Good Books and the Random Movie

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31 December 2008

Movie: Vantage Point

Vantage Point is an action-packed thriller that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

While giving a speech in Salamanca Spain the President of the US is shot. The gathering was to celebrate the first successful peace-talks with the Middle East nations. But now the President is dead. Or is he?

Show from different points of view - a television news crew, a US tourist, a Secret Service agent, a local police officer, and the terrorists - the story is told and retold showing more of the plot with each view.

For anyone who likes the Bourne movies or other heart-pounding suspense, this movie will capture and keep your attention through the final credits.

Staring:
Dennis Quaid
Matthew Fox
Forest Whitaker
Sigourney Weaver
William Hurt
Director: Pete Travis.

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27 December 2008

Gravity

Gravity by Leanne Lieberman is the story of one teen coming to terms with the opposing factors in her life - Orthodox Judaism and her merging feelings for another woman.

The Gold family has big plans for the summer. The parents are going to Israel for the first time, older sister Neshama is teaching at a summer camp, and Ellie is spending the summer with her grandmother in a cottage on the lake.

Ellie has never really been outside of Toronto. The trees and the lake are a startling change. She plans on spending the summer studying the wildlife until she meets her neighbor - another 15 year old girl. Lindsay is nothing like Ellie; she isn't even Jewish.

Now that summer is over, Ellie has to figure out how her obvious attraction to Lindsay fits in with her place in the world or if the place her parents have created for her is not what she wants. How can she balance Torah, science and love?

Lieberman, Leanne. (2008). Gravity. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers.

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Forget Me Not (Navy SEAL #1)

Forget Me Not by Marliss Melton is the first book in her Navy SEAL series. The Navy SEAL series is a read alike suggestion for Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series.

Gabe Renault has been MIA for a year now. Following Navy policy, he is now considered dead. His wife and stepdaughter mourn his loss but are trying to move on with their lives. His wife, Helen, knows that even before he disappeared physically, he was gone mentally for a while. He was married to his career as a SEAL and his family took a backseat.

Just as life is becoming normal and Helen has decided she is happy with her new life, a phone call changes everything. Gabe has been found. He has no memory for the last three years - the whole time they were together.

Now Helen has to take home a man she resents to help him recover his memories before she can divorce him. Gabe cannot believe that he is married in the first place but realises that Helen is an amazing woman and wants a chance to get to know her.

And someone else, the person who set Gabe up in the first place - the man who left him for dead in North Korea - has to take care of him before his memories can resurface.

Melton, Marliss. (2004). Forget Me Not. New York: Warner Forever.

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24 December 2008

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Fire and Ice #2)

A Clash of Kings is the second book in George RR Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series.

The land of Westeros is in chaos. There are four kings and one queen claiming power and they are about to clash.

I don't want to give too much away about the first book, so it is difficult to add any plot summary...

The Stark house is spread over the kingdom and by the end of the this book there will be no two in the same place. Tyrion Lannister is finally taken seriously for his wisdom and strategy. Boys who used to listen to their mothers stop doing so when they become kings. Daenerys is still trying to get back to Westeros to reclaim the thrown stolen from her father.

What Martin does in the midst of a well thought out plot, is create characters who are whole and flawed. Each character is an important part of the story and interesting in his/her own right. He is a master story teller.

Martin, George RR. (1996). A Clash of Kings. New York: Bantam Spectra Books.

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16 December 2008

Gender Blender

Gender Blender by Blake Nelson is a newer version of Freaky Friday.

Emma and Tom were best friends when they were younger. But now, in sixth grade, it is not cool to be friends with the opposite gender.

During an accident, they switched bodies. Now Emma is trapped in Tom's body and Tom is in Emma's. While trying to figure out how to get their own bodies back, they learn a lot about the other gender.

Nelson's book is a light look at the differences and similarities between boys and girls.

Nelson, Blake. (2006). Gender Blender. New York: Delacorte Press.

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12 December 2008

The Hunger Games (book #1)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a book you will not be able to put down.

In this dystopian future, after the current countries have failed, Panem is the civilization that exists where the US is now. It is made of one Capital City and 12 supporting districts that support it. There were thirteen districts but one was destroyed with the citizen tried to revolt.

Now The Hunger Games are played each year to remind all citizens of the power the government holds over them.
In each district two tributes are chosen - one male and one female - between the ages of 12 and 18. These contestants fight each other to the death in the ultimate reality television show.

In District 12 the day participants are chosen is a day of fear for all families. This is the first year that Prim is entered into the drawing. The odds are in her favor with only one slip of paper with her name - names that are not drawn stay in the bowl for the next year - but she is chosen none the less. In an act of bravery her sister Katniss volunteers to go in her place.

Now Katniss must fight twenty-three other tributes to stay alive - including Peeta, the boy who gave her family food when they were on the verge of starving to death.

This first book in the series is sure to grab your attention and not let go until the end and leave you waiting impatiently for the next installment ...

Collins, Suzanne. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.

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11 December 2008

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan is the story of a man named James who becomes a woman named Jenny.

This memoir of the author traces the life on one person becoming a woman and is an interesting look at what makes a gender. How much of gender is biological - based on hormones - and how much is societal projection?

This is a touching story of how one family deal with the fact that the father is becoming a woman - a change that is not as shocking to some as you might think. At one point, her son said since she is a dad and a mom she should be called "Maddy."

This is a detailed look at transition from within a loving family - a nice change to some of the overly depressing stories of other Trans people.

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. (2002). She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders. New York: Broadway Books.

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10 December 2008

Deep Cover (Selena McCaffrey #2)

Deep Cover is the second book in Rachel Butler's Selena McCaffrey series.

Selena thinks she is finally free of her uncle's influence. She is ready to get on with her life - to focus on her painting and Detective Tony Ceola. But the FBI has other plans for her.

They want her to take over her uncle's drug empire long enough that they can arrests the upper level players. Oh, and did they mention it is not an option. Selena will be prosecuted and likely deported if she does not cooperate.

Add on top of all the rest that they want her to work with her uncle's second in command - the man who tried to kill her in the last book.

If she pulls it off she will be free and safe from deportation for the rest of her life...

Butler, Rachel. (2005). Deep Cover. New York: Dell Books.

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08 December 2008

Debbie Harry Sings in French

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers is a story of finding oneself.

Johnny has been taking care of his mother since his father died in a car accident. It seems like his mother has been drunk since that day. Now Johnny is following in her footsteps. When he ends up in the hospital his mother sends him to live with his uncle in South Carolina.

In SC he does not fit in. At first he thinks he is the only goth at school. Then he sees her - Maria. When they start talking about music they see that they have similar taste. When Johnny suggests that Debbie Harry of Blondie is the best, Maria decides to give her a try.

But Johnny doesn't just like Debbie's music. He thinks she is the coolest person ever. He wishes he could be cool and brave and beautiful. When Maria buys him a dress that looks just like Debbie's, Johnny thinks she has the wrong impression.

Johnny is not gay. In fact, he is totally in love with Maria. But once he tries it, he realizes he really likes to dress up like Debbie Harry.

Brothers explains the distinct line between sexuality and gender in this beautiful story of one young man who likes to wear dresses.

Brothers, Meagan. (2008). Debbie Harry Sings in French. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

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07 December 2008

Geography Club

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger is the story of a secret gay club.

Russel is sure he is the only gay kid at his high school. Okay, he knows that with 800 students there must be others, be he feels alone. When he meets someone in a chat room who goes to his school they decide to meet.

Who would have thought that the school's star baseball player was gay? Russel wants to tell his best friend Min. When he comes out to her he is shocked to find that she is bisexual and has had a girlfriend for two years.

The four get together at an out of the way pizza place. There they create a plan to have a group where they can meet after school. But how can they make the club work without letting anyone know what it really is? They pick a name they think no one else would want to join...the Geography Club.

Hartinger, Brent. (2003). Geography Club. New York: Harper Tempest.

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Love & Lies (sequel to Hard Love)

Love & Lies, the sequel to Hard Love, by Ellen Wittlinger continues the story of Gio and Marisol.

Marisol Guzman has put off college for one year in order to write a novel and fall in love. When she signs up for a workshop on writing, one of her classmates is her friend Gio whom she has not seen for a few months.

Now Marisol is reforging her friendship, serving coffee at a cafe, introducing a new friend to Boston, writing, and falling for her writing teacher.

Making some of the same mistakes she has made in the past, Marisol begins a relationship with one person while underestimating the feelings someone else has for her. Will she recognize the pattern? Will she do anything to change it before she breaks someone else's heart?

Marisol is a great character who has some growing up to do - not too surprising since she is eighteen. Her friendship with Gio gives her a foundation to explore her feelings with feedback that she did not have in the previous novel. Wittlinger is a great writer who has created likable character who, I hope, will appear in a few more books...

Wittlinger, Ellen. (2008). Love & Lies. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

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06 December 2008

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice #1)

A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Fire and Ice - a brilliant fantasy series without equal.

In a time similar to that of King Arthur and his knights, but in a land unlike our own where the seasons of Summer and Winter can last for years, the seven kingdoms have been incorporated under one throne. King Robert Baratheon now rules.

It has been fifteen years since Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell has seen his friend Robert. He has been in the far North where his family have lived since the First Men arrived. But when the King and his Queen come to Winterfell, it is Lord Stark's duty to accept a position as the King's Hand.

With Summer coming to an end, Lord Stark finds himself in the capital surrounded by intrigue, politics and danger - nothing like the simple life he led on his own lands. The danger comes from all directions and and his children are trapped into a deadly game. When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. It matters little that Lord Stark did not volunteer to enter the game...

Martin, George R.R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books.

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04 December 2008

Boy2Girl

Boy2Girl by Terence Blacker is a look at the idea of gender.

When Sam's mother dies he is taken to England to live with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. His cousin, Matthew, tries to be Sam's friend but finds him arrogant.

To try to put Sam in his place, plus get back at the group of girls who are their rivals, Matthew and his friends dare Sam to go to school dressed as a girl for the first week. But when Sam puts on a girl's uniform the transformation is a bit too real. Sam looks like a girl - not like a boy dressed as a girl.

When Sam gets to school he is taken in by the rival group of girls. He begins to take on the mannerisms and speech patterns of the girls. Does he like being a girl too much?

Once he has been accepted as a girl, how will he ever tell the truth?

Blacker, Terence. (2004). Boy2Girl. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

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