Sunday, October 28, 2007

Contemporary Springwater

Linda Lael Miller transports readers to the rugged beauty of the American West, where Springwater, Montana, once a dusty stagecoach stop, is now a frontier town for the twenty-first century. Cattle rustlers have gone high-tech, and the Internet is the newest highway in town. But Springwater is still a place of strong passions and second chances.

Maggie McCaffrey came home determined to restore the dilapidated Springwater Station. But she didn’t count on running into deputy marshal J.T. Wainwright, the hometown boy who broke her hearts years before. No sooner does J.T. lay eyes on Maggie – and realize that she’s always been the only woman for him – than the peaceful town erupts with a wave of deadly attacks on neighboring ranchers. Now, one homegrown cowboy lawman must face down some very sophisticated outlaws. Because if he can just get Maggie to say "yes," he’s got a wedding to attend...

I got to visit the town of Springwater (founded in the late 1800s) one last time in the book Springwater Wedding by
Linda Lael Miller. It’s the final novel in the series but it’s set in present day with the descendants of the very first people of Springwater (the McCaffrey’s & the Wainwrights) as the main characters. In it Miller blends the past with the present in some ways that I thought was very nice but this Springwater just didn’t have the same friendly, small-town feel to it nor is the community as close-knit as it was back in June-Bug’s day (although you can tell that it’s still a nicer town than most).

Meeting the descendants of my favorite town and seeing how Springwater has grown was a real treat but I just didn’t care for the main heroine Maggie McCaffrey. She annoyed me to no end because she cried at the drop of a hat when I know for a fact that her ancestors were built of stronger stuff. Especially the women! I liked J.T. and the rest of the people in the town though and I wouldn’t mind finding out more about them someday.

In each book of the Springwater series, Mrs. Miller makes the reader feel like they’re a part of the community but in trying to do so in Springwater Wedding, she just made the book feel strained under the weight of so many relationships and information. Nonetheless, it was still a good story, just not as wonderful as the rest of the series.

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Candy, Candy, Candy, Candy!

I’ve always been a fan of that fabulously fat, orange cat and combine him with a Halloween special and you have solid gold (well not exactly but it’s still fun)! Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (originally Garfield’s Halloween Disguise) premiered on TV in 1985 and earned itself an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.

I can’t say that the story is original (main characters dress up and go trick-or-treating then run into something spooky and supernatural) or that the animation is anything but ordinary but the cartoon was incredibly cute and the songs were catchy and memorable too. I especially liked What Should I Be? and Scaredy Cat.

It does sound a little strange when Garfield starts singing because you can tell that the speaking voice and the singing voice are two different people. Popular artist Lou Rawls did all the singing parts and I guess that I’m not the only one who didn’t think it sounded right because he never sang for Garfield again. The person who spoke for Garfield on all his animated appearances was Lorenzo Music and he continued to do so up until the day he died (he also is known for being the voice of Tummi Gummi in Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears).

~Garfield’s Halloween Adventure was released on DVD as part of the Garfield: Celebrations collection in 2004. So if you’re a fan of the fattest cat around and looking for a short Halloween special then by all means pick this up for some mindless fun.

This is Going to Get Ugly...

Despite dating one vampire and living with another, Rachel Morgan has always managed to stay just ahead of trouble . . . until now.

A fiendish serial killer stalks the Hollows, claiming victims across society, and the resulting terror ignites a vicious Inderland gang war. And while the ancient artifact Rachel is hiding may be the key to stopping the murderer, revealing it could also create a battle to the death among the numerous supernatural races that live in and around Cincinnati.

For every action has its price, and when the vampire master Piscary is set free and the demonic Algaliarept dares to walk openly under the sun, even Rachel Morgan can't hide forever.

Rachel Morgan and the gang are back in the Hollows again in
Kim Harrison’s latest book For a Few Demons More and as usual Ms. Adrenaline Junkie is up to her eyeballs in trouble (although to be fair it’s not really her fault)! This is the darkest and most dangerous adventure yet out of all five of the books in the series and by the end I felt utterly betrayed.

I always enjoy Mrs. Morgan’s books and not just because they’re exciting, fast-paced, and really cool either. I just enjoy the characters, magic, and the drama in each story. Ivy, Rachel, and especially Jenks are people that I really wish I could know in real life but I wouldn’t like to live in their world and not just because I like ketchup either.

It feels so odd to say this about a book with Rachel Morgan and the gang
in it but I didn’t really like A Few Demons More. It was cool, there was plenty of action, suspense, mystery, even a little romance but because I love the characters so much it was really hard on me to watch them go through all the messy stuff.

All that aside, I felt like this book let me down. I cried when it was over and I’m still kind of in shock because of the awful ending, although I guess that just makes Harrison’s book even more powerful to provoke that kind of response. In each of the stories there’s at least a little light in the dark but in this it was almost all doom and gloom. Plus, the book ended on a kind of cliffhanger. Maybe I just don’t like change and believe me, things are changing fast in the Hollows and not always for the better.

The Rachel Morgan Hollows Series:
1. Dead Witch Walking (2004)
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005)
aka Where Demons Dare
7. White Witch, Black Curse (2009)
8. Black Magic Sanction (2010

Dates from Hell (2006)

~I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you can’t fully enjoy the Hollows series if you don’t read them in order. This is especially true in A Few Demons More because it relies heavily on previous novels like A Fistful of Charms a lot.

There is an audio podcast author interview over on
I Should Be Writing and another one from Barnes and Noble Meet the Writers about A Few Demons More.

Reminder: The pictures above are links to more interviews and information.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Adrenaline Junkie on the Loose!

The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her – not necessarily in that order.

Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses – savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.

Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in a millennia to ravage and rule. And suddenly more than Rachel’s soul is a stake.

The fourth book in
Kim Harrison’s wonderful Hollows series (or Rachel Morgan series) is called A Fistful of Charms. I loved it! The books are getting a bit darker and the characters a little more complex though. Actually in a few places, some characters seem like they are changing completely but I haven’t decided if it’s for the better or not!

I did love the fact that the whole gang was able to get out of Cincinnati for a little while and the fact that they got to kick major butt was even better. The change of scene made the story even more interesting and I’m glad that Jenks is back and better than ever. I missed him in Every Which Way But Dead.

In my opinion, this is the best book of the series so far. I just hope that Harrison can top this! I can’t say that I envy Rachel (well except for her boyfriend Kistin whom I think there wasn’t enough of in this one) but I can say without a doubt that when I pick up one of her books, I’m in for several hours worth of an action-packed adventure.

The Rachel Morgan (Hollows) Series:
1. Dead Witch Walking (2004)
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005)
3. Every Which Way But Dead (2005)
4. A Fistful of Charms (2006)
5. For a Few Demons More (2007)
6. The Outlaw Demon Wails (2008)
aka Where Demons Dare
7. White Witch, Black Curse (2009)
8. Black Magic Sanction (2010

Dates from Hell (2006)

Links: Kim Harrison (Wikipedia) & The Hollows (Wikipedia)

Interviews: Media Blvd (about Fistful of Charms), Shaun Ferrell

I suppose each of the Hollows books can be read independently but I really suggest that they’re read in order because for me they just don’t work well without the back stories behind various characters. Just about everyone pops back up in the books once they’ve been written in at some point anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Classic Fairy Tale Love Story

The 12th Walt Disney animated feature, Cinderella became a smashing success that triumphed over even Snow White. It was released in 1950, which was just after World War II. The war was not nice to the Disney studio moneywise and because of it everything was riding on Cinderella. If it would have flopped then there would be no more Disney films so thankfully it didn’t!

I have to admit that Cinderella never was my favorite heroine and re-watching it recently I’ve noticed that she’s pretty to look at but not that interesting or complex. I still love the mice though. Plus the songs and the animation leave me in awe. I actually forgot just how beautiful the film was until I sat down to watch it.

I have the 2-disc DVD special edition that came out in 2005 and I love all of the bonus features but I never did care for some of the "restoration". It’s just too bright in some places but in
others it’s so gorgeous (like a lot of the backgrounds) that it makes me want to just pause it and stare. Fortunately, artwork is included in this DVD so I can do just that! I’m glad that now every generation can now love and admire this classic as much as the last.

There are several wonderful things to see in the bonus features on both discs and some that I could really have cared less for:

DVD Bonus Features Disc 1:
Cinderella Stories Presented by ESPN Classic- I’ve never been much a sport’s fan... to put it bluntly, I hate them. Football, baseball, basketball, tennis, whatever. It’s all snooze-worthy to me. I think this was an unnecessary to put on the DVD but I’m sure some people will enjoy these sport legend’s stories.
Music and More- The last set of bonus features on this disc include two music videos. The first is a remake of A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by the Disney Channel "Circle of Stars" (with a making of the music video included) which is fun and upbeat but I don’t really care for the Disney Channel’s "stars" that sing. The second music video is called Every Girl Can be a Princess and it is performed by the current "Cinderella" (not the original, and fabulous Ilene Woods). The song itself is nice and so are the images of the Disney princesses but I didn’t
care for the voice nor for what’s supposed to be the mice (which sounded more like chipmunks!).

DVD Bonus Features Disc 2:
Deleted Scenes- There are two deleted scenes here: The Cinderella Work Song and Dancing on a Cloud (there is also an introduction). I love all of the interesting sketches and art that was put together for both of these sequences but I don’t think either of these would have worked very well had they been in the final film. The Work Song is actually kind of annoying to be honest but I really liked Dancing on a Cloud.
Music and More-There are four features on this section of the disc in all:
In Cinderella and Perry Como, an abridged version of the Cinderella story is told by Perry Como with help from the Fonatine Sisters (dressed as mice). This is one of my favorites and not only because they sing such a great song (Bibbid-Bobbidi-Boo) but also because the entire thing is recorded live (which becomes obvious when Ilene Woods stumbles over some of the words)!
"Cinderella" Title Song is the original demo recording of the opening song.
Unused Songs is as the title suggests, seven songs that weren’t used in the final film. They are Sing a Little, Dream a Little, I’m in the Middle of a Muddle, The Mouse Song, The Dress My Mother Wore, Dancing on a Cloud, I Lost My Heart at the Ball, & The Face I See in the Night. Some of these are quite good but there are a few that I didn’t really like. These are the orginal demo recordings so there are some skips on the records.
There are three Radio Programs. The first one is an excerpt of The Village Store which aired March 25, 1948 during which Ilene Woods sings Pinocchio’s When You Wish Upon a Star after a brief interview. The second one is an excerpt from Gulf Oil Presents ca. 1950 during which Ilene Woods tells her story about wanting to sing and how the "Hollywood prince’ Walt Disney became her fairy godmother by giving her the part of Cinderella. The final radio program is called Scouting the Stars and it aired in February 23, 1950. It’s also an interview with Ilene but there is more information about her background as well.
Games and Activities- Two things for little girls featuring Sally from the Disney Channel. In House of Royalty she learns to look, live, and act like a princess with help from fashion man Isaac Mizrachi, ABC’s Extreme Make-over Home Edition, & princess Catherine Oxenberg. Then during Princess Pajama Jam the little ones can dance with the Disney princesses. There is also an introduction to the DVD-ROM Design Studio.
Backstage Disney- What I call the grown-up part of the DVD and the reason why I always buy the 2-disc DVD.
From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella features so many noted Disney historians, animators, and other great Disney employees talking about the classic film.
The Cinderella That Almost Was explains why some parts were dropped etc. with voice over re-enactments of Walt Disney himself from story meetings.
From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to Disney’s Nine Old Men is a dinner today’s Disney animators where they talk about the Nine Old Men and animating.
The Art of Mary Blair is a bunch of people talking about the artwork by one of the greatest unrecognized (until recently) animators.
Storyboard to Film Comparison features the opening sequence artwork compared to the final film.
Cinderella Galleries are the artwork from the film
1922 Laugh-O-Grams: Cinderella is the black and white animated cartoon of Disney’s first depiction of the Cinderella story.
Excerpt from the Mickey Mouse Club during which Helene Stanley (the stand-in model for the animators of Cinderella) acts out and sings the dress scene from the movie.
Theatrical Trailers are pretty self-explanatory but there are tons of them from every year Cinderella was re-issued (also original trailer included)

DVD-ROM Design Studio:
There are quite a few activity games for little girls on the DVD if you stick it in your computer! You can design a palace, a gown, and even a bedroom.

~ There have recently been two sequels to this classic fairy tale made but I haven’t seen either of them yet. They are Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. Both were direct-to-DVD movies.

Reminder: As always the pictures above are also links that lead to various information etc.


A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes:

Cinderella Laugh-O-Gram:

Vampire Bridezilla

In the days leading up to The Big Day, Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor seems to have a full house – and the wedding guests have yet to arrive. Along with her human buddies, there’s a ghost, a werewolf, and a Fiend crashing at her place. And though her fiancé, Vampire King Eric Sinclair, conveniently disappears when the conversation turns to seating charts and flower arrangements, he does manage to make his oh-so-sexy presence known at other moments.

Betsy knows the next few weeks won’t be smooth sailing – but she never expects just what’s in store for her. Cold feet are no surprise, especially with an undead groom. But when Sinclair truly goes missing – and not just to avoid wedding preparations – along with most of her friends and loved ones, Betsy is frantic. Alone and afraid for the fate of everyone she loves. Betsy can’t trust anyone as she tries to find them and whoever is behind all the disappearance. And what happens next will shake the foundation of the vampire wold forever in the best-selling series that "breath[es] new life into conventional vampire lore."

I first discovered MaryJanice Davidson’s Vampire Betsy series through an anthology and I actually didn’t like it at all (it was told by a minor character and made Betsy look shallow and
boring, which she isn’t)! Then about two years later I picked up the first book in the series called Undead and Unwed and I just loved how funny, cute, and interesting the book was. It was a lot of fun to catch up with the Queen of the Vampires in her latest book, Undead and Uneasy.

The entire Betsy series are very fast reads (I finished Uneasy in a couple of hours) but they’re still incredible and very well written. Mrs. Davidson is another one of those fabulous authors who mixes genres in their stories by throwing in some romance and mystery on top of the paranormal. I’m sorry to say I was able to figure out the "mystery" aspect way before poor Betsy did but I was still surprised by the really cool ending. I’m looking forward to the next Betsy book so much. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

The "Undead" Queen Betsy Series:
1. Undead and Unwed (2002)
2. Undead and Unemployed (2004)
3. Undead and Unappreciated (2005)
4. Undead and Unreturnable (2005)
5. Undead and Unpopular (2006)
6. Undead and Uneasy (2007)
7. Undead and Unworthy (2008)
8. Undead and Unwelcome (2009)
9. Undead and Unfinished (2010)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Full of Pumpkin Spirit!

I read Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree recently because it was the October group read at my online reading group Children’s Books of Yesterday and really enjoyed it (even if I sometimes found it difficult). So you can imagine how happy I was when I found out it was made into an animated film. I can’t believe I had never seen it before. It even won an Emmy (for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program)!

I thought the movie was almost as good as the book and unlike the book, it was aimed totally at kids. I thought the film translated the core feeling of the book well without going into too much detail or leaving out too much either. The only thing I didn’t care too much for was that Tom wasn’t as likeable as he was in
Bradbury’s book. Speaking of which, Ray Bradbury was the narrator and he did such a wonderful job. I did love the instrumental music though.

If you want to watch a unique kid-friendly Halloween movie The Halloween Tree is a perfect film to curl up and watch on the spookiest of nights with the whole family... even the little kiddies! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be as entertained as I was and learn something too!

Complete Film:

Related Reviews
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trick... or Treat?

Ray Bradbury’s Halloween classic is back, thirty-five years since it first whisked readers far beyond the usual pumpkins, costumes, and candy, deep into the mysteries of this spookiest of all nights.

Join the sinister Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud as he takes eight trick-or-treaters on an unforgettable journey to find their missing friend, Pip. Travel through space and time, from the tombs of ancient Egypt to the gargoyles of Notre Dame cathedral, all the way to the cemeteries of Mexico on El Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead! Is Pip still alive? And if so, can his friends save him before it’s too late?

Get ready to shiver and shriek, gasp and giggle your way through this fantastic tale. Master storyteller Ray Bradbury’s fantasy is a treat for all to savor – not just at Halloween but at any time of the year.

I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s most popular work, Fahrenheit 451 but never actually got around to reading anything else by him until one of my online book groups (Children’s Books of Yesterday) chose The Halloween Tree as our October book. It was such an interesting and unique story! I especially liked the illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini but my favorite thing was Bradbury's illustrative descriptions. It made the story almost poetic (even if it did make the book a little harder to read).

The Halloween Tree was originally written with children or "young adults" in mind as the target audience but since I found some the wording a bit difficult to grasp in some places, I’m sure not many children would be able to decipher it or get much enjoyment out of it. From what I’ve heard, more adults like the story than kids anyway and it’s not hard to see why!

I did enjoy the animated movie based on the book and I think it translated the story better to children. There are a few differences between the book and the movie but for the most part, the film stayed true to the original source and managed to keep the same feel of the book (spooky but not really scary).

This was a fabulous book (and movie) and should be shared with the entire family... especially when "everything seems cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet". And "smoke pants up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades" because "the wind is a special wind..., and the darkness takes on a special feel [when] it is All Hallow’s Eve."

Related Reviews
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Halloween Tree (1993)

Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (information & etc.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cleaning Up Evil

Lots of women put their careers aside once the kids come along. Kate Connor, for instance, hasn't hunted a demon in ages...

That must be why she missed the one wandering through the pet food aisle of the San Diablo Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, he managed to catch her attention an hour later-when he crashed into the Connor house, intent on killing her.

Now Kate has to clean up the mess in her kitchen, dispose of a dead demon, and pull together a dinner party that will get her husband elected to County Attorney-all without arousing her family's suspicion. Worse yet, it seems the dead demon didn't come alone...

It's time for Kate Connor to go back to work.

I had never even heard of Julie Kenner’s demon-hunting soccer mom series but one of my book groups was reading it a couple of months ago and I recently was able to find the first book in the series called Carpe Demon and it was really great! There was action, humor, and also quite a few pop culture references (mostly Harry Potter).

I love paranormal’s that are set in our world. It’s so fun to see how the characters react and how they try to save the world without having to go to jail or an insane asylum. They’re world probably wouldn’t exist without them but try telling that to a cop or an attorney!

I thought Kate was such an interesting character! I’ve always been crazy about supernaturals (mainly vampires) on TV, movies, and in books but I also really like the people who kick the bad ones’ butt for a living (even better if it’s a woman). This is the first time I’ve heard of the person (think Buffy but not really the same personality) having a family though. I actually don’t have children myself but I guess it can’t be too much fun when you’re trying to battle evil and be a full-time mom too!

Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Series:
1. Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-hunting Soccer Mom (2005)
2. California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-hunting Soccer Mom (2006)
3. Demons Are Forever: Confessions of a Demon-hunting Soccer Mom (2007)
4. Deja Demon: The Days and Nights of a Demon-hunting Soccer Mom (2008)
5. Demon Ex Machina (2009)

~Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (mainly interviews and some information)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Grinch Needs a New Agent

Just about everyone the whole world over has seen and loved How the Grinch Stole Christmas but today I stumbled onto something called Halloween is Grinch Night. It was such an odd cartoon, but not even on par with some of the other Dr. Suess works. I guess this special was kind of interesting but still not very enjoyable for me.

The reason I didn’t really care for this Grinchy cartoon was because it just wasn’t good. I actually feel bad saying this since I usually like Dr. Suess’ cartoons but the “hero” was annoying and almost all the Grinch’s lines didn’t even make any sense! One of his little musical sequences he does nothing but spout gibberish! Seriously, it’s not even words just sounds.

I suppose that some parts would be incredibly scary for children but to me they just resemble those hallucinogenic nightmarish cartoons. My advice? Wait until Christmas and watch the original Grinch cartoon at his grinchiness because Grinch Night isn’t worth your time. I’m not the only person who dislikes this cartoon either, Ed South and X-Entertainment agree with me!

~Ursanocturnis has kindly uploaded the entire cartoon on YouTube.

Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (interviews, information, etc.)

There’s No Place Like Springwater for the Holidays

When Jack McLaughlin drifted into Springwater, he carried little more with him than his bitter memories of the Civil War – and the shattering secret of a promise betrayed in the heat of battle. Wounded soul-deep, and fearing the wrath of his own parents, Jack has hidden his identity and come to Springwater to see his mother and father from afar, even if he can’t bear to face them. Taking odd jobs and keeping a low profile, Jack finds a safe haven at the town’s rooming house.

Olivia Darling had never done anything impulsive – until she left the east and opened a boarding house in Springwater. But still an outsider at heart, and struggling to make a success of her business, Olivia finds herself turning to the other newcomer in town, the rough-hewn and embittered man she’s taken in. As the Christmas season brings them together, Olivia finds in Jack’s arms a passionate sweetness she never knew existed. And with the stunning revelation of Jack’s true identity, all of Springwater witnesses a heartwarming reunion that will change their lives forever.

Linda Lael Miller's Springwater Christmas is the last story in the Springwater series set in the late 1800's. There is one more book after this one but it’s set in present day so I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about it yet. All I know is that I’m going to miss visiting this place! The town and the people sure have grown since I first met them and now that I have to leave the rustic Springwater for good it’s kind of bittersweet. I’ll miss everyone so much but at least I’ll know what happened to everyone and the town when I read Springwater Wedding.

I enjoyed Olivia and Jack’s story and although Olivia is a bit of a pain at first, you eventually get used to her and she starts to soften up. I always assumed that at least one of the McCaffrey’s boys was alive, because they’re mentioned in just about every book but this went above and beyond my expectations! I sincerely hope that I have interested someone in this fabulous western romance series from all of the posting I have done on these books.

Springwater Seasons
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)

~Songs Mentioned in this book:
Lorena, In the Garden, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night

Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (interviews, information, etc.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Back in the Hollows Again

There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and her soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between “runs”, she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin – and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.

I recently read an anthology called Dates from Hell and there was a story in it by
Kim Harrison which made me realize just how very much I have missed the Hollows so I decided to pick up where I left off with the third book in the series called Every Which Way But Dead and it was even better than I ever could have hoped! I’m kicking myself for taking so long to read it.

Since I did take a break from the Rachel Morgan's world I was a little confused at first because Harrison’s books don’t read very well as stand-alones but because I have read the others (although it’s been awhile) I was able to puzzle out key things (like who people were) eventually. The author does try to give a little back story but unless you have read the previous two books then you will more than likely will be lost.

I have to say that I’m really happy with the direction the series is going and I hope Rachel keeps her current love interest! There was so much action and drama in Every Which Way that I’m still wondering how it all fit into only 500 pages. So much happened in the book that I’m still
wondering when that poor girl found time to sleep!

I’ll be starting the next book in the series (A Fistful of Charms) soon. I’m just hoping it will be as good this one but since Rachel and Ivy always seem to be getting into some kind of trouble (with many people trying to kill them), I’m assuming it will be.

The Rachel Morgan (Hollows) Series:
1. Dead Witch Walking (2004)
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005)
aka Where Demons Dare
7. White Witch, Black Curse (2009)
8. Black Magic Sanction (2010


Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (interviews, information, etc.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Come Stay the Night in Rocksylvania

I’ve actually never been that big of a fan of the Flintstones but I’m crazy about TV holiday specials so when I heard about The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone I just had to see it! It amazes me how timeless the Flintstone cartoons actually are. This Halloween special was produced in 1979 but it’s still very appealing and I found myself laughing more than a couple of times (although Betty’s voice kind of bugged me because it just doesn’t sound right).

As you can tell from the play on words, the Flintstones and the Rubbles get to meet Count Rockula (Dracula) and Frankenstone (Frankenstein of course). There are tons of chase scenes and of course that wonderful wry humor that made the original show so popular in the first place.

I’m not going to lie to you, there are a few roll-your-eyes predictable scenes but for the most part I was entertained. I won’t say I would run right out and buy this if it finally became available on DVD (unless there are some seriously interesting bonus features!) but I was more than willing to watch it online.

~ AOL has posted this entire
Halloween special on their In2TV channel.

Four Otherworldly Tales of Paranormal Tryst

We’ve all been on bad dates, nightmare dates, dreadful experiences that turned out to be uniquely memorable in the very worst way. But at least our partners for these detestable evenings were more or less... human!

Now Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland – four of the very best writers currently exploring the dangerous seduction of the supernatural – offer up dating disasters (and unexpected delights) of the completely different sort; dark, wicked, paranormally sensual assignations with werewolves, demon lovers, and the romantically challenged undead. Sexy, witty, chilling, and altogether remarkable, here is proof positive that some love matches are made someplace other than heaven.

Kim Harrison takes us to the Hollows, where living vampire/homicide cop Ivy Tamwood, investigating a string of very nasty murders, finds herself caught between two very different men, who put every dating principle she holds dear to the ultimate test.

I loved Kim Harrison’s short story Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil! I’m kind of in the middle of the original Rachel Morgan series but I haven’t read one of the books in awhile (August 2006 to be exact). This story has definitely inspired me to go back and read the rest of the series! I love how very different Harrison’s whole world is in her books. Usually it’s "vampires exist and live peaceably among humans" but in her stories it’s "a virus wiped out the majority of the human race and only non-humans (vampires, undead vampires, witches, shapeshifters, etc.) were untouched.

This story has to do with before Ivy met her partner Rachel and what she did. I thought it was kind of cool to get more insight into her as a person because she’s only a secondary character in the series. Important, yes, but still second fiddle. Being able to see into the snarly-mess that is her mind was kind of cool as well. I did find the story a little confusing at first because it’s been awhile since I’ve been acquainted with the Hollow world but for the most part you can read the story without knowing anything about the series.

Lynsay Sands gives the power to shape-shift to a most resourceful woman, who uses it to her wickedly sexy advantage at her high school reunion.

I’ve never read anything by Lynsay Sands before but if the rest of her books are as delightful as The Claire Switch Project then I’ll be picking them up soon! I thought that the shape-shifting thing was really cool because I’ve honestly never heard of anything like it in any other book, and trust me, I read a lot of paranormal. I think this would have made an interesting series and I’m looking forward to reading the Holidays are Hell anthology which features Jill Lockheart (Claire’s best friend).

I actually almost skipped this story because I do NOT support animal testing in any way and the first couple of pages has the main character, who is a scientist that (with her co-workers) experiments on rabbits and other animals with their destabilizer because they’re trying to manipulate cells. I’m so glad I stuck with it! Once Claire gets zapped you kind of forget about them harming the animals anyway, probably because two whole chapters of the story take place in a public restroom!

Kelley Armstrong enters the Otherworld to help a beautiful half-demon tabloid reporter escape a disastrous blind date by giving her a hot lead... that leads her to an even hotter werewolf jewel thief.

Kelley Armstrong is actually one of my favorite authors and her story Chaotic is the reason why I picked up Dates from Hell in the first place! It’s the only story available by her that I hadn’t yet read, and that’s including her online fiction too. I love her Women of the Otherworld series so much and I’m anxiously awaiting the next one.

The main character in this short story is Hope, a half-demon (very common in the Otherworld series) who thrives on chaos and she is actually new to the series but the "werewolf jewel thief" isn’t. His name is Karl Marsten and he was introduced in the very first book in the series Bitten. I like him although he isn’t really a "good guy" but he also isn’t a bad guy either so in my book that makes him very interesting. I’m hoping that when Armstrong does a Men of the Otherworld series (I’ve read that she does plan on it), he’ll get his own book.

Lori Handeland gives the term "dating hell" a whole new meaning, when a Manhattan literary agent out on her first date in months, is forced to choose between a sexy devil and the rogue demon hunter who’s out to destroy him.

Lori Handeland wrote the last short story in this anthology called Dead Man Dating. She’s another author that I’ve never heard of before either. I wasn’t too impressed with the story at first and was beginning to think it would be the only one in the whole book that I wouldn’t like but then it slowly started getting better. Then just when I believed that Chavez, Kit, and their mission could become a really great series, the last chapter rolled around and it was just awful! I hope Handeland has more books like this available but without the cheesy ending.

"You really think the end is near?" he asked. "They’ve been predicting that for centuries."
"Sooner or later, they’ve gotta be right."

~ I really recommend reading this anthology and other books by these fabulous ladies. I'm sure I'll be reading and posting about the books by the other authors in the near future as well.

Related Reviews for Kelley Armstrong
Darkest Powers Series
1. The Summoning (2008)
2. The Awakening (2009)
3. The Reckoning (2010)
4. The Gathering (2011)

Nadia Stafford Series
1. Exit Strategy (2007)
2. Made to Broken (2009)


Related Reviews for Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan Series
1. Dead Witch Walking (2004)
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005)
aka Where Demons Dare
7. White Witch, Black Curse (2009)
8. Black Magic Sanction (2010)

Reminder: As always, the pictures are also links to various things (interviews, information, etc.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

2,000 Miles is a Long Way from Home

When Andy Evans stumbles upon the snow-covered wreckage of a small plane, he’s shocked to find a survivor. Should he put the gravely injured dog out of his misery? The look in the animal’s eyes says he’s not ready to die. It turns out that Kävik’s a champion sled dog, and soon he makes a full recovery. When his rightful owner finds out Kävik is alive, he wants the dog back. But Kävik has other ideas.

Recently I re-read one of my favorite childhood books called Kävik the Wolf Dog by
Walt Morey (the same man who wrote Gentle Ben) for the Four-Legged Friends Challenge and I have to say that it’s still as good as I remembered it! The best way to explain this book would be is that it’s a cross between White Fang and Homeward Bound (or The Incredible Journey) but it’s also manages to be original too.

Not too long ago there was a TV film made that was based on this wonderful book. I actually was never even aware of it until after I re-read the book and was doing a bit of online research. I can’t say it was as good as the book (are they ever?) but it was entertaining and didn’t stray too far from the original storyline. For a children’s work first published in 1968
you would think that the story would be dated but as a matter of fact I think it’s timeless. To paraphrase Morey’s dedication page, this book is for "all young people from six to sixty who have known the love of an animal."

~ I also have a review for The Courage of
Kävik the Wolf Dog (1980) which is a film that was based on this book.

Against All Odds

Back in 1968 Walt Morey wrote a fabulous little novel for children called Kävik the Wolf Dog but it wasn’t until 1980 that someone realized just how wonderful the book was and made it into a TV movie. I first read the book when I was about 10 years old and immediately fell in love with it but I never actually knew that it was made into a film until recently!

I know most people get pretty upset when a movie based on a book they’ve read and loved makes changes but for some reason I never really do. I get disappointed sometimes sure, but never enough to walk away from the film. Of course there were a few changes in the Kävik movie but for the most part it followed Morey’s original work quite nicely.

There was however, two little things that annoyed me: one Kävik is supposed to have wolf in him but the dog used just looked like a lot like a German Shepherd. It took me a little while to get used to that but I eventually did. The other thing that bugged me as how much they said the poor critter’s name! Kävik, Kävik, Kävik. I lost count after it was said 20 times. Other than those two little nit-picky items, this film was great! Not as awe-inspiring as the book but still worth a watch.

~ I also have a review for the book which I read for the
Four-Legged Friends Reading Challenge.

All Bets Are Off in the Last Chapter

Scream 3 is (so far at least) the closing chapter in the Scream trilogy. This was my least favorite of the Scream films but that’s not to say that it wasn’t still good! Just more "Hollywood" than the first two. There also wasn’t many references to real horror movies this time around and less of that wonderful tongue-in-cheek mockery that the first two had. Needless to say, you won’t get many laughs in this Scream... well unless you’re laughing at Courtney Cox’s haircut that is.

This is also one of the only Screams’ that I haven’t seen a billion times (although I did see it in theater when it first came out in 2000) so when I recently re-watched it I was very surprised that one of the main cops in the movie was none other than Patrick Dempsey! He’s still just as McDreamy now as he was back then.

I have heard that several people enjoyed Scream 3 but I’m just not one of them. It’s not that it became practically what the Scream movies spoofed in the first place (which it did) nor is it the fact that the original writer Kevin Williamson had to drop out of the film and pass it on to Ehren Kruger. It’s just that there were too many people to try to keep track of which led to not really knowing or caring about the people that died. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fabulous performances but just not enough time was allowed for them to really build their characters.

Scream 3


Wes Craven Interview (sorry the tracking is off):

What If by Creed Music Video:

Related Review
The Curve (Aka Dead Man's Curve) (1998)
Liev Schrieber
Salt (2010)

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