Tuesday, August 27, 2013

update & prayer request

Hello friends! Some of you may remember back in July when I asked for prayer as my father was facing some tests -- well, I apologize for the delay in posting any updates, but to be perfectly frank this summer has been INSANE...and I will not be sorry to see the end of it. Thank you to everyone who has made inquiries here or on Facebook -- they have been SO appreciated!

To make a long story short, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After several weeks of tests to determine whether or not the cancer was localized or had spread (and INTERMINABLE waits for test results), his doctors feel confident that the cancer is contained (PRAISE GOD) and decided on a course of treatment -- removing the prostate. That surgery is (FINALLY) tomorrow morning. I can hardly begin to tell you how relieved I am to finally come to the surgery eve. God's fingerprints have been all over dad's case, but I would ask for your continued prayers for the surgery tomorrow and that the doctors are able to determine that the cancer is contained and get it all (if that bears out, dad won't need radiation follow-up).

Thank you SO much for hanging with me this crazy summer, blogging friends! I am so grateful to each and every one of you for the friendship and support!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick


The Greatest Knight (William Marshal)
By: Elizabeth Chadwick
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ASIN: B003M69P96

Review:

The second son of John Marshal, Lord Marshal of England during the reign of King Stephen in the 12th century, William is a child whose renown and influence was destined to surpass his father -- yet his name remains lost to the popular, generally taught history of today. I know appallingly little of the Plantagenet kings, other than Richard I and Prince John's famous rivalry, which gave birth to one of my favorite legends -- that of Robin Hood. William's service to the Plantagenets spans four kings, and Chadwick begins her recreation of his life nearly forty years before Richard the Lionheart took the throne. As a child of five William's life was forfeit by his father, in rebellion against King Stephen, and only spared by Stephen's whim. His boyhood was spent apprenticed to his mother's cousin, training as a knight in Normandy.

Though his career as a knight had an inauspicious start, riddled by insinuations of favoritism as a relative of his liege, William found his true mettle on the tourney field, winning acclaim and wealth. When the opportunity arose to join his uncle the Earl of Salisbury, in service to Eleanor of Acquitaine's household, his life becomes irrevocably entwined with the Plantagenet princes. The young princes, with stars in their eyes and dreams of power and valor -- dreams fed by William's faithful service, service that will cost the young knight more than he'd ever dreamed, but whose determination to live a life of loyalty and honor will see this second son's star leave an indelible impression on five tumultuous decades of English rule.

I've seen glowing reviews of Chadwick's novels throughout the blogosphere, ever since Sourcebooks began re-releasing her novels in the States a few years ago. As I've recently been on something of a Tudor-era fictional kick, I thought it was past time to try one of her works. Roughly the first fifteen to twenty percent or so of the novel -- touching on William's childhood and then covering his youth as a squire in Normandy in more depth -- were a bit of a rough go for me. The narrative seemed sluggishly paced and William's youthful growing pains were frankly less than compelling reading. I confess that my absorption into the novel was somewhat further hampered by an error I made in perusing Chadwick's website, were she goes into some depth into her belief in the "Akashic Record" and her use of a "reader" in her research to tap into the feelings and sensations of those long dead somewhat distracting, as every time William "felt" something I was overcome with the urge to burst out laughing.

But, my perception of this methodology as somewhat sketchy aside, I am SO glad I persevered, as The Greatest Knight proved to be a thoroughly absorbing read, and William Marshal a hero I'm most happy to have met within the pages of this novel. Chadwick's narrative gains traction when William finally joins Salisbury's household, his entrĂ©e into the rarefied and dangerous world of English royalty. His fine figure, courtly manner, and prowess as a knight earns him the favor of Queen Eleanor, leading to a lifelong friendship destined to weather the storms both endure in and out of royal favor, under-girt by William's unflagging loyalty and Eleanor's savvy judgement and fierce dedication to her sons' futures. I LOVED Chadwick's characterization of the legendary lady of Acquitaine. Her charisma, formidable will, and determination to remain unbowed in the face of imprisonment and warring sons is beautifully sketched on the page -- I couldn't be more thrilled to learn that in Chadwick's latest trilogy, Eleanor takes center stage.

William's time as head of the Young King Henry's household, Henry II's heir, proves to be a crucible in which he learn the cost of loyalty and court politics, as Henry II and his heir apparent spend over a decade quarreling over the Young King's desire to exercise his right to rule -- a right his father was loathe to cede to in any measure. The young Henry's death sparks a crisis of conscience in William's life, spurring a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a personal moral reset. Forsaking the fame of tourney life and artfully playing the game of court politics, William's unflagging loyalty and strength of purpose sees him rewarded with new honors, culminating in marriage to Isabelle de Clare, heiress to the earldom of Pembroke. As a man who had thought never to marry, I LOVED their story. Though over two decades her senior, their marriage appears to have grown into a love match, resulting in ten children and a true marital partnership, the likes of which was rare in the 12th century.  

Though hampered by a slow start, The Greatest Knight proved to be a rewarding portrait of a refreshingly honest hero. Far from perfect, William Marshal was nevertheless notable for his unflagging loyalty and devotion in the face of persecution and failure. This is likely the most principled man I've ever met within the pages of a book, and though far from perfect through Chadwick's characterization he is nevertheless a refreshingly honorable hero. Chadwick does an excellent job packing the narrative with the flavor of the time period, from descriptions of food and clothing to the political intrigue that would challenge William's honor and resolve time and again throughout his life. I do feel that the book is somewhat hurt by its scope -- even clocking in at nearly 600 pages, to cover over four decades in a life so packed, so well lived, seems rushed. That said, I ultimately found this first volume illuminating William's extraordinary story fascinating, page-turning reading -- the final third in particular is SO GOOD. William Marshal seems to have defined the phrase a life well lived, and I am so looking forward to learning more of this man and his family in Chadwick's sequel, The Scarlet Lion!

About the book:

Royal protector. Loyal servant. Forgotten hero.

A penniless young knight with few prospects, William Marshal is plucked from obscurity when he saves the life of Henry II's formidable queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In gratitude, she appoints him tutor to the heir to the throne, the volatile and fickle Prince Henry. But being a royal favorite brings its share of danger and jealousy as well as fame and reward.

A writer of uncommon historical integrity and accuracy, Elizabeth Chadwick resurrects the true story of one of England's greatest forgotten heroes in a captivating blend of fact and fiction. The Greatest Knight restores William Marshal to his rightful place at the pinnacle of the Middle Ages, reflecting through him the triumphs, scandals, and power struggles that haven't changed in eight hundred years.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parkland trailer

Okay this is another film I had NO IDEA existed until I heard the trailer discussed on the radio. Parkland is "A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated." Here's the trailer


spine poetry

Last week my friend and co-worker Rachel asked if I would put together a spine poetry poem for her blog. I had a surprising amount of fun coming up with mine and I wanted to share it here (all inspired by The Hero's Lot by Patrick Carr!):



If you've done this, leave me a link in the comments -- I'd love to check out your work! You can read other contributions to Rachel's spine poetry post HERE.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Into the Whirlwind

Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)

by

Elizabeth Camden

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Whirlwind, go HERE.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Lady Vanishes - this Sunday on Masterpiece

This Sunday on Masterpiece Mystery will see the premiere of The Lady Vanishes, based on the novel by Ethel White and memorably brought to the screen by Alfred Hitchcock in 1938 (one of my favorite pre-Hollywood Hitchcock films). Here's a bit about the story and a short preview:

The Lady Vanishes packs in the suspense and style when Iris Carr, a beautiful young socialite traveling alone, befriends a kindly English middle-aged woman but wakes from a catnap to find her missing – and all the strangers surrounding her denying that the woman was ever there at all! This closed-door mystery classic investigates the question of madness and isolation set among increasingly sinister passengers and a train barreling through Europe toward a dangerous and dizzying final destination: the truth.
With a nod to Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 adaptation and a return to the book that started it all (Ethel White's The Wheel Spins), The Lady Vanishes stars Tuppence Middleton (Inspector Lewis, "Down Among the Fearful"), Tom Hughes (Page Eight), Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs), Gemma Jones (The Duchess of Duke Street), and Alex Jennings (Cranford).

Watch The Lady Vanishes Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields


The Age of Desire
By: Jennie Fields
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-14-312328-6

Review:

Despite the acclaim and financial success she's received from her runaway bestseller The House of Mirth, author Edith Wharton is unhappy and restless. Trapped in a passionless marriage, barely able to tolerate the emotional needs or attentions of her husband Teddy, Edith's one outlet through her adult life has been to channel her fierce intellect and unfulfilled emotions through her writing. Her investment in her craft finally pays off with Mirth's success -- but her friendship with noted literary elites like Henry James and her ability to enjoy the accouterments of wealth and privilege abroad do little to quell her insistent longing for more, for a connection capable of captivating her entire being. When she meets journalist Morton Fullerton, she's entranced by his manner and flattered by his singular attention. What starts as a stimulating intellectual connection blossoms into an affair that threatens to destroy all Edith holds dear. Her growing obsession with Morton and the undeniable passions he awakens within her once emotionally void existence quickly becomes a drug Edith is loathe to live without. But the very society that Edith deconstructs in her novels, the very world whose consumption of her prose enables her lifestyle, is left shaken to the core by her affair, and faced with the risk of losing everything Edith must decide what kind of life she's willing to fight to claim as her own.

Though I have little knowledge of Edith Wharton's personal life and only a passing acquaintance with her fiction, I love the Gilded Age and turn-of-the-century history and was intrigued to learn more of Wharton's life. However, I must admit to being less than enamored with Edith's story. From the novel's opening pages and first-person, present tense narration I knew I was going to have issues. First-person, present tense is one of the least desirable narrative forms in my view, resulting in clunky, awkward sentences and plodding prose, slowing the forward momentum of the plot to a crawl.

And then there's Edith. While I don't expect to like or agree with every protagonist I meet within the pages of a novel, it helps if on some marginal level at best that I can sympathize with their struggle or relate to their point-of-view -- and on that score, Edith leaves me cold. There is rich material to mine during this time frame -- not only Edith's personal life and position as a pioneering female author, but the social restrictions of the time period, particularly relevant as to the proscribed roles of women, is rife with potential when exploring the life of one who struggled to fit within the generally accepted mold. Edith's affair with Morton, only confirmed decades after her death with the release of her letters, is a scenario ripe with juicy dramatic possibilities. But if the Edith found within the pages of this novel is a reflection of the real-life woman, I have next to no sympathy for the situation in which she finds herself here -- a situation that results a rapidly disintegrating marriage, that, given her husband's struggles with mental illness and depression, is only exacerbated by her selfish, singled-minded pursuit of a playboy reporter who turns this would-be intelligent author into a simpering fool. There is nothing remotely compelling about the woman Edith becomes when in thrall to Morton's dubious "charms."

The one bright spot in the narrative is Edith's friend and secretary, her one-time governess Anna. Anna is a sensitively-realized, semi-tragic figure -- a thoughtful examination of a woman's fate when she finds herself older, single, and responsible for her own support and well-being, particularly in a world that assumes a woman's role and support are conditional on her eventual (assumed) marriage. It's fascinating to consider that this unassuming woman may likely have played an important role in shaping Wharton's fiction by serving as her first reader. But more than that, their friendship, in all of its messed up, unequal glory, is a strikingly authentic -- albeit tragic -- chapter in Edith's life. While Anna was certainly not perfect, she did at least strive to be a constant friend -- and it is both heart-breaking, maddening, and humbling to conceive of her loyalty to her erstwhile pupil who would have done well to heed her faithful friend's counsel. I would've loved a novel entirely focused on Anna and her role vis-a-vis Edith's writing, as well as her family life and experiences -- she is a woman of whom I would love to know more.

There is a lot of potential here -- the tension between passion versus duty, personal desire versus social acceptability -- but the resulting tale left me cold. Edith's "struggles" seem primarily self-induced, and while her marriage to Teddy, given his mental instability, would've certainly been difficult even were they a love match, the manner in which is she abandons her marriage wholesale -- while determined to stay in it -- was frankly grating. By contrast, those surrounding Edith -- from Anna to Henry James -- are fascinating. Fields has a knack for portraying the mores and manners of the time period, and should she elect to stay within the turn-of-the-century for further fictional endeavors, featuring more palatable protagonists, there is much potential to be had. While The Age of Desire didn't resonate with me as I'd hoped, I suspect more avid fans of Edith Wharton will find much of interest within its pages. A challenging effort personally, but I am happy to have expanded my knowledge of this ground-breaking woman and her times.

About the book:

A sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship.

It has been said that behind every great man is a great woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann, her governess turned literary secretary and confidante. At forty-five -- despite her growing fame -- Edith remains unfulfilled in a lonely, sexless marriage. Against all the rules of Gilded Age society, Edith falls passionately in love with Morton Fullerton, a dashing young journalist. Their scandalous affair awakens her senses, but threatens everything in her life-- especially her abiding ties to Anna. As Edith's marriage crumbles, the women must face the fragility at the heart of all friendships.

The Age of Desire transports readers to the golden days of Wharton's turn-of-the-century world and effortlessly re-creates the life of an unforgettable woman.

*Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the review opportunity.

A Cast of Stones Kindle Promotion!


You may recall that earlier this year I couldn't stop raving about Patrick Carr's debut, A Cast of Stones -- and in case you somehow missed out on all that fun, you can read my review of the novel here. After a maddening delay (due to all of the stress that's happened this summer, ergh!), I'm finally well into the sequel, The Hero's Lot, which is AMAZING. Seriously people, SO GOOD. I didn't want to let the entire month of August go by without mentioning that for the entire month of August, the e-book version of A Cast of Stones is available for FREE. This is the perfect way to catch up on Carr's series -- and trust me, you don't want to miss out on this richly-rendered, imaginative, thrilling world peopled with unforgettable characters. Go forth and read! :)

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering



This week, the


is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)

by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).

 ABOUT THE BOOK


Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rules of Murder, go HERE.

In case you missed it, you can read my review of this FABULOUS book here!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Downton Cast Photo!

The official season four cast photo for Downton Abbey has finally made its debut! It's getting close, people!






















*Photo copyright ITV/Carnival Films.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering


Rules of Murder (A Drew Farthering Mystery #1)
By: Julianna Deering
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1095-2

Review:

Drew Farthering, society playboy and heir to the Farlinford Processing fortune, returns to the family estate in Hampshire seeking a respite from the meaningless whirl of social obligations -- only to find his home playing host to one of his stepmother Constance's parties. The guests included one very unwelcome David Lincoln, who inherited his position on the Farlinford Processing board at his father's death, his increased intimacy with the Fartherings' business soon giving way to rumors of an affair with Constance. But Drew is soon distracted from David's odious presence by the arrival of his stepfather Mason's American niece, the beautiful Madeline Parker. Drawn to Madeline's warmth and wit, Drew begins to hope that he's finally met a woman of depth with whom he could plan a future, one to give meaning and purpose to his directionless -- albeit privileged -- existence.

But when Drew and Madeline discover the mangled body of Lincoln during a party, the two are drawn into a web of deceit and danger that casts a shadowy pall over their blossoming romance. A longtime mystery aficionado, Drew determines to launch his own investigation with the help of Madeline and his best friend and valet Nick. But real-life detective work is nothing like the fiction he loves, his amateur efforts breaking every rule of crime-solving in the book while casting a shadow of suspicion over family and friends and calling into question everything he thought he knew about himself. The more Drew persists, the greater the danger, and when a second tragedy strikes all that stands between him and those he loves may just be his unconventional thinking...if only he can uncover the truth in time to unmask a killer before he strikes again!

At the risk of waxing hyperbolic, please indulge me when I say that I have been waiting for this book for the better part of my adult life. As a teenager I cut my mystery-loving teeth on tales of murder and mayhem by the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, expanding to fall in love with the works of contemporaries like Rex Stout and Dorothy L. Sayers. Whether in print or on-screen, memorably memorialized by actors the like of David Suchet as the inimitable Poirot or Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple (my personal favorite portrayal of the character), I've devoured classic mysteries and the film versions remain some of my consistently favorite television. This type of storytelling, told with intrigue, intelligence, and panache, never gets old -- but I began to lose hope of ever discovering a an author capable of telling a tale in the vein of the masters in the inspirational fiction market.

When it comes to period mysteries, I want pitch-perfect historical detail, smart, fast-paced plots, and sparkling dialogue -- and Rules of Murder delivers on all fronts. Deering has clearly done her research, not only translating the feel of a classic Christie mystery into Drew's world, but her narrative shines with period detail, mannerisms, sparkling dialogue and a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor. The latter quality is reminiscent of the classic Hollywood equivalent of a Christie mystery -- the Thin Man films that showcased the memorable sparring between William Powell and Myrna Loy as high-class amateur sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. Drew is every inch Nick Charles (sans the ever-present drink, lol), from his razor-sharp intelligence to his perfectly tailored suit, with the added bonus of a British accent. *wink*

Deering not only takes a stab at deconstructing the tropes of classic mysteries but manages to succeed at incorporating a very subtle faith thread through Drew's character arc -- an aspect that could have easily tanked the narrative flow of the storyline, stripping its characters of their charm and the mystery of its effectiveness. Drew, Nick, and Madeline either consciously address or accidentally break most of Ronald Knox's "Ten Commandments" for detective fiction. I loved having "contemporaries" of my favorite authors referencing and deconstructing the works that would make them famous. And the manner in which Deering touches on issues of faith, belief, and identity is masterfully done, staying true to Drew's personal and social position, using Drew's aristocratic status to explore the idea of how one who *should* have it all approaches the concept of faith and belief.

With Rules of Murder Deering has established herself as a voice to watch in period mystery fiction. The characters are established, the beginnings of a love story suggested, and the tantalizing promise of secrets hidden within Drew's past, sure to be explored in further installments of the series. Drew is an utterly charming hero, and the cast of supporting players peopling his world are well-developed. I loved Madeline's humor and depth -- I do hope that in future volumes she develops a bit more of the His Girl Friday-style spark and energy heroines in classic mysteries are known for -- a mix of Nora Charles and Christie's Tuppence. Deering's mystery debut is a charmer from start to finish, replete with delicious period detail, effervescent, bubbly dialogue and well-drawn characters. This book is, at the risk of sounding dramatic, a bit of a dream come true for this mystery-lover. Bravo, Ms. Deering -- I cannot wait to discover what you have in store for Drew & Co. next!

About the book:

Introducing Drew Farthering: From the tip of his black homburg to the crease in his cheviot trousers, he's the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered.

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate.

With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he's learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be -- not the butler nor blackmailer, the chauffeur nor embezzler. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer -- and trying harder to impress Madeline -- Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.

******

I almost forgot to share who I "cast" as Drew while reading the book! This novel is so saturated with the feel of classic mysteries -- and classic Hollywood -- that I haven't yet found a contemporary actor that I think would be perfect to play Drew. So I landed on this -- a young Tyrone Power:


People, this is SO Drew to me! Oh Tyrone, he would've perfect for this role. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: Glitches by Marissa Meyer


Glitches (Lunar Chronicles #0.5)
By: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: TOR
ASIN: B0085UCSZC

Review:

Glitches is a short prequel to Marissa Meyer's debut, Cinder -- a futuristic, science-fiction colored retelling of the Cinderella story. Since I adore fairy tale retellings, Cinder has been (languishing) on my to-be-read stack since its debut -- but as I am determined to finally dive into Meyer's world, I thought it only appropriate to first read this short story that introduces Cinder and her world (though it should be noted that it was released after Meyer's debut - but since I generally try to read series fiction chronologically, I opted to read this story first). 

Released as part of TOR's 2012 Fierce Reads anthology, Glitches introduces a pre-teen Cinder, half-human, half-cyborg, en route to her new home in New Beijing. "Enhanced" with a robotic arm and leg following the accident that killed her parents, she's left without memory of her previous life in New Europe and only the hope that she can find a home with Garan, the man who oversaw her "rebuild" and his wife and daughters. I LOVED this set-up -- in a world at once both familiar and alien, Cinder finds herself acclimating to a life without context, where she is not only feared by many for her mechanical aspects but possesses abilities and talents she's received no training in (like instant data look-up, and an affinity for robotic tinkering).

Though just a few pages long, this short story packs quite a punch, establishing Cinder's relationships with her stepsisters -- the sympathetic Peony, the more snobbish Pearl, the reconstructed robot Iko, and the harsh -- and presumably soon-to-be-villainous stepmother Adri. The events leading to Garan's presumed death and Cinder's subsequent fall from grace in Adri's eyes are pitch-perfect and heartbreaking, especially given Cinder's disconnect with human emotion thanks to her amnesia and newly-enhanced form. This is a fantastic introduction to Meyer's imaginative world-building, and I cannot wait to dive into her full-length fiction now!

About the book:


Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch...

Walking with the Enemy trailer

This movie needs to get a release date already. I think I first heard about it two years ago (at least) when I was, I don't know, going through Jonas Armstrong withdrawals from the cancellation of Robin Hood or something (I still don't understand how Merlin got five seasons and Robin Hood got only three, but whatever, I'm not bitter...Joanna Froggatt has gone onto bigger and better -- and more likable -- things in Downton Abbey) -- and then nothing. But this movie must actually exist, since there's a trailer and BURN GORMAN and BEN flippin' KINGSLEY are in it, right?!



Please be good in this Jonas, please be good...

Thor: The Dark World official trailer!

This is gonna be fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Burning Sky is out NOW!


Congratulations to my dear friend Lori Benton, whose debut novel Burning Sky has released TODAY! Now go forth and read! :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Star Trek Vol. 1 by Mike Johnson, et al.


Star Trek Vol. 1
By: Mike Johnson, et al.
Publisher: IDW
ISBN: 978-1613771501

Review:

I wish I'd discovered the existence of IDW's comic series continuing the adventures of the Enterprise crew introduced in the 2009 re-boot -- it would've made the long wait for this year's sequel Into Darkness slightly more palatable. *wink* This first volume contains two stories, both based on episodes from the Classic Trek series -- "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Galileo Seven." While my knowledge of all things Classic Trek is minuscule when compared to my love for the J.J. Abrams-helmed reboot, I love the idea of revisiting old tales and giving them a fresh spin with the new faces of the franchise. Therefore this post will be limited to my impressions of the stories as is, as I'm not yet in a position to compare this volume to the stories in their original, scripted television form.

The first story, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," is an excellent showcase for a still-green Captain Kirk to adjust to his new position and responsibilities on the Enterprise. There is some tension between his old, fun-loving Academy friends and his new crew mates, and Kirk's attempts to reconcile his well-known party-boy persona with his new responsibilities feels very much in keeping with Chris Pine's portrayal of the younger, brash Starfleet officer. The story ends on a fantastic note for fans of the Kirk-Spock friendship, as the ever-logical Vulcan responds to Kirk's difficult decision with an unexpected overture of friendship -- I loved that! The second story, "The Galileo Seven," features a more assured Kirk and instead focuses on this more human incarnation of Spock and his struggle to relate to and command respect from his wholly human subordinates. Anytime Spock is tested, pushed outside his comfort zone I'm going to love it, and this story delivers, including the Vulcan reaching a welcome accord with one wryly cynical doctor. :) It's nicely-done tale showcasing Spock's leadership skills and Kirk's loyalty to his crew.

Featuring gorgeous, detailed artwork, this volume not only fulfills my need to see more of the New Trek crew between their film appearances, but leaves me more eager than ever to continue my exploration of the Classic Trek television show.

About the book:

The adventures of the Starship Enterprise continue in this new series that picks up where the blockbuster 2009 film left off! Featuring the new cast of the film, these missions re-imagine the stories from the original series in the alternate timeline created by the film, along with new threats and characters never seen before! With creative collaboration from Star Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci, this new series begins the countdown to the much-anticipated movie sequel.

Review: Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood


Flying Too High (Phyrne Fisher #2)
By: Kerry Greenwood
Publisher: Poison Pen Press
ASIN: B006WAD0H2

Review:

Earlier this year, when news that the Australian period drama Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was being released in the US, I took the opportunity to check out the first volume in the long-running series by Kerry Greenwood -- Cocaine Blues. While I enjoyed the fast-paced storyline, colorful cast of supporting players, and Greenwood's flair for the time period, I found the titular character's penchant for crass hook-ups and complete lack of a moral center when it comes to her "romantic" relationships distracting and off-putting. Since then, I've watched the entire first season of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and fallen hook, line, and sinker for the gloriously realized television incarnation of Greenwood's beloved characters, and decided it was long past time for me to give the show's source material another try.

Following the success of her first venture as a private investigator, chronicled in Cocaine Blues, Phyrne Fisher has continued to re-acclimate to life in Australia, determined to use the fame and notoriety that came with her first brush with Australia's criminal element as the launching point of a new and exciting career. Her first new case arrives in the form of one very distraught society wife, Mrs. McNaughton, afraid that her airplane-loving son Bill -- well-known for his temper and his money troubles -- is plotting to kill his louse of a father over a disputed loan. Phyrne is thrilled -- not only with the case, but with the opportunity it affords for her to practice her skills as an amateur aviatrix and connect with the local flying community. Meanwhile, the precocious daughter of a local lottery winner (and an associate of Bill's) is kidnapped and held for ransom. When the McNaughton family patriarch is found dead, Phyrne determine's to clear the son's name -- and in the process is drawn into the kidnapping case, quickly discovering that nothing is as it seems in either crime, and with a child's life at stake, time has never been more precious.

Flying Too High contains all of the elements that worked in its predecessor -- the well-drawn supporting players, the fast-pace and energy -- and fewer of its pitfalls -- Phyrne still unfortunately seeks out random hook-ups, but they are less prevalent to the storyline here. I loved maid Dot's growing loyalty to her new mistress and the introduction of the unflappable (and aptly-named) Mr. Butler and his wife. The two separate mysteries were serviceable in and of themselves, but awkwardly resolved as the threads of each disparate case don't join until over halfway through this slim novel. 

While I love Phryne's boundless energy and heart for those who are wounded or in trouble, the manner in which some of her other-wise better impulses play out is troubling. When she meets the daughter of the deceased Mr. McNaughton, and learns the woman was abused by her father, Phryne then proceeds to SLEEP WITH the woman's fiance JUST BECAUSE SHE CAN, apparently. *rollseyes* And while I appreciate her drive to see the kidnapped girl returned unharmed -- particularly when it's discovered that one of the perpetrators is a notorious child predator -- her willingness to "procure" a prostitute for the CRIMINAL once he's on death row in order to buy his silence for another is nauseating to say the least. Greenwood is not adverse to tackling darker subject matter in her stories, but the imbalance between Phyrne's humor, warmth, and devil-may-care attitude and her thoughtless or outright troubling "indulgences" leave me finding her stories wanting in the extreme. While the seeds of everything I love about the television show are present in the first two installments of this series, as yet the show wins for transforming weak characterizations and choppy plots into engaging, addictive television.

About the book:

Walking the wings of a Tiger Moth biplane in flight is excitement-enough for most people, but not Phryne Fisher, aviatrix, socialite, and private investigator. Whether she's seducing beautiful young men, foiling nefarious kidnappers, or simply deciding what to wear to dinner, Phryne handles everything with inimitable panache and flair. 

In this, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, Australia's most glamorous detective flies even higher, handling murder, a kidnapping and the usual array of beaus—all before adjourning to the Queenscliff Hotel for breakfast. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello, Twelve.


Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth Doctor! I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS. Well done, BBC. :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So this is happening SUNDAY!


Courtesy of BBC America:

DOCTOR WHO LIVE: THE NEXT DOCTOR SPECIAL TO AIR LIVE THIS SUNDAY ON BBC AMERICA
What: 
The next Doctor of BBC AMERICA’s hit series Doctor Who will be announced during a live special this Sunday afternoon.
When: 
Sunday, August 4, 2 pm ET LIVE on BBC AMERICA and BBC One in the U.K.
Who: 
Widely regarded as one of the most hotly contested roles in British television, the special’s host Zoe Ball will unveil the Twelfth Doctor in their first-ever interview in front of a live studio audience. The half-hour show will include live special guests, Doctors old and new, as well as companions and celebrity fans. Current Doctor Matt Smith and lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat will both give interviews in the special.
Steven Moffat says: “The decision is made and the time has come to reveal who’s taking over the TARDIS. For the last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking twelve.”
Matt Smith will make his penultimate appearance in the 50th Anniversary special on Saturday, November 23, and his Eleventh Doctor will regenerate in the Christmas Special. Doctor Who is produced by BBC Cymru Wales.

The Hollow Crown preview!

I feel like I've been waiting for this to air in the States for FOREVER.

The films – chronicling a bloody tale of family, politics and power — tell the rise and fall of three Kings and how their destiny shaped English history. Richard II (Ben Whishaw) is a vain, self-indulgent man who rules with little regard for his people’s welfare. He is ultimately overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), who ascends the throne as Henry IV (Jeremy Irons). Henry IV’s reign is marred by his own guilt over Richard’s death, civil war, and the gnawing fear that his son Hal (Tom Hiddleston) is a total wastrel unworthy of the throne. When Hal comes to the throne as Henry V he is left to bury the ghosts of his father’s past while fighting both the French forces as well as his own inner demons.

Directed by Rupert Goold (Richard II), Richard Eyre (Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) and Thea Sharrock (Henry V)The Hollow Crown features some of the most pre-eminent Shakespearean actors of our time. The Kings are played by Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston respectively, supported by a phenomenal cast including Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, David Morrissey in Richard II,Simon Russell Beale, Michelle Dockery, Julie Walters and Maxine Peake in Henry IV and John Hurt, Anton Lesser and Paterson Joseph in Henry V



The clip at about the 1:10 mark, where Tom Hiddleston as Henry V gives the Saint Crispin's Day speech...people, I GET CHILLS. And TEARS. If this preview is turning me into that much of a mess I may never survive watching the entire play.

The plays begin September 20th, also know as Ruth's Birthday EVE, so I will go ahead and thank PBS for basically the best birthday present of all time. :)