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Acting Class: Take a Seat by Milton Katselas
All in Fun by Jerry Oltion
The Cat Who Went Up the Creek by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
Dance of Shadows by Fred Chappell
Diary of a Dead Man by Walter Krumm
Earth Odyssey by Mark Hertsgaard
eNursery Rhymes by Mother Mouse
Ella: A Baby Elephant's Story by Kathleen Duey
Emily Waits for Her Family by Carol Zelaya
The Exchange by Inga C. Ellzey
Festival of Deaths by Jane Haddam
For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone
Forgive My Trespassing by Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson
A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seed by James Fenton
The Illusion by Tony Kushner and Pierre Corneille
Jimmy Buffet: The Man from Margaritaville Revealed by Steve Eng
The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak by Dinah Muloc Craik
Mojo Hand by Greg Kihn
The Monopoly Man by Barry B. Longyear
Nana Volume 2 by Ai Yazawa
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
The Perfect Infestation by Carol Emshwiller
Rising Waters by Patricia Ferrara
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Sea by John Banville
Seafarer's Blood by Albert E. Cowdrey
Shadow on the Stones by Moyra Caldecott
Signatures of Grace edited by Thomas Grady and Paula Huston
Silence is Golden by Penny Warner
"Slowly, Slowly, Slowly" Said the Sloth by Eric Carle
The Tall Stones by Moyra Caldecott
The Temple of the Sun by Moyra Caldecott
Tsunami by Gordon Gumpertz
Written on the Knee by Dr. Theodore Electris and Helen Electrie Lindsay (translator)

Don Quixote:
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Tsunami: 01/08/09

California is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a geologically active area of subduction zones, volcanoes, earthquakes and with the Pacific Ocean there: tsunamis. A tsunami is a huge wave of water created by a massive displacement of water by earth movement. California does get hit by tsunamis but so far not the massive three wave monster that Gordon Gumpertz sets upon southern California in his very entertaining natural disaster novel Tsunami.

The most recent tsunami to hit California was back on November 15, 2006. It reached from Santa Cruz up to Crescent City (a place that has been hit by a number of tsunamis). Destructive earthquakes and tsunamis are a risk of living in California. The USC Tsunami Research Center has a downloadable paper (PDF) on the risk of tsunamis both distant and local to California. It reads like the blue print for Gumpertz's book.

The California in Gumpertz's novel is simplified and altered in a number of ways for dramatic license. There is no mention of the Channel Islands (which traditionally get the worst hit for distant tsunamis in southern California) and Camp Pendelton has been scrapped to make way for a new massive housing development. There are other fictional towns up and down the coast where more of the drama of the tsunami plays out.

In ways reminiscent of Condominium, the developers' greed puts into play many of the things that ultimately lead to losses of life and property at the end of the novel. To make them even worse, they are also importing guns through their shipping company.

In the middle of all of this is Leilani Sanches a geologist who has been studying an usually and potentially violent volcano deep below the Pacific Ocean. If her scenario is correct, a devastating 100 to 200 foot tsunami (roughly ten times taller than the largest tsunami waves on record for hitting California) could hit "from Santa Barbara to San Diego" with Oceanside to Los Angeles getting the worst of it.

But that's the fun of a disaster novel. The human drama of a normal sized disaster gets pushed beyond the boundaries of the expected to entertain while slyly educating about the true risks. Tsunami reads like a made for TV movie miniseries back when disasters were such popular topics. I was reminded of Earthquake! (which also takes out Los Angeles) and of course the mini series version of Condominium that started Barbara Eden.

Tsunami rises above the typical natural disaster story by providing memorable and believable characters. The characters demonstrate their individuality with lots of showing and very little telling. They act in understandable ways (both rationally and irrationally) and come to their senses in a human timescale, rather than a dramatic one.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tsunami and would definitely stop to watch it if it ever was turned into a miniseries.


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