Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 December 2010


Fish by Gregory Mone is a swashbuckling pirate adventure.

Maurice Reidy - nicknamed Fish because he loves to swim - is one of nine siblings growing up on a farm in historical Ireland. Though he tries his best, he is not a good farm worker. So when the family has to send one of the children off to work in the city and send money back, Fish is the best choice.

In the city, Fish is a messenger for his uncle. When he is given a package to take to a ship, a dirty boy steals it out of Fish's hand. Fish swims after the boy and ends up on the pirate ship Scurvy Mistress. Though his goal is to steal back the package and deliver it to its destination, his plans are waylaid.

Soon Fish is treated as almost one of the crew. And the package he was following may be clues that lead to the greatest treasure ever.

Mone has written a great pirate story with colorful characters, high seas adventure, treasure hunting, and more. It is a must-read for pirate fans of all ages.

Mone, Gregory. (2010). Fish. New York: Scholastic Press.

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23 December 2010

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1)

Killing Floor by Lee Child is the first book in his Jack Reacher series - an ex-military police officer who is wandering the United States like a drifter.

When the Cold War ended, the United States discharged a lot of its military personnel. For Jack Reacher - a man who was a military brat - it is the first time in his life he has freedom. He has no plans for a new career. He just wants to wander the US and see the sights.

On a whim he jumps off of a bus at the junction to the town of Margrave, Georgia. He knows of a blue guitarist who died there in the 60s. About 30 minutes after he gets to town, he is arrested for murder.

Now Jack has to convince the local cops that he did not do it - the fact that he was not even in the state when the killing occurred should not be too hard to verify. But even though he is happily done with his police career, Jack will be pulled into the investigation.

Child has written a twisty plot that leads to brilliant bad guys. Though Reacher do not go along peacefully, he is a smart man and a great investigator. And since he is not a police, he can do what he feels needs to be done in the name of justice.

Child, Lee. (1997). Killing Floor. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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16 December 2010

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grape of Wrath by John Steinbeck is the Great American Novel. The story uses one family to tell of the awesome migration of 250,000 people from the middle of the US to California at the end of the Depression.

Farmers in the middle of the country owned the land their forefathers had gotten through the homesteading acts. But as times were tough, they slowly borrowed money from the bank against poor crops. Eventually, the banks owned all of the land. So when the banks decided to collect the land and make huge farms that could be plowed and planted by one man on a tractor, farmers and their families were forced off of the land.

At the same time, business practices in California - where the land was also owned by banks or very large landholders - advertised across the country that they were looking for workers to pick cotton/peaches/grapes. The more people who responded, the lower they could pay in wages as there would always be some hungry enough to work for any hope of food.

In The Grapes of Wrath, one family is followed from their farm in Oklahoma on their way to California to find work. When Tom Joad gets out of jail after four years, he finds his family's farm abandoned. The house is leaning to one side and appears to have been push over by a great force. Cotton is planted right up to the front door. An old neighbor who is passing through tells Tom about families being forced off of the land by the tractors and that his family is at his uncle's farm about to leave for California.

Tom joins his family and together the 12 of them plus a family friend pile into a newly purchased truck with all of the belongings they cannot leave behind or sell. Both Tom and his brother Al have some mechanical knowledge to keep the used truck running if they can afford parts.

What follows is the heart-wrenching tale of a family - that always thought of itself as being part of the land - set adrift with the hope of finding a new home. With no land to hold them together it will be a battle to keep the family intact.

Steinbeck has long been haled as one of the Great American Authors and this book is an excellent example of why. Though the pace of novels has increased through time, this novel holds its own in terms of plot, characterization, and suspense. Though history determines that the Joad family will not have an easy life - readers will be up late hoping that they beat the odds. Reading The Grapes of Wrath is like learning the roots of American as it is today and watching a train wreck in slow motion all tied up into one astounding novel.

Steinbeck, John. (1939). The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Classics.

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09 December 2010

Skinned (Skinned trilogy #1)

Skinned by Robin Wasserman is the first book in her Skinned trilogy. The series takes place in the future United States - after a nuclear war when people have rebuilt.

Lia Khan is a force to be reckoned with - she doesn't follow trends, she creates them. Anything she wears to school becomes an instant fad. In a high school peopled by the very wealthy, Lia is the one everyone wants to be.

When Lia's car malfunctions her parents make the decision to do whatever it takes to save her life - including scanning her entire brain into a mechanical body.

But how will people react to the new Lia? Though she has all of her memories and her personality, not all people will see her as human.

Wasserman has created a series that is fascinating and thought-provoking in a package that is as fun to read as Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. I cannot wait to read the second book!

Wasserman, Robin. (2008). Skinned. New York: Simon Pulse.

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06 December 2010

Fly by Wire

Fly by Wire by Ward Larsen is about a plane crash investigation and the secrets it may uncover.

Following the crash of a new C-500 (a flying wing cargo plane) Frank "Jammer" Davis is sent to France for the National Transportation Safety Board. Though Jammer is not in charge of the crash investigation, he is not subtle about saying what he thinks.

A fellow member of the investigation, Anna Sorenson, is not the Honeywell representative she appears to be. She is, in fact, a CIA agent whose job it is to recruit Jammer into helping look for connections between the crash of the AirCargo plane and a notorious Middle Eastern terrorist known as Caliph.

Caliph is thought to be behind the recent attacks at oil refineries around the United States. Over night the United States lost two-thirds of its oil processing ability. Without careful handling, the country will be in the midst of another fuel shortage.

As Jammer and Sorenson get closer to uncovering important clues about the crash, others begin trying harder to make sure they do not find the truth. What follows is a high tension race against the clock.

Larsen has created a fast-paced novel that will pull reader into the story. Fans of John J Nance's airplane related thrillers will be pleased with this exciting book.

Larsen, Ward. (2010). Fly by Wire. Longboat Key, Florida: Oceanview Publishing.

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01 December 2010

First Daughter: White House Rules (Sameera Righton #2)

First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins is her second book featuring Sameera Righton. In the first book, Sameera's father ran for President of the United States.

Now Sameera and her parents are moving into the White House. Sameera is adjusting to life as a famous person while continuing her blog about being the daughter of the new president.

Perkins, Mitali. (2008). First Daughter: White House Rules. New York: Dutton Children's Books.

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