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Taken

Taken (2008) PG-13
Fast-paced action thriller that touches on a topic that is frightening for any parent. Liam Neeson plays a former government agent whose teenage daughter is abducted while in Paris with a friend. He relies on his old skills to try to rescue his daughter and seek revenge on the criminals who kidnapped her.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (2008)
Twelve year old Ren has no memory of his life before he came to the Catholic orphanage in mid-19th century New England. Then, one day, the mysterious Benjamin Nap comes to the orphanage and claims Ren as his long lost brother. Soon Ren is off with Nab, who turns out to be a con man of great charm. This is a delightful old-fashioned story with an appealing young hero you can't help but root for. It includes grave robbing, breathtaking chase scenes, and even a long lost evil relative.

Visit the author's website, preview the book and read a New York Times review of the book.

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella (2008)
To learn about the coffee trade in the 19th century world was interesting, plus having a very randy main character gives Anthony Capella's newest novel two reasons why it shouldn't be missed. Robert Wallis, an impoverished poet, is offered a job by coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to compose a "vocabulary of coffee."

Wallis falls in love with the owner's daughter while writing and is sent to Africa for five years to establish a coffee plantation with the understanding he then can return and marry Emily, the daughter. His lustful urges change his life in Africa and his future as well. Robert returns to an England of women suffragettes and coffee barons and once again his fate has been altered. This is  delicious, sensual work of fiction. Don't miss it.

Visit the author's website, read a review and the reading group guide at  Bookreporter.com.

Australia

Australia (2008) PG-13
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star in this epic movie that’s also a love story. Baz Luhrmann directs this tale set in the Northern Territory of Australia during World War II.

My husband had traveled to Australia, and he loved the scenery portrayed in the movie. He was in the area where it was filmed.

Check out a LA Times interview with Nicole Kidman where she discusses the film and the region. Also visit Amazon.com for a behind the scenes video clip featuring Hugh Jackman. If you want to preview the movie, IMDb.com has several featurettes and trailers.

Heroes: Season 1

Heroes: Season 1 (2006-2007)
Heroes tells the stories of ordinary individuals from around the world who inexplicably develop superhuman abilities, and their roles in preventing disasters (usually foreseen in painted images from precognitive painters). Season 1 shows how each character learns about their ability and eventually throughout the season, shows how they connect with each other. The interesting thing about Heroes is there isn’t a main character. The series tells a story about each individual, and of course some individuals play a larger role in the fate of the future.

You can catch Heroes on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. on NBC. Also check out the official website, where you can watch episodes, find out more about the cast, and get web exclusives.

Chuck. Season 1

Chuck. Season 1 (2007-2008)
When Chuck Bartowski opens an email from his college roommate, he unintentionally downloads all of the government’s secrets into his brain. What follows is an action-packed comedy adventure that has Chuck trying to balance his life as a computer consultant at Buy More Electronics with being a government “agent” catching assassins and terrorists.

Chuck features goofy humor and great characters. CIA Agent Sarah Walker and NSA Agent John Casey go undercover to protect Chuck. Sarah works at the nearby Wienerlicious hot dog shop, and Casey is a salesman at Buy More. The antics of the entire Buy More staff are hilarious. The action scenes showing Sarah, Casey, and Chuck battle the bad guys are entertaining. Because of the writer’s strike, season one is (sadly) only 13 episodes.

Rawhide: Season 2

Rawhide: Season 2 (1959-1960)
Somehow I missed this exciting western when it was on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I am glad that I did, since I now have a new western television series to watch.

This TV series is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Eric Fleming brought a lot to this series, as did his young costar Clint Eastwood, along with a very able supporting cast. Some of the stories are very fresh and creative, and even the more traditional plots are done very well. Season 2 (32 episodes) has a surprising number of stories dealing with the supernatural, with almost a Twilight Zone feel. Some of the villains are females and they are very good at being very bad.

Ladyhawke

Ladyhawke (1985) PG-13
Visually a work of art, this film is based on a 13th century European legend about a beautiful maiden (Michelle Pfeiffer), a stalwart knight (Rutger Hauer) and a pickpocket (Matthew Broderick). The knight and the lady were once lovers, but a curse by the jealous Bishop of Aquila has left them "always together, eternally apart." By day, she is a hawk; by night he is a wolf.  
          
This one has a great storyline and interesting characters. Philipe's (Broderick) conversations with God add a wonderful dimension to the film as does Leo McKern as the old monk. Check out the original trailer.

And Then You Die by Iris Johansen

And Then You Die by Iris Johansen (1998)
This thriller grabbed me immediately and kept me on the run with Bess Grady, a photojournalist who comes upon a horrifying site in a Mexican village. Would she, her sister, and a man she must trust against her better judgment escape each new dangerous situation? This page turner pulls plot ideas from headline events and shows some frightening possibilities that could come to pass.

The Bourne Ultimatum


The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) PG-13
In the third installment of the series (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy), Matt Damon returns as the man on the run from the CIA. The surprises never stop during the 116-minute movie, as Bourne struggles to stay alive while discovering information about his past. But wait! It looks like the adventure will continue in a fourth movie featuring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne...something to look for in 2010.

Also check out the Robert Ludlum books that were the basis for the movies.

Xena, Warrior Princess: Season 3

Xena, Warrior Princess: Season 3 (1997-1998)
Join Xena and Gabrielle (Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor) in this action-packed comedy adventure. Set in Ancient Greece, Xena decides to reform her outlaw ways by wandering the country to fight evil. Learn a bit about Greek mythology. Watch Xena come up with clever solutions by the end of each show.

During season 3, Gabrielle gives birth to a daughter, who ages quickly and soon becomes a source of contention. Follow the drama throughout the season. Also check out the musical episode in season 5 – it's hilarious.

If you like this, you’d also like Buffy – same action packed comedy adventure, but with a vampire slant (and high school kids).

Stardust

Stardust (2007) PG-13
Feuding princes, witches, pirates, flying ships, and falling stars – what more could you want?

To prove his love to Victoria (Sienna Miller), Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) crosses the forbidden wall to retrieve a fallen star. Instead of finding a celestial rock, he discovers an injured Yvaine (Claire Danes).

Yvaine reluctantly follows Tristan after he promises to get her back home. What should be a simple trek turns into a fast-paced adventure as Yvaine becomes the target of evil witches (including Michelle Pfeiffer) and feuding princes.

Fighting to stay alive, Tristan and Yvaine eventually find an ally in the cultured pirate Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro). During their journey, Tristan and Yvaine begin to fall for each other, but will true love be enough?

Narrated by Ian McKellen. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman.

The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party (2007) R
A fascinating story based on true incidents that follows a war correspondent, a cameraman and a young journalist as they search for the no. 1 war criminal in Bosnia.

Richard Gere plays Simon Hunt, a burnt-out, discredited war journalist who sees this mission as a way to redeem himself plus claim a multi-million dollar reward. In 2000, he convinces his ex-cameraman to join him, and the son of a network VP tags along as they go on a dangerous and crazy adventure. The cast of characters they meet are amazing. A dark comedy with episodes of violence but also witty dialogue and empathetic heroes.

Happy 20th Birthday, Indian Prairie! Join us as we celebrate all day long. The festivities conclude with a Neverly Brothers concert tonight at 7:00.

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach (1955)
Beach writes a great adventure about World War II with a lot of technical details about submarines. Also, the ending has a moral question that makes you think and really wonder what is “the right way.”

The library also has the 1958 movie of the same name starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven (2005)

Coming of age in rural 1930s America with unusual skills like X-ray vision and the power to stop bullets, Clark Kent takes us along on his coming-of-age journey of self-discovery. Covering years (May 1935 through February 1938), the story takes him from Smallville to New York (Metropolis). A Young Clark Kent, newly hired "Daily Planet" reporter; Lois Lane; and evil criminal mastermind Alexander "Lex" Luthor come to life in It's Superman! This is a fascinating idea. The story is as inventive and thrilling as it is touching and wise.

See what Powell's and the New York Times said about the novel. Other books by Tom De Haven include Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies (1996), Dugan Under Ground (2001), Funny Papers (2002), and the graphic novel Green Candles (1997).