Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

I just wanted to take this moment to wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween.

Stay safe and have fun :)

 

Love Ana

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cruelty Free Cleaning Product Review: Mrs. Meyers Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets


 
Rating: 5 Glasses ( yes I am still rating with wine mostly because that is why I need good laundry detergent)
 
I chose to give this brand a try after smelling it at the store. I know not the most scientific way of doing it but hey I was new to this. The smell did not disappoint. It comes in a couple different scents but the Lavender is my scent of choice. I was skeptical of its ability to clean as well as the Tide pods I had been using but it has held up. I work with children, messy children, and my clothing is regularly covered in various foods and sometimes the occasional body fluid. This detergent has always gotten the mess out. The other great thing about it is that you need so very little. It is super concentrated and requires a small amount in each load and therefore a smaller container on your shelf. It works in a high efficiency machine and has caused no problems for my machine. I have sensitive skin and I was worried about it causing a breakout but no problems at all. My clothing keeps its colors and smells great when I get them out of the washer.
As for the dryer sheets....they are a god send! They are recyclable and when they come out of the dryer they are hard and not slick like normal dryer sheets. Amen to never slipping on a dryer sheet again (yes I have done that). I have had no problems with static or them damaging my clothing.
 
These two products have become stables in my house but I am open to trying others to give my opinion so keep a watch for other laundry products I may try :)
 
Ana 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why doesn't Leo DiCaprio have an Oscar yet?

I think the title says it all...why doesn't he? He has been nominated five times and yet no wins. Despite those five nominations I can think of several other films that he should of at least been nominated for.
Nominations are as follows: 1994-What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 2005- The Aviator, 2007-Blood Diamond, and 2014- Wolf of Wall Street.
I would like to add that he deserved at least a nomination for: 2011-J Edgar, 1995- The Basketball Diaries, 2010- Shutter Island.
He has yet to walk home with the Golden Man despite some of the best performances one can give, so what gives? Many have said that even though each performance he gave those years he was nominated someone else was better. I think that is subjective and so are the awards so I have to chuck it up to that but at the same time Leo always brings the A game. I can see a film being released and told Leo is in it and I am sold, despite not knowing what the film was even about. Originally is was because, well he is good looking, but as I grew to appreciate film more I was always in awe of his performance. The fact is this he has a new movie coming out: The Reverant and from the looks of the trailer this will be Leo's year. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Ana

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review of the Novel: In Lincoln's Shadow

In Lincoln's Shadow
By: Rohn Federbush

Rating: 4 Glasses

I never expected this novel to take me on the path that it did. I honestly thought it would be rather boring with quotes from Lincoln but I was happily surprised. The story focuses mainly on Bernie and her path from social worker to criminal investigator. It was more of a crime novel, a who done it, with pieces of learning love and family tied in. I became invested in Bernie and wanted to know how her life paned out and I was happy with the ending and the life she found. It was an enjoyable read and never got boring.

To Grab a Copy on Amazon Click here :)

Ana

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review of the film: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Rating: 5 Glasses

I think we should all just know what to expect when Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks work together....Brilliance! This is a loooong movie but it doesn't feel like it. The film has excellent pace and the characters keep you interested. Tom Hanks gives an Oscar worthy performance as the American lawyer (Jim Donovan) tasked with first defending a soviet spy then with trading said spy for one of our own spies captured by the Soviet Union. I couldn't look away for the entire almost three hours of the film. I am not very familiar with the actual facts of this real life situation so I cannot comment on the authentic nature of the film however it has intrigued me to learn more. I will have to talk about it again when I learn more about the facts in the situation.

Until then however this is a must watch!

Ana

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review of the Novel: The Watchmage of Old New York

The Watchmage of Old New York
By: C.A. Sanders

Rating: 4 Glasses

Fantasy is not my normal genre. I struggle with mythical creatures and keeping them straight. Is there a difference between a pixie and a fairy?? This is why I normally shy away from fanciful creatures in stories. However this novel's main characters are in fact human or at least I am pretty sure Nathaniel is still human despite being a wizard. The story goes back in forth in points of view from Nathaniel to his son Jonas giving the ready two points of view in terms of the investigation. The story centers around a kidnapping of a human child by magical forces. Jonas (a police officer) must team up with his father Nathaniel (a policeman of sorts for magical creatures) to solve the crime and bring the child home.
The book is easy to read and follow and kept me engaged in the mystery as it unfolded. I was able to finish it in just a couple days so it is a good length and the story didn't feel drawn out. If you enjoy a good mystery with supernatural aspects this is your book.

To buy click here :)

Ana

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Favorite Scary Movie: Psycho

With Halloween coming up I think scary movies are a must discuss. I really don't like horror or scary movies in general however Psycho is the exception. This movie holds up despite time and a change in technology but it is not alone. I recently showed a group of teenagers the original Poltergeist expecting them to think nothing of it. I expected them to laugh at it with its old school special affects and 1980s clothing but I was surprised by their reaction: THEY WERE SCARED! Their reactions were a testament to the great horror films out there.
When it comes to Psycho the same holds true. No nudity, no excessive blood, no language, and no need to play up the gore factor. Despite all that it still scares audiences to this day. Even audiences that are used to gore being used to scare them. The film Psycho is truly a classic and stands the test of time. If you haven't watched it you need to add it to your must watch list, if you have then you know how great it is. I plan to terrify some teenagers on Halloween with Psycho :)

Ana

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cruelty Free Cleaning a beginners guide: Step 1

My Blog is designed to review books and movies but I wanted to add cruelty free products to that list as well :) I know many people are weary of these products (especially cleaning products) due to them not being the popular name brands (as many I have found still engage in animal testing). But I want to reassure and encourage people to seek out these products and I will share my personal experiences with them and you can weigh in as well. Remember Ana will "REVIEW IT ALL" so lets get to work:

I am embarrassed to admit that I was na├»ve about the use of animal testing. I just thought to myself "Of course they don't test on animals anymore we have moved past that kind of barbaric testing in this modern age." Um yah I was wrong. Actor/Comedian Ricky Gervais brought it to my attention with a petition to stop the testing on Beagles in Great Britain. I was appalled and started to stare at my cleaning products and say to myself, "How do I know if these were not tested on animals? Or were they?"
Well I learned to Look for the Bunny:
 So Step 1: Check your products and see if your products live up to the cruelty free standard. If not no worries I will tell you all about the awesome products I have found.

Ana

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review of the short story: A Night at the Lake


A Night at the Lake

By: Victor A Davis

Rating: 4 Glasses

I love a good short story and this one does not disappoint. It is a throw back to the good horror stories. It has the blood and gore but doesn't rely on it to tell the story. The villains real motives are never really clear which adds to the suspense of the story. I won't give away the ending but it left it open for the more which I hope we get. It was a page turner that I was able to finish in about an hour. So, there is no excuse not to pick it up and give it a read. A great way to end a night well.... sorta I was checking to make sure my doors were locked before I went to bed.

To grab a copy click here :)
Ana 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review of the Film: Pan




Directed by: Joe Wright

Rating: 3 Glasses

I love Hugh Jackman. So I was thrilled at the idea of him as a pirate and he does not disappoint. As usual he brings his A game and is very entertaining.
In terms of cast I had two problems:
1- Hook has a weird accent that makes me think he is Bones from Star Trek and I have no idea why he sounds like that but it is off putting.
2- Tiger Lily is played by a Caucasian actress.
Number 2 is a big issue for me. Rooney Mara is a great actress and I am taking nothing away from her but Tiger Lily is a Native American character and should have been cast as such. I think when dealing with established characters in mainstream media you have to show the respect to the character as it was intended.
However with that being said the eight children ranged in age from 11-17 that I took to see this movie enjoyed it immensely and at the end of the day that is what matters. I enjoyed the film despite the issues that I had with characterizations and let's not forget they had a Nirvana song in the movie. For what reason I do not know.

Bottom Line: Bring the kids they will have a great time :) Adults may be less enthused.

Ana

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review of the book: Pieces like Pottery: Stories of Loss and Redemption



Pieces of Pottery: Stories of Loss and Redemption

By: Dan Buri

Rating: 4 Glasses

I was not emotionally prepared for what this book did to me. It is a collection of short stories about love and loss and the toll they take of the people involved. I was brought to tears several times and not because I could relate to what the characters were going through but I felt for their pain. I think however many people can more directly relate to what these characters go through as many have experienced that type of loss themselves.
The book kept me interested by keeping the stories compact. Writers can be temped to elongate a story for length sake but Dan kept things moving and I didn't lose interest. I did at times get a sense of "My life ain't so bad" when reading the tales of pain that these people had gone through. I really liked how Dan emphasized regularly the light at the end of the tunnel. Coming to terms with loss can be a burden that many people struggle with. Finding that light and getting there for these characters can uplift the reader to find their own light at the end of a loss.
All in all a great read that brought me to tears several times. If you are looking for a tear jerker with an uplifting message this is your book!

Click Here to go to Amazon to pick up a copy today!


Ana

STAR WARS!!!

I am super excited right now as I got Opening Night first showing IMAX 3D tickets to see the new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17, 2015. However I have to say it was a very stressful thing. The websites were struggling to handle the demand but I got through and walked away with 6 tickets! I hadn't even seen the new trailer when I bought them but since seeing it I am even more excited!

I know I am not alone in this one. Who else is going?

Ana

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Top 10 Movies of all Time

Like with all forms of entertainment, Films are subjective. So this list is up for debate, so bring it!
I rank based on my desire to watch a movie over and over again without it ever getting old. I don't judge based on success of the film or critical reviews but my own enjoyment.

10. Wall Street
9. Wanted
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Psycho (original)
6. Empire Strikes Back
5. Return of the Jedi
4. Marvel's Avengers
3. The Lion in Winter (original)
2. Pulp Fiction
1. Star Wars

There's a good bet if it is a chill night one of these is on at my house. If you haven't seen any of these you should check them out!

Ana

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Graphic Novels: Picture Books for Adults

Let's be honest that is what they are....and I love that about them. Many people don't take them seriously for that very reason. They are seen as a lesser form of literature because they have pictures and fewer words. They speak through images and dialog verses standard novels which rely on the readers imagination to form the images they describe. I have a comfort zone and will not deny it but when I see a graphic novel a friend may have I can't help myself from picking it up and giving it a read. The workmanship that goes into these books is most of the time very impressive and should be given the respect the art deserves both in the drawings and the dialog.

So here's my suggestion get out of your comfort zone, get to a comic book store, and check one out. You may surprise yourself and LOVE IT!

Ana 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review of the Novel: The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philippa Gregory

Rating: 5 glasses

This novel has a special meaning for me as it got me back into reading. I wasn't a big reader for much of my life but once this book got into my hands I have never looked back. The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on the life of Mary Boleyn the older sister of Anne Boleyn. She was Henry VIII mistress prior to his involvement with her sister Anne. Mary is a very sympathetic character in that she is a pawn of her powerful father and is used to advance the family. However Mary turns the tables after providing Henry VIII with two children ( at least one is most likely his, the second is in question but the book emphasizes that they were both his.) Once Henry switches his affections to her sister, Mary takes the opportunity to find love. She defies the orders of her sister Anne, now queen, and marries for love. Mary lives out the rest of her life poor, but happy.

 I think this book initially drew me in because it was about a lesser known historical figure who was in fact involved in some very important historical events. Her life really signifies the use of women by their families at that time for political gain with little concern for their own personal well being. Mary was mistress to the king, she got all the privileges that came with but longed for love not power. She is an easy character to cling to and this novel prompted me to do more research on her.

The novel is well paced and detail orientated. I never questioned what I was reading or what was happening. It truly is a must read. The movie adaptation on the other hand should be skipped.

Ana

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Problem with Historical Fiction

I love Historical fiction. I know it isn't a very popular genre but it always drags me in. I love it when a writer brings a historical figure to life the way no history book can. However it brings up a very important issue, What is the responsibility of the writer to stay on track with the facts? The creative process gives the writer the freedom to explore the character and bring them to life but what happens when they ignore the facts? Some say that is shouldn't be an issue, it isn't a history book it is a novel, a fictional novel at that. But can all people separate the two? Are we taking a story about a historical figure and taking the information as fact? As a writer I feel there is a responsibility when you take a real historical figure to respect the facts when writing the book. If you don't want to keep with the true storyline of the person then why write about them? Why not make up a character who you can do whatever you want with?
This came to full front when I watched the film "Elizabeth" staring Cate Blanchet. They played foot lose and fancy free with the facts to make a movie. The thing that upset me was that the real story is actually better!
One of my favorite authors is Philippa Gregory, her novels stay with the facts but add the extra excitement needed to keep the reader interested. It is possible to respect the facts and write an incredible story.

To be blunt if you don't want to respect the facts about a character make one up instead.

Ana

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review of the Novel: Groom and Doom

Groom and Doom
By: Theresa Braun

Rating: 3 glasses

I was very excited when I started this book to see that the book was told from Angela’s point of view. I love a story with a lead female protagonist at the head of the story. Although romance books don’t normally draw me in, her internal struggle with her own feelings and her struggle with her in-laws kept me intrigued. The pace was a little slower then I prefer but I stayed with it hoping to find out if she was able to make her marriage work despite external forces or if I even wanted her to. Angela struggles with the problems many couples have in trying to bring families together despite differences and I think it can really speak to a reader who has gone through or is going through the same type of situation.

I think this book would work best for the age of sixteen and up as it would harder for an audience member under that age to be able to understand and attach to the characters and what they are going through. 

Overall it was a great way to relax with its easy going pace. Great Job Theresa!

Grab a Copy :)

Ana

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The 50 Shades of Grey Debate

I am a bit behind the curve on this one but I felt I needed to weigh in. The book and subsequent film "50 Shades of Grey" sparked a lot of feelings among not just the reading community but also the public at large ( yes I separate them). People who never read it felt the need to judge it based on information they received from people who had (bad idea).
As someone who only read half of it I can only weigh in on what I read. It wasn't for me and I didn't wish to finish it. Many were appalled at the way the relationship between the two main characters especially in the way their sexual relationship went down. Wither or not I agree with the female characters choices to be in or stay in that relationship is not important ( I don't). The fact is it is a fictional story made for entertainment. I think we put a lot of emphasis on fictional things affecting reality. Books are designed to help the reader escape and if reading about a women being apparently happy in an abusive relationship does that then I say go for it. People love the Hunger Games novels and they are about children being forced to kill one another for entertainment. That's some pretty dark stuff that has been labeled as "young adult" fiction.

Everything is subjective, a healthy debate is one thing, telling people they are wrong for enjoying a book or film is wrong.

Ana

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review of The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Warning: Some Minor Spoilers)


The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Directed by: Wes Bell

Rating: 2 glasses

Ok I want to start out by telling you I didn't read the novel this film is based on. I had seen the first Maze Runner movie and really enjoyed it but again I had not read the book. So my review is based solely on it as a film and not as a book to film adaptation. I went into this movie expecting it to be very much like the first one and to continue the story of the survivors of the maze however it threw me for a loop within the first ten minutes. It is a zombie based post apocalypse world! I did not get that impression at all from the first film. The film had good pacing and did keep the viewers attention or at least mine and the two teenagers, that I work with, that I took to the film. They loved the movie and were all in to every action scene. I however was more confused by the plot holes. I never got a full understanding of what happened to the planet (they mentioned a solar flair but in passing) they also never really explained the zombie situation (where did the virus come from, how did it spread so fast, etc.) It was also much darker then I expected, the zombies brought a darker edge from the get go but again experimentation on children brought it to an even darker place. I am not sure the previews of this film gave an accurate depiction of what kind of movie it was. I saw large numbers of children under the age of sixteen in the theatre who may not be mature enough to handle the subject material.

In Summery for adults this film was fine but for kids I would say NO. If you are into the whole zombie apocalypse thing it is a great film for that but for those who prefer the action/adventure sans zombies I would pass.

Ana

Monday, October 12, 2015

Surviving the film adaptation of your favorite book

Ok I know, like many of you, I get very excited when I see that a book that stole my heart is going to be brought to the silver screen. However, many if not all of the time I find myself disappointed in the film adaptation. This caused me to look at why I was disappointed and why it just kept happening. The truth is most of the time it always will. From what I can tell it is for two reasons:

1- Cast- Which I want to point out first is not always the actors fault ( Sometimes it is) It has to do with the readers expectation for the character. When we read we get to develop a visual of what that character looks like but once it is movie time it is the director whose vision of the character that we see. And I hate to say it but their visualization of the character and yours will not always match up. I have heard this complain numerous times about Josh Hutchinson in Hunger Games. I regularly hear, "Peeta doesn't look like that, he is a taller and a stronger guy." Josh is a great actor who I would never take anything away from but many are not happy with him as Peeta. I even heard someone say it ruined the movie for them. I tested this theory by asking several people who read my book to cast my characters with any actor/actress they wanted. I found the result very interesting. None of them would have cast the same actor in the same role. How they saw the character and how they wanted to see the character on screen was very different. If you are going to survive this hurdle in enjoying your book to screen adaption you have to go in with an open mind to others interpretations of the characters.

2- Time- I say time because it is an issue when it comes to a film. A book can go on for as long as the author wants but a movie is normally restrained to about two hours. Take a 600 pages book and put it into a 2 hour movie and don't cut anything out? That would be a mission impossible. They will cut parts out of the book to fit time. They also do it to take out parts the director and screen writer feel drag the story or are not important to the story line. I made the error of reading "Half-blood Prince" right before seeing the movie. I was enraged at the movie. They cut out a ton of the story and to this day I never watch that movie despite watching the other Harry Potter films all the time. Surviving this one is a struggle you have to be prepared to lose parts of the story. The worst part is you may lose a part you really enjoyed.  

The fact is this. If you are truly enjoyed the book, take the time to give the film the same open mind you gave the book in the first place. If you don't think you can do it, don't waste your time on the movie. It will just disappoint you and maybe ruin your enjoyment of the book.

What are your thoughts?

Ana

Friday, October 9, 2015

I wanted to take a moment and give everyone a little insight into my world. I recently self-published my first novel and it has been quite the experience. Going it alone can be scary but also very rewarding. I never got into writing to try to "make it rich" I just enjoyed the creative outlet. It took me over 5 months to get Marie ready to share with the world and even then I was still apprehensive, "Will they like it?" "Will anyone actually buy it?" "Will I be laughed at?" All those thoughts along with about a thousand more ran through my head as I prepared Marie join the world of Amazon. However it is those fears that stop so many people from following their dreams as well. So I finally just sucked it up and put it out there and to my surprise people actually liked it!!! I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars. It motivated me to keep working and to keep dreaming big. My second novel "James" which is the follow up to Marie is in the editing faze and will be ready by Christmas.

I'm sharing this because I want to encourage everyone to not give up on their dreams no matter how big or how small. I'm not giving up, it's not in my nature :)

Ana

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hello All :) Welcome to my world. I started this blog to share my love for entertainment. So here's a little bit about me:

I am a writer. My first novel Marie is currently for sale on Amazon. My journey through self-publishing my first novel has given me a lot of insight into the struggles of other writers. I love to read new books so I welcome getting books submitted to me for a review on this blog. Also, films send me your favorite movies and we can debate movies, it will be a blast! :)

I am going to warn you all I have a cat, sooooo cat pictures will happen :)
 
Wait share cat and dog pictures too!!!

Till the next post :)
Ana