Panic by Lauren Oliver

bookcover_home_panic

In the small town of Carp, a town of only 12,000 people, a game was born out of boredom. A dangerous game with a huge payoff if you make it to the end.

Only seniors can play and it’s kept top secret though everyone knows about it. Those who participate do so for their own reasons but mostly these reasons seem to be to get the prize money and get out of town.

Heather had no plans to enter the race and play the game but the night it begins circumstances propel her to join in and different circumstances compel her to make it to the end.

Throughout the game new friendships are made, old ones are betrayed, love is lost and found while our players are facing numerous and varied fears, not just within the game but also within their individual lives.

This is one of those stories you read late into the night, savouring each morsel, wanting to know how it ends while not actually wanting it to end.

Lauren Oliver has several titles to her name and her delirium Trilogy is a favourite of mine though Panic would now be my second favourite. If you ever have the chance to visit with Lauren at a signing I would suggest you go as she is a dynamic and vivacious story teller in person as well as on the page. Listen as she reads the first chapter of Panic and tell me you disagree,

Give Panic a try, if you dare.

I give Panic 4 and a 1/2 Reads out of 5.

S.E.C.R.E.T by L. Marie Adeline

secret
As someone who is NOT a fan of 50 Shades but a fan and long time reader of erotic fiction I was hesitant to read S.E.C.R.E.T because of the hoopla surrounding it. Popular does not always equate with good and since I found the so called steamy sex scenes in 50 Shades to be very clinical and unsexy, I was expecting much of the same from this story.

My friend Andrea messaged me one day to say that I HAD to read it! It had blown her away. Now, mostly Andrea and I have different tastes in everything from reading material to music but occasionally we come together on something and when we do….. oh boy! Thus was the case with S.E.C.R.E.T. I am so glad she recommended it to me, I only regret that I didn’t read it months ago when I first got it.

Set in New Orleans, S.E.C.R.E.T tells the story of Cassie Robichaud, a widow who has fallen into the rut of going to work and going home and having the hots for her boss. One day she discovers a secret group run by some very passionate women. This group believes that all women should be comfortable in their own skin, confident in their strength and beauty as well as in charge of their own sexual experiences. Because most women aren’t comfortable with all of that, this group helps women to gain it all through secret meetings that fulfill their wildest dreams and desires.

When I started reading this book I wasn’t sure I liked the heroine (Cassie) by the end I still wasn’t sure if I did or not. Mostly because she reminded me a lot of myself I’m guessing. But over all I really enjoyed the story. The sex scenes may be short but they are definitely tantalizing, hot and steamy. The story takes place in New Orleans which becomes as much a character as the people are. It certainly has given me several ideas of restaurants and places to visit when I travel there in May.

I had this book sitting in my TBR pile for months but after reading it I had to order the second one immediately and am now anxiously awaiting the third installment. Was I excited to hear that I don’t have to wait until 2015 for it!

If you’re looking for a sexy beach read for your winter vacation or to escape the snow outside then I highly recommend giving this one a try.
And if you happen to know of such a club existing………

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Reads.

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

I have been a Kelley Armstrong fan since I discovered Bitten(in 2003) and had to wait two anxious months for Stolen. While I am a huge and longtime fan I willing admit that I enjoy some of her books more then others.
For instance; Bitten, Stolen and No Humans Involved are my favourites from The Women of the Otherworld series. I read the first Nadia book (Exit Strategy) and have the next two but I did not enjoy it as much as the Otherworld series so I have not read two or three. I LOVE The Darkest Powers books and own Loki’s Wolves which I have not yet gotten around to reading.

Sea-of-Shadows-web
I started reading an ARC of the first book in her Age of Legends trilogy entitled Sea of Shadows due to be released in April. One of the privileges of being a book seller.
I have to say that this story enthralled me. The Grammys were on and I was watching them but I couldn’t put this book down for any length of time. I finished it early the next day and am now feeling bereft. Kelley has a tendency to do this phenomenally horrible thing to us where she draws us deeply into the story and then leaves us dangling from the cliff. That’s right all you Kelley fans, Sea of Shadows will leave you wanting more!

Sea of Shadows tells the story of twin sisters Ashyn and Moria who are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Born to perform the rites of the spirits and protect their village they converse with the Spirits. But on the annual trip into the Forest of the Dead something goes terribly wrong and the girls lives are irrevocably changed forever.

Separated during a disaster in their village and tricked into going in different directions they are forced to leave their village for the first time in their lives. The girls each set out with only their bonded Immortal pets, one with a taciturn imperial guard and the other with a condemned thief that survived the Exile. Their journey takes them across a once deserted wasteland that is now filled with monsters from old legends. They must cross the Wastelands to warn the Emperor.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book are that the legendary creatures they must fight. The journey they must travel sort of reminds me of one of my all-time favourite movies…. The Princess Bride. I am not saying the two are exactly alike just that this story has the same epic romantic quest feel and the humour as the movie does. I dare you to tell me that the rodent they meet doesn’t make you think of R.O.U.S’s.

My one issue was the vast amount of characters you are introduced to almost immediately. I got so confused that I thought the guy with the eye tattoo (Orbec) was the guard (Gavril) who ends up travelling with Moria. I might suggest that this is one of those books that needs a Table of Characters.

I give this story 5 out of 5 Reads.

If you are looking for a great Fantasy read I highly recommend this one!

My View of the Grammys

I love award shows. I especially love ones like the Grammys as they truly entertain without being overly provocative. I know if I am watching the MTV Awards there are going to be provocative performances, it’s why we watch it but the Grammys, ah the Grammys are just truly exceptional performances, often consisting of awesome teaming’s of older well seasoned artists with new or this generations hot stars.

This year the big opening number was Beyoncé with rumours of her husband Jay Z joining her. I am going to admit upfront I am not a Beyoncé fan. Sure she has some songs that I enjoy but I own none of the works from her solo career. I personally feel that Kelly Rowland is a better singer. Though I’ve been hearing a lot about this great new album of hers, I haven’t listened to it. I did see her new video on MuchMusic, wasn’t overly impressed. It didn’t move me, the song didn’t stick in my head, I can’t tell you the name of it.
Still she is a good performer and I expected to be blown away by her. She is opening the Grammys! Instead I kept wondering if Rihanna knew that Beyoncé was ripping of her style. From the vocals to the costume all I saw was Rihanna. Very disappointing. I was so bored I started reading my current book, I’ve never done that during the opening number .
Also it was not the hi-energy performance I would expect at the opening. The kind of song and performance that says, “Hey! This is a PARTY!! Let’s celebrate the best in music!”.

L.L.Cool J is the host. He is doing a good job. Very smooth as always.

Anna Kendrick and Pharrell Williams were the first presenters. Anna’s dress was beautiful and very rock and roll while still be suited to her image. I adore Pharrell and was amused by his outfit that reminded me of the Mountie uniforms.
anna kendrick

In fact a lot of what has happened up to this point makes me think of this Grammys as ” Ode to…..”. First Beyoncé’s Ode to Rihanna, Pharrell’s Ode to the Mounties and then Katy Perry’s performance of Dark House or her Ode to Lady Gaga.

The pairing of Chicago and Robin Thicke was a good fit in that their music was complimentary to each other but it wasn’t overly exciting.

Hunter Hayes, the up and coming young country and western star debuted a new song called “Invisible”. A new anthem for the young people who are being bullied or anyone who needs to be reminded that we are all unique and worthwhile.

Another reason I really enjoy the Grammys is because there are so many performances and not as many long drawn out acceptance speeches for a bunch of awards that the general public cares nothing about. Thank you Grammys for not making me sit through that and for the great performances you provide.

John Legend, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, to name a few did not disappoint, giving us exactly what we would expect to see from these consummate artists.

Pink was her usually stunningly breath-taking self. Whether showing off her aerial acrobatic strengths or her ability to vocally pull at our heart strings I couldn’t look away. Even if she does the aerial act at every single award show I can not not watch it. I much preferred this performance to her Blow Me One Last Kiss giant dancing legs one.

I enjoyed seeing Walk Off the Earth as the footage for Lorde’s nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance. See their version below.

Jay Z’s acceptance speech was funny and sweet and the dress Beyoncé was wearing was beautiful.

I am super excited to see the live action Maleficent movie so I was thrilled to see a trailer for it during the show. I have to say that I am not thrilled by the Lana del Ray version of Once Upon a Dream. That song is supposed to be light and beautiful and about young love not creepy dark and mournfully scary.

The Rap/Rock collaboration of Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons was a get up out of your seat and move performance. THIS is what I expect from the Grammys!! Taylor Swift dancing, Steven Tyler singing along now that’s a performance.

I enjoyed Kacey Musgraves song Follow Your Arrow, I’ll be purchasing that from iTunes tomorrow but I really, really enjoyed her light up cowboy boots. They made me smile and wish I had a pair.

Oh My Goodness! The Pepsi Football Half-Time show was unbelievably funny. It reminded me of the great Pepsi commercials that I loved in the 80’s that showcased all my favourite stars.

Julia Roberts talked of a Grammy special to air on February 9th on CBS at the same time that the Ed Sullivan show first aired the Beatles on American tv 50 years ago thus changing the music industry and the world. What followed was Sir Paul McCartney sitting at a Beatles inspired piano as he sang one of his new songs with, as Julia said, a little help from his friend Ringo Starr. I have to say Queenie Eye sounded a lot like one the Beatles would have sang as a group back in the day.

What a delightful treat to see Jeremy Renner at this show as a presenter. He introduced the Four Horsemen, or at least the two that are left, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. I really enjoyed this one more when Blake Shelton joined them. I can’t say I’m a fan of Willie’s voice, never have been.
Although I do enjoy the song Mama’s Don’t Let your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and was thrilled to hear it done tonight. I was a little disappointed that there was no tribute to George Jones, a country legend we lost this past year.

The rare tv performance of Daft Punk was introduced by Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother and how much more exciting that they were joined by not only Pharrell but by Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder on Get Lucky, brilliant! They all looked like they were having so much fun performing together. Like they were rocking out in someone’s living room.

I realized while watching that usually during concert shows I don’t like when they pan the audience. I don’t care what the audience is doing, I want to see the action but during the Grammys it is so much fun to see these big celebrities on their feet dancing and singing along just like every other concert goer around the world. This was never more true then during Get Lucky.

It may not be a popular thought but I am disgusted that Royals beat Same Love for Best Song. I don’t think it is at all. Can’t believe this one!

While I don’t listen to Metallica their performance had my toes tapping. Probably not what they or their fans would want to hear. Toe tapping might be considered little wussy for such hard rock. 😉

Queen Latifah looked awesome in a black sparkly dress as she introduced Macklemore & Ryan Lewis who sang Same Love, a song the world needs to listen to more. Mary Lambert shined in a red sparkly dress. I was impressed that her only real adornment was her gorgeous tattoo on her shoulder. No glitz and glam of a fancy light show or costumes and yet I couldn’t take my eyes from the tv. Then when Queen Latifah came out and married 30 couples, just WOW what a beautiful moment. The whole spectacular moment was rounded out with the addition of Madonna singing her classic Open Your Heart to Me then finishing up Same Love with Mary Lambert.

This year the Grammys added a new award called The Music Educator Award. This award honours an exceptional music teacher who is nominated by someone they know. I love this award! they should have done it sooner. Teachers like these can and do make such a difference in some kids lives.

The memorial was touching as always. I love that they honour these talented people each year, even ones in the business that we may not know like producers, mixers or journalists. I always find it a bittersweet moment as there is always someone on the list that I hadn’t heard had passed away this year that person was Bebo Valdes, a Cuban born pianist and big band leader. Also a composer and arranger. The end of the tribute that had Billie Joel Armstrong and Miranda Lambert singing The Everly Brothers, When Will I Be Loved was sadly sweet.

The best acceptance speech was when Daft Punk won Record of the Year and the producer speaking for them said that they thought the wedding and Same Love were one of the best and most touching moments of the evening and that we need more of that kind of love for our fellow man around the world. Or something like that.

Nine Inch Nails with Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac is exactly the kind of powerhouse performance I expect from the Grammys and though it is not my type of music they certainly lived up to all expectations for a Grammy Finale. It was Rockin’!

Dazzled by Now You See Me

image

Thanks to a fall which resulted in a broken ankle I will be spending the next two weeks with my butt on the couch. The good thing about this is it gives me plenty of time to be EnterTAYned!

I started this morning with a movie I had really wanted to see and am now regretting not seeing it theatres. Now You See Me has a Star Studded cast yes but it also has a story that wows and a twist I did not see coming. I was sure I knew who the person in the gray hoodie was. I was so surprised and thrilled to find out I was completely and totally wrong. I love the fact that I didn’t figure it out because, as someone who sees a lot of movies and reads a lot of books, I find many of them to be predictable. I don’t mind that. There’s a certain comfort in it. It’s just really nice to be truly surprised every once in awhile.

Now You See Me is the story of 4 magicians struggling to make a name for themselves in one way or another when they are brought together by a mysterious benefactor. A year later they make a name for themselves by robbing a bank from the stage. Or do they? And if they do, just how did they pull it off.

A good story filled with the unexpected, lots of action and a hint of romance all come together in a most mystical display of movie magic.

This is a movie I will watch many times looking for the hints and tricks I had previously missed.

I give this movie 41/2 reels out of 5.

Eat Brains Love

EatBrainsLove

Eat Brains Love by Jeff Hart is a new take on Zombies. A YA book hoping to do for Zombies what Twilight did for Vampires and Werewolves. Set them in a new and romantic light. And yet the Hero seemingly is more of a zero. A lonely pot head loser with a crush on the popular girl. Predictable right? Surprisingly not, in fact, it made for a much more interesting read.

I enjoyed Eat Brains Love. It has an interesting take on the ‘Zombie Virus’ and what it means to be Zombie and surprisingly what it means to be human. I think it would make for an interesting tv show in the vain of Vampire Diaries or Teen Wolf. Two teenage Zombies on the run as they learn what being Zombie means. What their strengths and weakness are all while being chased by a Team that includes a girl named Cass that can psychically link to the zombies.

For a debut novel it was pretty good. Funny in spots though a bit draggy in others in the end it all came together in what seems to be the norm these days, the big cliff hanger ending designed to make you want to read the next one. And I will though not because of that. I will read the next book because I am interested to see where the author takes these three characters.

While this story may not be for everyone I think that those looking for something new and different might get some amusement from it. I would recommend it to any one looking for an easy read, good for vacations, rainy days and the like.

I give this 4 Reads out of 5

Old Favourites on DVD

homealone
For last nights edition of Coast2Coast Movie Nite my friend and I started our annual tradition of watching Christmas movies by watching Home Alone.

Home Alone is a movie that I watched many, many times with the oldest of my two J’s. He used to watch it all year round. I was surprised to realize that I had not actually seen Home Alone for several years now. Even when the boys gave me the Home Alone Collection for Christmas last year, I had not viewed the movie. It was every bit as fun as I remember it being. It was also interesting to me that the music in Home Alone sounded a lot like the music in Harry Potter. My curiosity led me to do a little Google research where I discovered that the reason for that is because both movies were directed by Chris Columbus and the musical director for both was John Williams.

In watching this old favourite again it started me thinking about how much fun it was when I was a kid to wait each year for favourite specials and movies to come on tv. How much more special they felt. I recall the treat it was for my sister and I to do the bed and bath routine and then settle on the couch with a snack waiting for Bass/Rankin Rudolph or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Do you remember the joy of seeing the opening sequence for The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman or Charlie Brown’s Christmas? I do. I got that feeling again recently when I discovered a new Halloween Toy Story Special on ABC a few weeks ago.

Grinch

Rudolph

Part of the joy of movies on DVD is watching what you want when you want to. As I write this I am watching Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Peter Lawford in Easter Parade. EasterParade
I have been searching for a copy of this movie for a very long time and was extremely excited to see it available for order on the TCM website. http://www.shop.ca That is why I am watching it today but I have to say that after this it will sit on the shelf and I will not see it again until Easter. I love watching some things whenever the mood strikes me but I love even more the thrill of the once a year viewing, something specific to a season or moment in time. Like when they used to show Elvis movies for a week leading up to the anniversary of his death. Or the ritual I have of wrapping Christmas gifts while watching White Christmas, Little Women and Meet Me in St. Louis.

It makes me a little sad that my grand-nephews will never know the excitement and angst that comes from those moments of anticipation while waiting for that special to come on. The oldest of the two loves Nightmare Before Christmas. He watches it all the time, walks around the house singing songs from the movie. But what does he have to look forward to? What does all this instant gratification do to us? Maybe it isn’t that big a deal but it makes me feel as though it’s just one more thing that takes a little of the magic out of the season.

Whether you watch them on DVD or wait for them to come on Tv, I wish for you the joy of enjoying those treasured moments with those people most special to you.