Hawk by Ronie Kendig

Friday, October 31, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Ronie Kendig
Publisher: Shiloh Press
Source: NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon | Goodreads | Novel Crossing | Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Quiet Professionals, book 2
Genre: Fiction; Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

It’s hard to believe we’re already upon another launch for one of the talented Ronie Kendig’s novels and yet the calendar says that is exactly where we are. The second book in her newest series, this follows the titular Raptor team member Brian “Hawk” Bledsoe, who manages to get into quite the scrapes in the beginning of the book – one that transfers him to another team following a leave that sends him back  home. Then there is Fekiria Haidary. Fekiria is an Afghan pilot who has been trained by the American’s only her beliefs not to trust them makes it hard for her to get along with any of them – even if she does think Hawk is handsome, his annoying manners don’t endear him to her. Circumstances put them together in such a way that the two of them have to depend on the other for survival and the possibility of friendship…

X-Men, Days of Future Past (2014)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

As usual, this is another review of a blockbuster movie that I was excited to see it, and as usual, never did. So… let the question be posed, is it worth the wait?  

The future world for X-Men’s mutants is anything but safe. Bobby (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty (Ellen Page) and their friends are being hunted by man-made robots that a renowned 70’s scientist, Trask (Peter Dinklage) created - with help from mutant DNA, in order to alienate the mutant race from the planet and human’s fear of being overrun by mutants. Into this massacre walks the man who brought these students all together – and taught them never to let their powers control them, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his formidable friend-turned-foe, Magneto (Ian McKellen). Charles realizes he needs to, along with his students, stop this from happening and with the help of Kitty they plan to send Charles back into the past to warn his younger self only Kitty tells him doing so would tear him apart – physically, this brings in Logan (Hugh Jackman), who has the ability to heal nearly as quickly as injuries pierce his body.  

Waking up in the 70’s introduces Logan to a completely different era of the lives of his future mutant students. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) is still figuring out his mutant powers and Charles (James McAvoy) is a broken man totally the opposite of the man Logan now knows as the professor. His school is closed and he no longer hears the voices in his head – losing his sister broke him. But their mission is to track and find Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) before she murders Trask and unknowingly forever alters the future of the mutants life – and for that, they will need the help of Erik (Michael Fassbender).  

FILM REVIEW | X-Men, First Class (2011)

Considering some of the “ho-hum” reviews I’ve read about this one or the conversations I’ve had with friends about the new X-Men installment, I’m really not surprised at my reaction to the film. Most of the time, when I put in this genre, I know it’s going to test the limits of realism because, simply put, superheroes defy realistic expectations – their purpose (in my opinion) is to entertain and to do that, if we’re invited into a world that is full of eye-rolling for the skeptic in us when really it’s that concept that, if we are being honest is a big draw – it’s in the impossibilities that makes us love these worlds so much. Yes, basically, I fan-girled BIG time over this movie and dare I say it, this may be my favorite of the bunch yet.  

Right before watching this just-released newbie, I finished up my first-time viewings of the old films with ‘The Last Stand’ and while it too was good, there is something about this title that is going to stick with me for a while. I’m not sure this one has as much poignant to say because of the focus of revisiting the past, future and eventual present however there is a lot good about the production and for me, that’s more than enough. Whoever dreamed up co-mingling (writer Simon Kinberg is also known for Sherlock Holmes, This Means War, and ‘The Last Stand’) what started the X-Men franchise and later its foray into the origins with ‘First Class’ is brilliant. Seriously. Aside from some of the cast and story indicators (which I’ll share more about later), what I loved best was just seeing everyone together and their reactions to each other before they become the characters we know in the future. After just watching Logan and Beast heckle each other in X-Men The Last Stand, it was a blast to see the two “meet” and since I love Raven and Charles', complicated relationship as portrayed by Lawrence and McAvoy, it was perfect to revisit their younger selves. Especially interesting was seeing the dynamic between Logan and Charles – Logan’s brash, tragic figure past had to be put aside for this storyline and instead the tables had turned, meaning Charles was the subject of Logan’s help and guidance. It’s really quite an interesting switch that asks new questions, giving us more insight into the characteristics of Logan and Charles both.  

I think overall, what works best or what I loved so much about this installment is how it rewrites some history. Instead of merely resurrecting characters, it gives us a plausible (for the X-Men universe though again, don't expect the timelines to make any sense) reason as to why some characters are returning. There are cameos by Scott, Jean, an introduction to Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and a brief appearance by Rogue (Anna Paquin) which is a bummer since I really like her character. But on the upside, Storm (Halle Berry) is back as well and again, it was just a blast to see so many of the ‘First Class’ cast reuniting. Beyond that, I really loved (have I said that word a lot!?) the staging of many pivotal or action-packed scenes. Primarily, the fantastic “big sequence” for Quicksilver which was as crazy as it was epic and also, the climax sequence is quite impacting. Injected into most of this is also a lighthearted sense of humor that is hard to miss. The way things end even with the post credits forbearing of bad to come, leaves a happier picture and where before Logan was always the tragic figure, there was a sense of “hope” in this movie’s end and for that, I’m ridiculously pleased with ‘Days of Future Past.’ It was worth the wait and then some.

Your turn: have you seen this installment, if so, comment, rave or gush about your thoughts. It’s all welcome.

(Rated PG13; a shot shows a nude man from the backside as he wakes up in bed with someone - a few other innuendoes may be in the script. There are plenty of things that blow up or are destroyed during the film – Erik in particular destroys many things, especially near the end. There is some profanity - h*ll, da*n, sh*t, abuse of God's name and one use of the f-word.)

1989, Taylor Swift

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

G'Morning, fellow music enthusiasts. Today, we're talking about Taylor Swift's brand-new album, 1989, which just dropped yesterday. For all of you who don't like TS, please excuse this post (later this week will be back to the regularly scheduled blogging *wink*) and I know you're probably tired of seeing this album and name everywhere on your social media timelines. The good news? There won't be more Taylor here this week, though I cannot promise there won't be Twitter chatter about #TS1989 and, I say ROCK ON those of you who tweeted about this yesterday - loved it.

My physical album isn't here yet - boo! - and probably won't arrive until the end of this week or next, though I did get the good news email it was shipped yesterday. But... despite my best efforts of course, I cheated and found some download links. I held off on downloading all of the tunes because come on, I have to have a few surprises, however I picked out several tracks - including the Target bonus tracks - and guys, I'm sorry, but yes, I heart these new songs from the artist. Here are the songs I have on my Windows Media Player and a few thoughts:

Track 1: Welcome to New York - a release ahead of the album's official release, I enjoyed this song's superficial message of awe upon coming to a new city. It's upbeat and has some cool songwriting.

Track 2: Blank Space - some of the song cues are awesome in this, like the sound effect right after the chorus words "blank space" (it sort of lends a audio aid to wiping the slate clean), but this one hasn't fully grown on me - even with its sassiness ("...cause darling, I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream.") Yet. "...look at that face. You look like my next mistake."

Look at that face, you look like my next mistake

Track 3: Style - happy and plenty of swag, yep, another new TS favorite.

Track 4: Out of the Woods - this song released last week ahead of the October 27th full-length album debut and it's more in the style of Taylor's "moody" songs even though the music is more upbeat, the lyrics tell a story of a will-they-or-won't-they (stay together), reckless kind of relationship.

Track 6: Shake it Off - you all know I heart this one. 'Nuff said.

Track 9: Wildest Dreams - "say you'll remember me... say you'll see me again, even if it's just in your wildest dreams..." Yep, pretty song - though it's also one of the more "adult" songs.

Track 12: I Know Places - not a favorite...

Track 13: Clean - this one is about moving on and erasing memories of a past relationship, and has a pretty beat that isn't "soft" like 'Begin Again,' but still pleasant in a moody kind of way.

Track 14: Wonderland (Bonus Track) - unique is the best word to describe this song. Lots of Alice in Wonderland story cues.

Track 15: You are In Love (Bonus Track) - again, another "adult" love story, but I confess, I adore the melody of this song as well as how the lyrics flow.

Track 16: New Romantics (Bonus Track) - typically the same as track 15.

When it comes down to the end and defining Taylor's sound, as so many have heralded, this IS a new era for this worldwide best-selling artist. The album is straight pop, and yet, in her own unique talent, she has carved out a voice all her own within the genre - it's refreshing because, honestly, what started in Red (the beginning of Taylor "growing up") continues in this effort and I do love what I'm hearing from 1989 - in fairness to her and her audience, everyone is growing up and her music reflects that. The only thing is, like a well respected publication mentioned, I'm not sure there will be as many easily-loved, snappy ('I Knew You were Trouble,' and 'Shake It Off') singles among this batch of tunes. Beyond that... this "preview" journey I took makes me all the more eager to have the physical album and start the "repeat" party on the iPod.

*if anyone wishes to know, there are a few songs in which the lyrics use h*ll, da*n or there are illusions to immoral behavior though same as always, nothing is ever flat-out offensive.

Your turn: Thoughts, impressions of 1989 are most welcome.
Or anything you wanted to chat about, comment away.

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Monday, October 27, 2014

About the Book:
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon  Goodreads ▪  Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5 
Synopsis: Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal. - Goodreads
Some readers will probably have reservations about the scope of this story, its morals or by proxy its characters, however this was actually one of the cutest pieces of teen fiction I’ve run across – and I will confess due to personal preferences, I’m a tough sell when it comes to this genre, so most of the time I merely live by the adage: it’s me, not the book. The book kicks off introducing us to its sassy heroine, Julep Dupree, a student who attends a swanky high school and manages to make extra cash by taking on jobs hired by her fellow peers – jobs that involve conning people. Julep is the best at what she does and as the daughter of a grifter, she knows her stuff. Trouble does manage to find Julep when upon her return home from school one afternoon tells a story she isn’t sure how to handle – her father is missing. With the help of her best friend, Sam – and the school’s popular (and dreamy) guy, Tyler, Julep sets out to unravel the truth behind the disappearance.  

Secular genres are really difficult for me to endorse because of the topics they bring in or rather how they deal with the topics – any element can be brought into a story and still be handled with class or delicacy. It’s rare to find a secular novel that plays by these rules. This book went with a “cuter” structure and overall, it works to its advantage. Anyone who doesn’t abide characters who lie to pave the way to a clear-cut pay day had better steer clear of this because otherwise, you’ll be disappointed in the story – Julep may be a teen with issues, but she doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes down to it – she lies to her clients parents as well as anyone standing in the way of her search for her father, lying for her clients or morphing into someone she isn’t in order to get the job done is just second nature to her.  

If you’re grasping for something this resembles, think Leverage or White Collar and you have an idea of what this book is like. It features an unusual, albeit savvy female lead, whose story isn’t as interesting (though it IS fun) as it is the characters that surround her are. I enjoyed the dynamics between her and best friend, Sam (despite the potential to be cliché) and thought that Tyler seemed somehow “more” than a stereotype. All of this comes with a caution since this debut author doesn’t tell a story gently – seriously, guys, an otherwise lighthearted story ends with quite the bang and let’s just say not everyone comes out alive on the other side. Like, wow. The scattered situation ending will likely leave you wondering, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?” I know it did me.  

Fans of heist stories or those that feature liars (as I recently heard someone say on booktube), won’t want to miss checking out this book. It’s smarter than some of the other books I’ve read in YA and isn’t afraid to mold its own niche. That alone says something for this debut author.  

Content Note: this is a secular novel, so it does include some profanity in the text including sh*t and other mild profanities. There are some innuendoes and “sensual” make-out scenes, though nothing more than a PG13 kind of rating, definitely on the lighter end of that rating.

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

The Good Witch's Wonder (2014)

Saturday, October 25, 2014


The seventh title in a long-running, beloved – and popular ratings recipient, Hallmark Channel again invites us into the magical world of Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell). Life is feeling a bit restless for Cassie as it shifts to change her happy family. Lori (Hannah Edicott-Douglas) is in college busy with homework, dating and fitting into her schedule the work she does on the school paper. Brandon (Matthew Knight) too is becoming successful in his career and has a fiancée he’s planning a wedding with. Then there is her daughter, Grace who has special talents of her own - talents that just may have something to teach her grandfather (Peter MacNeill) who is feeling very out-of-place in Grace’s world.

Jake (Chris Potter) is currently dealing with the changes that the town’s new mayor, Martha Tisdale (Catherine Disher) is putting in place, leaving Cassie with little but her shop to occupy her time. When a stranger appears in town, Cassie is again needed to help along a situation that isn’t healthy – and to hopefully, bring about some much needed happiness.

These films were starting up during the time I was enjoying binge-watching of JAG, so naturally it was entertaining to look up its female lead's credits and see what else Catherine Bell has done. Following that, there was a gap between when The Good Witch premiered on television and when it came to DVD, though you can be sure once it showed up on a favorite retailer’s site, I snatched a copy and have been under the spell of this charming character ever since - plus multiple viewings. What I’ve loved so much about the evolution of these stories and the characters that live in them is how from first script to this seventh film, there is not only a story within the movies, but each one continues to further Cassie’s own life. From her first coming to Middleton to now finding a family of her own, it’s been a kind of nice journey for fans to follow along with.  

This installment is just as memorable and in some ways bittersweet as the very beginning. I confess if I’m being picky I wasn’t fond of certain minor casting choices, but am thrilled that everyone is still in their primary roles from Jake and Cassie to their children (makes the camaraderie all the more genuine), it’s a joy to see the familiar faces playing characters fans have come to love rooting on and wishing only happy endings for. Changes do take shape, which I can only imagine is setting into motion the transition into the 2015 premiere of the television show set to come to Hallmark Channel – a series that will retain some of its primary cast (or that’s what I believe is right) and also gain some new faces, one of whom will be Bailee Madison. Since some of the movies in-between were just put out on DVD, I very much look forward to watching the interim stories I missed in skipping past to be sure and have this latest in the series watched for its big debut and if this along with the earlier films are any indication, fans of this series are going to again fall head over heels for the charms that are the Good Witch - it's really the sweetest kind of family movie.  

Have you seen any of these films in The Good Witch series? If so, do you like them?
Let’s chat.  

…and then catch the premiere of The Good Witch’s Wonder tonight,
Saturday the 25th on Hallmark Channel.

Upcoming 2015 Movies + their Trailers

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hello, friends and readers. Earlier this week I was watching movie trailers on a DVD (one about a certain band of superheroes that I'll be reviewing next week) and came across a trailer (we'll talk about the specific one later on), which meant I couldn't resist sharing it with you, and I realized it'd been a long time anyway since sharing any upcoming movies I am curious about. Thus today seemed as good a time as any to chat up some 2014 and beyond releases that has me excited.

First things first, here is the trailer that inspired this post, because, yeah, it looks like a good time. Plus, I'd read about this movie way back when - and guys, it's Colin Firth. It arrives in theaters February 2015.

Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Peeps. There is a trailer for Avengers 2. This is not a joke and oh, my! It looks like this will be the Avengers toughest fight yet, though if Marvel's pattern holds true, things may appear bleak, but they'll all turn out okay - and also, can we just take a moment to say how awesome James Spader ( The Blacklist) is sounding as Ultron!? In theaters May 2015

When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.

Then there is what presumably Disney hopes is their "next big thing," probably made to compete with the sci-fi YA adaptations making the rounds in the theaters of late. I don't know much about this story, but it does look interesting - and plus, it might even omit one of the stereotypes. In theaters May 2015.

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as "Tomorrowland."

What about you all: what movies have piqued your interest lately?

Happy Friday.     

Film Teaser: Into the Woods Photos

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today EW has released more photos of the upcoming Disney musical extravaganza that is Into the Woods, which we've chatted about earlier this year. Last time I was in the theater, I saw the teaser for this film and was - if possible - even MORE excited for the holiday 2014 release. From what I gather it's a kind of "mash up" of multiple fairytales including Cinderella, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, that somehow all connects back to a an evil witch (played by Meryl Streep) who is in the wish granting business, but as all fairytale wishes do, these come with strings attached. Here's a brief synopsis:

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.               

The movie is rated PG and arrives in theaters Christmas Day.

Have a look at the pretties!

Cinderella's Stepmother (Christine Baranski, center) with evil stepsisters Lucinda (Lucy Punch) and Florinda (Tammy Blanchard)
Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy)

Rapunzel's Prince (Billy Magnussen)

The Wolf (Johnny Depp) and Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford)
The Baker (James Corden) and Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford)

Concept art of The Woods
Production employed a tree scout but had a ringer in production designer Dennis Gassner, a former lumberjack. ''I would walk through Central Park and photograph trees, and it was really about informing ourselves visually because, tree by tree, each one has character and individuality,'' says Gassner. ''Sondheim is a puzzlemaker, and so you're going to be putting a puzzle together as intricate as the story and characters and songs, and that goes through with the design in every way.''
Image Credit: Dennis Gassner/ © 2014 Disney Enterprises

Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and The Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt)

Cinderella's Prince (Chris Pine)
Designer Colleen Atwood's sketch of Cinderella's Prince
Atwood pulled from various time periods—''days of olde, with an e,'' she says—for all the costumes, but kept certain outfits in their familiar place, including the high romance look of Rapunzel and the Princes. Image Credit: Costume Design by Colleen Atwood/© 2014 Disney

Cinderella (Anna Kendrick)

The Baker (James Corden), The Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt), and The Witch (Meryl Streep)

The Baker (James Corden), The Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt), and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone)
Designer Colleen Atwood's sketch of The Witch
Streep, along with her frequent design partner J. Roy Helland and Atwood, worked out every detail of the Witch's post-transformed look. ''I wanted there to be a big difference between the short, hunched witch and the tall and beautiful one,'' says Streep, who sported four-inch heels. ''The movement, we talked about a lot. I'm an old theater horse and have kicked a lot of trains around in my life.'' Image Credit: Costume Design by Colleen Atwood/© 2014 Disney
What do you think, guys? I'm pretty darn excited and am even more so now I've learned Colleen Atwood is the costume designer - she is a great visionary for period films and it'll be fun to see her creations come alive in full HD glory.

Cover Reveal: The Heir by Kiera Cass

Oh, my goodness! Guys, I may have already posted something today (The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if you want to chat about it), and I'm not usually the kind of blogger who publishes multiple times a day, but golly! There are some photos to share and I must partake in the awesomeness of them.

First is the cover reveal for Kiera Cass' fourth full length Selection novel, The Heir. Drumroll, please...

Isn't it gorgeous!? The dress isn't as vibrant as America's covers were, which does seem to lessen that "eye-catching," wow factor however, I do love the snow/sparkle effects against the vivid dark blue (or black?) background and the concept remaining in line with the prior books. Needless to say, I would love this one on my shelf... like now! What do you think of this fourth novel in the once-upon-a-time trilogy?
 Synopsis: Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.
- Goodreads
What are your thoughts?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Like always, this is just another in the long line of blockbusters that I am joining the party late – and as always, fellow Marvel fans, if you aren’t bored with talking about Spidey’s latest adventures, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is finally accepting and settling into his role as Spider Man – NYC's very own champion and hero. Only now that graduation day has arrived and as news of his existence rises, he feels himself slowly pulling away from the love of his life, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). With memories of her father's last words haunting him, he ends the relationship, hoping that by watching Gwen from afar he can keep her safe and out of his enemies’ path.
Distractions soon arise when New York is overrun with new villains Peter is forced to battle in the form of Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the return of Peter’s troubled friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan).
From what little I remember reading about this when it was released to theaters it seems like this latest installment (only the second in the re-booted era) lost fans enthusiasm after one of its key characters dies in dramatic fashion and circumstances during the latter moments of the film. I can understand why fans felt deflated and disappointed for these reasons and do wish things could have been different. In many ways, it’s understandable to the comic book legend and how we “know” Peter Parker’s life shakes out. Still when there was so much good in this relationship, this will likely cause there to be a hole in movie three and it will sort of feel like a betrayal to experience what comes next - and in hindsight, the Tobey McGuire years obviously gave us a better “version” in this regard.  

Now we have the ambiguous bad out of the way – and yes, I do realize that anyone who doesn’t know what I am referencing above might be confused, but guys… if you’ve not seen this yet, I don’t want to spoil anything! – let’s move on to the good. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, this is one action-packed movie that doesn’t slow down! The battle of superpowers, the number of villains and the destruction is all kicked off in the first five minutes of the movie when Peter is late to his own graduation in an effort to stop a bad dude from his evil plans. This certainly keeps the film moving and hopping and unlike a certain DC Comics adaptation, this movie does take time to slow and keep in perspective the history Peter wants to uncover about himself and more specifically whatever it was about his father’s (played by Campbell Scott) work that essentially signed his death warrant. It’s a hard thing to balance the human aspect of a flick like this because while our heroes are at their core, “only human” much of the movie does rely on the supernatural and therein can lay the conflict.
This blockbuster doesn’t seem to suffer that fate – thank goodness! Does the script get too villain heavy? When all is said and done, yes – especially when two of them are emerging villains and one is destined to play a greater (presumably) role in future endeavors (which by the way has been pushed back to 2018, like, this is not cool guys), that being said, I do think this sequel takes greater care in not losing sight of the Peter Parker that lives inside the heralded Spider-Man and that’s pleasant to experience. The ending is what really sets the whole piece of cinema apart. Sure it rips open our hearts prior to that and shows us a darker side to Peter in the interim, yet how the writer’s bring him around is a kind of gentle, more innocent example any film in this genre has mustered – makes you wish the film didn’t promptly end even if it did serve a purpose. When the more important message shines through said abrupt departure that all's good in the world of Marvel universes and somehow, in a quiet way what the ultimate conclusion boils down to is that Peter Parker is going to be okay – and for us, if this kind of hope or inspiration can be found in a blockbuster, I say more power to the scripters who wish for us too to feel that. It's good enough.
Film Rating: PG13

Violence: moderate. There are many things destroyed and lots of destruction because of the superpowers. Various baddies attempt to take out the good guys including the cops whose cars are often seen flipping end over end.
Profanity: mild - maybe a use of h*ll or sh*t.

Lizzy & Jane Giveaway Winners

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good afternoon, lovelies. It's time to share those giveaway winners. We had two winners with the Lizzy & Jane book giveaway because, guys, the reaction to this book is insane - which I love, and so two names were drawn.

 Without further ado, here are the deets and where we stand....

Winners of the Lizzy & Jane book giveaway are:

- Bethany W.

- Heidi M.

Bethany has claimed a print copy of Lizzy & Jane, which she will receive once it releases next week. Congrats to both winners! Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and tweeted about it. I appreciate you joining in the fun and wish you could ALL receive a copy.

Happy Monday, all. Stay happy.

Wedding Planner Mystery (2014)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The second movie (inspired by a series of books by Deborah Donnelly, Veiled Threats is book one) to air on the all-new branding of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, this fluffy movie is one of the cutest produced from the Heart of TV gang in a while. It follows the exploits of the perfectionist, but curious wedding planner, Carnegie Kincaid (Erica Durance), whose one big chance to make a break in this biz is interrupted by a murder – a crime that entangles the wealthy, what-they-say-goes Parry family. With the help of an annoying, yet inquisitive reporter Aaron Gold (Andrew W. Walker) and the handsome family lawyer Holt Walker (Brandon Beemer), Carnegie has plans to solve a murder that the police – particularly Det. Borden (Rick Ravanell), like her as a suspect for, all of which she juggles while planning a wedding worthy of her client.  

If my blog content of late has given you an inkling that I am a fan of nearly anything this network puts out, you’d be correct – what can I say, when I see these, it seems like I cannot help but share about the cuteness and really, you guys, it's my duty to remind you to mark those calendars for their airdates. *wink* This one is no different. If you’re a fan of the quintessential rom-com like Monster-In-Law, Marry Me, The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses or any wedding-happy comedies (did you notice my quest to attempt fitting in any and all favorite rom-coms...!?), you’ll enjoy this movie. In spades, this easily has plenty of sweet moments that will endear the script while sprinkling in hints of mystery that, I have to admit, kept me wavering. Turns out, I should have known better – especially considering the many times I’ve seen this story done, but… still, it’s fun to play a guessing game.  

The cast is sassy and fun – particularly Erica who not only had a cool character name (way to be unique), she played the role well and played off the men who surrounded her as supporting characters in an equally entertaining way. Each scene makes you flip-flop in how you want the outcome to play out and leaves us wondering who we’re meant to be rooting for (aside from Carnegie), which is just part of the reason this one stood out a bit more and I applaud the writer’s and production team for that. Like others that have been serialized, this too could easily be the start of a series that would certainly be a whole lot of fun - I'd return for more adventures! 

Wedding Planner Mystery is just the right kind of rainy-night entertainment. It’s lighthearted, has a fantastic cast and even though it fell into some of the same clichés (honestly, I don’t mind that in the least) there was a beat to the story that was unique. Maybe it was the cast that worked well together or the director, either way this is yet another mystery that is begging to be solved. Mark this in your planner to make a date with – Carnegie and Company. 

Wedding Planner Mystery premieres tonight on Hallmark Movie Channel. Have a peek at the trailer.

My Boyfriends' Dogs (2014)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Even though the concept of Hallmark’s productions is consistently the same (I’m not complaining mind you, since I adore what the network offers us) – family-friendly, the boy-meets-girl comingled with the "perfect" meet-cute (and on the list could go), they do come up with some scripts that have a “twist” and this latest original is based off a book.  

On this wet, rainy night Bailey (Erika Christensen) is the picture of what it means to have “cold feet.” Or that is how she appears to the folks inside the diner where she takes refuge on that cold night, entering the diner with three dogs in tow – and she’s all dressed up in a wedding gown, no less. There, with the gentle prompting of the long-married owners she recounts how she arrived at this point in her life and how she wound up the owner of the dogs... from her three boyfriends (Jesse Hutch, Jeremy Guilbaut, Oliver Rice).  

I do have to confess, this film wasn’t the same kind of favorite as titles such as How to Fall in  Love or some of the Christmas programming from Hallmark. There are others in this line of original movies that held my attention more readily or I enjoyed the quick banter of the cast and chemistry better. However this film is still cute in its own way for one of those cozy Saturday evenings in, it’s ideal. The flashbacks were – much to my surprise, more seamless and easy to watch, breaking in and out of past vs. present nicely. Most of the time, this aspect is tough to conquer or at the very least not the most pleasant to watch, but this film does it nicely. Overall, for me, the script isn’t as convincing as even some of the previous titles I have seen from this same network, enjoyed and have subsequently purchased. Something was missing from this story that most of Hallmark’s movies have – what I cannot put my finger on, but a definite “spark” was absent. Maybe it was the awkwardness with the character and their respective scenes, which is often full of “cheesy” excuses from them (as characters) or characters (aside from the heroine), who don’t seem genuine, and are thus difficult to take seriously.  

Also something of an annoyance was the scope of the story. It just wasn’t offset by enough time or realism to make the idea and ultimate ending plausible. The idea is cute enough, but in the limited time box of 80+ minutes, the film isn’t given the right kind of time or attention to “feel” acceptable – and as mentioned, that ending doesn’t help. That being said, please don’t just take one opinion as the only one. I did still enjoy My Boyfriends’ Dogs – I promise I really did, and definitely had some laughs from the story.  Plus, I’d wager animal lovers will adore the four-legged stars of the film. 
Do you have any favorite films from Hallmark this year - or are you planning on watching this one? Share any Hallmark love (or anything!) below.

Catch the premiere of My Boyfriends’ Dogs tonight on Hallmark Channel at 8/7c.; until then, have a look at the promo trailer.

A Week in Review

Friday, October 17, 2014

Good morning, friends. How are you all today? I hope you're enjoying this awesome fall weather, though I do have to say I wish fall would appear again. Around here, it's been dreary and rainy and it's ruining the beautiful trees by stripping them of their pretty leaves. Today, instead of a review (which I feel like I've shared enough of) or some such post, I'm doing something I don't normally participate in, but seemed like a good idea for this Friday. If I'm not mistaken, the "week in review" meme is usually something that goes up on Saturday, but since I have more reviews for the weekend coming and wasn't prepared to publish anything else, we're going with a hodgepodge of what's happened here this past week - and some questions for you!

Guest Post: Finding that Elusive High Concept

Hello, fellow bloggers! Today on the blog, we're happy to introduce a debut author, Mary Elizabeth Summer. Earlier this summer, I was approached by this author to see if I was interested in having her for a guest post, which of course, sounded fabulous, so that's what we did. Mary Elizabeth Summer's novel, Trust Me, I'm Lying just recently released - this past Tuesday in fact, and just happens to be one of the books I still need to review. The plan? Hopefully that can go up next week! Until then, come and meet Mary Elizabeth through this lovely guest post she wrote for Dreaming Under the Same Moon. Join me in welcoming Mary to the blog - and read up on her advice for aspiring authors.

Finding that Elusive High Concept, by Mary Elizabeth Summer 

The Flash, Season One Pilot - Episode 2 (2014)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m a Marvel fangirl. Not the kind that owns comic books or knows any and all trivia to spout off at a moment’s notice, but certainly the sort who knows when there are new blockbusters set to arrive in theaters and then promptly collects said movies upon their release to DVD. Along with that, I am also aware of any new superhero adaptations making it to the small screen. This is one of the latest to find its way onto our television screens. 

The Fault in our Stars (2014) - Tears that Turn to 'Okay'

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

There is really no introduction needed for this book-to-screen adaptation because, as usual, everyone but me has seen it. It just happens to be the day in which I decided to put thoughts to paper and then publish said thoughts on the blog. 

The story introduces us to the now-famous characters of Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), two teenagers who have both been diagnosed with cancer and lived with different results. Gus lost his leg to his “touch of cancer,” and for a year and a half has been healthy. Hazel has never been anything but terminal. Only there was a miracle drug that bought her a few more years even as her lungs continue to limit what she can do. These two meet in a cancer support group, which sets in motion an extraordinary adventure no one will soon forget.

Knowing where to start proves to be a challenge as regards this story. It’s something you’ll adore or hate (speaking in terms of an adaptation), which is one reason that makes the movie difficult to review and form coherent thoughts for. Another reason being, anyone that has an aversion to sad, sometimes uncomfortable stories will probably wish they’d never seen this. Fortunately, like the good reader I am, I held off watching this (even with the pretty DVD cover sitting on my bookshelf staring at me) until I’d read the novel and I must say, as always, I’m pleased I did. 

Even afterwards, the film sat unwatched for a period of time which on reflection is actually good; it allowed some “separation” between the two “versions” that I probably wasn’t aware was needed. Where the first half of the book is the strength that carries the entire story, the film is the opposite – it’s in the latter half when everything comes alive and lights up.  
...I can not tell you how thankful I am, for our little infinity. You gave me a forever, within the numbered days. And for that I am... I am eternally grateful. - The Fault in our Stars

There is something of a timid quality to the setup of the story (or that is my opinion). Nothing seemed as warm or endearing as the book portrayed these characters, then Hazel and Gus bond, use a wish to go to Amsterdam and beautiful memories are made. It’s in these moments and beyond that the movie shows its best talents; and going where rarely any movie or book has, made me cry! Naturally, the casting is phenomenal. Shailene lives up to the praise she is earning and this film does a splendid job expanding on Hazel’s parents; Laura and Sam played them wonderfully! I enjoyed so many of the scenes with her parents, including the all-to-short and only scene of Hazel and her father talking about Gus.

Unlike others on my shelf, this is not a movie I will watch dozens of times. You finish this and immediately want to pop in something else that’s lighthearted and maybe just a little bit silly, because the tears you’ve cried will probably make you feel spent – and seriously, this film has that kind of effect on most people. The story gives us two characters from the young adult and teen fiction scene who go against every stereotype there is – both of them are understandably mature (three cheers for less drama as a result) – made so by life, delightful characters, who just happen to be hard to forget.

If you look for messages in this story, you’ll find some. It's the kind of story that has multiple personalities ingrained in the heart. It's charming one minute with its unforgettable journey, making you laugh with the characters finding joy in the small things and then tug at your heartstrings, break your heart and downright scare you with its realization of life being a fleeting thing. Usually I would say the film is better because, yes, I clearly like to be different. But in this case, I’m torn. 

Like I said there is a halfway mark in the book and film, so perhaps comingled they compliment each other nicely – and I cannot say how much better the film ends than the book. Not because the scripter ended this differently, more because this final scene somehow served to make the film “feel” more complete. There is a thread of hope that was missing from the source material and for that, the movie definitely gives the audience something to cling to.

(This post does contain affiliate links, which means – at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link. Read the disclosure page for details.) You can rent or own The Fault in our Stars digitally on Amazon Video or own on DVD.  

(Rated PG13 because… there is some profanity like sh*t and abuse of God’s name, and one use of the f-word. Two characters end up in bed together – we see them kissing and partially undress each other before the camera cuts to an “after” scene of the two lying in bed together, bare legs and chests with sheets placed over them. There are some innuendoes and crude gestures to anatomy, and there is one make out scene that is played for laughs.)

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

About the Book:
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Source: Bought
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon  Goodreads  Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

It’s tough to read uber-popular novels as the girl who isn’t easily bothered if she doesn’t read the New York Times bestsellers – if they are books that don’t interest me, that is. To this day there are series that sold millions and are continuing to enjoy social media campaigns that I will never read – and yes, I know we aren’t supposed to say “never,” but I’m boldly going for it. Still, when I saw the trailer for this movie, I happened to develop a curiosity for it, imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a book. After some debate (the most important of which was an Instagram post), I took the bait and bought a copy. The story (as everyone knows) follows the exploits of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Watters, two teens who have both lived with cancer. Only difference in their situations is Hazel is terminal and always has been – her experimental treatment is just to prolong her life, whereas Augustus lost his leg to the disease but not his zest for life and the fortunate circumstance to be in remission. This is their story.

How to review, rate or discuss this novel? I’m not sure the task is an easy one. The book is one of those that makes an excellent first impression then sinks into a kind of oblivion that isn’t easy to climb out of – particularly in the latter half when I found myself more annoyed than delighted by the barbs that somehow crept into the scope of coming across as insulting even if they weren’t a direct slam to anyone or any belief. The early half of the book is charming – there is a warmth and beauty that surprised me. I loved the wit, the characters and the general notions presented in the story. Nothing seemed forbearing and almost seemed to spite the fact that the book opens at a cancer support group – almost as if that was nothing more than a place and didn’t need to put on a full display of emotion for any kind of mental impact. This is what is most beautiful about the book; it doesn’t focus on the cancer (it really doesn’t, and yes, I know everyone says that, but it’s true) nor does it sink (early on) into some black hole of depression. For that, I applaud. 

The second half is different. Why exactly I don’t know… it just is. There is a more vivid realization of what is happening behind the wit to the characters – both physically and mentally and it is perhaps more angst-y than its previous story points had been. The journey these two go on is unique and because of that, I’m finding it difficult to find much more to talk about. Hazel and Gus are their own brand of unique and I do love that about them. They had a special kind of relationship, something often more superficial in the YA genre, which is probably why this will be a book I’ll remember reading for a long time – not only is the wit fantastic, the book has a very good kind of quirky quality that separates it from the norm. Will I reread it? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s one I’ll keep around for a while (it looks pretty on my shelf, after all *wink*), but as to if it’ll be one of those forever favorites, I doubt that. There is admiration for the story and certainly, it’s not hard to fall head over heels for Hazel Grace Lancaster or Augustus Watters – they are two of the best characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and that will stick with me for a long time. 

Note: This is secular fiction so there is profanity, and a non-descriptive but clear indication that two teens have slept together - there is also some crude references to anatomy (mainly in regards medical terms, though it is used as a "joke") as well as conversations about being a virgin.

Synopsis: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten. - Goodreads

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