Giveaway Winners

Monday, September 29, 2014

Good afternoon, lovelies. So I was sitting here, catching up on some Twitter goodness, thinking about what needs to be published this week right here on the blog (sometimes that's a tough call) and mainly hoping my hands didn't still have a sticky substance on them after a day full of more apple pie filling shenanigans. But that's beside the point. We're here to discuss the giveaway winners - and my past history suggests that sometimes I do miss publishing the announcement here. Not today! Woohoo. We had three winners in the past week and with exception to today's winner, both ladies claimed their books.

Without further ado, here are the deets and where we stand - and in case you missed the Twitter announcement, first up....

Winners of the Can't Let you Go, by Jenny B. Jones Kindle book giveaway are:

- Bonnie

- Heidi M.

Both Bonnie and Heidi have claimed and received their books.

Winner of the Not in the Script, by Amy Finnegan + author swag giveaway is:

- Kara B.

Kara, you should have an email in your inbox that has some questions as to your format preference/address, etc. Once a reply is received, your book will be on its way to you soon after its October 7th release date arrives.

Congrats to all of the winners! Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and tweeted about it. I appreciate you joining in the fun and be sure to return again later this week because, yes, there just might be another giveaway happening.

Happy Monday, all. Stay happy.

*and if you're wondering why there is a photo of Leap Year stuck in this post, it's because I watched it again last night and relived its adorableness. Plus, does anyone make bickering cuter than Amy Adams and Matthew Goode!? *wink*

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rare as it is in the Hollywood biz today, some big-screen releases are of the quiet variety (literally – when seeing this, I could hear the rumbles and stunts of Guardians of the Galaxy going on in the next-door theater) and sometimes those are just the kind of stories that touch their viewer the most. 

Hasan Kadam (Manish Dayal) has been learning the art of cooking since he was a small boy. His mother is an artist in the kitchen and their native India is where their family restaurant has prospered for years. This ends when their family is run out of India after political upset inspires riots which leads to the destruction of the restaurant… and the death of Hasan’s mother. When Mr. Kadam (Om Puri) packs up his children, the six of them become kind of vagabonds across the English country - including brief stays across England, in response to their loss only to unexpectedly be stopped in a small French village where the perfect location for a new endeavor presents itself.

The competitive establishment across the street is run by Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), a stiff upper-lipped well-to-do restaurateur whose life revolves around her business and chasing the opportunity to receive a second star. When her new neighbors begin settling in across the street, she finds her livelihood threatened, which stirs a kind of war between the two families – one that inspires some unexpected consequences.  

Seeing this film was more unexpected than not since I’d kind of forgotten that it had been of interest back at its first trailer release. When I checked to see if it was playing locally (after a few weeks already out), I was happy to see the listing since I’d been thinking it was high time to enjoy something on the big-screen again. Based on a novel, this film was nothing like I expected (Helen Mirren arrives later in the story for one thing) and everything it should be all in one fell swoop. It feels like an autobiographical story in many of its faucets just because of its coming-of-age journey story, additionally, it’s a kind of beautiful story of two completely opposing cultures and families learning something new from each other – and more importantly experiencing them realizing they had something to teach the other.  

One thing viewers will realize about this film ten minutes in is that it moves slowly. Knowing anything about the story does bring with it the expectation of a slower pace though from the trailer, I think I’d still imagined a swifter clip. Instead the opening introduces us to the Kadam family by seeing their next move starting at airport customs and flashing back to who they are by showing us their lives in India and what inspired Hasan to be the person he is in his present. Once the Kadam’s arrive in the French village, the story finds its footing and for me, it settled into the best version of its rhythm. The doors open to some subtle humor, more insight into the characters and, of course the beauty of the culinary delights that are featured.  

Moviegoers who appreciate plots that take a well-rounded view of a character’s journey will enjoy this film. The acting is top-notch – everyone from Helen Mirren (there is a sensational scene with her in the Kadam’s restaurant that is as comical as it is perfect to the behavior of her character and therefore insightful - plus she just all-around plays this character brilliantly), who plays off of Puri well to the leading male, Manish Dayal, this has a great assembled set of players. Dayal in particular does a nice job with Hasan considering he is the character who experiences the most radical of changes and emotions. As with everything, this won’t be a film for every person. But if you liked Hillary Manton Lodge’s, A Table by the Window, Julie & Julia or you just in general crave any kind of movie that isn’t about the next big action scene, consider adding this to your list of possible movies to see. (Plus I suspect any fan of Lasse Hallström's work will appreciate this.) The pacing sometimes gets in the way of good storytelling, but as a whole, this is one of the sweetest (new) movies I’ve seen in a while.
Have you seen this one or read the book? If so, share your thoughts below, I'd love to hear from anyone who has read the book and seen the film - is it worth reading the novel?
Share any of your thoughts below, friends.

Cranford and Return to Cranford

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Adapted from three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell (Wives & Daughters, North & South), this beautiful miniseries written by scripter extraordinaire Heidi Thomas is one of my favorite guilty pleasure BBC costume dramas – partly because of its willingness to go places some period dramas do not. While I cannot say it surpasses the exquisite North & South, it’s definitely quality programming.  

The story follows the residents of the small English village of Cranford that is primarily full of ladies of a certain age – chief among them is the rigid, stickler of rules, Deborah Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins) and her younger, more kindhearted sister Matty (Judi Dench). Into their small town comes widower Captain Brown (Jim Carter) and his unmarried daughters, including Jessie (Julie Sawalha), who has loved and had to break her own heart in pursuit of family coming first. This arrival – along with two others, stirs the ladies into a tizzy including the opinionated Miss Poole (Imelda Staunton) and fellow cohorts, the Tomkinson sisters (Deborah Findlay, Selina Griffiths), who live for nothing if not the opportunity to gossip in their parlors – provided it falls within the proper visiting hours.

Coinciding with this is the arrival of – the new, young and attractive, Dr. Harrison (Simon Woods), who makes a splash with all of the younger ladies in town while having to gain the trust of the women who have trusted their health to Dr. Morgan (John Bowe) for years. Also new in Cranford is Mary Smith (Lisa Dillon), a young woman acquainted with the Jenkyn sisters and wishing to escape her stepmother’s attempts to marry her off, the ambitious Mary begs a quiet haven in Cranford.  

There is something elegant and mesmerizing to be found among the costume drama world. All of the “little things” superstitiously come together to create a kind of magic Hollywood rarely captures. Each frame of this production offers its viewer something new – whether it be the scene, a character’s reactions or the sets that surround them, this isn’t something to miss if you’ve yet to see it. I started re-watching this quite a while back and just recently finished it, despite the repetitiveness (who among us hasn’t blogged or read about this?), I couldn’t let the chance to gush about it pass me by – greatness should be documented, readers.
Since most of us have indeed been introduced to the lovely occupants of this charming village, I thought I’d share a few of my observations and favorite things about this series – everything from the joy of familiar faces before they were anyone to the costuming, here are some *ahem* rambles. Oh and also to avoid confusion, this miniseries is actually told in two separate series, the first is merely called Cranford the second and follow-up sequel is Return to Cranford. I will be referencing both below.

Firstly, and most importantly to most of the avid fangirls we have Tom Hiddleston. I can admit, the fangirl moments make sense now. Honestly because I always root for the good guys, I never fell for this actor as Loki (Thor), his character posed no attraction to me, and so I suppose because of that, I never considered the actor. But this (William) character is one I do approve of. I enjoyed seeing the kind spectrum of his character and the tender way he treated a character that desperately needed kindness in her life. Then, also in Return to Cranford, Michelle Dockery stars in part of this and oh my goodness! Throughout each of her scenes, I kept thinking, “that is SO Lady Mary-like!” Michelle portrayed Lady Mary Crawley before she was Lady Mary. (I know that doesn’t make sense, but… just go with it.)
Beyond the acting and fabulous array of talent (of which there is a lot), the stories are memorable. I’m not sure saying this series isn’t for the “faint of heart” fits, however it really isn’t for anyone who is looking for an Austen-esque costume drama… and that’s something I love best. It’s not afraid to be “daring” and emotional in one fell swoop – this series made me cry more than I’m comfortable with in this viewing and it reminds us that life is fragile among many other beautiful lessons. Along with this comes the warning not to get too attached to certain of the characters – some don’t manage to make it through each story. In spite of that, it's the characters that pull us into the stories. Even when they’re breaking our heart, these characters are beautiful. Their hearts, their sense of morality, their compassion… just everything about them sparkles. The actors reflect the joy, sorrow, horror and disappointment their respective characters are meant to feel and the finished product is a thing of beauty.  

If you’ve yet to meet the residents of Cranford, get a hold of an episode to try. It will break your heart, make you smile (sometimes through the tears) and laugh-out-loud, and inspire you to look at the bands of friendship through fresh eyes. The ending to it all (Return to Cranford) couldn’t have been better, even though this one of those productions I shouldn’t have liked to see draw to a close. Everything about this series is breathtaking – and in some instances ahead of its era.  

What about all of you? Have you seen Cranford? If so, what did you think of it; favorite moments, characters or things. Share anything below.
The comments are yours.

Can't Let You Go Book Giveaway

Monday, September 22, 2014

Good afternoon, awesome friends! I wanted to give everyone who commented on the blog or tagged me on Twitter over the weekend a shout-out! I always look forward to "catching up" after the weekend and this weekend, aside from my phone, I did not log onto social media ONCE or use the computer for blog, Twitter or writing and it was lovely. So... thanks for all the fun conversations on the various reviews or blog posts. It's all fabulous.

Because I was out of the loop on what was new and exciting this weekend, I missed the release of Jenny B. Jones Brand-new novel, Can't Let you Go. *throws confetti* Celebrating that, I am hosting a spur-of-the-moment giveaway that will just last for a few days this week. The winner will receive a Kindle copy of the novel - and may I just say, if you've not enjoyed the greatness that is a Jenny B. Jones novel, you are missing out. If you'd like to enter, the details are below.

This giveaway(s) is open to anyone. Also, please I will just ask that anyone who leaves a comment under "anonymous," please leave the same name you enter into the widget in your comment - it's not nearly as easy to try and match comments when there is no name and in fairness to everyone else, I want to be able to be sure everyone who used the Rafflecopter correctly has a fair chance at winning against those who abuse it - believe it or not, there have been a couple people that I could not verify. So please, I don't mean to overwhelm, but just keep this in mind when entering future giveaways. Also, make sure that your email address is the right one to reach you at as that is how I will contact you - if I don't hear from you within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

To be entered in the giveaway, just enter as much or as little as you like into the Rafflecopter widget... and good luck everyone! This giveaway ends on September 25th. (Then, be on the lookout for a giveaway from a highly anticipated Christian fiction novel... think Jane Austen related.)

Synopsis: An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear...

Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame.

While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie's plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again? - Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marple, Series 6 (2014)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Conflict has surrounded the “contemporized” versions of Agatha Christie’s series following Miss Marple’s escapades; the reason being what is claimed as drastic changes from the book and the BBC’s focus on being PC over pushing modern ideals on viewers. Through it all, I’ve stuck with the series and relished them all – this 3-episode latest season is both entertaining and eccentric.  

Forever, Season One Pilot (2014)

Friday, September 19, 2014

It’s no great secret that television today has become complacent. It’s also no secret around here that I’m easy to please. When I heard that one of my favorite British actors was set to headline one of ABC’s newest dramas, I was all happy and turns out, that excitement wasn’t disappointed.

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Amy Finnegan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: If Only, 3
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Each time I read a young adult novel, I question it as I sit down to begin the first page – some more harshly than others. Perhaps that’s my skepticism talking because I’ve been disappointed one too many times by the genre or maybe it’s my practical side wonderful why I like to read a genre where more often the not the characters are immature and often leave me wanting to shake them. This debut novel tells the story of Hollywood “it” girl Emma Taylor. A good girl, who keeps good grades along with plenty of college credits already to her name not to mention has starred in an award-winning film at a young age, Emma’s kryptonite arrives in the form of dating bad boys. She has had a string of exes, all of whom have wound up cheating on her and breaking her heart. Now Emma has a rule: she will no longer be dating her co-stars. That is where the trouble ends. Only trouble is about to find her again when the new show she is cast on features the boy of her girlhood crushes… and the new guy-on-the-scene, Jake Elliott, who’s non-Hollywood attitude appeals to Emma.

Not in the Script Book Giveaway

Since I rarely seem to find a secular novel that I liked so well as the adorable Not in the Script - which I reviewed today in case you were interested, I decided to have a giveaway for an e-copy (or paperback) of the novel. The book follows a young TV star named Emma and her blossoming relationship with her cute co-star, Jake. If you like any kind of behind-the-scenes Hollywood, "fairytale" stories, this is one of the MOST darling books you could read. Plus Amy is a fun author to chat with on Twitter too, so be sure to follow her.

The rules are as follows:

This giveaway(s) is open to U.S. readers (if you want the paperback version). Also, please I will just ask that anyone who leaves a comment under "anonymous," please leave the same name you enter into the widget in your comment - it's not nearly as easy to try and match comments when there is no name and in fairness to everyone else, I want to be able to be sure everyone who used the Rafflecopter correctly has a fair chance at winning against those who abuse it - believe it or not, there have been a couple people that I could not verify. So please, I don't mean to overwhelm, but just keep this in mind when entering future giveaways. I'd sure appreciate it!

To be entered in the giveaway, just enter as much or as little as you like into the Rafflecopter widget... and good luck everyone! Since the novel releases on October 7th, this giveaway won't end until September 29th. (Then right around the time this giveaway will be drawing to a close, be on the lookout for a giveaway from a highly anticipated Christian fiction novel... think Jane Austen related.)

Synopsis: Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

This novel in the deliciously fun If Only romance line proves that the best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script. - Goodreads

Best of luck, all.

Anon, Sir, Anon Cover Reveal

Monday, September 15, 2014

Good morning fellow book addicts. Today, I have the pleasure of helping author, Rachel Heffington launch her second full-length novel titled Anon, Sir, Anon. I also had the honor of reading an early copy of her novel and aw, guys it's such a cute story. The notion was to maybe have the review ready to post today and coincide with this cover reveal, but that just didn't happen. However it will arrive... someday.

As Rachel's blog button so aptly reminds us, the novel is set to release on November 5th at which point you will be able to order it on Amazon. Below are all of the important details.

Synopsis: The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham's niece; murder was passenger.
In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.
When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.
Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime.
Add the book to your Goodreads shelf.
...and now, the moment we've all gathered for, the cover reveal!

Love the sweet detail in the middle with the whimsical bicycle! Isn't it cute??
What do you all think?
Leave your thoughts for Rachel and congrats on her SECOND full length novel.
Congrats, Rachel.

Hit by Lorie Ann Grover

About the Book:
Author: Lorie Ann Grover
Publisher: Blink, a division of HarperCollins
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon Goodreads Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Being unfamiliar with this author’s works left me at a disadvantage. I didn’t know what her work would hold or if it’d be the kind of story worth reading, though the one thing I did know was that the Hit blub intrigued me more than any novel of its peer group has in a long while. It promised to be both “dangerous” yet not without poignancy that eludes said peers. It tells the story of promising 17-year-old Sarah McCormick whose life is ahead of her. She has a scholarship to the prestigious Mills College and is nearing completion of her high school academics. All that is about to be stripped from her, and it begins when she meets grad student, Jake Haddings. Four years older than Sarah, she becomes infatuated with the visiting poetry teacher, who inspires more than just her romantic fantasies. Then one rainy morning, Haddings hits Sarah leaving her damaged more than just emotionally.

Reviewing and ranking this novel is daunting. I’m not sure where to begin because there is a kind of beautiful delicacy in the storytelling that is to be admired. The book tackles a subject (even if it’s primarily “off-screen”) that isn’t without merit and sadly, splashes across one too many of our headlines nowadays. However, much as I wanted it to, if you’re looking for a solid “sucker punch” kind of read (meaning emotionally), I found Hit lacking. To begin, I didn’t realize until I was paging through my copy this was inspired by a true story. The main pivot of the novel happens almost immediately giving the reader little to no sense of who the characters are. This makes it hard to understand them or to get behind their motivations also, because of the “main crux” story I found this to be as much if not more Haddings story than Sarah’s. As time passes, there is more of her point-of-view, but certainly the beginning organically feels more attune to Haddings reactions or how he sees those around him as he sits in anonymity, more than anyone else. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing it’s just not what I was expecting.

While all of the above thoughts might suggest this novel could have benefitted from a longer length, the (ARC) 250 page text worked well for me as did the sometimes one-paragraph chapters. The book “read” very easily because of this, even if shorter chapters are more mind game than anything else, I was still pleased to be able to breeze through a book for once. For me, this book wasn’t an emotional payout as its setup suggested. Because of the unique plot (more on the end of the aftereffect rather than what leads to it, which is flirting with danger) – and it is written nicely, I’m not sure where to go beyond here. I liked it and respected aspects inside, yet between the things I’ve already mentioned and the confining timeframe (it all happens in a mere three days) I don’t count this among favorites. Am I glad to have read it? Absolutely. Hit is definitely fascinating, it just didn’t manage to strike any real emotional chords in me and that is something I regret.

Synopsis: After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah's future is all laid out before her that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket one that will declare her feelings once and for all.

Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah's attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.

But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her. - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Thoughts on Army Wives

Friday, September 12, 2014

Knowing this starred an actress (Catherine Bell) I saw for ten seasons on a television show, I was always curious about Army Wives, but it wasn’t until I went looking for something new that I finally took the bait and gave this Lifetime series a shot. Below is a synopsis of the show beginning in season two, because while I enjoyed season one, it didn’t have near the impact of its sophomore season.

Tragedy has struck the families of Fort Marshall. They’ve just buried five of their own because of a bombing on base… a place that only ever meant safety. Despite that, all of them are trying to move on as best they can. There are things that still need to be done and family members alive to love. Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) copes by carrying on with her radio program offering a voice of reassurance to her listeners regardless of the fact that her husband, Chase (Jeremy Davidson) has again left with his Special Ops unit without a goodbye. Because of this, she is able to offer support to Roxy (Sally Pressman) who is frantic with worry over not hearing from Trevor (Drew Fuller) whose unit was part of the recent deployment. Denise (Bell) is coping by working all her shifts at the hospital with injuries of her own, and going through the motions of another deployment for husband, Frank (Terry Serpico) – and getting ready to say goodbye to her only son (Richard Bryant), who she is losing to the Army.  

As General Holden’s XO, Lt. Colonel Joan Burton (Wendy Davis) is in charge of media statements and making sure all of the families are notified only she too has emotional fallout from the bombing, husband Roland (Sterling K. Brown) was in the bar. Then there is Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delany) and her daughter, Amanda. They are setting out to get Amanda off to college and not even the bombing is enough to stop Claudia from making sure her eldest is settled into her new dorm room. But, no one will be the same again.

Wow. Where season one of this show fell more into the trap of being a “soap opera” (albeit still way addicting), the ensuing seasons of this show are really… dynamite. (The summary of the characters above is from the premiere of season two.) The writing is… incredible, particularly in that opening session of season two, and made me tear up on more than one occasion – and to this day, this show still does. After a cliffhanger in the first season, the first episode of season two is masterfully filmed, keeping us in suspense of which characters didn’t make it through the bombing and which were going to remain a permanent fixture in the sophomore season. It was this episode that really was the “defining” hour for me. It pulled so much into that, leaving me with the realization that in spite of its flaws, this would probably be something I’d watch until its conclusion.  

What endears this now-cancelled Lifetime show so well are those characters; the writer’s may gloss over some of the realities of army life, however they aren’t afraid to depict realities in various other instances. Entering season five, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about the show.  

+ Michael (Brian McNamara) and Claudia Joy Holden. This on-screen marriage is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s charming, emotional and full of strife that never strays from the bounds of normalcy – the two of them fight and disagree, yet rarely end a day mad at each other. They find a way to compromise, to work through their differences even if it means making some changes.

+ The emotional output in this show is… emotional. I’m not ashamed to admit, I’ve cried one too many times in the episodes and while (as I said previously), some of the politics of the show have been embellished for the sake of “good television,” everything else seems very realistic – from the normal teenage hysterics to the deep heart wrenching sorrow of watching a loved one deploy (and dealing with the months of loneliness and worry), the writer’s pay careful attention to the characters and what they are going through in what seems a realistic, respectful way.

+ Since I’m a huge crime drama fan (don’t get me wrong, I love it), it’s nice to enjoy something “lighter” now and again and overall, that’s what I’ve found with this show. Even when it is tough to watch, it still doesn’t have that same drag as some of the crime shows hold. BTW, if you have any such recommendations, leave them below.

+ Friendship plays a positive part in this show and it’s done with a lot of realism as well. Perhaps not in the sense that the higher-ranking wives would socialize with the lower-ranked soldiers spouses, but in the sense that things go wrong in the friendship, yet no matter what, these women (and Roland, of course) are always there for each other. They support one another and give each other a “shove” whenever they need it.

While there are elements of this show I wish had been different (think a runaway teenager and her older boyfriend wanting to marry), I do so enjoy it. The characters (I also love the relationship between Roxy and Trevor and the goings-on in their home, despite their not-so-wise beginnings, theirs isn’t a relationship that easily falls into stereotypes, which I admire) make all the “bad” worth going through as does the general patriotism of the stories. That alone is enough to keep me coming back. 

(Content note: the show is one for mature audiences. There is some violence when the characters are in theater [injuries] and some profanity as well. There are also extra-marital affairs, intimacies between married couples as well as some sexual conversations over the course of the seasons I’ve watched. The show is rated TV14.)

9/11: Never Forget

Thursday, September 11, 2014

13 years ago, America changed in a way we never would have imagined.

Despite not having the best childhood memory, like most of us probably do, I still vividly remember this day. It's was a day of horror, sorrow and devastation - a day etched in our memory unlike any other we've ever experienced. Despite the darkness that overshadows this day every year, I believe September 11th 2001 is a day to never be forgotten.

Thank you to those who serve to protect America both here and overseas.

Your sacrifice is never forgotten - thank you.

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” – President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

Gambit (2014)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gambit Colin Firth
Zany comedy seems to be the new “it” factor that appeals to movie watchers these days (that and remakes, both characteristics, this title falls into). Sometimes it pays off, other times it’s a bit of a disaster.

Harry Deane (Colin Firth) has a plan. It’s a good one too. His brilliant thought revolves around conning his one-of-a-kind-jerk-of-a-boss Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman), who underappreciates Harry and still expects the impossible from him. As an art expert, Harry is responsible for authenticating all of his boss’ expensive pieces of art work and in order to make his plan work, Harry must bait the trap – one that involves putting a sliver of doubt in his Lionel’s mind about whether or not he actually owns the genuine Monet he had coveted for years prior to acquiring.

In order to pull off the con, he’ll need to recruit an American Texas cowgirl, PJ (Cameron Diaz), who also happens to be a descendant of the man who once owned the Monet. In his mind’s eye – and maybe a perfect world, the plan works like clockwork, without flaws or setbacks… in reality, Harry finds he may have undertaken more than he can manage.

When I saw this sitting on the video store shelf (yes, I’m old-fashioned and still walk into a video store to rent DVD’s), it immediately caught my eye because of its British talent and then there was the sunny-looking Cameron Diaz on the cover art, which made me think, “That’s an odd pairing,” albeit one I needed to check out pronto. Reading the back made the film sound like a lighthearted bit of escapism, and something that would at least offer non-stop laughs if nothing else, so I rented it. The results were, overall, worth the fee.


To set the stage for a similar film, this reminded me in some respects of Wild Target– which starred Emily Blunt. Between its wacky characters and humor, there were certainly lines to be drawn though thanks to the casting in the Emily Blunt flick, I have to say, Gambit is really much more entertaining. (Call me shallow, but I couldn’t quite get past some of the casting choices in Wild Target.) Anyone who likes Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice, The King’s Speech) will get a kick out of seeing him in so drastically a different role as well as seeing his interplay with Cameron Diaz (because… really, who would have ever put them together in a film?). He plays a proper British gentleman, who is just a little bit of a bumbling goofball albeit a very likable one… and still, despite everything there are a few surprises thrown in here and there.

The beginning is, admittedly, somewhat hard to get into just because it’s not filmed as an image of – realistically, what is happening. Instead we see the stage set as Harry imagines it versus what really happens – the script keeps Cameron Diaz silent during this sequence and a narrator setting up the stage for what is going to unfold. Beyond this point, things pick up and there is plenty of wacky fun to be had – including the appearance of a lion, a chair that won’t move and some fun hotel mischief. What does this all mean? Find out when you run out those strategies with Gambit.

CONTENT: Rated PG13, there are two instances of male nudity, one instance is frontal with a statue used as a “play” for laughs to cover anything inappropriate. The second scene is a full shot of backside nudity, there are some innuendoes [a hotel manager assumes something that isn’t true] and a woman brings a man up to her hotel suite [she’s seen in her underwear], then the scene cuts to the next day without telling or showing anything else. There may be a minor profanity or two.

Cover Candy, Edition 19

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I am such a book geek. No seriously. I am.

Since I decided to skip out on Top Ten Tuesday this week, I was searching for something else bookish to put together and what did I come up with? Another collection of cover candy. This down below is proof of my being a book geek-ish/ness. Well that and the fact that my mind has recently been occupied with thoughts of reorganizing my bookshelves because I currently have a pile or two or three sitting on my floor (what is the best way to shelve books, guys??). So. Without further ado, let's move on. Good morning fellow book addicts. I'm guessing most of you have seen most of these covers, but I put them all in one place regardless - I'm only adding a couple of my very favorite or anticipated Christian fiction titles as the awesome Rel always covers that superbly. As always if you're not tired of gushing over them or you are looking for the perfect place to gush over them, you've come to the right place! Have some thoughts? Browse away, then share.

Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett

Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short? - June 2015

Amazon ▪ Goodreads

Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason

Monday, September 8, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Hidden Identity, book 2
Genre: Fiction; Mystery/Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5

In the suspense genre, there have been far too many stories to possibly pick out a favorite. Since more than one of these books often finds a place on the bookshelf, my opinion on a favorite suspense author wavers each time I read a new book from one of the five or so authors whose novels fall into this category and I regularly read. Lynette Eason’s follow up to her on-going series has again thrown my “mental” rankings into turmoil. In it, we meet Dani Harding, a woman with an 11-year-old son and a husband, who is anything but loving. Instead he’s an abuser with a badge and a man who erases Dani’s cries for help by covering up any claims she makes to law enforcement. Dani finally gathers the courage to leave Kurt, only to learn that same day, Kurt has been killed. Assuming she’s finally safe, she returns in the hopes of rebuilding her life. Trouble again finds her when it becomes apparent someone is still out to do her harm – this leads her to Adam Buchanan, a former law enforcement agent now working with a private security firm… and someone with many secrets of his own.

As is the new standard in Christian fiction, this novel is one of the best if you’re craving a fast-paced mystery. The pace moves faster than most because of the subject matter and seems to take away more of the character interactions because of that, however, the author wisely gives us an epilogue that takes place a lengthy amount of time later, so that while the falling-in-love bit and healing happens “off screen,” I’ve no doubt that what happens in the interim is a genuine time of healing for everyone. If you aren’t as keen on the romance angle in suspense, this would be the proper novel to pick up. Dani’s reliance on Adam is more for safety and Adam’s interest in Dani is based on attraction (as well as a sense of justice and making her feel safe again) for the majority of the book’s primary story. This turns out to be an aspect I respected since too often the romance intermingles with the breath-catching suspense, two opposite genres attempt to co-exist and what usually happens is the romance comes off as improbable.   

Another pleasant element from Lynette’s talent is the easy-going way in which she writes. This book reads easily and in spite of the thrill seeker plots and subjects, the book isn’t hard to enjoy because of the writing style – and of course, it helps that the pages fly by because the reader has a kind of compulsion to see the characters through to the end, mainly to escape the baddies and find a safety long overdue. Fans of Dani Pettrey or Irene Hannon won't want to miss these books. I’m not sure if this is my favorite of her books (of what I’ve read), however this new series is certainly shaping up to be one of the most exciting!

Synopsis: The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future. – Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Friday, September 5, 2014

Morning, friends! Hope you've all enjoyed a wonderful start to a new month. Considering I'm an autumn girl, I'm excited to welcome this new season and was thrilled to see nature's first glimpse of fall last week in a tree that was, yes, beginning to change its colors. Bring it on says me.

Today, I'm doing something different than a review and am hoping this is the start of keeping that up - like, really, I noticed the other day I have a ton of non-reviews on my USB drive that have been sitting in archive file limbo. Maybe someday I'll finish these topical posts to share and maybe, I'll always go the "easy" route and continue to overload you with reviews. Either way, it's insane the amount of posts I have started. Anyway, back on point. Today's entry is a "tag" that's been making the blog rounds and I was fortunate enough to receive shout-outs from two lovely bloggers, Christy (of Southern Sassy Things) and Lydia (of Overweight Bookshelf) - thank you, awesome ladies! I'm psyched to give this a go. So, let's jump right in.
Question 1: How tall are you? 5' 6" or somewhere in that range.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what? It must still be hiding...

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve? People who are mean just for the sake of being... mean. There is a difference between sincerely sharing an honest opinion (which is something to strive for), and bashing a person because they're enraged (not too strong a word, trust me, I've experienced it) by a differing opinion.
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve? Not sure if this is my biggest pet peeve, but I find it inconsiderate when people give their cell phones more attention than the people around them.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song? How to choose this? *checks iPod* Four of the songs I've
been only mildly obsessing over lately are Florida Georgia Line's 'This is how We Roll,' Hilary Duff's 'Chasing the Sun,' Lady Antebellum's 'Compass,' and Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off' (say what you will, but the tune is an instant mood-booster).

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours? Honesty, I haven't really gotten into the whole Etsy obsession, that being said my mom and I are about to get a crash course in it (if our plans work out) and I do enjoy browsing this shop - I seriously want some of those stacking rings.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone? Like anything, this depends on my mood. Sometimes it's catching up on computer things, other times it's reading or watching a fun chick flick - last time I spent nearly a whole Sunday afternoon alone, basically I read the whole time and it was perfect. Yep, I'm a simple girl.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food? Pretty much anything salty - or peanut butter M&M's.
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names? No pets. Last time my family had a dog, his name was Cheeta.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books? Impossible to chose, so for non-fiction, I still love Let's Roll and for fiction one of my recent very favorites is Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade.
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product? There have been many I've used over the years and loved, but just now, I'm rediscovering my love of L'Oreal's True Match Naturale Blush or the True Match Naturale Soft-Focus Mineral Finish. The line was designed so that it wouldn't be nearly as "heavy" or stand out on your skin, and it actually works as it claims, which makes me happy - never did like "heavy" blush. Also, I don't know where I'd be without liquid eyeliner - in makeup, it's all about the eyes!
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened? I've been embarrassed countless times (guess that's part of life and growing up, right??), unfortunately the "gift" of embarrassment seems to have stuck with me, post awkward teenage years... wait! Maybe this is the answer to question 2! (Edit: today actually! I *thought* this post was scheduled and ready to publish and oh dear, it was not.)
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be? If I'm not drinking water, my drink of choice is primarily iced tea.
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie? Seriously? These questions... why are you asking me to chose?? A recent favorite is Divergent. Though I love everything from Amazing Grace to costume dramas and of course, chick flicks.
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep? Probably more artist than anything else.
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Since I've never been, I don't know that I'd want to live there, but I do (someday) want to visit England.

Question 17: PC or Mac? PC
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse? Sorry, I'm still waiting for Mr. Thornton or Mr. Tilney or Mr. Knightley to come along... *wink*

Question 19: Favorite celebrity? Again with the questions! How to pick. There are a ton of celebrities I like within their chosen entertainment biz, though one I recently "got to know" through her turn on Dancing with the Stars was Candace Cameron Bure - she seems like a down-to-earth celebrity.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with? Seriously? Is this a trick question?? How am I supposed to answer this... really. I think there are several blogger buddies who I'd get along with smashingly, either because we share many common beliefs/likes or because they would have something to teach me. To name them is impossible; I love all of the INSPYs ladies and have enjoyed working with them - not to mention being able to learn from them, I've enjoyed getting to know bloggers like Amber Stokes and also each of the bloggers who regularly comment around here (shout out to you ALL, you know who you are!) - it's become a kind of community that is a pleasure to be a part of, each person has a unique style of blogging and it's through that they stand out as fantastic friends.
...and with that, as mentioned above I want to tag all of you, my awesome, frequent blog visitors and friends. You know who you are; Bekah, Hannah, Heather, Jillian, Juju, Kristin, Melissa Tagg, Tressa, Shannon (forgive the lack of blog links... I'm finishing this late, but I'll try to add them tomorrow!), and everyone else who I am shamefully forgetting to mention (or because I saw you had been previously tagged) plus anyone else who wants to join in, because we'd love to see this tag appear on YOUR blog. If you do, drop back by with your links.
If any of you would like to participate, here are the rules!
1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.

2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)

3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment below with the link to your post.

4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!

Question 1: How tall are you?
Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Question 17: PC or Mac?
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

**This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info,check out the beginning post right here.**

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Thursday, September 4, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Author
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Storm Siren, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult, Fantasy 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

It’s been a long time since I read a proper fantasy novel and if there is one thing I learned from journeying into the delightful Mary Weber’s debut, it’s that I’ve been missing out. There have been many friends urging me to read Marissa Meyer’s well known fantasy chronicles and I’ve seen various other books in this genre pushed (lovingly, of course) on readers, yet for some reason I had an idea affixed in my mind about the genre, one I must have unconsciously applied to every book in the genre. Fortunately I went into Storm Siren with an open mind. Nym is a young slave girl with a deadly touch – she’s a storm siren who can summon the worst of storms when she’s provoked. Today, on her fifteenth sell, she is enraged over an owner’s cruel treatment of a young girl and following a series of unfortunate circumstances, she is bought by the properly insane Adora, who claims alliance with Faelen’s king and offers Nym a choice: die or train to be a weapon against the incoming Bron forces out to provoke war with Faelen. Frightened of her own abilities, Nym joins forces with her training partner, Colin and their trainer – whose touch is able to still Nym’s powers, hoping that war is the last option.

One of the most anticipated books in the Christian fiction market I think Storm Siren lived up to those grand expectations – oddly enough one of its best qualities is its summary. If you read the synopsis, you are going to know exactly what you’re stepping into, there isn’t really anything (apart from the secrets that come out in the course of the story) left unsaid in the “overview.” There are insanely outlandish characters and things (think Effie, only descriptively stranger) as well as supernatural powers that are revealed at various story points. Secondly, the character of Nym is well structured and transitioned. Because of her challenges, she isn’t a character who has the luxury of being immature and as a result, I think sometimes her narratives are very “dark,” which influences the larger scope of the novel after all, we do live inside her head throughout the entire novel. If there were anything that might keep readers from enjoying this, those would be the two things – the imaginative scope and its reach plus the (essentially) desire of the heroine to bring harm to herself because of her conflicting emotions. But this is where the “bad” of the titular character ends.

Nym is a surprisingly tender-hearted heroine, who is more afraid of hurting innocents than protecting herself as a race that is being hunted. She’s got empathy. Confused what her curse means and how it is meant to be used, she fights against being used as any kind of weapon – even against enemies. Beyond Nym, I really feel nothing one way or the other for the supporting characters, maybe because of the first person narrative or perhaps because I was so drawn to finding out “who” Nym is, either way, I will admit that I’m not nearly as invested in any other character by the time this book rolls to a close. Mary has created an interesting world sufficient to stand up to the best of the best. This isn’t merely “good fantasy,” it’s inventive and in a market that hasn’t traversed young adult or fantasy like the secular, this is just what is required. Past experience with the fantasy genre taught me to be distrustful of it because it wasn’t something that “read” well for me. Fortunately that pattern broke with this novel – I loved that there wasn’t any over explaining as to how this world came to be or great detail into the past of the Elemental’s or any of the anomaly’s. The prose flowed easily, pulling the interested reader into a fascinating world.

One of 2014’s best debuts, this novel creates a storm not just of its heroine’s making – it brings the genre to new heights spinning new twists, fear and perplex emotions into one solid punch, though not without the dismay of casualties along the way. Another thing to brace for is the arrival of a cliffhanger that leaves us questioning the practicality of waiting nearly a year to see what comes next in Nym’s dangerous world – and more importantly whether or not she’ll rise above those who seek to destroy her.

Check out the book trailer:

Synopsis: In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win. - Goodreads

Coming Next from Mary Weber: Book 2 arrives June 2015… what will happen next?

Sincere thanks to the author for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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