Friday, January 31, 2014

Album Review: Jennifer Nettles - That Girl

Jennifer Nettles has managed to release a solo album that doesn't sound like Sugarland, and considering she is the voice of Sugarland, that's quite a fete.

What sets That Girl apart from her work with Sugarland, is the maturity in the songwriting, and the album is a lot more than just the run of the mill country album.

Take the title track "That Girl," which sounds just a little bit like 90s Cher. That's just the tip of the iceberg. "Jealousy" is pop gold with a touch of Nettles signature twang. There's a jazzy swing to this song that screams sexy. She keeps that vibe going with a touch of blues on "This One's For You."

This album is so vastly different from her previous work and that is what makes it so amazing. Even when she goes back to her country roots on "Know You Wanna Know" she doesn't deliver the expected. This is more rockabilly.

The songs on That Girl may not have the earworm potential that her work with Sugarland is known for, but she's proven that she's more than just a country singer.

Perhaps the quality of the songs she's written (10 of the 11 were penned by Nettles) with the help of notable writers such as Richard Marx, Sara Barielles and Butch Walker, make the album stand out. However its amusing to learn that "Know You Wanna Know" is the song co-written with Marx. That song is so lively and that is is hard to believe the ballad king had his hand in it.

Whatever the reason, That Girl is going to make more than the country fans sit up and take notice of Jennifer Nettles and for good reason. The lady has a voice that can twang, rock, swing and go all bluesy.

If there were any songs that stick out as better than any other, "This Angel" is one of them. It is a ballad that definitely can hold a candle to "Stay" from Sugarland's Enjoy The Ride.

So if you are looking for a Sugarland-ish album, you might want to step away. But if you want to hear Jennifer Nettles at her vocal best, than you don't want to miss That Girl.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I've Been Sher-locked: The Sign Of Three

Sherlock is definitely one of those shows  that get better each time you watch it, and you appreciate each episode more with additional viewing.

I'm not sure if it is a fangirl issue or if it really does prove that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are bloody brilliant. If it weren't for the crazy way they treat Doctor Who, I'd lean towards brilliance.

The Sign of Three is an episode that bares watching again and again, just for Sherlock's Best Man speech. Benedict couldn't be any better in this part. He is crazy brilliant and vulnerable at the same time, especially as he is helping Mary with the wedding prep. (The napkin folding scene is hysterical)

Oh and Sherlock dancing = THUD

However there are two cases he has to solve and they all get tied into his speech, which in itself is pure brilliance.

Seriously folks Sherlock = Brilliant.

Mary, is the most impressive character ever. She's hit it off with Sherlock in a way that makes her part of the group. You have to love her.

But back to the wedding, Sherlock gets to play his violin, and that will bring a tear to every eye. Plus his interaction with the bridesmaid really brings some laughs.

It is impossible not to love this show.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I've Been Sher-locked: The Empty Hearse SPOILERS as River Song would say

Ah what to say about Sherlock's Series Three premier.

Let's start by saying, Moffat and Gatiss do Sherlock better than they do Doctor Who these days, and maybe it is time for a change of showrunners...

Sherlock was bloody brilliant.

Let's recap the best bits in no particular order!

~ Sherlock kissed Molly!!!!!!!

~ Watson's wife is in fact...Watson's wife...

~ Sherlock dressed as a waiter with drawn on mustache!

~ Headbutting Sherlock for being alive, but not telling you that he faked his death.

~ Moriarty/Sherlock shipping!

~ Mrs. Hudson thinking that Sherlock and Watson are a couple..and Watson freaking out about it!

~ Mary and Sherlock saving Watson's ass.

God I could go on, but really this episode was fantastic. It tied up the loose ends from The Reichenbach Fall in a way that only The Moff can do it, while still leaving you thinking.

It had the trademark hilarity that comes with Sherlock. Anyone that's that much of a genius has to be hysterical. Seriously...I want a crossover with Sheldon Cooper.

86 minutes wasn't nearly long enough! I need more Sherlock NOW!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Doctor Who In Review: The Time Of The Doctor

I've learned something in watching the last 4 full episodes of Doctor Who.

You have to watch them more than once to get the full effect.

On Christmas Day when I watched The Time Of The Doctor, I didn't shed a tear.

Today when I rewatched the episode, tears poured down my face when Handles died and when Matt slowly regenerated ...or quickly regenerated...however you want to look at it, into Peter's 12th Doctor.

There's so much I loved and hated about this episode.

Matt's interaction with the children in Christmas is really fantastic and the return of the giraffe dance...and of course the whole naked scene....followed by him clothed but naked at Clara's house.

And when the bowtie fell...oh god, I cried. I think it would have been even more powerful if it had been his original costume. If Moffatt had added a fez...I think I would have gone mental.

As far as regenerations are concerned, I think Matt's quirky as it were, was better and more poignant than David Tennant's. Perhaps because, Matt's looking back wasn't quite so...disgustingly perfect.

It is a shame that the story just isn't isn't good enough to be a send off for Matt Smith's fabulous Doctor.

Matt deserved better, especially after the stellar 50th anniversary episode.

The Time Of The Doctor just felt like a half hearted effort to say goodbye to an old friend.

I think the huge problem with the story is the total lack of action, until the last 10 minutes or so. It didn't feel like The Doctor was fighting to save anyone.

And poor Clara, who is not one of my favorite companions, but she really gets left in the dust here.

Maybe after I watch it a few more times it will win me over completely

Friday, January 17, 2014

Why Sherlock Is My TV Boyfriend....and my TV Boyfriend Harem

Until I tuned into an episode of Sherlock I was never sure what Benedict Cumberbatch's appeal was.

After watching, I realize, it isn't Benedict that the world is fussing is Sherlock.

Sherlock is bloody brilliant.

He's a naive, genius. He's part Shawn Spencer from Psych and part Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory.

It is these personality traits that make Sherlock a character that women...well at least this woman...want to grab and take care more ways than one.

Now I'm not saying that Benedict Cumberbatch isn't a cutie on his own.

Cos lord knows this guy has some pretty baby blues...

But he's nothing to me outside of his character.

I also admit to having another TV boyfriend...

Cos I'm fickle like that....

That boyfriend is The Doctor.

First let me say this had nothing to do with David Tennant being a hottie...cos well...he is..he can't help himself...

But is The Doctor character...I love

Quirky brilliance...and he's an alien on top of it all.

And yes, the fez is cool..

I have to admit though...even though 11 would be my favorite TV Boyfriend of the Doctor..I would also take 10, 8, 5, 4 and 3....

Again I'm fickle.

But as I've said repeatedly...its the character I love more than the actor...I'm hoping the 12th Doctor joins my list of TV boyfriends this year.

So ladies, who are your tv boyfriends and do you like them because of who they are or the character they play?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Take Me Downton: Downton Abbey In Review Series 4 Epi 2 SPOILERS

The second episode of Series 4 Downton Abbey aired last night and any fan of the show can come away with a few conclusions.

1. Julian Fellowes is an evil man and there are certain characters in this series that he really hates and others he really loves.

2. The storyline of Anna Bates was just shoddy.

Allow me to elaborate on these two points. Lady Mary always has a beau, even 6 months after her husband died, when she is still in proper mourning. (Heck for as backward as these aristocrats are...I have to wonder if her acquiring new beau is not de rigueur. Lady Edith on the other hand gets the short end of the stick with men and truthfully I think she has a much more pleasing personality. Lady Mary, please remove the stick from out of your bum, you'll have a much better time.

Oh and where was her baby?


I just feel bad for Edith...she gets the gorgeous older guys and things always go wrong. I love Michael Gregson, he's been the best of her beau (I would do him in a heartbeat) and you just know something bad is going to happen, because Julian will not let Edith have happiness for any length of time. Julian are you good friends with Steven Moffat? Because you both know how to inflict misery on the fans of your shows.

Now onto the Anna Bates rape...Yeah...this was just bad. First of all, her behavior plays in with the boys club "She was asking for it" mentality. I mean, her behavior wasn't the Anna we're used to. It was like she was playing coy with Green, and you could tell he was up to no good.

I really felt that this story arc was done for shock value and it wasn't really well written at all in comparison to other parts of this show.

Now onto the awesomeness...Michael saving Lord Grantham's ass. Woot! I wish they'd start making Lord Grantham just a little bit more progressive. It is hard to imagine him and Cora as a happy couple. They really are two different people.

Any scene with Mrs. Patmore. And seriously Mr. Fellowes, don't you dare think of killing her off, m'kay?

Loved the house party and Lady Mary's new beau Lord Gillingham is quite a dish, though not as dishy as Michael Gregson.

I can't wait for next week!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Album Review: Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest

Sara Bareilles is one of those artists that always make you sit up and take notice, even if she's isn't quite a household name. (And she should be).

Take the opening song of The Blessed Unrest, "Brave." This is the song that Katy Perry's "Roar" wanted to be, if it had some depth and if Katy had a little more talent.

Sara, is an artist that doesn't need the bells and whistles or in this case, the leopard print, skimpy outfit. Pick any song from The Blessed Unrest and you'll see that.

She's a songwriter and a girl with a piano. Yes, that's so typical with female artists, but Sara has that special something that makes her music different. "Chasing The Sun" follows "Brave." It is a more thoughtful song with a slower melody, yet the chorus grabs you and lingers in your head.

This album is a mixture of deep and introspective to fun and almost frolicking. "Little Black Dress" dares you not to tap you foot. "Cassiopiea" is dark and mysterious. The song's tone takes you to space, to that very constellation.

Sure, Sara's the type of music you can expect to here at your favorite coffee house. Her music makes makes you want to sit back and relax and simply enjoy. "I Choose You" is sweetly romantic. It is the type of song you expect to hear playing during a romantic comedy when the guy and girl finally have a crazy, awesome date. (Probably in a park)

"Eden" is super quirky tune, that sees Sara channeling The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. This song escaped from the 80s!

The album closes with "December." It is the perfect winter song. The lyrics "December, you have always been a problem child," will have many nodding their heads in agreement.

Sara Bareilles proves to all who will listen that there are some albums worth buying and The Blessed Unrest is one of them. Twelve songs that will make you remember what "good music" sounds like.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kielbasa Soup

2 cartons of chicken broth
2 carrots chopped into small pieces
1/2 small head of cabbage chopped
1 ring kielbasa or smoked sausage
1/3 cup of onion chopped (I like frozen onion)

Sweat the onions for a few minutes then add broth, carrots and cabbage.
Let simmer for 5-10 minutes
Add the kielbasa (I like it cut in rings but you can cut it smaller if you have the patience for it)
Continue to simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Prepare dumplings.

The basic dumpling recipes is easy peesy.

1 c flour
1/2 c water
1 egg

When mixed together the batter will be slightly thicker than pancake batter.

Drop spoonfuls of dumpling batter into the soup until all the batter is gone.

Simmer for another 10 minutes and serve.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Goddess Fish Book Promotions Cover Reveal: Shannon's Law


SHANNON'S LAW by Emma Calin

Thanks so much for hosting the Cover Reveal for my forthcoming contemporary romance SHANNON’S LAW. This is the second in my ‘Passion Patrol Series’ - steamy action-romances that feature sassy female cops who solve crimes, catch crooks and always get their man.


Wild child inner city cop Shannon Aguerri walks a dangerous line between her methods and justice. When the bosses lose their nerve, after yet another maverick mission, she is transferred to green pastures to play out the role of a routine village cop. When she encounters signs of people and drug trafficking she homes in on serious millionaire criminals. As a loner she has attracted men but nothing has stuck. When she meets Spencer, the hunky and widowed Earl of Bloxington, there is an immediate rapport between them. Their social differences mean nothing to their passion and need. Already in the mix is an upper class female rival – who has long plotted her way into the Earl's bed. The jealousy is an evil shade of green and the anger is a violent scarlet. Often inhibited by a sense of duty and honour, Spencer is slow to reveal his feelings. When Shannon confronts him with the need to choose between her word and that of her rival, he does not immediately support her. All the same, when they are forced together to carry out a desperate rescue mission, their love is stronger than everything ranged against them.
(Pre-order paperback only at this stage)
I will be revealing snippets from the story, photos of places and people that inspired the venues and characters on Pinterest during my pre-launch book tour. There are already some scrap-book cuttings posted, take a look and follow my board to get updates:
There is also news about the book on Facebook:
(‘Likes’ are always appreciated.....)
I’m having two launch parties “Afternoon Tea At Bloxington Manor”. The first is online on the 28th February on Facebook and the second is LIVE at the English stately home that inspired the home of my hero on Sunday 2nd March. A local favourite venue for me, Avington Park in Hampshire is steeped in history and tradition. (Think genuine Palladian style rather than Downton Abbey neo-Jacobean). The private owners have kindly agreed to open up for us with a tour of the house and then tea and cake – oh and launch the book of course!
ooooOOOO Shannon's Law Cover Reveal Draw OOOOoooo
$30/£20 Amazon voucher
A pair of tickets to my Avington Park Launch Party 2nd March (UK only)
3 Advanced Review Copies of Shannon’s Law
EVERY entrant will receive a FREE gift of an audiobook of my short story Escape to Love.
Just click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway to register to win - either 'like' the Facebook page or comment on this blog to qualify for an extra 2 chances.
Good Luck!
About Emma Calin
Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives in France and the UK. She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national and international prizes for poetry and short stories.
"Knockout!" is the first of the “Passion Patrol Series” a stand-alone love story set against a backdrop of international gambling corruption and deception. Interpol cop Anna Leyton finds herself torn between love and duty when her professional and private life intersects. This book is now available in both paperback and Kindle formats.
“The Love in a Hopeless Place Collection” is a bargain anthology of 5 short stories and novelettes, available in paperback and digital formats.
"Sub-Prime" is a prize-winning hard hitting short story about courage, exploitation and love. It is a raw and brutal exposé of life at the bottom in the aftermath of recession.
"The Chosen" is also a short story, set in modern times where working people struggle to keep their dreams alive. A world where the promise of love motivates desperate measures.
“Escape To Love” is a 'novelette' (longer than a short story but shorter than a novella), a gritty urban romance with suspense and mystery but a love story at it's core.
“Angela” a short story about a late-night taxi journey.
“Love in a Hopeless Place” a novelette about a middle-aged woman striving to find her true identity.

Amazon links to books by Emma Calin

Shannon’s Law USA Shannon's Law UK (Pre-order paperback only at this stage)
Emma Calin Website:
For this cover release every commenter will receive an audiobook of Emma's short story "Escape to Love." Emma will be awarding a $30 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, another commenter will receive two tickets to the live launch (UK only), and three randomly chosen commenter will receive an ARC of SHANNON'S LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway