Top Ten Tuesday ǀ 2016 Debut Novels

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hello fellow Top 10 Tuesday participants, and returning readers and friends. Oh, yes, and welcome to December! Today marks a new month of blogging and we kick things off here with another Top Ten Tuesday edition.

Month in Review: November 2015

Hello, readers. I trust you all enjoyed a beautiful and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Without preamble, let's get this month in review started.  

Crown for Christmas (2015)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Last night, the delightful Hallmark original Crown for Christmas aired. If you missed it, check your listings because British period drama fans are sure to love this darling little flick! It's one of those movies that leaves you with a goofy grin and plenty of fabulous memories plus Rupert Penry-Jones co-stars... so there IS that too.

A Christmas Detour (2015)

Another Countdown to Christmas original airs tonight on Hallmark Channel. What does this mean? Obviously, it means you should stay in and pencil in a date with this new Christmas flick. But before you do that, read on to see what this newbie is all about.  

12 Gifts of Christmas (2015)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tonight, Hallmark Channel continues its "five night Thanksgiving movie event." Once the Thanksgiving meal leftovers have been packed away and you’ve stuffed yourself full of that yummy meal, why not cut yourself a piece of pie, and gather round the TV? Plus, you'll spot a familiar face headlining this one. 

Anna (Katrina Law) is ready to redefine her life. She’s been a struggling artist for too long – and this year, she feels like it’s time to do some growing up, and that means moving out of her sister’s basement. With this in mind, Anna decides to start a personal shopper business. She’s got the business card, only thing she needs now are clients. By happenstance she meets a wealthy and successful businessman (working in an advertising firm), Marc (Aaron O’Connell) who hires her to shop for all of the people on his list. But for this pair, more than just the perfect gift is at stake.  
When I read about the lineup of films for this season’s “Countdown to Christmas” campaign, I have to be honest; this one didn’t initially sound like its set up was going to be my cup of tea. Imagine my surprise when I discovered something altogether wonderful. Given that I’m putting this together last minute and it’s Thanksgiving, below are a few brief thoughts on what you'll see in this one. 

For starters, the pull between the lead actors was really sweet. The script is also very careful to develop this as the start of something rather than a relationship that is deep enough to be true love. During their many scenes together, I actually felt as if they were fostering more than merely a business relationship (this was a complaint I had about another comparative TV film). True Mark comes off somewhat standoffish, but that's his character. Even at that, there's "more" to their scenes together. Had there not been, in the end they could have parted and we might not have cared about such an outcome. Fortunately, that didn’t feel like the case here. Maybe it’s because the acting was good, I don’t know. But Aaron played the aloof business man to perfection and it’s always nice to see Katrina Law (from Hallmark fan favorite Snow Bride and CW’s Arrow) in something.  

Perfect for the night it airs on, the familial ties was well presented and in particular I liked the relationships Anna had with her family. The only thing that did have a slight disconnect (unless I flaked on it by missing the explanation, which has happened before plus I watched this in "sections") was the wedge in Marc’s family. That was the only ill-explained issue though I’m assuming it was nothing more than Marc’s workaholic penchants. Besides that, there is ice skating, an adorable shopping sequence and all sorts of surprises. 12 Gifts of Christmas is the perfect flick to put you in the Christmas spirit – and if you’re anything like me, one of its gifts is sure to be getting its viewer excited for hauling down those Christmas decorations tomorrow!  

Catch 12 Gifts of Christmas tonight on Hallmark Channel. Until then, have a peek at the preview down below.

Photos: Hallmark

Thankgiving Blessings

Another holiday season is upon us. 2015 has flown by and today, we are coming together with our loved ones to celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday. With all of the hustle and bustle busyness the season brings, it’s important to remember the real value and meaning this day should inspire. True the holiday may mean many things – everything from a table laden with good food to football games and Christmas movies, but while the fun and games is all well and good, the day is and should be about family. It’s about coming together and thinking of the many blessings we have. The things we are fortunate to enjoy in this journey through life.

I know I’m fortunate. I have so many people and things to be thankful for. My family and life. A warm home and being able to do something I love. All of you who take time to read, comment and encourage. And so many nameless simple joy blessings I experience on a daily basis.

Today, instead of worrying over the next day or week, planning Christmas lists or having the perfect table, pause and remember. Take a moment to think of the simple things.

Enjoy family. Enjoy laughter. Enjoy life.  

Wishing you all of this and more.  
Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends and readers.
May your day be full of laugher and family.

In closing and just for fun, make sure you tune into Hallmark Channel tonight.
Their five-night original premiere extravaganza continues with 12 Gifts of Christmas.
I liked this one more than I anticipated!

12 Gifts of Christmas (2015)

You can see its debut tonight along with these Hallmark Channel films this afternoon...

Once Upon a Holiday
Northpole: Open For Christmas


Once Upon a Holiday (2015) - A Romantic Fairytale

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Looking back on my favorite Hallmark “Countdown to Christmas” originals, I am beginning to mentally sketch out a pattern. Any productions that have some kind of fairy tale connotation seem to land in favored spots. Such is the case with tonight’s all-new premiere. Trust me you’ll want to kick off your Thanksgiving vacation early with this cute story. 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015) - Romantic and Epic Conclusion to Collins Best-Selling Series

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

As everyone knows I have a love-hate relationship with Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. But as it is well documented, I won't get into that. When it came about that I was able to be the reviewer for Mockingjay, Part 2 for Silver Petticoat, I thought it was a perfect excuse to finally see one of these films in the theater. No matter my gripes I have really enjoyed the movies and seeing one on the big screen seemed like an excellent outing. So... that prompted me to crazily (crazy because I was already reading 2-3 books) pick up the book and attempt to race through it in time to see the final film in addition to sneaking in a viewing of "part one" since I'd not yet seen it. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), we had a snowstorm that delayed my original plans to see this by two days. But this past Sunday I finally saw the epic conclusion that is Katniss Everdeen's journey.

In short, I really (really) liked the movie. I thought it was brilliant as usual (as an adaptation, the cast, the sets) and I was far more satisfied by the film's ending than the book. Odd since they are virtually the same, only difference is Movie Katniss (who is awesome) vs. Book Katniss.

FILM REVIEW | Mockingjay, Part 1 (2014)

If you'd like to read more of my thoughts or fangirl gushes on the film, you can find a snippet plus review links down below. Otherwise, let's hear your thoughts on Mockingjay, Part 2. The comments are wide open down below.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 

The worldwide phenomenon that first burst into our world as a YA dystopian trilogy (some seven years gone) followed by its subsequent films has finally drawn to its close with Mockingjay Part 2. Since nearly all young adult adaptations make a trilogy more complicated (not to mention drawing the saga out) by splitting the final book into two parts, this franchise figured it best do the same. We saw part one released back in 2014 and now, in 2015, we’re seeing how Katniss Everdeen’s story concludes...

"Stay with me." "Always."

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is shattered following the Hunger Games and her second brush with death in the Quarter Quell. Her psyche has just been dealt another crushing blow, a trauma that might just be her undoing. District 13’s team of soldiers rescued the remaining victors, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capital. He’s been returned to Katniss but trained as an assassin with one target: Katniss. Continue Reading on Silver Petticoat ➔

Top Ten Tuesday ǀ Fictional Families

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving is many things. It's a table full of delicious, home-cooked foods and decedent deserts. It's a football game or Christmas movie playing on the television, and the start of the Christmas decorations (at least this is true at my house).Or maybe your idea of the perfect Thanksgiving is mapping out the game plan for that rush of Christmas shopping. It's traditions, it's home... it's family. Above and beyond, that's what Thanksgiving should be about.

Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery (2015)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One of the more recent mystery series (based on a book series) to find a home on Hallmark Movie and Mysteries line up, the “Murder, She Baked” franchise was back with a new cozy mystery. This holiday season found the inquisitive bakery-owner-turned-amateur-sleuth Hannah Swensen (played by Allison Sweeny) entangling herself in another mystery. The tree lot owner where she sells some of her baked goods is found dead by her. Unable to help herself, Hannah inserts herself in this investigation, poking her nose where she doesn’t belong. But this might not be the worst of her problems.  

No, she has to deal with her mother (Barbara Niven) pressuring her to pick one of the two attentive suitors that seem to be eagerly knocking on her door: but who to choose? Should she pick the kind and attentive dentist or the police detective Mike Kingston (Cameron Mathison) who seems intent on keeping her out of his investigations?  

TV MOVIE REVIEW: Northpole, Open for Christmas (2015) 

Though ‘Plum Pudding Mystery’ is the second television production to premiere in the Joanne Fluke adaptations, this is the only one I’ve been able to see. Since I don’t have any kind of cable, I couldn’t catch a re-air of it and it’s not available on any other outlet (Amazon, iTunes, streaming) that I could find. Thus, I went ahead and watched this little Christmas flick and hoped for the best.  

I do think there was disconnect as I watched this because I didn’t have the benefit of seeing the first production. This wasn’t because things weren’t properly explained or there was a rapid succession of facts, rather the simple fact that I didn’t have the added knowledge of seeing the character’s meet and experience the backstory of their first outing in the prior Murder, She Baked. Regardless, I’d be lying if I said this film was anything but darling. Between the great cast and the fantabulous sweets (I so want to visit Hannah's "Cookie Jar" bakery because yum!), those who have Hallmark Movie Channel should pencil this one in.  

Anyone who watches the Gourmet Detective or Garage Sale Mystery movies will certainly want to catch this because its a similar idea not to mention the newest franchise to find a home on the mystery channel’s ranks. The mystery solving is fun and though we know it’ll work out to be fine, the cozy mystery does amp up some suspense in the final moments, and yet continues to find that sweet spot of balance between crime-solving and Christmas cheer. Snuggle in to watch Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery – only be prepared: you might get hungry for some delightful pastries while watching.  

Catch the premiere of Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery tonight on Hallmark Movie Channel. Catch the sneak peek below.
Photos: Hallmark

Mockingjay, Part One (2014)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Picking up right where the second saga in The Hunger Games trilogy left off, the first part of what was adapted as the final and epic conclusion, was again something I dawdled seeing. As is my usual standard, I picked up a DVD on its release week and these many months later, on the eve of “part 2” and its debut, I finally sat down to watch this one.  

The games have destroyed Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). She is shattered and broken by what she saw and did. Leaving Peeta behind has been her undoing. This is why when she recoups in District 13, she desperately awaits news of Peeta’s survival. No news comes. What does come is 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore), wanting to recruit Katniss as their Mockingjay, the face of their revolution.  

Together with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss sparks a change in the surviving districts that incites revolution in all their hearts. Joining their fight is the equally broken Finnick (Sam Claflin) and a handful of 13’s residents including newcomer Cressida (Natalie Dormer), who is hired to produce Katniss’ propo’s, and then there is Effie (Elizabeth Banks). Returning, she follows Katniss around to again ensure she looks the part. Everything is going according to plan until a news broadcast reveals that Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is in fact, still alive and he’s being used as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capital’s weapon against Katniss. 
As every review I’ve written for this series documents, I enjoy a love-hate relationship with this series. The premise of this is so frightening and to see the act of young people fighting just for a hierarchy’s personal pleasure never sat well with me. After reading one book and seeing three movies, my opinion that the films are better than the books remains unchanegd. The story here is no different. It’s freaking fantastic and could even be the best in the franchise to date (at this writing, “part two” is still a few hours away so I’ve not had a chance to see it).  

Everything about this production is blockbuster movie perfection. There is fantabulous costuming and no matter my personal opinion, the layers to this world-building are intricate and complex. That’s to say nothing of the cast which is sensational. I really liked all of the new faces and the actors who played them including Cressida and Coin. The leading men continue to impress though I was most delighted to feel more about Gale in this film; he’d been too insignificant for me in the prior outings. Here, he’s a living, breathing character who I genuinely felt a roller-coaster of emotions for, not the least of which was his unrequited love. Then there is Josh as Peeta, who gives a startling performance despite his limited screen time. 

All of these performances are anchored by the supremely talented Jennifer Lawrence. The girl again proves she can take origin material and make this character something altogether different. Her Katniss summons so much more than Book Katniss ever did. The movies have gone through different directors and writers, but through it all, they somehow each compliment their counterparts, strengthening as they move along. The filmmaking in this is unusually effective. Overlapping many scenes are voiceovers and sharp cuts to the tense, action scenes unfolding yet they're all used to the great advantage of “Story,” or in other words, the editing and filming of this is, plainly put, dazzling.  

Though more could be said, the thrust of everything I have to say circles back to one thing: fans of this franchise are missing out if you’re putting off seeing these films. I had nearly reached the halfway mark in the book when watching this (which is approximately what this film does span) and was innately impressed with this both as a film and an adaptation. Everything was molded and shaped into this, and because of that, I think these deserve any and all adoration they receive as versions of a universally loved young adult series. All that said and I’ve really said nothing everyone else hasn’t said a million times prior. But know this: Mockingjay is an excellent book-to-film adaptation and if you’re not into reading, it’s a great production on its own. Only be warned, if you’re not a theater goer, don’t watch this one yet. That ending is sure to not only make you tear up, but startle you back to reality when you realize the end is as shocking as it is quiet.  

(Violence and the illusion to torture are the primary reasons for the PG13 rating; there are multiple casualties as districts make a stand and are murdered by Capitol soldiers.)

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Thursday, November 19, 2015

About the Book:
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ  Goodreads ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 
Investing in The Wedding Chapel isn’t hard. The decades long love story is sure to stir the reader’s emotions and as is true to the signature style that is Rachel Hauck, the book has a wonderful concept of love so that despite the complex story, by its conclusion everything is wonderfully brought full circle. At the core, the story is about two couples. The first is Jimmy and Collette; 19240s, high school sweethearts, life hasn’t been kind to the now elderly couple. Collette left, leaving Jimmy with a shattered heart and nothing but a shell of a dream. In the present day, Taylor married Jack on a whim – in fact, they eloped much to the shock and horror of Taylor’s family. Six months into their marriage and Taylor senses their relationship is fading – fast. Leaving to return to her hometown for a job, it takes a wedding chapel, a reunion and a carefully hidden secret for over 50 years to open their hearts to new possibilities.   

Trailer Talk │The Huntsman, Winter's War

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Back in 2012, a re-telling of Snow White appeared in theaters. It starred Kristen Stewart and fan favorite, Aussie star, Chris Hemsworth. I thought, though very dark, the concept was well done and I loved the nuances and subtle changes the script wove into the film. In reality, the adaptation may be closer to the original canon than we realize considering the Grimm brother's fairy tales are, in their origin, dark and dangerous.

FILM REVIEW: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Now, in 2016, filmmakers are inviting us back to this twisty world by giving us a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Or more accurately, they are giving us mix of both? This is a prequel and sequel? Over its filming and pre-filming stages, there have been lots of conflicting reports about this film - would it be a sequel? Was Kristen Stewart return? - and on the list went. But given my reading of it, I think it's going to take both ideas (Stewart is still not returning), and make it into something that tells the Huntsman's origins while also visiting the future after Snow White and the Huntsman's tangle with Ravenna.

Today I spotted the first trailer for this one and I have to admit, this film looks epic! I'm not sold on it being a sequel simply because I liked the direction 'Snow White' was heading, but nonetheless, this one looks too good not to see. The designs and costumes not to mention the cast all look to serve this film to its greatest potential. Here is a synopsis of the film:

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen --  including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain) -- only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.  
When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power.  But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen.  Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.
The film opens April 2016.
Have a look at the trailer

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this trailer and film! Comment down below with any thoughts you have.

Cover Reveal │How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes

It's no secret that Amber Stokes is one of the kindest and talented bloggers this book blogging community is fortunate to have in this circle. In part, it's because of this that anytime she has a fun new promotional opportunity coming up, I eagerly have the unspoken mentality that would go something like this, "where do I sign up?" This is why when I learned Amber had a new cover reveal to celebrate the one year anniversary of her novella, How a Star Falls, I was eager to join in the fun!

Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

About the Book:
Publisher: Mac Teen Books (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Source: Publisher provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the moment I saw the title for this piece of YA lit, I was hooked. It’s rare that a YA novel sticks with me as this novel’s premise did. In my experience of this genre, I’d never before run across this idea which is why Alexandra’s second novel (at least by this non de plume) intrigued so much. The reason for this is the story, which follows 17-year-old Tamsen. Tam isn’t like most girls her age. Instead of giggling with her girlfriends or preparing for senior year, she is burying her husband. She married young and was only married a matter of weeks before her beloved Noah’s heart stopped. Suddenly her forever was nevermore. Feeling without a purpose, Tam moves back to her father’s house where she is expected to go back to mundane life by finishing school, but with such a dark cloud over her, will anything ever feel normal again?

Before I get into the details, I will say I really, really liked this hot-off-the-press novel. Sadly, I do look underneath the surface in all of my book reviews and there are some question marks. Tam’s character isn’t the easiest gal to relate too. Partially this is because she is a 17-year-old widow which is a rarity all on its own. The second reason for this is the voice. I felt like she remained on an even keel nearly the entire book – meaning there didn’t “feel” as if there was much fluctuation – either one way or another (despair or change), in the first-person narrative. There is also one other subplot that I did like, but in the interest of being honest, I do think it was pushing the bounds of being “acceptable” simply because of the dangers and scandals that break too often in real life. Beyond that I don’t feel like I can say more because, spoilers 

Though I do have some reservations about this book, I did honestly like it. It’s something I’d pick up again when I’m looking for a quick read and is certainly a novel that knows how to end by putting its best foot forward. Is the entire book perfect? No. In fact, there is a “messy” quality to it that’s beautiful. There is a calm, unflappable maturity to its heroine that’s interesting (the normal teen angst doesn’t apply) and the healing that comes from tragedy is almost therapeutic. As fair warning, this book won’t end in the way normal YA stories do.  A few years ago I’d have detested this, but with some distance and growing, I do think the ending Coutts wrote not only best serves the story, more importantly it best serves the characters. It’s the kind of ending, on reflection, we all should wish for. Because of this and numerous other reasons, this novel is a rare kind of gem. 

Though it has its share of fault lines, it’s really in the messiness that this book finds its strength and beauty. If you’re looking for a young adult read with a unique agenda, Young Widows Club might be something to look at. It’s got a great set of characters and a whole of potential. It’s the kind of potential that brings the reader to a crossroads where we can imagine any kind of ending we want.  

Synopsis: For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined. - Goodreads
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Christmas Incorporated (2015)

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Though a blanket statement could be made that all Hallmark films pull similar ideas of the Christmas films that we already know and love, this in no way reduces the bright light they are. This is for a variety of reasons though the most notable of which is the sense of nostalgia they wear like your favorite and coziest sweater. This latest in the line of 2015 premieres, not to mention a telefilm airing on our favorite and most festive network, is the normal bit of fluff we all love. 

The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

About the Book:
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: Publisher (BookLook)
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Year of Weddings 2, #11
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Fiction, Novella
Rating: 5 out of 5

As part of my mental exercise of expanding my reading palate, apparently part of my unspoken 2015 goal is to read more novellas. It seems like the past two months alone have involved paging through novellas, all of which have been amazing reads. My latest find is from the pen of Katie Ganshert and as per usual is one of the sweetest little stories I’ve yet to read. The story is simple: A young woman, Amelia meets Nate thanks to a serendipitous case of happenstance. Through a series of flubs, the pair wind up writing emails; letters that tell the other person much. When Nate eventually pursues a relationship that involves finding Amelia in person, she'll have to admit to the one thing that might drive him away before they’ve even had a chance to begin... 

Aside from the darling boy-meets-girl meet-cute (seriously, I loved this first meeting scene because, cute!), there is an even great advantage within these pages. The cozy sense of nostalgia you’re sure to enjoy while reading this is, in a word, priceless. The old-fashioned appeal of letting writing (in today’s modern era of technology, yes, I consider emails letter writing – at least there one isn’t limited to 140 characters) is not only beautifully explored, it’s also a sure way to make its reader swoon. As talented as Katie Ganshert is, she makes this story read effortlessly. Short or not, the concept flows beautifully and everything that needs to be gets said. This is what I admire most about a novella such as this (a well written exploration in half the page count); the ability to tell a complete and full story. 

What’s more, I loved the fact that our leading couple only begins falling in love versus being in love by the time the final page is turned. Given their incomplete courtship (this is the beginnings of a relationship rather than one established and rekindled), this element was very important to the story. This was – for me, a more complete ideal than one that would have painted the couple madly in love by the last swipe of the page. These characters really “pop” off the page because of their emotionally intimate connection. There is nothing but sunshine from opening to ending in this quaint novella; it’s got this perfect cozy nostalgic feel, enveloping its reader in the feeling of their favorite sweater. Anyone who appreciates the clichéd (I use this term only with the greatest of affection) albeit inordinately charming romantic-comedy is certain to fall head over heels for this stylistically “arranged” boy-meets-girl.
Synopsis: Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop that once belonged to her mother. Despite her success in business, her love life has always been a bit lackluster. Until she spies on her ex-boyfriend's wedding and ends up in horrifyingly embarrassing fender-bender with handsome wedding guest, Nate Gallagher.

Meanwhile, Amelia's younger brother, William, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiancée is not who she says she is. How can she be supportive and yet be the protective big sister too? It seems Nate is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he's good at it--and pretty fun to talk to, too. Amelia and Nate strike up an online relationship, but always lingering in Amelia's mind is the fear that he'll realize she's not nearly as appealing in real life.

As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is? - Amazon
Sincere thanks to the publisher (Book Look)  for providing a complimentary e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Cover Reveal ǀ Elementals

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Today, we have a surprise cover reveal feature. Whose cover is being revealed you ask. You have the questions and here, on Dreaming Under the Same Moon, we have all the details!

We're here to spotlight YA author, Michelle Madow's upcoming series launcher, book one in her series starting in the new year. Author of the Diamond Sisters series (Harlequin Teen), Michelle has an interesting story to authorship. Her first novel was inspired by Taylor Swift's 'Love Story,' which kind of propelled her into publishing said novel as an indie book. One novel and a novella followed before Michelle published her bubbly and flashy Las Vegas trilogy about three sisters discovering their father is wealthy.

Today we're here to introduce you to the next chapter in Michelle's writing.

Let's talk about the particulars of Elementals.

Title: Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows
Author: Michelle Madow
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Series: Elementals #1
Add: Goodreads

Synopsis: When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly … she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers—and, to her dismay, by Blake—the school’s notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect—it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town … and possibly the world.

Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

Now, let's have a look at that cover!
....drumroll please.....

Pretty, right? The all white theme (and that "glitter" or sparkle surrounding the heroine) with the contrasting, stark (and bold) black text is gorgeous not to mention seems to match the story very well.

Congrats to Michelle on another new novel. Cannot wait to read this one. What do YOU think of Michelle's new cover?

Michelle is offering one lucky winner a signed paperback ARC of Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author: Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship. To chat with Michelle and other fans about her books, join Michelle Madow's Street Team on Facebook!

Connect with Michelle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The second in Hallmark’s 2015 Countdown to Christmas campaign airs tonight. On this chilly November day, let’s chat about its cuteness.

As a little girl, Callie was fascinated with ice sculpting. She had unlimited access to the beautiful sculpture’s the pros created thanks to her father’s employment at an exclusive upscale club which hosts an annual competition. Now, years later, Callie (Rachel Boston) is all grown up. Having achieved her goal of becoming a chef, she’s now ready to work with the best in the business and someday, to have her own kitchen. Having been to culinary school, she also learned the art of ice sculpting, a passion she enjoys as an aside to cooking. She finally lands a job as a dishwasher, but it places her next to one of the greatest chefs which is more than she could ask for. 

Her new job also reacquaints her with David (David Alpay), the boy she once knew when they were kids. Members of the club's elite list of guests, David is being groomed to inherit his father’s wealth and business (a buyout firm), which puts he and Callie worlds apart. Yet impulsively David takes a chance, nudging Callie out of her comfort zone and changing her perspective on their respective worlds.  

Sparkly and bubbly are two words one could use to describe this. The plot weaves in a unique – and competitive, world with its focus on ice sculpting not to mention tying it all in with yet another cute romance. For once, the Christmas festivities don’t seem to overwhelm this film. I mean, certainly the story’s setting is apparent and is indeed rooted in Christmas fluff, but nothing is over the top nor is the entire script caked in jingle bells. This helps set Ice Sculpture Christmas apart from the fray.

With its adorably appropriate clichéd misunderstandings, there isn’t much to find fault with. I enjoyed the characters and especially liked Callie’s character. She’s a hardworking kind of person that is, sadly, a rarity in today’s society; she understood the need (or perhaps requirement is a better word) for hard work if one wants to achieve their dreams. This isn’t the kind of film that “needs” to look deeper, but it’s nice to see if it does not to mention offering some nuggets of wisdom. Traversing through the familiar, and somehow comforting, clichés of this story is the refreshing use of a common trope. Instead of the competition being presented in the “mean girl” mantle, which is normally an ex or wanna-be girlfriend, here it is instead someone threatened by Callie’s talent and wholesome, hard-working attitude.  Last but not least, Callie's cute relationship with her father is precious.

Same as with every other network production that has been and is sure to follow, if you’re craving something sweet to curl up on the couch and enjoy, this might be your cup of tea – or hot cocoa might be more fitting. In fact, that’s sort of what this film resembles; a sweet and rich cup of cocoa.

Share your thoughts on Ice Sculpture Christmas. I’d love to read them.  

Premiering tonight on Hallmark Channel, have a look at the promotional video for Ice Sculpture Christmas.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - Redemption,and a Future Foreshadowed

Friday, November 6, 2015

It’s been three years since we saw the entire Marvel universe coagulate as only it can accomplish in a star-studded Avenger’s world. Nowadays, there is a lot of crossover even in the individual films, but still… there is something magnetic about the films that include “avengers” in their title. Beyond this, I feel like writing some form of the usual introduction to this film is pointless. Yes, we know I’m the last fangirl to finally see this popular blockbuster and anyone who is a fan knows this film simply by its title. Because of that, we’ll jump right into a brief overview and then… let the fangirling begin.  

The earth’s mightiest heroes are on a mission; a mission to recover Lokai’s scepter. It’s currently in the wrong hands, and the Avengers need to recover it. Once at their destination – where they are of course met with heavy fire and detriments meant to dissuade them (all things they brush off because after all, they are the Avengers), Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) gets to the scepter but not before his mind is unknowingly altered by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). Wanda is an orphan and mutant who, along with her twin brother Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are currently scientific projects at the facility the Avengers are breaching. In Tony’s vision, he sees all of his friends dead... 

This scars him. What if they could have peace in their time, in the world? The prospect of this is too good for Tony to let be, so taking the opportunity he has never had before, he uses the scepter. What he does with it is enlist the help of fellow scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to cultivate his would-be peacekeeping program, Ultron. Tony believes that by giving it life he could ensure a world with a shield acting as protector.  

FILM REVIEW: Avengers (2012)

When Ultron (voiced by James Spader) outstrips its creator and takes on a life of its own, the artificial intelligence program becomes the all-knowing god Tony never intended – it even outsmarts Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany). Because of this secret project, discord becomes the norm as Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) blames Tony for his reckless invention. It takes Thor (Chris Hemsworth) revisiting his own unsettling vision to shed light on their present... 

In some ways I feel like this is the best film to come from the MCU while also being the one
that is sure to be a heartbreaker. Given the teasers I’ve read of the next film Captain America: Civil War, my fangirl loving heart was breaking as I watched this film progress. Each scene with the Avengers was as delightful as it was saddening. But I digress. Focusing on the good seems the better way to start. Let’s begin at the beginning. The film opens by immediately throwing us into the action. One might not expect this given the epicness an action scene usually invokes, but this sequence is hilarious. Seriously, I giggled through the whole thing. (An example of this being Captain America chastising Tony for his use of profanity. It doesn’t sound funny here, but in the moment plus considering it’s a joke carried throughout the script and you’ve got an entertaining bit.)

Speaking of that script, this one is amazing! I love the sense of playfulness it affects. Everything is “fun” despite the battle, which I appreciate given how otherwise dark the underpinnings of this story is (hint to DC Comics' Arrow, this is how one strikes a balance the two). There is some lovely romanticism (although the woman involved has pretty much flirted with everyone); a backstory for someone we desperately needed to know more about, and of course, that signature humor. Believe it or not, several of the statements we hear from the characters are (relevant) inspiring, mainly these come from Steve who is, as always, the moral compass of the group. He’s kind of like the ideal old-fashioned gentleman, which is the reason why I adore and admire him so very much.

Lest my fangirling get out of hand (I’m trying to keep it in check, guys), I’ll start to wind this review down. Part of the set up in this film (for the next MCU title) is disheartening but also intriguing beginnings for the next Avenger flick. Returning favorites like Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Cobie Smulder’s Maria Hill or Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow are all intact in this film (in addition to several other surprise appearances) and I’m really excited to see to what heights Wanda and Paul Bettany’s Vision are taken (also, I’m curious about Friday!). I do have to add, I'd love to see the girlfriends have a more prominent role in these worlds (Avengers). The scene of Thor and Tony arguing over whose girlfriend is the more successful was hilarious.

When all is said in done, this film was as near perfection as any superhero film has ever traveled. The action sequences were many, but I never felt they outlasted their welcome. There were epic speeches about what it means to be a hero and hilarious quips about the same fact – even if that might involve dying. Despite their somewhat silly premise, this film has more to teach us than we might imagine at first glance. That alone earns ‘Age of Ultron’ a second look. 

Did you like or dislike this film? Have any gushes or rants to share? Comment down below with your thoughts. I’d love to read them.
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