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Favorites, Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Book Club

Book Club came out May 18th, and my best friend and I went to see it opening night and what we got was far more than the handful of laughs we expected.

The movie tells the story of four best friends who have gotten together once a month since their college days for their book club. Diane, Vivian, Sharon, and Carol are all independent, successful women who have taken their teenage dreams all the way to the top — Vivian a hotel owner, Sharon a federal judge, Carol a chef and restaurant owner, and Diane with two adult daughters and a grandchild on the way.

First off, I want to say that I LOVED the cast for this movie! I know Diane Keaton (Diane) from Father of the Bride, Mary Steenbergen (Carol) from Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Candice Bergan (Sharon) from Miss Congeniality, Bride Wars, and Murphy Brown, (just to name a few). And while I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Jane Fonda (Vivian) before, I think she did a great job with her character. Candice and Diane were made for comedy and I think they were both outstanding in this movie!
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I was also happy to see the leading men played by some actors I haven’t seen on screen in quite a while:

Andy Garcia (Mitchell) – also in Ocean’s Eleven
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Craig T. Nelson (Bruce) – also in Coach and The District
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Don Johnson (Arthur) – also in Nash Bridges.
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While being the antagonist in Ocean’s Eleven, Andy Garcia was charming and magnetic, just as he was in Book Club, pulling me into his character and making me root for him from the start.

I haven’t personally seen Craig T. Nelson, I think since he starred in the 2000-2004 drama The District, so it was nice to see him again and in a comedy.

And I grew up watching Nash Bridges, and I was so surprised and happy to see Don Johnson in this movie! It seriously made my day! Don’s mannerisms and speech, to me, always look and sound so fluid and natural that I’d never think he doesn’t belong there; he always makes a character belong — always makes it look genuine, and I love that!

Getting back to the story, these four friends find themselves in new territory as they learn to adjust to a changing (and often unjust) world. First Diane’s daughters try to get her to move to Arizona so she is closer to them, then Sharon’s ex-husband announces his engagement to a much younger woman on the same day their son gets engaged. Carol is worried the spark has gone out of her marriage, and an old flame comes to town, shaking everything Vivian thought she knew about herself. So what are four friends to do under such pressures? Read a book, of course! But not just any book: Fifty Shades of Grey.

All a little afraid or even embarrassed to read it, the four friends soon realize that society has put them into a box that they are not ready to be in yet — the “Old-and-Done-Being-Loved” box. The box that tells them they are too old to date, too old to go on adventures, too old to look nice, too old to love themselves and be happy.

And they aren’t buying into it.

So that’s when they all have to decide, are they going to succumb to the label of old maid, or become the fierce, beautiful cougars they earned the right to be? 

I loved how this movie so truthfully displayed how women are often seen. How society thinks only the young and beautiful are loved, or only the young ones should care about how they look. As if our age should determine our right to happiness. And taking on that viewpoint quite bluntly in some parts of the movie, I saw these women just stand up and say no, that is not who we are.

Vivian knew what she wanted and how to get it; she knew that not a lot of women build hotels and run them without a business partner or life partner, but she kept working until she got where she wanted to be. Carol was beautiful and talented and probably could have found a shorter route to the top, but she chose to work for her dream, going to culinary school and paying her own way by being a waitress.  Sharon knew that being a judge would be a hard and often lonely job (proven when her husband left her for a younger woman) but it didn’t stop her from wanting to make a difference in the world. Diane loved raising her daughters and once they were grown she had the spirit and strength to do something for herself.

I’m giving Book Club five stars. It was extremely funny, lots of adult and specifically feminine humor (this movie would be perfect for your girls’ night out!). And it felt very empowering to me; it was a good reminder that yes the world is unfair, but we as women can overcome it with hard work, good friends, passion, and love. The characters were all unique people, but their chemistry was amazing! And all the ladies’ love interests were very good matches for them. As far as the characters go, I don’t think a better choice could be made. The comedy was great but the ending for each woman was even better. I loved this movie, and I highly recommend it to comedy and romance fans alike! And by the way, what a great way to let the world know that these actors are not only still around, but still doing amazing work!

Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Rating: PG-13
My rating: five stars for comedy, romance, great friendships portrayed.
Favorite character quote:
“It’s just like riding a bike, you never forget.”
“Note to self: watch Carol ride a bike some time.” (Vivian)

Watch the trailer here! 

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My Writing

Writing Prompts

It’s writing prompt time! This time, I’m going to share prompts that I have actually done. Some are longer than others, but either way, I hope they inspire you to try out some prompts for yourself. One of my friends got me a book for Christmas called “400 Writing Prompts,” and I have been hopping my way through the book. I will give the prompt first, then my what I wrote.

While at the beach you  decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it?

Embrace the waves, ride the wind. This bottle is far more free than most people choose to be. It has no idea where it will end up, and yet it is going somewhere — somewhere bigger and better than where it started. Be like the bottle: jump  in, try, ride the wind and waves.

Write ten original thoughts that will be stuffed inside fortune cookies for perfect strangers to read.

Get your gas today. It might rain tomorrow and you won’t want to get out of the car.
Don’t wear brown on brown; too matchy-matchy.
Beware anyone who doesn’t read.
Always carry a book.
If your cat/dog doesn’t like him, dump him.
Your attitude determines your altitude.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The lateral range is too great.
Be a shark, not a hoover. Cruise, don’t suck.

As an adult, would you ever want a treehouse or dollhouse? Describe it.

I’d love a treehouse! A writer’s “re-tree-t.” Somehow make it impossible for bugs and spiders to get in. A comfy nap spot. A reading/writing nook. Great view. Security system so I can hermit. Room for just a buddy or two at a time. Bookshelves. Fluffy blankets. Snacks.

Finish this sentence, “Life is short…”

And then you die. You can’t change either fact, so live! Don’t just exist. don’t make it feel even shorter by staying inside your box. Bust out and be something bigger and better. We are not our boxes. Be the you you want to be.

Define what bravery means to you.

Some people say bravery is putting someone else before yourself. But braver still is  sometimes putting yourself first, even when people think you’re being selfish. Bravery includes doing something others aren’t willing to do because they are worried about appearance. Do you know what a hero is? 99 times out of 100, a hero is someone who is hungry enough and cold enough and tired enough not to give a damn.

 

Author Spotlight, book reviews

Review: Picture Imperfect

Hello, and welcome to my new blog category: Author Spotlight! I’ve been wanting to do something to help my fellow authors and their work, and what I came up with is dedicating blogs to those who stand out in my writing community.

I recently received the opportunity to be an ARC (Advance Read Copy) reviewer for author Mary Frame’s new book, Picture Imperfect. In exchange for sending me a free copy of her book, Mary asked that I post an honest review somewhere on social media, so today I’m making that review.

Picture Imperfect is a contemporary romance book. It is the fourth in a series, but I read it fine without having read the others; it makes a good stand-alone book. I’m attempting to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, so you can enjoy it for yourself. Release date is May 27th!!

The book is set in New York city. Gwen is an ex-model who is trying to make a new life for herself as a photographer. After scandal wrecked her red carpet life, she decided to re-invent herself by following her passion for photography, but given her fall from grace, she’s struggling to get any serious jobs.

Marc is his father’s right-hand-man in a multi-million dollar company, and the older bother of star football player, Brent. After a teenage accident leaves Marc’s face badly scarred, he fails to see the beauty or worth in his own life, always putting someone else first – no matter how badly some of those people treat him.

Gwen is totally over the fake glamor of New York, but once in a while she has no choice but to take gigs photographing celebrities. One night, she stops a random guy in a bar from raping an out-of-town woman. She thinks little of it – that kind of thing is all too common in her world – until the next day, when everyone knows her name! Someone wrote an article about her heroics. Suddenly she has more opportunities than she can handle. And one of them is out-of-this-world unexpected.

Marc is used to women dating him to get to his all-star brother. But this one got way out of hand. The only thing that can fix it is for Brent to date someone new – a good, humble lady who isn’t after his bank account….someone like Gwen.

Gwen agrees to be Brent’s fake girlfriend, since the scandal hitting him is from the same woman who hurt Gwen’s modeling career.

I don’t generally hate people, but that chick needs to be taken down. Or put in a facility for the mentally deranged and totally bitchy.

In exchange, his agent would help Gwen’s political pieces get recognition from News Weekly. The arrangement is made and Gwen is thrust into a world of glamor again, but this time, with a man who not only respects her, but may actually care for her.

What I loved about this book:
The book is written in first person, with each chapter being in either Gwen’s or Marc’s perspective. This style doesn’t always work for me, to be honest, but in Mary’s case, it was very well done! She does a great job of keeping her characters’  viewpoints concise and clear.

There are no chapter titles, which I do like titles, but what I thought was cool about this book is, instead of titles there are quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The quotes are from real people, mainly about photography and like a title, they gave the snippet of things to come.

It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter. – Alfred Eisentaedt.

The beauty of the past  belongs to the past.
– Margaret Bourke-White.

I loved the existing relationships. Brent and Marc are obviously great friends and also have a great brotherly relationship. They aren’t close with their father, but some friends they’ve known all their lives give them the family roots that they need. I liked how they discussed Gwen’s safety, like when they agreed her apartment needed a new lock on the door. And how they both knew right away that she was a nice girl, not like many of the women they’d met in the city. Gwen is also obviously close with her sisters and brother-in-law. I was happy to see developed, healthy relationships right from the start.

As the story goes on, I saw how Gwen right from the get-go seemed to be the only person concerned with how Marc was handling the pressure. But that doesn’t mean she shirked her duties to help Brent get his good name back; she went on dates with him, she went to his football games, and she took a genuine interest in his life.

For four hundred and twenty dollars, those oysters better sing and dance and shower me in complements before I eat them.

There is a steady build of believable romantic chemistry as well as friendship. I appreciate that it was not rushed and the progress was made tactfully.

As Gwen develops a friendship with Marc, she becomes concerned that people will think something is going on between them. But people just laugh – a few right in front of him – and say, “Sure, Marc is great, but he’s not Brent!” No one thinks it is even possible. Brent has been the star for too long. Everyone underestimates Marc; he is practically invisible. This part had a very Loki vs. Thor feeling to me, in that Loki was always seen as lesser, even though he was just as talented and more cunning – like Marc and Brent.

Overall, I LOVED this book! It was very engaging, well-written, and it was the first romance book that I’ve read in quite a while that had me so engrossed that I read it in one day. There is some adult language in it, as well as a few descriptive love scenes, but if you are looking for a fun read with engaging characters and a great love story, I highly recommend checking out Picture Imperfect! Release day is May 27th, but you can pre-order it! Honestly, I can’t do the story justice; you need to read it for yourself!

Thanks again to author Mary Frame for sending me this amazing book!

Favorite character quote:

Most people don’t talk about their hard times, you know? Everyone has a façade they like to present to the world, and it’s all the best and happiest moments. (Marc)

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Favorites

A Few of My Favorite Things

What are the things that make me happy, even on my worst days?

Kayaking. I love lake/river kayaking. Now, personally, I prefer calm water; none of that rough stuff. But it’s great exercise and a lot of fun!

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Inspector Lewis. This is one of my very favorite mystery shows! If you’ve seen very many of my posts on this subject, you know that I prefer a lot of older crime shows because instead of relying heavily on what a computer can tell them, the detectives do this other thing called, INVESTIGATE. A lot more poking around, asking questions, talking to actual people…Inspector Lewis is actually a modern drama from BBC, and while they do of course use computers, Lewis tends to revolve a lot around literature, poetry, and good old-fashioned investigating. I love the complexity of the mysteries and the motives involved.
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The smell of fresh cut grass and hay. Possibly my #1 favorite smell! Fresh cut grass is great, but hay is even better – it’s the smell I associate with every summer of my life on the farm. Or just the first green growth of spring too. As long as it’s grass, I love it!
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Country/dirt roads. It probably sounds really “country cliché,” but it’s true. I have so many memories of wandering back and forth all over the state on back roads with my grandparents and my aunt. And a dirt road in farm country is still my go-to place when I’m feeling low. I love discovering new farms, seeing nature, and enjoying the simple pleasure of driving around in the quiet with the windows down.
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God made old country roads for driving and dreaming. -Unknown

Daisies. I have many “favorite” flowers, but of those that grow wild around here, I think the daisy is special. It’s the lady of flowers: simple as can be, but beautifully elegant.

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Rain/frogs. One of my favorite parts of spring is being able to sleep with the windows open to listen to the rain and frogs! Plus the smell of the rain. It’s just so refreshing after being cooped up all winter! It’s so soothing to listen to the frogs in the swamp and raindrops hitting the metal roof.

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Road trips. I like going on drives, so it’s no surprise that I like to travel. I am a “journey person” way more than a “destination person.” One of my favorite drives is going down to the other end of the state to see my friend Emma. I take the back roads and I get to enjoy about 3 hours of farm country and lakeshore. I make a CD every time I go, and sing along the whole way!

Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures. – Lovelle Drachman

Lavender. I love all things lavender! I grew a plant last summer, and I have many favorite lavender products:

 

Country Blossom Peach Tea. Hot is good, but iced, this is the best iced tea I’ve ever had!
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Bath & Body Works. They have a lot of great scents, but my very favorite is Love & Sunshine!
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What are some of your favorite things? What makes you happy when you’re feeling down, or what is guaranteed to help you have a great day?  

Uncategorized

What’s Next?

Hi, everyone! As you know from my most recent posts, Jenna’s TSC book launch was a huge success, and I want to thank all of you who read and shared my promo posts for that, I’m so happy for Jenna! She recently posted a video on her channel, outlining her plans for the future, and I thought I should make a similar post here today, to let you all know what’s happening with me and my writing.

I am still working on my fantasy novel, Kya, though I’ve hit a few snags that are slowing me down.

At this point, I’m also going through some big life changes. For one thing, I’m having to decide where I’m going to live, weighing the pros and cons of both places, and if I trust my instinct and stay where I am, I need to work out exactly how to balance life here and responsibilities back home.

I’ve also figured out what I really want to do, career-wise, but it’s kind of an uphill fight right now, because I’m short of resources and experience. I want to become a travel writer and possibly do some entertainment writing as well. The difficult part is finding reputable magazines and online companies that (a) are legit, (b) are willing to converse with me so I know what is expected and how to do my job, (c) are simple enough to understand how my travel is funded and how I am paid (d) someone who will take on my experience level and possibly offer training. If you have any leads, suggestions, or advice,  would greatly appreciate hearing from you! I’ve decided this is what I really want to do with my life (while still writing fiction as well). I have a few ideas on how to get started more locally, but ultimately, I want to be able to travel and share my experiences, for other people to explore and see the world!
This is a big step on many levels. For one, I doubt getting a lot of family support; writing is already seen as “not a real job,” and freelance just means “you’ll never have enough money,” and oh yeah, “there’s no way you can travel alone and be safe and be capable of talking to strangers.”  And yes, talking to people I don’t know is intimidating to me, but there are things I want to do in life. So I’m going to try this. I recently received this quote on a bookmark, and it has been what keeps driving me forward:

“Step out of the box. We are not our boxes”

I am working on an idea I have for helping my fellow writers. There are a lot of writers in my social community who have helped me (in just the year or less I’ve known them) and I want to be able to return some support to them. My plan is to dedicate blog posts to specific writers (and a few other creatives), promote their WIP, and show why I’m happy to support them. I’ll be reaching out to those people on Twitter, YouTube, and WordPress who have really stood out to me, both for their work and for their willingness to support each other. I can see this being my #FollowFriday post, possibly featuring someone once or twice a month because let’s face it, it’s hard to remember to tag people on Twitter every Friday.

On that note, I’m also planning a giveaway for my fantastic followers! I don’t have a timeline right now, but I do want to show appreciation to everyone who has shown me support. I have the prizes already, it’s just that while not having a job right now, I can’t commit my funds to shipping boxes, which really stinks. But as soon as I have it saved up, we’ll be having a Follower Thank You giveaway! In the meantime, really: THANK YOU!

Last month, I set a personal goal for myself to publish a blog post every day in April for my April Blog Challenge; I set it as my Camp NaNoWriMo goal. I didn’t get to post on the last few days, due to going on a trip with some friends, but I did manage to write something every day, so for me it was a success! I normally make posts every Sunday, but if you all have a vote for what day (or two days) of the week, you’re most likely to log on and read a post, please let me know! You are all super important to me, and want this blog to be convenient for you.

This week, I took on two projects that I’m excited about! First, I am doing my very first ARC review, for Mary Frame’s upcoming romance novel, Picture Imperfect, which releases on May 27th! The second project is a little more intimidating: I’ve been asked to write a fan fiction. Fan fics are something I love, but I’m a little nervous about trying to capture the image of the person who requested it. But I’m so happy to have been asked, and I’ve been wanting to try out requests, so here we go!

Overall, I don’t know exactly what’s happening next for me, career-wise, but I can tell that big, exciting things are going to happen this year! And I can’t wait to see what they are and share whatever I can with you!

Thanks again for your support! And happy spring, it’s finally here!

Mac and Arda Teaser pic from Kya.

Uncategorized

I’m on Vacation!!

Hi, everyone!

Today I’m hailing from Bloomington, Minnesota! I am with my best friend, her husband, and their two toddlers at Great Wolf Lodge. We’re on vacation until Friday. So FYI, I’m not going to be on social media a lot this week, because of course we are having adventures.

I hope everyone enjoyed my daily blog posts during my April blog challenge. I had a lot of fun coming up with posts and hearing from you! On that note, I normally make posts on Sundays; now that I’ve posted each day of the week, what one or two days would you, my fantastic readers, like me to post? Please leave a comment and let me know!! I make posts to help out my fellow writers and readers, so I want to know what day(s) you most want to hear from me.

Hope you all enjoy your week, I’ll be travelling back home on Friday and watching the Run for the Roses on Saturday! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you might see a few pictures during the week.

Happy first week of May, everyone!!

Author Spotlight, Favorites

It’s Finally Here! TSC Is Live!!

The Savior’s Champion released today and like many of Jenna Moreci’s fans, I couldn’t be more excited!! I am so happy for Jenna and I want to share her excitement on her big day! Not every writer gets to realize their dreams of having a book published, so when a member of my writing family gets that far, I’m so proud and happy for them! From the first time I watched one of Jenna’s videos (I think it was “Things you should never say to a writer”) I knew I’d found someone special and I have every confidence that her new book will be just as special.

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Watch the trailer for The Savior’s Champion!

Why do I want to read TSC?
Aside from supporting an amazing person, I’ve read the first three chapters already, which you can do too, on her website. And let me tell you, I’ve never seen so much happen in the first three chapters of a book! Not in Harry Potter, not in The Lord of the Rings series, not in I Am Number Four or any of my other favorite fantasy books. Tobias’ real life gets shook up real fast, in ways he never could have imagined are real! It’s not just that a lot of ground was covered, so much as it was the foundation of the story was laid out – meticulously showing what was important to the MC – and very quickly, as far as that MC was concerned, that foundation was shaken to its very roots and every single part of his life changed. and yet the story does not feel rushed in the least. Yes, a lot is going on, but so far, the reader has time to take it all in. I love the chemistry between characters, the attention to detail whether it’s concerning the plot, the settings, or the individual characters, and I love all the possibilities ahead!

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 Genre: Romantic Fantasy Action/Adventure

Category: Adult (Adult characters and adult situations)

Trigger warnings: this book contains graphic violence, adult language, and sexual situations.

As of today, the pre-sale giveaway ends. However, being the awesome cyborg queen that she is, Jenna has extended the giveaway into a Release Week Giveaway!! Simply order your eBook or Hardcover of TSC, show proof of purchase, and get entered into the running!

Buy links:

Amazon US: http://a.co/fUIOtUT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/1J8Gj3n

Amazon CA: http://a.co/6WJaBj9

B&N: http://bit.ly/2tz3did

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2FwHYz1

iBooks: https://apple.co/2tw9qLM

The Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2HiCKHK

Indigo: http://bit.ly/2p3iK4f 

Then, after you buy your book, just fill out this form and click submit! Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM, PST on Tuesday, May 1st!

To say hi to Jenna and congratulate her on her book, or to keep up to date with the already announced work in progress companion book, The Savior’s Sister, follow Jenna on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube! And trust me, you WANT to be on her YouTube channel today! At 5PM PST,  April 24th, Jenna will be LIVE on YouTube, playing games, answering TSC questions, and doling out prizes to today’s winners! Basically having a book launch cyborg queen party, and everyone is invited! I’ll be there, you should be there, and invite a friend or two dozen to be there!

A big shout out/congratulations to Jenna for completing your book and getting it published!

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I truly am thankful for the inspiration you have given me, and as a member of the writing community/family, I’m so proud of you and happy for you!! I hope today goes especially well for you and I hope you have fun and enjoy it!

 

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