Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why...Why did I have to click on it....?

The other night, I fell asleep too early and woke up in the middle of the night. I laid in bed waiting to fall asleep again, but it wasn't happening. I couldn't get back to sleep to save my life! I recently upgraded my phone and it has a bigger screen, so I've become slightly obsessed with it. I LOVE to go online with it! I grabbed it and decided to hit some sites. Paul Walker came to mind. The first Fast and Furious movie has always been my favorite. I remember when I went to see it in the movies with some of my friends and we sat and watched it twice! When it comes on TV, I always watch it, no matter how many times it comes on. Over the weekend, several of the Fast and Furious movies were playing. I haven't seen all of them, so I watched all the ones that came on. I guess because I did this, Paul Walker was in my head.

I goggled him and of course, there were reports about the terrible tragedy of his death. It was quite depressing and sad and I had a feeling I should just stop while I was ahead, but I decided to click one more link. Big mistake...

It took me to pics of the crash site which has been seen numerous times on TV. What I wasn't expecting to see were pictures of Paul's burned and ravaged body! Oh Lord...One of my friend's said maybe it wasn't real. Maybe it wasn't. I hope not, but it looked pretty believable. It was the same locale I've seen on TV.  One picture was of the burned car with a tarp over it, covering the bodies, but you could see the burned knee of Paul's friend sticking out under the steering wheel. A couple of others ones showed a body lying next to the wreck in a body bag, burned to a crisp! That is NOT how I want to remember him! Damn!! I want to scrub the image out of my mind! Adding credibility to this debacle, it was announced on the news today that someone is trying to sell photos of the corpses to the highest bidder. I don't think a magazine like People will buy them, but I don't think a tabloid like The Enquirer can resist. I remember seeing autopsy photos of President Kennedy in The Enquirer. And let's not forget, they posted the pics of Whitney Houston in her casket. Oh my goodness...What can one say? It's just all so sad...*shaking my head*...sigh...Goodbye, Paul...

Be blessed, ya'll...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

In Remembrance...

...of the most sweetest and joyous girl ever, our Sweetie. Her name is never far from our lips and thoughts of her are always in our heart.

We still love you, my girl!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie Review: PHILOMENA

I love to watch Judi Dench in historical British movies. I think I've seen her in one contemporary movie several years ago and she was awesome. She always seems to play a hideously, mean woman! Lol...the role of Philomena Lee is a complete 180 for her. Philomena is a soft-spoken gentlewoman and it was refreshing. I didn't miss that "old meanie" one bit! Ha!
Philomena is based on a true story; the 2009 book called The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. Philomena had a child out of wedlock in 1952 Ireland and was disowned by her very Catholic family. She was sent to a convent for unwed mothers where she gave birth to her son, Anthony. Let me tell you, that place was scary. It felt like a prison. More than one mother and child lost their lives there---and remember, this was a true story---Unbelievable. The mothers were allowed to see their kids for an hour a day. When Anthony was a toddler, about three, he given up for adoption and it wasn't really done with Philomena's consent. That happened to a lot of the mothers there. It was horrible. Imagine bonding with your child for several years and they're suddenly gone. The convent was selling babies to couples in the US.
Philomena eventually moved on with her life, but she never forgot Anthony. She was obsessed with wondering if her son ever thought of her. She eventually met a journalist named Martin Sixspence. He decided to write a "human interest" story about her. The saga ends up with them in the US trying to track down her son.

It's a tearjerker. I heard more than a few sniffles in the theater and shed tears myself. I don't want to give away a major spoiler. I'll just say that Philomena's son became surprisingly accomplished. I'll leave it at that...
I came away from the movie with one important lesson: Mercy. You have to extend mercy if you truly know God. The nuns at that convent showed an amazingly lack of it. And again, it was all true...*sigh*...
Go check out PHILOMENA.
It's worth it.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Movie and Book Review: Catching Fire

I enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and liked the movie. I REALLY loved Catching Fire---both book and movie! When I was reading it, I couldn't wait to see how they were going to adapt it for the big screen. I'm happy to say I was not disappointed.

This second installment of the Hunger Games saga is so much richer and deeper. The characters displayed a real depth of emotion about death and dying; about the destruction of people by their government...It really makes one think about what could happen in the world when people are powerless.

I always like the Peeta character in the novel, but wasn't too keen on the selection of Josh Hutcherson as the actor to play him. I think he kicked it up several notches this time around, so I liked him a lot more, but I still couldn't stop focusing on how short he is compared to Katniss and pretty much everyone else in the film! Lol...

In the book, Finnick Odair, one of the competitors in the Games is described as having "extraordinary beauty", so I was looking forward to seeing an awesome hottie...didn't quite fellow chosen was nice looking (see fellow below on the right), but far from extraordinary or swoon-worthy. He did start to look better the longer the film went probably didn't want the guy to overshadow Peeta or Gale! At least they showed more of Gale this time!

Catching Fire will totally leave you "hungering" for Mockingjay. I still have to read it! I haven't read the reviews of the book, but it's my understanding that some people were disappointed with the conclusion to the saga...uh oh...well, I 'll find out soon enough. In the mean time, go see Catching Fire. It's good---real good!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 22, 2013

Scary Part Two...

This present administration has limited independent journalists access to the White House. What this means is that the White House will be using their own official journalists that are paid for by tax payer dollars. Essentially, these guys are more favorable to the president and the White House kind of produces their own press. I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound good. It sounds a little "iron curtain" like. Apparently, since the press has become more critical of the administration in response to the whole health insurance mess, the White House has decided to "punish" them and deny them access and the opportunity to ask questions.

The congress has also changed filibuster rules so that the minority party--whoever they may be--will have less power and ability to affect issues. Not a good thing. After all, the minority party represent people too.

Now people don't have to enroll in the health care plan until after the midterm congressional elections. Now why do you think that is? Could it be that if people saw what the insurance plans consist of, they'd reject them and the congressman that voted this into law? Are people really that ignorant that they don't grasp this? Apparently the government seems to think so. Boy, I hope they're wrong.

When changes happen slowly and in small measures people don't notice. It's called incrementalism. By the time they realize something is wrong (like with the recent health insurance changes), it may be too late and they find out they don't have as much choice or control over their lives.

Pray, people. Pray and ask the Lord to open the eyes of your understanding. It may take time, but I believe dark days are ahead. Pray to survive them.

Be enlightened.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

OMG! Bryan is back and he's offering you the chance to win up to 500 dollars doing what you love!

Bryan Cohen
If you like to write stories, blog posts, and more and love to read, my guest blogger, Bryan, can help you do it all! Check out his post below, expand your learning curve and maybe put a few more bucks in your pocket. Take it away, Bryan...

Your Writing Sanctuary and/or Shack
by Bryan Cohen

I sat on the blacktop of my dorm's basketball court, surrounded by construction noise when I realized that I could write anywhere. I don't know what it was I was scrawling on a piece of looseleaf that day, as my fellow classmates looked at me like I was crazy, but the machines were doing their work and so was I. That was over a decade ago, and yet it was one of the most important lessons I ever internalized. I didn't write my first book in an office. I wrote it in other peoples' offices during temp jobs. I put together some of it in my "economy studio" in which my office was the same room as my kitchen and my bedroom. I later put the finishing touches on the book on top of a luxurious $100 table my wife and I bought from Target. My writing time was inconsistent and erratic but I got it done wherever I could.

I think some writers put too much emphasis on finding their writing sanctuary: the perfect place to make their novel or non-fiction a reality. There's some merit to locating a place where you feel less distracted and blocked. I wrote part of my first book on an inherited queen size bed I later had to toss out because of bed bugs. I wrote my latest half in my office and half in my favorite, quiet, gluten-free pastry shop. Finding the right locations for writing made an impact, but the major difference between my first and latest book is me.

I grew from writing in all those different places. I improved by putting in more time and absorbing the different energies around me as I wrote. I think I needed to write in that tiny studio with the giant window that let out nearly all of my radiator heat during the Chicago winter. I had to reinforce the knowledge that writing could take place anywhere and under any condition. I still get writers block, like any other writer, but I've learned the lesson that I can find my writing sanitary or shack anywhere. Am I out of inspiration in my office? It's time to go to the coffee shop! Coffee shop too crowded? I'll try taking a trip to the edge of Lake Michigan. Or the back seat of my wife's parked car. Or even a bench located underneath the growling Chicago Transit Authority elevated train tracks.

If you can make your hallowed writing ground anywhere, there's no such thing as writers block. The next 500 words may be right around the corner. All you need to do is move.   

About the Author

In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars" Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!

Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter. 

My sincere thanks to Bryan for his words of wisdom and offering such a generous opportunity to enrich writers and readers.

Toodles, ya'll!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Review: All Is Lost

*Shaking my head*...All I can say is that my thoughts while watching this movie were: "OMG. ALL IS TRULY LOST!!!!" I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Let me tell you what the story is about. Robert Redford is the only actor in the movie. He plays a nameless man that takes his yacht, the Virginia Jean, on a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean. All is well until his boat hits a big metal shipping container that is floating in the sea and rips a big hole in his boat. The darn container shouldn't  have been there in the first place! It's all down hill from there.

The entire movie is a one man show of how Redford struggles to survive as his boat takes on water. It kind of reminded me of The Life of Pi, but that had a lot of other actors in it. This one only had Redford. Essentially there was no dialogue either, unless you count a few shouts for "help", an expletive and a few words spoken into a radio that quickly goes dead.

You know, I would have thought that if you're on a boat in the ocean and need to be rescued, if a ship passes by, you're in like flyn. Not so fast. A big ship won't even see you. Shocking but true. If there is no one looking out at just the right moment, they'll pass right by you! They won't even hear your screams. So close, but yet so far...

Redford was pretty amazing. He had no one to play off of except the elements and the dire circumstances of the environment. I didn't know if I could stand spending almost two hours watching one guy who doesn't talk, go about his day trying to stay alive, but it does draw you in. I did get caught up in how he was going to make it--or not.

As the movie ended, a woman in the theater told me she didn't think he made it. She made an interesting argument which I hadn't considered and it made me question my original thoughts. I won't go into detail because I don't want to ruin the film with any spoilers. After all, the hold-your-breath-moment is whether he's going to make it out alive or not.

You decide. Then tell me what you believe!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who's sorry now?

The president said he's sorry, but who's the sorriest? Him or the millions of people who have been kicked off their insurance plans? Him or the millions who have to pay more for less coverage.  Hey, I have nothing against the president on a personal level, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for a fellow who is arguably in the most important position on the planet with every imaginable resource at his command. With all the expertise available at his fingertips; every technological and policy expert willing to share their wealth of knowledge with him, this mess is the result? Is this disaster the best multiplied millions can buy?

You see, part of this problem is what happens when you don't respect money; when money seems to come from a infinite black hole, a bottomless pit. That's why government is so unconcerned and wasteful. They take money AKA revenue from other people. If they don't have enough or screw up, they just take more. The people are a faceless mass. There's no name or intimate knowledge of the people behind those dollars. They're just social security numbers. Pull up the number and exact more dollars when you need it. Or, you could always borrow and/or print it into the trillions.

To be continued...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I don't know about you, but it's scary to me!

What am I talking about? This whole healthcare debacle. What's scary? The fact that the government can take away an individual's ability to choose a health plan that best meets their needs and they're helpless to do anything about it. Yup. It pretty much looks like they have to suck it up and take it. People got the shock of their lives when they received letters saying they're insurance policies were canceled. "That's right. We're cutting you off. Go join the new insurance exchanges...if you can. If you dare!" I understand the jacked-up website isn't even secure. People's most personal info is at the mercy of whomever. Even a convicted felon can be hired as one of the navigators that "guide" people to choose the right policy. Identity theft, anyone?

Can you imagine? This is where your tax dollars are spent. They paid millions to a company that did  such a crummy job building a health web site for Canada, that Canada fired them. And what's the company's reward? "Hey, you! Come to the US of A and do what you seem to do best (mess up!) here." Um hum. Makes a lot of sense--not!

People in this country seem so oblivious. They're more interested in their mobile phones, computers and reality TV shows than what the people they elect  to office are doing to their lives. I'm afraid that by the time they wake up, it'll be too late. Measures will be in place that will bring them under the control of those with less than benign motives. Think it can't happen here? Think again. They're are a lot of changes taking place you couldn't even imagine just a few years ago. Anything is possible.

If you're a believer, pray. And if you're not, pray to become one. Become what?  A believer in the  Lord Jesus Christ as savior. He is a help in your time of need. Of course this is just a suggestion and you're free to believe what you want. I'm not like your elected officials. I won't force you to take what you don't want or feel you don't need.

It's getting scary out there...and it's later than you think.

To be continued...


Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: The TWISTROSE KEY by Tone Almhiell

“Nearly every creature who lives here was once loved by a child of Earth, and loved the child in return. That bond was so strong that when the animals died, they woke up here in Sylver to live a second life.”
This quote so aptly captures the magical wonder of The Twistrose Key, the debut novel by Tone Almhiell. If you’ve ever loved a pet that has passed on, and are willing to partake of more than a little adventure, this jewel of a story will capture your heart and your imagination.
Eleven-year-old Lin Rosenquist discovers a mysterious key when an unexpected parcel arrives to her home. She immediately connects with it and wouldn’t you know it, it opens the door of the cellar that’s been locked ever since her family moved into their rented home.
Hidden behind that cellar door lies Sylver, a world that is more amazing than even the creative mind of Lin Rosenquist can dream up. And what makes it the most amazing of all, is the discovery that her beloved Rufus is there. He’s the pet she lost in death and lies buried under the rosebush in the yard…or so Lin thought! 
Now Rufus and Lin must join forces to save the inhabitants of Sylver, but saying it won’t be easy is an understatement. Malicious forces are doing everything in their power to see that they don’t succeed. Can Lin fulfill her destiny and conquer the evil that threatens to overwhelm her, dearest Rufus and her new compatriots? You’ll have to enter the majestic, magical world of Sylver to find out.
And a magical world it truly is. The author exhibits a rich and fertile imagination, an ability to enchant both young and old. Age is no impediment to enjoying this story. The tale is as crisp and zesty as the cold and crystalline environ in which it is set. Readers should take their time and read with care to fully grasp and decipher the fresh mythology of the land of Sylver. It’ll leave you gasping, laughing and maybe shedding a tear or two.
Having lost two of my beloved girls, Boozie and Sweetie, I especially loved the premise behind this story. I don't know if the author has ever suffered through the death of a pet, but it was like she was in my head and knew how much one longs to see them again...and then she did something about it! It struck just the right note...*sigh*

Sunday, October 27, 2013

OMG! Here we go again. You've got to see this movie: CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

I remember when the real events of this saga were taking place in the news. I was so happy that Captain Phillips made it out alive. So, even before seeing this movie, I know he survives...or does he? He may make it out alive, but the question is: can he survive the horror and trauma of such an experience? And what about his crew? What happens to them? These are the questions that keep you rivited in your seat!

For those who don't keep up with the news or forgot, the story behind the movie is about when Captain Philips and his crew were accosted by pirates from Somalia and taken captive in the hopes of scoring a big ransom. These renegade pirates were in the news a lot a few years ago for taking big ships hostage and demanding payment from the country where the ship is based in order to get the crew back safe and sound. Countries paid up and these crooks made millions! I believe Captain Phillips and crew were the only Americans to fall into this situation. 

The movie is based on the book Captain Phillips penned about what happened. Before seeing the movie I read a review that said this movie has major tension. Truer words were never spoken. I'm telling you, I could barely stand it! I was exhausted and I hadn't moved a muscle! LOL!!! I couldn't wait for the movie to be over because I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen next. How much hell is Captain Phillips going to have to endure? Will the crew be found in their hiding spots?! Which one will lose his life? How? The captain and crew don't carry weapons because they're not a war ship, they just transport cargo. They were at the complete mercy of the pirates. It was terrible! It was freaking AWESOME. I see Oscar nomination for Tom Hanks again.

This is the first movie I actually joined the audience in applauding.

OMG. Don't miss this one...if you dare! LOL!!!

Toodles, ya'll! *wiping sweat from brow* Lol

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Movie Review: SALINGER. The Documentary.

JD Salinger

There's a cool little movie theater near me that shows movies that are kind of artsy-craftsy and off the beaten track. I can usually predict which films are going to be shown there. They're not the big blockbusters, but have a "boutique" sensibility. A lot of elderly Jewish people patronize it. I joke that I'm often one of the youngest people in the theater. I join the old folks during the matinee, so I can pay the cheapie price. There have been some really good Israeli films there. This place is vintage and may have been built in the 30's or something. I really need to investigate it. I love this theater! When I saw Salinger, the documentary was playing there, I went over to check it out.

The previews alluded to Salinger being a big mystery man and I wanted to know the deal. I read Catcher in the Rye when I was in high school, but don't remember a lot about it.

I really enjoyed this movie. What I appreciated about Salinger was his disdain for fame. In the world today, where so many people want their 15 minutes of attention, Salinger could care less! I love that. Authors today have to immerse themselves in so much social media and sometimes arrange there own signings and book tours, or at least they are highly encouraged to do so. Here's Salinger, a phenomenal talent, and he just wants to write his stories and live his life---undisturbed! He yelled at one fan, "Look. I'm a fiction writer, not a therapist!" LOL!!!

It was fascinating to see people's reaction to him. Fan's trying to track him down, the women he hooked up with....Did you know he had a thing for young girls? I mean really young. Like he's thirty and the girl is fourteen! He was married three times I think and one of them was an au pair of an acquaintance. He hooked up with a nineteen year old when he was in his fifties I believe. They moved in together, but he cut her off cold when she wanted children. He already had a 12 yr old son and a teen daughter and said he couldn't be bothered with that stuff any more...Lol...

I didn't know he was in WW2. He married a Nazi and brought her home to the US to his Jewish family. Let's just say that didn't go over too well and the marriage didn't last long! Crazy!

The film made me very interested in reading Catcher in the Rye again as well as some of his short stories that I wasn't familiar with. I ordered them from Amazon and await their arrival.

This documentary is pretty entertaining and enlightening. It's worth a look during a quiet and reflective evening.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

OMG. You've got to see this movie!

I read a review in the paper that spoke very highly of the movie, PRISONERS, so I decided to check it out. It stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. I've never watched a film with Jackman in it. I do believe he has a new fan. Boy, was I impressed with him in this film. And not only him. The entire cast was awesome. The film was awesome! This was one review that didn't exaggerate.
It's about the saga of two families. One white, one black. They're good friends and spend Thanksgiving together. But, the fun doesn't last long. The two young daughters from both families go outside to play.
They disappear.
And all hell breaks loose.

Hugh Jackman's character loses it. He's the father of one of the missing girls and this man means business. He's going to find his daughter by any means necessary...and I mean by any means! The other dad, played by Terrance Howard of The Butler, is pulled along for the ride...whether he thinks the means of accomplishing the goal is legal or moral.
That's one of the major themes of this film. What would you do for the love of a child? How far are you willing to go?

And what if you're wrong?

This movie was exactly two hours and thirty minutes. It's lengthy, but not a moment is wasted. It's almost agonizing, waiting to find out what happened to the girls. I heard several folks crying in the theater.
As a therapist, I often see the dark side of people. This film goes there and doesn't pull any punches.

You think you know people.

You don't.

There are people who do things for the sheer evil joy of it. You may know people like this and not even be aware of it. Yes. It is scary.

I could tell people were kind of thrown by the ending. A number of folks, including myself, stayed until the last credit to see if there was going to be a surprise scene or something. If you see the film, you'll know why.
You can't go wrong seeing PRISONERS. It deserves serious Oscar buzz in my humble opinion. If you see it, enjoy!!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Book Review: SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi

Mari Mancusi takes on one of the less common creatures in young adult sagas: the dragon, and goes on a rip-roaring tear with it.

After a family tragedy, it’s just sixteen-year-old Trinity and her grandfather trying to hold it together and they’re hanging on by a thread. Grandpa is sure life is about to change when he finds what he believes to be a rare dinosaur egg, but it just leaves Trinity rolling her eyes. She’s accustomed to her grandfather’s eccentric ways. He’s right about one thing, though. Life is about to change, but in ways neither he nor Trinity could ever imagine. It all starts when Trinity hears voices in her head. Is she turning into her mother or is it coming from that egg? Two brothers from the future have their opinions about the matter and they’re diametrically opposed. Trinity finds herself right in the middle—with a dragon by her side. The only thing any of them is sure of is destruction, of man or dragon, unless someone figures out what to do. And time is running out.

Scorched has clearly infused some of the elements from The Terminator movie and made it it’s own. In case you think you’re imagining it, one of the brothers is named Conner and our protagonist, Trinity, makes reference to the movie several chapters in. Instead of this coming off as a warmed-over rehash, it feels like a cool insider joke. The author has carried you along to that point, eliciting flash points of familiarity. When Trinity casts that thought—something those familiar with the film may be thinking—it makes for a hearty and well-earned confirmation.

Scorched is an excellent example of how one can take a known pop cultural moment, gain inspiration from it and use it to weave a new work into something fresh and different. This novel doesn’t let you put it down for long. The crescendo builds as a consistent thread, pulling the reader along. You have to know what happens! Are one of the brothers lying? If so, which one? Why? Will Trinity regret trusting either of them and will it cost her the ultimate: her life and that of those she loves? You have to keep reading to find out.

This tale ends with a solid conclusion, but it’s clear the story is not over. Wherever it goes, if Scorched is any indication, Ms. Mancusi is sure to keep the excitement and the questions coming.

Scorched released September 3, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire.

Toodles, ya'll!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie Review: Mortal Instruments--City of Bones

I've had The Immortal Instruments trilogy sitting on my shelf since spring and haven't had time to read them. I didn't let that stop me from seeing the movie today, though. After all, I didn't even know Twilight was a book until after I saw the movie!

For the few people in the world such as myself, that didn't have a clue as to what The Immortal Instruments is about, let me give you a quick rundown.

Teenager, Clary Fray, witnesses a murder in a club in NYC, but she's the only one who can see the participants. She soon learns that they are "shadowhunters" and she herself is descended from a long line of shadowhunters, also known as demon-slayers. Life only goes down hill from there. First her mother goes missing and then Clary finds herself fighting and warring in the midst of this invisible world that functions as an alternate universe along side the "real" world.

My friend, Pattie. of Books, Thoughts and a Few Adventures, told me The Immortal Instruments received some pretty sucky reviews. I was kind of surprised because the previews looked pretty interesting. Well, I've been influenced by reviews in the past and decided not to see some movies. Not this time. I had to know for myself. I'm glad I did.

I had such a good time! It's not perfect, but The Immortal Instruments is certainly entertaining. It made me interested in getting started on reading the books. I really need to do that because I got a little confused about some of the plot points in the movie. The Valentine character is on a quest to find the "eternal cup", but I'm not really sure why or what he plans to to with it. He did talk about it, but I missed some of what he said. There's a guy who was kind of in the role of Clary's guardian, but I'm sure there's more to him as well. I think some of my confusion is because there is so much going on in this movie. To say it's action-packed is an understatement. It was action turbo-charged!

Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, but there were laugh-out-loud moments too. I cracked up watching Clary's mother in a fight scene. Let's just say, that woman put a hurtin' on those guys! LOL!!! The Jace character was cute and the focus of Clary's affection. Her best-friend-wanna-be-more, Simon, was good looking too, but in a geekier kind of way. I could tell they had his character wear glasses to take the edge off his cute looks and give the upper hand to Jace.

The film kind of had a Harry Potter feel to it. Maybe it was the magical elements and the scenery. The imagery and set was dark, lush and very rich. The Valentine character reminded me of Valdomort.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this movie. I've heard that those who read the book were disappointed with some changes. See. That's the value of seeing the movie first. I don't have a clue as to what's been changed or left out. I don't have an image of the characters in my head. I either like the movie for itself or I don't. In this case, I really liked it and can't wait to see the next installment!

Toodles, ya'll!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Battle of the Book Covers: STAINED vs STAINED by Cheryl Rainfield

New Cover
I'm a big fan of Cheryl Rainfield. We met on Twitter and she's always been dear to my heart after  reading her book SCARS. It's based on her true life story of sexual abuse and terrible mistreatment and abuse during her early years. SCARS was published by a small publisher. Cheryl didn't anticipate the book making it into big bookstores. I was so excited to let her know when I spotted it in Barnes & Noble! Now Cheryl is moving up in the publishing world. Her newest book, STAINED  is being published by a major publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers! Yay! B&N has already signed on---and herein lies the rub: B&N didn't like the original book cover. They requested that it be changed.

Original cover

You may not realize it, dear reader, but a major book store has a lot of influence on a book's cover. If they don't like it, they can refuse to carry the book. That's a huge motivator to get a cover they're more comfortable with.

In this case, I think they're wrong. That's just my humble opinion of course. I'm looking at it from the simple position as a reader. STAINED is greatly influenced by Cheryl's personal experience with abuse. (Search for Cheryl's interview on this blog.) It's about a teen's experience when she is kidnapped and abused by her captor--both sexually and emotionally. Although Cheryl wrote her novel before recent events in the news, it's a ripped from the headlines echo of the crazy story of the man who kidnapped those four girls and held them captive for a decade.

B&N felt the original cover was too graphic. Really? The girl is shown being held captive. You totally know what this tale is about immediately. With the recent kidnapping revelations, it's an immediate draw. It's not like the cover model is showing her nude body. I think they're playing it too safe. Like I said, I know it would definitely catch my attention on the shelf, but I'm not a publishing professional, just a humble reader.

In any case, add it to your reading list. It releases October 1,  2013.

What do you think? Which cover do you like best?

Toodles, ya'll!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My selection for Waiting on Wednesday...

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a great way to learn about new books coming out.

I learned of this book from a feature in the newspaper. As a cat lover, I was immediately fascinated! A Street Cat Named Bob is about an awesome cat that lives with his owner, James, in London. James was a down-on-his-luck, hopeless drug addict until he met Bob. James was homeless and played his guitar for money. At the time, Bob was a mess too. He was terribly flea infested and ill. James used what little money he had to get Bob treated and brought him along as he played his guitar on the streets of London. Life began to change---for both of them!

People were very interested in Bob. Look at that face! Wouldn't you be?! They began to give James more money and he was encouraged to better his life---for himself and for Bob. A publishing professional passed by and the rest is history! James and Bob got a book deal and A Street Cat Named Bob was published in the UK. It's now in the US and I can't wait to read it!

I LOVE CATS!! Did I say that before?!? Lol...

A Street Cat Named Bob released July 30, 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books

Get your cat on, ya'll!!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Bargain! I Couldn't resist!!

Who doesn't love a bargain, especially for something you love? Well I certainly do. I simply adore the romance trilogy, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. It's the most exquisite love story and so deliciously written. It's full of angst and emotions, all jumbled and rolled around like a sticky, sweet french pastry with lots of sugar! Lol...I'm waxing poetic, no? Hee hee hee...I can't help it. This series is soooo good! I love it so much, I had to see the author when she did a signing at Books of Wonder in Manhattan. The placed was packed, so I wasn't the only one feeling the love!

I have all three books in the trilogy as keepers---cause they're definitely keepers. I'm going to read all three of them again---as soon as I get time! Lol...I also bought another set of the trilogy, had Han sign them and held a giveaway at that time, too. I love the series so much, I had to place them in a reader's hands.
Jenny Han signing my books!

Imagine my surprise the other day when I was in Walmart and spotted the trilogy---all together in one volume! Awesome. Genius!! It's an exclusive edition only available in Walmart. I had to buy it. I almost wanted to buy two, but I had to control myself. It was only a little over $10.00 for all three stories! What a freakin' crazy bargain. I think I'm going to give this to one of my friends who has really gotten into reading YA because of me. Her twin daughters will probably fight to read it first. They usually do. They call me the "book lady". Lol...

Don't cha just love a bargain?

Toodles, ya'll!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mailbox Monday

I was really surprised to find these books in my mailbox this week! Many thanks to St. Martin's Griffin for their generosity. I received two books by Amanda Hocking: SWITCHED and TIDAL. SWITCHED even has a never-before-published short story included which is cool. Two stories in one!

FATED is the first book in the Soul Seekers series by Alyson Noel.

The fourth and final book is kind of unusual. The name fits: CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn. I've never heard of it. Just looking at the cover makes me super curious to find out what's going on!

Until the next time, ya'll.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My selection for Waiting on Wednesday...

Book One
Boy! It's been forever since I did a Waiting on Wednesday post! Life's been incredibly busy these days, but I'd like to get back in the routine---somewhat! Jill at Breaking the Spine started this meme and I've missed it. For my return performance, I've selected the first book in a new series by Lauren DeStefano: Perfect Ruin, The Internment Chronicles.

I became a fan of DeStefano after reading Wither, The Chemical Garden trilogy. She has a lyrical, and lovely style of prose, plus her stories have an unusual and odd sensibility. The author even looks a bit mysterious and quirky in her photos; like there are a lot of strange stories floating in that head of hers. I for one, am curious to know what they are. This newest series sounds like it has that odd, creative vein running through it. Check out the description...

On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream. Unless you approach the edge.
Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she's engaged to marry.
Then a , the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is the boy being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or whom she will lose.

Yup. Sounds sufficiently odd and strange to me! I'd love to score a copy from the publisher ( are you listening Simon and Schuster? Lol...) I like collecting this author's books as keepers. The covers of her novels are interesting too.

Perfect Ruin, The Internment Chronicles, releases October 1, 2013.

Toodles, ya'll!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday!

I can't believe it, but I've never read a Melissa de la Cruz book. Not for lack of interest. She's a prolific writer and her Blue Bloods series sounds good. Somehow, I just never got around to any of her books. Probably because I have so many books to get to! I found her latest in my mailbox this week: Winds of Salem, a Witches of East End novel. It's a LifeTime series. I don't know if it's started yet because I'm behind on my TV watching too. My thanks to Hyperion for their generosity and their push to get me to read some of her stuff! Lol...Witches of Salem will be released 8/13/13.

I also received Scorched by Mare Mancuso. Dragons...Umm...doesn't that cover look awesome? The girl pictured is coming up against two brothers (cute I'm, one who wants to save the dragon and one who wants to destroy it. She and the dragon look kinda chummy to me...We'll see...I'll be digging into this one soon. My thanks to Sourcebooks Fire. Scorched will be released on 9/3/13.

I'm really looking forward to reading The Twisted Key by Tone Almhjell. I learned about this book from Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (which is freaking awesome, btw!). She met Tone Almhjell through her blog and they became friends. Laini referred her to her literary agent, I believe, and the rest is history. We now have The Twisted Key! The cover looks so magical and the story sounds so as well. There's a strange key that opens a secret door and leads to a strange world. If you're an animal lover like me, it sounds delicious because in that world, the inhabitants were once beloved pets or tamed wild animals. My thanks to the publisher for passing this on! The Twisted Key releases 10/22/13 from Dial.

Toodles, ya'll!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: THE RETURNED by Jason Mott

This book came to my attention because it is getting a lot of buzz. The Returned is being adapted as a TV series by ABC. I read interviews by the author and was intrigued by the premise of his story: What would happen if people began to return from the dead? Your loved ones and maybe some who were not so loved. What would you do? Why did this occur? I had to find out, so when the opportunity to read The Returned presented itself, I jumped at the chance.

Harold and Lucy Hargrove are shocked to find their son, Jacob, who died on his eighth birthday in 1966, standing on their doorstep. They don't know what to make of it. Is he a miracle or a devil? People all over the world are asking themselves the same questions, with varied and mixed reactions!

I watched the trailer for this book and the whole feel was weird and maybe a tad creepy. I didn't know what to make of the story myself, so I had to plunge into it.

As I read, I keep waiting for the big answer. Why was this happening? That question was in the back of my mind the whole time. As the story proceeded, I found it interesting, but I became a bit disappointed because it was not turning out to be the big, epic, grandiose tale I was expecting. It was proceeding along rather quietly and I was able to put it down several times. It stayed in the back of my mind, though, and I knew I had to finish it. I had to know where it was all leading.

The tale begins to pick up speed. An entire murdered family "returns" and some people are not happy about it. They are intent on sending them back to the grave. Lucy and Harold Hargrove have other plans. The whole world is in a tizzy. Governments have to decide what to do with these newly "undead" people. It may not be what you would expect. The world reaction certainly threw me for a loop.

You really have to read this story for yourself. The author developed his idea for this story after he dreamed about his deceased mother returning from the dead. It was his hope that this book would be thought-provoking and indeed help people to consider their own feelings and perhaps deal with unresolved issues considering their dearly departed.

I found myself in tears for one brief moment and I believe I understood the author's intent. We each have to confront the end of life and what that means for each of us.

The Returned is epic in an unexpected and gentle way. It sneaks up on you and pulls you into exploring death and ultimately the meaning of life. Read it.

The Returned releases August 27, 2013 by Harlequin Mira.

Toodles, ya'll...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Random Shot: Ice cream anyone?

Well, it's Random Shot time. I've decided to post these every so often if I manage to catch something on film that interests me. I was walking along when I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw a squirrel sitting on a railing. He had something in his hands and he looked like he was munching away! I took a picture from a distance, but I still couldn't quite make out what he was holding. I crept a bit closer, figuring he would scamper away. Nope. He stayed put. I came closer still, as close as I dared and still he didn't move---except for his jaws! Lo and behold, he was eating ice cream. Or the last remnants of it. This squirrel was enjoying himself with a frozen treat and he wasn't about to stop just because a nosy human was in his adventures of the urban squirrel...

Toodles, y'all!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Game by Barry Lyga

Book Two
I've been a fan of Barry Lyga since I read his second book, Boy Toy. it is about the sexual abuse of a young boy by his teacher. It was so amazingly good. I learned he was writing a fairly big book on a serial killer. He appears to be a through researcher on the subject matter he he writes about, so I couldn't wait to see what he was going to do with this topic. I wasn't disappointed. The first book in the series, I Hunt Killers is excellent. Game is the sequel and once again, I was a satisfied customer. It picks up where I Hunt Killers left off and takes so many spins and turns. The first book had so many heart pumping moments. Game deepened the story. Check out the description...

Billy grinned. "Oh, New York," he whispered. "We're gonna have so much fun."

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history's most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn't run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo's Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help, he can't say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple--and its police force--running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer's murderous game.

Both the stakes and the body count are higher in this suspenseful and unstoppable sequel from acclaimed author Barry Lyga.

Lyga makes each character so unique.  The main character, Jasper Dent aka Jazz is white and his girlfriend, Connie is black. I don't know if the author had/has a black girlfriend, but he captured the whole black girl feel perfectly, especially the angst many of them have about their hair. I may be confusing this issue with what happened in the first book since the story meshes together so seamlessly.

This is not just the story of the exploits of a serial killer, but how those exploits affect his son and their relationship; how this killer thinks he is and tries to be a good father in his own perverse way. A very creative premise.

On one of my visits to Lyga's site, I recall seeing a picture of how thick the manuscript for this story was before it was published. In book two, he leaves us at a critical juncture. I'm licking my chops to learn how it all ends in book three.

Game released April 16, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Toodles ya'll!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy National Lobster Day!

Today is National Lobster Day. We think of this succulent meat as a luxury today, but it wasn't always so. In the 1800's, lobster was considered peasant food! It was so plentiful,  people in New England just picked them up off the beach during low tide and the wealthy served them to their servants several times a week. Can you imagine?
Lobster Salad
Lobster Roll

What you may want to imagine are all the wonderful ways you can serve lobster: the classic lobster roll, lobster salad, steamed, grilled, a lobster bake...I can see the steam wafting off the hot corn now...Have I wet your appetite?...I bet my friend Patty, who's a lobster aficionado, has plans today for a lovely meal. If nothing else, there's always Red Lobster...Lol...Enjoy!

Toddles, y'all!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Release: Tidal by Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking keeps the books coming. The self-published wunderkind is engrossed in her newest series. Her third book in the Watersong series released June 4. Learn more about her and her other books by going here.

Toodles y'all!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Book One
The Eternity Cure is the second book of the Blood Eden series by Julie Kagawa. I haven't read her Iron Fey series, but I'm in love with this one. It's bloody good---literally! Take a peek at the description from Goodreads:

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

The description doesn't even begin to touch what goes on in this novel. I thought the first book, The Immortal Rules was good, but the author upped the ante with this one! She deepened the story and took the reader through dark and bloody (there goes that word again!) twists and turns. The story was pretty violent, but it wasn't gratuitous or superficial. Every fight, wound and death was necessary to tell the tale. Kagawa even managed to intersperse a romance among the heavy, dangerous action. 

Each character was so unique and well fleshed out. I loved them all---with the exception of Stick. He's well-written, just a guy you love to hate. You'll, the savvy, but dangerous vampire, could be so drool and funny...I laughed out loud more than once at his words of "wisdom." The author excels at world-building. She blew my mind by the ending, but of course you'll have to read it yourself to find out.

I'm ready for book three. I can't wait to keep reading this story. I think the rights were bought to adapt it to a movie, but I'm not sure. It would be awesome as a film. Boys will love it for the action and girls will eat up the romance. Awesome, I say!

The Eternity Cure was released April 30. 2013 by Harlequin Teen.

Toodles, y'all!

Book Two

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Random Shot: YA Anyone?

I have no idea who this kid is. He just caught my eye because I thought he looked interesting. As it turns out, he's not very photogenic. He looks much better in the flesh. I was curious about his ethnicity and I still haven't figured it out. I think he looks so classically YA, a teen of the moment...I tried not to be obvious taking the shot, but do you think he caught on? LOL...

Toodles, y'all!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Star Trek: Into thoughts...

I went to see the latest Star Trek movie this Memorial weekend. I was happy to learn it was offered in 2-D because I hate paying a premium price for 3-D. It's such a rip-off. I remember when 3-D movies were regular price, then after the popularity of Avatar, the studios realized they could make a killing fooling people to think it was worth it to pay more for 3-D. It's not.

Anyway...I digress...let me get back to the matter at hand---Star Trek. I read several mixed reviews, some of which really skewered the movie. I was determined to see for myself because I really enjoyed the Star Trek movie in 2009 and was looking forward to the follow up. I really hoped these critics were wrong. Thank goodness they were. I had such a good time!! And this is coming from someone who is not a Trekkie. When Star Trek came on TV when I was a kid, I hated it. All that philosophical mumbo-jumbo went over my head. I was bored silly. It was only when I got older and saw the reruns that I could understand what was going on and the deeper meaning of the scenes.

I just don't understand what some of these reviewers are looking for. Some said the movie was boring and this couldn't be further from the truth. There were a lot of pulse-pumping, heart-stopping moments that had me and by the looks of it, a lot of people in the theater, at the edge of their seats. I was clutching my chest and practically gnawing my hand at some laughed out loud at the bromance between Kirk and Spock. All the actors channeled the old stars and their mannerisms of the characters so well. They stayed true to who the characters are, but still made the roles their own: Scotty, Sulu, Dr. McCoy...etc...And the new villian...Some reviewers said he was boring. Hello!! He's played by "Sherlock Holmes" himself, Benedict Cumberbatch. He was wonderfully drool, yet menacing in the role. I couldn't wait to find out what he was really up to.

Well, have I made myself clear?! I loved this movie, can't wait for the next installment and those critics don't know what they're talking about!

Of course, if you, dear reader didn't like the movie, I'll most definitely respect your opinion...Lol...

Toodles, y'all!