Month in Review: September 2015

Hello, readers. These month in review always sneak up on me. September has been a particularly busy month for me and generally, quiet for the blogging world. Busyness certainly kept me from some of my favorite pursuits this month. (One such thing was reading!)

Top Ten Tuesday ǀ Watchalikes

Hello, fellow Top Ten Tuesday participants and readers. Today is again another Tuesday – the last of the month (what!?) and with that comes a new Top Ten Tuesday meme. I liked the idea of today’s prompt, but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about putting it together. Why? Because I happen to be horrible with these kind of topics: recommending books to pair with others. The idea is awesome, but for one reason or another I don’t seem to do well with such topics. Yet here we are. 

The Intern (2015) - Anne Hathaway Plays Boss in Workplace Comedy

On Saturday, I spent the gorgeous day doing a bit of shopping (my mother I and I indulged in some fall clothes shopping and fed our bead-crazy obsession for our jewelry) and then later, went and saw Nancy Meyers latest, The Intern. My favorite Nancy Meyers film has long been The Holiday, but having now seen this - which stars Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, I do believe its title might be threatened. Why? Because The Intern is the kind of comedy (said comedic happenings are often unexpected as well, which is what makes them dazzle) that we often crave not to mention it has its share of heart-tugging moments.

The cast is brilliant, the writing great and the scene-stealer a pint-sized version of Anne Hathaway's character. But enough chit-chat. I had the chance to review this one on Silver Petticoat and that review went live today. It you'd like to read more about the movie or specific thoughts I walked away with, you can read it via the links down below.

The Intern – Workplace Comedy with Class and Charm

It has been a while since I saw Anne Hathaway in anything, but when I saw the trailer for this, the latest effort from director and writer Nancy Meyers, I instantly knew seeing The Intern was a must. Its promotional material promised a kind of return to one of my favorite roles for Anne, only this time the situation was reversed (she plays the boss hiring interns). With a talented cast (among them there is an alarming amount of nominations and prestigious wins), a popular screenwriter and the bubblegum “feel-good” quality of good comedy, this one had the promise to be a terrific comedy. Continue Reading on Silver Petticoat Review →

(Content: the film is rated PG13 for some profanity [including one use of the F-word] and sexual related humor.)

Hello, It's Me (2015)

Ever since her days as Catherine Marshall’s plucky heroine, Christy Huddlston (in CBS’ short-lived Christy – a show that was not only a period drama, it was also one of the rare things on television my parents were okay with me watching), I’ve liked Kellie Martin as an actress. She’s since gone on to star in a hit medical drama and other TV projects, but her latest “home” seems to be Hallmark. Tonight’s premiere marks her latest role on the family-orientated network and is hopefully is a preview of more to come. 

Blindspot: Episode 1, Pilot (2015)

Every new pilot season, I eagerly read up on all the new shows premiering on television and decide which sound most intriguing as it is those break from habit (DVD binge-watching all the way) and buy the pilot episode. This year, the list may be shorter, but there were still a few that I was interested in and excitedly awaited their entrance into the wonderful world of television. NBC’s latest taunt thriller, Blindspot, was one of them. Below I shall attempt to share my thoughts on the pilot with some semblance of order. 

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

 About the Book:
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Bought
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Blogger ǀ Goodreads ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Embassy Row, 1
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 
ǀ ǀ ǀ Review ǀ ǀ ǀ
Much to my shame, I’ve never read a novel by best-selling author Ally Carter. I’d seen her novels frequently in the blogosphere and thought each sounded exactly my kind of book because a.) who doesn’t like a good heist or spy story and b.) fast-paced, easy contemporary reads are exactly my speed. Alas two series later, I’d never cracked open a  single page of her novels despite collecting them here and there. This all changed this summer when I finally picked up her latest release. From what I understand, this novel is a bit different for Ally yet somehow all the same.  

It’s set on Embassy Row and centers on Grace, a young lady who is still suffering from the aftereffects of her mother’s death. With her father deployed overseas and her brother entering military training, Grace is left to her own devices in the states, but is eventually sent to live with her American ambassador grandfather on Embassy Row. Bringing with her are Grace’s beliefs that her mother didn’t die an accidental death, no Grace insists she was murdered. This causes strain on her relationship with her grandfather and puts her new friendships in a precarious position. Determined to be proven correct even if it means she must uncover the truth on her own, Grace pursues her suspicions… no matter the cost.  

I found myself really enjoying this novel. It’s a relatively short book, which made it the perfect length for me to binge-read. The plot is quite good and I thought Grace was one of the more unique heroines I’d had met. She isn’t the typical “perfect” ideal. Instead she has emotional baggage that her family tries to “help” disappear by sending her to doctors and counseling, who in turn ply her with medications. The tagline is in Grace’s voice suggesting she’s not crazy, and essentially that omission is what her family believes she suffers from being. The first-person narrative allows us to fully understand Grace’s feelings and her memories of the events surrounding her mother’s death. Among the more light-hearted activities, this creates an emotional story and presents a side of Grace she doesn’t allow many to see. Speaking to the former themes, I adored Grace’s devil-may-care persona. It’s really the front she puts on when she’s in the company of others. And it’s this that probably drives her daredevil characteristics.  

Anyone looking for a romance will find it MIA in this novel. Instead, if anything, it’s more a tease of possibilities. I think I’ve decided on what I believe will be a definite two-story romance, but a part of me gets a feeling any romantic tension that develops could bloom into a kind of love triangle. I suspect that isn’t where the trend is leading, but there is a hint of something that makes the niggling possibility hard to ignore. Though they aren’t as prominent because of Grace’s fixation, I really like the group that comes together to form, who I can only assume will be “the gang” in future novels. I’m excited to see where the story takes them and if we have opportunity to get to know them all better.  

The setting is also abnormally unique. I’ve not read a novel set in this kind of atmosphere (though ironically, one of my past WIP’s had a partial feature that included an embassy kid), which made the locale sort of “exotic,” if you will. Most books are quick to feature a small town, which is all well and good, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it for those of us looking for an armchair adventure that defines the term beyond that of simple, albeit good living. If you like YA literature, All Fall Down is an excellent one to pick up. It’s a pleasant kind of read that is sure to entertain anyone who likes a mixture of lighthearted repertoire and emotional chaos. January cannot arrive soon enough when we get to again travel to Embassy Row and see what Grace and Co. are up to next. 

Coming Next from Ally Carter: Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions--from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace's past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row. - Goodreads, January 2016

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) - Sequel Continues Random Sing-Offs and Friendship Hilarity

Some three years ago, there was a film about acapella singing that opened to rave reviews. Starting a young, relative unknown cast and putting its world in the college scene of collegiate, competitive singing, Universal piggybacked off that success and followed up with a sequel.  

FILM REVIEW | Pitch Perfect (2012) - Hilarious Comedy about Friendship Connected by Music

The Barden Bellas are still on top of the world, happily enjoying their national win. Then, everything comes to a halt during a performance at Lincoln Center. With the President in attendance. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has an, ahem, wardrobe malfunction that causes an outrage and bans them from the rest of their tour. The only thing they find a way around is their right to compete in an International Championship – an event the Americans never win and are, in fact, hated. Trouble is all of the girls are handling the news of their disqualification very differently.

Beca (Anna Kendrick) is happy for this reprieve. She doesn’t want her entire college career to be about singing. Instead she accepts an internship (without telling her friends) and neglects her commitment to them. Chloe (Brittany Snow) loses it, believing that her entire college life revolves around this group – after all, this is why she still hasn’t graduated. Then there is the new girl.

As a legacy, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) believes getting a spot on the Barden Bellas is her first task when she steps onto the campus. Her mother was a Bella and both women have been dreaming of this moment ever since Emily was a young girl. What Emily doesn’t know is the Bellas are also banned from new members.

Much as I adore these characters and the films they come to life in, I will say this upfront these movies aren’t for everyone. There’s a unique kind of humor they have going, plus, naturally the song covers they sing are of the secular variety, and subject to very few “rules.” Moving past that, it’s safe to say, this sequel lived up to my expectations and then some. I enjoyed everything about it from the return of the primary cast to the hilarious rapport they have as these characters. Returning to their world was acca-awesome (sorry, had to use one of their buzz words as a descriptor. It’s sort of a necessity when discussing these films).   

What is best about these films are the friendships. Throughout both films, there is a lot of typical “girl stuff” that crops up, and through it all, their friendships keep the story somehow “real” and entertaining to experience. This film does a nice job of incorporating all of the familiar faces, in spite of one now being alumni. The cast carries their characters well, and I love each of their unique personalities including Beca’s snarky rebel (though her reaction to their competition is... weird); Fat Amy’s easy-going, free-spirited personality, and even, Chloe’s hyper attitude about the Bellas – something she apparently picked up in the wake of Aubrey’s leaving. There was some talk that Anna Kendrick wasn’t the same in this film as she was in the first, and there are moments I felt that too. She sort of “checks out” in parts of the story, but for me, I wasn’t bothered because it’s too much fun even without her being always “in the zone” as it were.

Hard as I try not to, comparisons inevitably make it into the equation. And that’s what I feel like I’ve done in this review. Between the familiar faces and similar plot, there are a lot of similarities between the two scripts. As always, the music helps sell the story and creates some great moments that integrate with the music (everything from original music to a plethora of covers feature on the films track list). Helping to breathe some fresh life into the set-up is Hailee’s Emily. Emily is a sweet kid whose voice and talent not only spark something in the Bellas, but helps remind them who they are. Hailee is, of course, one of Hollywood’s most talented young stars and for my fellow young adult book nerds she was recently cast to star in Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love 

If you liked Pitch Perfect and didn’t mind its humor, you’re sure to enjoy this sequel. It was the perfect summer blockbuster to get out to the theater and see, and enjoy. It was also a perfect girl’s day out with my mom, sitting in an empty theater where we could giggle our way through catching up with these crazies. And believe me, I did just that. 

(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 purchase Pitch Perfect on DVD or own or rent digitally on Amazon Video. You can also purchase the Pitch Perfect trilogy on DVD.

(Rated PG13 for various sexual innuendoes including winking references to two people enjoying a careful relationship based solely on “hook ups.” Fat Amy’s blunder involves her pants spitting during a performance, which inspires some jokes. There is some minor [in comparison] profanity.)

Top Ten Tuesday ǀ Fall To-Be-Read

Ah, autumn! It may not technically be here according to the calendar (at this writing), but… it’s here just the same. If you’re anything like me, you’re itching to pull out your favorite fall accessories – hats, scarves and beanies, boots, and embrace the warmth of the season. Everything somehow seems richer during this season, doesn’t it? The colors, the spices, the scents… basically everything I love about the season. But enough about that. We’re here to talk about books.  

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series Three (2015)

Thanks to the persistence of fans, a third season of this divine series was produced chronicling more adventures with our favorite sassy sleuth.

Months and months of tip-toeing around a potential relationship and tonight, Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) is finally going on a proper date with Detective Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). Or that was the plan. But as is the norm in Miss Fisher’s colorful and fast-paced household, a man shows up on her doorstep, his presence forcing her to cancel her date with Jack. Assuming he’s been thrown over for a better prospect, Jack and Phryne are thrown together shortly thereafter when a magician’s assistant is murdered during a magic act… and with murder occupying their time; they have little time to contemplate Jack’s reaction to being thrown over. Though her mysterious male guest may not be at all who Jack thinks him to be – it turns out that Phryne’s philandering father has returned, looking for money and not at all reformed from his gambling propensities.  

Phryne’s loyal companion, Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) is encountering challenges of her own. As a devout Catholic, marrying anyone who isn’t of her faith is out of the question. This means her fiancé – Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), has to convert. Hugh’s family doesn’t think Dot is the right girl for him nor do they approve of his converting, which inspires tension. Gaps begin to form in Dot and Hugh’s relationship, including disappointment about a job promotion and an unexpected replacement for Hugh’s position just might turn Dot’s head. 

As is the custom for this Australian series, season three is the tops. I’m serious, I get a little giddy with the anticipation of the promise these writer’s tease us with. Not to mention, while watching this excitement ramps up simply because it’s that good. Each “season” is comprised of 8-9 episodes depending on whether or not we are fortunate enough to have a Christmas special. Short as this is in comparison to ordinary network television, like BBC’s Sherlock, if the shortened length and gaps between seasons produce this kind of quality, I can deal.  

Phryne and Co. encounter everything from Italian family feuds and tennis to spiders (which unlocks Phryne’s fear) and a murder that occurs a little too close to home. Each story is brilliantly written to screen (speaking solely on the TV adaptation as I’ve never read the novels by Kerry Greenwood on which this is based) and every story seems to be better than the last. Progressively, the series has upped the playful intrigue of the tug-and-pull between Jack and our leading lady, which makes for some of the best flirty banter there is currently on TV. If nothing else, their chemistry will keep a smile on your face. We also fall under the spell of the sweet romance between Dot and Hugh. Dot’s the very definition of a lady, which makes for a nice alternative to Phyrne’s looser morals (though on the plus side, those see a decrease in season three, mostly in the latter half). Phryne’s entire household really is a riot. From her butler to the two cabbies she recruited, everyone is great in their own ways If there is one flaw in the characters this season, it’s the lack of appearance – or even mention, of Phryne’s ward, Jane. Seeing her integrated in the mysteries now and again is always a pleasure.

Appropriate gushing for this series could likely go on for another page or better, but then that’s not the most professional use of space. The banter, the characters and actors who portray them, the setting and interesting mysteries (including one that involves a hotel) are always classy. If you like costume dramas, the costuming is pretty and everything Essie dons drips with elegance. Those who like independent, strong female characters will also like this simply for the fact that Phryne doesn’t do anything she doesn’t wish to do. Those of us who having invested time and patience into the will-they-or-won’t-they potential between the leads get a reward (you’ll know what I mean when you see the squeal-inducing-fangirl moment) in the final moments of episode eight, which forays nicely into the rumored film that’s either in or about to go into production. A film that will take Phryne, and presumably her gang of crime-fighter friends to England. Changing the scenery just may be what is needed to push these lovebirds to finally admitting the truth. Plus, seeing them cavort in the prim and proper streets of 20s-era England sounds like a smashing good time.

(Content: Phryne engages in two brief flings – one of which is a renewal of a prior relationship. How far the flings go, we’re never sure, but we see kissing and in one scene, some clothing removal before the camera cuts away. There are some scenes of “gunplay.” Rating is suited to a PG13 rating.)

Cover Candy, Edition 29

It's been a while since I put one of these together. Lately I've seen some new pretties around the crazy space known as the Internet. The collection may be a bit sparse in number, but certainly not in content and design. There are a few listed below that I am positively thrilled to eventually get my hands on. Most of these you've likely already seen or perhaps they aren't among books or authors you care about, but if you do happen to spy a book and cover below that you like, comment down below with YOUR thoughts. You know, I want to gush or rant with you. *smile*

The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Expected July 2016


Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) - Beautiful and Quiet Remake of the Classic Story

 When a costume drama that was made in the 90s or before gets a makeover thanks to a new adaptation, I tend to sit up and take notice. That was the case with this Thomas Hardy classic. It had previously enjoyed two better-known adaptations (60s and later, the 90s), both of which I have seen, neither of which I was 100% thrilled with. With a leading British and Hollywood star cast in this remake and a trio of newcomers in the supporting cast, this promised to be a gem. Below I attempt to sort out some of my thoughts on what turned out to be a beautiful piece of cinema.  

Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) has never liked her name. Yet it is the name her parent’s gave her. A young woman who has no prospects, her parent’s long gone Bathsheba resides with an elderly aunt helping in the running of her farm. The neighboring famer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) takes a liking to the independent and quirky Miss Everdene, and with his farm slowly starting to prosper, he bumbles through a marriage proposal and his prospects to the woman he loves. Following this, changes visit everyone involved. Bathsheba inherits her uncle’s farm and comes into a small fortune, reversing the roles of her and Gabriel. Simultaneously, he loses everything when his entire sheep herd is wiped out.  

As life for Bathsheba begins to flourish and she relishes her new role as mistress of her own living and destiny, Gabriel walks into her life again. Only this time, it’s as a man in need of employment. Also entering her life is her neighbor, Mr. Boldwood (Michael Sheen), an older man immediately transfixed by his beautiful neighbor. But it’s the brash soldier Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge) who captures Bathsheba’s fancy. But it’s this newly formed attachment that may lead her down a path of destruction.  

From my experience with Hardy (limited to cinematic), he seems to prefer walking his characters down the tragic over giving them a wittier journey as Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell were known for. Instead he joins fellow male author Charles Dickens with an eye to the tragic. I’ve seen two other films adapted from Hardy works, and as a story, this is (by far) my most favorite. I really like the characters and complexities of their personalities and journey. Given how well scripter’s manage to flesh out the characters and their respective quirks, I’d imagine the novel is even more complementary to their identities.  

Since I’ve brought them up, let’s begin with the characters. Putting a female protagonist such as Bathsheba in the leading role might be tough for viewers to warm to. She’s not only a fiery independent spirit (which is all well and good) she might also come across as a kind of spiteful, wishy-washy creature. By example, she toys with the hearts of the men who wish to capture her heart. Fortunately, Carey Mulligan softens the character. She makes her easy to like if not always understand, and imbibes plenty of sass and spunk into Bathsheba. The 90s adaptation featured a much less likable female lead in my opinion. I feel like, while still a bit of a tease, she’s less about herself, and more about caring for others and the ramifications of her actions. The men are similarly complex. Of the three, I adore Gabriel; have sympathy for Boldwood and, I don’t think it’s too harsh a word to use in saying, I detest Troy. Seriously, here is a character that’s nothing if not… weird, for lack of a better term. As beautiful as the scenery may be, the “woods” scene between he and Bathsheba is abnormal.  

If the characters fail you anywhere along the way, the cinematography won’t. This is one of the most beautiful period dramas I’ve seen lately. Every shot and emotion is captured (particularly the scenes of longing between one pairing) to elegant perfection. The costuming is also stunning! The woman behind them was also the costume designer for 2003’s live-action Peter Pan and the Nicole Kidman period drama, Portrait of a Lady. Looking at the “bigger” picture, this film is nothing if not gorgeous. There are lessons to be learned and taken to heart. Some are harsh and unpleasant to experience, but important nonetheless. Writer, David Nicholls (One Day, 2012’s Great Expectations) brings everything together very neatly. I loved the ending, ambiguous though it could have been, it feels especially complete and manages to infuse the moment with some playful flirting (likely I was grinning big by this time) that doubles as genuine feelings, and realizing a longing one character never confessed.  
Given what I know of this story, this version does it up right. Not only does it benefit from today’s cutting edge filming technology, it seems to have finally cast the right set of stars to bring the classic piece of literature to life. Without question, this adaptation is my personal favorite. It’s as romantic as it is pretty to look at.  

What about you: which adaptation of this story do you prefer? Have you seen Far from the Madding Crowd? Read the book? Share your comments down below.  

(Content: there’s a minor subplot involving a man having a child out of wedlock, and a man lashes out once at his wife [verbal abuse]. Prior to marriage, a man becomes familiar with a woman, touching and groping her [while clothed]. There's one scene of a married couple in bed, non-graphic. One man is fatally shot; other than that, the film earns its rating for some thematic elements. The film is rated PG13.)

Top Ten Tuesday │ Bookshelf Tour (Sort Of)

Today's Top Ten Tuesday officered a canvas for imaginations to flourish. Why, you ask? Well, it was a "your choice" kind of option. I briefly looked through past topics and couldn't come up with anything, then thought perhaps I'd do another recent additions to my bookshelf since I had such fun with that, but it wasn't all that long ago Top Ten Tuesday called for that subject. This left me with another option. In the Booktube community, I'd seen several videos done that used random numbers and then featured the books from a person's bookshelf that the numbers corresponded with. That tag looked like fun.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top (Twelve) Books Recently Added to my Bookshelf

Armed with the random numbers from the trusty folks, I took my bright orange sticky note pad upstairs and counted out the numbers to match up the proper books. It's kind of like a mini version of a treasure hunt. The following list of books - which subsequently features a crazy array of genres and styles, is the result of that.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

About the Book:
Author: Laura Frantz
Publisher: Revell
Source: Publisher (via Life is Story)
Publication Date:
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ Life is Story ǀ Novel Crossing ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Historical Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5

Historical fiction, no matter the market or genre, is hit or miss for me. I enjoy history, but certain periods in time do little to capture interest. Perhaps it might have something to do with having seen a period drama visualize a period in history that didn’t appeal, or maybe it’s simply the aptitude of the characters effect. Whatever, many historical novels just aren’t my cup of tea. Laura Frantz’s writing has delighted readers everywhere and her latest has been met with no less enthusiasm. It’s not difficult to understand why.

Independent (relatively so) of her renowned Ballytyne Legacy novels, opening these pages will introduce readers to Sophie and Seamus. Sophie is the unmarried daughter of a “traitor” in the revolutionary war, a war that is only just over. With her father back in Scotland, Sophie is left behind, trying to make a go of their home as she awaits her brother’s return. As his former commander, Seamus hears the rumors of Sophie’s brother and his return to Scotland before his neighbor hears news of her brother’s whereabouts. But for now, life moves on following the turmoil of a war. Seamus is back at Tall Acre with a small daughter who barely knows him. As relatives attempt to take her away and Sophie nearly loses her home, the most logical solution seems for the two to marry and present a united front… but at what cost will this marriage of convenience come?

Anyone who picks up this novel will find it impossible to put down. The story that begins to take shape is like a master painting as Laura brushes each layer over top of another in a masterful artist rendering of these characters and their lives that come alive in the most vivid of ways. To begin with, the story is a poignant one. Having two people fall in love post-marriage allows some liberties that, if rendered well is sure to produce some of the most genuine love stories there are in fiction. Laura’s novel achieves this and then some. Sophie and Seamus’ relationship is absolutely beautiful. Even that lone word seems inadequate. Every moment, progressive act or conversation is full of every emotion it needs to be in order to fulfill the reader. Adding a young child to the mix enhances rather than detracts from any of the story cues.

If any potential flaws do creep into the elegant narrative, it’d be the eventual climax. Some may find it either too “contrived” to be believable for the story or perhaps a bit too horrid for their liking. Lest I give away spoilers, this is all I’m willing to say, but I will also clarify, I didn’t mind the direction the story took. It was really all very interesting and for a time, the expected conflict keeps the reader guessing. Combining elements of mystery (almost “gothic” in nature, albeit not in a scary way) and genuine romance coupled with a setting rich in history is the trappings of Laura Frantz’s latest novel. The historical aspects seem expertly woven into the fictional portions, marrying the two in a most attractive fashion. From the language to the dresses, the author seems to know her stuff. It was a 400+ page book I was hard-pressed to put down, so lost was I in the wonderings of what else was about to visit these characters and challenge them, only to end up never breaking their spirits and instead, making them stronger.

This review first appeared on Life is Story.

Sincere thanks to Revell Books for a complimentary copy of this novel.

The Buccaneers (1995)

I first saw this BBC miniseries years ago. In fact, I can still remember being unable to find a copy (that was back when there wasn't a ready DVD set available in the U.S., and before I had the capability to watch region two DVD sets), and being up at my uncle's home searching Ebay for a set. Well, we did indeed find one and though my parent's likely paid way more for it than we ought to, we left there having ordered it.

Since then, my mom and I have watched this twice (or so) and now, I've recently re-watched it. Where my mom didn't care for it, I have now really come to quite like the soapy period drama. It begins happily, takes darker turns somewhere along the way and finally (quite literally) finds its happy again by giving us a riding-off-into-the-sunset kind of ending.

The Buccaneers – Four American Girls Taking in a London Season 

The first time I saw this, I’d been given an idea of what this miniseries was like and it may have affected my original opinion. Since then, I’ve seen it a time or two more, and only just now re-watched it for the first time in a handful of years. With each viewing, the story charms me as much as its four protagonists were by their European season, which is what the story essentially boils down to – four American women embarking on a London season. However, the film first opens on American shores in the 1800s.

The beautiful and unconventional Conchita (Mira Sorvino) is the first of their foursome to marry, and she does so in style. She marries into one of England’s most prominent families to a man named Richard. In America, however, families believe it is the husband’s duty to provide for his wife and much to Richard’s parents dismay, Conchita’s stepfather settles no dowry on her. This isn’t the case for the St. George family. Among the new wealth, the St. George sisters have no proper society welcoming them, but their father has made a bundle and is ranked as Wall Street’s third richest. Eldest Virginia (Alison Elliott) – or Ginny as she is called, is beautiful, but cold and noticeably proper. Youngest Annabelle, who is called Nan (Carla Gugino) is still quite the child and in need of guidance, which her mother remedies by hiring an English governess, Miss Testvalley (Cheri Lunghi). Finally, there is Lizzy Elmsworth (Rya Kihlstedt). Quiet and stylish, Lizzie has no grand ambitions for her London adventure beyond reuniting with her friends. Continue Reading →

(Content: The majority of this series would be TVPG, but there are two-three scenes that warrant the actual TV14 rating. One is a scene of marital rape [we see quite a bit of side nudity, waist down] and one character is seen lying in bed with his male lover [both are sleeping]. Extra marital affairs are hinted at both on and off screen; there is some suggestive conversation.)

9/11 │ Never Forget

14 Years.
September 11th 2001.
Thankful for the heroes who raced towards danger that day.
Remembering the victims who lost their lives.
Feeling proud to be an American, and enormous gratitude and thankfulness for the sacrifices of those who protect our home front.

Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

About the Book:
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Zondervan (HarperCollins)
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ Novel Crossing ǀ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Summer Harbor, 1
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Inspirational
Rating: 4 out of 5 

Each time I crack open the pages of a new contemporary rom-com from inspirational author, Denise Hunter, I allow my expectations to soar. If there is one thing the author excels at (and there are more than one) it’d be her narrative that ensures the reader a delightful time. That is exactly what one will find within the pages of the award-winning author’s brand new book, which also acts as a new series launcher. Not only that is attributed to it, but this makes an excellent Christmas read and an attractive find for anyone looking for that perfect gift to give the book lover in your family. Though we were given a tease of this story in Married ‘til Monday, until you read this, you aren’t likely to really understand the characters well enough to judge them.  

This story centers on Beau, the eldest of three brothers. Once the story opens, we learn he has quit his job as a deputy in the small town of Summer Harbor to focus on their family Christmas tree farm, among other business ventures. But he hasn’t yet shed his cop mentality. This is when Eden enters his life. Running from a past that was as emotionally unhealthy as it was frightening, Eden doesn’t plan to stay in Summer Harbor, but her car has a mind of its own. Poised to protect herself and her young son – emotionally and otherwise, Eden keeps a close guard on her emotions while staying with the Callahan family. When Beau gives her work helping his elderly aunt, the family slowly begins to chip away at the reserved nature of her son and her heart.

Though its cover is steeped in Christmas cheer and its title helps along the imagery, this is a story that can be enjoyed any time of the year. Sure the setting does overlap the most wonderful time of year, but the cusp of the story is one of fear and breaking free from a past riddled with mistakes. The running theme is one of learning how to trust and embracing freedom. Eden had lived an entire life (though she’s still a young woman, hers was a life that seemed longer because of this) smothered. The first was for protection, and her later years were spent under a controlling thumb who was anything but protective (or not in the right way). Beau too, is a typical protective male, but unlike the men of her past, Beau wanted only to shelter Eden. To give her a haven that felt safe. This theme carries throughout the novel and the picture it evokes is a lovely one.  

Meeting these new characters is an adventure all on its own. As characters, these pages hold some of
the best. I found myself happily rooting for each of the characters though there are an unusual amount of complexities that complicate moving the plot forward. Still, even with these, all of the characters retain their moral compass. I feel as if we’ve been given a clear snapshot of what’s to come with brothers Zac and Riley’s stories. Given the synopsis for book two (The Goodbye Bride), my theory for Zac’s story has already been proven true. With its gentle yet emotional story that tugs at your heartstrings, and charming romantic style, with Falling Like Snowflakes, Denise has again wrapped up another poignant story that she tops with a pretty bow. As with each of her novels before this, not only is the message meant to impart something that looks beyond outward appearance and looks to within, there is also always a healthy glimpse of what a genuine love story looks like. Experiencing that alone is a gift though, fortunately, there is much more to be discovered.

SynopsisWhen the Christmas season finds Eden in Summer Harbor, Maine, she's on the run from trouble. Romance is the last thing on her mind.

Riding in a bus in the thickly falling snow, Eden Davis wonders how it ever came to this--fleeing under cover of night with young Micah sleeping fitfully in the seat beside her. When a winter storm strands them in Summer Harbor, Maine, Eden wonders if what might have been the end could be a new beginning.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver. He's recently left his job with the sheriff's department to take over the family Christmas tree farm to save it from insolvency. But he's flummoxed. During the busiest season of the year, he's shorthanded. Then Eden shows up looking for work, and Beau believes he's been rescued. Competent, smart, and beautiful, Eden's also guarded and quiet. He soon figures out she comes with a boatload of secrets. But Beau can't seem to help himself from falling for her.

As Christmas Eve approaches, Beau discovers he'll do anything to keep Eden safe. But who's going to protect his heart from a woman who can't seem to trust again? - Goodreads

Coming Next from Denise Hunter: Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again. - Goodreads, Add It ǀ Preorder (Amazon) 

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

The 39 Steps (2008) - Cozy Historical Mystery with Bittersweet Conclusions

When you eavesdrop on a Twitter conversation between two of your friends, sometimes you come away with a new period drama recommendation. That was how seeing this played out for me. I happened to be reminded of this little mystery when said eavesdropping took place. What I came away with was a mostly good Saturday night’s 80-minutes worth of entertainment.  
FILM REVIEW | The Lady Vanishes (2013)

The 39 Steps Rupert Penry Jones

London society no longer holds any kind of appeal for Richard Hannay (Rupert Penry-Jones). As, first a solider and now an engineer returned from Africa, he thrives on being in dangerous places and situations. This is perhaps why, a spy winding up in his flat doesn’t much faze him.
The spy reveals potentially crippling events that could be very bad for England, already on the cusp of a Second World War. All of this precedes the man's death, which happens right in Richard’s living room. His death sends Richard not just on the run from men who seem to be ruthlessly tracking him, but looking to clear his name as he stands accused of murder. Armed with a coded notebook he doesn’t know how to unravel, he walks straight into the path of Victoria Sinclair (Lydia Leonard). When Richard encounters Victoria and her brother (Patrick Kennedy, Bleak House), he is mistaken for someone else that temporarily offers him some breathing room.

Once his pursuers catch up to him, Richard is again on the run, only this time it’s with a feisty feminist activist in tow, Victoria. Between her mysterious uncle, Sir George Sinclair (David Haig) and the mysterious message the spy left in Richard’s hands, the pair have a cipher to unravel that may indeed be about national security.  

The 39 Steps
There are some stories that don’t exactly turn out as one expects. This falls among those. Yet it's still a rollicking good time. Since not everything can be among Foyle’s War caliber that is just what this little mystery is. Speaking to its flaws, it’s far too short to feel really fleshed out, but for a fun bit of a caper, this is just the thing. First, let’s talk about the cast. There’s Rupert Penry-Jones, which in and of itself is enough incentive simply because of his turn as Captain Wentworth. I’ve no notion how he does in comparison to book Wentworth however he is by far the best film Wentworth I’ve met. (Don’t even get me started on a certain gentleman from another adaption. *ahem* But that’s a discussion for another day. *wink*) The rest of the cast (with exception to Kennedy) is unknown to me or more so, though everyone seems appropriately cast.

The 39 Steps

Best I can tell and from the little I’ve learned, this is a re-make of a re-make... if that makes any sense. The original is a Hitchcock classic, then there is an oldie 1959 film, all titled the same. What this version lacks in screen time, it makes up for in many other ways. For example, I expected a more serious spy story and instead saw a humorous almost charming little British film that I’ll definitely wish to see again. The adventure Richard and Lydia go on is exciting in unique ways, and I adored their banter. Their on-screen chemistry is some of my most favorite, simply because it’s “sweet” without being terribly sappy.

Those who have seen BBC films like The Lady Vanishes will definitely wish to look into picking up a copy of The 39 Steps. It’s all about the classic British spy caper, which is all “fun and games,” and then throws a loop into the perfect scenario by upsetting the balance of an otherwise perfect setup while careening towards a darling ending. But then, this wouldn’t be a proper British drama if there weren’t some questionable twists. Ambiguous or not, be prepared to go on a fantastic adventure.

(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 own The 39 Steps digitally on Amazon Video or purchase on DVD.

(Content: there is a bit of minor gun play – Richard is shot at by his pursuers, and a man is shot and killed. There's a scene during which an unmarried couple spent a night together though nothing improper happens. The film would likely be rated TVPG.)
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