore, the Guantanamo of the north, in the Arctic. Hobbes is not treated like someone volunteering to answer questions - he is put into a cage and treated like all of the other prisoners. He is starting to wonder if he will ever return to London.

Whyman, Matt. (2007). Icecore: A Carl Hobbes Thriller. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Adults.

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11 June 2008

Pirate Curse (Wave Walkers #1)

Pirate Curse, the first book in Kai Meyer's Wave Walkers series.

Jolly and Munk each thought they were the last polliwog - a human who can walk on water - until they met each other. Jolly grew up on a pirate ship under the feared Captain Bannon. Munk grew up with his parents on an isolated island, seeing only the traders who came to buy the crops from their farm.

When Jolly escapes a plot to kill all aboard her ship, she is washed up on Munk's island. Soon they realize that they are destined to save the world from the evil forces of the deep sea.

Meyer, Kai. (2006). The Wave Walkers: Pirate Curse. (E. Crawford, Translator). New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

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06 June 2008

Red Sea

Red Sea by Diane Tullson is a modern day pirate novel. Unfortunately, pirates who are actually terrorists are not as cool as the traditional pirates who dress funny and carry swords.

Libby has chosen to skip a year of school to sail around the world with her mother and step-father. She likes the boat, but she doesn't like her step-father and she is mad at her mother. It may be a long year.

While leaving Djibouti with a caravan of boats, Libby and her family get left behind - out of radio range. In the middle of the night they are attacked by men with machine guns.

Now Libby has to navigate the Red Sea on her own - she must provide medical aide, get the boat's motor to work, figure out where they are in relation to the hazards of the sea and the hostile countries around it, and somehow save herself and her family.

Tullson has written a harrowing and tense novel of one young woman's fight for survival in the middle of a rough sea. Red Sea is an example of how to write adventure stories.

Tullson, Diane. (2005). Red Sea. Custer, WA: Orca Publishing.

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04 June 2008

The Dead & the Gone (Last Survivors #2)

The Dead & The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a companion novel to her Life As We Knew It. It is the same set of events in another location, with different characters.

An asteroid hits the moon, changing its orbit. With the moon closer to the Earth, its gravitational influence is stronger. Tides raise by feet, volcanoes erupt, earthquakes and tsunamis are frequent.

Alex Morales and his family live in NYC. When the moon is hit, his father is away in Puerto Rico for a funeral and his mother is on her way to work in Queens.

Alex and his sisters Briana and Julie are on their own. Will they be able to survive without adults around to help? As events worsen and food and clean water become scarce, how with three teens make their way in the new world?

Both of Pfeffer's novels on this theme are intense. The contrast between the rural community and New York City's upper west side is interesting. Two novels from different points of view is brilliant.

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. (2008). The Dead & The Gone. New York: Houghton Mifflin Inc.

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01 June 2008

Vampirates: Blood Captain (Vampirates #3)

Blood Captain is the third book in the Vampirates series by Justin Somper. (The fourth book, which is a look back at an event that takes place between the first and second books is now available in the UK.)

Connor is aboard The Diablo learning to be a pirate. He is a brilliant swordsman and thinks he has found his place in the world. When he kills a man in a sword fight, he may have to rethink the whole pirate lifestyle.

Grace, Connor's twin, is aboard The Nocture with the Vampirates. Lorcan, who was injured trying to protect her, is in need of healing - more healing than the captain can provide. Therefore, Grace, Lorcan, and the captain make their way to Sanctuary. They are going to meet Mosh Zu Kamal, the vampirate guru.

Somper, Justin. (2007). Vampirates: Blood Captain. New York: Little, Brown, and Co.

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