Reviews, Thoughts

#Movie Review of Wonder Woman

Most people don’t know this about me but I’m passionate about comic books. I was devasted when they killed Superman and I still have nightmares about it. When I watch the new Superman movies, I basically hold my breath. Of course, in the last movie, Batman vs. Superman, I cried. It was awful. But I digress. I could argue the differences about Marvel and DC but it comes down to taste. Marvel is the light and DC is the dark. My kid (son) LOVES Aquaman. He buys the graphic novels and devours them. And yes, when Justice League comes out, we are seeing it.

Steve Trevor/Chris Pine *swoon*

Personally, I’m more of DC person.  Sure, Captain America is the BOMB, Thor is pretty and Black Widow kicks ass but Superman and Batman are my first loves.  The loves that no matter who plays them (well, George Clooney was awful and Christopher Reeve will forever be my Superman) are part of my childhood.  I’m a firm believer in good always wins out over evil.  When I saw Batman vs Superman, I was excited.  Hubs hated the movie but the kid and I loved it.  I’m a HUGE fan of Affleck so I couldn’t wait to see his take on Batman/Bruce Wayne and then we were introduced to Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.  Gal nailed it so going into her own movie, I was excited plus, Chris Pine.  *swoon*

He is actually the love interest for Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.  The banter between them throughout the movie is spot on.  Flirty, intelligent and swoon worthy.  Theirs is a slow build based on respect for one another and friendship.  In most action movies, the love interest is a sidekick but in this movie,  Steve plays a very important part in Diana’s growth as a person and ultimately, Wonder Woman.  No spoilers but you can definitely see the love between these two.  You can tell that Gal, the woman, is smitten with Chris.  Who wouldn’t be?  Plus, how often does the man actually get “saved” by the woman?

I realize that most women took their daughters to see this movie to show them that women are and can be empowered.  Unfortunately or fortunately for me, I don’t need Wonder Woman to make me feel empowered as a woman.  There, I said it.  I was raised by some very strong women that had to persevere just to get where they were in life.  These women empowered me.  Let me show you:

Left – Aunt Janie (maternal) Right – Stephenie (her daughter/cousin)

My Aunt Janie is a two-time breast cancer survivor.  Her husband, my uncle, had prostate cancer and dementia.  His prostate cancer came back.  She and Stephenie made the hardest decision of their lives.  Not telling him and then foregoing treatment.  He ultimately died last summer and it was the hardest thing that these two women had to deal with.  I found strength in their resolve and humor.  Stephenie is the older sister that I never had and my Aunt Janie is godmother.  They both have always believed in me, never judged and loved me for who and what I am.  Plus, Stephenie told me NEVER to waste mascara.  No one likes a raccoon.  Plus, I learned the finer things in life like cruising in a small town, Heart, Van Halen, Kiss and Kansas.  Just saying…

Nanny
paternal grandmother

Nanny, my nanny.  The one person in this world that never doubted me.  Loved me no matter what and I still miss her each and every day.  Born in Oklahoma during the land rush and raised by an Irish man and a step mother that hated her, she made something of herself.  Her Choctaw mother died when she was 7 so she basically raised herself.  She never missed a day of school and got her college degree when she was 60 years old.  Art major, minor English.  She taught me to believe in myself when my own mother didn’t, manners matter and love with your whole heart.  I guess that’s why I didn’t get married until I was 37.  She and my grandfather built a business from the ground up (Abstracts/Title company) and worked until she was almost 90.  My cousin runs the business now and is doing well.  She lost her husband when she was 65 years old to lung cancer and she never showed it as a reason to stop living.  In fact, she went fly fishing once and loved it.  Went back almost every year just because.  She learned to keep going no matter what.  She was surrounded by her many friends and family which gave her the strength to keep going.  When I got the call that she died, I was devasted.  She died at the age of 94.  I remember the church filled to capacity when I led the casket out of the church.  The day is still somewhat a blur but I do remember being the strength that my cousins needed that day.  She loved my husband from the very first time she met him.  And Brian (the kid) was the light of her eyes.  I am the oldest grandchild and I was spoiled.  Who gives a 13-year-old a fur coat from Neiman Marcus?  She did.  For Christmas.  Seriously.  *shakes head*  She was my strength when I doubted myself.  I learned from her to NEVER give up.  She didn’t and I vow that I will finish my college degree…just like she did.

So why this in the middle of the movie review?  Because I didn’t see the movie to be empowered.  I’m already empowered.  I don’t need a movie to teach me that.  However, I did want my son to see it to show him that woman can be strong in whatever they set out to accomplish.  I’m trying not to raise an asshole, jerk, male that sees the worth in all women.  He has only seen me cry a couple of times in his life and it scared him.  I am strong because of him and for him.  I’m actually not a feminist.  I wasn’t raised as one but I do believe that woman can do anything that men can do and sometimes better.  I know, I’m weird.  I was raised that family/home comes first.  Your greatest achievement is your family.  Work comes second.  I still believe that and I realize that’s very old fashioned but hey, it’s me.

 

Another thing, when I saw Robin Wright, I remembered Jenny from Forrest Gump.  I have never seen The Princess Bride, so my take on her is limited.  I remember how she was in Forrest Gump.  A bit lost but in the end strong.  Stronger because of the love that Forrest had for her since childhood.  Connie Neilsen kicked butt, too.  The fight/action scenes were top notch.  And yes, I know that a woman directed the movie and she did an awesome job.  The villains were necessary not just in the plot but for Diana/Wonder Women to realize why she decided to leave the island.  Let’s not forget that the men in the movie aren’t just window dressing.  It’s refreshing to see that they need saving, not the other way around.

This is a powerful movie that has it all.  Swoon worthing romance (that makes sense and defines our heroine), the action that is breathtaking, villains to hate, costumes that I would kill for and a plot that actually makes sense.  I know…a superhero movie that actually makes sense.  All the elements are there and there is never a lack of pacing.  Ms. Jenkins got it all right in the end and I applaud Warner Brothers and DC for taking a chance on her and Gal Gadot.  I can’t wait to see it again and own the DVD.

 

 

 

Excerpt, Reviews

Review of Cracked, A Magic iPhone Story by Janine A. Southard

Panoramic shot of Seattle Washington skyline from Queen Anne nieghborhood.

 

Title: Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story

Author: Janine A. Southard

Series: Stand Alone

Genre: Contemporary/Humor/Slight Fantasy Elements

Publisher: Cantina Publishing

Release Date:
Digital: January 2015

Print: February 2015

Edition/Formats: eBook & Print

Blurb/Synopsis:

What can your phone do for you?

 

This is the story of a girl and her iPhone. No, that’s not quite right. This is the story of a middle-aged statistician and her best friend. Though she didn’t consider herself middle-aged. And the best friend was more of a roommate-with-whom-she’d-developed-a-friendship. And this description completely ignores the 6,000-year-old elf with whom the woman and her best friend enjoyed story gaming.

 

So let’s try this again.

This is the story of a woman who wished to find love, but who would rather play story games than actively look for it. Especially in the wake of a horrid break-up six months before from a man who had never sent her a single gift.

Until this Valentine’s Day, when she received a brand new iPhone in a box with his name on it.

Between story gaming and succumbing to the phone’s insidious sleekness, she learns that friendship trumps romance.

In Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story, award-winning author Janine A. Southard (a Seattle denizen) shows you how the geeks of Seattle live, provides a running and often-hilarious social commentary on today’s world, and reminds you that, so long as you have friends, you are never alone.

Excerpt 3 – 1000 words

“Oh my god, woman.” Morena slapped an ineffectual hand against Suzyn’s shoulder. “What are you doing?”

Suzyn played with the iPhone while, as usual, slouching in a broken chair. The steam from her chai wafted past her wrists where they pointed toward the roof, her head thrown back so that the ceiling lamps backlit the phone’s screen. “Finding you a new guy,” she said. She would have shrugged, but it was hard enough to worm her body into a slouchy sprawl that included the broken back of a wicker chair without adding extraneous movement into the mix.

“Oh my god,” said Morena again, this time in a hissing whisper. “You can’t just use that thing. What if it’s forcing people?”

For that piece of apparent stupidity, Suzyn sat up and looked her best friend straight in the eye. “Morena. It’s an iPhone app, not a satanic love spell.”

Morena’s vertebrae slumped, and she waved a permissive hand back at the phone. “Yeah, I know. I just got worried for a minute there. Like, what did Vadim see in me to get him started, you know?”

Suzyn arched her spine and wedged it against the spikey pale wicker once again. “Dude, that guy was so into you.” She forced out a laugh.

Trying to make any talk of Vadim into a joke was harder than romcoms made it seem, Suzyn found. Not that she watched romcoms much. Except at Christmastime when Disney, the WB, and even the Hallmark channel made some horrible but funny ones.

A choked-off sob came from the other woman, but Suzyn refused to look away from the phone. (She was too unsympathetic to be a good friend when the messier emotions got involved, so she prudently avoided them.) She set the age range for 21-26, then thought the better of it and went for 27-35. That was still a little younger than Morena, but not so young that it’d be weird.

“I’m going to be single forever,” moaned Morena. “Why don’t guys want me?”

Magic Guy finally came back with his hot apple cider and one of their Wash Bagels. “Because other men are morons who don’t appreciate you.”

Suzyn kicked her feet up onto Morena’s lap to provide her friend with more tactile reassurance and to increase the area of her own sprawl. “Don’t worry, Ems.” Sometimes, especially after guiltily watching Gossip Girl, Suzyn was taken by the desire to give people diminutives based on the initial letter of their first name. She didn’t do it often. “I’m gonna find you a hottie in a point-three-mile radius.”

At this point, Suzyn and Morena devolved into some good-natured bickering about whether or not to increase the radius to 1 mile or reduce it to 0.1 miles, with a tangent wondering why people who made geo-relevant apps didn’t think 0.5 or 0.75 seemed like a good increment. Those were still walkable in the snow. One mile was pushing it. And three miles as the next level up? That was where cars started. There was no difference between three and ten miles, really.

But Magic Guy didn’t notice this conversation, even if he might have been interested by its insight into the casual city-dweller’s psyche. No, he was too busy reeling from the vibrations in the air. Not the auditory vibrations from JACK-FM playing over the speakers, or the imperceptible (to humans) spray from the milk steamer. Not the shivering air currents from the people setting up Pathfinder miniatures at the table next to them, nor the emotions focused in his direction by the woman with an impeccably styled gray bob from the writers’ table in the back.

No, these were bad vibrations he was picking up. They were the opposite of the Beach Boys song.

His lungs lurched, and his heart contracted as the vibrating sensation strengthened, then washed over and through him. He grabbed the table to stay upright and was half-offended that his companions hadn’t noticed. (The other half of him was relieved he wouldn’t have to explain anything.)

Someone was performing dangerous magics nearby.

The dark power made his thighbones quake with the urge to run somewhere safe. But this was his place, and his story game circle didn’t deserve to have him abandon them with no warning. He sent out his magic senses through the room, trying to follow the unfriendly wave that had so jarred him. He turned, following a ripple in the ambient magic. There! He slammed his eyes open when he pinpointed the vile practitioner, the better to catch them in the act.

His quarry was Suzyn. Suzyn, whose feet still warmed Morena’s lap and whose fingers still tripped over the touchscreen of a sexy new iPhone. She was saying, “No, I haven’t liked any of the guys it’s sent you. I’m changing your underlying search settings.”

Morena grabbed for the phone, but she couldn’t reach the full length of Suzyn’s body and seemed disinclined to shift her best friend from a supposedly comfortable position for such a little thing. “You figured out how to get an options dash?” She made frustrated wavy motions with her fingers. “Show me!”

And Suzyn obligingly sat upright, tilting her chair in such an alarming manner that Magic Guy was sure she’d fall over. The two women crowded around the phone, and Suzyn poked at an icon while Morena jittered with anticip—

Magic Guy swooped in and scooped the iPhone out of their hot little hands. Well, little compared to his own hands, anyway. Well, Morena’s were. Suzyn had extremely long fingers for a female of the human species.

“Hey!” Suzyn objected.

“What gives?” Morena’s slang was more out of date.

In his hand, the phone felt oily and wrong, and not because it had one of those strange military-grade cases (it didn’t) but more as though it had been molded out of some unethical putty which had never once attended sensitivity training and didn’t think it was important to discuss consent or permissible acts with a new sex partner. This phone was the worst kind of PUA (pick-up artist), and he didn’t know why such beautiful people (soul-speaking) as Morena and Suzyn would own it.

review

A book about Seattle…check.  Friendship…check.  A non-romance book…check.  One thing that I kept thinking when reading the book was the movie Singles.  Yes, Singles.  Loved that movie even though I didn’t like the whole Grunge thing.  Nirvana killed rock and roll in my opinion.  But that’s a whole different post for me.

If I had to put a list together of the top 5 things I liked about the book, here goes:

1.  Seattle.  I’ve never been but I’ve always wanted to go.  Plus, the book reminds me of the movie Singles.

2.  Gaming…I’m not a gamer by any means but I love reading about it in books.  It sounds fascinating and interesting but I’m old and never got into when I was younger.

3.  Friendship…I love a book where an author can bring together people from completely different backgrounds and despite that, make me like them all.  Sometimes I don’t like one of them but in Cracked, I liked everyone.  In fact, Suzyn was my favorite character.  I know, I shouldn’t have liked her that much but trust me, I had a couple of friends like her.

4.  The phone itself…the magic that it held and the journey it takes them on.  Loved it.  Plus, I got to read more about Seattle.  😉

5.  Humor…yes, I’m old but I love when a book tickles my fancy and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments.  Plus, the magic element is nicely done and not too heavy of an element.

Things that didn’t work for me:

1.  The phone.  I know, crazy but I’m not an Apple person so some of the lingo and such went over my head.

2.  Gaming…some of the things I just didn’t understand and I felt lost at times.  Plus, I have the attention span of a gnat, so why you would want to sit and play games for hours is beyond me.

3.  The narrative voice.  Sometimes in the book, I wanted to know what someone else was thinking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love 1st person and I even write in 1st person but for some reason, I was put off by it here.

4.  I actually missed the romance.  Sure this is a book about friendship and not romance but a touch of it would have been nice.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  Anytime that I can sit down and read a book; dream about the place and laugh out loud.  I’m your girl.  I will say though that I wasn’t the target audience.  I would still recommend it to everyone to read.  Great humor, characters to love and SEATTLE!!!!

 

4harlies

recommend-harlies- new

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Author Information

Janine_A_Southard

 

Janine A. Southard is the IPPY-award-winning author of Queen & Commander (and other books in The Hive Queen Saga). She lives in Seattle, WA, where she writes speculative fiction and reads it aloud to her cat. She’s story gamed a few times and hopes to someday make a tie-in game for this novel, but first she needs to finish writing all the other books on her list. Besides Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story, she is also the author of:

Queen & Commander (The Hive Queen Saga, #1) – IPPY award-winner for Science Fiction (2013)

Hive & Heist (The Hive Queen Saga, #2) (2014)

“The Robot Who Stole Herself” (A Hive Queen Tie-In Short Story, 2014)

These Convergent Stars (2013)

“Maintaining a Free Mars” (2014)

“Prophesy Murder” (2014)

 

If you want email updates when Janine A. Southard’s latest books are released, sign up here (http://bit.ly/janinenews). You’ll be contacted for new releases and release-related news (like when her next Kickstarter project is coming). Usually, this is once a month or so, but sometimes goes longer or shorter. Your address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, you’ll get a free short story!

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Excerpt, Reviews

Review of Her Immortal Viking by Adele Downs

Her Immortal Viking_coverHER IMMORTAL VIKING by Adele Downs

Viking Warrior. Immortal Slave. Freed by Love.

Penny pleads for divine intervention from overwork and mountainous debt one desperate, lonely night. She sings songs of praise, chants like a yogi, and rubs her belly like Buddha until the crystal charm on her navel shimmers, hoping to draw the attention of someone up there.

From the place between heaven and earth, in the west beyond the seas, an immortal hears Penny’s cries. Once a fearless Viking warrior, Gunnar has been cast into eternal servitude by an angry god and made a Light Elf. While Penny sleeps, he comes to earth from Alfheim for a single night to complete her tasks. When she awakens and confronts him, the handsome immortal kisses her, sparking a night of forbidden passion. By dawn, the couple has fallen in love.

Dark forces target Penny, seeking revenge for Gunnar’s earthly misdeeds. To protect his mortal lover, Gunnar takes up his sword to defend her. Though his strength and courage are unmatched, it might be the power of Gunnar and Penny’s love that saves them both.

Excerpt:

He smoothed her hair and rubbed a thick tendril between his thumb and forefinger. “I am Gunnar.” He pronounced the name Goo-nar.

An emblem of the sun, surrounded by a circle, had been branded on the back of his powerful hand. Penny touched the scar while he held a length of her hair, recognizing Freyr’s sacred insignia from her textbooks. “The pain must have been excruciating.” Without thinking, she lifted the old wound to her mouth and laid kisses along its perimeter before pressing a kiss to the icon inside.

Tremors vibrated across her lips when they touched the ancient symbol and her body tingled with the contact. The brand grew warm and then hot against her mouth, though it did not burn. She ran her tongue over the thick scars to erase the heat, and then licked the center, finishing with a tiny swirl.

Gunnar’s gasp of surprise was the last thing she expected when she lifted her head. He released her hair and drew away.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. Have I offended you?” She’d always been popular with men, and comfortable around them, but her behavior with Gunnar was bold, even for her. She sat up. “Am I under some kind of spell?”

Gunnar shook his head. “I used my powers to heal you, but your free will remains intact.”

She searched his face for clues about what to do next, because desire shone behind the wary expression in his eyes. Something else shone there, too. Gratitude. Penny waited for Gunnar’s reply without letting go of his disfigured hand.

He said, “Kindness isn’t something I’m used to finding. Perhaps you’d be less inclined toward compassion if you knew what I’d done to deserve this brand of servitude.”

She reached out and draped an arm around his neck to bring him closer. Their gazes locked and held. Gunnar’s eyes were like pools of ice blue water that pulled her in and down.

Her breathing slowed while the sound of her heartbeat rushed blood through her ears. “I am Penelope. And if you’re from Alfheim, I know who and what you are. I just don’t understand why you’re here.” How could she deserve his rare, benevolent gifts? She was just an ordinary woman from an ordinary town, barely scraping by.

His warm breath grazed her cheek in shallow rushes, lifting goose bumps across her skin. His wide, firm mouth smelled of sweet ground parsley and fresh-picked mint. “Sometimes we get what we need, simply because we ask. That’s the beauty and power of the unexpected.”

review

Ever read a book by an author that you just love without even reading the blurb?  Yes, this is that one book.  Two reason why I agreed to read it:  Adele Downs is the author (LOVE HER) and the cover.  Okay and it was about a Viking…sorta.  I didn’t realize that it had fantasy elements in it much less some suspense elements.  As one can guess I don’t read fantasy at all.  I can’t keep up with all the players, places, settings and then the world itself.  I guess that’s why Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, etc. just doesn’t interest me that much.  Too much to remember and keep up with.  That said, I LOVE Thor so go figure.  So I took a chance with Ms. Downs leading me into a genre that I just didn’t understand much less read.  Boy, I am so glad that did.  🙂

What made this story so powerful and rich for me actually were the fantasy elements in it.  I didn’t have to have a map, roster, understanding of the world or for that matter, whatever place she was taking me.  Its set in two different places.  Earth and Alfheim.  Earth is Earth…boring and drab compared to the fantasy world.  Fascinating characters that has a king, demons, warriors, elves, fairies, etc. that held my interest from the first time that I was introduced to them.  Of course, I will saw it took me a little bit to warm up to Penny.  Good gosh that girl had the worst of times and I really could feel her despair when she first summoned Gunnar.  In fact, at times Penny had the best lines in the book.  From her trying to get Gunnar to understand human sayings (throwing him under the bus) to feeling hopeless when she couldn’t just summon him up again.

Gunnar was a dream and I really wanted justice for him in the end.  What surprised me about him was his speech to Skinner in the end.  Wow!  Another scene that really sealed it for me with Gunnar was when Miguel showed up again.  OMG!  I actually laughed out loud.  Great scene and I can sure bet that no one will ever mess with Penny…ever.  Plus, he made Penny see that she was worthy of love, too.  For someone that hadn’t been around women for a very long time, he truly didn’t know how to love and be loved in returned.

And this is what the story is all about.  Realizing that you are worthy of love and being loved in return.  Sure this story had sensual sex, romance galore, rituals, humor in all the right places and a hero to swoon over.  But in the end its about two people that completed each other heart, body and soul.  And did I mention that I would definitely seek out other fantasy books now.  Well, baby steps.  😉  At least I hope that Ms. Downs returns to Gunnar and Penny in the future.  I would love to see how his world deals with his offspring.  Hint, hint.

5harlies

recommend-harlies- new

 

 

 

About the Author:

Adele Downs writes best-selling contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.

Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. She has written several articles for RWR magazine (Romance Writers Report) and has presented workshops for writers.

When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach.

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