Aaron's PicksBooks, Music, and Movies
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Welcome to Aaron's Picks!
This is my chance to share some of the things I enjoy with the rest of the world, books I love to read and reread, music I enjoy listening to, and movies I love to watch.
There are three sections to this page. I highlight one item from each category. If you want to browse all the items in a category (books, music, or movies), scroll down to the category and click in the link right above the highlighted selection.
Since this web page is generated dynamically from a database, each time you visit, a selection from each category is randomly chosen as the highlighted item.
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" is a science fiction classic in my opinion, one of the great works of the genre. Perhaps that's why it is the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. I give the book a full five-star rating. It is an amazing and intense read.
I met the author, Orson Scott Card, briefly just after he finished giving a writing seminar in Southern Utah several years back, where he autographed my own paperback copy. If only I'd known he would be there I might have purchased a hardcover copy for him to sign.
Beware that "Ender's Game" does contain some language and several graphically violent scenes. However, unlike many books and movies where violence is gratuitous, the scenes in this book are integral to the story and development of the characters, and presented minimally to achive this purpose. And the main character's reactions to the situations includes regret at the necessity of his own violent behavior. This, I think, is a vital element if a story honestly deals with violence and seeks not to glorify it or make it part of the adventure. My hat is off to Mr. Card in this regard, for the towering power of the story overshadows and justifies what in another story I would regard as vile and unacceptable.
One of the traits of Orson Scott Card's writing is his astounding ability to make you believe his characters are smart, intelligent, and in the case of Ender Wiggin saga, even geniuses. So often I read a novel where the author spends some time trying to tell me that such-and-such a character is smart and I then read on and find that I just can't believe that a smart person would do and behave as they do later on in the novel. Card succeeds with room to spare. He convinces me his characters are smart by what they do and think. He doesn't have to bother telling me that they are intelligent.
"Ender's Game" is the first, and probably the fastest paced of the four novels that make up the Ender Wiggin saga, but that does not necessarily make it the best.
I give "Ender's Game" a full 5 rating. This books is definitely a must-have title for any serious science fiction fan's library.
The Sound of Glory
Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Orchestra at Temple Square
While I enjoy the grandios sound of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I tend to prefer smaller choral ensembles with a tighter sound. Well this CD is an exception to this rule. I don't know if it's because it's a Telarc recording (and every Telarc CD I own is superb) and thus better captures the sound, if it's the Orchestra at Temple Square lending a magnificent instrumental performance, or if it's the glorious arrangements of Mack Wilberg, Barlow Bradford, and others, or a combination of all, but this CD is probably going to now be my favorite MoTab CD. The choir has a crisp, clean sound. Yes, they still are a choir of grand scale, compared to the smaller ensembles I usually prefer, but their big sound on this recording is exceptional.
Now I'm not knocking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or other large choirs. I enjoy listening to them. Particularly live, in concert. If you ever have the chance to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in concert, do not pass it up! You will not be disappointed. My personal preference just usually tends toward smaller choral ensembles of twelve to perhaps thirty members.
I have a hard time narrowing down which tracks are my most favorite. I like every one of the Mack Wilberg arrangements. But I also like Barlow Bradford's arrangement of All Creatures of Our God and King. In fact, that track brought goose chills to my skin as I listened to it for the first time on the 4th of July, 2003, while riding in my brother's car up to Pine Valley, Utah. Even over the road noise, on a car audio system that is nothing to rave about, the music had power and depth.
It is interesting that this CD compilation has so many selections similar to the BYU Men's Chorus CD, Awake My Soul, particularly a prevalance of Mack Wilberg arrangements. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it's a wonderful thing. I own both CDs and I love 'em both.
I'm going to have to give this one a 4.5 out of 5 rating. It just sounds so good. Maybe it's my new Klipsch THX computer speakers I play it on while working at the keyboard... Nah, it's just an excellent recording of excellent performers giving a stunning performance. It's good.
A Pixar Film
When I first saw The Incredibles with my sister in the theater, I came home astounded. Wow! At times I forgot completely that I was watching an animated movie, the action was so well done and the story practically perfect. It reminded me of watching Spiderman 2 (which I also loved).
Pixar's done it again! This movie is intense, clean, exiting, the art and design beautiful. I loved the ending credits and watched to the very end.
The instant the movie was available on DVD, I snatched it up. This is a keeper, a must-see movie.
The well-written story and fascinating, believable characters make the movie every bit as enjoyable each time I watch it again.