Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Movie Review- The Woman In Black

I love me a good ghost story. I love to be scared. I mean, LOVE to be scared. I love the anticipation, I love build-up and I LOVE the reveal.
And it seems like it's been forever since we had a good old fashioned ghost story!
Sure, we get a ton of blood and gore...but when was the last time you saw a real GHOST story?

The Woman In Black fills that void nicely.
Of course, it does have its flaws. It starts off VERY slowly. The first 50 minutes are a snore-fest. But after that, it's a fun and jumpy ride!

Daniel Radcliff does a decent job in his role as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer who travels to a remote village around the turn of the century--no, not the LAST turn. The one before that--to put the affairs of an estate in order after the widow who lived in the creepy old house dies.
It's not a particularly challenging role, but it was probably a good film to start with after being our Harry for over a decade.

And trust me when I say...this ain't our Harry Potter. ;)

The story itself is nothing we haven't seen before. Creepy house, ghosts, things that need resolving, Harry Arthur has to try to right a wrong.
But because it's been so long since we've seen a good old fashioned ghost story (did I mention that already?), this movie feels fresh and different and spooky.

The scares are great. We don't just get the usual jump-out-and-yell-boo scenes, but we get some deliciously creepy moments that made me giggle with delight.
(Er, did I mention that I giggle at horror movies? Does that make me weird?)
And if you get the opportunity to see this in a theater full of teenieboppers, I urge you to go.
Usually I avoid going to theaters full of teens like the plague, but hearing their screams and watching them jump will definitely add to your enjoyment in this case.
And if you have teens of your own to go with, all the better! Just watch for flying popcorn bags when they fall out of their seats. ;)

I've always loved horrors that take place in the 'olden days', and the costumes and make-up are really well done in The Woman In Black.

This is definitely a solid, FUN movie...with a really nice little twist at the end that, while not completely surprising, was one I didn't expect.

If you haven't seen it and you enjoy non-gory horror movies, go see this one!
Then come back here and let me know what you thought of The Woman In Black!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Movie Review- The Descendants

Before writing this review, I decided to go through George Clooney's IMDB page. Oddly enough, it seems that I haven't seen a whole lot of George Clooney films!
I suppose that the types of films he tends to gravitate towards just don't interest me, and I can honestly say that if The Descendants hadn't been on Oscar nominee, I probably wouldn't have seen it, either.

I wish I could say that this is Clooney at his best, but, you know, since I haven't seen a ton of Clooney movies, I don't feel qualified to!
I can say, however, that out of the few Clooney films I HAVE seen, this was by far his best and most moving performance.
(What I've seen- His Batman movies, Ocean's Eleven, Dusk til Dawn, Perfect Storm, and O, Brother Where Art Thou?)

In The Descendants, George Clooney plays Matt King, the father of two daughters who has to re-evaluate his life after his wife suffers a tragic boating accident.
Clooney is very convincing as a father who's lost touch with his girls, especially considering that he has no kids himself and thus, has no real life experience to draw on!
King is charming and aloof and Clooney seems just perfect for this role.

Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller are also wonderful as Alex and Scottie, King's two daughters.
They both play their parts unbelievably well, and the addition of Nick Krause as Sid brings a much-needed added touch of humour to an otherwise emotional and heavy movie.

Both the film and Clooney himself are well deserved of the Oscar nods they received.

The Descendants is a touching, moving and thoughtful movie set against a beautiful Hawaiian backdrop that WILL have you in tears from time to time. Have tissues close. ;)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Movie Review- Tree Of Life

I honestly have no idea what to say about this movie. It literally left me a very, very not-good way.

Basically? This movie was pompous and confusing. I get symbolism. I get imagery. But this? This was tripe. 40 minutes of muddled, fractured images that do nothing but make the viewer throw up their hands in frustration is one thing, but it you can even get through the first of those, the story that follows is also rubbish.

The official summary is this-

"The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith."

But I didn't see that AT ALL. Was I watching the same movie?
What I saw was a horrible, abusive father, a completely screwed up, mean, potential-serial killer kid and a mom who was pretty much loony tunes and living in some fantasy world either fighting one another or hugging and kissing each other for no apparent reason at all.

If this movie wins the Oscar, I will lose all faith in humanity and I may just drown myself in a bathtub full of chocolate.

In closing, DON'T SEE TREE OF LIFE! It's 2 hours and 18 minutes of your life you'll never get back!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Why I've Been Quiet

That photo above? That's a photo of my 3 year old daughter's x-ray. It was taken today at the office of a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. 
My poor baby girl broke her leg Monday. I don't know exactly how, which leaves me feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt.
She was playing in her room when she started to scream. I ran in and she was on the floor, holding her leg.
Knowing my girl, I'm pretty sure she was jumping off her bed onto the floor and landed wrong.

Her fracture, as you can see in the photo, is a spiral fracture. That means it spirals around the bone because her leg twisted forcefully enough to cause a break.
The top arrow is where the break starts...the little crack there.
From that spot it spirals around to the back of the bone, then comes back around the front, where the second arrow is.
The break then comes down the front of the bone, ending at the third arrow.
It's basically fractured from mid-shin to just above the ankle.

And so, my poor girl has to wear a full leg cast.
She chose purple.

She'll have to wear this cast for three weeks, then it comes off and we get more X-rays. If they look good, we can go home happy.
If not, or if she's still in pain, she goes back into a cast--but it will probably be a half-leg cast, which means she'll be able to bend her knee and walk on it.

That's the most difficult thing so far. Not being able to walk and not being able to straighten her leg or foot.

The break HAS to heal in the position they put her leg in...knee bent, foot flexed. Can you imagine being kept in that one position for THREE WEEKS??

During the day, she's a trooper. I keep her busy with video games (don't judge me! :P), TV, computer games, arts and crafts and toys.
But bedtime is rough.
She can't get comfortable, she tries to get her fingers under her cast, she pulls and tugs at it and she cries and cries.
She begs me to take it off and she doesn't understand why I can't. We were both in tears tonight.
It breaks my heart that I can't fix this. I would give anything to take this from her.

So, now you see that I've had a week from hell. First the news about Neil hitting the media, and now my sweetheart breaking her leg.

So, I hope you can forgive me if I'm a bit scarce. I promise to post more as she adjusts to life in the cast.

Have any of you dealt with small kids and broken bones? I'd love to hear how you managed...advice is most welcome!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Neil I Knew

Word came Thursday that Neil Hope, who played 'Wheels' on Degrassi, had died....five years ago.
I woke that day to eleven messages on my answering machine and dozens of messages on Facebook from media outlets across Ontario.
Why were they trying to contact me?
I am Neil's former fiancee, and this is our story.

Like almost all Canadian's who grew up in the 80's, I was a Degrassi fan. I remember watching it every week, right after Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Heck, we even watched it in our grade 7 health class.
I have to confess...I was more of a Snake fan than a Wheels fan. Boy, would THAT change.

In 1998, I moved to Hamilton and started working at Money Mart. A few months later, a new guy was hired...a guy who looked awfully familiar.
On his first shift, I couldn't help but glance his way. Often.
Was he...? Wasn't he...?
I finally worked up the courage and said, "You know, you look so familiar..."
He replied quietly, "Well, I used to be on TV."
And, like a huge dork, I actually yelled, "DEGRASSI!"
He quickly grinned, shushed me, and nodded as he looked around to make sure no one else had heard me.
D'oh! What a horrible first impression, right?

We continued to work together, and I slowly got to know Neil. The real person, and not the character I grew up with.
A few weeks passed and we started to hang out outside of work. We'd go to a local restaurant, sit at the bar, have a few beers and watch the Leafs games.
We got to know the staff at the restaurant, and they eventually became good friends. We even attended the wedding of one of the managers a few years later!

I honestly don't know how the romance began...One day we were just friends, and the next we were a couple. It just happened....and how could it not?
Neil was sweet and smart, and so very funny. No one could make me laugh the way he could. With just a story, Neil could have the whole room doubled over with laughter, tears streaming down their faces gasping for breath.
That was Neil.

He moved in with me, and life was good. We were happy. And then a bomb went off in my world.
In May of 2000, my father died after a short illness. I thank God everyday that I arrived in time to say my final goodbye to him.
He lived 6 hours away, in Espanola, Ontario, and I was away from Neil for weeks while I helped my brother get my dad's affairs in order.
Life got tough for Neil and I...and he finally just dropped everything, got on a bus and rode the 6 hours to be with me.
And be there he was. He stood right by my side while I grieved for my dad. He was my strength.
You see, Neil had lost his dad, too. In the exact same way I'd lost mine...cirrhosis of the liver.
Neil knew exactly what I was feeling, exactly what I was going through. Neil was...amazing. I never could have gone through what I did without him.

While we were in Espanola, he met my children...and taught my son, who was 8 at the time, to throw a football.
Neil didn't want kids of his own, but he was great with mine. They adored him. (I had joint custody of my children.)

We stayed up north for a month or two, going between Espanola and Sudbury (I grew up in both towns and had family there).
Once, we were staying in a hotel in Sudbury and some old friends just happened to be staying at the same hotel.
Of course, they wanted to meet Neil and so they did...and that's how Bobby and Yas from Dead Celebrity Status ended up partying with 'Wheels'. ;)

One day, while Neil and I were in the mall, he said he had something to do and he'd meet me back at the hotel room later.
I found that odd, but what could I do? I went back to the hotel room to wait.

A few hours later, Neil showed up and made me go wait in the bathroom because he had a surprise for me.
So, there I stood, in the bathroom, wondering what the heck was going on!
He made me close my eyes and lead me out of the bathroom. I opened my eyes and there was a HUGE white teddy bear on the dresser.
"Aw", I thought. "Very sweet. But I had to hide in the bathroom for this?"
Suddenly, Neil went into his pocket and took out a small ring box...and my heart stopped.
He opened the box and there was the most beautiful ring I'd ever seen.
He looked into my eyes and--yes, I remember his exact words--said, "Christina, until I met you I never knew what real happiness was. I love you. Will you be my wife?"
And I BAWLED. I sobbed like a baby, but through my tears I somehow said yes.
After I'd calmed down, I teased him about not getting down on one knee.
He thought he HAD! He was SO nervous that he'd forgotten what he wanted to say and thought he'd stumbled the words out. I had to reassure him that it was perfect.
Can you imagine that? This man who'd spent his whole life in front of a TV camera was SO nervous about proposing to plain little me? That still makes me giggle.

Neil called his mother right away to tell her the news, and then I called mine. Our families were over the moon happy for us.
And so were we.

In July of 2000, just a couple of weeks after we'd gotten engaged, my mother got married in North Bay. (My parents had been divorced since I was a teen)
I was the Maid of Honour, and of course, Neil attended with me.
He spent that day with the 'boys' of my family. My brother, my uncle (who was very young--only 3 years older than Neil), my cousin and a close family friend.

Left to right: Neil, my brother Sean, my cousin Paul, my uncle Chris, close friend Marc
and my son in the front

He spoke of that day with so much love for months afterward. How great it felt to be a part of our family. How accepted he felt. How loved.
It was a wonderful bonding experience for the boys as I stayed with my mother to get ready.

From the pews, Neil was the cameraman. He recorded the whole wedding and the important bits of the reception afterwards.
One particular highlight was the garter toss. All the guys were on the lawn and Neil wanted that garter.
He jumped, he pushed, he scrambled...but he just couldn't get to it before my brother snagged it out of the air.

Neil in the back, my brother reaching up.

Neil promptly chased my brother around the yard trying to grab it from him while the rest of us laughed and teased him.

Finally, we returned home to Hamilton...but the good times continued.
We took a trip to Niagara Falls and visited all the museums.

We took a day trip to Toronto where Neil played tour guide for me. He took me up the CN Tower (my first time, ever!), we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame where we met Lanny MacDonald, then we saw the Leafs play the Blackhawks...18 rows up from the ice, right behind Cujo in net!
...the Leafs lost 3-2.

We took another weekend trip to Toronto and went to the CNE and Ontario Place, then went to see Buddy Guy and BB King play at the Molson Amphitheater.
Neil LOVED the Blues and he adored BB King, so he was just awed the whole night. Watching him at that concert was like watching a little kid meeting Mickey Mouse. His eyes lit up and they shone with excitement. His face was flushed and he grinned the whole night.
And me? Well, I'm not a Blues fan...but to this day that was the best concert I've ever been to.

Neil also introduced me to his favourite movies. I grew up loving classics, but Neil opened that door even wider.
When he discovered I'd never seen Driving Miss Daisy, he went out and rented it that night...and then cried right along with me as we watched.
His favourite movie was Raging Bull and he made me watch that. He loved On The Waterfront, so he made me watch that. His favourite actor was Clint Eastwood, so he made me watch Unforgiven.
And I loved every single one of the movies he 'made' me watch.

Neil was also attentive and caring. One Christmas he bought me a ring....and this ring I still wear, on my right ring finger, to this day.
He was not the father of my children. He didn't live with my children...but he knew how much my children meant to me and how much I love them.
So he bought me a mother's ring. It's a plain gold band with three small stones. The middle stone is my birthstone, December. On either side of that are two more birthstones, one for each of my oldest children, both born in September.
I cried almost as hard when he gave me that as I did when he proposed.
He'd not only remembered my birthday, but he'd remembered my children's birthdays as well...and he'd been so selfless, so sweet, so connected to me, that he just KNEW what the perfect gift would be.

And then there was the surprise party he threw for my birthday. Well...TRIED to throw me.
He had it all planned out. He took me to dinner at a great restaurant, and we were to go see a show afterwards.
But, uhoh! Neil had forgotten the tickets, so we had to return home to get them.
Well, we walked in the door and, 'SURPRISE!" four or five people jumped out and yelled!
Apparently Neil had invited over a dozen...but only ONE friend (thank you, Jay!!), and some of my family had shown up. LOL!
But he'd TRIED and that was what was important. :)

Neil didn't flaunt who he was...he actually preferred that my friends and family NOT bring up who he'd been once...and they respected that.
But, of course, he did get recognized while we were out. Often.

I remember two of those times in particular. One was early in our relationship.
We were at 'our' hangout, the local restaurant I spoke of above. I went to use the restroom and I heard two girls enter after me.
They were literally GUSHING. "OMG, that's WHEELS! OMGOMG, should we SAY anything?" they went on and on and on.
I finally came out of the stall and told them that he was NEIL, my boyfriend, and that he was there to have a night out. He preferred to be left alone, and I hoped they would respect that.
Then I walked out.
Little did I know that one of the girls was the bartender's (who happened to be a good friend of ours!) girlfriend!
Well, didn't I feel the fool? Ha! (Sorry, Pete!)

The second time is even more amusing.
Neil and I were having a romantic dinner at The Keg. In the middle of our meal, the WHOLE staff of the restaurant came over to our table. There were at least 15 people crowded around him! The chef, the sous chef, the dishwashers, the wait was insane!
They all asked for his autograph, someone had a camera (this was before camera phones, remember!) so photos were taken...meanwhile, there I am, forgotten, eating my surf and turf, being pushed and cajoled as Neil smiled and laughed and made pleasant small talk with his fans. Finally after all the autographs had been signed and all the pictures taken and they STILL weren't leaving, Neil gently said, "Guys, I'm here with my fiancee. Thank you all for coming to say hi, but we'd like to get back to out dinner now."
Of course, they were slightly embarrassed. They left, Neil took my hand, apologized and we went back to out meal...and he didn't let go of my hand for the rest of the night.

You may ask yourself why I'm writing this. Why am I sharing these stories with you?

All I can do is be honest....I miss him. I miss the Neil I knew and loved and I want the world to know THAT Neil. MY Neil.

The press is focusing on his death...He died alone...He died unknown. And that's devastating and heartbreaking and it makes me SO ANGRY.

But to heal and to remember him the way I MUST remember him, I needed to tell you...tell the world...his stories. Our stories.

Wherever you are Neil, I know you're always with me. You're always in my heart.

I know that I'm doing exactly what you would want me to do...and I know you're proud of me.
Just be my rock one last time so we can get through this...and then you can finally--FINALLY--rest peacefully.

That's our story. And THAT was my Neil.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What Am I Watching?

People ask me what I'm watching. What I think of this show. Have I seen that show.
And since, you know, I LOVE talking about TV, I figured I'd post about what's currently on my must-see TV list!

Once Upon A Time
Obviously, I adore this show. I can honestly say that this has become my favourite. I never miss an episode and I blog about it right after I watch it.
If you love fairytales, romance, mystery and drama, you'll love this show.

The Walking Dead
They had me at 'zombie apocalypse'. C'mon. What's not to love??
If you're not a fan of blood and gore, cursing and death, you may want to skip this one.
But if you love zombies and apocalypses, this is the show for you!

Talking Dead
This follows the Walking Dead at midnight. It's a fun little talk show hosted by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist). He and guests discuss the previous Walking Dead episode.
If you like TWD and you're a night owl, you'll enjoy this show.

I'll admit that the last two seasons haven't been as good, but in this, it's final year, I have to watch to the end.
I still love that cranky, miserable Doctor. I'll miss him.
If you haven't watched before now, I wouldn't bother getting into it. 

I'm sitting on the fence with this one. The first episodes were great, but I find myself getting bored with it now.
But I love Jorge Garcia, so I'm going to stick it out for awhile.
If you like supernatural stuff, you may enjoy this show.

Being Human (NA)
A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost walk  into a bar...
But seriously, this season is (so far) much better than season 1. The show finally seems to be breaking away from it's UK counterpart, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Why would I want to watch two shows that are exactly the same, y'know?
This show also has some gore and slight nudity. But if you like paranormal and supernatural shows, you'll  love Being Human (NA).

Like Once Upon A Time, this is a show of fairytales...but it's a VERY different type of show.
It's much darker. Where OUAT is a romance/drama, Grimm is a crime drama. 
If you like CSI/Criminal Minds-type shows, you'll like Grimm.

The Secret Circle
Yes, I know it's a show for teens, but it's really well written and fascinating in it's own little way!
If you like The Vampire Diaries, magic/supernatural shows, you'll like The Secret Circle.

Hello...Nathan Fillion? Need I say more? ;)
Everyone will like this show.

I started watching this show because of Sarah Michelle Geller....and it quickly sucked me in.
Yes, it can be cheesy at times, but it's just different from anything else on TV, it's clever, and it always leaves me hanging. 
If you like soap operas, mysteries or thrillers, you'll like Ringer. But watch from the beginning. You'll be lost if you start it now.

New Girl
This is one of only two sitcoms you'll see on this list. Sadly, I just don't like many of today's sitcoms.
This one, however, I adore. Zooey Deschanel is hilarious. 
Everyone will love this show.

The River
Only a couple of episodes in and I'm hooked. I LOVE spooky and The River is spooky! C'mon...that doll tree?! Creepy as heck! I've been waiting for a show like this for a long time. I really hope it stays as good as it started.
If you enjoy being scared, you'll love The River.

The Big Bang Theory
The second sitcom on my list. The perfect show for geeks. Absolutely hilarious.
Everyone will love this show.

Grey's Anatomy
Totally hooked on this show. I love everything about it. I've been watching for years and this is one that I know I'll watch until the end.
We don't yet know if there will be another season after this one, but either way, it'll go out on a high.
If you like medical dramas, you'll love Grey's.

A Gifted Man
I admit that I only watch this because there's nothing else on Friday's at 8. This show I can take or leave. When I watch it, I like it, but I don't miss it if I'm not able to see it.
Again, if you like soaps or medical dramas with a bit of paranormal thrown in, you'll probably like this one.

Another show I'm hooked on. I love the mystery, the questions, the puzzles.
Again this year, it's on the bubble between renewal and cancellation. From what I understand, the writers have an end game planned for either, thank God. 
If you liked Lost, you'll like Fringe...but, like Lost, you have to watch right from the first season to know what's going on.

This is just a fun show. There's not a lot of thinking, there IS a lot of eyecandy, and you can jump right into it anytime.
This season they've gone bock to their roots with the 'monster-of-the-week', and I much prefer that over the story arcs they've had in the previous seasons.
If you like supernatural shows, you'll love, er...Supernatural. 

It took me two attempts to get into this show, but now I adore it. I've always loved the story of King Arthur, and this is a much different story than we know.
If you enjoy British dramas, tales from Camelot, magic and fairytales, you'll love Merlin.

Those are the shows that I CURRENTLY watch. Of course, there are shows that I'm planning to add to that list as soon as I can get caught up on them.
Downton Abbey, The Vampire Diaries, Sherlock and Revenge are four at the top of my list.

So! What are YOU watching?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

YA Book Review - Worlds Burn Through

Source: Net Galley Request
Published: January 20, 2012
Series: The Chronicles of Nowhere Book #1

Chloe Burke has nightmares of a world burned to ash and the strange boy who saves them both. 

Underneath the dreams lurks a deeply buried reality; Chloe and a handful of others are survivors of a decade old apocalypse that burned their home world to the ground.

Now their ancient enemies hunt them again. To keep their adopted world safe, Chloe must undergo a ritual of blood sacrifice that will have life-long consequences if she survives. Her lethal protector, Eliot Gray, must keep her alive long enough to do it. 

Together they will uncover even more dangerous secrets buried in the past’s deepest, darkest ashes.

Worlds Burn Through is a really great little novel. I say 'little' because it's short. VERY short. TOO short! 

Vicki Keire has a wonderful way with words. Her descriptions are so vivid and they make this book really come to life.
The characters are written beautifully, and I can guarantee that most teen girls (ahem, and some 'older' girls!) who read this book will fall in love with Eliot pretty much as soon as he's introduced.

The only issue I have is, as I mentioned above, it's much too short. Yes, it's only book one of a trilogy, but it seems to me that the next two books will have to be much longer to fit everything in!
It's a great teaser book that will leave you wanting more.

This book will be a hit with older teens--And I should warn you, this IS a book for older teens, I'd say 16+. There is some language (the F-bomb is dropped a few times), so don't buy this for the littler ones.

I really enjoyed this book and I'm definitely looking forward to the next two!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Once Upon A Time 1.12 - Skin Deep

It's no secret that my favourite fairytale is Beauty and the Beast. I mean, I named my daughter 'Belle'. 
So THIS was the week I've been looking forward to since day one.
I'm so glad, it didn't disappoint!

Written by the amazing Jane Espenson (Buffy, Torchwood, BSG), I knew this episode had to be a hit.

In Fairytale Land, we meet Belle, played wonderfully by Lost's Emilie de Ravin.
Belle's father's kingdom is threatened by the Ogre wars, and Belle suggests they bring in Rumpelstiltskin to help.
Of course, when Rumpel helps, a price must be paid. This time his price is Belle...and thus Rump becomes our Beast in this tale.

Rumpel takes Belle to his castle and, of course, like in the story, they start to fall in love.
They share a few very sweet moments, including Rumpel catching her in his arms when she falls from a height, and an adorable chipped teacup moment. (That was so awesome, right?!)

Rumpel allows Belle to take a trip to town and, sadly, here's where things go wrong.
Belle 'runs into' the Evil Queen. (Dun dun DUN!)
Belle confesses her love for Rumpel to the Queen, but she fears that he has a dark streak that she won't be able to break.
The Queen tells Belle that true love's kiss can break any spell...And Belle rushes home to Rumpel.

I LOVED Rumpel standing at the window, waiting for Belle. That small smile on his face when he sees her return...Beautiful.
Belle enters and kisses her Beast, who then begins to change into the man he once was. She's overjoyed and tries to kiss him again, but he stops. He gets angry and assumes Belle is working with the Queen. No one could possibly love him.
He locks Belle away in the dungeon.

He later releases her and tells her to get out of his sight forever. Before she leaves, she calls him a coward for not taking a chance. He replies that he's not a coward--his power just means more to him than she does. She doesn't believe it and tells him he doesn't believe she loves him and, in a wonderful parting line, Belle says, "All you'll ever have is an empty heart and a chipped cup."

Seemingly weeks later, The Queen pays Rumpel a visit. She tells him that when Belle went home, her father thought her in league with 'the beast', locked her in a tower and tortured her for information until she eventually jumped to her death.

Over in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold's shop has been broken into. Emma is on the case (and nothing appears to be stolen) but Gold finds the thief first.
The thief is none other than Mr. French...Belle's father's Storybrooke counterpart.
Gold beats Mr. French, asking him who sent him to steal 'the object', where is it...and then he seems to get confused when he shouts that 'she's never coming back and 'he was her father'.

Emma walks in and saves Mr. French...and arrests Mr. Gold.
Regina comes to the police station and offers Emma 30 minutes with Henry....because she wants to be alone with Gold.
Missing her son, Emma takes Regina up on her offer and then some wonderful things happen...

Regina demands Mr. Gold tell her his name. He plays dumb for awhile, until we learn that it was Regina who sent Mr. French to Gold's shop and she just happens to have 'the object' with her.
She promises to give it back...if he tells her his name.
"Rumpelstiltskin", is Gold's reply. *gasp!*
He then goes on to call Regina, "Your Majesty"...and Regina hands over the stolen object.
The chipped cup that Belle had broken in Rumpel's castle. *sniffle*

And, of course, this wouldn't be Once Upon A Time without a at the very end, we see Regina enter a mental hospital (and NICE nod to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, there!)...and in the basement, locked up in a tiny room, sitting in the corner on the Belle. 
Ahhhhhh, right?!

Oh, and as a little side plot, Ashley (Cinderella) and her boyfriend get engaged and David gives Mary Margaret the Valentine's day card meant for Kathryn.

So! What questions do we have this week?
-Regina and Gold both know the other remembers Fairytale Land. What happens next?!
-When will Gold find out about Belle?
-When will Katheryn find out about Mary and David?
-When will Gold cash in his 'favour' from Emma?

-Robert Carlisle's AMAZING performance! (one again!)
-Did you see the Buffy-scythe in Gold's shop?! And the sorting hat from Harry Potter?!
-The adorable nod to Chip!
-The name on Mr. French's flower van was "Game of Thorns'. Ha!
-Belle's beautiful (and perfect!) costumes.
-Gaston turns into a rose!

What did YOU think of Skin Deep? As always, comment are very welcome!

Until next week, Oncers!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Book Review, Ready Player One

You know when you read a book and it's so perfect...that you just sit there in awe and stare at it?
That was me when I finished Ready Player One.

Written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is set in the very near future--the year 2044. 
The planet has become an ugly place. Most people live in trailer stacks (yes, that's exactly what it sounds like), the fossil fuels have been almost completely used up and global warming has become a reality.
Luckily, there is an oasis...Called OASIS. The internet has become everything we've dreamed it will be. OASIS is total virtual reality, where you interact with people and the world completely inside a huge, immersive game.

The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, has died and leaves behind a will. In that will, which is broadcast around the OASIS world at the time of his death, he left an easter egg.
An easter egg worth all of Hailliday's fortune, 344 billion dollars.
To find the easter egg, you must find a solve all of the puzzles that Halliday has hidden in the gigantic word of OASIS.

Halliday's love was all things 80's. The music, the movies, the TV,  the video games, the culture.
He was a teen in the 80's and, being a geek and an outcast as a kid, he lost himself in the wonderful world he remembered as a teenager.

Enter Wade Watts, who is one of millions of people trying to find Halliday's puzzles. Since Halliday's death, Wade has been studying everything Halliday loved in an attempt to try to find the easter egg.
Pac-Man and Devo, Monty Python and Family Ties, Rush and Max Headroom...EVERYTHING 80's is popular again!

This book is so full of geek culture and retro mentions that every page turn will make Gen Xer's (like myself!) grin with delight.
Have the whole script of Monty Python and the Holy Grail memorized? Beat Pac-Man? Know all the lyrics to Rush's 2112? Love giant robots? Then you'll fit right in to the author's amazing world.

I read this book so fast...I basically just gobbled the whole thing up. I had to tell myself to slow down so I wouldn't miss anything, I was just SO immersed in this book!
I was so involved that, at one point when something happens that really ticks the reader off, I actually THREW the book across the room, then had to run to get it so I could keep reading! 
Then at the other end of the spectrum, there's one part where I actually cheered OUT LOUD (and scared the heck out of my dog), and laughed with complete glee and triumph!

Not five minutes after I'd finished it, I'd already sent a tweet to the author (@erniecline) THANKING him for writing such a brilliant book. It blows my mind that THIS is Cline's very first book! 

Ernest Cline

Two minutes after that, I was telling EVERYONE they had to read this book.

I'm not exaggerating when I say it felt like this book was written specifically for me. It was like someone went into my head, took out everything I loved as a teen and put them all in this book.

If you grew up in the 80's, you'll LOVE this book. If you're a gamer, you'll LOVE this book. If you're a geek, you'll LOVE this book. If you love someone that's any of these things, you'll LOVE this book!
Here's my list of favourite books-
1. LOTR/The Hobbit
2. Ready Player One

I'm not kidding, here!
What else can I say? READ THIS BOOK! Three thumbs up! 6 out of 5 stars! A+++++!!

I would LOVE to hear what you thought of Ready Player One! Comments are very welcome!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

New Photos of Game of Thrones, Season 2

Today, HBO's Game of Thrones released 17 new photos from the series upcoming second season.

In these photos, we see some old favourites like Sansa, Arya, Jon Snow, Daenerys, and Tyrion.
We also get our first glimpse of some new characters, like Stannis, Renly, Melisandre and Brienne.



Jon Snow




Melisandre and Stannis


What can we learn about season 2 from these photos? Absolutely nothing! ;)
But rest assured that, just like in season 1, NO ONE is safe.

To see the complete album, visit the Game of Thrones Facebook page.

Game of Thrones season 2 starts April 1 on HBO and HBO Canada. 

Is anyone else crazy-excited?!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Second Hand Sunday- Book Giveaway!

Welcome to the very FIRST Second Hand Sunday Book Giveaway!!

Here's how it works--
Below, you'll see a list of books I have to give away. Enter using the Rafflecopter form under that list...Make sure to answer any questions and paste any links when prompted on the form!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. ANYONE can enter as long as you're a FOLLOWER of THIS BLOG.

Please remember that these are SECOND HAND books. They are NOT in new condition!
Some may have yellowed pages, broken spines, worn pages or other minor flaws. I like to think of them as very loved! ;)

A winner will be chosen BY RAFFLECOPTER one week from today! Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!
The winner will then get to choose ONE book from the list below. I PROMISE this list will get better as I buy more books!

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments!

Ready? Set? GO!

Good luck!

Adult Books

You Suck-Christopher Moore. Hardcover. Horror/Comedy

The Testament-John Grisham. Harcover (No book jacket). Crime/Thriller

The Last Don-Mario Puzo. Hardcover. Crime/Mafia

Dolores Claiborne-Stephen King. Hardcover. Horror

Full Dark, No Stars-Stephen King. Hardcover. Horror

The English Patient-Michael Ondaatje. Softcover. Romance

The Bad Place-Dean Koontz. Hardcover. Horror

Sphere-Michael Crichton. Hardcover (No book jacket). Sci-fi/Horror

The Constant Princess-Phillipa Gregory. Hardcover (No book jacket). Historical Romance

The Charming Man-Marian Keyes. Paperback. Romance

The Rainmaker-John Grisham. Paperback. Crime/Thriller

From The Corner Of His Eye-Dean Koontz. Paperback. Horror

Communion-Whitley Strieber. Paperback. Sci-fi

Bitten-Kelley Armstrong. Softcover. Horror.

Stolen-Kelley Armstrong. Softcover. Horror

Dime Store Magic-Kelley Armstrong. Softcover. Horror.

Young Adult Books

Vampire Diaries: The Fury/Dark Reunion-L.J. Smith. Softcover. YA

Vampire Diaries: The Awakening/The Struggle-L.J. Smith. Softcover. YA

Vampire Academy-Richelle Mead. Softcover. YA

Movie Review- Moneyball

I'm going to begin this review by confessing that I'm actually NOT a baseball fan. I do understand baseball, and I AM a sports fan, so I do feel that I'm qualified to write a review about a sports movie. ;)

Moneyball is about Billy Beane, the General Manager of the struggling Oakland A's. After losing his three top players, Beane, with the help of Ivy league graduate Peter Brand, develops a completely new way to build a ball team.

Brad Pitt is great in the role of Beane, and his performance made the whole movie.
Jonah Hill as Brand is another story.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a big Jonah fan. It just seems like he plays every part the same way. That slightly awkward, self-conscious sidekick way.
With the Oscar nod for this part, I was really hoping he'd done something differently.

The movie itself was good. As a non-baseball fan, I did find my mind wandering during the slower parts.
I think they could have told the same story just as well in less time.
To be honest, I don't think folks who aren't sports fans will like this film. Even Brad Pitt as eye candy for the ladies won't help.

It's chalk full of moments that will give you the warm-fuzzies, and even a few that might actually bring tears to your eyes.

The science of the way Brand finds underrated players is interesting, especially after you read that the Red Sox went on to win their first series in decades using the same formula.

The end...Well, the end is sad. I'm not going to worry about spoilers here because any baseball fan would know this, but Billy Beane turned down an offer that would have made him the highest paid GM in baseball history, to stay with the A's. That offer was made by those same Red Sox...who two years later went on to win that World Series.
And Billy? Well, Billy is still the GM of the Oakland A's....and he's also still looking for that World Series win.

Billy's story, which was a side-plot in Moneyball, was, in my opinion, much more interesting than the main plot!
Now there's a story I'd like to see told!
Drafted out of high school by the Mets, he turned down a full scholarship to Stanford to play pro ball...and tanked.
The real Billy Beane
If you're an A's fan, you'll LOVE this movie. If you're a baseball fan, you'll enjoy it, too. 
Myself? Well....I'll stick to Hoosiers. ;)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Movie Review--The Grey

All I knew about The Grey going in was that it starred Liam Neeson and there were wolves in it.
I didn't expect much, and I'm so glad I didn't know anymore than that.

This movie was GREAT! It's gritty and dark and depressing and graphic. I hope I don't offend anyone when I say this is the perfect guy movie.
That's NOT to say women won't enjoy it...I mean, I'M a woman and I liked it!...But it's definitely NOT something most women would like.

The Grey is about a bunch of oil riggers who's plane goes down in the Alaskan wilderness. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that anything that can go wrong, DOES go wrong.

These poor guys battle freezing temperatures, lack of food, injuries, blizzards...Oh, and those pesky HUGE monster wolves I mentioned above.

The trailers make The Grey look like an action movie. It's not.
This is movie with heart and courage and it's about the ultimate survival test.

Liam Neeson is great in the part of Ottway, showing the despair and courage the poor guy goes through.
The rest of the cast is also fabulous, and you'll definitely feel for all of them.

And the end...Argh, I wish I could say more without spoiling it, but the end is BRILLIANT.
Absolutely perfect....although from what I've read, people either love it or hate it.
This is just MY opinion, of course, but I really think that those who hate it just didn't 'get' what the movie is really about.
Oh, and make sure you watch to the very end...after the credits. ;)

Have you seen The Grey? I would LOVE to discuss that ending with you! What did you think of the movie?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Midnight In Paris--My Thoughts

I'm going to be honest here and say that I'm NOT a Woody Allen fan. I'm also NOT an Owen Wilson fan. And the third strike against this film before I even watched it? I'm NOT a fan of rom-coms. Needless to say, I was actually dreading having to watch this movie for my annual 'watch all the Oscar nominated films before the Oscars air' tradition.
But this time--I'm happy to say--I was pleasantly surprised.

This is going to be difficult to write about without spoilers, but I'll do my best.

I'll start with the good...
This is a fun movie. You don't have to think much and it will leave most people smiling.
I really enjoyed the historical characters. Kathy Bates and Adrian Brody are especially endearing in this film. I loved the part with the hippopotamus (you'll get it if you see it). ;)
It's quite fun trying to figure out which famous person will show up next.
The scenery is gorgeous. Of course it is. It's Paris.
I liked the twist it had. You don't expect to see time travel in a Woody Allen movie.

And now the bad...
Owen Wilson is miscast in this part. He fumbles too much, he doesn't make you care much about his character and he's just not believable.
It's a very predicable movie. Aside from the twist mentioned above, you see what's coming a mile away.
I didn't care about any of the present day characters. At all. I didn't care what happened to them. I didn't care about what they were saying. Just didn't care.
The end was just cheesy. I mean, I don't mind some cheese...but this was a huge, gooey mess of icky cheese.
We didn't spend enough time with the historical characters. I know that would make it a sci-fi film, but I would have been much happier if the whole thing had been about THOSE characters.

If you're a Woody Allen fan, you'll LOVE this movie. See it.
If you're a rom-com fan, you'll also LOVE this movie. You should see it, too.

Myself? I enjoyed it. I'm glad I saw it. But I'll never watch it again.
Have you seen it? What did you think of Midnight in Paris?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Help (Movie)-My Thoughts

There are movies that I think everyone NEEDS to see. Movies that will change your way of thinking. Movies that will open your heart and open your mind.
Movies like Schindler's List, The Color Purple, Roots, Passion of the Christ, Life is Beautiful...and now to this list I'll add The Help.

The Help is about a young woman who wants to be a journalist. A free-thinking girl who's ideas and beliefs are way ahead of her time.
She recruits an African-American maid to tell her 'stories' of her time as 'the help' for white families.

From these stories, a book is written. A dangerous, anonymous book that quickly makes the rounds through the very small-minded housewives of Jacksonville, Mississippi.

Viola Davis is absolutely brilliant as Aibileen, and she WILL win the Oscar for this role.
She makes you feel so attached to her character that you will cry when she cries, hurt when she hurts and feel her pride when she's proud.
Aibileen does her very best with what she has and watching her try to drill that manta into HER (Yes, that IS her baby girl, blood or not!) baby girls head is just so quietly powerful.

Octavia Spencer is fantastic in the role of Minny. She deserved her Golden Globe and she definitely deserves the Oscar.
Minny is feisty and full of sass...but beneath her tough exterior is a broken, sad woman with absolutely no self-esteem.
Watching how she helps Jolene blossom and--at the same time--find her own strength is wonderful to watch.

The rest of the cast is just as good, but Bryce Dallas Howard deserves a mention here because she's also outstanding in her role. She makes you HATE her, which is tough for an actor to do!

Sadly, I don't think The Help will win the Oscar this year. Any other year, it probably would. But going up against The Artist...well, it doesn't have a chance.

Don't get me wrong...I would LOVE to see it win...but The Artist was absolutely brilliant and yes, I'll say it, it was the better movie.

That being said, PLEASE see The Help. And bring tissues. And when it's over, sit for a few moments and think about what you just witnessed.
If you're quiet enough, you may hear the sound of your own heart opening just a little bit more. ;)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Strain-My Thoughts

The Strain is book 1 of a trilogy of the same name. Book 2 is The Fall and book 3 is The Night Eternal.

Let me be frank here...This is NOT a book about sparkly, romantic vampires.
These vampires are horrible, nasty, blood-sucking freaks and they WILL scare you.

The only book I can think to compare it to is Stephen King's Salem's Lot, although, sadly, this book isn't as good.

It sucks you in from the first, with an airplane sitting on the tarmac at JFK airport. There are no signs of life from the people on board. All the window shades are pulled down, all the lights are off and there is no communication from the crew.

If you're alone, at night and reading this in bed at 2am (like I was), you WILL get the heebie-jeebies. You WILL hear funny noises in the other room and be too scared to investigate. You WILL see shadows moving on the wall that looks suspiciously like stingers.
There's one part that includes a child that was deliciously creepy to me.

The characters are interesting...especially Abraham Setrakian, the pawnshop owner and Holocaust survivor.

However, this book does have its faults.
I found the writing rather choppy and the book itself was slow-moving.
They glossed over many of the more interesting characters (like Gabriel), and I wish they would have spent much more time with them.
The vampires themselves are kind of boring in a mindless zombie kind of way.
I found it a bit difficult switching between the characters points of view every few chapters. It was a little disorienting.

If you're into horror books and you're a fan of either Hogan or del Toro, you'll probably like this book.
If not, I don't think I'd recommend it.

I give it a 3/5.

Have you read The Strain? What did you think of the book?
Let me know! Comments are always welcome!