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empressT "Luv2Read" RSS Feed (Anaheim, CA USA)

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The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the "Unsinkable" Ship-Titanic
The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the "Unsinkable" Ship-Titanic
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, February 22, 2015
A great companion piece to "A Night to Remember" with even more technical expertise and survivor recollections.

A Night to Remember
A Night to Remember
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Stands up well, February 19, 2015
Although Lord's work was published in 1955, it's stood up well over the course of 60 years. He weaves an engrossing tale of facts, conjecture and skillfully gives the reader a convincing look at Titanic's maiden/final voyage.

Gone Girl: A Novel
Gone Girl: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $5.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, February 1, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Flynn crafted a masterpiece of twists and turns in a very fluid, fast paced changing points of view novel. Chilling, crafty, easy to read and shifty. Great read!

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1)
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $4.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Complete waste of time..., September 27, 2012
There's nothing new, fresh or inventive with this book. The wtiting is juvenile, trite and stilted. I can hardly fathom the storyline either; it's as plausible as Julia Roberts' character in "Pretty Woman."

This novel was a recycled/S&M version of a Danielle Steele story. Waste of my money, waste of my time. I won't bother with books 2 & 3.

Angel: The Complete Series (Collector's Set)
Angel: The Complete Series (Collector's Set)
DVD ~ David Boreanaz
9 used & new from $69.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just Any ol' Spin-Off, September 8, 2009
The naysayers and detractors will say that 'Angel' was simply riding on the coattails of the popular (and critically acclaimed) BtVS. Like its predecessors 'Melrose Place' (spin-off of 'Beverly Hills 90210') and even further back, 'The Jeffersons' (spun-off of 'All in the Family'), the brilliant Joss Whedon managed to craft a more mature product right from the get-go when 'Angel' premiered on the WB in the Fall of 1999. This was grittier, rawer and edgier than BtVS showed in its infancy. From its inception, 'Angel' explored the dark forces of the main characters' psyches and pushed the envelope with the "monster-of-the-week" format.

The show wasn't without its hitches. I can remember DESPISING Elisabeth Rohm's character of Det. Kate Lockley from the very beginning (she comes from the Jennifer Aniston school of acting-1 note emoting, and its flat). The late Glenn Quinn's character of Francis Doyle-while somewhat charming-didn't mesh quite right with David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter. The season 4 storyline of Angel's teenage son Connor (Vincent Kartheiser) and Cordelia was ICKY beyond belief (so upset Joss took it there), and their hell-spawn Jasmine was a waste of time (and Geena Torres' talent).

Luckily the hits were much greater. Boreanaz cements his status as one of TV's greatest vampires ever, while Charisma Carpenter's Cordelia Chase was so much more developed and layered than her short 3 seasons on BtVS. Loved, loved, loved (!) Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndham-Price, J. August Richards (now tearing it up on TNT's 'Raising the Bar') as Charles Gunn, the late Andy Hallett (RIP) as the singing Host, Lorne and the fantastic Amy Acker as Winifred "Fred" Burkle (also the demon-goddess Ilyria).

I can't state how disappointing the brass at the defunct WB made me when they canceled 'Angel.' Only getting to see James Marsters (Spike) in approximately 20 episodes was not enough! Payback is a "you all know" though; there's a reason the WB is now known as the defunct WB.

Great packaging, terrific letter from Joss and a quality 5 seasons. ****4.5 stars****

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Series (Seasons 1-7) (2010) 39 Disc
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Series (Seasons 1-7) (2010) 39 Disc
DVD ~ Sarah Michelle Gellar
Offered by ClockworkCornucopia
Price: $217.86
7 used & new from $85.13

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 years later...still bliss, July 28, 2009
I can admit it without embarrassment: I was a BtVS/Joss Whedon "geek" from episode 1 when the then-WB Network planted it as a midseason replacement in '97. Being an "angsty" 16 year-old myself, I could get completely immersed in the inner workings of the "Scoobies" and their day-to-day struggles as trying to be "normal" kids in Sunnydale, CA (home of the famous Hellmouth). As I returned week to week, year to year, my life story mimicked theirs (not in the demon-hunting, crime solving way)-growing up in a world that was increasingly spinning faster and faster.

Whedon's ability to craft art out of language spawned generations of other shows that tried to be as quirky as BtVS (and usually failed-the only exception I can think of in terms of pop culture reference is the HIGHLY underrated "Family Guy"). Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) all had "buffyspeak" down to a science (leaving Watcher Rupert Giles-Anthony Stewart Head-almost always befuddled). Snappy dialogue and actors who truly ENJOYED honing their craft on one of television's greatest shows EVER, made for 7 seasons that went by too fast.

The "Chosen Collection" is a great collector's item (even if you purchased the seasons individually) because of the personal touches Whedon and gang included. I really like Joss's inclusion of his Top 10 episodes (12 really). My personal favorites mimic several of his, but with some differences. In no particular order, they were:

1. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" (season 1, ep. 11)-The idea that one can literally disappear because of how other students treat you resonated strongly with a loner like myself.

2. "Halloween" (season 2, ep. 6)-Xander becoming a soldier is soo hilarious for me in this episode, but the real key is seeing that bookish Giles wasn't always the easygoing librarian/Watcher he was at present.

3. "Innocence" (season 2, ep. 14)-Buffy and Angel's passion turns deadly as his true demonic persona 'Angelus' returns. Giles's girlfriend Jenny Calendar provides some needed Intel on what 'may' stop Angelus.

4. "Passion" (season 2, ep. 17)-The shot of Angelus snapping Jenny Calendar's neck and Willow collapsing after hearing the news of Jenny's murder was the first time (but not the last) I got "misty" watching BtVS. David Boreanaz put his stamp as one of television's great vampire characters during this entire season.

5. "Becoming, Part II" (season 2, ep. 22)-Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) giving Buffy the ultimate ultimatum about her Slayer duties made me angry at MY parents...Buffy telling Angel to close his eyes before she stabs him through the chest to close the hell dimension portal was heart wrenching.

6. "The Wish" (season 3, ep. 9)-No Slayer in Sunnydale? Our first intro to Anya (aka Anyanka the vengeance demon) is courtesy of Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) trying to get back her popular girl status. Seeing Buffy not as a fragile, bubbly and kind Slayer is mind-blowing.

7. "Hush" (season 4, ep. 10)-A disconcerting quiet falls over Sunnydale...this episode shows the brilliance of Joss Whedon's writing and the quality acting of the cast. Groundbreaking TV with no audio for the majority of the episode.

8. "Who are You?" (season 4, ep. 16)-Dark Slayer Faith (a breakout role for Eliza Dushku) awakens from her coma a year after her epic fight with Buffy. Hell-bent on revenge, she finds a mystical gift given to her by her dead mentor, the Mayor. When she encounters Buffy, they switch bodies, causing mayhem. Both SMG and ED showed so much range in this episode having to capture the other Slayer's 'tude and aura.

9. "No Place Like Home" (season 5, ep. 5)-Buffy's mom Joyce faints and discovers she is ill. Buffy uses a spell to find out what mystical demon has cursed her mother. While doing so, she sees that her "sister" Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) isn't what she seems.

10. "Fool for Love" (season 5, ep. 7)-The first intense interaction between Buffy and Spike (James Marsters). He explains how he was able to kill 2 Slayers-and how Buffy can avoid being his 3rd. This episode lays the foundation for an awesome story arc between Buffy and Spike in season 6.

*I can't adore only 10 episodes, so I've expanded it to 15, maybe :)*

11. "The Body" (season 5, ep. 16)-From the moment Buffy steps in the house, and the viewer sees Joyce, eyes wide open, on the couch, this episode haunts you. Possibly the most powerful episode in BtVS televistory.

12. "Intervention" (season 5, ep. 18)-The Buffy-bot Spike orders from Warren fools the Scoobies into believing Buffy has feelings for Spike. Meanwhile on her vision quest in the desert, (real) Buffy finds out that "death is her gift."

13. "The Gift" (season 5, ep. 22)-The episode (and season) SMG was truly robbed of an Emmy/Golden Globe/SAG, etc. Her whispered words to Dawn "live" echo as she leaps to stave off the apocalypse. Possibly Buffy's finest hour.

14. "Once More, with Feeling" (season 6, ep. 7)-Unbelievable writing and composition on Joss's part. The cast really shows off some fine singing chops (especially Anya-Emma Caulfield-and Giles). The first time Buffy kisses Spike with feeling shows hints of things to come.

15. "Tabula Rasa" (season 6, ep. 8)-This episode is worth its weight in gold when Spike (who's convinced he's Giles's son named Randy) tells "Joan" (Buffy) that he's a "vampire with a soul." Great writing and direction.

*Okay, I tried for 15 episodes, but it's a lost cause. Just a couple of more.*

16. "Gone" (season 6, ep. 11)-This brought back memories from the first season's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind." It was eerie the way Buffy relished her invincibility (thus her anonymity) from her friends and family.

17. "Normal Again" (season 6, ep. 17)-This was very "A Clockwork Orange" in scope. Putting Buffy in a position where none of her core people were was a frighteningly good alternate reality.

Joss Whedon showed so much trust and loyalty to the supporting cast of characters (which is rare on network TV). Juliet Landau as Drusilla, Tom Lenk as Andrew, Danny Strong as Jonathan, all of these players had an indelible mark on the series. TV lost an incredible spark when BtVS signed off for good. I can't believe 12 years later...still absolute bliss. ********** stars out of 5!!!!

The Tudors: Season 3
The Tudors: Season 3
DVD ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Offered by westcoastmedia
Price: $16.01
28 used & new from $8.89

101 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bundle O'History, June 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Tudors: Season 3 (DVD)
*This review is based upon the series as shown on cable network Showtime*

After the superlative season 2 of 'The Tudors' (which featured outstanding, Emmy-worthy performances by Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn and Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More), I was completely prepared for a "letdown" of sorts for series 3. After all, the true story (Henry VIII's marriage to Jane Seymour, birth of Prince Edward, death of Queen Jane and marriage to Anne of Cleves 2 years after that) goes at a relatively quick 4 years in English history. I was UNprepared for the economic downturn and PeaceArch's (the production company of 'The Tudors') decision to only have 8 episodes for 2009. If you thought seasons 1-2 were a whirlwind, prepare to be whip lashed by season 3.

Queen Jane's (Annabelle Wallis-in a replacement role from season 2's Anita Briem) relationship with Henry is so chaste and "pure," and he swears she is his most "beloved" queen (which he also claimed toward Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn). Unfortunately, Queen Jane dies of peripureal fever after giving birth to Prince Edward. Wallis's acting is measured-so measured in fact, you almost forget she is in the scene. She blends too well-unlike the performance given by Anne Stallybrass in the PBS production of 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII,' who captured the proper spirit of meekness and servitude necessary to BECOME Henry's 3rd wife.

Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves is a treat-although she is not featured enough in the series. Her scenes are few and far between, but she makes a fantastic impact (witness her scene with Lord Privy Seal Cromwell). There is a passion and fervor in her acting that is nothing but natural ability and talent. I look forward to seeing her more and hopefully she will be back in a guest starring role in season 4.

The gentlemen actors do acquit themselves beautifully. James Frain has been a purposeful, manipulative, charming and insecure Thomas Cromwell. His fall from grace is swift, merciless and ultimately degrading (spoiler-his execution is the MOST brutal and vindictive of any on 'The Tudors'). Henry Cavill is glossing into a solid actor-although the aging process for his Duke of Suffolk is not believable (he looks as though he is in his late 20's still-although the actor is only in his mid-20's). I have a complaint about Sir Francis Bryan though. Alan Von Sprang's portrayal is too lascivious, too voluptuous and thusly, mildly irritating. One can only hope he will not feature prominently for season 4.

Ultimately this season belongs and is owned by the king himself. I am continually amazed at the transformation Jonathan Rhys Meyers takes on as Henry VIII. Episode 5 (directly after Queen Jane's death) shows Henry and his Fool, Will Somers, locked in his chambers, drinking and reminiscing. The heartache, devastation and to some degree, hopelessness felt by Henry is palpable. This actor takes risks, doesn't hesitate to muck it up and make emotional vulnerability "ugly." Season 4 will end with his death, but Rhys Meyers has put his stamp on Henry VIII.

I have purposely not mentioned Katherine Howard (Tamzyn Merchant) because her story will be told in depth in season 4 (plus the portrayal was atrocious in the 3/4 of an episode she was in). This season was unsatisfying because it was too rushed, too condensed, too compacted. We can only pray for a return to the strength shown in season 2 for series 4. Overall, a 3-star effort ***.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 21, 2009 10:59 PM PST

Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
DVD ~ Helen Mirren
36 used & new from $2.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Love/Hate, Passion/Coldness..., February 16, 2009
This review is from: Elizabeth I (DVD)
Helen Mirren has enjoyed a fantastic blossoming of her (already) great career in her 60's. At a time when most "actresses of a certain age" are put out to pasture, the divine Ms. Mirren is proving that your 60's can be filled with boldness, vigor and a true triumph of artistic quality in film and television.

Queen Elizabeth I has been played by so many different people, in so many different ways, but Mirren's take on the best of the Tudors (and England's most popular monarch) is so spot on that the viewer can believe she actually IS Elizabeth. The playful attitude, the daily capitulations, the love she shared for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons), it's all included in this quality work by HBO.

The supporting cast is grand, especially my personal favorite Toby Jones as Sir Robert Cecil (Elizabeth's privy councilor and later Secretary of State). At times, Hugh Dancy (as the Earl of Essex, Robert Deveraux-the Earl of Leicester's stepson) seems a bit lost and too much the boy, not enough the man, to grab the Queen's attention, but the 2nd half of part II remedies that.

There are of course some historical inaccuracies. Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth NEVER met (for some reason, filmmakers always like to include this in Scots-English history), the fact that Leicester married Elizabeth's cousin Lettice (Essex's mother) is not mentioned, and the Duke d'Anjou is shown to be more of a contemporary to the 45 year old monarch in this version (when in reality he was more than 2 decades younger than her).

All in all, this is some of the finest pieces of acting one will see on television. Just for Helen Mirren alone the work receives 5 enthusiastic stars!

Kung Fu Panda  (Widescreen Edition)
Kung Fu Panda (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Jack Black
Offered by ClockworkCornucopia
Price: $16.15
168 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Kung-Fu Delightful!, February 14, 2009
Animated films are right up my alley. I enjoy the camaraderie, spirit, and stick-to-itiveness that embody the characters the majority of the time. Bundle that with pitch perfect comedic timing and hijinks, it proves the recipe for a winner.

Po (Jack Black) is a giant panda who dreams of being the most "awesomely awesome" Kung-Fu master that ever walked the planet. Too bad for him he works in his father's (who happens to be a goose-classic) noodle shop. His heroes are the Furious Five: Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross), and Tigress (Angelina Jolie). Their leader is Master Shifu (which is "master" in Chinese, so they're saying "master master" during the whole film, more laughter) and his master is Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim). The enemy of this motley crew is the leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane), Shifu's adopted protégé.

In a twist of fate at the ceremony to name the Chosen One, Po literally falls into that role. Uncoordinated, forever hungry, and completely clueless to the intricacies of Kung-Fu, he manages to fit in with the gang except for Tigress and Shifu (a fall-out of my seat moment happened when Mantis was giving Po acupuncture and tweaked a facial nerve).

The ultimate showdown between Po and Tai Lung is fantastic. The action sequences (with "Matrix" slowdowns and stop-motion) were breathtaking (along with the accompanying backdrops). This is a great film, destined to join the hierarchy of great animated classics of the past. 4.5 stars!

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Widescreen Edition)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Ben Stiller
Price: $7.50
111 used & new from $0.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Chuckling..., February 14, 2009
The first "Madagascar" (M1) wasn't a completely original idea, nonetheless it was a funny bit of storytelling, with giggles abounding. "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (M2) is every bit as giggle worthy, with the same slapstick comedy that made the original film such a success.

The opening showing the origins of Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) and how he came to the Central Park Zoo was dramatic and pulled at the heartstrings (especially little Alikai floating all alone on the ocean *sniff*). Then you roll right into the funny with our militant friends, the Penguins, promising to get the gang (Gloria the Hippo-Jada Pinkett Smith, Melman the Giraffe-David Schwimmer, Marty the Zebra-Chris Rock, King Julien-Sacha Baron Cohen, Mort-Andy Richter, and Maurice-Cedric the Entertainer) off the island in an old cargo plane (via giant slingshot, natch!). Of course, the brilliant plan fails, the gang crash lands, and hilarity ensues.

The casting of Bernie Mac as Alex's father, Zuba and Alec Baldwin as his nemesis, Makunga (complete with Elvis-style pompadour) is nothing short of brilliant. Also big props to the concept of a love interest hippo for Gloria, Moto Moto (who likes 'em "chunky").

"M1" is a classic for any animated film lover's collection, and "M2" is following closely behind. 4 stars!

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