Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn

This is an okay book written by Ridley Pearson. It’s supposed to be a happy day at the Magic Kingdom, when the teenage holographic hosts have returned. But things go very wrong when a sudden lighting storm disrupts the celebration, and Amanda’s mysterious sister, Jezebel, disappears. The only clue is the sighting of a wild monkey in the Magic Kingdom during the storm. The mystery deepens as Finn is contacted by Wayne, an old man he hasn’t heard from in months. Wayne tells Finn that there’s trouble at the Animal Kingdom: the evil Overtakers have gained control of one of the computer servers that will be used to operate Daylight Holographic Imaging there.

On the Wings of Heroes

I liked this book written by Richard Peck. World War II has invaded Davy’s home front boyhood. There’s an air raid drill in the classroom and being a kid is an endless scrap drive. Bill has joined up, breaking their dad’s heart. It’s an intense, confusing time, and one that will invite Davy to grow up in a hurry.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

This is a solid movie. In 1937, tidy, smooth-talking Everett McGill (George Clooney), along with simple-minded Pete (John Torturro) and angry Delmar (Tim Nelson), decide to break free from their chain gang in Mississippi. Everett claims to have buried a treasure worth $1.2 million that has to be retrieved in four days before the river rises and floods out the area. After visiting a radio station to perform a few songs for quick money, their album becomes successful unbeknownst to them. Everett locates his wife and daughters and tries to prevent her from getting remarried.

"Man of Constant Sorrow" was first recorded by Dick Burnett, a partially blind fiddler, around 1913. "(Give Me That) Old-Time Religion" is a gospel song originally from 1873. The film is loosely based on Homer's Odyssey, which was composed in the 8th century BC. Ulysses is the Latin form of the name of Odysseus. Big Dan (John Goodman) is blind in one eye; this is similar to Polyphemus the Cyclops. Former Governor of Louisiana Jimmie Davis, used "You Are My Sunshine" as his political theme song.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Second review of "Serket's Movies" book

Lois Henderson wrote the second review of my book; she likes it and even gave me 5 stars on Amazon:

At the moment, this work is a handy 367 pages in length (excluding the three-page long Foreword, in which Hamblin reveals how he came to write the guide [interesting reading, so don’t miss]). He ends by listing the ten top-grossing movies since 1977, adjusted for ticket-price inflation, and the ten all-time top-selling DVDs. In short, provided that you regard this work as one to be kept alongside your conventional movie guide, you cannot lose and should really consider buying yourself a copy. (It makes for a worthwhile read by itself at some stage, too, which can’t really be said for such guides on the whole.)

Kindergarten Cop (1990)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) uses aggressive and unconventional methods to fight crime. His efforts to stop a dangerous killer are being thwarted. He is given an undercover assignment, along with a partner, to visit a small town in Oregon and find the criminal’s ex-wife so she can testify against him. His partner is supposed to be disguised as a substitute teacher, but when she falls ill, Kimble must take charge of the unruly classroom.

Exterior scenes of the school were filmed at John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. Students and staff were used as extras. The school picnic was filmed at Ecola State Park.

Roses are Red

This is an okay book written by James Patterson. A brilliant criminal known only as the Mastermind orchestrates a series of bank robberies that are notable for their very precise demands – and their explosive violence when the demands are not met exactly. Detective Alex Cross takes on the case and recognizes that a particular kind of criminal mind is at work. But before he gets near identifying the suspect, the Mastermind pulls off the most outrageous kidnapping scheme in U.S. history – and walks away with the largest ransom ever paid. This is the sixth book in the series. A film version is being planned.

Syriana (2005)

This is a solid movie. After a Chinese oil company is given drilling access to oil fields in the Middle-East, an American energy company decides to merge with a small Arab company. Energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is working in Switzerland when his son is electrocuted. Prince Nasir feels sympathy for the loss and takes Woodman on as an economic advisor. CIA Operations Officer Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is assigned to assassinate two Iranian arms dealers, but learns of a anti-tank missile being stolen. When he speaks out against his superiors, he becomes hampered in his ability to acquire new information.

The film does a good job of describing how dangerous it is to rely on Islamic countries for oil, but politicians continue to obstruct efforts to use domestic sources of energy. 66% of the oil that is imported into the United States comes from these five countries: Canada, Mexico, Saudia Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria. The film is loosely based on 2003 memoir See No Evil written by Robert Baer. Clooney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


I liked this book written by Jacqueline Woodson. Evie Thomas used to live in a beautiful house with a breathtaking view of the mountains. She felt happy and safe with her policeman father, her schoolteacher mother, and her popular cheerleading older sister. Her name used to be Toswiah Green. Now, her father’s agonizing decision to join the witness protection program has taken Evie’s old life away. She lives in a strange city. Her depressed father stares out the window of their small apartment, while her mother immerses herself ever more deeply into her religious convictions among the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Searchers (1956)

This is a solid movie. Following the Civil War, Ethan (John Wayne) returns home to his brother’s family. One night while he is away, a tribe of Comanche Indians attacks the family and kidnaps both of their daughters. Ethan vows to seek out the girls and get revenge for the attack, so he gathers a group of men for the mission.

The film is based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May. The film was mainly shot in Monument Valley along the Utah-Arizona border. In 1836, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Native Americans. She married and had three children, but was then rescued by the Texas Rangers in 1860. She never felt comfortable among white people and tried to return to the tribe several times.

Crispin: At the Edge of the World

This is an okay book written by Avi. The young orphan Crispin and his gentle, red-bearded protector Bear continue their adventures in 14th-century England. Crispin and Bear are finally free to live their lives as they choose. But they soon find that they are being hunted by members of a secret society who believe Bear is a spy. When Bear is severely wounded, Crispin must make some tough decisions, such as deciding to allow an old woman who seems like a witch and her young assistant with a speech impediment, to provide them protection. But when something goes horribly wrong in a nearby village, they must flee for their lives. This is the second book in the trilogy.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code

I liked this book written by Eoin Colfer. After being held prisoner for five years, Artemis Fowl’s father has finally come home. He’s a new man – an honest man, much to Artemis’s horror. He makes his son promise to give up his life of crime, and Artemis has to go along with it. But not until he has completed one last scheme. He has constructed a super-computer from stolen fairy technology. Called the “C Cube,” it will render all existing human technology obsolete. He arranges a meeting with a powerful Chicago businessman, Jon Spiro, to broker a deal for the device. But Spiro springs a trap – he steals the cube and mortally injures Butler. Artemis knows his only hope of saving his loyal bodyguard is to employ fairy magic; so once again he must contact his old rival, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy police. This is the third novel in the series.


This is an okay book written by Orson Scott Card. At a time when political discourse is really heated between liberals and conservatives, the President and Vice President are killed in a terrorist attack, leaving the President pro tempore in charge of the country. A Progressive militia has developed and taken over several states on both coasts. Special Opts agents Malek and Coleman are brought in to stop the insurrection and encourage people to put aside their differences and reunite the country.

I enjoyed the afterword where the author describes the political climate in our country. I like how he mentions that in most countries people divide themselves by race and class, but in our country we tend to differentiate one another based on ideas. I find it unlikely that political disagreements would lead to civil war, but just the other day an activist who favors building the Cordoba House near Ground Zero was shouting at an 83-year-old man who survived the Holocaust and claiming that he doesn’t understand freedom or oppression.

The leader of the Progressive militia in the novel has been compared to financier George Soros. Producer Joel Silver is planning to make a film version of the story. The sequel book is called Hidden Empire.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. 23-year-old Canadian Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is constantly being teased for dating an Asian high school girl (Ellen Wong) who has never been kissed. At a party he sees an American girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) with dyed hair. He instantly falls for her and orders a package through Amazon hoping she will deliver it to his apartment. After they start dating he realizes that in order to stay with her, he will have to fight off her evil former boyfriends.

I didn’t like the video-game-in-real-life format and the comic book style words appearing across the screen. The film never really explains why the girl has dated so many people with superpowers. The story is based on the graphic novel series written by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The DVD will be released on November 9, 2010.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jack & Jill

This is an okay book written by James Patterson. In the middle of the night, a senator is found murdered in his Georgetown home. The only clue: a mysterious rhyme signed “Jack and Jill” promising more murders. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the beaten body of a little black girl turns up in front of an elementary school. Is there a connection in the killings? As Alex Cross, homicide detective, pieces the facts together, the killers strike again – and again. Suddenly, no one in Washington is safe – not even the President. This is the third book in the series.

Here Lies the Librarian

This is an okay book written by Richard Peck. Peewee idolizes her older brother Jake, whose mechanical skills are suddenly in demand when roads and cars start to link their small Indiana town to the rest of the state. The local librarian recently died, essentially shutting down the town’s library. Now a search is out to find an educated replacement. Peewee is a 14-year-old girl who is expected to start attending high school, but she would rather stay away and have fun!

Pop! Goes the Weasel

I did not like this book written by James Patterson. Alex Cross is in love and even while investigating a series of ghastly murders, he maintains his happiness. Cross eventually learns the killer is a British diplomat Geoffrey Shafer. However, proving that Shafer is the murderer is a difficult task. The diplomat engages in a brilliant series of surprising countermoves, in court and out, and Cross’s fiancée even becomes the target of a deadly cabal of killers. Alex must try to provide enough evidence to prevent the killer from being released and also seek out his missing girlfriend. This is the fifth novel in the series.

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Tim (Paul Rudd) is in a business meeting when he announces a plan to manage the portfolio of a wealthy Swiss couple. Tim’s boss tells him that before he can be promoted, he will have to bring a guest to a special dinner where useless talent is mocked. When he accidentally hits IRS agent Barry (Steve Carrell), who creates dioramas of stuffed mice, Tim realizes he has the perfect candidate for the dinner. Unfortunately for Tim, his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) thinks this is a really mean idea so he has to lie to her about it, and Barry keeps creating havoc for him.

I get really irritated when you tell someone to stop doing something, but they continue to do so. The story is based on the 1998 French film Le dîner de cons (the dinner of dolts). Steve Carell and Paul Rudd also appeared together in Anchorman (2004) and The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005). The location for the dinner was taken from Wayne Manor in the Batman television series of the 1960s. Schmuck basically means jerk, but a more appropriate word might have been schlemiel which refers to an inept person.