Tag Archives: review

Hostages, Presidents and Vampires – OH MY!

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To say I have eclectic taste is to put it lightly. If you look at my iPod, I have everything from Elvis Presley to every 80’s hair band you could think of, from Nirvana to Britney/N*Sync/BSB/Christina/Jessica/Mandy (all that “great” late 90’s bubble gum pop), from Rihanna’s S&M to the soundtrack of The Notebook, from Michael Buble to Ke$ha, and from all the major Christian artists of the day to 50 Cent and back again. It doesn’t take much to entertain me – I don’t have high standards, and I generally like whatever you put on the radio (sans The Beibs). I don’t judge you, so you don’t judge me.

So it should really come as no surprise to you that in the past few weeks, I’ve seen movies that center around foreign hostage crises, presidential quests to change the world and some horribly acted sparkly vampires. Two of these movies were great, and one was just fine, given the nature of the movie and the fact that I knew to come in with very low expectations :)

First, Argo. Argo is based on the true story of the American hostages held in Tehran, Iran, from 1979-1981 (I believe. I didn’t go and re-look it up.). I love me a good “based on a true story” movie. The truth of how these people escaped from Iran (through a CIA-devised story about filming a sci-fi movie in Tehran) was classified until the mid 90’s, when President Clinton declassified them. The film was packed with action and suspense, and I LOVED IT. Even though I knew the ending (hello, based on a true story!) I still found my heart racing and my hands gripping the chair arms, hoping they’d escape Iran safely. Two thumbs up!

Second, Lincoln. It’s the story of how little-known president of the US Abraham Lincoln fought to pass the 13th Amendment, which would abolish slavery. Chad was PUMPED to see this movie, as he, too, loves a good historical film. Plus, Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones are awesome. And I”ll never turn down an opportunity to see JGL :) There was so much wit in this film – I’m willing to bed that DDL and TLJ get best actor and best supporting actor Oscar nominations, come February – it’s definitely worth seeing. And, like in Argo, when they’re counting the votes for whether or not the abolition of slavery will be passed in the Senate, you find yourself anxiously anticipating the final count…even though I think we all know how that one turns out :)

Finally, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. I love a chance to hang out with friends, and when my friend Samantha asked me to go with her, I happily obliged – so long as there was a giant tub of popcorn. I’ve seen all of the other Twilight films (they’re no HP or Hunger Games, let me be clear!), so I felt I should finish out the series…even though none of the films have been all that great. But at least each one was better than the first, which was laughably terrible! The film was what it was – it stayed true to the book – and there you go. I will say that one character – Garrett, who I didn’t even remember from the books, but it’s been a LONG time since I read them – totally stole the show. He was sarcastic and snarky and hilarious – so thank you for that, Lee Pace!

Have you seen any good movies lately? Any you WANT to see? I know I want to see Les Miserables and Anna Karenina over the Christmas holiday. You KNOW I love musicals and you KNOW I love period pieces (HELLO – I watched Pride & Prejudice for the 12 billionth time on the way home from Peru!)

The Dark Knight Rises – Movie & Tragedy

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It’s no secret that Chad and I were excited to see The Dark Knight Rises last Friday. We’d purchased advanced tickets for the “Extreme Screen” at a local theatre and had planned our dinner and departure times precisely, in order to arrive 90 minutes early (so that we could get primo seating). In fact, I’m pretty sure Chad talked more about this movie than our first wedding anniversary :)

So when I woke up the morning of Friday, July 20, it should come as no shock that I was excited to hear the initial movie reviews and banter on the radio as I got dressed. But that’s not what I heard.

As reports of the Aurora theatre shooting rolled in, I was shocked, appalled, saddened and horrified. I immediately thought of the horrible shooting at Columbine High School, another suburb of Denver. This senseless, random, evil and unprovoked act of violence consumed the media and the minds of Americans the entire day – and continues still. How anyone could think to do this is beyond me, and breaks my heart.

Gone was the excitement and anticipation that had filled me for the days before. Instead, I was filled with anxiety, apprehension and a little bit of fear. After all, if it could happen to them, why not me? Lives changed forever in a matter of seconds – and there was little to nothing that could be done to change it. All day, thoughts and conversations around “What would you do?” filled my mind and mouth – and when we got to the theatre, you’d have been hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t discussed an exit strategy in the event of emergency.

When the lights went down and the movie began, the excitement began to return. About 30 minutes in, I’d completely shoved the Aurora tragedy out of my mind and was consumed by the film and its plot. Thankfully, nothing happened to us or our theatre – we were free to enjoy the final installment in a series we’ve loved for  years. I thought the movie was extremely good – well written, Anne Hathaway did a great job as Catwoman, and it tied everything from the previous films in nicely. It turned out to be a wonderful experience – unlike for those injured, killed or affected by the Colorado shooting.

I would definitely recommend the movie – and I’d also recommend that you take the time to tell the people you love just how much they mean to you. You never know when they could be taken from you.

Book Review: In the Bag

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After a string of post-apocalyptic dystopian society novels, I wanted something light and easy. I’d envisioned an easy beach read – I just wish I had a beach on which to read it! Luckily, that’s exactly what I got.

In the Bag brings together a single dad and his son and a single mom and her daughter on a trip to Europe. After the kids’ bags are mixed up, they exchange flirtatious emails and agree to meet – secretly – without their parents’ knowledge. Meanwhile, dad is working on an art exhibit opening with mom’s best friend – and mom is called in to help with a last minute emergency. Son and daughter meet and things go well before heading south at the end. However, fate brings them together once again as mom and dad are eager to go on another date – this time, with the kids. Their complicated stories unfold, and as the truth is brought to light, they realize just how perfect they are for one another.

I really liked this book. Is it going to be a best seller or top my all time favorite list? No way. But it’s quite possibly the easiest read I’ve ever had – I literally read it in two halves, in two very short sittings – and ideal for beaches, poolside lounging or just relaxing on the couch.

Book Review: Two Kisses for Maddy

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First of all, if you are pregnant, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!!! Seriously.

Two Kisses for Maddy is one of the most honest, heart wrenching books I have ever read. It’s a true story, told from the perspective of a father whose wife passed away 27 hours after giving birth to their first child. I laughed so hard I cried, and I sobbed alongside the father as he recounted losing his wife before she even got to hold her baby girl.

The book starts out as the love story of Matt and Liz. They met the summer before they both went off to college (he in Minnesota and she in Los Angeles), but decided to give the long distance thing a try. After 4 years of cross-country flights and phone conversations, she accepted a business consulting job in LA while he went to Grad School in Chicago (the LDR continued). After his graduation (and 6 years of LD dating), Matt moved to LA to be with Liz. She stayed in her cushy job (she was a raging over achiever and was quickly climbing the corporate ladder) and he took a job with Yahoo. Both jobs required extensive travel (he was in India for 6 months, she was in Connecticut Monday-Friday), so they STILL weren’t together much (sound familiar??).

During all of this, they are world travelers (my dream!). They got married, honeymooned in Greece, and visited half a dozen countries that I can think of off the top of my head – probably more. And then they bought a house. And they Liz got pregnant. They really were living the dream.

After a few months, Liz’s pregnancy issues caused her to go on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. When the baby’s heart rate went dangerously low, the doctors made the decision to perform a C-section, 7 weeks early. Maddy was born a beautiful, healthy girl, but had to spend 24 hours in the NICU for observation. Mom was wheeled into recovery where she slept and rested until it was time to visit Maddy.

Finally, the 24 hours passed (and then 3 more, since mom was still sleeping). Because she’d been on bedrest for months, the nurses made Liz walk three laps around the hospital room before she could be taken to the NICU. She did it and then made her way to the wheelchair – but 1 foot before she got there, she hit the ground, unresponsive. We later learn that a blood clot in Liz’s leg, likely caused from having not stood for months, traveled to her lungs and led to her sudden and unexpected death.

Matt’s account of those moments is so vivid, you feel as if you are there, experiencing it alongside him. His agony and anguish are palpable, as are his fear and anger. He’s now left to be a single father to his newborn daughter (and he describes himself as a hipster – unmotivated, dirty and utterly irresponsible). Maddy was her mother’s biggest dream, and this was Matt’s biggest nightmare.

The book then goes on to show what Matt’s life looked like during his first year with Maddy. Liz’s funerals, trips to see family members, the inability to get out of bed (if it weren’t for Maddy), international trips, holidays and anniversaries (wedding, birth, death) – each are painful, yet make Matt a little bit stronger.

I mean it when I say this was an absolutely AMAZING read. I’m so glad I’m not pregnant, because it would have given me a serious complex about birthing my child. I would definitely recommend this book to any non-pregnant woman out there.

Book Review: Radical

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Remember my last book review, Crazy Love, and how it was one of the books that it seems like everyone in my church has read but me? This is another one of those.

Whenever someone talks about Crazy Love, they usually bring up Radical in the next sentence. These are like the Christian book peas and carrots – they just go together. Like Crazy Love, I have nodded along in agreement when people bring up this book in the past – and now, I’ve read it.

Also like Crazy Love, Radical made me uncomfortable. It’s all about how the “American Dream” goes against God’s design – that we shouldn’t seek comfort and luxury, but live in a way where we give more than we have. If you know me at all, you know that I want a house. Badly. And I want certain nice things in the house – none of which are “necessities.”

Now don’t get me wrong, having nice things is NOT bad. It just shouldn’t be our goal to store up lots of nice things when there are billions of people out there in great need. This is a particular challenge for me, because there is nothing more that I want than the American Dream – house, paid off cars, kids and vacations. I just want to not have to worry about paying bills for crying out loud! But considering billions of people live on less than $2/day, I’d say I have a lot more room for being thankful than for complaining in my life.

I’m still processing this book, and I think I will be for a while. But I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to challenge and grow your faith!

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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So, I read the book back in December and thought I was going to see the movie in theatres – I didn’t. I really thought Chad would be interested in seeing it, but at the time, he was not. He did, however, agree to see it with me over the weekend, in the comfort of our own home.

The book started out really slowly, and thankfully the movie was far more engaging. The graphic scenes were included, but were somewhat less offensive than in the book (my mind paints a pretty vivid picture when reading, so I was less grossed out. Chad, however, was sufficiently grossed out, having not read the book). There were a few notable differences in the plot, but nothing game changing. I was shocked that Chad said he enjoyed the movie and asked when I’d be reading the second book – in due time, my friend. In due time.

All in all, it was a good movie – just be forewarned about a few graphic scenes!

Book Review: Crazy Love

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This is one of those books that I feel like every Christian has read – except me. Until now.

People talk about it and reference it all the time at church, and I usually nod along solemnly as if I know what in the world they’re referring to. Now, at least I know!

I have to tell you – after reading the first chapter, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the rest. It was a very challenging premise (and book) for someone trying to strengthen and grow their faith. It really made me question a lot of the decisions and beliefs I have, but ultimately confirmed that I’m moving in the right direction – which was refreshing!

If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably already read this book (I’m 5 years late to the game). But if you haven’t, I’d definitely recommend it – just be prepared to have your faith challenged!

Movie Review: The Avengers

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Let me just start out by saying: I didn’t even know which comic book characters were in The Avengers before the previews started coming out. The only Avenger character movie I’ve ever seen is Iron Man (and yes, Iron Man 2). I didn’t see Captain America, The Hulk or Thor, and I don’t think there were movies with Black Widow or Hawkeye, but if there were, I didn’t see those either. With all that said…

THE AVENGERS WAS AMAZING HOLY COW YOU NEED TO GO SEE IT ASAP!!! 

Seriously! I’m not joking! This was a really great start-of-the-summer blockbuster and I’m sure all of the stars will be laughing their way to the bank for weeks to come. They did such a great job of explaining what each hero did (for those of us who were unfamiliar) and managed to equally share screen time between all of the major characters. That’s pretty impressive!

Of course, Robert Downey Jr. was my favorite. He plays the cocky, sarcastic billionaire Tony Stark perfectly, and his dry sense of humor made me laugh out loud several times. The Hulk stole a few scenes without saying a word (not going to spoil it for you, but if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about!), and Thor has some huge arms. Seriously – he’s a hottie. ScarJo has a great butt and filled out her costume nicely, and overall I give the movie two thumbs up.

If you’re looking for an awesome action-adventure movie, I would DEFINITELY recommend The Avengers. No need to see all of the character movies in advance – it’s SO well written, that any questions you’d have will be answered! ENJOY!

Book Review: Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

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Last week I finished up Chelsea Handler’s “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.” I’ve never watched Chelsea Lately, nor have I seen her do any standup, but I was in great need of a light, mindless read and this fit the bill. Plus, I LOVED Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” – I literally laughed out loud tons of times – and was hoping that this would elicit the same reaction.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find Chelsea handler all that funny. Don’t get me wrong, I love some dry humor and sarcasm, but it just doesn’t translate that well into print (at least not for her). I didn’t laugh out loud until the final two chapters, and even then, it wasn’t nearly to the degree as Tina Fey’s book.

Another difference between CH and TF’s books were the sequencing. Tina’s went in chronological order and told a story. Chelsea’s was just a collection or random things that “happened” (I seriously doubt that any of these stories are true) to her. Tina’s just felt more real and relatable, whereas Chelsea’s felt contrived. Maybe that’s just me.

In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a mindless read, this fits the mold. But if you’re looking for a really good mindless read, go for “Bossypants” over “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.”

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Kind of a crazy title right? I was intrigued right off the bat.

When I first started reading this book, I was a little concerned that I’d chosen two scary books back-to-back. I like to vary my reading and was like “Ahh geez. This is not what I need right now.” since I was so scared of my last book. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be the case – this was more of a sci-fi/thriller type of book, and I really enjoyed it.

The book opens with an introduction to the main character (Jacob) and his grandfather – they have a very special bond. After learning a bit about them and their relationship, Jacob’s grandfather is tragically killed (murdered). Jacob then seeks counseling and winds up visiting the remote Welsh island his grandfather, a holocaust survivor, lived on while in his late teens. Some crazy things start happening on the island and an entire world that Jacob never knew existed – containing the secrets of his grandpa’s past – is opened. Jacob and his band of peculiar friends are left fighting for their lives, and Jacob has to choose between living in this world or in the world he’s always known.

In short, I really liked this book. It wasn’t scary, it kept my attention and it was an easy read. Go for it!