Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inspector Lewis: Falling Darkness

Inspector Lewis ended its third season run on Masterpiece Mystery with a thoroughly enjoyable episode entitled Falling Darkness. In fact, it may well be my favorite episode of the season. Here’s the episode summary from the PBS website:
It's Halloween in Oxford, and mischief is in the air — and, as it happens, murder. A woman is found dead, a stake through her heart, a bulb of garlic in her mouth. It's a surreal crime, and an intensely personal one for Dr. Laura Hobson. The victim is Ligeia Willard, one of Hobson's old college housemates. It seems to be a terrible coincidence, one that has left Hobson disoriented with grief. When another murder takes place in a house where Hobson once lived, Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Detective Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox) must confront horrifying possibilities — Is Hobson connected to the crime? Could she be a killer? It's a case that will conjure ghosts from the past and may well deliver the fatal blow to the team of Lewis, Hathaway and Hobson.
While I’m ultimately cheering for a Lewis and Dr. Hobson (Clare Holman) romance – they are a sweet couple with all their emotional baggage, aren’t they? – I felt the show had taken too great a leap forward with last week’s episode, Your Sudden Death Question. With a reticent, emotionally withdrawn character like Lewis, to go from the barest glimmer of interest in a woman to planning weekend trips seemed like too great a leap given how we’ve seen his character act in the past. In Falling Darkness, I feel like a much-needed correction, a reset, happened in the Lewis-Hobson relationship, and I loved the layers it gave these beloved characters.

A Laura-centric episode was long overdue, and frankly I never dreamed the quiet and rather demure Dr. Hobson ever possessed such a colorful past. This show is fond of proving the old maxim still waters run deep. This storyline may take the record for the sheer number of convoluted twists and turns that are a trademark of the program. When Laura was in college, she had four housemates – when one of them turns up dead, a stake through her heart and a bulb of garlic in her mouth (surreally appropriate for the Halloween timeframe), and a current student living at their old house is also murdered, the unthinkable happens. The always dependable and professional Dr. Hobson finds herself at the center of two murder investigations. Lewis and Hathaway find themselves in a race against time to discover who is digging into Laura’s past, and why – and more importantly, is it even remotely possible that Laura is somehow complicit in the crimes?

I loved the Lewis-Hobson dynamic in this episode. As I mentioned earlier, it was a much needed step back for the pair relationship-wise, so when Laura comes under suspicion you can see Lewis really struggle with his emotions. Could he have misread Laura that badly? The way both of them struggle to balance their personal and professional lives, and the harsh requirements that come with their jobs, was brilliantly played by both Whately and Holman. And I can’t lie, I loved Lewis’s barely suppressed jealousy of Laura’s relationship with Alec (Rupert Graves), one of her former housemates. That was fun to watch. Masterpiece fans will be seeing a lot more of Graves in the coming weeks as he makes an appearance in Wallander series 2 and plays Lestrade in Sherlock.

The genetic disorder FFI (Fatal Familial Insomnia) plays a crucial role in how this storyline plays out. This was probably the most fascinating part of the story for me, since just a few weeks ago I read an article in National Geographic on sleep that mentioned this terrible disorder. Prior to that article (which you can read here), I’d never heard of FFI, so to have it make a prominent appearance in one of my favorite mystery shows was kind of weird! Anyway, my understanding of FFI is based solely on the NG article, and from that reading I have to say the script of this episode took some liberties with the actual symptoms of this disease. First of all, it seems FFI strikes people in middle age, not their 20s, and it results in death in a few months to a year. While it’s not a stretch to think that would drive a victim insane, I think it’s not out of line to conclude that the filmmakers took some artistic license in how they portrayed this disease playing out on-screen. But it worked in service to the story - it was creepy, intense, and a tad over-the-top - basically everything I want in a Lewis episode.
This episode encapsulates everything I love about this series. The mystery is well-written, unexpected, and possesses the requisite creepy moments needed to keep me hooked, it twists and turns and throws out red herrings so fast I get whiplash, and there are plenty of humorous and gently sarcastic moments between Lewis and Hathaway. At this point I can say that for me, this partnership has proven it will never get old, I hope the show continues forever. If you've never watched this series, Falling Darkness is in my view one of the strongest episodes to date. Not a bad place to start if you're interested in giving the show a test run. :) Hopefully I've shared just enough to whet your appetite about the program - this mystery was too good, which is why I'm (trying) to hold back too many spoilers.
Oh, I can’t forget to mention the most surprising bit of casting in this episode – Lucy Griffiths, a.k.a. Marian, played Madeleine, one of the students currently living in Laura’s old college home. I almost didn’t recognize Griffiths since for this role, she traded in her dark hair for a bleached blonde and wore goth-style clothes and makeup. Though her role was relatively minor, it was good to see her again on-screen. Hopefully more, and meatier, roles will come her way in the future.

While I'm sorry to say goodbye to Lewis and Hathaway for now, I am looking forward to Wallander series 2 and most of all, Sherlock!

Dark Road to Darjeeling book trailer!

The latest Lady Julia Grey novel by Deanna Raybourn, Dark Road to Darjeeling, is in stores now. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting on Amazon to ship my copy. Here's a little teaser to whet your appetite for the story...

And here are links to my reviews of the first three novels in the series:
If you haven't checked out this series yet, I HIGHLY recommend the books at the first opportunity - they are fabulous!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Upcoming movies...the falling into Christmas edition

The fall/Christmas movie season is practically upon us, and there are several films I'm interested in seeing in the coming weeks. I've featured a couple of these on the blog before, but for those that have made appearances here, I think they are worth featuring again because the trailers are so good. :)

Opening October 8th:

I've always had a thing for horse stories, so I'm definitely going to see Secretariat:

The last Katherine Heigl movie I really enjoyed was 27 Dresses, and this movie looks like it might have teh same kind of heart. Plus, it has the added bonus of Josh Duhamel's presence, and I adored him in When In Rome! Here's the Life as We Know It trailer, also opening on 10/8:

Opening October 15th:

Helen Mirren and Karl Urban? Yes, please. Here's the Red trailer:

Opening November 19th:

As a die hard Harry Potter fan, I can't watch this trailer often enough. :) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1:

Opening November 24th:

This movie just looks fun, plus since I'm a crazy Chuck fan it has the added bonus of featuring Zachary Levi voicing the lead! Here's the latest Tangled trailer:

Opening November 26th:

The history and the acting talent in this picture makes it an absolute must-see in my book. I forgot to mention in my previous post about this film that it's also notable for being a mini Pride and Prejudice reunion - Colin Firth, a.k.a. Mr. Darcy plays King George VI while Jennifer Ehle, a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet, plays Myrtle Logue. Here's The King’s Speech trailer:

Opening December 10th:

Words cannot express how happy I am that the release of a third Narnia picture is right around the corner. Here's the latest trailer I could fine for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

And last but certainly not least, an exciting new version of Shakespeare's The Tempest is slated to open on 12/10 as well (my guess is limited release). This play is near and dear to my heart, one of my favorites since it was the subject of my senior English thesis paper in high school. I adore Helen Mirren's acting, so I'm anxious to see how this "revisionist" take on the play "plays" out on-screen (no pun intended). I can't find that a trailer has been released yet, so I'll leave you with this awesome poster image:

Isn't it cool? :) How about you, what films are you looking forward to seeing heading into fall?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Michael Buble's "Hollywood" video

Michael Buble's new video for his latest single, "Hollywood," debuted today. The single will appear on his forthcoming Crazy Love Hollywood Edition CD which will release on 10/25.

While I'd prefer an album of entirely new music, I'm always happy for any new Michael Buble songs. :)

Review: The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me by Jane Monheit

This is another CD review from my blog archives. I originally reviewed Jane Monheit's The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me in February 2009.

The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me is Jane Monheit’s eighth album and second for Concord Records (following 2007’s Surrender). Monheit doesn’t stray too far from the dreamy bossa nova rhythms that populated her previous offering, and depending on what you’re looking for the disc will satisfy or disappoint largely on that point. This time around there’s less of a Brazilian-influenced sound, but the overall feel of the album remains just as mellow and relaxed (and slow) as its predecessor – it depends on your mood as to whether or not that’s a drawback. On this disc, perhaps more than ever before, Monheit spreads her wings a bit and interprets more songs outside the canon of the Great American Songbook. There’s a balance of classics from songwriters like Cole Porter (“Get Out of Town” – the sole up-tempo number on the album) and Jimmy Dorsey (“I’m Glad There is You”) to contemporary songwriters like Fiona Apple (“Slow Like Honey”) and Paul Simon (“I Do It for Your Love”). Two songs bridge Surrender’s style and this album’s slow burning tempo – “A Primeira Vez” and the Ivan Lins-penned “No Tomorrow (Acaso).” I would love to see some more up-tempo numbers from Monheit in the future – something along the lines of the balance of swing songs and ballads found on Taking a Chance on Love (her first of two albums for Sony a couple of years ago, and the disc that introduced me to her talent – those looking for an album with a better balance of ballads and swing songs should check out Renee Olstead’s Skylark). However, I am starting to think that Monheit’s true passion is in interpreting slower, more contemplative songs and arrangements – and when she wraps her smooth, buttery voice around songs like “Something Cool” or “Ballad of the Sad Young Men,” I can’t fault the stylistic choice too much because she sounds so sublime. However, if this path continues with little or no derivation every album is going to blend right into the other. This is the first Monheit album that I can’t give a full five stars based on my view that except for a few standout gems like her lovely lullaby-like cover of the Muppets’ song “Rainbow Connection,” there doesn’t seem to be a willingness to branch out & shake things up a bit artistically. Few vocalists can wring as much emotion from a lyric as she can, but after a while there’s a “sameness” to some of the arrangements. Perhaps with her next outing we’ll get to see her experiment with some fresh musical styles.

Review: Surrender by Jane Monheit

One of my all-time favorite vocalists, Jane Monheit, recently release a brand new album - Home. Her new CD inspired me to revisit my review archives and re-post any Monheit album reviews I've done in the past to this blog. I originally reviewed Surrender back in May 2007.

Surrender, Jane Monheit's seventh release and her first with Concord Records finds the velvet-voiced chanteuse in top vocal form, interpreting a selection of pop songs and standards woven together with dreamy bossa nova rhythms. I was a little concerned about what direction Monheit's recording career would take after she departed Sony, where she released Taking a Chance on Love and The Season. The former is an absolutely sublime collection of standards from MGM musicals, while the latter, a Christmas disc, contains moments of brilliance but stylistically is somewhat disjointed and quite frankly a bit of a mess style-wise. She's a great singer who seems to struggle with finding her musical "niche." With Surrender, Monheit moves away from the straight pop-jazz style of Taking a Chance on Love, and returns to the Brazilian-influenced, bossa nova style pop that was often evident on her first three albums for the N-Coded label. It's a shrewd move and a successful one given the resulting album. Surrender is so utterly lovely, lush and romantic and seamlessly constructed, it reminds me of the classic Brazilian-style concept album Frank Sinatra recorded with the inimitable Antonio Carlos Jobim forty years ago. Given that it is fitting that on Surrender Monheit puts her own spin on two of Jobim's compositions -- "So Tinha De Ser Come Voce" and "Caminhos Cruzados" (the latter featuring Toots Thielemans accompanying her on the harmonica). She turns in an absolutely stunning version of "Moon River" -- Monheit at once makes the song both a tribute to the original version and entirely her own with her pitch-perfect, wistful interpretation. There is a gorgeous duet with Ivan Lins on his composition "Rio De Maio." Monheit's also accompanied by composer Sergio Mendes on "So Many Stars," one of my favorite tracks. Other standouts include the beautiful, lyrical "If You Went Away," "Surrender," which shows off Monheit's vocal range, her re-invention of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed," and the elegant simplicity of Johnny Mandel's "A Time for Love." Target is selling Surrender with a bonus track, "The Shining Sea."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Hope Undaunted - full review coming soon!

Unfortunately, my reading time has been pretty non-existent for the last two weeks, at least...that's got to change soon, because I have some fantastic books that I'm working through and cannot wait to share full reviews with you soon!

A Hope Undaunted is the first book in Julie Lessman's new series, Winds of Change. Sadly I haven't been able to finish the book yet in order to share a full review with you in time for this week's blog tour. However, I can assure you that if you are a fan of Julie's previous series, and you like your romances with healthy doses of passion and romantic tension that you can cut with a knife - well, this book delivers in spades.

Here's a bit about the story:

What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

Don't forget, Julie is running a terrific contest to celebrate this new release. You can find all the info you need to enter here at this post.

A Hope Undaunted Contest!

I have another great blog contest to share with you - read below for info on the great contest celebrating the the release of Julie Lessman's latest novel, A Hope Undaunted!

It's a Giveaway Extravaganza! Kindle Giveaway, Facebook Party and Book Bomb - OH MY!

Visit the Roaring 20’s with Julie Lessman in the Technology and Romance KINDLE Giveaway! Julie’s latest series has just ‘shimmied’ it’s way onto the scene with book 1 in The Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted! 

Find out more about the book, Julie here.

Enter The Technology and Romance KINDLE Giveaway!

One Grand Prize winner will receive a KINDLE preloaded with Julie Lessman's latest title. The Prize Pack (valued at over $150.00) includes:

* A brand new KINDLE, with Wi-Fi

* A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form and be sure to tell your friends about the contest.

Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on October 7th.

Not only is Julie hosting the fabulous KINDLE giveaway, but also a FACEBOOK  PARTY and a BOOK BOMB!!!

Are you ready for PRIZES GALORE??? Then come to the Facebook Party!

How does a gift certificate and a signed book given away EVERY 10 minutes during an hour-long Facebook party sound? (Yeah, we think it sounds pretty great too!) On October 7th at 5pm PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST, & 8:00 EST) Julie is inviting you to attend the A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party! She'll announce the winner of the KINDLE and in addition to the prizes every 10 minutes, she'll also be giving away great prize baskets filled with even more Romance and Technology (Netflix, Starbucks,, Champagne body Lotion, Pearls, & more!)!

BUT WAIT … there’s more (and no, this is not an infomercial … it’s WAY better!).  If you participate in the Book Bomb on October 7th you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to All you need to do to participate is buy a copy of A Hope Undaunted on October 7th and send your receipt (just transaction number from store, store name & date) to! Each book purchased equals one entry, buy 10 books get 10 entries!

All this fun begins with Revell’s blog tour SEPTEMBER 19-25, when 122 blogger/reviewers will post reviews about A Hope Undaunted, followed by the Book Bomb and Facebook Party!

So mark your calendars with these important dates:

September 19-25: A Hope Undaunted will be making an appearance on blogs across the country (and beyond!) in Revell's blog tour!

September 20th: The Technology and Romance KINDLE Giveaway launches (contest runs 9/20 - 10/6)

October 7th: Book Bomb Day (where everyone is encouraged to buy the book online at the same time!) and Facebook Party - meet and chat with Julie, win some great prizes & find out who won the KINDLE!

Want to help us spread the word about all this fun and be entered to win a $50 gift certificate?

Share Julie's Giveaway Extravaganza on Facebook, Twitter or your blog and we'll enter your name into our random drawing to win 50 smackers to!

Once you've tweeted, posted on Facebok or added the button to your blog/website - simple email Amy and let her know you helped spread the word. Easy.

Here is a sample post for both Twitter/Facebook:

Tweet This: @JulieLessman is giving away a KINDLE and tons more during her giveaway extravaganza! Details here: Pls RT

Share on Facebook: Julie Lessman is celebrating her new release, A Hope Undaunted by giving away a KINDLE, having a Book Bomb and a Facebook Party! Prizes Galore - don't miss the fun!

Or add this button to your blog or website! Simply copy and paste the code in the box into the HTML screen of your blog or website. Then email Amy and let her know you did!

A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inspector Lewis: Your Sudden Death Question

I can’t believe I haven’t been able to blog about the fourth episode of Inspector Lewis yet! Your Sudden Death Question aired this past Sunday on Masterpiece Mystery, and as is the norm for this stellar series it delivered another engrossing story with enough twists and turns to keep your head spinning. Here’s the story summary from the PBS website:

It's a quiet holiday weekend and the Oxford campus has emptied out. But the competition is still fierce — and deadly — thanks to a group of quiz enthusiasts who have convened to compete for a cash prize and bragging rights. Foul play is afoot when one contestant, a charming but lecherous primary school teacher, is found dead in a fountain. The campus is locked down, and Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Detective Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox) start interviewing the other contestants — among them Oxford academics, young mothers, students, soldiers and lawyers. Is this a crime of passion or out-of-control competition? Lewis and Hathaway match wits with the contestants and race for answers as the game takes one final, grim turn.

First of all, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed getting a brief glimpse into Lewis and Hathaway’s off-duty lives (especially Hathaway’s, I cannot lie). Just when I think this series can’t possible reveal more about Hathaway’s character for me to love, we discover that he plays guitar and looks really, really good in jeans. *g* Unexpected but absolutely perfect, these touches add great dimension to his character. And speaking of surprises, seeing Lewis in a tux, getting ready to go to the opera – well that was a shocker, no? He’s been closed off emotionally for so much of the series due to the untimely death of his wife that it was really sweet to see him getting ready for a “friends” date with Dr. Laura Hobson (Clare Holman).

However, I’ve got kind of mixed feelings about how Lewis and Laura’s relationship played out over this episode. I’ve been looking forward to the day when the filmmakers would move these two characters in the relationship direction, but ultimately things felt a bit rushed for me. There were brief, fleeting hints during earlier episodes of this season that gave me hope that Lewis was warming up to the idea of dating Laura. But finding out they’d planned a weekend getaway to see the opera (with separate hotel rooms, though, as Laura is quick to point out later) seemed like a giant leap forward for the pair. I guess it struck me as a bit out of character since I’m used to things moving forward rather slowly for my beloved main characters in the Inspector Lewis universe.  But maybe that’s just me…thoughts?
As far as the actual murder mystery goes, I really enjoyed the quiz weekend set up. Since Oxford emptied out so people could enjoy the long weekend, the pool of suspects was very limited and controllable. The set up reminded me just a bit of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, especially since the police could order the porter to keep everyone locked on the grounds pending investigation results. As far as the cast goes, to my recollection this episode contained fewer than the usual normal “quota” of familiar faces that populate the British acting world. However, there are a few cast members that I definitely want to call out.
First and foremost, I have to mention Nicholas Ferrell as Charles Milner, one half of the “Grey Guardians” quiz team. I really don’t want to spoil anything if you’ve yet to see this episode, but I thought Milner’s character was fascinating – just when you think the filmmakers are going to go right with the character, they veer to the left and surprise you with revelations about his past, work, and possible motivations. Very well done. The other half of the Grey Guardians, Donald Terry, was played by actor Timothy West. West should be a very familiar face to fans of BBC costume dramas since he played Sir Leicester Dedlock in the wonderful Bleak House. The first victim, Ethan Croft, is played by Adam James – observant Foyle’s War fans may recognize him from the episode Killing Time. Ethan’s character is another great example of just how well written this series is – when he’s introduced you think he’s just a lech, and ultimately he is, but by the end of the story some unexpectedly admirable traits are revealed. Ethan’s forgotten ex-girlfriend member of another quiz team is Robyn Strong, played by Ruth Gemmell. Gemmell appeared in series 3 of Primeval, episodes three and four as a reporter. (I really, really need to go back and rewatch Primeval from the beginning, since – WOO-HOO – the show is slated to FINALLY return to TV sometime in 2011!!) Those are the faces that really jumped out at me during my initial viewing of this episode. There are a few other familiar faces who have made random appearances on British shows (such as Poirot or Miss Marple), but in relatively small roles if memory serves.

The absolute runaway highlight of this episode for me was once again the development of the friendship between Lewis and Hathaway. Now that Lewis is finally pursuing a relationship with Laura, Hathaway has a field day teasing him about it - those scenes were hilarious! When Hathaway’s precious Gibson guitar is stolen during his abbreviated holiday weekend at a world music festival, he’s crushed. Lewis takes an unexpected but wonderful to see interest in helping his despondent partner track down his stolen property. It was really fun to see how Lewis has been influenced by working with Hathaway for several years now during this little side investigation, or the “Gibson angle” as they dub it when asked by the Chief Superintendent. In his off the books investigation of Hathaway’s theft, he takes on his younger, more media-savvy partner’s role, and it was hilarious to see Hathaway’s reaction to the role reversal. And the moment at the very end of the episode, where Hathaway stands outside the police station hugging his guitar case, a look of pure bliss on his face, was absolutely priceless. This team just keeps getting better & better!
I love this show, and despite my hesitation over the way Lewis and Laura seem to be rushing into a relationship rather quickly, I'm anxious to see where these characters are headed. The joy is in the journey, as they say, and Lewis and Hathaway are characters that are always worth spending time with - especially since they solve some of the most surprising, well-crafted mysteries one could wish for.

Note: Since I'm so late in blogging about this episode, I nearly forgot the most exciting bit of casting - Laurence Fox's brother Jack in the role of student and quiz competitor Alfie. According to his IMDB page, this is only Jack's second acting credit, but he's such a dish and with the acting blood he's got in his genes I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him on-screen (at least I hope so!). Here's the only pic I could find online - the Fox family shortly after the birth of Laurence & Billie Piper's first child.

James Fox, Laurence, Mary Fox, and Jack

Inspector Lewis finishes Sunday...

I cannot believe we've already come to the final episode of this season of Inspector Lewis! (And I still haven't blogged about last week's episode... *sigh*) The episode airing Sunday on Masterpiece Mystery is entitled Falling Darkness, and it promises to be an intensely personal case for Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) since it involves Dr. Hobson (Clare Holman). Here's a bit about the story:
Don't miss the final episode from this season of Inspector Lewis, Sunday, September 26, 2010 on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! In Falling Darkness, what starts as a routine crime turns out to be an intensely personal case for Dr. Laura Hobson. Lewis and Hathaway investigate, and must face a terrible possibility — is Dr. Hobson the murderer? (One episode; 90 minutes; TV-PG).
Hmm, sounds like this season is going to end with a bang! Can't wait!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The King's Speech trailer

The film The King's Speech has been on my radar for a while now thanks to the periodic updates on Enchanted Serenity of Period Films. Charleybrown just posted the new, full trailer for this picture, which according to the IMDB is due to release over Thanksgiving weekend. (That's probably a limited release date, but I'm hopeful that it will go into wide release in the US no later than Christmas, especially since this movie is getting so much Oscar buzz thanks to Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush's performances.)

when blogs collide

Tuesday happened to be my 30th birthday (funny how when I turned 29 I was not okay with turning 30, but now that 30 is here I am completely fine with it...just wanted to share that random observation). :) This birthday was made extra special since I was able to spend time with some very dear friends - author Kaye Dacus, author and publisher Joan Hochstetler, and author Lori Benton. I "met" Lori several months ago (has it been a year already?) through the wonderful book blogosphere, and since then we've also connected on Facebook and I consider her a dear friend. I was THRILLED to have the opportunity to meet Lori since she was in town on her way back home from the latest ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. Here are a couple of pics we snapped to commemorate the occasion - very appropriately in a bookstore - after enjoying a delicious lunch at Panera.

Lori, me, and Kaye

Lori, me, Joan, and Kaye
After this visit I have to say I really hope I get to meet more of my blogging friends live and in person someday soon! :)

New Deathly Hallows trailer!

Well, this has absolutely blown my mind! How am I supposed to patiently wait till November 19th after THIS trailer?!?!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Downton Abbey trailer

Thanks to Enchanted Serenity of Period Films for posting the new trailer to the upcoming drama, Downton Abbey. Fans of British drama in the States will get to see Downton Abbey when Masterpiece Classic returns in January.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jane book trailer

I love, love, love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. So when I heard about this upcoming novel I knew I'd have to check it out. Jane by April Lindner releases in October.

Human Target

I am so, so happy about the return of fall TV shows. Next week we get the season premieres for Chuck, Castle, Bones, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff I've forgotten about. *wink* One of my surprise favorites from last year was the show Human Target on Fox. It just got better and better as the season progressed, plus the show was just a heck of a lot of FUN. :) The triple threat of Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Hayley made the show one of my favorites of the year, and I am so happy the team will be returning for a new season of wildly improbable adventures. Season two starts Friday, October 1st. In case you missed out on this show last year, the DVDs of season one come out September 21st...or if you're not willing to commit to that (*g*) you can just settle for this nifty recap:

And here's a preview for the new season, introduced by Booth and Sweets from Bones:

Next on Masterpiece...

Inspector Lewis continues this Sunday with a brand-new episode entitled Your Sudden Death Question. Here's a bit about the story:

The competition is fierce — and deadly — in an all-new episode of Inspector Lewis airing Sunday, September 19, 2010 on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY. In Your Sudden Death Question, Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) investigate the murder of a quiz competition contestant during a quiet summer holiday at an empty Oxford campus. (One episode; 90 minutes; TV-PG).
Fun fact: I did a brief, and mostly not very good, stint on the quiz team in high school. Oh the memories, LOL! Looking forward to this story!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Sherlock trailers!

A while back I posted a BBC trailer for the new Sherlock series that's coming to Masterpiece Mystery in October. PBS just released a new trailer...and after watching it, I found both of their previews online with some new scenes not featured in the BBC trailer. Enjoy...goodness I can not WAIT for this show to air!

As expected, it looks like showrunner Steven Moffat has done a fantastic job with this production. As a refresher, Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Watson is played by Martin Freeman, and Lestrade is played by Rupert Graves.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Immanuel's Veins
Thomas Nelson (September 7, 2010)

Ted Dekker


Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans.

Early in his career he wrote a number of spiritual thrillers and his novels were lumped in with ‘Christian Fiction’ a surprisingly large category. His later novels are a mix of mainstream novels such as Adam, Thr3e, Skin, Obsessed and BoneMan’s Daughters, and fantasy thrillers that metaphorically explore faith. Best known among these is his Circle Series: Green, Black, Red, White and The Paradise Books: Showdown, Saint, and Sinner.
Dekker was born to missionaries who lived among the headhunter tribes of Indonesia. Because his parents’ work often included extended periods of time away from their children, Dekker describes his early life in a culture to which he was a stranger as both fascinating and lonely. It is this unique upbringing that forced him to rely on his own imagination to create a world in which he belonged.

After leaving Indonesia, Dekker graduated from a multi-cultural high school and took up permanent residence in the United States to study philosophy and religion. Upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree, he entered the corporate world and proceeded to climb the proverbial ladder. But his personal drive left him restless and, after many successful years, he traded corporate life for wide range of entrepreneurial pursuits that included buying and selling businesses, healthcare services, and marketing.

In the early nineties while visiting a friend who had just written a book, Dekker decided to pursue a long held desire to be a novelist. Over the course of two years he wrote two full length novels before starting from scratch and rewriting both. Now fully enamored by the the process and the stories, he realized that storytelling was in his blood and a new obsession to explore truth through story gripped him anew.

He sold his business, moved his family to the mountains of Western Colorado and began writing full-time on his third novel. Two years and three novels later his first novel, Heaven’s Wager, was published.

Now, Dekker’s novels had sold over 3.4 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.


This story is for everyone--but not everyone is for this story.

It is a dangerous tale of times past. A torrid love story full of deep seduction. A story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice.

Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover.

With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds.

Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And blood will flow.
Because the battle for the heart is always violently opposed. For those desperate to drink deep from this fountain of life, enter.

But remember, not everyone is for this story.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Immanuel's Veins, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

I have not had the opportunity to start this book yet, but I'm looking forward to it. As part of the blog tour for this release, participants were asked to reflect on the question, What is sacrificial love? I have to freely admit that with my crazy life, especially this week, I haven't had the chance to give a question like this the reflection it I'll go with my initial gut response.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Inspector Lewis: Dark Matter

Inspector Lewis continued its stellar third series run on Masterpiece Mystery this Sunday with a new episode entitled Dark Matter. Here’s the episode summary from the PBS website:
Oxford professor and amateur stargazer Andrew Crompton emerges from a church confessional, cryptically exclaiming that on Friday at 3:15, he'll have an "excess of joy." Later, Crompton is found dead at the foot of the stairs in the Oxford observatory. The investigation draws Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Detective Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox) into the ethereal writings of a 17th-century astronomer and a modern-day circle of scientists and musicians, and their unexpected connections to the deceased. The cosmos aside, there's a dark deception at the center of the case, one that Lewis and Hathaway won't be able to fully comprehend until Friday at 3:15.
I thought this episode was wildly entertaining, and like the best Lewis episodes I didn’t see the resolution coming. The script, pacing, and casting for this episode was all absolutely top-notch, and the filmmakers packed the storyline with enough red herrings and interwoven relationships that I suspect it will take several more viewings of this episode for me to fully appreciate the precise way in which the story unfolded on-screen.

After last week’s episode, The Dead of Winter (my review), which was wonderfully well done but decidedly dark in tone, Dark Matter was noticeably lighter in tone in spite of its shared murderous subject matter. Let me mention the principle players first – Lewis (Kevin Whately), Hathaway (Laurence Fox), and Dr. Laura Hobson (Clare Holman). This episode was a welcome change of pace in that it gave us some insight into Laura’s life outside of her work as a coroner – she’s a clarinet player in a local orchestra. When Lewis and Hathaway badger her into doing some undercover investigative work, and then she delivered, I nearly cheered – it was so much fun to see how impressed they were with her game and sleuthing skills. And once again I realize this is probably the romantic in me, but I did so hope that Lewis was perhaps sitting up and taking notice of the fact that Laura looked positively gorgeous in her performance dress. But seeing as its Lewis we’re talking about I’m guessing not. *wink* I also LOVED the interaction between Lewis & Hathaway in this episode, especially the very funny moment when they joked about their lack of a social life when they can’t come up with exciting dates for the musical gala (Lewis is taking his boss, and Hathaway had “no takers” – shocking!).

This episode was also chock-full of familiar acting talent. Arnold Raeburn, composer and conductor, is played by Robert Hardy. Hardy is a very familiar face to Harry Potter fans – he plays Cornelius Fudge, head of the Ministry of Magic. Most recently he’s also appeared in Bleak House as Tite Barnacle. Another Bleak House alum makes an appearance in the form of Warren Clarke* who played the character of Boythorn. Here Clarke plays the head porter, an opportunistic, rather sniveling character who quite honestly made my skin crawl. He gets the shock of his life by the end of this story, and I have to say he was just full of himself enough to make me think he deserved it just a bit.

Raeburn’s protégé, Malcolm Finniston, was played by Anthony Calf*. Calf portrayed Colonel Fitzwilliam in “the Colin Firth” Pride and Prejudice from 1995. I don’t think I’ve seen the man in anything since then! Finniston had some unexpected secrets of his own that are revealed by the end of the program – just another one of the script’s fascinating twists and turns that were much appreciated. And finally, Andrew Hawley played the devoutly religious student Jez Haydock. It was interesting to see how the script examined Jez’s character and his struggles to reconcile his faith and his studies, and the contradictions and problems that ensue as a result. Hawley’s career is really just getting started – he first appeared on my radar when he played Hareton in the 2009 Masterpiece Classic version of Wuthering Heights. (Speaking of Wuthering Heights, I think I need to transfer my review of the 2009 production to this blog...)

The "reveal" at the end of this episode left me absolutely gobsmacked...I did not see it coming. If "dark matter" means something muddled and confused and hard to comprehend, well that is an apt description of the twists and turns Lewis and Hathaway discover amongst this particular group of Oxford residents. That's not to say the story doesn't make sense - when this show is "firing on all cylinders" so to speak and all of the pieces finally fall into place, it's quite a rewarding viewing experience. I can't wait for next week's episode!

*I want to thank Laurel Ann at Austenprose for pointing out the Clark and Calf acting credits in her excellent review of this episode, which you can read here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Casting Call: Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington

Well, I meant to post this over a week ago, shortly after my review of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss…but life has a way of disrupting the best-laid plans, don’t you know? *g* Since so much time has passed, this isn’t going to be quite as comprehensive a “Casting Call” post as my first for Cara Putman’s Stars in the Night. But since these casting ideas have been knocking around in my head ever since I read Victory Heights, I just had to make sure I shared them. As a refresher, here’s a bit about the novel with a link to my review.

The Second World War has stolen Rosalie’s fiancé from her. But rather than wallow, Rosalie throws herself into her work at the local Boeing plant, shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy. A local reporter dubs her “Seattle’s Own Rosie the Riveter,” and her story lends inspiration to women across the country. While Rosalie’s strong arms can bear the weight of this new responsibility, her heart cannot handle the intense feelings that begin to surface for Kenny, the handsome reporter. Fear of a second heartbreak is a powerful opponent…but will it claim victory over love?

**Here’s a link to my review of the novel.**

Barbara Stanwyck as Rosalie
Rosalie Madison, played by Barbara Stanwyck: You know those fabulous “Rosie the Riveter” posters from World War II? Well, it’s no coincidence I’m sure that Rosalie is quite similar to that image which inspired countless women to leave their homes and join the war effort. However, if Victory Heights was going to be made into a film (and I do so wish it would, I think it would be perfect – Hallmark, are you listening? *g*), I was stymied as to what actress could represent Rosalie’s combination of strength and vulnerability. I finally settled on Barbara Stanwyck. She’s not only a class act, but she’s got an all-American, girl-next-door kind of look that would be perfect for this story. As to whether or not Stanwyck is the best actress to portray Rosalie’s strength and vulnerability on-screen – I must refer you to films like Annie Oakley, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve, and East Side, West Side – no one can balance spunk, sass, and vulnerability like Ms. Stanwyck!

John Payne as Kenny
Kenny Davenport, played by John Payne: I have a very definite image of on-screen reporters during the World War II time period – fast-talking, fedora pulled low over the forehead, always wearing a suit. It’s hard for me to put the ideal description that resides in my head into words, but when an actor’s got that “it” quality, I know they’d be perfect for the role. In the case of Kenny, the reporter who struggles with his career aspirations and serving his country, I kept coming back to John Payne as being the perfect actor. Kenny is an absolute sweetheart, kind, handsome, and with a great sense of humor, all qualities that Payne embodies in many of his classic Hollywood films (plus, I think he’d have great on-screen chemistry with Stanwyck – the sparks would fly!). Personality-wise, I think Kenny’s character is best represented best by Payne’s role in Miracle on 34th Street, as well as a few of his turns in musicals, believe it or not (thinking Springtime in the Rockies or Hello Frisco, Hello to name a few).

Peter Lawford as Nick
Nick, played by Peter Lawford: Nick is Kenny’s close friend, and described as very handsome, a charismatic ladies’ man. And when I think charismatic ladies’ man, Peter Lawford is one of the first actors from classic Hollywood that comes to mind. Nick worked overseas for a contract ambulance service, and when he was severely wounded in the leg he was sent home with no benefits, since he didn’t work through the Army (even though he served on the front lines). His character comes across as almost overly suave and compelling as a way for him to mask his emotional and physical wounds. Since Lawford was British, and possessed this almost aristocratic bearing, it seems like he played many roles where he comes from a rarified, privileged background and he has to work to overcome the bias that comes as a result of that. For some good examples see his appearances in films like Good News, Little Women, or Easter Parade.

Veronica Lake as Lanie
Lanie, played by Veronica Lake: Lanie was an interesting character to cast. She’s described as a head-turning, gorgeous blonde who rather improbably works at the Boeing aircraft plant with Rosalie. She’s also a singer, which is how she meets Nick. Half the time Lanie seems incredibly sweet and nice, and the other half of the time I wanted to smack her upside the head for being, well, a snake in the grass. Who better to play a woman of such contradictions than the lovely Veronica Lake, renowned femme fatale of the silver screen? Now in the Lake films I’ve seen, I’d say I end up liking her more than Lanie (*g*) – my favorite role of hers is in the film noir classic The Blue Dahlia (which really, REALLY needs to come out on DVD already!). This picture is from Lake’s appearance in the military-themed drama So Proudly We Hail!, and I thought it was wildly appropriate given that she looks like she could be working a shift at the Boeing factory.

Jane Powell as Birdie
Birdie, played by Jane Powell: Birdie is Rosalie’s best friend, and the two decided to room together when Birdie got work at the plant after her husband was deployed overseas. Birdie’s another girl next door, all-American type, extremely kind but with a backbone of steel. Jane Powell seems perfect for the part. If you’re familiar with Powell’s work, you can probably guess the role that inspired my choice – yep, I’m thinking of her turn in the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Powell’s turn in that film embodies her balance of delicate beauty, spunk, and strength.

Lana Turner as Lana :)
Lana Turner, played by Lana Turner of course! I cast Lana Turner in my first Casting Call post, but this time around she gets to play herself so of course I had to include her. Turner plays a critical role in Rosalie and Kenny’s “meet cute” and the subsequent direction of their relationship. Victory Heights takes place in Turner’s pre-blonde days – she was a stunner whether brunette or blonde, no?

Dean Jagger as Rev. Davenport
Reverend Davenport, played by Dean Jagger: Just in case you don’t recognize Dean Jagger’s name, I have two words for you: White Christmas. Yes, Jagger is the name of that guy who plays Major General Thomas F. Waverly, who never fails to bring tears to my eyes every time I watch White Christmas. I think he’s perfectly suited to play Reverend Davenport, Kenny’s father, who is sent stateside when he’s wounded overseas and ends up losing a leg. Jagger’s turn in White Christmas is the perfect embodiment of Reverend Davenport’s patience and kindness, plus I think he could do a decent job passing for John Payne’s father in the looks department! *wink* Note on the photo: I'm not sure what film this still is from, but since Jagger is in uniform I had to use it to illustrate this post!
The world of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, is populated with many more characters that need to be “cast,” but this post represents most of the characters that made the biggest impression on my mind when I read the book. These characters just begged to be brought to life by some classic Hollywood legends. If you haven’t read the book, I hope you get the chance, and if you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my casting call!
And just for fun, here's a photo of John Payne from Miracle on 34th Street - his stance in this photo really "fits" the character of Kenny in my opinion! :)

Kenny interrogating Santa :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Campaign to bring North and South to PBS...

I've seen a couple of posts about this campaign around the Richard Armitage-related blogosphere recently, and then a friend of mine kindly sent me this Facebook badge link. Well, I am willing to promote anything Richard Armitage or North and South-related, don't you know. :)

Click the link below to get information on how to participate in a postcard-writing campaign to bring North and South to Masterpiece on PBS. Personally I don't understand how on earth this production never made it to PBS! Think of the new fans to be gained!

Bring North & South to PBS

Promote Your Page Too

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Inspector Lewis on the way!

After Sunday's stellar Inspector Lewis episode on Masterpiece Mystery, I'm more excited than ever about the upcoming episode this Sunday, entitled Dark Matter. Here's a bit about the story:
See an all-new episode of Inspector Lewis Sunday, September 12, 2010 on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY. In Dark Matter, an amateur stargazer is dead in the observatory. Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) delve into the work of a 17th-century astronomer on the way to the black hole of deception at the center of this case. (One episode; 90 minutes; TV-PG).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Inspector Lewis: The Dead of Winter

Yesterday Inspector Lewis continued with the second episode of series three to air on Masterpiece Mystery - The Dead of Winter. I really, really enjoyed this episode - the primary reason because it was so Hathaway-centric. :) Here's a bit about the story from the PBS website:
An Oxford academic is dead on a tour bus and none of the other passengers even took notice. The curious case leads back to Crevecoeur Hall, a vast, history-rich Oxford estate, and as it happens, the setting for much of Detective Sergeant Hathaway's (Laurence Fox) youth. Hathaway reconnects with his past — and Scarlett Mortmaigne, the daughter of the estate's owner. But is he also consorting with a main suspect? It's a case that threatens to expose the shortcomings and secrets of a wealthy family, cloud Hathaway's judgment and ultimately put his relationship with Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) in jeopardy. Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) guest stars.
The episode opens with Hathaway giving evidence in court for an extraordinarily difficult case - he was the officer who found the murdered body of a young girl. Hathaway and Lewis played these opening scenes extraordinarily well, as usual (*g*). I love the dynamic of how these are two co-workers who really do like and care about each other, but they are both such "closed books" they would never dream of actually talking about something that's bothering them, unless they are really hard-pressed. Thankfully, the coroner, Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) is there to give Lewis a much-needed kick in the pants. It was nice to see Lewis and Laura relaxing at the pub for a change - I really do wonder how long Lewis is going to be in denial that they are meant for each other. Or is that just the romantic in me? ;-)

I loved when the investigation moved to Crevecoeur Hall, the estate where, shockingly, Hathaway grew up. And how much fun was it to see Cromwell-era re-enactors instead of the usual Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactors we see in the states (the former, especially if you live in the south like me). Seeing Hathway still carry a torch for the lord of the manor's daughter, the lovely Scarlett (played by Camilla Arfwedson, a veteran of the Miss Marple series in the episode Murder is Easy) was an interesting experience. Hathaway is a character I've come to value for his quick wit and insight, and seeing his Achilles' heel, if you will, as regards Scarlett was rather eye-opening. It seems my brilliant Hathaway isn't perfect, and even he is susceptible to some deep-rooted class envy. *sigh* I have to say watching Scarlett play Hathaway, no matter the fact that to her, her reasons "seemed" valid, it did make me want to smack Hathaway upside the head, just to wake him up. :) Fox really got multiple chances to shine in this episode. From his unrequited feelings for Scarlett, to his barely restrained rage when he discovers that Briony, the groundskeeper's daughter, is cutting herself, this story provided some "cracks" in Hathaway's armor. Love, love, loved the insight into the usually quiet, stoic character.

A handful of familiar faces populate the home of Hathaway's youth. Philip, nephew to the lord of the manor, is played by Nathaniel Parker. Parker is the face of the Inspector Lynley mystery series, as well as appearing in everything from Stardust to the Bleak House miniseries. Philip is "accidentally" shot during the re-enacting fracas, which is the first reason the police are brought to the estate. We discover later that Philip is having an affair with his uncle's much-younger wife, Selina. Selina is played by Juliet Aubrey, and since the last major role I remember seeing Aubrey play was the villainous Helen in Primeval, seeing her play an adulterous wife was no stretch, just sayin'. The final face that I recognized was Father Jasper, the Jesuit priest staying in the folly on the estate, played by Hugh O'Conor. Now this is going back a bit, but it will tell you how much I adore the movie - back in 1993, O'Conor played King Louis in Disney-fied Three Musketeers. Since then, he's also appeared on Masterpiece in the fantastic adaptation of Northanger Abbey, where he played James Morland.

I think the writers did a fantastic job weaving together the seemingly loose and unrelated threads of the mysteries that populated this episode. First, there's the death of one Dr. Black, discovered murdered on a city bus. That death is traced to the estate, and raises numerous questions about why the professor would have a connection to the estate and end up murdered in the chapel. Then there's the supposed suicide of the groundskeeper, which seems to point to a murder-suicide since letters surface that appear to indicate that Dr. Black ran off with the groundskeeper's wife years before. As with the best Lewis episodes, nothing is as it seems, and everyone Lewis and Hathaway encounter has hidden fresh motives or previously unknown connections to the deaths. I found myself so absorbed in the storyline, I didn't see some of the final twists coming until the reveal was practically upon us. And perhaps the best part of it all was how this episode once again tested the limits of Lewis and Hathaway's partnership and friendship. Seeing them once again work through the challenges and stresses of a new case proved to be a rewarding viewing experience, as always.

For me, this episode had the cast and crew firing on all cylinders, every piece of the puzzle falling into place perfectly, revealing dark secrets and bringing long-buried truths to light. The Dead of Winter ranks (so far), as my favorite episode of this season, and one of my favorite all-time Lewis episodes. I love watching the team of Lewis and Hathaway work - they've grown so much since series one - and the world they inhabit is beautifully brought to life on-screen. In spite of Oxford's disturbing tendency toward murder and mayhem, it's a trip I don't mind taking as long as Hathaway is my guide. :) Can't wait till next week's episode!

Love Me Tender by Janice Hanna

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Me Tender
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)

Janice Hanna


Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna, She got her start in the industy writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over fifty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children's books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. Janice currently serves as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW (American Christian Fictio Writers).

She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is active in her local writing group, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Her online course, "Becoming a Successful Frelance Writer" has been helpful to many who want to earn a living with their writing. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends and two mischievious dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all.


As "Love Me Tender" plays in the background, Debbie Carmichael determines to salvage her family's restaurant, Sweet Sal's Soda Shoppe, when her father's health fails. Teen heartthrob Bobby Conrad agrees to perform at a fundraiser concert. But just two weeks before the highly publicized event, Bobby backs out of the benefit. Enter Johnny Hartman, a young, unknown singer to take Conrad's place. Debbie soon realizes the twists and turns leading up to the concert are divinely orchestrated. And it isn't dreamy Bobby Conrad who has stolen her heart - but the tender love of Johnny Hartman.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Me Tender, go HERE.