Showing posts from August, 2013

Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (♦♦♦♦)

On June 17, high school graduation night on Nantucket Island, Jake Randolf, Demeter Castle, and Hobby and Penny Alistair drove off from a beach party in the early hours of the morning after three of them had been drinking heavily. Penny was sober and at the wheel. She was upset because of a secret she had learned at the party. Penny was crying, driving at high speed, and not wearing a seat belt as her twin brother Hobby. At the end of a road before the beach, Penny accelerated and the car took flight. Upon landing she was killed and Hobby was left in comma. Jake and Demeter were physically unscathed.
As the summer unfolded, Demeter--who was severely overweight, socially ostracized and was known for her drinking-- started drinking more often and stealing liquor from the houses she worked at…Until her employer received a complaint and she was exposed to her parents as an alcoholic and a thief.
Jake’s father decided to uproot the family to Perth, Australia—the place Jake’s mother was from …

CARLA NEGGERS Blog Tour for DECLAN'S CROSS kicking off in September!

Two weeks ago I was contacted by a media company to see if I was interested in hosting a Blog Tour stop for Carla Neggers’ latest book Declan’s Cross. I was ecstatic, though I confessed that I didn’t know how to do it, so I would instead promote the Tour, which is kicking off on September 12 across the blogosphere, and post a review on September 19. So please tune in for my review of Declan’s Cross by Carla Neggers on that date.

Praise for Carla Neggers
"Heron's Cove gives romantic suspense fans what they want...complex mystery with a bit of romance. Negger's skillfully created a compelling puzzle, refusing to reveal all the pieces until the very end." - Top Pick, RT Book Reviews
"Once in a while, a writer who's been at it seemingly forever reaches a new pinnacle. Such is the case with Carla Neggers in her latest superb adventure of romantic suspense!" - Providence Journal
"Carla Neggers has emerged as the queen of the romantic suspense novel...Heron'…

Sylvia (♦♦♦♦)

American poet Sylvia Plath is studying in England. After a scathing review on one of her published poems she goes to a party and meets British poet Edward Hughes. Thus begins a tempestuous love affair that ends up in marriage. They move to America when Hughes wins a poetry award, while Sylvia takes a teaching job. Then the demands of family life start pressing on Sylvia for she suffers from jealousy and writer’s block while he becomes a celebrated poet.
Fearing he can’t write as well in the limelight, they go back to live in England but soon he starts attracting female attention for his work while Sylvia takes care of the children. A heated affair with an acquaintance of the couple leads Hughes to leave Sylvia. By then it’s virtually impossible to coexist with Sylvia’s fits.
Sylvia and Hughes love each other madly. They understand each other at a very intimate level, but they cannot live together. When Sylvia offers Hughes to come back home and he refuses, she takes her own life.

Lee Daniel’s The Butler (♦♦♦♦½)

Cecil Gaines was born in the cotton fields in the American South in 1920. When he was six years old, Cecil saw the landowner--of the fields where he worked along his parents-- kill his father from a shot because he raised his voice to protest the rape of his wife. That very day, Cecil was transferred from the fields to house service where he learned how to become a house servant.
At thirty years old after working at a luxurious hotel in Washington DC, Cecil was invited to the White House and the next he knew he became a butler at the White House. He got to serve eight seating presidents while his family life was crumbling in part due to his wife’s unhappiness and his elder son’s affiliations to pacifist protests that derived in the Civil Rights Movement. For years Cecil saw his elder son go to jail for his protest activities to gain equal rights for African Americans in society.
Cecil lost a son in the Vietnam War, which he supported but really didn’t understand, and had a fallout with …

Blue Jasmine (♦♦♦)

Jeanette, or Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) as she makes everyone call her, is a neurotic woman in part due to a high lifestyle that was taken away when her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was sent to jail for investing people's money illegally. When Jasmine was rich, she avoided her adopted sister, but now that she's broke she moves from New York City to San Francisco to live with her sister and nephews while she gets back on her feet. Soon enough, Jasmine's neurosis, pathological lying and her expectations about her life and that of her sister's become a sore point in the family.
This Woody Allen's film misses the mark in humor and tone. If Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are among his best movies, Blue Jasmine definitely isn’t. Cate Blanchett is OK as Jasmine, but her neurosis far from being funny is not only annoying but borderline manic. That was probably Allen's intention and in that sense she does not disappoint, but after watching her for a while it …

The Way Way Back (♦♦♦♦)

Fourteen year-old Duncan (Liam James) takes a summer trip to a beach property with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), his mother’s boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter. Duncan is very attached to his mother and resents Trent. Trent, who is trying to adjust into the family dynamics, is mean to Duncan on a regular basis.
Exploring the town Duncan meets a man named Owen (Sam Rockwell) who works at a water park, who not only hires him for the duration of his stay in town, but also helps the teen build his self-esteem and confidence. After all it’s said and done Duncan has made friends, becomes a wayward teen and gets an admirer in the older Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb).
I liked this movie. The Way Way Back is a coming of age, funny and entertaining movie with lots of heart for the whole family. The humor is very light and fresh and in no way crude, as most comedies are nowadays. I didn’t like Steve Carell’s character; what seemed like ways to discipline a teenager were actually m…

Europa Report (♦♦♦♦)

An international crew of six scientists embarks on a mission to explore Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon. It has been confirmed that Europa possesses a sub-surface ocean, which raises the possibility of finding even primitive forms of life in one form or another.
The crew of Europa One reaches Europa after having had a communication malfunction along the way due to solar flares as a cause of the disruption; because of this, the mission proceeds according to plan but unbeknownst to Earth mission control. Once on the surface of Europa, the crew finds the evidence they traveled so long for, but was it worth it?
Europa Report is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen for several reasons. One, the filming was made with NASA collaboration, making the Europa One mission a very realistic portrayal of deep space travel. In addition, it is filmed in a quasi documentary style so it feels like the real deal. Second, several questions arise during the viewing of the film and prominently at the end, such as is it…

Miracle Beach by Erin Celello (♦♦♦)

Macy Allen lost her husband Nash and her unborn child the same day due to an unfortunate incident involving a mare in labor. Macy, a woman with a complicated past and tragic family history, who never thought she deserved the love of the husband she got, suddenly became a young widow whom everyone pitied but didn’t know quite how to approach. She found solace from her grieving in her love for horses, which she took to horse shows and riding events.
Magda, Macy’s mother-in-law, blamed Macy for Nash’s death. Jack, on the other hand, took a conciliatory approach and moved from Wisconsin to Vancouver Island, where Macy lived, to live closer to his son’s memories and in the process try to understand the man his son had become after he left his parents’ home. Once Jack arrived on Vancouver Island, he became enamored with the fierce beauty of the place, while Magda remained at their home in Wisconsin. It’s living apart and hardly talking on the phone that they both realized that Nash was the o…

The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe (♦♦♦♦♦)

A man “who calls himself Simon” is crossing Canada from west to east, dispatching terminally ill people with some sort of consent; first he poisons them, then he desecrates their bodies. The first murder to come to police attention happens in Port Dundas, a small town several miles north of Toronto.
Ontario Police Services have cut the budgets of police departments everywhere in its jurisdiction, so police stations are short staffed and in serious need of back up. It is under these conditions that these murders begin to cascade one after the other and Port Dundas’ Detective Constable and acting Chief of Police Hazel Micallef has no choice but throw the police rules book out the window and think on her feet to catch this elusive and smart killer.
Furthermore, Hazel-- a sixty-one year-old divorcee who lives with her mother--is having health problems that may jeopardize her future in the police corps. It is under that duress that Hazel endures the worst two weeks of her life while trying t…