Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Catching Fire

I like the book series. I think they're doing a marvelous job with the films. So, of course, I enjoyed this one.

Well, as much as you can enjoy a film about killing others to survive that is.

We've got the cast back. Strong as ever. 

I loved meeting the new characters, esp. Mags. You'll recognize the actress playing Joanna. She's certainly crossed over well from child actor to adult. Her elevator scene had me laughing out loud. Like Fennick too.

The sets and graphics are spot on.

I couldn't sleep the night after I watched it because my mind kept replaying parts of the film. So, yes, it'll keep you up at night.

I actually thought they should've ended the film with Katniss being lifted out of the arena. It sort of had three endings to this film.

Slightly irritated they're doing Mocking Jay is in 2 parts. That second half one is going to be tough to watch. I'm really curious how they're going to do it all.

Are you a fan of the series?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten Films of 2013

It seemed appropriate to make the same list for the films. Again only ones I reviewed and in no particular order.

1. Breaking Dawn

2. Jack the Giant Slayer

3. Man of Steel

4. Star Trek: Into Darkness

5. The Avengers

6. Men in Black 3

7. The Dark Knight Rises

8. Les Miserables

9. Lincoln

10. Catching Fire (the review is tomorrow)

And my top 5 kids films are:

1. Brave

2. Despicable Me 2

3. Monsters University

4. Wreck it Ralph

5. Legend of the Guardians

What were your favorite flicks this year?

Top Ten Books for 2013

So, I thought since it's the end of the year I'd put up a list of my favorite books I reviewed in 2013. Here they are in no particular order and you should note, that there are several more that I thoroughly enjoyed that aren't on this list but should be. The list can only be so long. Also, note not all these books debuted this year and there's even a nonfiction in the mix. You can look back on my blog for the reviews and links. Happy Reading!

1. Working It Out by Rachel Anderson

2. Pride's Prejudice by Misty Pulsipher

3. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

4. The List by Melanie Jacobson

5. A Change of Plans by Donna Weaver

6. The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

7. Austenland by Shannon Hale

8. Family Size by Maria Hoagland

9. All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

10. From Notting Hill With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

What were your favorite reads in 2013? What do you recommend I read in 2014?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Abby Road

This is my first read of a book by Ophelia London. She's quite an author.

Abby is a hot mess. A college drop out because her music career took off when her band Mustang Sally went global overnight is enough to mess any 20 something girl up. Then add to that her brother's tragic death and a snot of a manager and it's a wonder this girl isn't already six feet in the ground for taking her own life. Yes, she gets fame and fortune and all that goes with it which isn't always positive. Paparazzi for one. So, I'm completely fine with the mood swings and anxiety attacks Abby is subject to.

Thankfully, she takes a summer off to get her head on straight and falls for the best guy around/ever. But like all good romances, smooth sailing has to come to a halt, relationship falls apart, and Abby has to figure out who she is and what she wants.

Good storytelling. Roller coaster rockin' fun!

This girl knows how to bring on the smexy - the author's word, not mine. I'd love to take credit, but I give credit where it's due. I'm not completely sure on the literal translation of smexy but I think it is a cross between smutty and sexy. This is one where'll you have to be the judge of whether it's clean or not clean enough for you. She gets top marks for serious kissing chemistry. Say 'hi' to weak knees.

But, the characters allude to things happening 'off page' that crosses boundaries for some readers of 'clean' romance, like premarital sex. There's substituted words for swearing and a rude hand gesture as well. As ratings go, I'd lean on the PG-13 side.

You'll have to judge whether that makes it 'clean' in your book or not. For me, it wasn't an issue.

She has also done a great job of conveying the characters emotions and building them as people throughout the arc of the story. There are also some great side characters in here as well. Like the Brit manager for one.

I did think it was funny that we go through a whole book about a rock and roll band singer and not once does she have a concert. Sing, yes. But not a concert.

Oh, and I enjoyed all the Beatles references.

For chick lit, this is good stuff.

Do you have an opinion on 'smexy'?


Touted by the tabloids as the biggest rock star of our generation, Abigail Kelly is used to being in the spotlight. But beyond the glam of Hollywood, her world is falling apart. Still reeling from the death of her brother and wilting under the iron fist of Max, her manager, Abby banishes herself to the secluded beaches of Florida for the summer, thinking some anonymity and sunshine are just what she needs. What she finds, instead, is Todd, an ex-marine eager to embrace life after war. Together, Abby and Todd find the balance Abby’s life has been missing.

That is, until Max resurfaces, demanding Abby return to Los Angeles to record her band’s newest album. As the pressures of public appearances, paparazzi, and late-night recordings start to mount, Abby will have to risk everything or lose the life she always dreamed of.

Ophelia London’s ABBY ROAD is a love letter to music—both the kind you cherish and the kind you create—as well as a beautiful love story that proves even when everyone in the world can recognize your face, the only people who matter are those who can see inside your heart.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pacific Rim

If there was a one line pitch needed to describe this film to sell it to a studio, it would be:

Independence Day meets Transformers

I don't think I can say it any better.

Good graphics. Some good side characters. No one I recognized, but that was fine. Solid acting given what was required. Decent writing. Everyone has solid motivation for what they do. Predictable plot line.

Worth a view? Yes.

Worth a buy? No. I'd rather watch Independence Day or Transformers instead.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Echo in Time: Erasing Time #2

Echo in Time 
Erasing Time #2
by C.J. Hill  (Pseudonym), Janette Rallison 
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: December 23rd 2013
by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN 0062123963 

Book Summary: Echo in Time delivers on "the possibility of an equally thrilling sequel" (Kirkus Reviews) to Erasing Time.

After being pulled 400 years into the future, twins Taylor and Sheridan have found some refuge from the government of Traventon, which used the dangerous Time Strainer to yank the girls from the past. Yet the threat of the dangerous technology still looms. Taylor and an ally, Joseph, are selected to go on a mission to destroy the time machine and weapon. But their actions before they do may have major consequences for the future and the past.

Action-packed and romantic, this futuristic sequel to Erasing Time is perfect for fans of dystopian and sci-fi novels such as The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and Matched by Ally Condie.

About C.J. Hill: CJ Hill is a pen name for a YA author who is best known for writing romantic comedies. (Slayers will be her 18th published book.) Her writing has shifted away from the romantic comedy genre, so her editor thought a pen name would be a good idea. (New books will include: dangerous dragons, time travel to dystopian worlds, and flesh-eating beetles.) Since the publisher refused to let her have the pseudonym : The Artist Formerly Referred to as Princess, she chose a name to honor her mother. CJ Hill was her mother's pen name, or at least it would have been if her mother had published. Her mother wrote a few children's books and a middle grade novel but was taken by cancer before she had fully learned the craft.

Most writers' first novels aren't publishable. CJ Junior's first novel wasn't, but somehow was published anyway. Now, even though it is out of print, it remains forever available on Amazon, where it taunts her with its badness. This was another good reason to use a pen name.

CJ Hill has five children, three of whom like her on any given day depending on who is in trouble. She has lived in Arizona for the last half of her life, but is still in desert denial and hopes that one day her garden will grow silver bells and cockle shells or maybe just tomatoes.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Portrait for Toni

A Portrait for Toni is the first full length novel I've read by Annette Lyon, although she's published several more works.

I'm sure I'm in the minority here when I say that I struggled to get emotionally attached to the characters. The reveal of Carter's deeper than friendship feelings came too soon for me and so he spent the book pining and frustrated, but I sympathized with his plight. Who hasn't been through the torture of loving someone who doesn't love you 'that way' back? (If you haven't then count yourself fortunate.)

Toni has her own issues and I have nothing negative to say regarding the eating disorder content because I thought it was handled truthfully and well done, but I spent the book wanting to smack her upside the head so she'd clue in to what was really going on with her body and with Carter.

The writing and grammar are solid. No point of view issues or anything technical to criticize. It's strong writing. It just didn't captivate me and bring me into the story emotionally.

I'm certainly not writing off Ms. Lyon as an author I'd read because I've read some of her work in other publications and enjoyed it. That being said,

Does anyone have another book by Ms. Lyon they'd recommend?


Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her.

That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it.

One night after a performance, Toni tries to mend the hurt between them. Instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible.

Isn’t it?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



Author: S. M. Anderson

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Release Date: December 11

Genre: YA Science Fiction Target Audience: 14 and up Distributor: Ingram

Book Blurb:  Adopted off the black market, Alexander Mitchell, has no idea his DNA is copyrighted and property of military weapons giant Texacom Defense. Nor that his DNA is being used to develop an army of clones. When the company discovers he was not properly disposed of 17 years ago, they send an assassin copy, BETA23, to terminate Xan and cover it up

After he narrowly escapes BETA23’s first attempt, Xan teams up with Lacey, a genetically engineered genius he’s surprised to find common ground with— only they’re awkward together. Half of the time she stares at Xan like the science project he is and the other half…let’s just say Xan can’t keep his eyes off her lips.

When they manage to capture a company copy by luck and sheer stupidity on Xan’s part, Lacey is determined to see the good in their prisoner to the point she believes BETA23 can be persuaded to give them the intelligence they need to keep the company forever off Xan’s back. Xan’s not sure if he can trust the darker version of himself, not when it means gambling with the lives of his family and the possibility of losing Lacey.

Best of luck to Ms. Anderson on her novel!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

White House Down

If you like your movies action packed with a touch or humor, this is one to add to your list.

The premise is a little far fetched but we don't watch action movies for that reason. although the writers did a good job of making this one as believable as possible. Actually I wondered during the film if you could take over the White House this way. Hope the SS reviewed their procedures after this came out. I also wondered how they got some of the shots they did. I can't imagine the White House allowing them to film on site. The security mixed with the pyrotechnics would put anyone's heart and mind into logistical overdrive trying to protect the real president.

We watch action flicks to see the good guys/underdogs get cut up, blow up stuff and watch them out smart the bad guys.

I wasn't surprised that Mr. Channing lost his shirt early in the film. I did like that Mr. Foxx kept his coat and tie on for most of the film and his character's fascination with Lincoln. You'll recognize the daughter as Ramona from Ramona and Beezus. This also has a great humorous bad guy. He runs the computers. You'll see. His character is just fabulous!

So, if you like films like Red or Die Hard, etc. your in luck.

Worth a view: Yes.
Worth a buy: I'm seriously considering it. I'd watch this one over again.

Got a good action flick to recommend?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shadows of Valor

Ah, a historical romance set in medieval England. Sigh. I love to flip back and forth between historical and contemporary romance books. It makes both genres that much more enjoyable when you break them up occasionally.

Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park seems to be her debut novel, at least Amazon doesn't list any other books on her author page. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.

Ms. Park takes us back in time to merry old England and into the life of Elspeth a young woman who's written herself off as eligible marriage material due to the scars she secured as a child attempting to rescue her parents from their burning home. She doubts her self worth, despite being a 'strong' woman as she serves the community as an herbalist and midwife from her uncle's estate. She's carried a torch for Sir Calan most of her life, but has rarely seen him since he rescued her from the fire. When he reappears courting her beautiful cousin, it seems love is not to be. But then, this wouldn't be much a romance.

Thank goodness for the Shadow!

Storyline wise, you can see many things coming from a ways off, but that doesn't take away from the charm of the story or the lip biting that ensues as you journey to those plot points ahead. We have villains ugly and beautiful, knights, tournaments and songs.

The songs are impressive, especially as they are all original (if I read the back of the book right) and there's even music for one of them at the end! A writer who is also a songwriter and musician is my kind of girl!  I'd love it if she added the music for all three songs in subsequent editions. (I think there were 3.)

We get the flavor of the setting and clothes from the great descriptions that aren't bogged down in history. In fact, Ms. Park manages to explain to us future folk some of the items we aren't familiar with in present day without pulling us out of the story or wondering if we should pause to go look it up on Wikipedia.

A story well told. I'll be looking forward to her next one.

Do you have a good historical romance to recommend?


Through the muddy, mired streets of medieval England, The Shadow is a man shrouded by legend and fear. He is the enforcer of justice for King Edward, a man who has set an unreasonably high export tax to the point that smuggling now taints his kingdom.

The Shadow, who is really a simple man known as Sir Calan, is tasked with capturing the smugglers. Although talented and just, Sir Calan struggles to keep justice from becoming ruthless revenge and wars within himself to keep his actions in check.

While journeying to Graywall, Sir Calan learns of a deadly plot against Lord Shaufton. In an effort to unveil the evil that lurks behind the city’s walls, The Shadow takes on his original guise as Sir Calan and enters a pseudo courtship with Lord Shaufton’s daughter.

However, it isn’t Lord Shaufton’s daughter who stirs Sir Calan’s buried emotions, but Elsbeth, Lord Shaufton’s niece. Elsbeth seems to be the only one who can heal Sir Calan’s troubled soul, but she has a story of her own.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cover Reveal for Blood Crown by Ali Cross

Ali Cross' new book Blood Crown is coming out in Feb. Read below all about this awesome author and her new book! May the sales be ever in your favor Ali!

About Ali Cross: Ali Cross is the sensei of Novel Ninjutsu where she holds a black belt in awesome. She lives in Utah with her kickin' husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one sumo dog and four zen turtles.

Ali is the award-winning author of young and new adult fiction and moonlights as Alex Cross when she can write wild middle grade adventures set in the faraway places of her imagination.

Social media links:

Tumblr/Pinterest/Etc: http://desolationdiaries.tumblr.com/

Indelibles (indie authors): http://indeliblewriters.blogspot.com/

Emblazoners (middle grade authors): http://emblazoners.com/

About BLOOD CROWN: Serantha is the daughter of the Emperor of the West, who rules over the remnant of humanity who escaped a dying Earth and took to the stars a thousand years ago. With no habitable planets found during their exile, the android Servants who were supposed to care for them rose up, took the name of Mind, and murdered her father. Now the androids amuse themselves by forcing humans like her into mindless drudgery. But flashes of memory hint that Sera is no ordinary human.

On the other side of the galaxy, Nicolai, Son of the East, has abandoned his crown and joined the rebel forces in the war against the Mind. Humans have no real chance... unless the enhanced DNA developed by the Blood Crown scientists can unlock mankind's potential. When Nic and Sera are united, they discover their true potential--and together, humanity just might have a chance. But there's a legion of androids and nine years of mistrust between East and West... and coming together will require more than they ever expected.

Release date: February 20, 2014

Buy links: coming soon!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


This is Cars in the air. Not a big surprise as that's just what the previews indicated it would be.

Worth of view: Once. From a Redbox.

Worth a buy: No.

It's cute. Has a few fun moments. But, really it's just Cars & Cars 2 told with planes. Not much new information there.

The documentary on the research for the movie is worth a view.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Working It Out

Working It Out by Rachael Anderson is another fun RomCom read with great characters.

We've got a smart strong girl, a dare devil guy, a brother in a wheelchair, a friend's sister and a bachelorette auction. What is not to love about this set up?

Lots of back and forth with the emotions, the kisses, the fear of losing the one you love. Enjoy having your heart strings tugged right along with the couple.

Storyline flows well and dialogue is spot on.

A good read. I'm a fan.

It's amazing how many good writers there are out there! Don't waste time with the mediocre ones. Read the good stuff.

Has anyone read any of her other books?


A chance encounter . . .
Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable--exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle--a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along--assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.