Monday, March 20, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) - Review

My Rating
★★★★★★ - Heaven help me, you taste like Christmas! (More Info)

About the Movie
The story and characters you love come to life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, a cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told.
Starring:Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Runtime:2 hours, 9 minutes
Rating: PG
Top Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline

"With a dreamy far off look and her nose stuck in a book" Two days after seeing Beauty & the Beast, I am curled up on the couch, listening to the Original Movie Soundtrack on repeat (which you can stream for free through Amazon Prime) and trying to make sense of this emotional hangover that I can't seem to shake. 

The emotions this movie brings forth is beautiful beyond words. I am not going to lie, this is probably going to be one of the hardest reviews that I will ever write. Because there is no way that words can adequately express my thoughts and emotions regarding this story. 

"Tale as Old as Time" I have always loved this fairy tale. Growing up I watched and rewatched the animated version more times than I can count (and the new song they added "Human Again" is a travesty of unmeasurable proportions in my opinion...but that is neither here nor there). However, after seeing Emma Watson and Dan Stevens portray this incredible story in their own unique way, I can say with confidence that THIS is now and "forevermore" my favorite Disney movie. There is no competition...at all. Emma Watson's voice is beautiful, sweet, and innocent. Dan Stevens is swoony beyond all reason. Even Gaston is a fine specimen to gaze upon (don't worry...he is still a brute! But Luke Evans *SWOON*). They also elaborate on the bookish side of Belle a little bit more, and I adore it! 

The trailer is beautiful ♡ beyond your expectations ♡:
"There may be something there that wasn't there before" The romance in this adaption  is sweet and innocent...Yet filled with a passion that touches your heart in a drastic way. The Beast is SO adorable. Thoughtful, kind, and gentle as he falls in love with Belle. The way he is portrayed makes it so much easier for the audience to fall in love with him as well. Watching their relationship grow is so beautiful with plenty of humour.

"Tune as Old as Song" You might consider me odd, but I don't like to watch trailers, read reviews, or learn ANYTHING about a movie that I have been LONGING to see. So I went into this movie fairly blind (there were some details that were impossible to avoid). Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they included the original songs from the 1991 animated version. It was so much fun singing along with all the songs that have been ingrained into my heart. There were a few new songs added and they were GORGEOUS! The Beast's song makes me cry every time I hear it. Be Our Guest is the only song that I found a bit odd. But it works. Emma Watson's voice is gentle and sweet while Dan's voice is strong and powerful.

"I said she's gorgeous and I fell" 
The costumes, set designs, and cinematography were all GORGEOUS!!! Each outfit was appropriate for the character and unique. The design added yet another level of beauty and made it just that much easier to fall in love...With Belle...with the Beast...with the castle...the story...

There are some scenes (specifically with the wolves and between Gaston and the Beast at the end of the movie) that may be frightening for younger children. Please use your own discretion as a parent to judge whether it is appropriate for your child. I won't be taking my 3 and 4 year old children to it in theatre, but they will be allowed to watch it at home when it comes out on DVD. 

All pictures from IMDb unless otherwise noted.

Books to Read 
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My Review


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More info about Beauty and the Beast IMDb
I saw Beauty and the Beast at our local movie theatre. I paid for my own ticket. I was not compensated for this review. 

Author Interview + Giveaway - Emily C. Reynolds

About the Book
In Picture Perfect, a photographer and a martial artist partnered for swing dance lessons also become unknowingly pitted against each other in a real estate tug-of-war. As romance heats up, secrets from the past close in. Agendas collide, and when the truth comes out, one wrong move could trip them up for good.

Here’s a sneak peek into the story setup of Picture Perfect:
Extending the right hand of fellowship to church visitors probably doesn’t include sucker-punching the cute guy from pew seventeen. But when Lily recovers from being startled by him late at night, she realizes who he is. And wishes she’d hit harder. It’s clear Micah doesn’t remember her—or breaking her heart ten years ago.
Avoiding him becomes her best option. Besides, she has more important things to worry about—namely renovating her newly leased storefront so she can quit her job and take her photography full-time.
Micah is back in his hometown with plans to open a martial arts school and make a fresh start. But he can’t dodge the guilt he feels over causing his best friend’s death. The past haunts him, and the present isn’t looking much better. The one girl he’s interested in hates his guts and he has no idea why.
When they get thrown together for swing dance lessons, romance heats up on—and off—the dance floor. As Lily gets to know Micah, she wants to believe he’s changed. But forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when she discovers they’ve both set their sights on the same piece of real estate. And a dark secret from Micah’s past is quickly catching up . . .

Behind the Scenes
So many people give writers the advice “write what you know,” and I think it’s natural for our passions to flow into our stories in some form or another. Tidbits of my own life and interests are woven into the storyline of Picture Perfect.

A perfect example is the scenes relating to martial arts. Micah, the hero in the story, practices jujitsu. Lily, the heroine, studies boxing. One of the underlying currents of the story is the concept of self-defense and safety.

Having grown up in a Christian “bubble,” I was anxious about heading off to college. It didn’t help that the first college I attended was on the outskirts of New York City. The summer before my freshman year, I asked a family friend (a police detective) if he would teach me self-defense. We got together and he showed me a few tactics, but I remember at the end of the evening feeling more worried, because as he showed me scenarios, my mind started to run. I began to realize just how little I knew, and how many different ways a person could attack another person. (To be clear, it wasn’t his fault at all. He taught me some simple techniques to use in an emergency. In retrospect what I wanted was training and that’s not something that happens in one night!)

In college, I took an 8-week course that was an intro to martial arts. Again, nothing wrong with the instructor or the class. But it was about precision of strikes, blocks, and kicks, and step-by-step attack/defense sequences. It was not “down and dirty” self-defense. (Of course it wasn’t designed to be! But in my ignorance, I equated “martial arts” with “women’s self-defense” and walked away feeling more vulnerable than when I started.)

Fast forward a few years. Not long after meeting my husband, I learned he studied jujitsu. He asked if I wanted to learn. I said no. I wasn’t interested in jujitsu. I wanted to learn self-defense. So he invited me to meet his instructor, who was excited to teach me techniques geared for women. I started coming early, before jujitsu class, to learn. I learned about women’s areas of strength, about awareness and alertness, and the physics of the human body. I practiced palm strikes and knees to the groin until I developed muscle memory and instinct and earned the nickname “Lethal Knees.”

Then my session would end, and jujitsu class would begin. It didn’t take long before I was joining them on the mat.

Over the years, I’ve loved teaching women’s self-defense because I've seen wonderful things happen when a woman learns she really can protect herself physically. I think every woman should realize she has a vested interest in her physical and sexual safety and not leave it up to chance or assume it's someone else's responsibility.

So many women see themselves as "weak." I was once one of them. Learning self-defense helps develop confidence, and that's something that has far-reaching effects--many women discover inner strengths they never knew they had and become "stronger" on different playing fields of life, whether it be work, relationships, communication, setting boundaries, the list goes on.

Thoughts on Writing

Surround yourself with people who support you. I am blessed to have a fantastic critique group that helps me hone my stories, and a few brainstorming buddies who encourage me and help strengthen my plots.

Join writing groups. One of the best things I did for my professional development was joining American Christian Fiction Writers. I got connected to other writers, critique groups, and a storehouse of publishing information that I soaked up, realizing how little I really knew. I also attended ACFW conferences, which allowed me to network with other professionals and learn more about the writing craft.

Be kind to yourself! Remember that everyone’s first draft is downright awful, so don’t let the ugly stop you. Keep going. Put the words down anyway, even if they make you cringe. As people say, you can’t edit what’s not there.

Accept who you are as a writer. I’m not a particularly fast writer. The story doesn’t unfold in a straightforward manner for me. I’m much more “seat of the pants” than plotter. So I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay that the course is not charted; that’s part of the fun for me (I get to be surprised when a character says or does something). Only it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s downright stressful. It means the story doesn’t journey in a straight line from start to finish. There will be detours and dead ends and “wasted” time. But that’s just how it works for me. I can choose to get frustrated and think I’m less of a “real writer” because of it, or I can choose to accept that it’s just one of the weird ways I work.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my writing journey! I hope you enjoy a few giggles and sigh moments reading Picture Perfect.

About the Author

I grew up in Maine as a Double PK (pastor’s kid and principal’s kid). My dad has been a pastor at the same church for more than 35 years, and my parents started a Christian school where my dad served as administrator for 30 years, and my mom regularly substituted.

I had a childhood that was wonderful in all the ways that matter. Since my parents were in full-time Christian ministry, we didn’t have a lot of “extras” growing up, but we saw firsthand what it means to invest in things of eternal significance. I’m so grateful that God gave me humble, loving, self-sacrificing parents who taught us to love God and put Him first, above all else.

I graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts with degrees in English Language & Literature as well as Biblical Studies. I’ve earned my living as a professional wedding photographer, high school English teacher, newspaper copy editor, piano teacher, and women’s self-defense instructor. And now I can officially add author to that list! My first book, Picture Perfect, released March 2 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A dream come true!

The best thing that ever happened to me was walking into a coffee shop one morning and walking out, leaving my heart with the fine-looking barista working behind the counter. My husband Jason is the inspiration for my storybook heroes and my biggest cheerleader on this journey toward publication. We are blessed with a teenage son, two cats, and a dog named Boomer.

Purchase Options

Emily has graciously provided an eBook copy of Picture Perfect for a giveaway. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Tides Turn - Waves of Freedom Book 3 - Sarah Sundin

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

From the Back of the Book
Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy's newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.

But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

My Thoughts
Every book in this series has been spectacular! Full of intrigue and drama, faith and freedom, handsome officers and daring heroines, and not to mention bursting with history! I have learned so much about the war of the Atlantic during World War II through these books. Not only does Sarah include REAL events and REAL people in these books, it inspires me to do research of my own. To delve into the facts and history that inspired these stories. 

As the Waves of Freedom series comes to a close, Tess and Dan completely steal the show with their strained relationship and beautiful, er, practical? romance. Tess is full of life, color, and longs to be seen for who she is beneath the pretty face. Dan, has a one track mind focused on his career...That is, until his heart cries out for something more. Both Tess and Dan must learn to trust God to guide their paths, to find who they are in Him, individually. Once they surrender to God's plan, it is amazing to watch the events unfold. 

While the books in this series can stand alone, you will want to begin with book one to enjoy and appreciate the full effect of the storyline. Plus, they are simply amazing books. All three have made it on my top reads list!

Get ready for one last amazing ride in the Waves of Freedom Series. And do not despair...For Sarah has a new WWII series she is working on titled, Sunrise at Normandy. The first book, The Sea Before us will be released Spring 2018.

I received a complimentary copy of When Tides Turn from the publishers (Revell) through Radiant Lit and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options

About the Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm, as well as the Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.

More Books by Sarah Sundin on Bookworm Mama

My Review

My Review

First Line Fridays (Giveaway + Sneak Peek) - 3/17/17 - Just the Way You Are

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

While the story I am going to share with you today, isn't Irish...I do have Irish heritage that I am so very proud of! (Did you remember to wear green today?) Anyhoo...On to today's First Line. And make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY mentioned below too!

"One step into the massive, glass-walled waiting area was all it took. In a cataclysmic chain of events, someone bumped into Eisley Barrett, sending her purse and all its contents skittering across the glossy floor of Heathrow International Airport. Just as she regained her balance, her heel caught on her purse strap, forcing her off-kilter."

OK, OK! I know...That is way more than just the first line, but trust me when I say I could just keep reading...and reading...In fact, I may just do that after I post this.

You REALLY don't want to miss out on this fantabulous book! (*PSST* I have rated it 6 stars..."Heaven help me you taste like Christmas" status right there.) Pepper has graciously donated an eBook for me to give away to ONE of my amazing readers! Jump over to her interview HERE to enter to win! Just make sure you comment with your First Line before you leave.

ALSO, Pepper is starting a new series tomorrow. Here is your VERY FIRST sneak peek! I will warn you...You will want to bring your fan...and fainting couch along...Because swooning will be inevitable! 

Pepper also recently released an incredibly charming novella! You can find Second Impressions in the Love at First Laugh novella collection for only $0.99 on Amazon!
My Review

Now it's your turn! Post your first line below and blog hop and join in more First Line fun!

Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Long Time Gone - The Cimarron Legacy Book 2 - Mary Connealy

My Rating
 - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

From the Back of the Book
The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn't help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc's timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It's clear now that everything that's occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

My Thoughts
Fast paced and filled with all the adventure, suspense, comedy, and romance that I have come to expect from Mary Connealy.

The Boden clan is a family that I am sad to say, I only JUST met in Long Time Gone. Even though I was able to pick up the gist of the story pretty quickly, I would suggest that you begin with book 1, No Way Up before diving into this one. 

Angie and Justin are two peas in a pod. They really were made for each other and I just loved watching them bicker, tease, and fall in love. And they are both stubborn as mules. Justin, inexperienced when it comes to females, is adorable as he tries to sort out his feelings for Angie. Wanting to protect her, but trying not to come across as a dictator. Angie, still healing from the wounds of the past, is learning how to be her own woman, standing up for herself, defending herself. But we weren't made to do everything alone. That is why God sends us a partner to stand beside us, to fight with us. And above all we must never forget to lean on God for protection and strength. To trust that He is leading us down the right road. That no matter where life leads us, He will be by our side.

Mary's books have the great ability to make you laugh out loud, hold your breath in anticipation, shake your head in frustration, and curl your toes with the sweet romance. 

Set in New Mexico Territory in 1880, we get to meet both outlaws and cowboys. Full of adventure and some hair raising escapades, Long Time Gone is sure to capture your attention, and the characters, your heart. 

I received a complimentary copy of Long Time Gone from the publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options

Don't Miss the First Books of The Cimarron Legacy

FREE Novella

Book 1

About the Author
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys. She's the author of The Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, and Wild at Heart series, as well as several other acclaimed series. Mary has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two-time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. They have four grown daughters--Joslyn, married to Matt; Wendy; Shelly, married to Aaron; and Katy, married to Max--and four precious grandchildren.