Movie Review: That Night

That Night
Director: Zachary Trussell
Writer: Zachary Trussell
Stars: Julio Alexander, Oscar Mansky, Julie Gester, Maureen Azzun, Boogie Williams, Kendall McCarthy, Michael C. Hyatt, and Alexander Louis
Rated: 3 Stars (6 stars on IMDB)
Review by: Astilbe

THAT NIGHT tells the story of a young unknown artist who is forced to confront his career ambitions and win back his ex-girlfriend during a drunken night in Chicago with his irreverent friends. Any night out in a big city has the potential to be a good night, the risk of being a bad night, and typically ends up somewhere in between, but only some nights can claim to be “That Night”—the night where little choices lead to big decisions, chance encounters to second chances, Uber drivers keep themselves busy in the strangest of ways and taking the wrong pill can be really bad for the upholstery. For STACY, an artist with one eye on the future of design and the other stuck looking hopelessly at his ex-lover, that night is tonight—and the city, Chicago. So yes, there will be drinking.

Anything can happen overnight.

I loved this film’s varied sense of humor. There was something here for everyone, whether you like jokes about the pitfalls of accidentally taking the wrong medication or how one should properly milk an almond. All of the characters had a good sense of humour and weren’t afraid to gently poke fun at themselves or others if the conversation warranted it. There is definitely something to be said for that!

It would have been helpful to have more character development. I don’t mind watching stories about people who may not be terribly likeable at first glance as those can often be the most interesting characters of them all, but I was hoping to see everyone mature a bit more as a result of their wild night. There were a few signs that the protagonist was going to work on his flaws, and I appreciated that. Had I seen it in his friends, too, I would have happily chosen a higher rating.

The romantic storyline was fresh and realistic, and I’m saying this as a viewer who was honestly not that impressed with it in the beginning. It’s always nice to be proven wrong, especially with something as creative as this. I loved the way the director included little hints about where he was going with the romance early on while still leaving space to interpret them in multiple ways. That’s a fantastic way to foreshadow the conclusion without spelling things out too directly, and it makes me want to see more from these characters and this crew.

That Night kept me guessing.

Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf by Charles R Darner Jr

Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf by Charles R Darner Jr
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Holiday, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Comedy, Horror, Inspirational
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A house party, a careless fire and a flash of the mystical create a supernatural force prone to seek revenge. As the bodies pile up, Chloe understands one of her playthings maybe behind the bizarre accidents her parent’s friends are experiencing. As no one believes her, she attempts to intercedes but to no avail. With help from the North Pole, can Chloe save her family who is now targeted.

If you are looking for a future New York Best seller then give his writing style a try. This is my third Charles R Darner Jr book that I’ve read and I find his writing to be original, creative and versatile. I don’t think there is any genre he couldn’t write. I look forward to following his literature work.

I’m not supposed to say how a book will make another reader feel, but only comment how the book made me feel in my reviews. However, I can’t help thinking out loud that Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf will leave the expected readers feeling unexpected.

I’ve honestly read this book twice now because I loved it that much. It starts off introducing and developing the main cast of characters rather quickly in an eye-opening plot. I’m not exaggerating when I say the first chapter is literally ‘hot’.

The rest of the story progresses with a steady momentum that elaborates into an engaging narrative that is full of plot twists. Surprising twists that make it impossible to put the book down. I will share that there were some horrifying moments.

Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf really resonated with me. It takes the concept of the classic story of the Elf on the Shelf, which is a Christmas tradition for many families, and spins a completely different holiday story with a mind-boggling inspirational ending.

It’s impossible to describe without giving away spoilers. All I can say is that I will not ask anyone if they have been naughty or nice this Christmas season, and I already donated our Elf on the Shelf to a new loving family since my children are old and grown. I just hope our elf doesn’t come alive and haunt us for giving him away. I’m not a fan of fire or ice. That will make sense after you read this book. It’s quite comical. I did laugh out loud a few times throughout the story.

This is where I’m going to end this review. I suggest buying this book for family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts. The classic elf tradition is to put the elf on your shelf between November 24 through December 1st. After reading Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf, I’ll never be able to look at an Elf on the Shelf and not have retrospection. I know I’m repenting for my naughty choices this year. This would be a great book to give to an adult with an elf as a joke gift. This story is destined to be listed on future Book Clubs to enjoy. I know I did.

Movie Review: Candy Jar

Movie Review: Candy Jar

Director: Ben Shelton

Writer: Chad Klitzman

Stars: Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba, Jacob Latimore, Sami Gayle, and Helen Hunt.

Rated: 4 Stars

Review by: Astilbe

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Anything is possible if you work hard enough at it, right?

Lona and Bennett would have been loathed to admit it, but they truly were two peas in a pod. They were both intelligent, hardworking, and stubborn teens who knew their many hours of studying and carefully-selected extracurriculars like debate club were going to get them admission to their dream colleges. There was nothing that was going to stand in their ways, not even each other. The acting was so well done that I kept forgetting this was a fictional story. That was how convincing both of these actors were at playing competitive and nerdy high schoolers.

I must admit that their strong personalities overwhelmed me a little at first. They were both so determined to be right about everything that neither of them was very good at listening to others. I admired their strong work ethics, but they both seemed like people who would be exhausting to spend a lot of time around in real life. They never took a break!

Luckily, those character flaws in these two characters provided plenty of fodder for both the dramatic and comedic moments in this film. Their personalities were so similar to each other that they were often on the same wavelength. This lead to moments of friction when they disagreed, but it also brought them of opportunities to find the funny side of their high-pressure lifestyles.

There’s something amusing about watching two characters realize just how much they have in common and what a good couple they might make. This was obvious to the audience from the very first scene, and it made me wonder if or when these characters would figure it out as well.

Candy Jar was a lighthearted romp that I’d recommend to viewers of all ages who love teen romances, dramas, or, better yet, both of these genres!

Size Matters by Robyn Peterman

Size Matters by Robyn Peterman
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Comedy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (290 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A few hard truths…Don’t bet on Hasselhoff, Bigfoot might actually exist, and searching for the impossible may lead you to your heart’s desire…

It’s a big fat hairy deal when I lose yet another bet to my best friend, Rena. Not only do I end up attending Bigfoot meetings with her kooky Aunt Phyllis, I find myself traveling with a band of reality TV, Sasquatch-hunting nut-jobs! Not to mention a suspiciously shady film crew. As if those little nuggets weren’t enough to send me on the express-train to Crazytown…I stupidly swore off men!

Clearly all this would mess up any gal’s social life, but the worst part of the story? The minute I send my libido on vacation, I meet Mitch. Yep, Mitch, the sexiest cop ev-ah. The hottest, best kissing, finest tushied, SINGLE guy I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’d rather be hot on his trail than anything that involves the word Big or Foot. But sometimes what you’re hunting for has been right in front of you all along …

I was looking for a book that could make me laugh, one that entertained and one that has a romance that worked. Size Matters is the first book written by Ms. Peterman that I’ve ever read. I can assure you that it won’t be the last. I was shopping for a quick read and the blurb caught my eye. I sneaked a peek at some of the reviews and every one I looked at mentioned laughter, hilarity and an HEA. So, I took a chance. This novel exceeded my wildest expectations and was a reading experience unlike any other in recent memory. Ms. Peterman is going on my list of “Newly Discovered Addicting Authors” of which there are only a handful and a half.
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The primary charm of Size Matters is the dialogue. The story is first person point of view of Kristy, the heroine. She has an unusual way of expressing herself. Profanity has never been so colorful, inventive or fun. The two secondary characters that give the heroine a run for her money in the potty mouth department are two old ladies that are as salty as sardines. Add in some short jaw dropping, eye popping, giggle inducing chapters from Pirate Dave and His Randy Adventures and a reader is hard pressed not to laugh out loud in an embarrassingly boisterous way. What that means is, hope you don’t read this in a public place unless you are okay with people looking at you funny while you are snorting, giggling and turning beet red. I did all three – but in the safety of my own home.

Even though I did figure out who was who much earlier than the heroine, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was entertaining to see how long and in what way Kristy figured things out. It got emotional at one point, but I took to heart Boo’s prediction.

Speaking of Boo – the cast of secondary characters are gems in this novel’s treasure chest of personalities. Every single person is unique and has strengths of their own that contribute to the overall success of this book. Did I say unique? That’s an understatement.

The hero in the book is Mitch. Every time he shows up with Kristy, I get the biggest kick out of her reaction. If anyone doesn’t believe that it’s possible to react as described when Kristy claps eyes on Mitch, they should watch the interaction between Heath Ledger and Sharon Strzelecki before the AFI awards in 2006. THAT is how I envision the heroine’s level of response to Mitch. It’s satisfactorily grin worthy.

As for the plot, it’s starts off zany and turns dicey but it never turns dark. The suspense is compacted into the culmination of all the clues coming together in the final exciting chapters. At that point the suspense is nail-biting, dramatic, intense and effective. The mystery of the mysterious goings on gets solved in a powerful wrap up.

The sparks singe a reader when Kristy and Mitch get physical. Now, when I think of handcuffs, I’ll think of Mitch. That scene was so seductive, if I wasn’t sitting while reading, I’d have been on the floor. Too bad it was short lived. It did, however, illustrate just how combustible and perfect the heroine and hero are for each other.

Seriously, Size Matters is an example of a spectacular storytelling style that is as addicting, entertaining and romantic as one could wish. Ms. Peterman has garnered herself a new fan. I. am. wowed.

Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Having a Baby by Karen Wiesner

Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Having a Baby by Karen Wiesner
Friendship Heirlooms Series Book 6
Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
Genre: Inspirational, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Comedy
Length: Full Length (193 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Clumsy girl Zoe Rossdale is back, married to the love of her life, Curt Bertoletti, and setting off on another crazy adventure–maybe the most fun and dangerous of all. Having a baby!

“I limped up the hill, glaring at the evil, innocent looking stool…”
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This was a first for me, I’ve heard about people who are this clumsy, but never really met them. This book brought me into the mind and life of a clumsy married woman.

Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Having a Baby does not start at or before the wedding. It starts five years into the marriage. This was a simple love story, but a love story that does a fantastic job of depicting married life. As the much anticipated follow up to Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love, it was a neat way to see what happens when the honeymoon is over.

I loved reading about Zoe’s clumsy “accidents”. They were hilarious to the point of being almost unbelievable.

It was so easy to visualize this young woman who trips over blades of grass or air. A young woman who gets into a lot of clumsy accidents and then she gets pregnant. Gets big and can’t see her feet. If for nothing else this book should be read for the hilarity of it all.

That being said, Zoe’s clumsiness is not the only story here and that is a good thing. The book has some serious parts which made it all the more real because a marriage is sometimes serious. Couples don’t always communicate well and sometimes they disagree. It’s real life. The romance is hot but the bedroom door is firmly closed.

A clever story told mostly from Zoe’s POV but with insight into Curt’s take on it all. A very entertaining read.

Be Mine by April Hollingworth

Be Mine by April Hollingworth
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Comedy
Length: Short Story (57 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Beth has always loved Mark. He was the boy of her dreams even though she was nothing more than his little sister’s best friend. Now he’s back from the military and looking at her differently. Though that could be the plate of lasagna she dropped in his lap.
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A series of mishaps gives Mark opportunity to spend time with her. He is sure that he is the man for her but experience has taught Beth not all men can be trusted. Can he convince her that he wants her to be his for Valentine’s Day and ever after?

Beth hadn’t seen Mark in years, but when she does he’s definitely all grown up and quite a stunning man. Caught off guard, she accidently drops a plate of lasagna in his lap, and things only spiral out of control from there. Mark doesn’t instantly recognize Beth – she’s all grown up herself – but having hot food dropped on his pants, and then Beth trying to wipe it all up most certainly caught his attention. Mark is instantly smitten, but wooing Beth is not an easy road to take. Can he convince her to be his?

I found this to be a fun, lighthearted romance novel, almost a comedy. Klutzy mishaps and plenty of laughter are filled in this great short story, but I really appreciated how there was still a decent sized plot and interesting characters. Beth has her secrets, and not an easy past she’s working on overcoming and Mark also has plenty of surprises. I loved how the characters were interesting and vibrant. Readers who enjoy laughing as much as sighing happily at their romance should find this as good a read as I did.

There are plenty of heated glances and a couple of steamy kisses. This is definitely a sweet romance though, with everything occurring behind firmly closed doors. Coupled with the plot and strongly humorous story-telling I feel this should appeal to a very wide range of readers of all ages and interests.

A fun, happy story that I greatly enjoyed. I will definitely be looking for more of Ms. Hollingworth’s work.

Something Old, Something Dead by Misty Simon

Something Old, Something Dead by Misty Simon
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Comedy
Length: Full Length (252 Pages)
Heat level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Ivy Morris never thought she’d be walking her new stepmother down the aisle to her father. Not a flawless event, because, really, when is anything in Ivy’s life flawless? At least she avoids tripping. It’s the reception that has the flaw. The wedding singer nearly chokes to death on a glass of water, and then Ivy’s sister finds something unexpected in the parking lot.

And that’s not all. Something odd is going on in the sleepy little town of Martha’s Point — for some reason, no female under the age of fifty can keep her hands off Ivy’s boyfriend. Ivy’s little shop enjoys a tremendous increase in business as those women keep running in to buy more new sexy lingerie, but her heart is anything but happy.
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What will it take to solve these mysteries? Is Ivy up to it? Well, she’s about to find out.

She just can’t seem to avoid a good murder mystery, no matter how hard she tries.

Ivy Morris owns her own shop in the sleepy town of Martha’s Point. She’s still a little new to the area but already managed to earn the reputation as a trouble-making outsider by the townspeople, except by those she’s helped. However, on the day of her father and stepmother’s wedding, a death occurs and she’s once again plunged into a murder mystery. If that wasn’t enough, she realizes that there’s something fishy going on with the females in this town. They have been jumping on her boyfriend left and right.

The story had a main plot and a sub plot that had me reaching for the book at every chance to find the whys and hows and see how Ivy gets out of this latest scrape. I got the impression it was more of a romantic mystery but it had enough comedic elements to keep it from going down a dark mystery direction.

Ivy wants to fit in the town and be called one of them rather than still being known as as an out-of-towner. So when the murder is discovered, she tries to stay out of it but circumstances do not allow her to do that.

Something Old, Something Dead is not shown as a series in Goodreads but it’s definitely part of a series. Actually, it’s the fourth book in the Ivy Morris mysteries. The first one was Poison Ivy. For readers who like reading the stories from the start to finish this may become slight problem but, this one could also be enjoyed as a separate cozy mystery. A satisfying mystery with a good dose of comedy. This one is an easy recommend.

Zach’s Rebound Girl by Monique DeVere

Zach’s Rebound Girl by Monique DeVere
Publisher: Crystal Swan Publications
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Chick Lit, Comedy
Length: Full Length (241 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Television property renovator Maddison de la Botella is popular, adored, and on the brink of snagging the opportunity to restore her ancestral home. Life couldn’t glide along more smoothly. That is, until the night she discovers the sexy man ogling her in her hot tub is none other than Zachary Canady!

He’s still way too gorgeous, still makes her heart flip—and still sees her as just a friend. Back in uni, as her best friend, Zach made sure she understood men wanted exciting women. And there was nothing exciting about Maddie. Now ten years on, here’s her chance to make him notice she’s a living, breathing, desirable woman—even if she almost cracks a tooth to prove it.

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Party boy meets quiet nerd. An unusual friendship becomes a spicy romance.

Zach’s Rebound Girl was a classic romance in the first part of the story. It took some time for the mystery and the suspense elements to come to light. Actually, the mystery and the suspense elements were practically non-existent in the first part of the story. When it did come to light, the development was slow at first and then it took off. It kept me on the edge till the end.

Maddison was a nerd in college who had a crush on her best friend that secretly turned into love over time. Zachary always had a special place in his heart for Maddison. After college he has a successful business but he wants his best friend back. Maddison is a renovator in a television show. However, when incidents starts happening on the set her friends and Zach suspects there is more to it than simple accidents.

Zach and Maddison parted on less than amicable terms when they were in university. When Zach left without informing Maddison, it hurt her beyond anything. She wants Zach in her life not as a best friend but as a lover, a partner. Will they be able to get past their insecurities and secrets to commit on a forever after?

Both of the main characters, when they meet after years apart, have a lot of chemistry and passion between them. I could see it even if they couldn’t right away. That also played a big part in keeping them apart until they start to really communicate. One other thing I loved about these characters was, even after years without really seeing or talking to each other they knew and understand each other, as well as believed that both of them has changed somewhat in those years apart.

This is a book for the romance lovers who love a little bit of mystery and suspense added to it.