Month: March 2011

Check It Out Blog

Mystery Meets the Arabian Nights

The Desert of Souls book cover It’s eighth century Baghdad and magic is real. A man dies in the street in front of a rich noble, his scholar and the captain of his guard. In the dead man’s possession is a perplexing object whose inscription cannot be ciphered. Dabir and Asim – scholar, soldier and unlikely friends – are tasked to translate the inscription and then retrieve the prize when it’s stolen. The Desert of Souls, by Howard A. Jones, is a historical adventure tale ripe with prophecies, an evil sorcerer, undead monkeys, the Tigress River, a lost city supposedly destroyed by God and epic swordfights. Don’t worry…there’s a sequel in the works.

A Retreat into History

All Shall Be Well book cover Burt Hecker is much more comfortable in a time other than his own.  A sixty-three-year-old medieval re-enactor in upstate New York, he dresses in a tunic and sometimes enjoys a little too much homemade mead.  Hecker joins a group traveling to Germany to celebrate the 900th birthday of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, but his true purpose is to rescue his estranged son Tristan from the Bohemian city of Prague.  Sound odd?  Exactly!  All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well by Tod Wodicka has outrageousness aplenty to satisfy a casual reader, but just as in life, tragedy and humor are often intertwined.

LISTS: Not Terribly Offensive Comedies

What About Bob DVD cover Robin Williams, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock and Steve Martin all have something in common. They’ve been in comedies with a minimum level of harsh language and sexual content that are not terribly offensive. These are films that the whole family can enjoy without blushing.

Get laughing by clicking here.

Which Side Are You On?

Harlan County, U.S.A. DVD cover Harlan County, Kentucky wasn’t called Bloody Harlan for nothing. In the 1930s, coal miners and the management that oppressed them were in bitter opposition about workers’ rights and standards of living. There were riots. There were murders. Forty years later, miners and coal companies still didn’t get along. In 1973, 180 miners held a year-long strike against the Brookside Mine and Prep Plant. Scabs were called in. Picket lines formed. The wives of miners kept the strike from fading. Representatives of the coal company started showing up with guns. People died. Funerals helped rally the cause. The documentary Harlan County, U.S.A. captures it all from the workers’ points of view.

A Predetermined Life

Never Let Me Go book coverFiguring out a purpose in life is a rite of passage.  What if you knew clearly why you were here, but you wanted more?  For Ruth, Tommy, and Kath, the future has been set since before they were given life.  They grew up together at the reclusive Hailsham boarding school, one of many sites that prepares individuals for a very specific function.  The question is whether anything can truly ready them for what they are meant to do.  Recently adapted into a feature film, Never Let Me Go is an acclaimed novel from Kazuo Ishiguro.  Reader Rosalyn Landor is deeply moving as an adult Kathy, who reveals her story with thoughtful reflection and powerful realization.  This is one story that won’t let you go.

LISTS: For Your Eyes Only

James Bond logoWhich James Bond do you prefer? Timothy Dalton? Sean Connery? Daniel Craig? Don’t forget about Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and George Lazenby. Whether he’s drinking martinis, speeding in expensive cars or having a love affair with a gorgeous woman while cracking apart covert agencies, nobody does it better than Bond, James Bond.

Ready for the jet-setting, superspy cinema of OO7? Click here.

For Those Angry Moods

Orchestra of Wolves album cover Hardcore music is even faster, louder and heavier than punk. One of the most explosive and critically acclaimed hardcore bands to appear in recent years is Gallows with their debut album, Orchestra of Wolves. Hailing from England, Gallows first attained U.S. attention through Brett Gurewitz, owner of the legendary Epitaph Records. Gallows are furious. They are dark. They are the music you listen to when you get fired on your birthday, when your significant other leaves you after eleven years, when you are sitting in traffic and want to scream at every stopped car around you. Their music is rage and the positive release thereof.

Joyce’s Pick: Hachi

Joyce staff picks photoLooking for a family-friendly, heartwarming film? Hachi is it! Hachi, a lost Akita pup, is found by a university professor and life is never the same. This American adaptation is based on a true, renowned story of love and loyalty from Japan.