Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Blink

I liked this book co-written by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. Lombardo's Steakhouse in New York is famous for three reasons—the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball player. In the chaos, he accidentally records a key piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of an all-out war between Italian and Russian mafia forces.

The Roots of Obama's Rage

I liked this book written by Dinesh D'Souza. His basic theory is that Obama is an anti-colonialist and thus seeks to tear down America and Europe, who he blames for oppressing the poor and minorities. The book was really interesting and this view seems to fit Obama's actions really well. The author gives an overview of Obama's life and his search for his father. I found it amazing thinking about how Obama came out of nowhere and managed to manipulate the political climate so well that he quickly rose to fame and the presidency. One thing I didn't like about the author's view is that he seems to think that Obama is this political genius who is constantly accomplishing his goals, even when it might seem like incompetence at first glance. He also says that Obama shouldn't be viewed through the lens of an African-American, because his life and ancestry are much different than the vast majority of black Americans. He also says that labeling him a socialist isn't a totally accurate portrayal and that Obama prefers a managed or controlled variety of capitalism, with the government having an influence but not complete control over private companies. The author also claims that Obama lumps the wealthy and Republicans in with the colonialists and that explains his uncivil discourse against them.

The Reversal

I liked this book written by Michael Connelly. Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller never thought he could be persuaded to cross the aisle and work for the prosecution. Then convicted child killer Jason Jessup, imprisoned for twenty-four years, is granted a retrial based on new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is still guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he get to choose his investigator, LAPD detective Harry Bosch, and his second chair, deputy DA Maggie McPherson. But there's a serious political taint on the case, and Haller and McPherson must face off against a celebrity defense attorney who has already started trying it in the media.

This is the third book to feature Mickey Haller.

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

I liked this book written by Brandon Mull. The evil Society of the Evening Star is ruthlessly pursuing five ancient artifacts. After the Society pilfers two artifacts, Kendra races to discover the location of the third. However, it lies deep within the dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost. To save the treasures from falling into the wrong hands, Kenda and the other Knights of the Dawn infiltrate the dragon dungeon.

This is the fourth book in the series.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Groundhog Day (1993)

This is an okay movie. Local TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent against his wishes every year to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to report on whether the famous groundhog sees his shadow. A blizzard moves in forcing him and the film crew to stay in the small town overnight. When he awakens the next morning, he realizes that he is destined to relive the same day over and over again. At first he is upset and confused and just tries to get through the activities as quickly as possible, but then he discovers that if tomorrow never comes he can do whatever he feels like without facing any consequences.

The film was shot in Woodstock, Illinois and was the 13th most successful film of 1993. It would have taken Phil Connors several years to learn to play the piano, ice sculpt, speak French, and throw cards into a hat. According to the StormFax Weather Almanac, Punxsutawney Phil's predictions have been correct just 39% of the time. Groundhogs have a maximum lifespan of 10 years in captivity.

Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra

I liked this book written by Obert Skye. There is no place like Foo. Nowhere are the shores more beautiful or the skies so deep and moving. Unfortunately, the beauty is unraveling quickly. A great darkness is ascending from beneath the dirt as the true evil of Foo is unlocked and the Dearth rises above the soil. Assisted by Azure and an army of rants and other beings determined to merge Foo and Reality, the Dearth has brought war to the very borders of Sycophant Run. Meanwhile, wreaking havoc in Reality, Terry and Addy are about to join forces with a one-time janitor and the angriest, most confused toothpick alive – Ezra.

This is the fourth book in the series and is the only one not to include an image of Leven on the cover. I won this book in a drawing at UVU's Book Academy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Long Winter

This is an okay book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and based on true events. The first terrible storm comes to the barren prairie in October. Then it snows almost without stopping until April. Snow has reached rooftops, and no trains can get through with food or coal. The people of De Smet are hungry, including Laura's family, who wonder how they're going to make it through this terrible winter. It is young Almanzo Wilder who finally understands what needs to be done. He must try to save the town, even if it means risking his own life.

This is the sixth book in the Little House series and was written in 1940.

Caché (2005)

This is a solid French movie. A literary TV host, Georges, and his wife (Juliette Binoche) are disturbed to find mysterious video tapes on their porch showing that their apartment is being monitored. A gruesome crayon drawing is usually included with the package. At first, they suspect that their 12-year-old son or one of his friends is pulling a prank. Later, Georges wonders if the perpetrator is an Algerian man who stayed with his family for a few months when he was a boy. The man seems baffled when Georges accuses him of producing the threatening messages.

The film is also known as Hidden. On October 17, 1961, during the Algerian War for independence, French police attacked 30,000 Algerians who were holding a peaceful demonstration. There is no official tally on the number of deaths, because the French government has been reluctant to talk about the incident, but estimates are between 70 to 200.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Little Town on the Prairie

This is an okay book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Long Winter is over. With Spring come socials, parties, and Literaries. There is also work to be done. Laura spends many hours each day sewing shirts to help send Mary to college for the blind. But in the evenings, she makes time for a new caller, Almanzo Wilder.

This is the seventh book in the Little House series and was written in 1941. The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa was opened in 1852.

On the Banks of Plum Creek

This is an okay book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura's family's first home in Minnesota is made of sod, but Pa builds a clean new house made of sawed lumber beside Plum Creek. The money for materials will come from their first wheat crop. Then, just before the wheat is ready to harvest, a strange glittering cloud fills the sky, blocking out the sun. Soon millions of grasshoppers cover the field and everything on the farm. In a week's time, there is no wheat crop left at all.

In 1875 there was an enormous swarm of Rocky Mountain Locusts. Based on estimates from a physician, they filled an area larger than the state of California. It is now considered the largest concentration of animals and there were about 12.5 trillion insects. About thirty years later the species had become extinct. This is the fourth book in the Little House series and was written in 1937.

Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

I liked this book written by Brandon Mull. Strange things are afoot at Fablehaven. Someone or something has released a plague that transforms beings of light into creatures of darkness. Seth discovers the problem in its infancy, but as the infectious disease spreads, it becomes clear that the preserve cannot hold out for long. In dire need of help, The Sorensons question where to turn. The Sphinx has always given sound advice – but is he secretly a traitor? Inside the Quiet Box, Vanessa might have information that could lead to a cure – but can she be trusted? Meanwhile, Kendra and members of the Knights of the Dawn must journey to a distant preserve and retrieve another hidden artifact.

This is the third book in the series.

Solaris (2002)

This is a solid movie. Psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is sent to a spaceship orbiting the strange planet of Solaris, after receiving a desperate plea from one of the crew members. The passengers are experiencing bizarre phenomena and aren't sure what is causing it. When Kelvin arrives he discovers that several of the scientists are either dead or missing. After the first night of sleep he awakens and learns that his dreams have become reality. Mysterious visitors appear out of nowhere and the surviving crew is not sure whether these people are truly human or just products of their imagination.

This film and the 1972 Russian version were both adapted from the 1961 novel written by Polish author Stanisław Lem. The Kelvin scale measures absolute temperature starting at the lowest level of absolute zero. It can be calculated by adding 273.15 degrees to any Celsius temperature.