8:46 [videorecording DVD] : never forget

From Ellen Druda

Author: Jennifer Gargano

Title:   8:46 [videorecording DVD] : never forget

There are no surprises in a film about September 11th. We all know how it’s going to end.  Filmmaker Jennifer Gargano imagines stories about some people caught in the event: the victims and their families, workmates, friends and lovers, and what was happening in their lives that day.  The characters are fictional but possible amalgamations of stereotypes based on many real lives.  The film spends most of the time leading up to the attacks in order for us to get to know the individuals.  When the planes hit the buildings, we see the panic and heroics of these everyday people from inside the towers and those in the immediate area.  Ms. Gargano has created a heartfelt, if a little clichéd, tribute to the casualties and heroes of 9/11, with a portion of the proceeds going to Tuesday’s Children, a charity for those impacted by the events.

Saving Simon : how a rescue donkey taught me the meaning of compassion

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Jon Katz

Title: Saving Simon : how a rescue donkey taught me the meaning of compassion 

Saving Simon : how a rescue donkey taught me the meaning of compassion by Jon Katz was a mostly uplifting read. I say mostly because when you, the reader, first start the book, the fate of the donkey seems dire indeed. Simon is a “rescue” donkey meaning a concerned individual spotted Simon in a risky living situation and started the process of liberating him from that situation. Simon’s rescuers found the donkey in a fenced area too small for him and his care had been severely neglected. Jon Katz owned a “gentleman” farm, a “gentleman” farm in that farming is not the owner’s main occupation, fiction and nonfiction writing are. Jon agreed to “rescue” the donkey and provide him with a safe living environment. For the first few months, this “rescue” operation required multiple applications of ointments and salves and lots of TLC. In the course of rescuing Simon, Jon began to define and redefine, for himself, the meaning of mercy and compassion. He poses a question to himself and essentially to all of mankind regarding mercy and compassion. The question that he seeks to answer is – does only the blameless individual(s) deserve compassion? This book encouraged me to look at how I define mercy and compassion and to whom I award those gifts. Saving Simon was a most thought-provoking read.

Holy ghost [videorecording DVD]

From Ginny Pisciotta

Author: Darren Wilson

Title: Holy ghost [videorecording DVD]

Filmmaker Darren Wilson (Finger of God, Father of Lights, Furious Love) challenged himself to film a documentary totally led by the Holy Spirit. Without a plan or script,  he went wherever he felt the Holy Spirit lead him.  He travels to Salt Lake City, Monte Carlo, a Korn concert and Varanasi, India where a Hindu high priest allows Christian musician Jake Hamilton to sing and play his guitar inside a temple.

Wilson films the love of God reaching out to diverse people in diverse places in diverse ways. Holy Ghost was an excellent and inspiring film. I am looking forward to his next film.

The Darkening Field

From Eileen Effrat

Author: William Ryan

Title: The Darkening Field

This is Ryan’s second Captain Alexi Korolev mystery. Sent from Moscow to Odessa, Korolev now investigates the murder of a dedicated party member filming a major Soviet movie. The woman is supposedly the lover of Yezhov, Stalin’s right-hand man.  Korolev finds himself once again treading lightly  in this extremely sensitive investigation.  As in his first novel, The Holy Thief,this is a good police procedural set in 1937 Moscow. If you enjoy Martin Cruz Smith’s Detective  Araday Renko  or Tom Rob Smith’s Detective Leo Demidov, Ryan’s Soviet based mystery series is for you.

Grave undertakings : mortician by day, model by night– one woman’s true-life adventures

From: Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Alexandra Mosca

Title: Grave undertakings : mortician by day, model by night– one woman’s true-life adventures

I was browsing the catalog one day and this particular title so intrigued me, I had to immediately place a reserve upon it. I then anxiously awaited its arrival. The book was entitled Grave undertakings: mortician by day, model by night – one woman’s true-life adventures by Alexandra Kathryn Mosca and it caught my interest from page one. Alexandra’s birth mother died in childbirth and that is only the beginning of Alexandra’s trials. One would think that if an individual or a couple wants to adopt a child, it is done as a humanitarian, selfless act but this is often far from the case. Alexandra’s adoptive parents were mentally and physically abusive and, at sixteen, she went out on her own. From an early age, the pomp and pageantry of funerals and death had fascinated her and she decided her calling was that of mortician. At the time of her decision, this was a career field that did not welcome women. The majority of her fellow classmates at Undertaking College were the children of established funeral families so they already had a position awaiting them. Alexandra had to convince the male establishment of her skills and even then, she was quite often relegated to the position of lady attendant. A lady attendant was the person designated to come in and make up the deceased. Alexandra had a hard time breaking into her field but most of the time managed to keep her spirits high and her determination strong. She proved to me, that if you have a desire and a willingness to sacrifice, anything is possible.

Elephant company : the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Vicki Croke

Title: Elephant company : the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II

I have found quite frequently, in my reading life, one book leads to another interconnected book. I recently finished reading Elephant Company: the inspring true story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II by Vicki Constantine Croke, and, of course, the author mentioned various other books. Some of the books touted were authored by Vicki Croke herself and some were used to further her understanding of the animals about whom Vicki was talking.

Elephant Company was an enlightening and heroic read. Jim “Billy” Williams was an adventuresome soul and the advertisement for a teak forester called to that aspect of his soul. Through his teak forestry work, Billy came to recognize and appreciate the greatness and intelligence of the elephants employed by the teak company. Elephant Bill, as he came to be known in the teak forests of Burma, was sought out and trusted by the elephants to treat their ills. Elephant Bill, through his interactions with the elephants, learned how to command men through respect and not fear. Elephant Company spoke of the mutual bond that can form between human and animal if both sides respect each other. It was this bond which enabled Elephant Bill, the elephants and their handlers, to assist others in fleeing the Japanese soldiers entering Burma. I simply could not put the book aside until the last page had been turned.