Castle, Season Three (2010)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fortunately for fans of this comedic show, the prior season didn’t end on a terrible breath-holding, life-threatening scene. Instead it was something of a frustration. The fact that writers merely continue a back-and-forth easy banter between its leading characters instead of moving them past “just friends” is a constant source of annoyance for those of us who desperately want to see them be a couple. Writers argue that if that should happen, the “magic” would fizzle in Castle and Beckett’s relationship – there wouldn’t be that same “spark” any longer. I just say, what-ever

Silver Bells (2005)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection, Silver Bells is a special kind of holiday presentation that does not come around very often. Its leaning isn’t one of spiritual matters, but it does portray the power of family ties.

The Bryne family owns a Christmas tree farm in Nova Scotia and all Christopher Bryne (Tate Donovan) wants is to someday leave his hard earned tree farm to son Danny (Michael Mitchell), who has other aspirations which, over time grows into a continuous source of tension between father and son. Danny loves photography and each year when the family packs up to sell trees in New York including younger sister Bridget (Courtney Jines), Danny finds his passion for the hobby renewed by the many sights and awe-inspiring city-wide scenes he finds. Right before they are to return home, tempers flare, and both Christopher and Danny reach their breaking point which inspires Danny to take his future into his own hands, and he leaves in anger that same night. 

Karen Kingsbury's Longing

Hey, Readers! So, I thought I'd again share with you two different book cover art concepts because doing Alex Flinn's Bewitching was kind of fun. *smile* Here we have Karen's latest novel chronicling yet another chapter in her much-loved heroine Bailey Flannigan's life. (I must tell you I have "issues" with how her story is shaping up thus far, but then you'll all be able to read about that in another day or two, so please keep an eye out!) The cover to the left is the one that actually made it to publication (it's the one you'll see if you pick up a copy), the right-side photo was a working concept.
I am going to be honest, I am so glad that the original cover was nixed because it... well... how do I put this... it  makes Brandon seem like a bit of an immature "tweeny," wimp of a character in comparison to Bailey. The headshot is certainly not how I'd thought of the cause of Bailey's romantic emotional turmoil or the leading man in her life who complicates matters nor is it how I want to think of him. Thank goodness Karen's daughter Kelsey and her fiance participated in a beautiful beach side photo shoot that changed everything - and then, designers created a gorgeous design. Bailey's expression is perfect; the colors are pretty and Brandon leaning in to whisper something to her is so sweet! Everything about it is stunning - I <3 it! *smile*

Thoughts, anyone? 

Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thomas Hardy will best be remembered for depressing, sob-story tales (The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Woodlanders). Whenever I see his name, tales involving unpleasant choices and moral complexities is what I think of but he is considered a “classic author.” When learning of Under the Greenwood Tree it didn’t seem possible that he could write something even remotely close to Austen-esque but several years ago, I decided that this period piece was worth a look.  

Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Friday, November 25, 2011

About the Book:
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Publication Date: 2011
Author: Michelle Madow
Series: Transcend Time - Book 1
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Teen Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Synopsis: high-school junior, Lizzie Davenport isn’t the most popular girl in school but she is intelligent with good grades. Her jock boyfriend wants desperately to change their “status” at school. He is now on the soccer team and is a rising star amidst his senior peers – and he wants Lizzie to ditch her closest friends and form new, less rewarding friendships with his teammates girlfriends. Turns out, Jeremy’s petty grievances are going to be the least of Lizzie’s concerns when she meets and feels an instant connection to the new transfer student, Drew Charmichael… and his arrival triggers memories in Lizzie’s sub-conscious mind that she never expected to feel… with results she never would have imagined…

Alex Flinn's Bewitching

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I do not normally post things like this, but given that I'd shared a lot about my thoughts on the Alex Flinn novel, Beastly and the film adaptation starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer, I thought it'd be fun to share with you all that Alex has given Kendra her own story in the upcoming novel, Bewitching.

Not only will Kendra get her due in a story but that February 2012 release is just the first in a series called "The Kendra Chronicles." There are conflicting reports that this will be a series... so it still might just be one novel. Anyway, the cover of the book was recently released, so I thought I'd share it will you all! Isn't it cool-looking? (Love that tagline, too - Beastly was just one of her curses.) Also, the one to the left is an earlier concept of the cover art and the right cover is the actual. I wasn't completely "sold" on Kendra's character in Beastly but for some reason I think I will be checking this one out.

What do you think about Alex writing Kendra her own story? Which cover design do you all like best?

Sense & Sensibility (2008) - Masterpiece Theatre Adaptation of the Beloved Classic Tale is Perfection

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sense and Sensibility

As a result of this BBC/ITV production, fans were given one costume drama that left its targeted audience in a tizzy of anticipation for its release date (or it did me!). Turns out, such an adaptation is the epitome of a cinematic masterpiece. Although I absolutely loved it after an initial run-though, each viewing endears it as one of the greatest miniseries – ever.

Keeping the Faith (2000)

Friday, November 18, 2011

I do not like movies with conflict in them. What I mean by that is, generally I don’t like it when there are two equally nice guys who are vying for a woman’s attentions and both are genuinely in love with the leading lady. This decade old movie was something I’d been going to rent for a while now and finally, I rented the DVD and saw, what turned out to be, a movie where my reactions are mixed.

The Closer, Season One (2005)

After having my curiosity aroused by another’s review that compared the lead to Detective Columbo – a beloved television character in my family – I finally "took the bait" and tried this series. All I can say is The Closer doesn’t disappoint.

NCIS, Season One (2003)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Premiering in late 2003, this naval intelligence series is one of the more entertaining shows I’ve yet to see.

Air Force One is getting ready for take off with the President aboard. In a last minute replacement, a young Navy commander is sent in as a replacement for the customary navel officer who is out sick. After lunch with the President, the commander suddenly falls ill and dies within seconds. Precautions are immediately implemented, the plane grounded and after his speech, the President put onto another jet. While grounded, swarms of people attend the body, including Secret Service agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) who isn’t convinced the attending medical examiner is just that.

Turns out they are Navel Criminal Investigative Service agents. Led by veteran agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the team quickly realizes if they have any expectations of investigating, they first must compete against both the FBI and Secret Service. 

Footloose (2011)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I was itching to get out to the cineplex to see something new since it’d felt like a loooong time since last I saw something on the big screen (compared to average America, I see very few movies in theaters). I had a choice of three movies. At the top of the list was the latest re-make of the Dumas classic The Three Musketeers but because of unimpressive earnings, it was gone from my theater after two weeks (they had a lot of nerve nixing it before I saw it! *grin*), so… that narrowed it down to this title and the Christian-helmed Courageous. Needless to say, I went with Footloose because the show-time worked best for my day. Since I’ve not yet seen the “classic” 1980’s version on which this re-make was inspired by, I won’t be making comparison observations... nevertheless I do know who stars in the prior version and have heard of it. This recent theater release looked entertaining and given my recent “love affair” with movies that feature dancing I decided it was high time I saw this. 

Within my Heart by Tamera Alexander

About the book:
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2010
Author: Tamera Alexander
Series: Timber Ridge Reflections - Book 3
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical

Synopsis: growing up as a Southern belle, she had enjoyed and lived a happy life with her beloved husband and their two young sons… but that was before the Boyd’s moved out West to give their sons a better life – to escape the horrors of a post-era Civil war. That was before her husband was mauled to death by a bear in the rugged Colorado wilderness. It was before anger and bitterness took root in her life...

Now, as a young widow and single mother, Rachel Boyd is trying to hold onto the dream she and her husband built. Not about to ever love someone again, Rachel sets about discouraging the advances of the local bachelors – and most especially the kind gestures of Timber Ridge’s handsome new doctor. Rachel’s late father was a physician and she isn’t about to let another man of that profession into her safe life – or her heart. 

At the Movies

Monday, November 14, 2011

Since I primarily review movies and television series, and seem to open so many film-related posts of discussion, I thought I’d share a little bit about my reason for watching movies and my view on Hollywood’s constant bid to employ the filth they want to impress upon us in attempts to make culture assume that is the “norm.” Some of you may already have heard my opinion on this (or rather my “rant”) but if not, then I felt like it’d be a good exercise to let you know my rule as regards movies in general.

As a child, my parents guarded against any “adult” movies polluting my mind – PG13 ratings were out without a question and movies that merely required “parental guidance” (according to the MPAA) were still rented, viewed and “researched” with caution. Raised in a household where Christianity was at the forefront of the teaching and discussion, my parents were not about to let me see anything that might promote something we didn’t believe in, and so unless it was without too many blemishes, movies were pretty much limited to Veggie Tales, Anne of Green Gables and the Mary-Kate and Ashley direct-to-DVD movie collection. By the time I reached my teenage years and being such a romantic, I always wanted to see the latest romantic-comedy – movies that usually were always stamped with a PG13 rating. My mom often watched them and if they were appropriate – which more often than not, they weren’t, we’d watch it, if not, I’d contently put on The Parent Trap for the billionth time. As an older teen, things started to shift and for whatever reason we began “risking” movies: we’d read the synopsis, find something that sounded cute and rent it for the night. Some of the movies turned out to be genuine treasures (even with their faults), others turned out to be trash. 

From Prada to Nada (2010)

Ever since seeing A&E’s masterful miniseries Pride & Prejudice as a young girl, I was lost to all things Austen. Since then, I’ve bought or seen nearly all of the movies, and even read some books inspired by or on Miss Austen. Likely the only adaptations left unseen are some spaghetti-type films – whether it is a Bollywood inspired flick or a time-twisting version of Pride & Prejudice, I’ve seen my fair share. This – a Latina version is just the most recent based off the sister-driven story Sense & Sensibility, is cute, but obviously not religiously true to the novel. Here, the story goes something like this…

Letters to Juliet (2010) - Old-Fashion Storytelling at its Finest

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Letters to Juliet

Even though I’d read a plot synopsis of this before seeing a Letters to Juliet trailer, all I remember about its release was the charm it exuded. The innocence of the story and its notions is, for the most part, missing from American cinemas today. This is why Letters to Juliet is a film all romantics should experience. 

Marry Me (2010)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Unfortunately, this is one romantic comedy that condones everything we should avoid in romantic relationships but still... imperfections and all, I see it has heart, and it was as cute and snappy as it could be.

The fairy-tale life is all Rae Carter (Lucy Liu) ever wanted… and yet it seems just out of her grasp. Already in a committed relationship with the person she thought was the man of her dreams now is no longer a reality. Rae is giving him an ultimatum – choose his career (which just happens to involve photographing frogs) or her… he chooses the frogs, and Rae finds her idea of marriage shaken. A romantic at heart, Rae long ago pushed her dreams away by opting to word as a social worker whose belief in love hasn’t changed, but made her more cautious. When her family pastor suggests she go out with his nephew, she finds it suspect.

Jane Austen & Today's Era

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In the last year I was involved in a Jane Austen themed e-zine which celebrated the iconic author. With so much talk of her and comparison to today’s cultures, I got to thinking about the parallels between Jane’s world and ours. Each of Jane’s stories follow a strict pattern, although I’ve only completed one of her novels (Sense & Sensibility - and am currently trudging through Northanger Abbey, off and on for goodness knows how long), I do like to think of myself as a self-professed “expert” on any and all her movie adaptations since in all likelihood the only versions I’ve yet to see are the little-known spaghetti types. From a Mormon inspired flick to the colorfulness of Bollywood, if I saw one, I’ve seen them all. 

Leverage, Season Two (2009)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ironically TNT’s Leverage has quickly become a favorite television show of mine. It doesn’t require a great deal of thought and that is part of what makes it so much fun. My idea of entertainment means watching something that won’t make me more aware of life’s heartaches but rather make us forget them for a couple of hours. That is what this show accomplishes – while still incorporating some poignant truths.

When your headquarters are blown to bits, it has a way of changing the dynamics in a team – even a group of thieves. As a result the Leverage team has disbanded. Six months later, the mastermind Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is listlessly going on various job interviews that will now seem mundane compared to the good works he was doing with the band of thieves that he was “forced” into leading. The one good thing that has come from Nate’s re-building his life is that he finally stopped drinking. Now, after walking out on a job interview, he is about to give in to that addiction until he spots a car careening out of control, flip on its top and crash with its two occupants inside. Frantically, he rescues the father and daughter only to learn from the young girl that the accident wasn’t that – the car was tampered with. Feeling a pull to help the pair, Nate shows up at aspiring actress Sophie’s latest show. What he gets instead in a reuniting of the entire team.

Martina McBride: Eleven

About the Album:
Released: 2011
Writing Credits: Martina McBride, Brett James, Hilary Lindsey, Brad and Brett Warren
Label: Republic Nashville
Genre: Country
Number of Songs: 11
Debut: #10

My thoughts: October eleventh + record number eleven + eleven tracks = Martina McBride’s Eleven. Released on the eleventh of the month, in addition to all of these other factors and - naturally, Martina’s latest release would be titled… eleven. One of the “leading ladies” in country music, this album is much the same of what we’ve come to expect from Martina. It’s fun but yet has some funky tunes that are a different sound for her. As usual, this artist is one of CMA’s finest. Her voice sounds magnificent on every single track. Carrie Underwood is one of the rare “new” artists that I even liken to Martina because her voice and its range is true talent. 

Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides (2011)

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

Captain Jack is back – again (this time for the fourth time!). This movie wasn’t “great” compared to some but it was a lot of fun and I think it actually might be my second favorite in this series – something that kind of shocked me.

His loyal first mate is in a boatload of trouble. This means that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) must devise a clever plan to secure Master Gibbs’ freedom. The only problem is… Jack is again without his beloved Black Pearl and a means of transport… but never mind that – for now he has bigger problems at hand. Again he is on the wrong side of the law after he escapes royal custody and his audience with King George and his notorious enemy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

Jack is now busy eluding custody on the streets of London as reports swirl that another is impersonating Jack Sparrow – and the only man who is allowed to do that is Jack himself… and he wants himself back. Finally coming face-to-face with the person who is sullying Jack’s good name, he discovers that it is Angelica (Penelope Cruz) who just happens to be an expert con-woman and Jack’s former flame – the woman Jack not only ruined before she could take vows but also the only woman for whom he ever had “stirrings.” Angelica and her father, the evil Blackbeard (Ian McShane) are determined to find the Fountain of Youth, and since Jack is one of the most famed pirates, Angelica sees to it that Jack is aboard their ship – whether or not he likes it is not her problem. 

Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - A Return to the Classic Swashbuckler!

Ah! Pirates and heroics, high-seas adventure and romance. This Disney film (based on an amusement park ride, no less) was the “little” film that no one expected anything of. Turns out critics and audiences alike quite underestimated its abilities. To this day, this film is still one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of recent years and it has inspired three subsequent box office hits. This title, the first in the series is by far the most memorable and is – for the most part, a good old-fashioned swashbuckler.

Captain America: the First Avenger (2011) - The Beginning of Marvel's 'Avengers'

Friday, November 4, 2011

As was the case with nearly every other blockbuster from this past 2011 season (and what a season it was!), I am getting in on seeing Captain America late – very late. I giggled my way through two of the other popular superhero flicks that appeared nationwide on theater screens, but I think self-consciously lingering in my mind, this was always the one that I most looked forward too. The only question remaining to be answered now was – was the movie worth the wait… and the hype?   

Captain America First Avenger

Taylor Swift: Mine

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

About the song:
Album: Speak Now
Released: 2010
Writing Credits: Taylor Swift
Label: Big Machine Records
Length: 3:51
Genre: Country-Pop
Certification: Platinum - #1 Single

The story: after locking eyes with a guy working his way through college, a girl – who is cynical when it comes to love is smitten with him and imagines what their life would look like if they were together.

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