Top Ten Tuesday ǀ Favorite Ships

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hello, fellow Top Ten Tuesday participants, readers and friends. Today's topic was something quite different than the direction I chose to take. Why then am I associating my random-ness with Top Ten Tuesday? Well, my topic today IS about characters, which fits this week's topic plus I so enjoy the Top Ten Tuesday meme and from time to time, we all color outside the weekly subject lines... right!? (Says the girl hoping she's not the only one who does this.)

BLOG POST: Lovebirds of 2013 (TV Couples)

Month in Review: August 2015

Hello, readers. These month in reviews always sneak up on me. I'll think of them sometime mid-month and let myself off from prepping the post since I have "plenty of time." But, guess what, that time goes by far too fast and instead of following logic and getting a jump start on post preparation, I'm usually putting this together last minute. This past week for the blog has been particularly slow, so while August may have started off okay, the final stretch felt not as good. Here's hoping for a better September... but until then...

Without further ado, let's get this month in review started.

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Friday, August 28, 2015

About the Book:
Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Blogger ǀ Goodreads ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Fairytale
Rating: 4 out of 5

Fairytale re-telling’s, re-imaginings or re-makes (however you coin the popular reemergence of classic fairytales), no matter where they fit, I love them all. Or most of them. I’m really conflicted about this novel. Before I get into the specifics of that, let’s talk a little overview. The story follows a young Seamstress who cannot remember Before. Her life is a blank, she is Nothing… but then there is the young and handsome Shoemaker. What’s his story? Who is he? A spark begins to grow in Pin, and with a daring escape plan, she and the Shoemaker scale the thorn covered wall to freedom. But life outside the fortress is anything but pleasant, and really, all Pin has exchanged is one servitude for another.

Much of this book is dazzlingly imagined with a touch of macabre. There are unique elements aplenty and that’s what makes the story reign as a boldly inspired re-telling. Broken into three parts, it’d be fair to say, the reading of this got off to a slow start. I had to kind of push myself to keep reading, figuring it’d be fair to give the novel a fair chance. And I’m glad I did. The first part did nothing to convince of the legitimacy of what was to come. But once part two rolled in and more familiar markers took shape, I really began to like this story – and even before that, once Pin had more interaction with the Shoemaker, things picked up.  

The middle act sets up the more traditional elements of the book with a stepmother and stepsisters, though not everything is the same. Shifting between Pin’s first-person narrative and the Shoemaker’s third person perspective, it’s clear early on this isn’t going to follow familiar icons of the story, particularly where the romance is concerned. A smidgeon of a love triangle works its way onto the pages, but nothing bucks the obvious, which is kind of nice. As far as the love story goes, I wasn’t all that convinced. It’s more “instant love,” particularly on the part of the male character whereas Pin has limitations on her feelings, though why I cannot say. I think my biggest gripe (silly as it may be) with the story are the characters names. The meaning and intention for this is clear, but still, reading a book in which the lead hero is called “Shoe” through 400-some pages was a bit… silly and as such, made it difficult to take these characters too seriously.  

Lest anyone think otherwise, there are some unusual cues that play out exactly as I’d imagine the author wanted. I cannot say too much because of spoilers, but I thought the “bigger world” picture was insanely clever and pitting the Godmother in the villainess role was beyond brilliant (saying this shouldn’t be a spoiler since it’s in the synopsis). Though it has merits, something is holding me back from declaring this a favorite. It’s a conundrum because I do admire the qualifiers that do make this such a unique story, but then flipping the page, there were a few too many annoyances (insta-love – that to me, wasn’t “instant chemistry,” it was meant to be love; the characters names) to endear the twists and turns. It’s disappointing because I so wanted to like this. The tagline alone intrigues in ways other fairytales do not. Being contrary, I will say, I did enjoy my time in this world, particularly in Pin’s world. Mostly this was because her portions were most interesting. There’s some sass and of course, a heroine who isn’t afraid of fighting. If you like re-imagined classics or Sarah’s writing, Ash and Bramble will be an inspired, unique novel you’ll not wish to miss.  

Synopsis: When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight. - Goodreads

Coming Next from: An untitled novel coming from HarpterTeen, fall 2016.
Sincere thanks to the publisher, HarperTeen for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

15 Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies to Watch

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A long while back (February if I'm not mistaken), I put together a list on Silver Petticoat of 15 Hallmark Channel films that were among my favorites. This week I had the chance to talk about more of Hallmark's greatness through some of their films in the Hallmark Hall of Fame line. Fifteen is, perhaps, a slim number when considering the titles amassed in the collection, but among them is something for everyone. There's romantic dramas; true stories; costume dramas and good old-fashioned entertainment, all of which lends its focus on inspiration and wholesome storytelling.

I shared some of the films I've enjoyed, for a multitude of reasons. Since I am not getting my blogging act together this week, sharing this seemed a good idea. (Plus, I don't mind taking opportunity to talk about Hallmark productions twice.) Should you like to see the list in full, you can find it down below.

Fifteen Hallmark Hall of Fame Films to Watch

In addition to their more commercial Hallmark Channel principal (an entity that has tripled in the few years – I’ve followed its growth), the Hallmark brand first began producing films (some sixty plus years ago) under the “Hall of Fame” branding. In fact, way back on a December’s eve in 1951, their very first film aired, which happened to be an opera. Those films once upon a time found a home on CBS channels before jumping to ABC for a brief stint and now, as of 2014, they too are housed under the Hallmark Channel umbrella. In those years, they have produced beautiful originals based on true stories or re-tooled classics for the 21st century, all colorfully brought alive by some amazing talent. In addition to that, they’ve stacked up 81 Emmy Awards and strive to present “original films that entertain, enlighten and inspire.” Having seen many of their productions, I can attest to the truth of this statement. Continue Reading →

Which Hallmark Hall of Fame dramas are among your favorites?

Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

About the Book:
Author(s): Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink (an Imprint of HarperCollins)
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Doon, 3
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Contemporary Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 
Building an impressive fan base full of readers fully invested in these characters lives, this series has become one of the more popular YA lit re-telling set of novels currently relevant to today’s reader. Its second novel, Destined for Doon, left its fans scrambling for answers and adding Shades of Doon to their most anticipated lists. Now, the third book is nearly here and fans are about to have the answers they longed for. The adventure continues as Veronica recovers from her brush with death and the mysterious circumstances that put her in that perilous situation. With her bestie, Mackenna, by her side, Vee is ready to face anything… except being thrust back to the modern world. Doon is home for her and leaving behind her people, her kingdom… and the man she loves is an impossible possibility neither Vee or Kenna are prepared to ponder.  

Mixing two worlds into one unique package takes some skill to co-mingle. Add in the duel authors and two point-of-views shifting between two heroines and you have a story that might not work well. Fortunately, for the reader, that worry is all for naught. Intertwining all of these shifting pieces is in the skilled hands of two great authors. Cary and Lorie deftly and if I’m being honest, kind of wickedly (those cliffhangers… twists… and such *wink*), unravel this journey over the course of what will be four novels to complete the series. This means, there is the dreaded, inevitable cliffhanger leaving us gasping. Without further ado, let me elaborate on some of the reactions you may have while reading and upon finishing this.
“Wait… how did [insert name] get away unscathed?”
“Um, wait a minute… did [insert unnamed character] really just [insert spoiler happening]?"
*goes back to re-read*
"Did that just happen? Please, say noooo!”
Yep, those are just some of the reactions you might have upon closing the last page.  

The final two-five chapters are riddled with breath-catching suspense and constant danger for our characters. Though the excitement levels might get your pulses racing, I think the real appeal of this series for me, is the friendship. It’s rare to read a series like this that tells two best friends story in tandem. It’s really their friendship that keeps the story moving along. Yes, there is romance which probably keeps the swooning pulsing for most readers, but for me, it’s the adventure these two girls undertake. It’s their conflicted feelings about “home,” and what it means to feel safe and loved. This novel explores some deeper, more poignant emotions because of Vee and Kenna’s return to their world stateside, and I loved that. There’s more clarity to every decision and thought process they are a part of. Experiencing aspects of their lives is likely to be an emotional whirlwind.  

If you’re looking for more than an emotional up and down novel with plenty of adventure, rest assured there is romance by the bucketful. The girl’s both have a fella in Doon and those men are quite the catches. They are fierce, passionate and over-protective Scots, who aren’t about to let anything corrupt their ladies. They’d sooner risk life and limb than let anything wicked destruct the girls or Doon. Speaking of, there is plenty of that going on too! Lots of evil schemes keep the Doonians and Destined on their toes. If you like time-travelling YA lit or books geared towards teens in general, this might be a series to look into. Loosely inspired by the musical Brigadoon (for those who don’t know), within these pages lies a story pattered out of a classic story and molded into something unique. Witchery, swoony fellas and adventure are what you'll discover. Vee and Kenna may be nearing the end of their journey, but they have at least one hard-fought battle to come. Whether or not everyone will come out unscathed, remains an experience we are invited to join September of 2016.    

Synopsis: After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Reid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives.

Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers rush to their rescue, the girls' situation turns from nightmare to modern-day fairy tale. But their happiness could be short lived: unbeknownst to them, someone in their closest circle is aiding the witch of Doon in her bid to destroy the kingdom once and for all. - Goodreads 

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

Five Female Characters

Friday, August 21, 2015

Earlier this month, Sarah tagged me with the "5 Female Characters" tag. Thank you so much, Sarah. What a fun tag and I appreciate the shout-out. I'm only just now getting around to putting said tag together in spite of the well-meaning intention to do it early on in August. Alas, here we are nearing the end of August and nothing happened. Coupled with the fact that I always thought this looked fun, it's Friday (a.k.a., the best day of the week) and it seemed an excellent day to finally share some answers while, hopefully featuring some amazing characters.

I am omitting the last one because I had a tough enough time coming up with an answer to the second prompt. Hence, I figure I can totally skip one for the challenge... plus I did technically squeeze five women on this list (not to mention a sixth if you count the "featured" photo). Partially because there are an insane number of female characters I'd like to call friend and secondly, well, you'll understand the "why" when you get to the lady in the number four space.

Here are the rules.


1.) List 5 of your favorite female characters (book or screen).
2.) Tagging other people is optional
3.) If you are tagged link back to the person that tagged you.
4.) Link back to the person tagging you
Choose one character from each category:
1.) Protagonist
2.) Villain
3.) Superhero
4.) That I would want to be friends with
5.) That I wish had better development

Let's begin.

Demelza from Poldark
Love should conquer all, even if it requires a little help.”
I've only just had the pleasure of meeting Demelza, but she's amazing. At least, on screen. Not only do I think actress, Eleanor Thomilson, portrays her beautifully, she's a strong character. Demelza grows into so much more than her first impression (which isn't bad). Tirelessly, she works to improve herself given her changed circumstances and in turn she earns the pure love of a man she feel for long before he realized her potential. Her virtue, wise counsel and patience with the man she loves shouldn't be underestimated. Amazing doesn't adequetly describe this lady as seen in PBS' recent series.
My interest in the book has been piqued, so here's hoping I like her as well in the novel.
TV REVIEW: Poldark (2015)

Lauren Reed from ABC's Alias
I don't know about you, but I can't work to the best of my abilities while wondering whether or not I'm being polite enough to my husband's ex-girlfriend.”
Picking a villain was near impossible. Why I don't know. I simply couldn't conjure a villainess who was really evil. I mean I thought of Lydia Bennet, but ditzy (and even, at times, mean) as she is, she didn't fit the profile. Then I thought of Angelina's Maleficent, who would have fit, but her redemption is so honest and complete, she too was out of the question.
Then, randomly I was reminded of Lauren Reed. She of course, was Vaughn's evil wife from ABC's Alias. The woman's nasty plots and attempts to destroy those who are happy in spite of her knows no bounds. I'm surprised her climatic ending stayed "dead" as it were. Alias was not known for it's finality. 
Rogue from Marvel Comics X-Men series
The first boy I ever kissed ended up in a coma for three weeks. I can still feel him inside my head. It's the same with you.”
Picking a female superhero was another challenge. I adore Black Widow and while not technically superheroes, I really like the characters some of the male superheroes wind up falling for. I also suspect Supergirl is going to quickly become a favorite female superhero, but since I've not met her, I resisted.
Rogue (or Marie) is a female superhero who seems to be overlooked. I only know her from the film series, but what I've discovered, I really have enjoyed getting to know her. Her emotional interest pulls the viewer in far more than some of her counterparts. Unable to connect to others through touch, she tends to keep pieces of herself buried, which is perhaps why she looks up to Logan. Their introduction came away from everything she knew and in a sense, this allowed her to wipe clean the slate of her past and possibly have a "normal" future with someone like her. Or so she hoped.

Anna Oliphant from Anna and the French Kiss
Because I was right. For the two of us, home isn't a place. It's a person”
Felicity Smoak from Arrow
Guess what I majored in? Hint - Not the secretarial arts.  
If I took the time, I could sit here for hours and list characters whom I'd like to be friends with. As it happens, Anna immediately came to mind because I only recently finished Stephanie Perkins book. Anna's a wonderful female lead. She's a typical albeit mature teen who has complexities regarding her family (especially her father) and seems like she'd be a fun person to "hang out" with. Plus, she's an administrator of a film review site. 'Nuff said.
*Photo: A blog fan-casted Anna as played by Melissa Benoist, and I liked the idea, so I went with Melissa portraying Anna.
Naturally, leaving Felicity Smoak off of any character list is near impossible. I cannot seem to leave her off of anything I may write that offers opportunity to include her. But then, you all know why I adore her. So, we'll stop there.
That's my thorwn together list of "five female characters."
Who are your love-to-hate villainesses? What about most beloved protagonists?
Have any fictional women you think would be your kindred spirit?
Leave any of your thoughts, opinions or randomness below.
If you comment, consider yourself tagged - and if you join in, be sure to return with your link.
Happy Friday, friends.

The Longest Ride (2015) - Multi Generational Story of Two Extraordinary Love Stories

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Riddled with clichés or not, I still manage to eventually see the latest Nicholas Sparks productions. He had two in theaters this year alone, this is the first I’ve seen. That’s for two reasons, one being I actually read the book on which this is based. Without further ado, it’s time to find out how this one stacked up against some of my prior Sparks favorites.  

One year ago, Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) nearly died. As a professional bull rider it’s not if you get hurt, it’s when. Tonight is his first night back on the rodeo scene and the stress of returning to the place he nearly died gets to him. But it’s on this night that he meets her...
Sophia (Britt Robertson) is a college senior whose sole goal is to graduate and jet off to New York for the promise of the prestigious job that awaits her. The only reason the New Jersey native is in North Carolina is thanks to her scholarship. But meeting Luke at the rodeo she was talked into attending might change things… especially after a spontaneous date. Then on their way back to Sophia’s dorm, the pair rescue an elderly man (Alan Alda) whose car broke through a guardrail and is about to burst into flames. Ira Levinson’s integration into Sophia’s life changes everything…  

This is the one Sparks production I don’t necessarily like better than the novel. The film gets a lot right, but it also failed in one way (early on) that might not be the best mistake to make. Most of the cast is amazing! I liked Scott as Luke, and of course, his good looks match the image his character is supposed to have sway to. The rest of the cast is really quite well cast as well including Jack Hutton and Oona Chaplin (The Crimson Field) stepping into the shoes of the 1940’s love story we follow.  But, I wasn’t 100% sold on Britt Robertson as the leading lady. Early on, she seems immature, whereas I never felt that in Book Sophia. As the film progresses, I liked her better and felt she kind of eased into the role, which is nice. Not to be forgotten, we also get a glimpse of what Melissa Benoist can do. She’s CBS’ new Supergirl of course.  

As a love story, the novel also has an advantage in telling Luke and Sophia’s story. Their romance felt more “organic” and the pace was honest and true to who the characters were. Meaning, neither Luke nor Sophia were particularly irresponsible people, so how their story progressed was genuine, sweet and believable. The film rushes them a smidgeon. Considering its time constraints, this is understandable just not always respected. The greatest improvement is Ira’s entrance into Sophia’s life. His story is much improved on screen. Book Ira remembered everything while isolated on the side of the road, Movie Ira was able to spend time with people, not just his memories and the unpacking of his love story is much prettier because of this. The bond he has with Sophia is more what I anticipated of the book, so seeing someone take this tract (in scripting) with Ira’s story makes all the difference (especially where his pursuit of Ruth is concerned; it’s even sweeter). The shifting timelines and parallel stories work in perfect synchronization instead of against each other as a result of this.  

Perhaps not my favorite adaptation of this NYT Best-selling author’s box office pictures, The Longest Ride was still enjoyable. The script softens Luke’s troubled home life, which is a pleasant change though it also fails to explain the driving reasons behind his pursuit of a career that could kill him, plus omits another pretty big arc from the novel. Scenery is gorgeous and the romance of the film as a whole is beautiful. Journeying through the lives of these characters shows us a lot of swoon-y moments and sweet encounters in turn. Flaws or no, I still liked this romantic drama. It’s quieter than I remember most of the prior Sparks adaptations, with an end result of a slow-moving story. I’ll certainly be re-watching this in time and found much “good” in its letter to the interested viewer. If you like these adaptations, I’d recommend you check it out. Sure, you’re likely to find faults – similar or differing from mine, but as an adaptation, overall, I think it ranks better than my impression of the novel. Considering the quibbles I had with the book, this is enough for me to have enjoyed seeing The Longest Ride quite a lot. Imperfect though it is, that’s part of what makes the story “real.”

(Content: there are two sex scenes, both feature removal of clothing and side nudity – the first involves the pair undressing and a shower. We see a full back shot of male nudity. There’s very little profanity, and what there is, is more of the garden variety. The film is rated PG13.)

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks - Romance at the Rodeo

About the Book:
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: Bought
Publication Date: 2013 (Re-issue in 2014)
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Secular Fiction
Rating: ★★★ 1/2 

Reading the books that inspired Nicholas Sparks’ film adaptations has become something of a habit. Those being, The Lucky One, Safe Haven and now, The Longest Ride. This book starts out slow, plodding through decades of memories and feels as if it’s going nowhere. Fortunately, of the two parallel stories, one works where the other kind of fails. The story is about a college student named Sophia, whose life is just starting to feel normal again after she broke off a bad relationship. On a whim, she and her best friend attend a rodeo, where Sophia meets Luke. Broken in more ways than one, Luke’s recent past is riddled with physical and emotional scars. But he’s not about to give up on winning his current rodeo circuit run, in hopes of helping his mother out of financial difficulties – and no matter the risk to him. These two lives intertwine with that of Ira, an older gentleman stranded on the side of the road following an accident. During his isolation, Ira recounts his own life, remembering his years fighting in WWII and the wife he cannot let go of.  

This is one of those novels I really anticipated enjoying. I walked away with a half good, half so-so reaction. What seemed “off” to me were the parallel love stories. Taking place decades apart from each other, it wasn’t so much the people in the stories as it was the method in which the stories expose the romance. I’m sure, that by having Ira remember his life not to mention, using this as a tool to keep him alive, the story was meant to be nostalgic and sweet. But, I never warmed to this particular ploy. Shifting between Ira’s “present” (which would include reminiscing with his wife) to his past made for more confusion than distinct first-person narrative, and his passages were long. Had Ira’s story followed more in line with the contrasting story of Luke and Sophia’s (i.e., unfolding in “real time”), I’ve no doubt I’d have found it charming. Fortunately, there is another story.  

Ah, Luke and Sophia. I really (really) liked their story. Neither character was who I expected to find within these pages. Given my track record with Sparks’ novels, I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but discovering these characters wasn’t exactly it. Sophia’s low-key, generous personality is sure to resonate with many a reader. I know she did with me. She’s a sensible girl who “feels” like she could be your best friend. Then there’s Luke. I think I let the trailer promotion for this (speaking of the recent film adaptation, which I have not yet seen at this writing), sway me about his character. He’s really much more complex and serious than the trailer depicts him. Spending time with the two of them was definitely the highlight of this book. I rushed through the "Ira portions" (for me, that usually translates into a “turtle speed rush”) in order to return to the cover couple's lives. We get perspectives from both Luke and Sophia, though thank goodness, it’s not first-person.  

FILM REVIEW | The Longest Ride (2015)

What works best for this story is the more “wholesome” narrative it presents. Like I’ve already said, it wasn’t what I anticipated and that’s part of its charm. The burgeoning relationship between Luke and Sophia is neither rushed nor does it plod along. It moves at the perfect pace, and between them, everything fell nicely into place. Their relationship is what will, inevitably endear the film (well, that and the cast, which doesn’t look too bad at all, especially a certain leading man *wink*). Full of could-have-beens, struggles and an ultimatum, this isn’t a book that’s likely to make its reader cry. Or it didn’t me. The “pull” of emotions just wasn’t there or the same as with some stories, but I did like it. Quite a lot.  

For now, Safe Haven retains its favorite status of my Nicholas Sparks so-far reads, but I’m fully prepared to fall in love with this story in a different way, thanks to its film adaptation. ♥

Synopsis: In the tradition of his beloved first novel, The Notebook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the remarkable story of two couples whose lives intersect in profound and surprising ways.

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together. A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior's life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death - loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he's keeping doesn't destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

Coming Next from Nicholas Sparks: Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot.  With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he's determined to walk a straight line.  To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life.  Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.
Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success: with a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record.  And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her home town and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rainswept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria's lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves.  As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria's past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria's life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways.  Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they've begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour? -, October 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Seeing all of the "big" blockbusters in theaters doesn't usually happen for me. It's ironic then, that the end-of-summer blockbuster-hopeful I did go to see sadly, bombed at the box office. But, this past Saturday, I went out, excited to see the re-make of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 99% of the film exceeded my anticipation. Expectations for this might have wished to gather the female audience and I don't know that it did. Instead it probably piqued the interest of fans who watched the original show. But, I also think the masses might have a preconceived notion of the film that isn't true.

Though it does perhaps run a smidgeon overlong, the story never gets tangled up in too many of the "details" or become boring. Instead, the action and smarts (great dialogue) are balanced well, without either one overpowering the other. If you like spy thrillers or the cast (like moi *wink*), then this might be an entertaining last-ditch effort to hang onto summer.

The review is published on Silver Petticoat, so if you wish to know more specifics, you can find my thoughts in full over there. Enjoy!

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Smart and Stylish

Breathing new life into stories that originated in the age of classic television has become a familiar sight at the box office. We’ve seen Get Smart try its unique brand of slapstick humor, and the amped up sexy remake of the 70s favorite Charlie’s Angels collected a squeal. On the small screen, failures to reboot Charlie’s Angels (ABC) are more the norm than the rare success of CBS’ Hawaii Five-0. The latest to add its name to these lists is the cold-war spy caper The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Reports tell a story of disappointing numbers for the smart and stylish piece of escapism. Unfortunately, the film might not have gathered its intended audience. Read the review in full →

FILM REVIEW: Man of Steel (2013)

(Content: There are two sensual scenes. One involves female back and side nudity before it cuts away, the second is played more for "laughs." Someone listens to a sexual encounter from another room [panting, moaning, etc.]; Solo is portrayed as a womanizer, and sleeps with two different women in the film [the aforementioned scenes]. There is a bit of profanity, but nothing awful [mostly the standard, h*ll, d*mn, etc.]. Bad guys die, one of who winds up being electrocuted to death and eventually the current even starts a fire. Nothing is ever graphically depicted. The film is rated PG13.)
Have you seen The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? What'd you think?

Top Eleven Auto-buy Authors

Monday, August 17, 2015

There are some authors I trust beyond needing to "know" more about their latest literary tome. Unless they begin writing about the zombie apocalypse, chances are, I'm in for whatever they write - even under genre change circumstances. These are the authors whose novels I will preorder as well. Why? Because a.) their work is amazing (in all of its varying forms whether it be the perfect blend of rom-com bliss or serious thrills in the suspense category) and b.) if it's possible, I like to support favorite authors.

The Crimson Field - British Heroes Inspire Courage & Truth

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Crimson Field (2014) - British Heroes Inspire Courage & Truth

Clearly British productions are my Kryptonite. If you were to do a search of the ‘BBC’ or ‘British’ tags here, I’d wager you’d come away with several posts filed under either one of those tags. The Crimson Field, as is true of anything, won’t be for everyone, but I can safely and without reservation say, it's one of my most favorite British productions to date. The details of which I will attempt to put into some semblance of order down below. 

Katherine Trevelyan (Oona Chaplin) knows scandal. Her painful and carefully concealed past can attest to this. Using her training, she volunteers as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. "Kitty" runs away to lose herself when she’s posted to a British field hospital in France. Her fellow volunteers avoid her because of her outspoken detachment, putting Kitty  in a precarious position. Rosalie (Marianne Oldham) is among the wealthy in society, but by now, is considered an “old maid.” An innocent often offended by the tasks she has to undertake in her new role, she feels like a “throwaway” when her place in society should be about making a home as a wife. Then there is young and sweet Flora (Alice St. Clair). Flora isn’t the best hand at some of the things she’s tasked with, but she makes up for it with enthusiasm and kindness.  

Grace Carter (Hermione Norris) is the Matron who watches them all. Earning the promotion of matron under the authority of Lt. Colonel Roland Brett (Kevin Doyle), Grace didn’t anticipate this new job. Instead it was assumed the title would go to Sister Quayle (Kerry Fox). Tough but fair, Grace sets about running the best hospital she can. Meanwhile, arriving late to her post is nurse, Sister Joan Livesey (Suranne Jones). Harboring a closely guarded secret of her own, Joan tries to befriend Rosalie by teaching her some of the harsher realities of nursing, only to have her secret discovered.

As wounded men rotate in and out of their hospital on the shores of Northern France, the British Doctors and nurses strive to provide the best care… all while becoming entangled in emotional relationships.  

From the earliest moments of the first frame, I was nearly certain this production was going to surpass some of the other productions this could be compared to. The first five-ten minutes along intrigued in ways other period dramas have not. It’s scene of quiet contemplation filmed at a ship’s railing before we’re thrust into the busyness of the ship's docking was the right introduction. Add in the events that follow (one of the most interesting albeit underrated first meetings ever, methinks) and you have the makings of a classic period drama. What this drama deserves is a viewer to give it 15-20 minutes, and if in those moments, you are not hooked, then Crimson Field is likely not for you. I knew in those opening scenes, this was the my kind of drama and past that, things only improve.

Instead of being a hindrance, this production understands how to use the tragic setting of war to its advantage. There isn’t a moment wasted on things unimportant (in my opinion), nonetheless the scripters (the creator and writer is Sarah Phelps, the pen behind the 2011 miniseries Great Expectations) are able to offer their audience some quiet reflective moments and give us some lighthearted scenes, especially where Flora is concerned. Her sunny personality and willingness to work hard is admirable. Her fellow volunteers are certainly more jaded than she. Rosalie is the “pure” girl who traditionally sticks to her idea of a moral code. Then there is Kitty, whose past is anything but snowy clean. The way her story is hinted at is quite wonderful. The slow build of hint dropping keeps us guessing, thinking the worst of her, only to discover perhaps there is more to our prejudged assumptions. I really liked Kitty irrespective of her “cold” personality and pushback attitude. She lets no one in, and is remarkably good at pegging who the other person is.

Not to be forgotten, I’ve not really mentioned the guys! An unforgiveable oversight on my part considering they are pretty great. Aside from the Lt. Col. who is in charge of operations, there are two Captains causing all sorts of chaos at the hospital, who also happen to be doctors. The first is the full-of-himself flirt, Miles (played by Alex Wyndham), who really is a gentleman; the other is the quieter, more contained, Tom (played by Richard Rankin). I confess to liking Miles more than perhaps his character is meant to be liked; I loved his pursuit of Kitty (not in the way you might imagine). Tom's relationship with one of the girls was swoon-y. That’s all I’m sayin’. In keeping with trying to not spoil you all, I’ll keep my fangirling over the guys of Crimson Field to a minimum.

Interestingly enough, as I put together this write-up, I read some message board chatter and was surprised by the dislike for this show. Ironically, I think it’s my favorite war drama of this genre. I’ve seen a few like this, but it's this one easily that wins. The balance of the effects of war and character drama is seamless. The acting is amazing – particularly one budding romance that is just… ahhh, so fabulously portrayed (that slow build never looked sweeter). We got to see Mosley (Downton Abbey’s Kevin Doyle) in something 100% different, and Johdi May (Daniel Deronda) guests in one episode.
Sadly, cancellation is the word for this one. (Though fans did rally to see a different network pick it up.) As a swan song Crimson Field’s concluding episode is not a bad way to end. There are some unanswered questions, and naturally, we’d like to see more confirmation our favorite characters are going to be alright, but it’s a decent ending. The greatest complaint is simply that the episode ends too abruptly, whereas the rest of the series was more polished. There’s more depth to the characters as the series finale draws to its close and we admire them all the more for learning about their pasts. Fans of Downton Abbey (it’s roughly set in the same time frame circa season one) will be delighted by this. But don’t take my word for it, watch episode one and see what you think.

Have you seen The Crimson Field? Share your thoughts – good or bad, down below.  

(Content: episode three shows a dead male corpse, frontal nudity in full [albeit briefly]; episode four shows multiple shots of a nude male, backside only. There are some “graphic” injuries glimpsed as the hospital accepts new patients though thankfully, nothing is every overly disturbing. We learn a woman may have had an extra-marital affair; a man attempts to force himself on a woman, she escapes. There are three – five uses of the f-word over the entire 6-episdode series.)

Joanne Bischof's To Get to You: Review

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Occasionally, a reviewer gets to feature something they honestly have no or very little quibble with. Today is one such day for me. Thanks to the author, I had a chance to read her novel, To Get to You. Joanne Bischof is a lovely person and talented author, who, with this novel, is debuting (basically) in two new genres: contemporary and young adult. My review is actually on Silver Petticoat, but below you can read a snippet and visit the site for the full review should you like. Below is that review and all of the relevant details of the book (purchase links, Goodreads page, etc.).

About the Book:

Publisher: Mason Jar Books (Independently Published)
Source: Author Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ Goodreads
Series: Wild Air, 1
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary YA/Teen
Rating:  4.5 out of 5
ARC Review: To Get to You - An Indie Novel with Heart about Second Chances

A first for author Joanne Bischof, her newest release not only shifts its setting (we begin the adventure in California), it also moves her comfort zone forward several decades to the contemporary age. Her debut contemporary novel also marks her first real foray into young adult fiction. With all of the changes she’s made to her publishing platform (she’s now among the Indie authors) and the subtle shift in styles, following her journey has been one adventure after another, and her latest novel, is quite literally, just that: an adventure. Read the review in Full →

*Sincere thanks to author, Joanne Bischof for providing a complimentary e-copy of this book for the purpose of reading – I chose to review it.

Book Review: This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Next, before we get to the awesome details of the book, let's talk about those boring rules.

The giveaway(s) is open to all readers. But if you are outside the U.S., by entering you're agreeing to accept a gifted Kindle version of the book; U.S. readers will have the option of choosing Kindle or paperback. I do 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 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 - there have been a few people 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! Winner(s) will have 48 hours to respond to the email notification before another winner is randomly chosen.

To be entered in the giveaway, just enter as much or as little as you like into the Rafflecopter widget, which you'll find down below. (Note: this giveaway is running for an extended period of time since the novel doesn't release 'til the end of August.)

To Get To You SynopsisTo get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

A story of new beginnings and second chances.
- Goodreads

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Best of luck, readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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