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Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol (2011)



You may find this surprising but… I’ve never seen any of the Mission Impossible films. Given my fondness for cool spy thrillers it is hard to believe, I know but true. Interest for this particular title was first piqued by the lovely, Ruth’s review, then my dad saw the trailer for this and thought it looked like it might actually be good so I figured it’d be something fun to rent and watch – needless to say, that is a realistic expectation.
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Changes in Growing Up


If there is one thing I am not an advocate of, it is “change.” I don’t like it and, although probably the majority of people don’t root for change – usually there is something about the familiar that we hate to let go of, because of my personality, I’d prefer that things remain quiet and continue in the same vein. Unfortunately, my life is changing. Not in the drastic cannot-believe-I-am-doing-this kind of change mind you, but more the subtle kind of transition that comes with maturity. I’ve grown up. Growing up, I went through seasons of change – as hopefully we all do, and in retrospect, most of the time, those differences were not just "good" but changing me into a "better" person. Being where I am now, I have no desire to revert back to my teenage years but lately I have just been realizing what is shifting in my life and how that trend isn’t going to go backwards but rather forward. And with every passing year, that truth is becoming more a reality than fantasy.
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Great Expectations (2011) - BBC's Gothic and Beautiful Dickens Story about Loss and Love



Attached to this British period drama was either great anticipation or disinterest. Because such accolades came from people whose opinions I may not always agree with, but do trust curiosity made me to step inside this latest adaptation. 
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Firelight (2012)


Early this year, Hallmark Hall of Fame productions made a drastic change. It moved from its long-time “permanent” home on CBS to ABC. The move took fans by surprise as we immediately wondered if this wonderful series was coming to an end after over two-hundred films. Once surprise wore off, it was more a question of why CBS ended it since it the films were always well received. Now it has moved to another network, I’ve watched the last few with some disappointment. This one was, likewise viewed with trepidation.
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The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks - An Emotional Contemporary Romance About Healing


About the Book:
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 2008
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance (Secular Fiction)
E L S E W H E R E:
Find the Review Elsewhere:
Rating: ★★★1/2 

The Story: Surviving three tours of duty in Iraq, eleven bombs, and countless other “close calls” is not something marine Logan Thibault likes to think about. All are memories best forgotten, and yet, he dare not. His friend and fellow marine assures Logan that the photograph of the woman he found laying on the ground is the good luck charm has saved him from multiple “close calls.”

Without re-upping for another tour of duty and following a tragedy that led to his disillusionment, Logan sets out cross-country to find the smiling woman in the photo known to him as only “E.” At the end of his journey, Logan comes face-to-face with Elizabeth “Beth” Clayton. 

In time, Logan struggles with his reasons in finding Beth, and Beth knows he's holding something back: How can he tell her, she is the reason he is there? The bond he forms with the single mom and her family is undeniable but is it enough to earn her forgiveness?
Mainstream fiction is really not my thing. The film adaptation of The Lucky One is what inspired me to pick up this novel. Prior to this, I had never read a novel by Sparks. (Though I had seen most of the adaptations.) Like  many of his earlier novels, this one is also set along the Southern coast. Because of this, there are common uses of long, beautiful walks along the beach as a means of building romantics. Obviously he intends this to be intentional and it is an ideal setting for a romantic novel. Still, this could have done with stretching the horizons a bit. 

FILM REVIEW | The Lucky One (2012) - A Romantic Drama about a Soldier's "Lucky" Charm 

The succession of events cumulates to further develop the characters not to mention playing on our romantic heartstrings. Logan’s unexpected appearance in Beth’s life intrigues, and his free-spirit attracts her. This builds on tension, chemistry and allure. Though not always of serious expectations, but rather of purely passionate desire. Little does Beth realize that Logan has much different feelings for her.

On one side, I can say I really did like the story, the writing and characters but I also could make the argument that this novel isn’t Sparks best. It has its moments, but I also don't think it had a lot going for it. The characters are easy to like and are admittedly well developed (Logan particularly has a fascinating past), but sometimes they aren’t easy to root for. One example being Beth’s stupidity regarding her ex. (Seriously, Beth, Keith is a JERK. GET. THE. CLUES. Trust, Logan.)

There's also something missing in the relationship between Logan and Beth. Whatever it is, there’s a disconnect. I cannot pretend that I didn’t “enjoy” the book because I did. Much of the story seems to rely on common clichés
You should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute.” 
Broken into “sections” in which Sparks dedicates chapters to whichever character the chapter is named after (i.e., “Beth,” “Thibault,” etc.), it keeps the plot simple and easy reading because we know who we are going to be reading about for the next several pages. Contrary to what this review makes it sound like, the book isn't "bad." The writing is simple and to the point, and the last one-hundred or so pages is sure to keep you turning those pages.♥


*What to know: There is profanity (p***ed, d*mn, h*ll). One man is a pervert – he takes photos of collage co-eds and imagines having a friends-with-benefits sort of relationship with his ex. There are references to “making love,” minor sexual connotations and alcohol consumption. Beth is described as wearing immodest clothing. 
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Britt Nicole: Gold


About the Album:
Released: 2012
Writing Credits: Britt Nicole, Ben Glover, David Garcia
Label: Sparrow Records
Genre: Christian Pop

My Thoughts: At first glance, Britt Nicole’s music may not seem any different than any other Christian or mainstream artist (Taylor Swift, Colbie Calliet or Selena Gomez) – something I do not mean as a slight, mind you. Prior to this collection of songs, I loved Britt’s music (her prior two albums were Say It and The Lost Get Found) and more importantly, her heart for God shines. On this, Gold Britt’s third and latest studio album, I found myself disappointed in a couple of the tracks but it isn’t because they lack Christianity’s message, instead I realized I wasn't wild about the "tones"of certain songs.
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Book Series: Striking a Match


About the book(s):
Author: Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date(s): 2010-2011
Number of Books: Three
Novel Titles: Embers of Love; Hearts Aglow; Hope Rekindled
Genre: Christian, Historical Drama

Synopsis: the series tells the stories – both the triumphs and sorrows of a two-generational logging family living in 1800’s Texas on the cusp and unrest of a prejudicial “war.”

My thoughts: Up until a couple of weeks ago, it had been far too long since last I posted my thoughts on whatever book I may have been reading so I figured it was time to add to my “book archives” – such as they are. (Over the next couple of weeks, I shall endeavor to have more such posts - as of now, that "goal" seems possible.) Since I began reading this series far too long ago to make a compelling review on the in-depth bits and pieces of each novel, I figured it was fine to post about the entire series since it revolves around the same family as opposed to different characters. Forgive me if my ramblings and compacting of three books become too confusing.
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Titanic (2012)



100 years later, the fated voyage of one ship is still remembered. If you’ve been living on another planet, in all likelihood news of the RMS Titanic’s 100th anniversary has not reached your ears. More than likely, you have seen the commotion surrounding this milestone. It has been in the newspapers, among other major outlets.
 
To coincide with the anniversary, the spectacular British scripter Julian Fellowes adapted the tragedy into a four-hour miniseries in which a new set of fictional character’s lives unfold. Tragic or not, this is a memorable series.
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The Mighty Macs (2009)



It is a tricky business adapting true stories. Or that has been my humble conclusion. Anything that is “tagged” as any part of true stories means filmmakers are taking a person either living or who has lived and are attempting to not just tell their story but mimic their life. I have seen some that have been near perfection, and others that have failed miserably, unable to strike a balance between docu-drama and an entertaining film that keeps its viewer interested. This seventies-era flick may not be known among the ranks of popular real-life dramas, but it is memorable – even if only for one’s night’s worth of entertainment.
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Bewitching by Alex Flinn



About the book:
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction, Teen, Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Meet Kendra. This is her story. If we think we have it bad – try living in her world. In Bewitching, her escapades are told of what life as a witch is like. Always trying to help people often backfires on the eccentric Kendra but still she tries to make a better world for unsuspecting people in need – weather it is a princely snob or a young girl trying to do battle with her teenage step-sister in the 21st century, she is always vetting potential “projects.”  After all, a beast of a curse on a popular dude who stomped on everyone’s feelings was just one of her curses.
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We Bought a Zoo (2011) - A Family Story with Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!


Matt Damon in We Bought a Zoo

Stories that have plots in some way derived of “inspired by true events” can go one of two ways. The first is either more of docu-drama that is far too technical and biographical to be really entertaining, and the second option is an uplifting drama that could inspire its viewer to betterment. This movie is the latter.
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Baroness by Susan May Warren



About the book:
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside Press
Publication Date: 2012
Series: “Daughters of Fortune” (book 2 of 3)
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical

The Story: Coming from a fatherless family, Lilly Hoyt was ripped from the only home she’d ever known by her mother who lost Lilly’s father before Lily was even born. Raised as a socialite in New York, Esme was needed home again when her father – a newspaper baron became gravely ill, which in turn made her decision to pack up her rebellious teenage daughter and return home easier. Now “all grown up” at nineteen, Lilly is restless and unhappy in her surroundings. Cousin Rosie is the exact opposite. She embraces the care-free Parisian life, risqué fashions and trends, and has dreams of the stage but she doesn’t know if she is capable of the demands such a life requires. Her mother Jinx created her own scandal following the death of Rosie’s father but she will stop at nothing to see that her daughter does not follow in her footsteps – no matter how much Rosie hates her.

Before her mother can thwart plans, Rosie helps Lilly escape the loving grasp of her step-father – a rebellion that inspires Rosie to plot for much the same. Broken by life, both girls make choices that not only leave them empty but heartbroken. Years pass leading to an even greater rift between the two young girls – will life’s lessons teach them they are far from wise to the world… or will they ignore the pull that is urging them back to a place of belonging?

Set amidst the swirling allure of the 1920s, Rosie and Lilly find excitement and the blush of first love in Paris before returning to the illustrious industry of New York and finally to the wide-open spaces of the west. 
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Mirror Mirror (2012)


Mirror Mirror

Saying it dozens of times does not change a thing… but I’ll say it again. Fairy-tales have captured our imaginations for generations. I do not know why except to speculate that like anything at the box office, it plays to our daydream of another world – it transports us into a life not our own even if only for an all too brief period of time. No matter our age, still they are magical. 
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Book Series: Bailey Flanigan


About the book(s):
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date(s): 2010-2012
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Number of Books: Four
Book Titles: Leaving; Learning; Longing; Loving
Genre: Christian Fiction, Young Adult

The Stories: Over the course of four novels, beloved character Bailey Flanigan's story is told. An aspiring dancer who has always dreamt of being under the bright lights of Broadway, Bailey thinks her dreams are about to come true when she is cast in a musical, and the only thing stopping her is the thought of leaving those who mean the most to her…

Through trials and hard work, Bailey proves to everyone in the city that she has what it takes to shine on the stage but is learning how to be a light for her faith more important than being a star in the eyes of her director and fellow cast-mates? and what of her ex-flame Cody Coleman, the young Iraq veteran who once broke her heart? Is she still longing to see him again – or finally opening her heart to a genuine relationship with her one-time co-star Brandon Paul?

Bailey’s journey takes her down more than one path but her heart keeps coming back to one thing: Embracing true love. In life, nothing else matters but loving those around you – and her pursuit of a personal relationship with her heavenly Father. 
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Just Smile // Life's 'Thousand' Little Things


They say laughter is good for the soul.

I don't know if it is true or not (metaphorically speaking, of course) but I do know a good laugh can lift my mood like nothing else can. The one person who can make me smile in spite of myself is my father. I don't know how he does it, but it is just one of the many reasons I love him. Sometimes even the smallest things can entice a giggle out of me. Sometimes it's the most goofy, silliest thing ever - when that happens, everyone else in the room usually looks at me like I am insane and shaking their heads, wonder what I could possibly find so amusing. Honestly? I don't know why some things tickle my funny bone when everyone else is thinking, "what was so funny?" but whatever, maybe when I get in such moods, I was in serious need of a pick-me-up.

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