January 2010 Archives
The White Giraffe, by Lauren St. John
After losing her parents in a terrible fire, eleven-year-old Martine leaves England to live with a grandmother she doesn't know on a wildlife game reserve in South Africa. There is belief among the locals that a mythical white giraffe lives on the sanctuary. As Martine explores the African world, myths become reality and she discovers her courage and her healing powers that may save her one true friend.
Then Belichick Said To Brady-- : The Best New England Patriots Stories Ever Told , by Jim Donaldson
I found this title to be somewhat deceiving. Then Belichick Said to Brady... is not just about the coach's relationship with his future Hall of Fame quarterback, but covers the entire history of the team to present day. They were a team without a home field, playing at Boston University field, Fenway Park and Harvard Stadium, before moving permanently to Foxboro. There were a number of unusual characters who played the game (Larry Eisenhauer, Bob Gladieux, etc.). The owners (Pat Sullivan, Victor Kiam and Robert Kraft) were also interesting characters! There is background information on the "Snow Game", the "Tuck Rule" and "Spygate". Added features include draft analysis and the hits, and busts, of Patriots' picks; a summary of the players in the Patriots' Hall of Fame; and recaps of their 3 Super Bowl wins. This is one of the best books I've read on my favorite team. It's written by Jim Donaldson, a sports writer for The Providence Journal, who has covered the Pats since 1979. Whether you're a Patriots fan or not, you'll enjoy the behind the scenes look at this successful NFL franchise.
Battle for Haditha
The Iraq war has been the subject of many feature movies in the past years and Battle for Haditha joins that growing number. Directed by Nick Broomfield, it is an absorbing, skillfully made film about an actual massacre of Iraqi civilians by United States Marines that occurred in November, 2005. Broomfield builds up to this event from three angles : the Marines who carried out the slaughter, an Haditha family that gets swept into the violence of the massacre, and the insurgents who are key in setting off the chain of events that causes the Marines to charge into action. The attitudes of each side are very well detailed and thus the movie has a great balance of viewpoints - from the reasons why the insurgents are so intensely dedicated to battle the Americans, how a family's life is ruined by the fighting in Haditha, and to the driving desire of the Marines to destroy those who are against them. Filmed largely in Jordan, Battle for Haditha has terrific cinematography which captures the often bleak desert terrain in which Haditha is situated. The strong acting adds to the strength of the movie. Apparently, some of the actors were chosen because they did indeed serve in the Iraq war. This is an intense movie, but one that makes the Iraq war come distinctly and vividly alive for its viewers.
The Ninth Daughter, by Barbara Hamiliton
This is the first in a projected mystery series written by Barbara Hamilton that will transform the real-life Abigail Adams into an amateur sleuth. In pre-revolutionary Boston, Adams must try to discover who murdered a woman whose body Adams discovers in a friend's house. The strength of Hamilton's writing is definitely in her strong ability to create, in interesting and absorbing detail, Adams's world of colonial Boston. While trying to solve this murder mystery, Adams is also involved with the politics of her day as discontent is brewing between the Americans and their British rulers. Her husband John, brother-in-law Sam, and Paul Revere are among the lively cast of characters finely drawn by Hamilton. The Ninth Daughter makes for entertaining reading, especially for those who relish authors who can skillfully make an historical era come alive with fine writing.
The Water's Edge, by Karin Fossum
The sixth in the series featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer and set in Norway, The Water's Edge is the first mystery this reviewer has read by Karin Fossum. And, this absorbing mystery made this reader want to enjoy more titles in this series. Fossum's writing is clear and concise with extremely well-created characters in their Norwegian setting. The Water's Edge begins with a couple from a small town in Norway who take a stroll in a park and stumble upon the body of a dead boy. This event becomes a major catalyst in the couple's lives and remains a subplot to the involvement of Inspector Sejer in solving the mystery of the dead boy. One crime leads to another and Kossum provides the reader with a twisting tale set within a small Norwegian community. The Water's Edge is recommended for mystery readers and especially for those who like to follow the adventures of a character who solves crimes in foreign countries.
The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking About Acting, compiled by Damon DiMarco
Whether you're an aspiring actor or professional couch potato, you're bound to like The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking About Acting. The title is misleading because there are quotes from famous directors (Stanislavski and Stella Adler), also. I think author Damon DiMarco did a wonderful job of assembling the quotations to cover a wide variety of aspects in the actor's life. He uses the actors' own words to explain why they act, how they conquer stage fright, how they audition, what an actor's life is like, etc. I have to admit, some quotes had more meaning for me than others. In fact, I still can't figure out what some were trying to say! Yet, I believe this book gives the reader a lot of insight into the craft and its very competitive environment. I appreciate actors more than I did before reading this book. And I think I understand how the pressure can adversely effect their lives. Some, however, seem fairly grounded as demonstrated by actor Gary Oldman:
"....I don't go to the premieres. I don't go to the parties. I don't covet the Oscar. I don't want any of that. I don't go out. I just have dinner at home every night with my kids. Being famous, that's a whole other career. And I haven't got the energy for it."
This book will help you re-examine your own life and decide what's really important to you. Deep down these people are no different than you or me. They define success not as having a blockbuster movie, but rather by being true to themselves. Acting is a job, and, as one actor stated, makes you understand yourself better. There are many pitfalls and it can be a hard life. It can also build character. AMEN.