Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect when I borrowed STEP UP from my library. I'd caught a glimpse of the trailer and liked the music with an upbeat tempo.
What I hadn't expected was an engaging movie with great acting and a storyline that were both moving and captivating. I'd loved Channing Tatum in DEAR JOHN and SHE'S THE MAN, and he didn't disappoint in STEP UP. Who knew he could dance as well as act?
An overachieving dancer, Nora Clark, played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum, loses her dance partner before an important performance due to an injury. Tyler Gage, played by Channing Tatum, is a rough, streetwise guy is doing community service at the school for performing arts where Nora attends. Faced without a partner, Nora takes a chance and asks Tyler to step up to the challenge. Tyler, though hesitant, steps out of his comfort zone into an unknown world. One he never dreamed he'd be a part of but now envisions.
Take a chance and STEP UP to hope, faith, and your dreams.
Monday, June 27, 2011
The first time I saw the ad for COUNTRY STRONG, I immediately made a mental note to see the movie. Like so often is the case, I didn't make it to the theater. Lucky for me, my library had the DVD. I'm a country lover and that was my main attraction to COUNTRY STRONG. I also like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. Both great actors.
What little I knew of the movie was that it was about a country singer Kelly Canter, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, coming out of rehab for alcohol addiction. Her husband and manger, played by Tim McGraw, is driven to push Kelly to her limit to become a success in her music career.
I didn't known Gwyneth sang, and was surprised to discover that not only does she sing, but she's quite good. But Gwyneth wasn't the only one who could sing. A second set of characters had their own storyline.
The slow growing romance between Chilies Stanton, played by Leighton Meester, and Beau Hutton, played by Garrett Hedlund, will warm your heart as you are taken along on their compelling stories. I thought the main focus would be on Gwyneth's character, Kelly, which in part was why the added story of Chiles and Beau was such a pleasant surprise. Their back-story, their growing romance, and great voices had me wanting a story of their own. With Leighton's beautiful voice, and Garrett's unique gravely sound, purchasing the soundtrack is a must.
COUNTRY STRONG was a great movie but what really won me over was the ending. There's nothing like a final shocker, as well as a happily ever after.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
THE COWBOY'S HOMECOMING by Brenda Minton, like every other book I've read of hers, has all the elements of what makes a great book. The cover is perfect and the back blurb is intriguing. As I often do when I spot a book that isn't one of my favorite authors, I read the first couple of pages. All of Ms. Minton's books immediately draw me in, threatening to never let me go until I finish reading.
And that's exactly what happened with THE COWBOY'S HOMECOMING. I devoured the book in only two days. Every character came to life with a vivid story. When you've read as many "cowboy" books as I have, it becomes harder and harder to run across new ways of saying the same things, but Minton pulls it off. I often find myself shaking my head in awe of the words she's strung together.
Former bad boy Jeremy Hightree, returns to the town where he grew up, and he has misson. Revenge has him wanting to tear down Back Street church. Only problem is, the woman he had feelings for all those years ago, Beth Bradshaw, will stop at nothing to prevent him from doing so.
With both their faiths weak from past hurts, will they trust God with their futures?
Beth's brother, Jason, is a character from Minton's previous book THE COWBOY'S COURTSHIP. Revisiting his character left me wanting to reread his story all over again. There are several new characters in THE COWBOY'S HOMECOMING that I'm keeping my fingers crossed the author will create a story for them as well.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I have to admit I picked ALL I EVER WANTED by Kristan Higgins because of the main characters name. Yeah, I know, but I have a tendency when I spot a book with one of the characters names the same as two of my daughter's with uncommon names, to purchase it.
Kristan Higgins is a new author for me and not long after I received ALL I EVER WANTED, I ordered MY ONE AND ONLY. Another risky move, ordering another book by the same author you have yet to read. As and aspiring author and an avid reader, I'm all too aware that even the best writers can produce a "bad" novel now and again or change their style. Thus I will be giving MY ONE AND ONLY a fair chance.
Because I'm an inspiring writer and a Christian, I like to point out the positives in a book. In my opinion, if there were, I won't write a review and will only include a synopsis. After all, writing is subjective.
When I first began reading ALL I EVER WANTED, I was a little put off by it being first person and so contemporary. Not the kind of book I'm accustomed to reading and love. Yet, I was willing to give it a chance. But I quickly realized the story was not going to be one I could stomach. By page twenty I HAD to put it down, and the story started on page nine.
Was it all about being first person? No.
Was it poorly written? No.
Did I not like the storyline? Not exactly?
Was I intrigued to go forward? Yes.
Were the characters three dimensional? Yes.
What I have a problem with, being a Christian, is all the foul language, offensive words, and insinuations. I've read my share of non-inspirational books, and I'm not opposed to stories that aren't faith based. I just believe whole heartedly that one can write an amazing, compelling, life changing, emotionally-resonating story without sex and bad language. I was astounded at how many foul and offensive words were used in only the few pages I read.
In recent years I've gravitated more and more to inspirational books. Now days, it's rare for me to purchase one that isn't. Until this book, I hadn't realized how much I appreciate good, clean fiction. I never have to worry about my kids picking up one of my books and reading it. And believe me, it happens.
Based on the back cover blurb:
For Callie Grey, things aren't going well. The love of her life and boss, Mark, ended their relationship because of "bad timing". Later, he confesses to being in a serious relationship. If that's not bad enough, she's turning thirty with no prospects in sight.
Bad goes to worse when she stirs up a crazy relationship with Ian McFarlan, the town's not so warm and fuzzy veterinarian. Callie decided to give him a "makeover" and darn if she doesn't fall for him.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I only recently discovered author CHARLOTTE CARTER. I loved the first book I read by her, MONTANA HEARTS, so when I spotted BIG SKY REUNION and read the back cover, I purchased it.
It'd been years since Melinda Spencer had in Potter Creek, Montana, but when her ailing aunt returns home from a rehab facility, Melinda offers to stay with her and help with her knitting shop until she fully recovered. Little does Melinda know, that she'll encounter a rebellious cowboy she met many years ago who broke her heart.
Daniel O'Brien can hardly believe his eyes when he spots Melinda, or as he liked to call her, Goldilocks. She'd hightailed it out of town years ago after spending the summer with her aunt.
In the years since Daniel last saw Melinda, God has worked wonders in his life. He senses Melinda is in need of God's grace as well. Could she forgive herself just as Daniel forgave himself with the Lord's help? Or will her guilt ruin any chances of love the second time around.
BIG SKY RENUION is well written with great lines, and a touching story with characters you'll love.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
1) There are those albums you listen to for the first time and love each song.
2) There are those albums you listen to for the first time and love just one or two songs.
3) And then there are the albums you purchased because of a song or two you love. Once you listened to the entire album, as time goes on, the others grow on you and before you know it you love them all.
SUGARLAND, The Incredible Machine, is number three! The more I listen, the more I love all the songs. Great, catchy songs that will have you tapping your feet and singing out loud.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
A friend of mine loaned MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA to me, and I have to admit it sat on my shelf for months. The small font, singled spaced text was far from appealing to my eye. My preference to soft cover books over hard also hindered me from reading it. Once I finally dove into it, I was swept away by a fascinating story.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is brilliantly written with amazingly unique lines, and packed full of information, giving great attention to detail. The story is captivating, and intriguing, heartbreaking and heartwarming. It reads like a biography, though in actuality it's a wonderful fictional story packed full of non-fiction material. This book will draw you into the world of a Geisha, equally sad and fascinating.
Nine-year-old Chiyo and her sister were sold into slavery by their father while their mother was on her death bed. Thrown into the harsh world of the unknown, Chiyo soon realizes her only hope is to become a Geisha.
MEMORIES OF A GEISHA takes the reader on Chiyo's journey from a young sister and daughter, to the aches, pains, and relentless training required to become a Geisha. Each and every character is so well thought-out you'll believe them to be real.
Because the author was so detailed, I longed to see it visibly, and was tempted more than once to view the movie before I finished book. Within hours of completing the book, I watched the movie. It was extremely fast paced compared to the book, and like most great books, the movie couldn't compare, although I enjoyed it.
It was great to see the book come alive, but I would highly recommend reading the book before the movie. Though you get the visual details in the movie, many of them have little meaning without the knowledge of the details behind them. If you haven't read the book, but have seen the movie and enjoyed it, I recommend you read the book. You'll be fascinated by what you'd missed.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I could give you A BILLION REASONS WHY I liked this book by Kristin Billerbeck, but to be honest I'm just not that creative. This is the first book I've read by Billerbeck and though I wasn't exactly thrilled with the ending, I loved it just the same. I thought the characters were well thought out, it was wonderfully written, and I loved the storyline.
Katie McKenna fell for Luc DeForges years ago. Only problem is when she went out on a limb to make her feeling known, he rejected her. Eight years later and he's returned. Of course she can think of A BILLION REASONS WHY she shouldn't allow him back into her life. The only problem is that; she's still in love him and he's not one to take no for an answer.
Luc DeForges has always loved Katie, but he has a secret that had him saying no when he wanted nothing more to say than yes. But he's not the only one with a secret. Katie's mom has one of her own. Can Luc reveal his secret and still have the woman he loves?
Monday, June 6, 2011
SMALL-TOWN MOMS is a two-in-one book.
A DRY CREEK FAMILY by JANET TRONSTAD
A DRY CREEK FAMILY is a sweet romance. Separated from her sisters at an early age, Maegan Shay heads to Dry Creek, Montana to check up on her deceased sister's daughter, Lily. Maegan wants a chance to get to know her niece, and to make sure she's okay. What she doesn't expect to find is Lily's handsome guardian, Clint Parker. With the Lord's help, they can become the family they both long to have.
A MOTHER FOR MULE HOLLOW by DEBRA CLOPTON
I'm not usually surprised when I spot a new book at the store by Debra Clopton because I keep a close watch on her sebsite for upcoming books, excitedly awaiting the next great story. I've read every single MULE HOLLOW book including all of THE MEN OF MULE HOLLOW series. Debra never fails to deliver an amazing, well written, can't-stop-turning-the-page, story.
In A MOTHER FOR MULE HOLLOW, widowed mother Olivia Dancer heads to Mule Hollow, Texas to meet her nephew, Wes for the first time. What she doesn't expect is to find his rude, stubborn father, Gabe McKennon.
Unknown to Gabe and against his wishes, his mother invites Olivia to spend a few weeks with them so she can get to know Wes. Gabe is less then unwelcoming and has no intentions on letting up. That is until he realized Olivia is nothing like Wes' mother.
God has his work cut out for Him to bring an angry and bitter man, and a hurt and lonely widow, together. But as the Bible says, "all things are possible through Him".
Thursday, June 2, 2011
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU is a cute, funny, and romantic movie with an all-star cast - Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson and Justin Long.
There are four couples to follow, each with very different scenarios.
1) He likes her but she likes someone else.
2) She likes him but he’s married.
3) She can’t find anyone that likes her, but the guy she consults ends up falling for her.
4) The girl he likes didn’t like him, but he finds another that has been searching for the “perfect” guy.
So often in movie that involves several scenarios like HE’S SO NOT INTO YOU, at least one of the situations doesn’t play out like we hope. That wasn’t the case with this movie. Though you were inclined to think otherwise, in the end each relationship turns out as you’d imagined or hoped with a few surprises.
Great movie, well acted with a storyline that will hold your interest from start to finish.