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Nerdy Special List October 2014

Nerdy Special List October 2014

October 8, 2014 – 9:44 pm | 4 Comments

We have books to recommend this month! So, just sit back with your cider and throw blanket and…oh, who am I kidding? I’m running the A/C right now because it’s hotter than Colin Firth in …

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Book reviews and more

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Advance movie reviews and behind-the-scenes discussions with filmmakers

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Nerd chats with writers and actors

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Recaps and reactions to some of your favorite TV shows

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Movie Review: LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM

October 4, 2014 – 4:25 pm | 6 Comments

last days in vn posterAs I headed out to see Rory Kennedy’s latest documentary, I stuffed a few tissues in my pocket, preparing for a “sit and sob,” my term for moving cinematic experiences. I was correct about the sobbing, but I couldn’t have predicted the deep emotional impact of this film.

The title is self-explanatory. Last Days in Vietnam details the final evacuations of American military personnel before the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Well, they were supposed to be evacs of American military.

Many servicemen refused to leave behind their Vietnamese colleagues who had risked their lives to help Americans. These American soldiers decided to go against US policy and committed illegal acts to get their Vietnamese associates (and the associates’ families) out of Vietnam.

Whatever you think you know about those last days, you won’t know many of the stories told in this film. I was there during those days, my family and I were eyewitnesses to some of the events being recounted on screen, and we still didn’t know much of what Kennedy uncovered. That’s because a lot of the footage and photos have never been seen before, the films sitting undeveloped in a vault for almost 40 years before Kennedy unearthed them.

This docu is not political. It’s about humanity, people doing the right thing, commiting selfless actions at great risk to their own safety. And the film doesn’t just feature the American point of view (Henry Kissinger is one of the interviewees). It includes the Vietnamese perspective, allowing civilians to add their voices to the story.

uss kirkThe result is more suspenseful than many thrillers I’ve seen, more heartrending than Hollywood tearjerkers, with everyday people becoming real-life heroes in impossible situations. I wouldn’t have believed some of the stories if I hadn’t seen the photographic and videotaped evidence right there on screen. A woman throwing her baby out of a helo, hoping people on a US Navy ship below would catch her? For much of the film I was agape, wondering, “How much courage did that take? How did someone get that shot?”

If you have any interest in this part of history, or just in a real story about the worst of times bringing out the best in people, check out Last Days in Vietnam. It’ll have a limited run in select cities throughout October, with a handful of dates in November and December.

Cities include Los Angeles, DC, Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle. Visit the official website for a full listing. While there, you can also see interviews with Rory Kennedy on various programs, including Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

Nerd verdict: Immense Days

Book Review: THE DISTANCE by Helen Giltrow

September 16, 2014 – 10:39 pm | One Comment
Book Review: THE DISTANCE by Helen Giltrow

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Charlotte Alton may seem like a well-bred London socialite, but her alter ego, Karla, operates in the shadows, gathering information that …

Book Giveaway: WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas

September 8, 2014 – 8:43 pm | 7 Comments
Book Giveaway: WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas

If you’re a big reader and frequent a lot of bookish sites, you may not have been able to avoid hearing about one of the buzziest books this year—Matthew Thomas’s debut novel, We Are Not …

Movie Review: THE GIVER

August 14, 2014 – 8:38 pm |
Movie Review: THE GIVER

The Giver, adapted from Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning novel, opens in black and white, with best friends Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), Fiona (Odeya Rush), and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) living in a dystopian community free of strife. Every …

Book Review & Giveaway: ONE PLUS ONE by Jojo Moyes

July 16, 2014 – 7:55 pm | 4 Comments
Book Review & Giveaway: ONE PLUS ONE by Jojo Moyes

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
British novelist Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) examines the different shapes of families and the widening gap between rich people and those who …

Book Review: LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell

July 13, 2014 – 8:31 pm |
Book Review: LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell

TV writer Georgie McCool finally gets a shot at writing her dream show. The problem: She needs to stay in L.A. and work on it over Christmas. Georgie’s husband Neal decides to take their young …

Giveaway: THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

July 7, 2014 – 9:57 pm | 11 Comments
Giveaway: THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

On the July Nerdy Special List posted last week, one of the recommendations was Deborah Harkness’s The Book of Life, the finale to her Book of Souls trilogy. I now have a giveaway of that book (out July 15), …

Giveaway: WAYFARING STRANGER by James Lee Burke

June 30, 2014 – 6:00 pm | 9 Comments
Giveaway: WAYFARING STRANGER by James Lee Burke

The good people at Simon & Schuster are letting me give away two copies of James Lee Burke’s new novel, Wayfaring Stranger, which comes out July 15. Here’s the book description from the author’s website:
From …

Book Review: MAMBO IN CHINATOWN by Jean Kwok

June 22, 2014 – 4:56 pm | 2 Comments
Book Review: MAMBO IN CHINATOWN by Jean Kwok

In Jean Kwok’s follow-up to Girl in Translation, twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong starts out as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Chinatown, where her father is a noodle maker. She has an eleven-year-old sister, Lisa, and …

Book Review: THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD by Michael Koryta

June 12, 2014 – 7:23 pm |
Book Review: THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD by Michael Koryta

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
At the start of Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead, 13-year-old Jace Wilson tries to conquer his fear of heights by …

Book Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT

June 9, 2014 – 9:55 pm |
Book Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Like her previous historical novels (Overseas and A Hundred Summers), Beatriz Williams’s The Secret Life of Violet Grant alternates between time …

Movie Reviews: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS & EDGE OF TOMORROW

June 7, 2014 – 12:21 am | 3 Comments
Movie Reviews: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS & EDGE OF TOMORROW

Movie-studio execs must’ve thought releasing a sad teenage romance and a big sci-fi action thriller on the same weekend meant they were targeting different audiences, but I don’t belong to any one group so I …

Review & Giveaway: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR by Joël Dicker

June 5, 2014 – 7:11 pm | 7 Comments
Review & Giveaway: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR by Joël Dicker

When Penguin Books acquired US rights to Joël Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair last year, it announced the book was the publisher’s biggest acquisition in history.
Why so much money for a debut …

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