Thursday, August 29, 2013

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

My only previous exposure to Ms. Hale was Princess Academy, which I found interesting but slow. Still, I'd like to read the sequel which came out recently. Also, Austenland, which I loved!

This book was better for me than Princess Academy. A very interesting take on the old folk/fairy tale.

I liked the development of Ani. It's a really coming of age/growing up story of a girl who knows who she's expected to be but doesn't know who she really is and is looking for her true place in the world/where she belongs/where is home. A universal theme anyone can relate to.

There are magical elements but it isn't a true fantasy style book for me.

Good solid writing.

There is violence so I'd keep it to those over the age of 12/13 for that reason.

A lovely read.

I think I'd like to try Enna Burning next by Ms. Hale.

What is your favorite book by Shannon Hale?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saige Paints the Sky

For those of you without young girls running around your homes, Saige is the American Girl of the year for 2013 and this is the movie to go along with the doll, books and all other clothes and accessories that parents pay a small fortune for to make their daughters happy.

The movie is simple. Music and art have been cut from the school' this year due to budget cuts. Does that sound familiar? Saige loves art. Her grandmother (played by Jane Seymour) is a famous artist. Saige's best friend Tessa loves music. They collaborate and add new friends to try and raise the money to save their programs. It's a rocky road, but American Girl films always end happy.

There's some decent child acting going on and a decent storyline. The writing is solid. It gets the story told and doesn't make you cringe. Highlight: the balloon festival! I'd like to go see that in person someday.

Clean film. Feel free to watch with your girls. Some younger siblings will enjoy too, even the boys.

Worth a watch? Sure.

Worth a buy? Not at my house. Redbox.

I think my fave AG film so far is Kit Kittredge. You?

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Spy Winner

Lindzee is the winner of an e-copy of I, Spy by Jordan McCollum! She guessed closest with 12:39pm. I was born at 12:11pm. Good work. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I, Spy and Mr. Nice Spy GIVE AWAY!

Jordan McCollum launched these books earlier this summer and I gave her a shout out then.

This is shout out #2 with a review and a give away!

I like a good spy novel with a little romance thrown in for good measure when I feel like getting outside the box of strict romance. But I don't like it too intense. I, Spy and Mr. Nice Spy were a perfect fit for me. Just the right mixture of both.

The characters are well crafted and like any good spy book, I had a little trouble following things here and there. I think this is a prerequisite to writing spy thrillers. You want to confuse your reader just enough to keep them off balance and want to keep reading but not so much that they get so lost they throw in the towel. This book is one of the former. Or maybe I just don't speak spy very well. Either way, good job Ms. McCollum. I did find the spy humor a little over the top at the beginning but then it tempered down and became more natural as the book went on.

I really got into the characters and their complexities, which is good because as a reader you need to be emotionally hooked to the characters to make it an enjoyable read. Another pat on the back for Ms. McCollum.

Another thing I love thrown into books is foreign languages and this has at least three! Russian, Finnish, French. It's not easy to do and you need to use native speakers or close enough to do it right and while I don't speak any of these, it looks from the acknowledgements that Ms. McCollum did just that. Not to mention getting the keyboard to do Cyrillic alphabet has got to be a pain!

Lastly, I, Spy is the first in this series, so that means more enjoyable reads to come. Hooray! When the next one launches, you can be sure I'll be giving a shout out about it so you can pick up right away and continue enjoying Talia's adventures in spy and love.

I read I, Spy first and then Mr. Nice Spy, but I think you can read them opposite and that would work just fine too.

Now about the giveaway. I'm taking a page from Nichole Giles, though not to the swag extreme she is wonderfully capable of.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm giving away an e-copy of I, Spy to the person who most closely guesses the time I was born. See, you get to do your own little version of spy/detective work. Leave your guesses in the comments section below. You have until midnight tonight and I'll announce the winner tomorrow morning on my birthday!

Happy Guessing!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monsters Univeristy

This one was fun and well done.

It was great to finally get all the back story on how Mike and Sully came to be best friends. They were enemies of course! At least at first. I won't ruin anymore of the storyline.

But I found it funny and clever and a good prequel to Monster's Inc. It really explained stuff!

The animation is superb, but it's actually a little too perfect and sometimes I felt it looked too real to be real! That's a strange criticism to make, but you'll see when you watch, esp. the bus.

Can't think of any reason why anyone can't watch this. So no 'heads up moms' warning necessary. I liked it just as much as the first.

Fun facts: Helen Mirren is Dean Hardscrabble and Dave Foley is one of the two heads on what's his name, which I thought was cool since he did the voice of Flik in A Bug's Life. And don't worry, John Ratzenberger gets his cameo so he can still say he's been in every Pixar movie!

Oh, the short is now my 9 year olds all time favorite. I liked it, but there are others I like better.

Worth a view: Yes

Worth a buy: Yes. We preordered it yesterday, along with a bunch of other movies.

Will you be inviting Monsters into your home this fall?

And, does anyone think it's worth owning Lone Ranger? We didn't see it and the reviews of family and friends are mixed so it's hard to know. Thanks.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breaking Dawn

Yes, you read that right. I just finally finished the last book in the Twilight series a couple of weeks ago.

To be fair/defend myself, I did this series in an unusual way.

You see, when the books came out, I didn't read them and all my friends were astonished that a reader like me didn't/hadn't.

When the film Twilight came out, I still hadn't read them, nor did I see it in the theater. I was teaching 16-17 year old girls at the time and they couldn't stop comparing the book to the movie and I thought, 'Sheesh, they couldn't even enjoy the film for the film's sake!'

So, I decided to see the film first, then read the book after.

I waited until Twilight came out on Redbox and watched alone one night when my husband was overnight at the hospital. No one could compare or comment and I could come to my own conclusions without unwanted influence. Overall, it's a slow movie, but I was interested by the story and wanted to know what got left out. So, I read the book.

I continued this trend for the whole series. Saw the movie, (okay so the rest I saw in the theaters, I even did the back to back marathon for the third one), then read the book.

Breaking Dawn presented a problem since they broke it into two parts to make more money. Read half and wait or see all and read all. I chose option 2. And yes, I still got behind in reading it after I saw the second film. By then I knew most people either loved or hated book 4. There don't seem to be any fence sitters.

I waited through 3 books for Bella to finally grow a spine. Apparently she had to become a vampire to do that. If I'd known that I'd have asked Edward to change her in book 1! It drove me crazy.

That, and I'm team Jacob. Oh well, it all works out in the end.

I will say this, I think the one twist they made in the film by adding the fight sequence was brilliant and made the story stronger.

So, happily ever after and all that.

What was your experience with the Twilight Saga?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer

I thought this film was cool and clever.

Story wise you can see the end from the beginning, but really when you think about it, that can be said of most films, but that doesn't take away from the film itself. They set up the story well by introducing the main characters, conflict and history you need to know all within the first 5-10 minutes and then it's just all about the adventure from there on out.

Great graphics, cast (good names here. I'm a fan of Ewan McGregor and Ian McShaine, not to mention the rising Nicholas Hoult - think Warm Bodies), etc.

The long and short of it all is: I liked it. I would watch it again. I would even consider owning it. I think my 9 year old will like it when she turns 13 and is old enough to watch it.

It is PG-13 for fantasy violence - it is a movie about taking over kingdoms after all and giants eating people. There's no nudity or language and only one short kiss. Pretty clean as films go.

Worth a view: Absolutely.

Worth a buy: Very possible

What's a good fantasy flick you've seen lately?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

One In Thine Hand

One in Thine Hand: A Novel Set in Modern Israel by Gerald N. Lund

This one was republished in the past couple of years and lent to me by a family member. I think it was originally published in the 1970's but don't quote me.

I learned a lot in this book about Israel, Jews, Christians, Muslims and the fight for the Holy Land. All stuff I didn't know anything about. Can you tell I know very little about the Middle East?

I know you're thinking, Ugh, a history lesson book, but it's totally not like that. You follow well defined and deep characters on a journey through breaking down stereotypes and learning to listen with your heart. It's a story about faith and love and yes, you'll learn some important facts along the way about why there is so much hatred between the people that live there.

An eye opening read. I'm glad I read it. If you get invested in the characters like I did, be prepared to shed a tear or two and keep the Kleenex standing by for the ending.

Here's the blurb and link to Amazon.

Brad Kennison is a returned missionary and a Vietnam vet looking for direction in his life. He makes a journey to Israel in the summer of 1973, at the height of the uneasy days leading up to the Yom Kippur War. Accompanying him through the Holy Land is Miri Shadmi, a fiery Israeli committed to the political survival of her state and scornful of Americans - like Brad.

With Miri as his reluctant guide, Brad feels the spiritual impact of the Garden of Gethsemane, relives the tragedies of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, and visits Israel's monument to freedom, Masada. Along the way, the two battle about politics and religion and brave a run-in with Arab terrorists at a remote kibbutz. Rivalry soon gives way to romance, and both are forced to examine their commitment to faith, family and country.

What historical book opened your eyes to another part of the world/culture?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Doesn't live up to it's name. If you name a film something that big, it should be awesome.

This one doesn't quite make it.

The storyline is predictable. Forest creatures battling to save or kill the world. Human girl gets thrown into the mix. yada yada yada.

The animation is AWESOME! Those people had so much fun creating the world and characters. Perhaps they should've channeled some of that creativity into the story.

Good voices. Nothing offensive.

Worth a view? Yes. Grab it on Redbox or Netflix

Worth a buy? Probably not unless you're kids beg on their knees. Mine didn't. That's $20 bucks saved.

Did you think Epic was epic fail or epic awesome?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Waiting Fate

Waiting Fate by W.B. Kinnette

This is a good romantic suspense read but not a great read. You can see the end from the beginning and I'm not convinced the very long prologue was necessary. Most of what's important to the storyline could've been told by the characters throughout the book.

There are several loose ends. Why did Ivy think everyone hated her in high school when the guys all think she's the best girl next door ever? Why did she rush into a marriage when she didn't love the guy all because she wanted a big white wedding, esp. when Ms. Kinnette makes it clear she's a smart cookie that was going places?

I like the interaction between Archer and Ivy, but I'm surprised so many of these people stayed in their same hometown after going to college or working and are living at home with their parents. Maybe it's a Utah thing I just don't understand. And why doesn't she come clean with her friends about the real reason for her divorce?

Why doesn't Ivy tell her parents and family everything about Vick her abusive husband? If it's a shame/pride thing, then that needs to be stronger. Because the way her family is painted they seem to be a real loving group so why the secrecy? And as a mom trying to protect her baby girl shouldn't her family know so they can help protect her from Vick. Because we all know people, esp. desperate people, break restraining orders. And if Ivy's so smart, why doesn't she take back up when she meets Vick?

Too many questions, not so many answers.

Don't misunderstand, I did enjoy the read and wanted to know how things got resolved, although like I said, you can see the end from the beginning.  So, I give it 3 stars and an pat on the back to Ms. Kinnette for effort. My sincere apologies to Ms. Kinnette is she finds parts of my review too harsh.

Sometimes Fate hides in plain sight while you stumble through darkness.

Ivy escapes from an abusive husband, finding peace with her daughter in her childhood home. She’s determined to keep her past a secret to protect those she loves.

Archer has been in love with the same girl since seventh grade. When Ivy comes back into his life—bruised, broken, and haunted by secrets—he knows he can’t lose her again.

But Ivy made a promise to her daughter. No one would hurt them again. She’s afraid to trust, afraid to be wrong again, and afraid that the one man she’s loved forever will break her heart.

Fate might take it’s time, but it won’t wait forever.