Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 July 2008

Sea Fighter (Amanda Garrett #3)

In Sea Fighter, the third book featuring Commander Amanda Garrett, James Cobb has taken high-tech military narration to a new level.

After two media grabbing adventures, Amanda Garrett is becoming a well known military presence. But with her ship in dry dock after the last battle, Amanda will be a land locked sailor. So when she gets the opportunity to take a lead in the United Nations African Interdiction force, she takes it. But instead of a warship she will be in charge of a floating island of military personnel.

Proving that she can get the job done regardless of her command situation, Commander Garrett battles hostile African Union forces, UN politicking, and a hurricane.

Cobb, James H. (2000). Sea Fighter. New York: Jove Books.

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26 July 2008

The Last Oracle (Sigma Force #5)

The latest Sigma Force novel by James Rollins is The Last Oracle.

Sigma Force is a branch of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). It is a group of military commandos who have been trained in a science. Each member has a specialty and teams are put together to best address the discovery/threat at hand.

In The Last Oracle, Rollins takes the heritage of the Roma (Gypsies) back through Europe to the Punjab region of India. In the novel, it is possible that the Roma originated in Greece, in the genetic line of the Oracle of Delphi.

Now someone has captured the line of Roma who have mystical powers. They have bred children with superpowers in an attempt to be the next world prophet. But in order to set off the reign of the new prophet, the plan is to create a nuclear holocaust.

Sigma Force is led into the mix when a scientist who has been studying mystics around the world is shot of their front step.

As always, Rollins has created a fascinating thrill ride that readers will not be able to put down. The book stands alone, but for better character info, read them in order: Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain, The Last Oracle. (All other great James Rollins novels are stand-alones and can be read in any order - and I recommend reading them all!)

Rollins, James. (2008). The Last Oracle. New York: William Morrow.

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21 July 2008

Sea Strike (Amanda Garrett #2)

James H. Cobb's second book in the Commander Amanda Garrett series is Sea Strike.

The USS Cunningham, the latest technology in stealth fighting ships is under the command of Captain Amanda Lee Garrett. She has proven herself a more than capable commanders.

Now, when Taiwan begins a Chinese civil war to gain freedom, other Pacific Rim nations may be brought in to monitor the situation. If the communist Chinese on the mainland see a losing battle, they may resort to using their remaining nuclear submarine on Taiwan.

Cobb, James H. (1997). Sea Strike. New York: G.P.Putnam and Sons.


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18 July 2008

Movie: Gypo

Gypo is a film that breaks all conventions of film making - it was the first British film shot in Dogme95, there was no script, and it tackles major social issues.

Dogme 95, for those of you (like me) who know nothing about film except how to watch, is a throwback to old style movie making. Using Dogme film means that there is no chance to add voice overs or do special effects - it has the feel of a documentary: gritty and real.

Helen (played by Pauline McLynn who is best known for her comedic genius) is an unhappy wife and mother of three. Her youngest daughter, still living at home, now has a baby. Helen feels like she takes care of everyone and does nothing for herself. When her daughter brings home a classmate, Tasha, she sees the chance to talk to someone who has a different and fresh perspective on life.

Paul, Helen's husband, is also stuck in a rut. His marriage is not working. He feels his only role is bring money home. He is not the most sympathetic character even when the story is being told from his point of view.

Tasha (Chloe Sirene) and her mother (played by the amazing Rula Lenska) are Romany Czech and have escaped to England to get away from an abusive father/husband. They are waiting on passports that will free them from having to worry about being found. Tasha has done everything she can to help keep food on the table for her mother. Without working papers she was left little option as to a career choice. When she meets Helen, her outlook on life changes.

Gypo is the story of how one person can open the eyes of some and bring out the prejudice in others. Though a hard film to summarize, it is a thought provoking look at prejudice, refugees and bigotry. It is told in three overlapping parts from the points of view of Helen, Paul and Tasha.

Pauline McLynn.
Chloe Sirene.
Rula Lenska.

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Joe Haldeman's 2005 Nebula Award winning Camouflage is the story of two aliens living on Earth.

2019: An artifact has been found in one of the trenches on the ocean floor. It was under ancient coral that was at least a million years old. A team of scientists raises the artifact - a oblong sphere of some reflective metal, heavier than any known on the periodic table.

1931: The changeling is from a planet that is so extreme that its kind has learned to evolve to live in any conditions. Now on Earth, it has lived in the sea for longer than it can remember. It formed itself into various sea creatures and learned to live among them. Now it will attempt to learn about the strange creatures who live on land. It has seen sailors and fisherman but doesn't understand their complexity. Once forming its shape into a human, it will have to learn language and social skills along with the everyday functions we take for granted.

Pre-Christian Era: The chameleon has lived on Earth for as long as it can remember. It is in the form of a human male. It can change its appearance, but can only be a human male. Living through every period of human evolution, its base instinct is always survival. Since it cannot die, it feels it is superior to humans.

The artifact lifted from the ocean will likely draw the attention of both aliens. One who has always been attracted to the Pacific Ocean and one who wants a greater challenge than killing humans. Each who has looked for another like itself.

Haldeman, Joe. (2004). Camouflage. New York: Penguin.

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15 July 2008

Choosers of the Slain (Amanda Garrett #1)

James H. Cobb's first book featuring Navy Captain Amanda Lee Garrett, Choosers of the Slain, introduces a series of great military fiction.

The political battle over land in Antarctica has just been escalated to a military battle. Argentina has captured the British scientific research bases and expelled all British citizens.

In an attempt to help our closest ally, the USS Cunningham is sent to guard Drake Passage to prevent any more Argentine troops landing on Antarctica. The Cunningham is the latest in stealth design and carries enough fire power to take over a small nation, but how will she hold her own against the Argentine navy and air force?

Captain Garrett, in the first sea battle since WWII, will test the ship and its crew to the limits.

Cobb, James H. (1996). Choosers of the Slain. New York: G.P. Putnam and Sons.

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12 July 2008

How to be Bad

E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle have joined forces to write a great YA book - How to be Bad. Each author speaks for one of the three friends in the book - alternating by chapter - creating one story from three points of view.

Jesse and Vicks have been friends since they started working together at the restaurant they have nicknamed Awful Waffle. Lately other forces in their lives have put a strain on their friendship. When Jesse suggests a road trip to Miami to see Vicks boyfriends, Mel invites herself. Mel is new to Awful Waffle and Niceville, Florida. Jesse agrees to let her go because she offers to pay for most of the trip.

Once on the road, the plan is to stop at the exciting tourist attractions from Vicks' favorite book: Fanstastical Florida. Though their trip does not go according to the plan, the three friends have a great adventure and learn that no matter what else happens, they have each other.

Lockhart, Emily, Sarah Mlynowski & Lauren Myracle. (2008). How to be Bad. New York: Harper Teen.

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11 July 2008

Free Fall (Mark Beamon #3)

In Free Fall, Kyle Mills' third book staring FBI agent Mark Beamon, Mark takes his first private client. As he is currently on suspension from the FBI, he has some free time on his hands.

Tristan Newberry works a government agency, searching a warehouse for missing files. He has no idea who hired him or what he is looking for - only that there is a misfiled FBI file in the middle of a ton of Department of Agriculture files. When he finds the file, he wishes he had never read it - or stolen it from the warehouse.

When an old friend, Darcy, of Tristan shows up unexpectedly, he takes her up of her offer to blow off work and go rock climbing for few days. Getting out of town sounds like a safe plan. But when their camp is surrounded and they are transported to a house for "questioning," Tristan knows he should not have involved Darcy.

Their captors underestimate Darcy. As the world's best female rock and mountain climber, she has the strength to fight back.

Now Mark Beamon has been hired to find Darcy. But who hired him? Once again drawn into the world of politics - the world he hates - Mark must try to decipher the real motives behind the stories he is being told - before the other who are after Darcy find her first.

Mills, Kyle. (2000). Free Fall. New York: Harper Collins.

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08 July 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

In The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Jenna has spent the last year in a coma.

Jenna is seventeen. She is recovering from a terrible accident that she can't remember. In fact, she doesn't remember much. Her mother has been telling her everything she can think of about Jenna's life before the accident - from her name to her favorite color to childhood pets.

Jenna is not sure that everything is okay, but her father assures her that with time, more will become clear. And she does slowly begin to rememeber bits and pieces.

But why are they now living 3000 miles from where they lived before the accident? Why does her father commute to work in Boston when they live in California? Is she really the person she watches in the videos of Jenna Fox's life? And why is her grandmother acting so strangely toward her?

Through her recovery, Jenna discovers just how far her parent would go to save her...

Pearson, Mary E. (2008). The Adoration of Jenna Fox. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

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07 July 2008

Storming Heaven (Mark Beamon #2)

In the second Mark Beamon book, Storming Heaven, Kyle Mills creates a new religion.

Beamon has been relocated to the FBI office in Flagstaff, Arizona. When a prominent business figure and his wife are murdered and their daughter apparently abducted, Mark and his new staff must fight the clock to find her. Kidnap victims' chances of survival decrease by 50 percent each day they are not rescued.

Along with settling into a new town and working on a high profile case, Mark needs to learn about the fastest growing church in the world - the Church of the Evolution - which is based in Flagstaff. Albert Kneiss (pronounced "nice") has convinced millions of people that he is the next visitation of the messiah. According to the new version of the Bible, Jesus came and delivered God's message (the New Testament) in a language that was appropriate for the time period. Kneiss is now here to update the message to humanity's new intelligence level, taking into account advances in science.

If Beamon goes up against the Kneissians in his investigation, he will have a hell of a fight. Most members are prominent in the community and in positions of power.

Mills, Kyle. (1998). Storming Heaven. New York: HarperCollins.

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05 July 2008

Rising Phoenix (Mark Beamon #1)

Rising Phoenix is the first book in the series featuring FBI agent Mark Beamon by author Kyle Mills.

Mark Beamon is known as the best investigator in the FBI. He is also known as the biggest pain in the but for a supervisor to work with. At the beginning of the novel he has once again upset the balance of power and is about to be demoted and reassigned.

But when a group calling itself CDFS - Committee for a Drug-Free Society - places adds in the nations most popular newspapers claiming that they are going to poison the drug supply, Mark is chosen to head the investigation.

When people start dying in large numbers, the pressure on Mark to find CDFS increases. He will either find them or become the scapegoat.

Mills, Kyle. (1997). Rising Phoenix. New York: HarperCollins.

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01 July 2008

Circle of Flight (Ellie Chronicles #3)

In the final Ellie Linton book, Circle of Flight - the third in the Ellie Chronicles and the tenth featuring Ellie Linton - John Marsden completes the Tomorrow series books.

Ellie is still hoping her life will settle down. The war has been over for a while, but the border raids continue. The new country next to her has a habit of kidnapping people for ransom. The group Liberation - headed by their own version of the Scarlet Pimpernel - has been successfully freeing kidnap victims and stopping raids.

When Gavin, Ellie adopted brother, is kidnapped the ransom demanded is a trade for Ellie and the Scarlet Pimple. While there is no way Ellie trusts the kidnappers enough to believe they would trade (and she doesn't know the identity of the Pimple though she has a few guesses) she must get Gavin back.

This final installment in Ellie's life does offer closure to its readers - but it does end with the hope that life will finally settle down for Ellie. In my opinion, the Tomorrow Series and the Ellie Chronicles together create of the best YA series ever written. If you haven't read them yet - start the first book today!

Marsden, John. (2006). Circle of Flight. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia.

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