Thursday, May 31, 2012

Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

Blurb: Though adapted from a memoir by a British journalist, We Bought a Zoo feels entirely like a Cameron Crowe film, with clear parallels to previous crowd-pleasers like Jerry Maguire. Crowe introduces Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon in a role that recalls his Contagion character) six months after the death of his wife. Since everything reminds him of her, the California columnist decides to make a change, starting with a new location. His realtor (Curb Your Enthusiasm's J.B. Smoove), brother (Sideways' Thomas Haden Church), and sullen teenage son (Colin Ford) try to talk him out of it, but Mee falls in love with a country manor that comes with a strange stipulation: the tenant must manage the zoo that accompanies the property. With his daughter's blessing, Mee takes the plunge. Fortunately, he inherits an experienced staff, including MacCready (Angus MacFadyen), Robin (Patrick Fugit), Lily (Elle Fanning), and Kelly (Scarlett Johansson, lovely as ever in her least glamorous role to date). Mee's road to reinvention offers few surprises, but Damon makes him a sympathetic figure who finds the same kind of support system among the park personnel that Fugit's Almost Famous writer found in the rock world, except Mee's relationships have more staying power.

Review: This movie was just so darn good. I've never seen a film with Matt Damon! I know, how did that happen? But this is definitely a good way to see him at his best or at least most human.

He felt very real as the widower of two young children, trying to make a change in his life. Things aren't easy for him without his wife. The cast is superb, a perfect blend of quirky and smart. Then there are the animals. For the most part, they take a back seat to the action in the story, except for Spar, the old tiger with failing kidneys.

Yes, that is the movie's cry moment. You know there had to be one. All feel good films have them. It makes you love them more for some reason.

So yeah, the tiger will have you crying your eyes out, but don't worry, it is a feel good movie and that means everything works out in the end, and that's not so bad.

This movie has plenty of laugh out loud moments, especially with Benjamin's daughter, who is just too darn cute.

Definitely a good weekend movie! And one I wouldn't mind watching a second time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stacey Kennedy's Making Us Beg For It!

Stacey Kennedy's Pact of Seduction 2: Beg for It
ISBN: 978-1-61118-685-7
Genre: BDSM Contemporary
Length: Novella
Series: Pact of Seduction; Previous Book: Bind Me

The Pact of Seduction has one rule: fulfill your ultimate fantasy. Bella’s problem, she can’t live up to her vow. But her failure spins events that lead her into unknown territory. Kole, a Dom at the sex club Castle Dolce Vita, wasn’t part of her fantasy, but he’s about to show her he should have been.

Kole is more than willing to introduce Bella to BDSM since he’s held an interest in her for some time. But the feisty woman isn’t easily tamed and her strong personality proves to be difficult. While she might be determined to keep him at a distance, Kole has other ideas. He won’t allow her to shut him out.

A pact between best friends brought them together, emotional barriers tear them apart. Kole skillfully reminds Bella through pleasure and punishment that she is now his submissive, and her place is under his command.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and elements.

Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Music

There's something about summer and music. It is a great time for really getting into some new music. Or rather new to me music.

So I'm trying to fill at least one of my mp3 players with the perfect summer playlist.

I'm sure it will be eclectic, because thanks to Duets, I have two new musical obsessions, John Legend and Robin Thicke!


So now I have to figure out if I want to redo my shuffle for summer or my Zen.

Decisions, decisions, but one thing is for sure, there's going to be come interesting sounds on it for the warm months ahead.

I want a mixture of everything, classic rock, pop, country, r&b!

So what's on your summer playlist?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bad Reviews....Why They Suck

I'm a firm believer in rating books the way you want. Posting all shiny happy reviews isn't always a good thing. I know people that do that, and I'm fine with that, but if everyone did that, well, that almost feels like lying, or at least withholding evidence.

What I don't like are bad reviews where people bad mouth an author...or just come across as childish. I read one for a cozy mystery where the reviewer was going on about how she never would have read the book if she knew the author had written for Harlequin.

Dang...narrow-minded much?

I wonder how many people know how many great authors started out writing for them? Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and Debbie Macomber.

But my point is this, if you are writing a review that is less than 3 stars you should give reasons for it. Support why you didn't like it. Don't sound like a petulant child.

Bad reviews suck for the author and other readers when they aren't written well. If you are posting something on the internet, on a blog or website...other people are going to read it, and possibly make decisions about a book as a result.

I'm not saying not to write a bad review, but dang it, offer some evidence as to why you didn't like it that relates to the book.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Woman In Black

Blurb: Fans of classically structured haunted house/ghost stories will relish the skillfully unnerving chain of events in The Woman in Black, whether or not they're fans of Harry Potter. The good new is that Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry behind for good in his first post-Potter role. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor tasked with resolving the affairs of a recently deceased woman and her brooding estate in the gloom of the remote Victorian England-era village of Crythin Gifford. The mood is melancholic all around, starting with Kipps himself, who lost his wife to childbirth a few years earlier. His employer has had just about enough of his moping about and gives him the assignment as a last resort to save his job. When he arrives in the small village, the icy response he receives does not bode well for successful completion of his mission. All the townspeople want him gone, and possibly for good reason. Many of their children have died mysteriously gruesome deaths that they blame on the titular black-clad woman whose own child was tragically sucked to his death in the muck surrounding her seaside mansion. This new stranger who wants to unearth the deadly secrets trapped in the decrepit old house is a threat they cannot abide, and sure enough the deaths keep on coming as he delves deeper into the dark recesses of the house and the history of its ghostly occupant. There are scares aplenty in The Woman in Black, and they come from a genuineness that relies on creep-outs rather than gross-outs. Faces in windows, apparitions barely there, slow-building moodiness that suddenly erupts into a silent scream (or sometimes not so silent) make for an extremely effective and often terribly unnerving atmosphere of dread. The movie comes with several impressive pedigrees as well. It's based on a popular novel published in the early '80s, which was also adapted into a long-running hit play. The movie additionally resurrects the Hammer Films brand, an esteemed British production company that churned out moody and distinctive horror films and exploitive psycho-thrillers for decades in the mid 20th century. Indeed, the presence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee seems to lurk around every dusty, cobwebbed corner in The Woman in Black, right behind the slamming doors and only just glimpsed in the flickering candlelight. Radcliffe is perfect for the role of a heartbroken man whose rationality is stretched to the point of no return by the things he may or may not be seeing. Several strong supporting performances add to the gravitas, especially CiarĂ¡n Hinds as a kindred soul and father figure to Kipps, and perhaps the only other rational man in Crythin Gifford.

Review: This is a classic gothic style film. If Scooby Doo were around he would have been saying, "Spooky, spooky, spooky." from the minute he arrives in a small village. Daniel Radcliffe's Arthur Kipps is a perfect tortured soul. His wife died in childbirth leaving him with his newborn son. The boy playing his son is so cute it is disgusting, assuming you can tear your eyes from Radcliffe, who no longer looks like Harry Potter. Nope Daniel is shockingly good-looking these days, and it is hard not stare at those clear blue eyes, because the camera seems to spend a lot of time on his face.

One thing I noticed about this film, it spends more time with visual than with dialogue.  Radcliffe's best moments are when he's not speaking, just when he's hunting down strange sounds at the mansion.  The Woman is Black is really creepy. Not scary or gory like most horror/thrillers, just creepy. Lots of foggy marshland, dark hallways, things going bump in the night, that sort of spooky.

The film does a good of illustrating what happened to the woman, and how she came to be haunting the mansion, but most will have some questions as to why she's luring the local children to their deaths. I guess to figure that out I'll have to read the book. This is one of the first times when I've opted to see the film first.

I have to commend Marco Beltrami for his score, which really added to the creepiness of the film. You knew when something spooky was going to happen, and the music was such a part of this film.

This is the kind of scary movie that I love. The ending will leave you with an expression of OMG and you'll have a new found respect for Daniel, who is more than just Harry Potter!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Movie Review: New Year's Eve

Blurb: New Year's Eve is all about parties, glitz, a midnight kiss, and maybe a few short-lived resolutions, right? Or could it be about something more? Valentine's Day writer Katherine Fugate and director Garry Marshall have once again joined forces to explore one of the most emotionally charged days of the year. Their uncanny ability to tell multiple stories at the same time, to intertwine those stories in the most unexpected ways, and to make sure viewers are emotionally invested in every single character makes the film an intriguing puzzle. Of course, a cast list that reads like an award-nomination roster doesn't hurt its success either. Among the host of "main characters" in the story is Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), the woman in charge of the ball drop in Times Square. Naturally things don't go quite as planned and she's forced to do some serious on-the-spot improvising--oh, and it should be noted that she's deathly afraid of heights and there's somewhere else she really should be on New Year's Eve. Then there's the suddenly rebellious tween daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin), who runs off to meet her boyfriend in Times Square for a New Year's Eve kiss, with her panicked mom (Sarah Jessica Parker) in hot pursuit. Mousy secretary Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) decides to finally act on her long list of New Year's resolutions and enlists the unlikely help of courier Paul (Zac Efron). An exclusive New Year's Eve party throws together caterer Laura (Katherine Heigl), entertainer Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), and sous chef Ava (Sofia Vergara). And then there's Sam (Josh Duhamel), a wealthy playboy who just can't seem to resist keeping an unlikely appointment to meet a mystery woman he met by chance last New Year's Eve and hasn't seen since (think An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle). Other notable talent includes Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Seacrest, Hector Elizondo, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Lea Michele, Cary Elwes, Seth Meyers, and a host of others.

Review: If you loved Love Actually or Valentine's Day, you definitely want to give this film a shot. It doesn't matter what time of year it is, this movie will take you straight to Dec 31st.

I love the multiple story lines. They all revolve around love and some forgiveness. The cast is star-studded to say the least. It is hard to pinpoint a specific story line that is a favorite, though Laura and Jensen's story is very sweet, and how can you not love Jon Bon Jovi? I wasn't quite as keen on Katherine Heigl's Laura, but oh well, Sofia Vergara stole the show with most of her scenes. How can one woman that is so bombshell/sex symbol-ish always come across as sweet?

Ashton Kutcher plays Randy, an illustrator who gets trapped in an elevator with one of Jensen's back up singers. Their time in the elevator is, of course, life changing. It was hard to watch Ashton, because he really looked too much like Walden Schmidt. God I hate him in Two and a Half Men.

Sarah Jessica Parker makes an appearance in this one as a mom of a teenage daughter who runs off to see the ball drop and find a guy in Time Square. Note to SJP, why can't they comb your hair in movies? GAH! And the really snarky part of me says, neigh!

This is definitely a chick flick. I can't think of a reason a guy would want to see this one, except to make his girlfriend happy.

Ladies? There's enough eye candy here to keep you happy; Bon Jovi, Zac Efron, Ryan Seacrest to name a few.

Get the girls together and have a movie night with this one. A bottle of wine will make it better. Definitely worth the rental fee.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

RIP Donna Summer

Today we say farewell to another talented musician that has died too young.

Donna Summer died today. Another victim of cancer.


She was only 63.

Entirely too young to be going on to the next world.

Her music was part of the disco era. Love it or not, she had a fantastic voice.

Her music will be missed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Movie Review: Joyful Noise

Blurb: The small town of Pacashau, Georgia, has fallen on hard times, but the people are counting on the Divinity Church Choir to lift their spirits by winning the National Joyful Noise Competition. The choir has always known how to sing in harmony, but the discord between its two leading ladies now threatens to tear them apart. Their newly appointed director, Vi Rose Hill, stubbornly wants to stick with their tried-and-true traditional style, while the fiery G.G. Sparrow thinks tried-and-true translates to tired-and-old. Shaking things up even more is the arrival of G.G.'s rebellious grandson, Randy. Randy has an ear for music, but he also has an eye for Vi Rose's beautiful and talented daughter, Olivia, and the sparks between the two teenagers are causing even more friction between G.G. and Vi Rose.

Review: I was totally amazed that this movie was nearly 2 hours long. It is a cute musical comedy, with a strong emphasis on music. That's what really carries this film, more so than the plot, which is weak. A church choir battling to win a competition. I expected more friction between G.G. and Vi, but the plot really revolved around the romance between Olivia and Randy.

The musical highlights include Olivia and the choir's rendition of Man In The Mirror, which would make Michael Jackson proud. Randy's version of McCartney's Maybe I'm Amazed and G.G's From Here To The Moon and Back and you can't forget Queen Latifah's Fix Me Jesus.

Truth be told, I didn't care if the plot was weak, because the music was so good, and it was totally awesome to see Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton in a film together. Their fight scene in the restaurant about halfway through the movie was hilarious. There was great chemistry between all the characters.

This is a purely feel good movie. Don't expect to be wowed by great acting or a fantastic script, because you'll be disappointed. Watch this movie for the music! You'll probably want to pick up the soundtrack after you see the film because the music is so fantastic!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cover Reveal: Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies

Imprint: Dead Sexy
Title: Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies
Author: Cynthia Cooke
Genre: Short Romantic Suspense
Trope: Hero protector, family secrets
Tone:  On the run Balance of Romance to Suspense (R/S): 65/35
Heat level: Moderate, 3/5
Length: 68,000 words
Release date: May 13h, 2012
AISN: To come
Marketing elements/tags: contemporary, romance, romantic suspense, action‐adventure, family secrets, hero protector, fast‐paced suspense

We all surround ourselves with armor protecting our hearts and our inner wounds forged in  childhood. Learning to trust someone enough to let them inside the armor, to let them help you shed it to become your true self, unafraid and ready to take on the world is the greatest gift love can give you.  And the gift Kyle gives to Genie. ~Cynthia Cooke

Family secrets must be kept, and painful wounds must be ignored.   After an all‐out assault by a vicious terrorist bent on destroying her entire family, a former government agent must break the strict rules she has always lived by when she emerges from hiding to reluctantly accept the help of her all‐too‐sexy ex‐lover. Running a deadly race against time, they rush to rescue her kidnapped sister, find her missing father, and bring the notorious villain to justice. But nothing ever goes as planned. Bullets fly, danger abounds, and their passion reignites even faster than the lies are flowing. But their stubbornly held secrets just might spell the end of their rekindled love and hopes for the well as their very lives.

Buy @ Amazon

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Restaurant Review: Don Patron - Belle Vernon, PA

Finally! A Mexican restaurant in the Mon Valley that has both good food and good service. Don Patron has a menu that you can literally drool over. It is pages long! Full of burritos, fajitas, tacos etc.

The pricing is great for meals. Most everything is around $9.00 and that includes combination plates. If you get a burrito...well, paying  $9.00 is worth it too. These things are huge!

We ordered mixed fajitas for two for mom and dad. There was ample steak and chicken along with the peppers and onions. Dad ate two fajitas mom ate one and there was plenty left over for anyone else that wanted one.

Each person got a nice sized container of rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream! Oh and with the burritos? You don't have to ask for sour cream! OMG!

The ground meat in my burrito was wonderful! This didn't have your usual burger meat taste! Plus the cheese on the side of my burrito was to die for.

Homemade chips and salsa on the side too!

This is definitely a place I'll be going back to!

Don Patron MEXICAN GRILL on Urbanspoon

Movie Review: It's Complicated

Movie Blurb: Two-time Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin star in this hilarious look at marriage, divorce and everything in between. Jane (Streep) has three grown kids, a thriving Santa Barbara bakery and an amicable relationship with her ex-husband, Jake (Baldwin). Now, a decade after their divorce, an innocent dinner between Jane and Jake turns into the unimaginable - an affair. Caught in the middle of their rekindled romance are Jake’s young wife and Adam (Martin), a recently divorced architect who starts to fall for Jane. Could love be sweeter the second time around? It’s… complicated!

Review: This movie is part chick flick, part comedy. It doesn't really fit in that rom-com arena, at least not like the traditional rom-coms. The cast is stellar. How can you not like Streep and Martin. (I wish there was more of Martin in this film). Even Alec Baldwin is good, though he plays pretty much the same character you see him play everywhere.

What made this movie enjoyable was that it kept you guessing about which guy she was going to end up with, her first husband, Jake (Baldwin) or the cute, kinda geeky, Adam (Martin). Plus no matter what role you cast Meryl in, she is super. You felt her confusion and you watched her grow. I think her feelings for her ex were common given the situation, and there are times when you wanted her and Jake to get back together...but then there is Adam.

I have no idea what it is about Steve Martin, but in the last 25 years, he's become oddly sexy. I think its the grey hair, but totally youthful face, plus he's always playing some lovable guy.

The scene in the bakery was priceless. As was the scene where Jake strips down in Jane's bedroom to surprise her, with her laptop covering his naughty bits. Poor Adam on the other end of the webcam!

This movie was just fab! It is light, fun and just a good time. Well worth the rental price and a box of popcorn!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Don't Do Hype

Things that get to much hype annoy the heck out of me. I always feel like people that fangirl/fanboy over stuff tend to be like lemmings, following something ridiculous to their certain doom.

Lately books have been the cause of a whole lotta hype.

First you had Harry Potter...this series got kids reading. The story was great and the characters were really wonderful. I've not read the complete series, but in my opinion, this series was worth the hype.

Then there's Twilight. I won't even go there. I can't understand why anyone read and went all crazy over these books. They are so bad.

Which leads me to the following, 50 Shades of Grey. It started as Twilight fanfic..and it got published.

WTF is the world coming to.

Fanfic is not supposed to get published.

When will the madness cease!

And why can't people hype better series, like Amanda Stevens Graveyard Queen?

Monday, May 7, 2012

RIP George Lindsey

It seems like all we are doing this year is saying goodbye to icons, both musical and television...Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, Adam Yaugh, Dick Clark and now joining the ranks, George Lindsey, who the world will remember with fondness as Goober Pyle.

Another member of the iconic cast of The Andy Griffith show going on to his great reward.

Hats off you to George!

Thanks for the laughs!

George was 83.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Talk

I have a confession.

I'm in love with my ereader.

I've read so many books with my Nook that reading a hard cover book is uncomfortable.

I don't mind reading paperbacks in any form, but hard cover books I have a hard time dealing with now. They are simply too bulky.

That makes me feel awful. I feel like I'm betraying books.

Now that really sounds silly.

This wouldn't bother me so much if I needed my ereader to conserve space. (OK maybe I do, just a little) But I really bought my Nook so that I could read free galleys.

Yeah..I spent $120 on my nook so I could get free books!

Something only I would do!