BOOK: Goldfinger (1959)

Goldfinger Year: 1959 Author: Ian Fleming Length: 509 minutes / 8.48 hours For many years, I was aware that the James Bond series of books did not follow the same order as their respective films. Given the action/adventure spy thriller genre these books were written in, it is possible to mix them around and still have a good understanding of what’s going on, even if some of the references made within the novels could only be understood by having read the previous books in the series. In some respects, it is disappointing that the film franchise didn’t capitalize on a continuous narrative that the books provided. If the stories are out of order, then it 's hard to build up the constant battle between James Bond and the Soviet spy agency, SMERSH. Fortunately, since I had read a few of the first books in the James Bond series, I could appreciate Auric Goldfinger’s connection to the organization. That being said, I seemed to have jumped...
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MOVIE: Moana (2016)

Moana Year: 2016 Rating: PG Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours Let's get one thing straight: computers are incredible. Each successive year that passes, I find my eyes blown away at the amazing capabilities of computers to create the kind of imagery found in movies like this. From hair and water effects to some of the more supernatural aspects, the visuals of this film are quite commendable. Sure, Zootopia (2016) looked good too, but since its characters weren't human or in a "human" environment, it was difficult to see just how amazing the visuals could be. But this was likely due to Zootopia having more focus on an interesting plot instead of stunning effects. I am impressed that Disney has taken the leap to another non-white "princess" with Moana, but much of the cliche trappings of this type of film are out in full force. If I were to tell you Disney made a coming-of-age movie featuring the main character with an animal sidekick, a mute...
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BOOK: Dragon Airways (2016)

Dragon Airways Year: 2016 Author: Brian Rathbone Length: 202 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** A book filled with equal parts fantasy and steampunk, Dragon Airways delivers on the promise of flying the skies on the back of a dragon. Brian Rathbone does an expert job of fusing diesel engines and magic stones in this exciting story. Not only is the setting interesting, but most of the characters are quite engaging as well. Because of this, Dragon Airways was a pleasure to read, and I voraciously read every page that was available to me. While I did thoroughly enjoy reading this book, there were a few things that made it a little difficult to follow along. First, some of the minor characters weren't that well-developed (or non-existent after the first few chapters), which made it difficult to know who they were, especially when some of them had multiple names and titles assigned to them. Secondly, I minimally understood the layout of the world...
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BOOK: Where’s My Jetpack? (2007)

Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived Year: 2007 Author: Daniel H. Wilson Length: 221 minutes / 3.68 hours Some of the best science fiction ever written was strangely prescient with its predictions on how the world would advance, technologically. One of the best examples of this was Jules Verne in his story From the Earth to the Moon. Not only did he figure out what it would take to get away from Earth's gravity, he predicted that the launch site would be in Florida. Ever since then, we have looked to the authors of science fiction to tell us what could be possible in the future of tomorrow. Unfortunately, some of these predictions weren't quite realistic. While jetpacks and moon colonies sound cool in the pages of a fictional book, they just aren't practical in reality. Still, our childlike wonder and innovation tried its best to create what the science fiction authors of yore dreamt up. In Where's...
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MOVIE: Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water Year: 2016 Rating: R Length: 102 minutes / 1.7 hours It's interesting to me to see how the current social climate in this country can mold a film into a Best Picture Oscar nominee. I've probably seen this same scenario a number of different times, but the reasoning behind it is what brings Hell or High Water (2016) into a different category. There have been tons of heist films, and often the robbers have a tight connection, like that of brothers. Heck, The Blues Brothers (1980) essentially did the same basic plot but with "putting the band back together" as their way of "saving the ranch." Partly because this film seemed so quintessentially Texas, I couldn't help thinking it was a toned down version of another Best Picture Oscar winner No Country for Old Men (2007). With last year's Best Picture Oscar nominee, The Big Short (2015), showing how many honest Americans were swindled by the greed of banks, it's no wonder that...
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BOOK: The Fifth Witness (2011)

The Fifth Witness Year: 2011 Author: Michael Connelly Length: 836 minutes / 13.93 hours In the fourth installment of The Lincoln Lawyer series, The Fifth Witness follows Mickey Haller as he navigates another murder trial. This time, the real scenario of the foreclosure crisis is brought in to help set the stage for the trial. Using a historical event like this helped to bring the story together in a way that felt more real and relatable than the previous entries in the series. Most Americans I know who were affected by the housing market crash would certainly be entertained by this story of corruption and underhanded dealings, if for no other reason than to justify how screwed up the system is. Gone from this part of the series is detective Harry Bosch, who I felt distracted from the main storyline centering around Mickey Haller and his court battle in the previous two books of this series. This time, it’s all Mickey. What helped to make...
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BOOK: The Lincoln Lawyer (2005)

The Lincoln Lawyer Year: 2005 Author: Michael Connelly Length: 696 minutes / 11.6 hours While I saw the movie before listening to the audiobook, I must say that I still really enjoy the main character. He's one of those guys you love to hate, but he's trying so hard to do the right thing, even if it means defending a scumbag who deserves a lot worse. Of course, since I had seen the movie already, I had an idea how it was going to end, but couldn’t remember the specifics. Perhaps that’s a measure of a great crime drama: all the misdirection makes it difficult to know “whodunit”, allowing future rereads to be enjoyable. But, back to the main character, Mickey Haller, I think one of the reasons this book was a breeze to listen to was because the main character’s POV is so well written. You can tell that he has some baggage from his father, which is partly why he defends everyone, regardless...
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BOOK: The Rook (2012)

The Rook Year: 2012 Author: Daniel O’Malley Length: 1,066 minutes / 17.77 hours One of the nice things about listening to audiobooks from my library (via the Overdrive app), is that I can pick up a book and listen to it without really knowing what it’s about other than a title and a cover. In this way, I often have no preconceived notions about the book other than first impressions. At this point, all I’m giving up to “read” the book is the time it takes me to listen to it, and I have plenty of that driving to and from work every day. Since I had no idea what this book was really about, I was surprised at how humorous it was. If I were to combine a few, better-known series together, I’d say this is X-Men mixed with James Bond, with just a dash of Jason Bourne all blended together in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. An odd combination, I know. But somehow, it...
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BOOK: Hard Road (2013)

Hard Road Year: 2013 Author: J.B. Turner Length: 322 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** I’m finding that I really like the thriller genre, and books like this convince me that it’s the most exciting genre out there. Practically from page one, the pace is set and is blindingly fast. There’s no time to rest when the fate of the nation is at stake. Equal parts Liam Neeson from Taken (2008) and Tom Cruise from Jack Reacher (2012), Jon Reznick is skilled beyond measure and I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel is made into a film of its own. That being said, I don’t really know why this book was called Hard Road other than all the driving that takes place in it. J.B. Turner manages to keep the reader in the dark about much of the plot that thrusts Reznick into a race against time and terrorists until about half-way through this book. While this was an impressive feat, part of...
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MOVIE: Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures Year: 2016 Rating: PG Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours I often jokingly refer to my job as being a "rocket scientist." While it does involve rockets and space, it isn't nearly as "down in the numbers" as the jobs portrayed in this film were. I've worked with a lot of people over the years in this technical field, and my opinion has always been that, if somebody is competent enough to do the job, we should hire the most competent people to do said job. Even though this is a statement against nepotism and just knowing the right people in the right places, what this film has shown me is that it's not nearly that simple. In terms of competency, I will not judge you by your gender or your race, as long as you show you can do the work and not be a burden on the team. However, even though people are highly qualified, they have had the deck stacked against...
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