Sunday, December 28, 2008

Young Adult - Lightning Key

The Lightning Key: The Wednesday Tales No. 3 (Wednesday Tales)… by Jon Berkeley
Finding Tangerine (the orange teddy bear) torn open and the Tiger’s Egg stolen, Miles Wednesday had a goal of finding the Egg, learning how to use it and then finally finding a way to get his father back into his life. The adventure begins with the help of his Song Angel friend Little, they are joined by a blind explorer, Baltinglass of Araby. The discovery that the Great Cortado and Doctor Tau-Tau are working together to keep the egg away from Miles and to learn the secrets of controlling the egg’s power makes Miles even more determined to find the information first. Miles quick mind makes plans on the spot, Baltinglass has a reason for all the crazy things he does and Little has a great heart and ability to encourage Miles in just the right way that together they may be able to solve the riddles that will release the power of the Tiger’s Egg.

Book 3 of The Wednesday Tales….. Attention grabber from the first chapter, this is a fantastic fantasy. This story has been tagged for kids 8-12, the writing fits in that age group, except for some of the names of people and places (use your imagination to get the pronunciation). I really liked the start of each chapter with its adjective-packed and object-described first sentence that helped you remember what was happening or where they were. I read this as a stand alone, but I think some of it would have made sense sooner if I had read the previous books (Palace of Laugher & Tiger’s Egg). This book will be great for kids who like fantasy, with its great characters, and descriptions of the Realm, the tiger, the airship and each time they are confronted with Cortado and Tau-Tau. I think I will start the kids with the first of the series, but this is a great early review book, I received from HarperCollins Childrens. This books scheduled release is: 1/27/09.

Nov 23, 2008

Young Adult - Nine Days a Queen

Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey… by Ann Rinaldi
Cousin to the child King, Lady Jane Grey at a young age decided she would never want to be Queen. Watching her friends, her cousins, playing with them, she always knew she was fourth in line for the crown, but even with King Edward sick and dying she always thought Princess Mary would take the throne. Amazed to discover herself 15 years old, and left without anyone she could truly trust, her parents married her to Guildford Dudley and then thrust her on the throne and declared, after King Edwards death, Jane the Queen. Queen Jane had no idea what had happened to Princess Mary and why she was now the queen instead. Mary wanted to be queen, she fought for it and she finally claimed the throne nine days after Jane had been declared queen. Jane now found herself as well as her husband, Guildford, and his family all locked in the towers for treason. Lady Jane kept hope that Queen Mary would realize that she was yet a child, a pawn, and hopefully still her friend, she knew she would be pardoned.

Based in a terrible but true story about England’s royal show of force and deceptions. Historically fairly accurate for a fictional book, sometimes it is easier to learn history with a little story embellishments. This tragic story of a 15 year old who was forced to be Queen is a difficult story to believe and hard enough for scholars to follow all the plots, at times I felt this book had too much information that was not necessary for a young adult fiction, other times I felt there was some details missing that might have helped explain things a bit better. The ending was dramatically written, with the authors notes to complete the story. The addition of the references is great for anyone who has need to check facts of this story.

Nov 19, 2008

Movie - Lady in White (1988)

A Halloween prank in 1962, leaves Frankie Scarlatti (Lukas Haas) trapped in the schools cloak room, only to witness a ghost murder of a little girl. As the door opens and a man enters, Frankie fears for his life. Now that he knows about the ghost, Melissa (Joelle Jacobi), and that she is looking for her mom (Karen Powell), he starts trying to figure out who killed her, ten other children, and almost him. He is sure the legendary Lady in White must be Melissa’s mother, she is known to haunt the cliffs around the area the dead children were found. Frankie’s brother, Geno (Jason Presson) has always liked scarring Frankie until he realizes that Frankie has found a bit of information that will identify the killer. Following the ghost of Melissa to the cliffs, Frankie discovers who the lady in white is, and what Melissa and her mothers final moments were like.

This movie has been with me for a long time and I finally had to rent it. This is a movie made in 1988 so the tricks of filming are obvious (not great) and the use of foul language and some of the antic by the kids are more than I remember, but the story is timeless. Not just a ghost, but one that is murdered every night at 10pm, it is a good Halloween story. So many of the characters looked so familiar to me, Amanda (Katherine Helmond) Donald (Jared Rushton), and the dad (Alex Rocco). This is rated PG-13 and because of prejudice, language and violence, I would agree, at least 13 or up. I remember why this movie has always stuck in my mind, it is a mystery, it is scary, it is sad, and it is funny.

I love the older music and this song (in my opinion) wraps up the whole feeling of the movie. ...... “Something very strange and mystic happened to me, something realistic and as weird as can be, something that I feared some how is now endeared to me, what a funny feeling odd and yet so true, did a thing like this ever happen to you? Have you ever seen a dream walking, well I have. Did you ever hear a dream talking, well I did, did you ever have a dream thrill you with will you be mine……….” “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking” by Harry Revel & Mark Gordon, Performed by Bing Crosby

Nov 16, 2008

Book - Dark Gold

Dark Gold (The Carpathians (Dark) Series, Book 3)… by Christine Feehan
An important job interview for Alexandria Houton ended in a nightmare. Witnessing a vampires destruction and then being taken by him along with her younger brother Joshua, Alex had no idea what this monster wanted with her. The appearance of Aidan Savage did not make her feel any better. He seemed to be the same kind of monster and his treatment of her wasn’t much better. They had both done awful things to her that made her feel pain, but Aidan had taken her and her brother to his house and seemed to be caring for her. All Aidan had know for centuries was his loneliness, his dark existence, but as he went to finish off the monsters he realized that the women gave him color. Could this be his lifemate? Realizing too late, he knew that the vampire had already started the change in her and he needed to finish the change, with his own blood. As with all Carpathians, the first priority was to keep his lifemate safe, and in this case, her brother too. Alex thought she had a to be caught in the nightmare still, the things this beautiful man said to her, it could not be true. She still wanted to be human even if she was starting to believe it wasn’t true.

Book 3 - Another example of this addictive series. Alex's sarcasm and defiance was fun to watch, but Aidans frustrations over her was more fun. After meeting Aidan (Dark Desire) it was nice to see his interaction with his human family and the way he took to Josh. Alex made a rather quick change from disbelief to acceptance and seeming to understanding everything. Didn’t talk about Alex’s psychic abilities much, but I enjoyed to contrast between Carpathian and vampire as well as the chance to see Gregori again, so much more information about that ancient, I am excited his story is coming.

Nov 15, 2008

Book - Dark Desire

Dark Desire (The Carpathians (Dark) Series, Book 2)… by Christine Feehan
Seven years of nightmares, the pain, the visions of a haunted and tormented man. Surgeon Shea O’Halloran grew used to seeing this man, almost expected him. Jacques Dubrinsky saw a woman, he had lost his connection with his family, but he could see her, he could cause her pain. She was one of them, it was because of her that he was trapped and in so much pain, he wanted to cause her pain. Shea had no way of knowing that the man, the torment, the pain was all real until she went to the Carpathian Mountains to do research. Shea felt drawn to the old burned out house, to the cellar, to the man. Jacques madness and memory loss left him with only his anger, revenge and this strange desire to never leave Shea, she was his only connection to anything other than the pain. She could fix his body if he let her, she wanted to fix his head, his heart, and his soul. Jacques finally realized she was not to blame, but had he pushed her too far, would she ever forgive him for the harsh way he treated her?

Book 2 - Such a harsh seven years for Jacques to endure, the madness could be expected, making him the typical tortured soul hero. He is a brute and Shea is ignorant of any of her connection to him and his race. Took me quite a while to figure out that this story takes place about 25 years after ‘Dark Prince’. Still never explained why the only connection that Jacques made during his paralysis was with Shea, across the ocean, I suppose it was a lifemate thing but I was never really sure. This is another good story to add to the depth of the characters of Mikhail, Raven, Gregori, Byron and Aidan but the romance between Jacques and Shea was predictable. I really hope that Jacques mind can return enough to go back to a little of himself from ‘Dark Prince’, can’t wait to see what happens next.

Nov 12, 2008

Book - Scandal in Spring

Scandal in Spring (The Wallflowers, Book 4) by Lisa Kleypas
Faced with the ultimatum of finding her own husband or being forced to marry Mr. Matthew Swift, Daisy Bowman stopped reading her book to take a walk down by the wishing well. The wishing well had served her ‘wallflower’ friends well, each of them were now married to a man they each loved. If only that same wish could come true for her too. Matthew Swift had watched Daisy and her family together for ten years now, he knew how her father treated her, he also knew he had no rights to her. His past prevented him from anything more than his overwhelming desire to see her and be around her. Daisy had been in England for two years now, she never realized how much someone could change is such a short amount of time. Mr. Swift was at one time a bag of bones and just like her father, but now he was different. Daisy didn’t want to like him for any reason, that would make her father happy.

Another great Wallflower book from Lisa Kleypas. Daisy Bowman was a very complicated character, she loves to read her novels and she is shy but at the same time, she has such spunk and a strong will. Despite her fathers cruel treatment of her and her sister, they both are so self assured. Another strong female character. Matthews secret is well hidden till the right time, I had a few guesses, but the end result was better. The return of all the girls and their men to Stony Cross Manor was fun, to see the difference in them after marriage. Actually enjoyed seeing Lillians anger about Matthew and how everyone seemed to like him but her, hormones and her personality made for some good sparks.

Nov 10, 2008

Movie - Happily N'Ever After (2007)

Once upon a time, the wizard (voice of Geroge Carlan) took a vacation and left Munk (Wallace Shawn) and Mambo (voice of Andy Dick) in charge of the balance between good and evil scales. Cinderella's (voice of Sarah Michelle Gellar) evil stepmother, Frieda (voice of Sigourney Weaver) found a way to take over, and decided to make all the stories turn out different. Ella thought the person that would be able to help was Prince Charming (voice of Patrick Warburton), so joined by the royal dishwasher Rick (voice of Freddie Prinze Jr.), they sets out to in search of the Prince. The power hungry Frieda puts together an unusual army of wolves, trolls and witches to stop Ella and Prince Charming from changing what she had done. Ella may yet find the power to change all that her stepmother and done and save all of the Happily Ever Afters, even if they are boring.

What a strange twist on the stories that everyone grew up with. Great for the kids (8 and up - Rated PG) that have grown up watching these traditional fairy tales, possibly a little violent for some of the younger kids. The "evil" side in mean, nasty and rude in such a funny way, even the parents will have to laugh. Music is not classic style to fairy tales so it gives it a modern feeling as does the CG style of animation.

DVD Bonus Features include an Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, 3 Featurettes and 5 Games. A 2007 movie that is approximately 87 minutes long.

Nov 8, 2008

Movie - National Treasure 2

During a dedication ceremony of Civil War memorabilia, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) was confronted with Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) saying that he had proof that Gates' great, great granddad was involved in the assassination plot of President Lincoln. What would you do if you were told one of your ancestors may have been involved in one of the worst days in American history? Exactly what Gates and his team (dad, mom, girlfriend, and friend) did, follow the clues to prove he was fighting against the group that was involved and burning the information that would have changed the outcome of the Civil War. Those clues came from different places, an old diary starts them with a cryptogram that leads them to the statue of liberty (did you know there were 3). Following the clues led them to Buckingham palace and the White house, while some clues were easier to retrieve, some took a little more maneuvering to find just the right approach and the right questions to get the answers. All the while, trying to keep Wilkinson from getting to the secrets, in the end, they may all have to work together to get out alive.

The return of this cast makes it so easy to enjoy this movie. As the movie progressed, the characters showed their character again. The nutty friend Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), wrote a book and had a moment that he knew more than Gates and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). The addition of mom (Helen Mirren) and dad (Jon Voight) on the expedition proved funny, straight laced professor knows a few things about ancient writings and finally finds out what the draw is to go on one of these treasure hunts. Watched this with the kids (rated PG), they both enjoyed the site of ‘the City‘ (great set) and the part where ‘mom and dad‘ vine swinging across a river

Nov 8, 2008

Book - Devil in Winter

The Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers, Book 3)… by Lisa Kleypas
Living as a notorious rake, the Viscount Lord Sebastian St. Vincent thought he was as happy as he could be. He knew he needed a wealthy bride to help keep him in the way of life he had become accustomed to. Taking Lillian Bowman against her will and trying to force the American heiress to marry him had not been one of his best moves. It had cost him his best friend and his position was no better. When Lillian’s shy ‘wallflower’ friend Evangeline Jenner, showed up on his doorstep in the middle of the night with a similar opportunity for him, he was very skeptical. Evie had to get away from her mothers family, they had been abusive most of her life, but she drew the line at them stopping her from seeing her dying father. Evie wanted to trade her soon to be wealth for a marriage of convenience. She was willing for the infamous rake to continue his life style of women and drinking, in fact she insisted on it. Tenderhearted Evie knew she would be risking her heart if she allowed him to get to close. Accepting each others conditions, they start off on a journey that leaves them both more aware of the other than they ever thought they would become.

This is part of a series and this particular book continues the previous (It Happened One Autumn) by seconds. I recommend that you read ‘It Happened One Autumn first‘. To see the change start so simple and become so drastic in Sebastian was amazing, the living cliché about reformed rakes. I was not so sure it could be done as smoothly as it was. After seeing his arrogance in the previous book, then to see him as this book continued, was very nicely done. Poor Evie never stood a chance with this kind of seduction on his mind. The quick wit of both characters was great and the reunion of the ‘Wallflowers’ was also nice. I enjoyed the addition of Cam Rohan and the reminder that there is still one wallflower left. Next up is Daisy Bowman and this book doesn’t seem to give any hints (unlike the previous books) as to that match. As much as I liked the two previous books, I think this one just jumped ahead as my favorite so far.

Nov 7, 2008

Book - Catch of the Day

Catch Of The Day by Kristan Higgins
Being not so secretly in love with a priest for a year makes it difficult to find a date. Living in the same small town (Gideon’s Cove, Maine) as you grew up in and owning the only diner in town, makes it so Maggie Beaumont knows everybody that lives there and they all know her. All of her most humiliating moments have been shared with the whole town. Her twin sister Christy has the perfect family and that is all Maggie really wants for herself too. Father Tim knew of Maggie’s crush on him and so he tried to set her up on blind dates to help her move past it. She willing went on several dates, until she started seeing the silent and slightly scary lobsterman known only by his last name, Malone. He had lived in Gideon’s Cove since high school so he knew a lot of the same people that Maggie did. Malone preferred to be the quiet one, he didn’t like to share himself, his life or his past and when the energetic talkative diner owner started coming around, he was faced with parts of himself that he never bothered to look at before.

This is a story that can touch your heart in more than one way. The relationship between the twins and their little brother (Jonah), it’s fun to see the bickering and name calling that comes from familial love. The different types of friendships available to a single women in a small town. The greatest relationship of all is the one with her best friend, Colonel her beloved dog. I am not used to reading stories written in the first person, this was fun to go through the stories of her memory to see all of her most embarrassing moments and to go through her reasoning’s for all of her thoughts and actions. A bit predictable, but overall a really enjoyable lazy day read. But, if you like dogs and you like Colonel, even a little, you will need a Kleenex, or three.

Nov 5, 2008

Book - It Happened One Autumn

It Happened One Autumn (The Wallflowers, Book 2)… by Lisa Kleypas
Stony Cross, Hampshire, 1843 The beautiful and free spirited American heiress, Lillian Bowman, needed to marry an English peer. She knew she needed a sponsor for her and her sister Daisy, the problem was finding one willing to take on the independent American girls. At Stony Cross, Marcus Marsden, Lord Westcliff knew his place and had his plans, he never planned on Lillian with all her interesting ways. After witnessing some of her antics, Marcus found his attentions being drawn to her in an uncomfortable and surprising way. Lillian thought she disliked Marcus for all his high handed orders and still she wasn’t able to forget the feel of his hands or his kiss.

This was not the best book in this series so far. This was a completely predictable and expected story, all the way up to the end. A very nice romance to bring the strong and confident Marcus to a point of laughter, nice to see that two strong characters can make a fun story without needing a real villain. ( * Spoiler * ) The twist of the ‘bad guy’ being St. Vincent was a little surprising. I had liked St. Vincent as a possible for Evie, then he went and played a part in Lillians abduction. I see St. Vincents point, he just needed the money and she was dropped in his lap. I am eager to see how Lisa Kleypas can recover St. Vincent to a position that he will be worthy of the shy Evie, since that seems to be the set up for the next book.

Nov 4, 2008

Movie - Lady Jane (1986)

A drama that follows a conspiracy that matches Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter) with Lord Guilford Dudley (Cary Elwes) with the thought of controlling them both. When the two fall in love, they are determined to be strong and then they become privy to the knowledge that on King Edwards death bed he was convinced to Will the crown to Cousin Jane and her new husband. Queen Jane was unwilling at first until Guilford pointed out how much good could be done with the Crown in the right hands. The rein of Queen Jane lasted only nine days, the true heir, Princess Mary, the daughter of King Henry, finally was able to take her crown and imprisoned Jane and Guilford.

This is a 1986 movie that is rated PG-13, it does have violence and some nudity. This is a period piece that will never go out of style. This time in England's history is something that I know little about. I am sure some of the story is based in truth, but I loved Lady Jane. Her generosity and intelligence seemed out of place in that time while Guilford started out as a drunkard, then turned out that he had character, and strength of his own. This movie was well made with fabulous costumes and scenery, the site of Cary Elwes and Patrick Stewart so young was fun. This movie made me laugh and this movie made me cry more than I should admit. "The soul takes flight to a world that is invisible, but there arriving she is sure of bliss, and forever dwells in paradise."

Nov 2, 2008

Book - Secrets of a Summer Night

Secrets of a Summer Night (The Wallflowers, Book 1)… by Lisa Kleypas
London 1841 - Stony Cross, Hampshire 1843
The search for a husband is tough enough without having to be the one that has no dowry to help. Annabelle Peyton had family problems and the only asset they had left was her beauty. She needed a good match that could bring her family out of the hole that the death of her father had left. The scheming of four friends (the wallflowers) finally found what they thought would make Annabelle a good match, and the plan was in motion. The rich and powerful businessman Simon Hunt had always been interested in Annabelle, but she wanted a peer, not the son of a butcher. His hope was to take what he wanted, but as he watched and waited, he found he may not ever be happy with just that little bit of her.

Another great story by Lisa Kleypas. The introduction of the Wallflowers and their personalities was wonderful, I have heard so much about this series and enjoyed finally getting to know them all. The strength of Annabelle and Lillian are wonderfully contrasted with the comedy of Daisy and the shy timid girl of Evangeline. “Somehow I’ve never thought of husband-hunting as a team sport” has to be what sums up the idea of the Wallflower series. The strength and patience of Simon draws you in, but his passion is the stuff dreams are made of, that is why (I believe) that we read romance novels, to see this kind of passion, to dream of this kind of devotion. Excellent characters and a good story, I found myself laughing and tearing a bit with them. On to the next of the series, (It Happened One Autumn), which I believe is Lillian and Lord Westcliff’s story based on the ending of this one.

Nov 1, 2008

Movie - Beetle Juice (1988)

A quiet vacation at home is all Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin) Maitand wanted. In need of something from town, they travel across the Winter River Bridge, on the way back they have some trouble. First they have to figure out how they had gotten back to their house, second they wanted to know if they had survived the crash. Finding out that they were deceased was bad, but the Deetz family moving in was worse. The only bright spot of the entire situation seemed to be the outcast of a daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder) who Barbara and Adam take a instant liking to after they find out that she seems to be the only one who can see them. She also seems to understand the 'stereo instructions' of a book that had all the answers. Not being able to handle the Deetz's on their own, Barbara and Adam call BeetleJuice (Michael Keaton) for help. Not knowing the extent of what they have done and how much harm could come from it, they try again to scare the Deetz family. Can they stop BeetleJuice in time and can they save Lydia?

This is a fun movie, had to drag it out for the kids this year. It is only rated PG, but I had forgotten that BeetleJuice has one awful line (with the 'F' word) and a few other curse words scattered through out. Fun and entertaing even after 20 years. Once we got past the language, the kids loved the parlor tricks of the ghosts, singing and dancing to the Calipso and even though the rail turning into a snake scarred my youngest, she liked they way Lydia was rewarded for an 'A' in math. This is another of Tim Burtons success stories. It even won an Oscar for Best Makeup in 1989.

Nov 1, 2008

Book - Again the Magic

Again The Magic by Lisa Kleypas
Hampshire, England 1832 - 1844 Sometimes the best thing to do for yourself is to save someone else. That is what Lady Aline Marsden thought, she wanted nothing more than to save John McKenna from the terrible threats her father had made. Aline loved McKenna enough to give him up, push him away, but after he left a terrible accident left her even more sure of her decision to stay alone in a self imposed exile from most of society. McKenna thought never to return to Stony Cross after the way Aline had hurt him, but after he made a fortune and proved he had higher ambitions he decided a little revenge was in order. Spending just a few days in the presence of Aline, Livia and Marcus (younger sister and older brother) knew what McKenna was after and feared for Aline’s and McKenna’s hearts.

Very predictable storyline, even with the subtle twist (also predictable), a heartfelt rekindling of emotions, while the undertones of vengeance were never strong, the feeling of being disappointed in each of them is more real. (** Spoiler **)The best part of the book (for me) is the surprise relationship between Livia and Gideon Shaw. The struggles that Gideon face with his business, his own family as well as his drinking gives him the ‘tormented soul’ persona and then he steps up. Gideon has the best line (IMHO) of the book, “You don’t have to say it back. For once, I want to have the pleasure of loving someone without asking for anything in return.” The strength of character that he shows till the end is so encouraging. This is an older Avon Historical Romance form 2004

Oct 29, 2008

Movie - Little Women (1994)

Based on Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel.
Four sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy (Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst) and their mother (Susan Sarandon) have their own battles, of life with their father gone. Making do with less the girls find other ways to entertain themselves while the bonds of sisterhood grow. Even with the interests of men starting, the girls are able to have a loving connection to each other through all of lives obstacles.

Obviously wonderful characters, and great performances from a strong cast makes this re-make of the revered classic a great addition to any library. Not the type of movie to be watched just once. The emotion of the book is clearly portrayed by these actors. It is sometimes hard to find good book to movie or even movie remakes, this is both and is done in a fabulous way to make it a great movie. This is a 1994 movie.

Oct 26, 2008

Childrens - Verdi

Verdi by Janell Cannon
Verdi is a young python, he is yellow with stripes and has no desire to grow up and grow green. He wants nothing but to jump, climb and keep moving around the jungle, never growing old, growing lazy and green. He wanted to keep his yellow skin and his stripes, but slowly the green started. All the while the older green snakes and other animals watched. They knew the feelings that Verdi was having, they remembered, so they tried to tell him stories to sooth him. Then, after he really had turned to green, and was enjoying watching the jungle, two young, yellow snakes came to him and he had the chance to leap and laugh again, remembering his younger days.

Every animal has its way of growing up and growing wiser, even snakes. This is a great book with lots of large wonderful pictures for the smaller kids and a great story for kids of all ages. The young Verdi is full of life and determination while the older he gets, he learns he doesn't have to loose that life just because he is getting older and greener. This is a fun book for anyone who likes snakes.

The last pages are snake facts that are also very informative and remind us that just because they can sometimes scare us, snakes are an important part of our world and that most are more helpful than harmful.

Oct 26, 2008

Book - Dark Prince

Dark Prince (The Carpathians (Dark) Series, Book 1)… by Christine Feehan
After chasing some of the monsters that live, psychic Raven Whitney decided a vacation to someplace secluded was in order. Wanting to forget and get over the horrors in her mind, she tried to block others thoughts and feelings until a heartbroken mans feelings broke through to her and she had to respond to him, giving him comfort and finding he had a psychic ability of his own, only stronger. All of the Carpathians had psychic abilities, but Mikhail Dubrinsky was surprised that a human women was the one that heard his sorrow and despair in the night. She was strong and compassionate and he needed to see and hear more from her. Ravens presence in Mikhails life had saved him, been the light to his darkness and in turn had saved his people from Mikhail himself, he wanted to protect and be with her, he just hoped that Ravens compassion was enough to accept what he really was, the monsters that she had chased in the past not may be the only monsters in her life and thoughts. If Raven could accept him and his people, would she be the savior, the light that they had been waiting centuries for?

Strong characters, I can see why this is such a large series. I enjoyed meeting the Prince first, Mikhail is a strong and commanding presence that leaves Raven feeling safe and loved. The strength of compassion and understanding in Raven is even more impressive, as a character that starts in the dark (no pun intended) it is easy to follow her progress into acceptance. It is almost natural even if Mikhail had not bound them together, Raven would have stayed. The family of the Carpathians are rich with great characters, Jacques, Gregori, Byron and Aidan all have such darkness, and need to find their light also.

Oct 26, 2008

Book - Any Given Doomsday

Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles) by Lori Handeland
Ex-cop and psychic Elizabeth Phoenix lost one of the most important person in her life, finding that Ruthie hadn't left her completely turned out to be a mixed blessing. While Ruthie came to her in her dreams to explain some things, Elizabeth had trouble dealing with the other parts of her new reality. Her new talents and gifts were hard enough to live with but now she had to rely on Jimmy (her ex who broke her heart) and Sawyer (the ‘Medicine Man’ who had helped her with her psychic ability). The additional information that that the Myths about the fallen angels turns out to be true and that the death of Ruthie could cause the ‘Doomsday’ to come to pass unless she can learn how to stop it, leaves Elizabeth stumbling from New Mexico to New York trying to figure out what the right thing is and how to do it.

This book has such mixed reviews, I had to find out for myself why. I understand now, I have mixed feelings about this book myself. I really enjoy the concept of good against evil, even the death of Ruthie and her being a seer, vampires, skin walkers, dream walkers and even the ability to take on the same powers as others. That is where I see the problem, it is the excuse for one character to have sex, with everyone. A little disappointing to have a simple twist be the reason for the mixed feelings (I think this is the reason), the concept is good but I am not sure if it is enough for me to look for the next installment (Doomsday Can Wait - May 2009) This was an Advanced Readers Copy, due out in November 2008

Oct 23, 2008

Movie/TV - Rose Red (2002)

Based on Stephen King's Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
Psychology professor Dr. Joyce Reardon takes a group of psychics to a supposedly dormant haunted mansion (Rose Red). During the coarse of the holiday weekend, they learn several stories about the people who have gone missing or have died in the house. The house not only wakes up with the presence of the psychics, it begins to thrive and grow again leaving the group lost in the ever changing myriad of rooms and hallways in the mansion. The problem is that the house doesn't want Dr. Reardon to get the proof she wants, the electrical problems as well as stuck doors and widows start to take its toll on the group leaving some lost, some missing and some dead.

Very long (254 min), but very worth it. 2002 made for TV movie (considered a mini-series, rated PG-13). A suspense filled psychological thriller (don‘t know if I would call it a Horror). Heart pounding at every twist, the characters are so different from each other and they all have special gifts that plays a part in the reason they are in the house, the surprise is the good Dr. Reardon and her reaction near the end. Really enjoyed the atmosphere of the house, the rooms are great especially the office and the library. There is one or two moments that the acting is a bit distracting (Emery and his mom) and the special effects were good but not great.

Oct 19, 2008

Book - Mine Till Midnight

Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, Book 1) by Lisa Kleypas
England, 1848 In the process of trying to locate her wayward brother who seems bent on self destruction, Amelia Hathaway found herself in a Gentlemen’s Club. Cam Rohan knew as soon as Amelia walked into the room, she was not just any women, he knew he had to help her find her brother and then hopefully avoid the consequences of the thoughts he was having about her. Cams ‘good luck curse’ made him long for the freedom of the Gypsy lifestyle while the string of bad luck that the Hathaway family was in seemed to be getting worse and Amelia had to take control to make sure the whole family (Leo, Amelia, Winnifred, Poppy, Beatrix and Merripen) survived. Finding themselves in the same area again, Cam found he could not stop trying to help Amelia, while Amelia struggled to maintain control, she seemed relieved to find someone who was finally willing to really help her when she needed it, even if she didn‘t realize that is what she wanted.

The characters in this book are wonderful, the strength of both Amelia and Cam shine leaving me to want to know more (luckily ‘Seduce Me at Sunrise’ delivers that and more). The struggles Amelia has in keeping her family together are sometimes tough but she handles all of them with such kindness (even the lizards) that you can see the love for her family (including Merripen and all his surliness). Cam is a great complex character, a bit of humor, some confidence and a lot of luck, this is the type of character that I enjoy watching as he realizes the depth of his feelings and what it actually means to him, and then ……. there is what he does about it. There is a bit of a paranormal twist, just a small part, but it may prove to be the turning point for the Hathaway family. This is the first book of the Hathaway family series.

Oct 17, 2008

Book - Seduce Me at Sunrise

Seduce Me at Sunrise (The Hathaways, Book 2) by Lisa Kleypas
England, 1851 As a boy, Kev Merripen, a Gypsy boy had been left for dead by his own family, so the Hathaway family took him in, got him healthy and allowed him to join their family. Merripen was always doing his best to make up for his past, a past that he was ashamed to tell anyone about, especially Winnifred Hathaway. Win must have fallen in love the moment she saw him, no one else ever caught her eyes, or heart after Kev came into the house. Now that they are both grown, Win is tired of being ill so she takes a journey to a clinic in France. Her recovery is remarkable but after two years away, she wonders if the feeling she had for Kev are real and if he has ever cared about her the way she wanted him to.

Enjoyed this book, found I was more interested in the relationship between Kev and Cam than the romantic one, could tell after the first page that Kev and Win would end up together. Liked the character of the brother Leo also, something about these men (out numbered as they are) that caught my attention. I would have gladly spent more time with the men, their way of supporting each other was so gruff and touching at the same time. As always, it is fun to learn about other cultures and languages while reading so it was fun to learn a bit about the Gypsies (Roma). This is the second book of the Hathaway family series.

Oct 15, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Movie - Last Sin Eater (2007)

Living with the thought that she had been the reason her own sister died, Cadi Forbes set out to find the Sin Eater. Her journey took her places she was not suppose to go, but bravely went. Meeting a man of God and learning how to truly be forgiven for her sins, she watched as he was beaten, but she had been given the gift of God and now had the strength to help other.

This is a very touching movie, directed by Michael Landon Jr. and carries all the caring, moving characteristics of some of his fathers work. I don't normaly go for the religious movies, but this is more of a feel good, forgiving and moving forward movie that happens to include God. Yes, some of the scenes are poorly done CG but the story and the acting is very strong making it easy to overlook some of the korny spots. This is a 2007 movie.

Oct 12, 2008

Book - Father Goose

Father Goose (Winner's Circle) by Marie Ferrarella
The cop (Officer Del Santini) and the teacher (Melissa Ryan) come together in way that bonds them together and to Melissa's new born baby girl (Della) who is named after the police officer who helped deliver her on the side of the highway. Getting only a couple of days in the hospital, Melissa was worried about were her and her daughter would go next, but the wonderful man who had pulled her over for speeding and ended up saving her life was about to do it again. Del had been so unsure of himself, for about the first time in his life, but somehow he remembered all the classes and his sister and mothers words about babies, and found a way to deliver the baby safely, but no one told him that it would mean so much and that he would become so attached to her and her mother. He couldn't let her live on the streets with his new born name sake, they had to live with him.

Sometimes in shorter books (only 218 pages) it is harder to connect to the characters. Not true with this one, I was in the right mood to connect to Del and feel ever hurt he felt, at one point I even found tears in my eyes for him. Marie Ferrarella is a really good character writer and she did not disappoint in this quick and easy read. I had forgotten how much I like Del and his entire family - as overbearing (in a loving manner) as any Italian family is stereotyped to be. This for me is a re-read from '97.

Oct 12, 2008

Young Adult - Can I get There by Candlelight?

Can I Get There by Candlelight? by Jean Slaughter Doty
A summer spent in a rented house while Gail Simmons waited for school to start, started out normal, looking through the attic of the old coach house, Gail found a trunk with a side saddle and riding habit. She was a good horseback rider, her and Candy (short for Candlelight) had even won awards together but she had never ridden sidesaddle so the dusty saddle interested her. Spending her afternoons on Candy, riding in the orchard, she found a gate in the old stone wall, they went through and followed a path and were surprised to see a summerhouse (gazebo type building) on the other side (Babylon). The girl, Hilary was there, drinking lemonade and dressed differently than Gail was. Through out the summer, the two girls became friends and together they taught Gail how to ride sidesaddle and drive a pony cart. The whole time, Gail knew there was something so different about their friendship, she just was not sure and in the end, the time difference was so much more than the ride through the simple woods.

Fun and easy read, short chapters, the concept of time is subtle only pointed out by the differences between dress style, transportation forms, and several words. The girls become friends with several similar interests including the love of horses, riding, and being outside in the summer. The ending is sad and in some ways incomplete, what happened to Hilary, how bad was she hurt, who put the trunk back in the attic. Good read aloud story. "How many miles to Babylon? Three score miles and ten. Can I get there by candlelight? Yes, and back again. If your heels are nimble and light. You can get there by candlelight." - Mother Goose

Oct 10, 2008

Book - The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
After spending her whole life being the doting daughter, Josey knew she had to make up for her childhood, she wanted something for herself, mainly the mail man Adam, but didn‘t think that would ever happen. Waking up to find Della Lee in her closet changed more than just her eating habits (Josey had a secret stash of candy in the double size closet), it changed how she remembered her father, her relationship with her mother and the whole town. Della Lee had a way about her, she brought together Chloe and Josey at just the right time, they both needed a friend to lean on, they both had their secrets and they both had interesting relationships with the men they loved.

Beautiful, touching and very enjoyable. This was a great story, actually about 3 couples finding their way together, or back together with the help of an interesting character. I didn’t put it together for more than half of the book, I am shocked (in a good way) to be a little surprised by the twist. These characters are (in my opinion) so well told, the tension between Adam and Josey in the snow gave me tingles, then Margaret’s confession made me tear up, and Helena’s ranting made me laugh, the whole time Josey held on to the since of duty for her mother, I just wanted to yell. Those kinds of emotions only come out for a well written character.

This book should in no way be compared to Sarah Addison Allen’s other book (Garden Spells). She is a wonderful writer that can pen two great books that are not a cookie cutter version of the other, I am hoping she takes on another project soon.

Oct 7, 2008

Book - American Gods

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
Shadow didn’t want anything but to go home to his wife. After spending time in prison, finding out his wife was killed in a car accident days before he came home to her left him open to new ideas. Taking a job with a man named Wednesday, a man that he met on the plain, he set off for a new adventure that most would have found unbelievable. Seeing Laura (his dead wife) in the flesh, not just a ghost or a dream was one thing, but meeting Gods, and traveling across America to try and form a strong front was something Shadow took in without much thought. He was able to believe.

Truly a strange book, the only reason I read this is because I was told ’If you like weird, you will like this’, so I thought I would give it a try. Hard to explain or give a synopsis, very intricate story line. Lots of characters, many of them Gods from many different countries with hard to pronounce and hard to remember names. Some characters had simple names, Mr. World (but he had more than one name), most Gods have more than one name. There was back stories of how and why the Gods were brought to America which did help, never thought I would learn so much about ancient Gods and mythology from a novel (found myself googling Czernobog, Odin, the Zorya sisters and more). There is also time spent in the Gods world, the ’backstage’ that sometimes came across as a dream state. Almost everything was tied up neatly by the end, Neil Gaiman wrote a very imaginative and creative book, I very much enjoyed the “weird” of this one.

Oct 4, 2008

Youth Fiction - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo
A beautifully made china rabbit, given to Abilene Tulane by her grandmother, Pellegrina, was more a friend then a doll. The rabbit was given the name of Edward, had special silk pajamas and clothes made just for him, he even had his own pocket watch so that he would be able to tell when Abilene was coming home to him everyday. Edward Tulane was a spoiled little china rabbit and didn't realize how much he took for granted. During a family vacation, Edward fell overboard and began his ‘Miraculous Journey’. Edward spent his time at the bottom of the sea, living with a fisherman, in a garbage dump, traveling with a hobo, standing as a scarecrow, being loved by a dying child, dancing for another child then landing broken in a doll repairman’s shop. Finally after so much had happened, he had learned what is was to love and that he had been loved by so many. Heartbroken and determined to never love again, he waited.

This is an interesting story about the travels of one china rabbit. It is a cute story with short chapters that are easily read out loud or by a 8+ year old. To follow Edward around and watch as he changes and finally realizes how great of a life he had with Abilene is a gentle way to point out how great something can be even if you don’t realize it now, you might appreciate it later. Cute story, kids enjoyed it too, touching parts and sad parts, best part (according to the kids) is the dream like segment with all the people that Edward loves. Most kids books have a moral, this one is a bit difficult to explain but it does come across, love, love lost and love found again.

Oct 2, 2008

Book - The Gingerbread Man

The Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne
A mothers worst nightmare had come true and it was up to Detective Vince O'Mally to try to find the Prague kids. He found them, unfortunately it was too late and left Vince with heartache and a mandatory vacation. He had one clue left in his hand, so he followed it as it lead to a small town library, and a whole new mystery that could be connected. Holly Newman had a structured life, that was how she coped with everything until Vince showed up and messed up her schedule at first sight. The past needed to be held at bay for Holly, after watching as her little sister was kidnapped nearly 20 years earlier. For some reason, the nightmare and anxiety was back, Vince wanted to know about her history and things were falling apart but some how, Vince was able to help Holly face it all without breaking down, too bad. Holly couldn’t find the connection between her past and his case even though everything seemed to lead in that directions.

Amazing writing of a heartbreaking story. There are details of physical and sexual abuse, the emotional trauma of some many of the girls in this story is also told, all is done in a way to make it not about abuse, but more about the healing. The way that so many have coddled Holly, until Vince and then she showed her strength lends a lot to the credibility of the story. As a mother some of this was scary but as a reader, I could see that it was written as a mystery and romance. Enjoyed the character interaction, the group of overprotective men of the community and then women of strength. Adore Vince, the hard core New York Detective has a way about him. This book has a difficult subject for some to read, but it is well written and if you like happy ending, this has one.

Sep 25, 2008

Childrens - If you Give a Moose a Muffin

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff
If a moose eats a muffin, he’ll want jam, and then more. He might get cold and need a sweater, that may make him think of sock puppets. To put on a puppet show, he’ll need to make the scenery, if he scares himself it may knock over the paints he was using. He will clean it up with a sheet, while hanging the on the clothesline, he will see the blackberry bush that reminds him of the wonderful jam, then he might want another muffin.

This is a good picture book that runs the story into a loop. The loop show consequences to actions taken and how one thing leads to another. This is a good series for the purpose of showing how the things we do effect so many other things in our lives. Easy read for a quick story with a moral and the kids enjoy all the trouble the pig finds to get into.

Sep 22, 2008

Childrens - If you Give a Pig a Pancake

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
The pig eats pancakes, he wants syrup, gets sticky and needs a bath. The bath leads to toys, a search leads to tap shoes which leads to dancing. After dancing, he wants a picture, and to write friends, on the way to the post office, he finds a tree that needs a tree house. Decorating the tree house makes him sticky that reminds him of the syrup, making him want a pancake.

This is a good picture book that runs the story into a loop. The loop show consequences to actions taken and how one thing leads to another. This is a good series for the purpose of showing how the things we do effect so many other things in our lives. Easy read for a quick story with a moral and the kids enjoy all the trouble the pig finds to get into.

Sep 22, 2008

Book - Garden Spells

Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery) by Sarah Addison Allen
The house of Waverley had always held something magical for the women who lived in it and the town that lived around it. Claire had made good use of the flowers that bloomed under that magical apple tree, she had made a good career catering to the whims of the town, now that her sister had come home, and a new man had moved in next door, her world had been turned upside down.

This is the debut novel for Sarah Addison Allen, WOW, this book is so good I can’t write out a synopsis because I am so afraid of giving away too much. The character dynamics are fantastic, I fell in love with Claire, Tyler, Evenelle and all the rest. I really enjoyed the magical elements to the apple tree, the gift giving, the sense of placement and belonging. They were so subtle at times that it made you believe in the possibility of it all. I felt chills, laughed out loud, cried, cringed and even yelled at the book, I was so enveloped in this book I was talking to the apple tree myself. Absolutely wonderful and magical book of romance, family love, and acceptance.

Sep 22, 2008

Childrens - I Love you Stinky Face

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
A mother is tucking in her small child, but he has a question! This creative young boy wants to know if Mama will still love him if her were a scary ape, a terrible dinosaur, a green alien or a stinky skunk. Mama, of course, will love her little one no matter what he is and so she tells him until he is satisfied enough to finally say “I love you, Mama.”

What a wonderful and addictive book. I had gotten this book years ago, I have read it to the kids so many times, I think we all know it by heart but the pictures and the words are so fun and so loving that it really does get read and read again. I love the pictures by Cyd Moore, they really portray the boys descriptions of his mythical self. I asked the kids for the best part, they said ‘all of it’ and then, ‘I didn’t like the dinosaur’. I love that the kids know that Mama loves the boy no matter what, just like most mothers (including me of course).

Sep 21, 2008

Childrens - Green Wilma

Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold
Wilma starts out waking up in bed, Green! Going to breakfast as a green frog, wanting to eat flies, hopping to the school bus, Green Wilma goes through her day at school only to hop after a fly. Finally she catches that fly, and lands in Miller’s Pond, really waking up.

My kids love this book, especially the part about it really being a frog dreaming of being a girl and not a girl dreaming of being a frog - basically! The pictures lend a lot to the story, from waking in the bed to hopping through the lunchroom after that fly all the way to landing in the Pond. There is also a bit of a rhyming cadence to the story that the kids like to hear. A fun way to spend some time with the kids.

Sep 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Book - For my Lady's Honor

For My Lady's Honor (Harlequin Historical #794)… by Sharon Schulze
Welsh Marches, 1222 All Sir Padrig ap Huw had to do was escort Lady Alys Delamare to her father but he found her watching him as he bathed in a nearby stream and things started to change for them both. Alys was fascinated by Padrig in all his glory and she knew then that she may not be able to live the rest of her life in an Abbey after all. The sensations and emotions she started to feel every time he was around made her aware that she had not been true to herself, ever. The trip should have been uneventful, the storm came upon them quick and fierce, as they were looking for anyplace to use a shelter, the lightning strike tumbled trees down all around them, and on top of them. Most of the troop and both of the ladies were buried under the mountain of trees causing Padrigs heart to race for concern for the lady who had only that morning sparked his interest.

This is the last (as far as I know) of a 7 book series. The character base is great, we have witnessed Padrig as a boy (To Tame a Warrior’s Heart) and now as a Knight. His humor his great and his intense feeling are so easily followed, the laugh out loud jabs he takes at himself, his friend Rafe and Alys make for a fun if not all that exciting of a book. Not really any fighting in this story, unless you count the fight against the elements, and their own feelings. The return of Lord Rannulf and Lady Gillian is perfectly timed and in perfect character. I enjoyed the fact that Alys was writing a ’chronicle’ of several stories from the accounting of people at l’Eau Clair, a great touch to finish off this Chronicles series. It is a Harlequin Historical (2006), Sharon Schulze could always add a story but for now this seems to be the end of the l’Eau Clair Chronicles, I have enjoyed reading them (re-reading most).

Sep 20, 2008

Book - Bride of the Tower

Bride of the Tower (Harlequin Historical # 650)… by Sharon Schulze
Sherwood Forest, 1217 Delivering messages for Lord Rannulf, Sir William Bowman ran into to some trouble, two men out to cause him harm, luckily a women warrior stopped the attack and saved Sir Will by carrying him back to Tuck’s Tower, her home. While nursing the knight she found in the forest back to health, Lady Julianna D’Arcy realized there may be something to being a women, her current way of life had been more suited to a man, seeing to the defensives of the keep, riding out with sword to rid the forest of thieves and wearing tunics and leggings instead of dresses. Will accepted her current roles because of growing up with Lady Gillian (Hidden Heart), another women who enjoyed swordplay at a young age, Julianna wanted to believe that a man, other than her father could appreciate a women like her, hoping someone like Will would be a partner in defending her keep instead of trying to take over command. Legends like the Bride of the Tower resurface after some realize the attraction between the knight and their Lady, these and other legends of childhood heroes could be believed, especially in Sherwood Forest.

Hint: The legends of Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Robin’s band of men do come into play. This is the 6th book of a 7 book series, while the addition of the legends are fun, this one lost a bit of the fun and camaraderie of the previous books, most of the time one or the other were unconscious, between his would recovery and her ‘malady‘. Time spent together was mostly time to think, reflect and have emotional awakenings. While this was emotionally charged, the action was almost non existent, only one fight, and one standoff that leaves the reader saying, ‘What?’. I actually could have done without the standoff and just heard the reply that Lord Rannulf surely sent, other characters were referred to but never played a part in this one (I think I miss them). I am not sure I ever read this one before, it was with the rest of the series that I dug out to read again. This is a 2003 Harlequin Historical.

Sep 18, 2008

Book - The Shielded Heart

The Shielded Heart (Harlequin Historical # 442)… by Sharon Schulze
Welsh Marches, 1215 In the midst of setting up camp for the night, Anna de Limoges felt a tingle run down her spine, a feeling like no other she had ever had, only to turn and find a warrior watching them from atop the hill. Swen Siwardson felt drawn to the group, so asked to share their fires. Being caught up in the battle that followed, Swen continued on the village of Murat with them only to realize that he had had dreams of the Mistress Anna. Needing to know more about her and why he had dreamed of her, he vowed to protect her life and her innocence. The fact that Anna worked for the church as an artisan was one thing, but she had no idea that the Bishop had declared her ‘gift’ of site and craft connected to her virtue, until the night she tried to tempt Swen into more than just a kiss. The honorable man that he was, wouldn’t be tempted so easily, and the coward he thought himself to be did not feel he deserved a women such as Anna.

Ahhh, I loved Swens humor in ‘Heart of the Dragon’, unfortunately we don’t get to see as much of that in this book, he is missing that element, the emotions are all more down beat and serious. The camaraderie between the characters are there, but it is harder to see and feel from the readers stand point, it seems implied. The way that Lord Ian, Lord Rannulf and Lord Nicholas are brought back in are great, it is always nice to visit old friends (that is one reason I like a long series). I have been more critical of this book, but it is still a great Historical Romance because it has the drama of ’what if I lose him/her now’ and the building of the love as well as how to get around the church forbidding her from men, King John wanting her himself and the fact that she only knows one life (sorry about the little itsy bitsy spoiler). Just a good overall if older (1998) Harlequin Historical. This was actually the one I remembered the most of this series, prompting me to dig out the whole set and read it again.

Sep 17, 2008

Book - Lady of the Keep

Lady Of The Keep (Harlequin Historical #510) by Sharon Schulze
Ireland, 1215 At his brothers request, Lord Connor FitzClifford journeyed to Gerald’s Keep to lend assistance to the widow who now found herself unprotected by the recent death of her husband. The shock of finding Lady Moira FitzGerald so great with child, her man-at-arms so insolent and her keep remarkably still well protected, he knew there was a lot more to the story of why she had sent for the help from her overlord. The guilt over how she got into her current situation kept Moira more vigilant than most would have been, she knew it was all her fault that the MacCarthy’s wanted her, her child and her keep, but could she convince the brother of her overlord that her sins were not so much, that the people deserved help, that her child needed protection no matter what he decided to do with her. With the vow of protection from Connor, he set to work to figure a way to quell the MacCarthy’s in their quest for Gerald Keep and to protect the beautiful Lady Moira from them and her own family if need be.

This is the 4th in the l’Eau Clair Chronicles, while I miss some of the previous family members, it is wonderful to get better acquainted with Rannulf’s brother Connor and get reacquainted with the fun loving, now knighted Sir Will. This story gives a different view of a hero, admitting to weakness if only to himself shows a remarkable amount of strength. The story is very fluent and allows for the option of tender feelings to grow for each of the characters, even some of the bad guys leave the ending in good standing. This is a slower paced book than some of the previous, no kidnapping, very little battle, only remembered horrors and nightmares. The main principle is based in the mystery of how to beat the other side without forfeit of Lady Moira or her child. All the while everyone is second guessing themselves and filled with uncertainties but the honesty and the trust between Moira and Connor in the end, succeed (sorry for the spoiler, but you knew all along they would). Again, I love this series, it is an older Harlequin Historical (2000), got the whole series out just to re-read them.

Sep 16, 2008

Book - Heart of the Dragon

Heart Of The Dragon (Harlequin Historical #356)… by Sharon Schulze
Wales, 1215 In a brazen attempt to get the attention of the prince of Wales, Llywelyn and possibly discover her true identity, Lily scaled the wall only to be hauled off to the cells below by the man know as Llywelyns Dragon. Lord Ian ap Dafydd could not believe that a lad had scaled the walls, but a women shocked him even more. After listening to her story of confinement at an Abbey for the entirety of her life, he realized that she had a legitimate cause to speak to the prince. Something had drawn him to her from the moment he saw her face, something that made him want to help her. Finding that she was not were he had left her, Ian realized that something was amiss and vowed to discover not only her identity but why Llywelyn did not want his own enforcer, the Dragon himself to know about her. All she ever really wanted was to know who her family was, and have some freedom to explore the world outside the confines of the Abbey. Something about the Dragon made her believe that all that and more was possible.

This series just keeps getting better, from the characters that we get to revisit and see how the love has grown (Rannulf &Gillian (Hidden Heart), Nicholas & Catrin (To Tame a Warrior’s Heart)) to getting to meet new and really fun people (Swen Siwardson) that you know will play a larger part in another book down the road and finally saying good riddance to one of the evils that has plagued the all three of these couples. Wonderfully emotional, taking the innocent of the Abbey raised and the heartlessness of the Dragon and finding common ground, in attraction, sex and familiar feeling. Took me by surprise at first who Lily’s family turns out to be, quite possibly the best twist of the series, but I will find out. Continuing on, (a 7 book series) this is the 3rd book of the series, even though it was the 1st published. This is an older Harlequin Historical book (1997), I have dug it, as well as the rest of the series out to re-read.

Sep 15, 2008

Book - To Tame a Warrior's Heart

To Tame A Warrior's Heart (Harlequin Historicals # 386)… by Sharon Schulze
Welsh Marches (border areas between Wales and England), 1214 Coming from an unusual past, Lord Nicholas Talbot could not refuse when King John gave him an assignment, after he had failed to secure l’Eau Clair (The Hidden Heart), he was even more at the Kings disposal. Off on another of the Kings whims, Nicholas found Lady Catrin uerch Dafydd had been set upon by a band of thieves, her guardians and herself left to die on the side of the road. Stepping in to help, Nicholas was left to die also but they didn’t. Nicholas gained enough of his senses to get Catrin, her dog Idris and himself away. Alone, Nicholas found the strength to tend to all of their wounds and to dig deeper into why she had always affected him the way she did. Her sharp tongue had to be hiding something. The days they spent together had affected Catrin also, her resolve to never let a man have control or be close to her faltered and she began to trust Nicholas, the first person she had ever told about her own painful past.

Both of these characters harbor a past that they have kept secret for about four years, the interaction between them is at first dominated by those secrets, then as the trust builds, some of the walls come down. A story about the emotions that are caused by past pains leads to a very touching and intimate confrontation. The emotional pain that is felt so many times is so real, the abuse that Catrin endured is very harsh (physically and sexually) and descriptive. The characters are so wonderful, continuing this story from its beginning (in The Hidden Heart) and rejoining Gillian and Rannulf as they continue their love, and once again seeing Ian and learning more about him. This continuing story (a 7 book series) is such fun to read in order….. This was not the 2nd book written but it is the 2nd in a chronological order and it seems in story line order as well. This is an older Harlequin Historical book (1997), I have dug it, as well as the rest of the series out to re-read.

Sep 14, 2008

Book - Hidden Heart

The Hidden Heart (Harlequin Historicals # 484)… by Sharon Schulze
Welsh Marches (border areas between Wales and England), 1213 Four years ago Lady Gillian de l'Eau Clair was in love and happy until that love Rannulf FitzClifford left and never returned for her. Showing up now that her father had died, with Lord Nicholas Talbot the man appointed as her guardian, and asking her and her people to act s though they do not know him, leaves too many questions that will not be ignored long. Rannulf knew he was taking a chance coming back after so many years but he had to find out just how close Talbot was to King John and this was the only way, so he would do his best to stay away from his one true love and hope that she would at least honor his request for secrecy. That was not to be, even though Gillian had discovered the betrothal contract with Rannulfs harsh refusal written on it, she still felt too much love for him to keep it hidden for long.

Little bit different start to the story, we don’t get to watch them fall in love, we get to watch as they rediscover their love for each other and discover what had happened four years ago to make Rannulf leave so happy and ready for marriage only to be cruel in his refusal of that offer of marriage by Gillians father. The characters are great, you get to meet several people that play a small part in this book, but will be very important in others. This is a series of books (7 books I think) and while this was not the first one written, this is the earliest setting, the best part about a large series like this is how well you get to know some of the characters if you read all and in order. The emotional investment, to see some of them change and grow over the coarse of the series. This is an older Harlequin Historical book (1999), I have dug it as well as the rest of the series out to re-read.

Sep 13, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Movie - Little Vampire

Living in Scotland is difficult for Tony Thompson (Jonathan Lipnicki) because he has been having dreams about vampires, that is when he can sleep. At school the kids all tease and torment him while the teacher thinks he is a silly American telling stories. One night more than just a dream of a vampire appears in his room. A young, nice vampire (Rudolph) flies in seeking shelter from a vampire hunter, only to find Tony is a human. There is a 'friendship' formed and Tony decides to help Rudolph and his family find a something that had been stolen from them 300years ago. It has been said, that this gem may give Rudolph and his entire family the chance to become human again.
Rated PG, this is really for the younger set (ages 6-12), the setting is beautiful and the story line is cute and the scare factor is very low. The basic consept of a vampire is the same as the 'Van Helsing' type, but made for kids, the main characters do not drink human blood, they sustain themselves on cow blood and then the cows get turned and then fly. Kind of a funny version of the often times scarry movie. Definately meant for the young and young at heart.

Aug 16, 2008

Book - Something Like Beautiful

Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story… by Asha Bandele
This is a heartfelt accounting of one women, one black women’s struggles to realize her position as a single mother with all the trials and tribulations that go along with that state of being. In the beginning, asha bandele reveals meeting and falling in love with a man in prison, while many people would avoid such a situation, she continued on and married this love. Creating a child, carrying that child and delivering that child (named Nisa), showed asha how difficult the road could be, but she always had the dream and belief that her man would be released. Finding out that if he was released from prison that he would be deported back to his home country was the last thing she expected. Now she had to do it on her own. Divorce, dating, job, motherhood all takes a toll on a women and this women found herself in a depression that seemed to sneak up on her from nowhere. Hope of children, hope found in her own child gave her the strength not only to survive yet another blow, but to regroup enough to thrive. She must, young Nisa and herself were enough reason to concur any adventure.

I have never heard of asha bandele or any of her writing before. While I do not completely know the way it feels to be a single mother, a single black mother, I am conscious of more than one similarity with the struggles of being an mother and feeling so alone and lost. This is an intriguing story, one that interested me at first because of the fact that this intelligent young women opens up about the fact that she was falling apart with her only connection to life, her beautiful daughter. I did enjoy the story, the courage it took to pull things together and the courage it took to write/tell about some of the hardest things in life to deal with, (our own inner self) I was a bit disappointed in the story telling process. Coming from an author, editor, and poet, I had expected a certain amount of either flourishing prose or orderly novel type story telling, this book offers both in small quantities which make the flow inconsistent and at times difficult to follow.

This is an Advanced Reader Edition, this book is not available until February 2009. I received this ARE as part of the Collins Reads initiative, to find out more you can go to CollinsReads.com

Sep 11, 2008

Movie - George of the Jungle (1997)

Baby George survived a plane crash only to be left in the jungle to be raised by gorillas. George ( Brendan Fraser) grows up with friends like Ape, the talking gorilla, Tookie, and Shep, his pet "pooch". Ursula (Leslie Mann) is a fancy, rich lady who is almost attacked by a lion and then the "white ape" (that would be George) swoops in the save the day. This is a 1997 comedic remake of something similar to Tarzan is rated PG, other stars include Thomas Haden Church, Richard Roundtree and the voice of John Cleese.

This fun and even the kids love to watch this movie over and over again. Some of the jokes are more mature in content, the overall fun of this movie is in Brendan Frasers' physical comedy of being a really big klutz and the fact that several times there is charecter interaction with the narrator or the cameras. A great movie for the family on a rainy afternoon.

July 20, 2008

Book - Rogue's Return

The Rogue's Return (Most Unsuitable Men Trilogy, Book 3) (Harlequin Historicals #376)… by Margaret Moore
England 1868; Being the second son of the fifth Duke of Barroughby, Lord Elliot Fitzwalter was a known rogue (Oxford American Dictionary: rogue; a dishonest or unprincipled person), especially after his half brother stopped covering for him. Running from his problems had been his way all along, a gamble gone wrong was no exception. When a tree got the better of him, Grace Barton found him passed out drunk and now horseless on the side of the road in the rain. Risking her and her sisters reputation, they allowed this stranger to stay, and recover all the while trying to figure out how to deal with problems of their own. Grace was amazing to watch, like his own brother, she was protective and controlling and for the first time in Elliots life, her realized that those traits could also mean love. Had his brother Adrian done all out of care and concern? The realization struck him, as did the fact that in front of him may be a way to make up for some of the horrible things he had done in the past. Could he ever make up for enough to be equal to this farm girl who single handedly saved him from more than just death in that muddy road?

A typical bad boy turn good by the care of the right women. Most of the story is told as what they are each thinking and feeling, but not saying and doing. An emotional look at the contrast of siblings and they way that actions and words can be interpreted. Emotional twists Margaret Moore does so well, a very enjoyable series, best if read in order because of the connection to brother Adrian and Hester from ’The Dark Duke’, this is an older Harlequin Historical (1997) that I dug out to re-read.

Sep 9, 2008

Movie - A Simple Wish (

A Simple Wish starring Mara Wilson, who makes a simple wish to a fairy godmother. Martin Short is a loveable novice fairy godmother that tries really hard to know what he is doing. Kathleen Turner is the wicked witch that just wants to be noticed as the most powerful.

I have seen this movie several times and loved it each and every time I watch it. Martin Short is always such a character and his interaction with Mara Wilson are so great, you can't help but laugh. This movie is geared for the kids but has enough to keep mom and dad interested also. Kids say they loved it, and so do I.

July 15, 2008

Book - Dark Duke

The Dark Duke (Most Unsuitable...) (Harlequin Historicals # 364)… by Margaret Moore
England 1863; Years of England’s upper class believing him the most notorious scoundrel (Oxford American Dictionary - scoundrel: an unscrupulous villain; a mischievous person), Duke Adrian Fitzwalter never argued because he knew he could ride out the storm of scandals. Meeting his stepmothers newest companion had him wondering if he really was anything that resembled his reputation. Adrian couldn’t pull his attention away from the lovely Lady Hester Pimblett, she did not seem to realize her own attributes of honesty, diplomacy and even wit. How could she not act the way most women did, especially around him? With the arrival of Adrian’s half brother, Lady Hester began to wonder which of the two brothers really was the scoundrel of the family, although the Duke never denied any of the charges, his character did not seem true to form. The feeling she had around the younger Lord Elliot were much more in accordance to the reputation of the Dark Duke, how curious and intriguing.

Interesting to see just how far someone will go for the honor of family, and pride. How much one sacrifices for another, and the repercussions those decisions make on all parties included. Going into this story, you know right away what a honorable person Hester is (especially if you have read The Wastrel), but to see through the façade that Adrian portrays is almost too easy. The writing style gives every emotion its due, even the ones that are typically hard to convey, come through the pages of the book. This is an older Harlequin Historical, (1997) that I dug out to re-read.

Sep 8, 2008

Movie - Secret Garden

Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's children's novel. Mary (Kate Maberly), a strong-willed English girl lost her parents in an earthquake in India, then is sent to England to live with an unfeeling uncle in his mansion. Mary's mood lightens when she finds the key to a neglected garden and brings not only the roses but the entire house to life again.

This movie was very inspirational, at a time crisis, this beautiful little girl was able to figure out a way to help not only herself by creating this wonderful garden to play in but in the end, all 3 of the children. If we could all find the secret place to be ourselves and not what everyone around us expect us to be. Wonderful interepertation of the book. Some of the dialogue was a bit difficult to understand for the smaller kids of the house.

Jul 06, 2008