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Nerdy Special List September 2016

September 11, 2016 – 11:04 pm | 2 Comments

I’ve seen many fall-books list in the last couple of weeks, but they all seem to have the same five books on them. Well, WE’RE RECOMMENDING ALL DIFFERENT BOOKS.
(I’m not punchy, just hungry. And tired …

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Movie Review: SULLY

September 8, 2016 – 9:36 pm | 2 Comments



Like many people, I thought I knew what happened on January 15, 2009 with US Airways Flight 1549, which Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed on the Hudson River about 3 minutes after takeoff from La Guardia Airport. A bird strike resulted in the loss of both engines and the captain had no choice but to do what he did, right?

Turns out, according to Clint Eastwood’s Sully (based on Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty), we barely knew the story at all.

The movie starts out with a startling scene, of a plane in trouble flying low in Manhattan. I’ll leave it at that.

The story unfolds in a nonlinear way, alternating between what happened on the flight that day, the ensuing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, and Sully’s internal turmoil as he starts to doubt his actions (should he have tried to make it back to LaGuardia? Did he risk killing everyone on board by making that water landing?).

Tom Hanks, on a streak of playing real people (see: Captain Phillips and last year’s Bridge of Spies), is very good as Captain Sullenberger. It’s all in his eyes—the recognition that something is terribly wrong with the plane, the quick analysis of his options, his decision to do the impossible, and his courage as he does his job.

Even after landing, he doesn’t stop being the captain, wading through water in the fast-filling aircraft to make sure everyone has deplaned before being the last man off himself, then begging rescue workers to do a head count during a chaotic situation. It’s not possible due to passengers being taken to different hospitals, but later, when Sully is told simply, “One fifty-five,” Hanks’s quiet reaction, understating the immense relief the pilot must’ve felt in learning everyone has survived, makes that number seem like the most wondrous thing he’s ever heard.

sully-hanks-eckhartAaron Eckhart as copilot Jeff Skiles and Laura Linney as Sully’s wife, Lorraine, have little to do besides being supportive of the captain as the NTSB questions his decision to land on the river (the captain stresses on, not in, the Hudson), while the recovered data supposedly shows he had much safer options.

The investigation provides good conflict and an untold angle to the Miracle on the Hudson story, but I wondered how much of that was exaggerated for cinematic effect. Captain Sullenberger pulled off a remarkable feat, everyone lived—why were they trying to, well, sully his reputation and 42-year career?

The real NTSB investigators have since protested their portrayals, while Sullenberger, who consulted on the movie, stands by his account.

Though this movie is about a recent event whose outcome is well known, director Clint Eastwood still manages to make it thrilling and incredibly suspenseful. Scenes of the plane diving toward water, or coming straight toward the camera, or flying way too close to buildings made me tense. I was like Sully waiting for that head count after the landing—I could not relax.

Eastwood hired real emergency workers to give the rescue scenes veracity. Sully shows how the end result wasn’t so much a miracle, but a group of people coming together to take care of one another during 208 seconds of terror. (Stay for the credits to see some of those real people.)

Nerd verdict: Gripping Sully

Photos: Warner Bros.

Book Review: MISSING, PRESUMED by Susie Steiner

July 28, 2016 – 9:48 pm | 4 Comments
missing, presumed

Beautiful Cambridge grad student Edith Hind goes missing, leaving behind her belongings, including her passport and phone. There’s also blood at her home, and the door wide is open.
Investigating Edith’s disappearance, Cambridgeshire Detective Sergeant Manon …

Book Review: COLLECTING THE DEAD by Spencer Kope

July 21, 2016 – 9:33 pm | 2 Comments
collecting the dead

Spencer Kope’s Collecting the Dead introduces Magnus “Steps” Craig, who works in the FBI Special Tracking Unit as the “human bloodhound.”
Steps has the synesthetic ability to see touch, i.e., he can spot the traces people …


July 15, 2016 – 6:17 pm | No Comment

The first things you probably want to know are: Is it as good as the original? Is it funny?
No, and yes.
I wanted to be fair to this version and not compare it to the 1984 …

Nerdy Special List July 2016

July 5, 2016 – 9:41 pm | 3 Comments
woman in cabin 10

Hope you all have been enjoying summer! People usually go somewhere around this time for vacation, and this year they are all coming to stay with me. I’ve been hosting family and friends, and though their visits create total cleaning …

Nerdy Special List June 2016

June 9, 2016 – 9:52 pm | 6 Comments
lily and the octopus

I turned on the air conditioning and pulled out the tank tops two days ago, so you know what that means: I shouldn’t be opening the door to strangers.
It also means it’s time for the June Nerdy …

Book Review: CITY OF THE LOST by Kelley Armstrong

May 26, 2016 – 11:10 pm | One Comment

I featured this book in May’s Nerdy Special List, but the full review below appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is republished here with permission.
” ‘I killed a man,’ I say to my new therapist.”
With …

Movie Review: THE NICE GUYS

May 19, 2016 – 8:18 pm | 5 Comments
nice guys

Shane Black, the screenwriter who shot to fame with the Lethal Weapon movies, may have had a few stumbles in the last three decades, but with The Nice Guys, a 1970s noir detective story Black cowrote …

Girl, You Need New Friends

May 10, 2016 – 9:17 pm | 5 Comments

I’ve been reading a couple of books in which a woman experiences or witnesses something shocking and she tells someone or several people. And no one believes her, not even her closest family members and friends.
They suggest …

Nerdy Special List May 2016

May 8, 2016 – 10:05 pm | 6 Comments

Every month I think the list is the best one ever, and May is no different. We read lots and lots of books, and only our top faves make the cut.
Here are the new releases we recommend.
From Jen …


May 4, 2016 – 9:26 pm | 11 Comments

Do you have superhero fatigue? Were you tempted to skip this post when you saw the title? What if I told you the movie is terrific?
Which is what I’m doing. Captain America: Civil War is one big bundle …

Book Review: I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh

May 1, 2016 – 9:18 pm | 5 Comments
i let you go

One minute, a five-year-old boy is walking home with his mother. The next, he’s dead, hit by a car after letting go of his mother’s hand to run ahead. As if the situation weren’t nightmarish enough, …

Book Review: Suzanne Rindell’s THREE-MARTINI LUNCH

April 25, 2016 – 9:56 pm | One Comment
three martini lunch

It’s 1958, New York City.
Cliff Nelson is a Hemingway wannabe who feels destined to be a famous writer, if only his editor father would help him—and if he could get some ideas for great stories.
Eden …

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