Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sometimes Change is Good

On Wednesday, Quinn McKenzie changes her life. On Thursday, she tries to get somebody to notice. On Thursday night, somebody does.

Quinn McKenzie has always lived what she calls a "beige" life. She's dating the world's nicest guy, she has a good job as a high school art teacher, she's surrounded by family and friends who rely on her, and she's bored to the point of insanity. But when Quinn decides to change her life by adopting a stray dog over everyone's objections, everything begins to spiral out of control. Now she's coping with dog-napping, breaking and entering, seduction, sabotage, stalking, more secrets than she really wants to know, and two men who are suddenly crazy... for her.

Title: Crazy for You
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Start & Finished: 2/17/08
Published: 1999
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 325
Genre: Romance-Contemporary

Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie is a novel about change and how other people react to someone’s personal change. Crusie based the book on her theory that“every time a woman changes, her community shifts with her, and the chances are good that the majority of the community is a little annoyed with her about that because they were comfortable where they were. I say "woman" in particular because women are so often seen as the wallpaper for other people's lives. "No matter what happens," people say, "I know I can count on my wife, my mother, my secretary, my daughter, to stand behind me because I know who she is. But the "behind every successful man" cliché changes radically when the woman behind the man stops gazing adoringly and begins to cha-cha.”

The thing that I love most about Crusie’s books is that you can’t really stick them in one specific genre. I guess the closest you’ll get is the term women’s fiction because there is romance, suspense, and even a inspirational feeling to every book I’ve read by her. The inspirational message of this book is that you don’t have to be stuck in a life you don’t want.

Quinn’s ex-boyfriend Bill, is one of those men that town’s love He’s a handsome football coach who wins (in other words, a God in a small town like this one) and he’s also bound and determined to get what he wants no matter what. He molded Quinn to fit his life and didn’t like it when she finally decided she had had enough after he took her dog to the pound. These kinds of abusive men (hardly ever physically, just mentally) usually won’t let go of their “possessions” easily and neither does Bill.

Crusie’s characters are wonderfully well-done. She could have easily made this into a depressing book because of the main topic being violence against women but with all of the side-plots going on (Quinn’s mother’s test run as a lesbian, her best friend Darla’s marriage in trouble because the local homewrecker is after he husband, and of course Quinn’s falling in love with her ex-brother-in-law) she manages to keep the humor that her books are so famous for.

Jennifer Crusie has some insight on this and quite a few of her other books on her official site. I took the quote in the first paragraph from an interview/essay that Crusie did for

My Other Posts on Crusie's Books:
Agnes and the Hitman (co-authored with Bob Mayer)

Monday, April 21, 2008

What Bites in Vegas...

From the USA Today best-selling author, a vampire-meets-girl story set in the city that never sleeps-except during daylight.

He's a bloodsucking freak of nature. But, unlike other politicians, Ethan Carrick is actually a nice guy. Not to mention a very hot, wealthy, casino-owning vampire. It's an election year for vampires, which means he'll first have to escape his opponent's hit men. Then he'll have to find a suitable First Lady, preferably here in Vegas.

Brittany Baldizzi fits the bill. She's smart, pretty- and sweeter than a glass of diabetic O-Negative. But her protective sister Alexis steps in with a message for Ethan: Bite me. It's then that he realizes it's the sexy, no-nonsense Alexis who raises his stake. And as much as she denies it, Alexis wouldn't mind a romp in the coffin with him. But can a mere mortal, even one who risks her life for him, make a centuries-old, womanizing vampire feel something entirely new?

Title: High Stakes
Author: Erin McCarthy
Series: Vegas Vampires, Book 1
Start & Finished: 2/15/08
Published: 2006
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 309
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Las Vegas may be over a century old but some of it’s inhabitants are much older in Erin McCarthy’s High Stakes, the first book in her Vegas Vampires series. Very cute, fun, and funny just with added vampire politics.

Ever since the latest Vegas Vampires came out Sucker Bet, I’ve heard mention of this series but it took me awhile to finally get around to it. When I did I was pleasantly surprised because Erin McCarthy is a really great author! All of McCarthy’s characters are funny and yet they still have depth, even the minor ones. Her writing style reminded me a bit of MaryJanice Davidson and I even have to say that I almost like her better.

The main two characters Alexis and Ethan are really strong characters... by which I mean, they are both stubborn and yet likeable. I know a lot of people don’t believe in the “love at first sight” that is so prevalent in romance books but I found their story a bit more believable because of the setting. People and obviously vampires, fall in love in Vegas every day!

High Stakes introduces you to all the characters and doesn’t focus too heavily on the romance between Ethan and Alexis and in doing so kind of stretches itself a little too thin in places. My biggest complaint however, is that the book throws too much information at you and then doesn’t resolve itself by the end of the book. You have to read the next book in the series to find out what happens and there is a big difference between setting up the audience so they’ll want to read the next book and leaving loose ends dangling. This book kind of toes the line a bit, however, I was willing to overlook my little nitpicks because this is just such an interesting and funny series!

I was able to find a 2006 interview at All About Romance Novels with Erin McCarthy which mentions the books she had coming out that year (including High Stakes). Romance Novel TV also has an interview but it’s a video interview (sorry you have to click the link to get to it).

Vegas Vampire Series:
High Stakes
Bit the Jackpot
Bled Dry
Sucker Bet

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flamingos and Frying Pans

Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett, and you've got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love...

Agnes Crandall's life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she's staked her entire net worth on. Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window. His name is Shane - no last name, just Shane - and he has his own problems: He's got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes. When he finds out that Agnes isn't so little, that his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes's house, and that his last hit was a miss, Shane's life isn't looking so good, either. Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hitmen show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with the intent to throw more than rice. Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and - most dangerous of all - each other.

Title: Agnes and the Hitman
Author: Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer
Start & Finished: 2/11/08-2/12/08
Published: 2007
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary-Romance, Mystery

If you take a little Janet Evanovich, blend it with Mary Kay Andrews, and then toss in a little more mob you get Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer’s mystery, romance, women’s fiction novel Agnes and the Hitman.

I’ve read a few of Jennifer Crusie’s books before and they have never disappointed me. However, Bob Mayer is a new author for me but since I really loved this book I might pick up something of his. I will most definitely pick up the other novel Crusie and Mayer collaborated on together Don’t Look Down. The fact that I loved this collaboration so much kind of surprised me at first because I’ve always shied away from dual authored books. You can tell there are two different “voices” telling the story (it switches from Agnes’ point of view to the hitman Shane’s point of view) but it blends together very well.

Cranky Agnes is such an awesome character! She’s nurturing, cooks like a dream, and of course is very cranky when crossed. I actually loved all of the characters in the book, even the supposedly bad guys (except for that one evil person of course) and of course Agnes’ bloodhound Rhett is quite the character too.

This romantic, madcap adventure is truly a partnership between it’s authors and it’s characters and we get the best of both worlds. There are some great twists and turns in this funny, sweet, light read that you won’t forget any time soon.

The authors of this book, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer have their own personal websites as well as the collaborative one above and this blog too (but it hasn’t been updated since December).

Audio Interview:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Trip Through Time


He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart- until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length- but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.


She had a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate hearts, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side...

Title: Beyond the Highland Mist
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Highlander Series, Book 1
Published: 1999
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Pages: 375
Genre: Romance- Historical, Time Travel

In Karen Marie Moning’s first book in her best selling Highlander series, Beyond the Highland Mist you get time travel, fairies, and highlanders, what more could a girl want? How about a super sexy highlander laird named Sidhawk Douglas and a love that transcends time itself?

I’ve heard of this Highlander series for several years now but for some reason I thought it was about vampires and since I had enough series about them to keep up with, I never bothered picking up these until now. How wrong I was! The only supernatural creatures in the books are the Sidhe fairies and they play only a semi-important role in Beyond the Highland Mist so I dived headfirst into the story.

At first I wasn’t too sure what to think of Hawk because he seemed really vain and those usually aren’t the kinds of heros I’m used to or interested in reading about but as the story progressed and you got to really know him and how vulnerable he secretly was but at the same time he was also an Alpha Male. My first thoughts about Adrienne were “poor girl”, because she’s obviously been through a lot and then some nasty fairies go and dump her out of the 20th century into 1513 Scotland without so much as a by your leave! She was a little annoying and childish at times but I liked her, and rooted for her by the end. Fortunately, this is an HEA romance so Hawk and Adrienne eventually get their acts together which makes a certain fairy very unhappy and he stirs up quite a few speed bumps for the two!

I liked this book because it blended the old with the new and it did so seamlessly. It kind of reminded me of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series a few times but Beyond the Highland Mist is more romance, than fiction like Gabaldon. Either way I liked it even if there were certain things I would have changed if I could and after reading some excerpts of the other books in the series, I’m really looking forward to them too.

The Highlander Series:
Beyond the Highland Mist
To Tame a Highland Warrior
The Highlander’s Touch
Kiss of the Highlander
The Dark Highlander
The Immortal Highlander
Spell of the Highlander
Into the Dreaming

I found some interesting fun facts about Beyond the Highland Mist over on Karen Marie Moning’s website and excerpts from this and all of her books can be found there too. I also found an interview with the author from when the book first came out!

Friday, April 11, 2008

After the I-Do’s

What newly married couple doesn’t dream of a romantic retreat where they can escape the world for a while- but what happens when supernatural forces intrude on their wedded bliss?

Nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors answer that question in this all-star collection of supernatural stories. Can a vampire-hunter enjoy her honeymoon after learning that her new hubby is a werewolf? How can newlyweds focus on their wedding night when their honeymoon suite is haunted by feuding ghosts? And what’s a wizard to do when a gruesome monsters kidnaps the bride on her way home from the wedding?

With so much otherworldly mayhem awaiting our newlyweds, will they ever get around to the honeymoon itself? Find out in... My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon.

Title: My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
Edited by: P. N. Elrod
Published: 2007
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 358 (total)
Genre: Anthology-Paranormal Romance

In 2006, nine paranormal authors created the award-winning anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding. Now Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, and P. N. Elrod have gotten together again with a few other best-selling authors (including Kelley Armstrong, Katie MacAlister and many others) to create another even better collection of short stories called My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon.

Personally, I love anthologies because you’re able to read stories from your favorite authors that you usually won’t find anywhere else (this sometimes bothers me if they’re from a series though) as well as meet new authors that are similar to your favorites. I’ve discovered many of my favorite authors this way and after reading this anthology I think I might have discovered a few more!

Title: Stalked
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: The Otherworld
Pages: 34

Kelley Armstrong’s Stalked is the first short story in the Honeymoon collection. It’s set in her Women of the Otherworld series shortly after the seventh book in the series No Humans Involved. Two popular main characters in Armstrong’s Otherworld series Elena and Clay have finally tied the knot so to celebrate they go on their honeymoon. The two lovebirds, well actually werewolves run into a bit of trouble though...

I’ve already figured out that I love anything that Armstrong produces but I enjoy her werewolf stories most of all and of course Stalked is no exception. I wouldn’t be the best judge since I’ve already read every available book in the Otherworld series but I believe that this short story could stand alone for a first timer. Which is amazing considering how the author is able to introduce you to her characters and still tell a good story- all in only 34 pages!

~The Otherworld Series: Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon

Title: Heorot
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Dresden Files
Pages: 46

The extremely popular fantasy/mystery author Jim Butcher’s story Heorot stars his Dresden Files protagonist Harry Dresden who takes on the case of the kidnaped bride and using his wizard skills, tries to get her back before her honeymoon.

I’ve heard of Butcher’s Dresden Files (especially since it became a TV show) but this was the first story I had ever read by him. I really enjoyed the story and the characters (the monster things were really creepy!) so I thought the author did a very good job of introducing me to the series and telling the story at the same time. So yes, Heorot can stand on it’s own without the help of the books from the series and I would really like to read more about Harry’s cases.

~Dresden Files Series: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor

Title: Roman Holiday, or SPQ-arrrrrr
Author: Rachel Caine
Pages: 42

Roman Holiday, or SPQ-arrrrrr is the second story from Rachel Caine featuring Cecilia and Captain Liam Lockheart, the two met in the short story Dead Man’s Chest from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding and are on their honeymoon when another cursed pirate kidnaps the bride.

I’m not familiar with Rachel Caine and I didn’t read Wedding before Honeymoon but this was still completely understandable even if it mentioned things from the previous story. The pirates, cursed and otherwise were incredibly creative too. I hope the author decides to maybe turn this into a series because I want to know more about the cursed pirates like Ned Low. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t read the stories in order though.

Title: Her Mother’s Daughter
Author: P. N. Elrod
Series: The Vampire Files
Pages: 39

Set in Chicago during the Depression era, author P. N. Elrod’s Her Mother’s Daughter (a part of the Vampire Files series) follows detective (and vampire) Jack Fleming on a case of a missing groom. The trouble is, the groom just got married to a gangster’s daughter and she’s furious that he’s disappeared right before the honeymoon no less! The question is, did he leave on his own violation?

This short story was kind of similar to Jim Butcher’s story but in this one, the main character happens to be the only paranormal creature and a groom’s missing instead of a bride. I really did like the story because the characters seemed well-rounded and it was hilarious at times. Like, “Maybe behind every successful man stands a woman- holding a baseball bat.” (p.158) Although I’ve never read anything by Elrod before, I’m now dying to try this series!

~ The Vampire Files Series: Bloodlist, Lifeblood, Bloodcircle, Art in the Blood, Fire in the Blood, Blood on the Water, Chill in the Blood, Dark Sleep, Lady Crymsyn, Cold Streets, Song in the Dark

Title: Newlydeads
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Pages: 43

Caitlin Kittredge’s short story Newlydeads is her first published work and it is set in the “world of the Black” a place where supernatural things hide “in the nooks and crannies of the real”. Pete Caldecott and her friend Jack Winter go on a holiday after almost being killed (or something, it’s never really explained to the audience) and after a little lying on Jack’s part they get upgraded to the honeymoon suite. What they don’t know is that honeymooners check in at the Paradise Hotel but they rarely check out.

The whole time I was reading the story I felt like I was missing something and I just assumed that it was because I had never read anything by the author before. Imagine my surprise when I realized that her first book had only been recently published (after this anthology)! Newlydeads’ characters feel like they’ve been around for a while so I was still left feeling more than a little lost and all of the bloody British talk got on my nerves. Other than that it was an interesting idea for a story but it still fell flat.

Title: Where the Heart Lives
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Series: Dirk & Steele
Pages: 37

Where the Heart Lives is a prequel to Marjorie M. Liu’s best-selling contemporary series Dirk & Steele and “is a glimpse into the lives of those who created the Dirk & Steele detective agency”. This story is a bit different than the others in that the bride was kidnaped by a jealous Sidhe queen more than 20 years ago before she and her husband could leave for their honeymoon. Can a simple girl get the queen to let the bride go?

I’ve heard of Marjorie M. Liu but I’ve never had the pleasure of reading one of her stories before now. Where the Heart Lives was a wonderful story and cast of characters! The Sidhe queen, Miss Lindsay, even the main character Lucy are all very unique. My only complaint is that it ended too abruptly. Just when it was getting even more interesting, the author wrapped up the rest of the story in a couple of paragraphs so I was very pleased when I realized that it was if not exactly a part, at least it was related to a series.

Title: Cat Got Your Tongue?
Author: Katie MacAlister
Series: Dark Ones
Pages: 36

Katie MacAlister is the best-selling author of the Dark Ones series as well as quite a few other paranormal series. In Cat Got Your Tongue two characters from her main series Joy and Raphael St. John finally get their honeymoon retreat in an old Scottish castle. Too bad its not as restful as they would have hoped with the feuding ghosts, one of whom just might be related to Raphael!

I’m a big fan of Katie MacAlister’s books (and she is one of the reasons I bought My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon in the first place) but it wasn’t until I read this short story that I decided that I needed to start reading her Dark Ones series too. I love the author’s sharp wit in general but Cat Got Your Tongue was awesome! The “Beloved” and “Dark Ones” thing that makes up the main series is discussed although not really explained but it doesn’t really seem to interfere with the actual story. I loved the whole “were” curse thing and I’m eager to finish up the Dark Ones series to see what happens.

~ Dark Ones Series: A Girl's Guide to Vampires, Sex and the Single Vampire, Sex, Lies, and Vampires, Even Vampires Get the Blues, The Last of the Red Hot Vampires

Title: Half of Being Married
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Pages: 46

Can you imagine being married to vampire hunter? How about a werewolf? In Lilith Saintcrow’s short story Half of Being Married Kat and Mitch are on their honeymoon and find out the hard way the truth about one another while staying in a little bed-and-breakfast out in the country. While they’re still trying to get used to the idea of one another, several local teens turn up missing and Kat thinks there may be a nest of vampires near by.

I had never even heard of Lilith Saintcrow before but I liked the fact that she didn’t go the usual route with her vampires and werewolf... excuse me, Sunrunner (Mitch seemed rather offended by the pop culture slang of werewolf). It’s actually kind of scientific! The vamps in the story were really creepy and evil too unlike most nowadays that are portrayed in a really positive light. Once I got past the major differences in what I’m used to I actually liked the story. I’ll keep a look out for more stories by Saintcrow in the future.

Title: A Wulf in Groom’s Clothing
Author: Ronda Thompson
Series: Wild Wulfs of London
Pages: 35

Last, but by no means least is the short story A Wulf in Groom’s Clothing by author Ronda Thompson. City girl to the core, Laura has just married Sam Wulf the very epitome of an “outdoors man”. Hopefully their marriage can survive their honeymoon, especially when Laura finds out about the Wulf family curse that transforms her new husband into a werewolf!

Ronda Thompson is another author that I’m unfamiliar with but I really liked this story. It was a good ending to a great anthology. I’d like to check out the other Wulfs in her series but unfortunately Mrs. Thompson passed away from pancreatic cancer July 11, 2007 so there aren’t that many in the series available and once I finish them I won’t be able to continue. It’s so sad that such a creative person was snuffed out so soon but I’m sure that her stories have inspired others.

The cover illustrator Paul Youll has an online gallery on his official website. Shortly after Jim Butcher released the title of his short story for My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon his fans started up this discussion in his forums. P. N. Elrod has an excerpt of her story Her Mother’s Daughter up on her website and Caitlin Kittredge has some of her Newlydeads story up as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dreams of Dinosaurs Come True

Everyone knows dinosaurs are extinct, right? Wrong!

Steven Spielberg presents the beautifully animated, heartwarming tale of four huge but huggable dinos who visit New York City to make millions of children’s dreams come true.

With his I.Q. boosting “Brain Grain” cereal, the time-traveling Captain NewEyes transforms Rex, Elsa, Dweeb, and Woog into thinking, feeling, talking, creatures. The four decide they want to meet their “biggest” fans- all the kids in the future who wish they could see a real dinosaur. So, faster than you can say “prehistoric”, Rex and his pals arrive and embark on the coolest adventure since the dawn of time!

Can these big-hearted dinosaurs rescue their young friends Louie and Cecilia from the clutches of NewEyes’ evil brother ScrewEyes? It’s up to Rex and company to prove that love, friendship, and kindness are always stronger than the power of fear.

Title: We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
Release: November 24, 1993
Genre: Animation
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Hudson Talbott (book), John Patrick Shanley
Director: Simon Wells, Phil Nibbelink, Dick & Ralph Zondag
Music By: James Horner & Thomas Dolby
Produced By: Stephen Hickner & Steven Spielberg
Distributed By: Amblimation (Universal Pictures)
Run Time: 71 minutes

Based on the children’s book of the same name by Hudson Talbott (which he later wrote sequels to), the animated film We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story is truly a fun and entertaining film. I never was much into dinosaurs when I was a kid (I liked fantasy more) but I did love Steven Spielberg’s We’re Back and all of his other animated Amblim films even though they have largely been forgotten today.

This film has a great mix of modern and traditional animation as well as some of the very best actors to do the voice work. My favorite though would have to be John Goodman who voices Rex. He just has that friendly, growly T-Rex kind of voice! I also liked how warm and welcome Captain NewEyes (voiced by Walter Cronkite) in direct contrast to his evil brother Professor ScrewEyes (voiced by Kenneth Mars). It wasn’t until after I re-watched We’re Back recently that even realized that the same person (Yeardley Smith) who voices Cecilia Nuthatch is also Lisa on The Simpsons so that was really interesting too.

A lot of critics called this Jurassic Park Jr. when it first came out because of the obvious fact that its about dinosaurs and presented by Steven Spielberg (who directed Jurassic Park of course). There are even gags in the films itself including advertisements for the movie and a caricature of Spielberg wearing a Jurassic Park T-shirt in the Thanksgiving parade but you have to keep your eyes peeled because it goes by rather quickly!

There are quite a few animated films that feature dinosaurs even Spielberg has worked on others besides this (The Land Before Time) but none of them have the whimsical and yet very real uniqueness that this one does. I truly hope that one day the sequels that Hudson Talbott wrote to this are made into films as well.

I couldn’t find too much online about We’re Back except the Wikipedia and articles of course.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Bells are Ringing

Two of the brightest stars in the MGM heavens, Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, teamed for the first time in For Me and My Gal, playing a vaudeville song-and-dance duo who buck through tough times and World War II on the way to show- business success.

Under the direction of the legendary Busby Berkeley, the stars are magic together, hoofing, clowning, and torching through a hit parade of nostalgic gems, including "Smiles", "Ballin' the Jack", the title tune and over a dozen more.

Kelly's inimitable dance style shines through (he also co-choreographed the film, uncredited) and Garland sustains her renowned position as one of the greatest performers in Hollywood history- her rendition of "After You've Gone" proves that no one could surpass her in putting across a heart-tugging ballad.

Bursting with energy and the kind of old-fashioned sentiment that never goes out of style, For Me and My Gal is for everyone who loves movies the way they don't make them anymore-but should.

Title: For Me and My Gal
Release: October 21, 1942
Genre: Musical-Romance
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Howard Emmett Rogers (story) & Richard Sherman, Fred F. Finklehoffe, Sid Silvers
Director: Busby Berkeley
Produced By: Arthur Freed
Distributed By: MGM
Run Time: 104 minutes

Tons of beautiful musicals were released during the 30's and 40's but some of the very best ones were produced by MGM and starred Judy Garland. For Me and My Gal is no exception, it actually is one of Garland’s best films! Opening in 1942, and co-starring Gene Kelly in his first film role, the simple musical about life on the vaudeville stage (and all of the music numbers are performed like they would have been on stage) became an immediate hit with audiences everywhere. It was even nominated for an Academy award for Best Music!

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly are two of my favorite performers and it was wonderful to see a musical starring the two of them. They have such wonderful chemistry during there numbers, especially the title song For Me and My Gal! I guess I’m not the only one that thought so either because they later went on to star in two more films: The Pirate and Summer Stock (I have seen neither but I hope to remedy that soon). I was just amazed at how well they worked together when they were dancing and although no one will ever be able to upstage Gene Kelly, another one of the co-stars in the film, George Murphy (who played Jimmy Metcalf) sure put on an impressive performance! You almost root for him to get the girl and his number Beautiful Doll is one that will be stuck in your head for days.

Speaking of the wonderful music in the film, I was more than a little surprised that one of my favorite composers Richard Sherman (of the Sherman Brothers team that worked on the music for Mary Poppins) had a hand in writing the screenplay for the musical but not in any of the music itself. I can honestly say that everything I’ve ever seen that had either of the brother’s attached to it are some of my favorite films.

For Me and My Gal is a fabulous movie set in vaudeville's heyday and during WWII depicting what many real life performers did if they either couldn't enlist or weren't drafted. Like the real Palmer and Hayden that the movie is based on, they went and performed for the troops. Which are some of the best scenes in the whole film, especially How You Gonna Keep them Down on the Farm. I loved this comical, sweet, sad, and altogether perfect movie.

Wikipedia,, and this fan page all have interesting information, trivia, and pictures from the film.


Title Song:

Doll Shop:


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carroll, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly! 
Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.
The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions surrounding mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

Title: The Looking Glass Wars
Author: Frank Beddor
Series: The Looking Glass Wars, Book 1
Published: 2006
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin Group)
Pages: 358
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy

Millions of people have dreamed of going to Wonderland ever since Lewis Carroll first published his masterpiece's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. According to Frank
Beddor’s novel The Looking Glass Wars, Mr. Carroll’s nonsensical world is really a real place were flowers do talk, you can travel through mirrors, and Imagination is a bit like a magical power. Other than that it’s very similar to our own world. You just have to find the right puddle to get there...

I’ve always loved re-telling’s of classic books like Alice in Wonderland (or in this case, the “true story”)! Especially when it mixes real truth with fiction and when I heard of this trilogy (there are additional spin-off books) through a fellow blogger, I immediately placed a hold for The Looking Glass Wars from my library. I was a little wary at first because I didn’t want to get my hopes up (I’m not much of a sci-fi fan) but this book was incredible!

I really liked the characters especially Dodge, Alyss herself, Bibwit Harte, and Hatter Madigan. The card soldiers are really cool and incredibly inventive too. Alyss’ Aunt Redd is a terrifying character and so is her pet assassin The Cat. Moreover, the action-packed book will keep everyone on the edge of their seat.

In Beddor’s book, Wonderland is an advanced society and people actually can use their Imagination to manifest and do things which I found really interesting. Especially since the citizens of Wonderland create things that pass into our world through the thing that powers their imagination, the Heart Crystal. I just wish the recipe for those tarty tarts would make it here! This is a classic story of good vs. evil (or in this case White Imagination vs. Black Imagination) that will only get bloodier as the series goes on.

I was impressed with how well the public has responded to The Looking Glass Wars and how it’s being franchised. There’s an official site that has a store and I’ve got to have the CD with the music inspired by the novels! There’s even talk of a movie with the screenplay written by the author (Beddor is a Hollywood film producer). This interview with the author and Comic World News which I found is full of information and of course there is a Wikipedia article.

Looking Glass Wars Trilogy
1. The Looking Glass Wars (2004)
2. Seeing Redd (2007)
3. Arch Enemy (2009)

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars graphic novels
Far From Wonder : Volume 1 (2010) (with Liz Cavalier and Ben Templesmith)
1. Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Volume 1 (2008) (with Liz Cavalier)
2. Mad With Wonder (2009) (with Liz Cavalier)
3. The Nature of Wonder (2010) (with Liz Cavalier)

First Paragraph: Everyone thought she had made it up, and she had tolerated more taunting and teasing from other children, more lectures and punishments from grown-ups, than any eleven-year-old should have to bear. But now, after four years, it had arrived: her last, best chance to prove to them all that she had been telling the truth. A college scholar had though enough of her history to write it up as a book.

Source: Personal collection, hardcover

Related Reviews
Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Visitors from Oz by Martin Gardner
Alice in Wonderland (1933)

Picture Explanations
Original artwork commissioned for book

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