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H. Bala "Me Too Can Read" RSS Feed (Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe)
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Person of Interest: Season 2
Person of Interest: Season 2
DVD ~ James Caviezel
Price: $17.99
23 used & new from $13.98

5.0 out of 5 stars suck it, sophomore slump, December 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Person of Interest: Season 2 (DVD)
Person of Interest is a show that you cannot watch casually. You have to keep up, pay attention. The overarching narrative is ever developing. And despite the "number of the week" format, the show inexorably roots itself deeper into its own mythology. Season 2 divulges a seismic shift in cyberware, something that each viewer has probably suspected: The Machine is sentient. Further, it may harbor shadowy agendas all its own. In Season 1 we sort of got the gist that Finch and Reese were the puppets on a string, tugged here and there to investigate an "irrelevant" number produced by The Machine. Season 2 hammers home that Finch isn't much in control of his creation. The plot only thickens. Standing conspiracies present further obfuscation. Gratifyingly, this show is so well executed, and the glossy production values are on a near par with the big screen blockbuster. It's easy to pay attention when the product is this absorbing and addictive. Caviezel and Emerson continue to be fantastic leads, and Kevin Chapman as NYPD Det. Fusco is a hoot. Throw in, too, the magnetic, batsh-- crazy Root (Amy Acker), the very dangerous Sam Shaw (Sarah Shahi), the lovable attack dog Bear and the occasional appearance of the irrepressible, immoral Leon Tao (Ken Leung), the only victim/perpetrator whose "number" has come up three times - so far.

My favorite episodes of Season 2 (Plot SPOILER alert):

- Episodes 1 & 2 - "The Contingency" & "Bad Code" - With Finch abducted by the deranged Root, Reese discovers Finch's contingency plan. Bear and Leon Tao debut.

- Episode 3 - "Masquerade" - I've a fond spot for The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, and "Masquerade" reminds me of The Bodyguard. In this one, Reese must play bodyguard to the spoiled daughter of a Brazilian diplomat.

- Episode 6 - "The High Road" - Reese and Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco) pose as a suburban couple. 'Nuff said.

- Episode 14 - "One Percent" - Reese has to protect a disdainful billionaire (Jimmi Simpson) who breaks all the rules and behaves so horribly that everybody wants to kill him. Simpson is so good in his role that you can't help but like him even though his character is a jerk.

- Episode 16 - "Relevance" - This is the one that introduced the badass Sameen Shaw. A brilliant episode that unfolds thru Shaw's eyes, sheds light on The Machine's day job, launches the Shaw-Root rivalry, and presents Reese and Finch as side characters. Here's a fun fact, if you dial 917-285-7362 - the number Finch hands Shaw - you'll get a voice recording from Finch's phone.

- Episode 17 - "Proteus" - A fun murder mystery. Trapped in a police station as a storm rages outside, Reese and Finch match wits with an elusive serial killer who takes on the identity of those he kills.

- Episodes 21 & 22 - "Zero Day" & "God Mode" - When the countdown reaches zero, the virus will shut down The Machine, after which it will reboot and grant Administrative access to whomever receives the call first. I love these two episodes. They advance the mythology, feature the return of Root and Shaw, culminate Finch's altruistic turnaround and reveal how he got his limp, and provide a really fun team-up between Reese and Shaw. Also, my favorite moments may be The Machine's calling out the location of arriving goons for Reese to shoot.

Special features:

- "View from the Machine: 24 Hours behind Person of Interest" - A behind-the-scenes featurette that observes a standard work day in the show's hectic production. This particular day covers the minutiae of the development, production, and completion of Season 2's final four episodes. Whew, there sure is a lot of brainstorming that goes on in this show. (00:21:21 minutes)

- Season Finale Episode Commentary with creator Jonathan Nolan, director Richard J. Lewis, and co-executive producer Greg Plageman

- Gag Reel (00:03:19 minutes)


A Grandpa for Christmas
A Grandpa for Christmas
DVD ~ Ernest Borgnine
Offered by Solo Enterprises
Price: $9.99
18 used & new from $8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars finally, grandpas get their props during Christmas, December 24, 2014
This review is from: A Grandpa for Christmas (DVD)
Not even one time that whenever I think of Christmas does Ernest Borgnine's mug come up. But his 2007 movie, A Grandpa for Christmas, is a lovely little movie that warms your heart and compels you to hug your gramps. It's about old, solitary curmudgeon Bert O'Riley (Ernest Borgnine) whose daily schedule consists of waking up, mulling over moving into a retirement home, shrugging into his ratty old sweater, and passing time with his creaky old pals, most of whom are retired showpeople.

There's heartbreak in that Bert and his estranged daughter Marie (Tracy Nelson) both inhabit the same city and yet haven't spoken to each other in twelve years. It's to do with Bert's having abandoned his wife and 2-year-old daughter all those years ago. But Old Bert's routine is shattered when he must take in his granddaughter he never knew he had while Marie lies in a coma after a horrific accident.

10-year-old Rebecca (Juliette Goglia) is an unhappy little girl. Her mom's job has it so that they're always relocating. She's working on her fifth school change in three years. She all her life has heard nothing but Bert-bashing from her mom and grandma, and you see why she's predisposed to hate on him. But, slowly, slowly, she comes around about her grandpa. The biggest icebreaker is their shared love of music. Come to find, Becca has a wonderful singing voice and she wants to try out for her new school's Christmas pageant. And, come to find, Old Bert has a background in entertainment, being an ex-actor who used to play heavies on the silver screen but whose passion was always ever the song and dance. As Bert and his grandddaughter grow closer, an opportunity surfaces for a reconciliation with his own daughter.

It's a Hallmark holiday movie, and as such it holds no surprises. It's a modest, feel-good story that showcases Goglia's singing and Borgnine's affable mugging. Young Juliette Goglia is really good. I like that, as Becca spends more time with Bert, she tries to get to the truth of why he really left, instead of just settling for all the badmouthing that's gone on against him. And Goglia shines when she's singing and dancing; she's a star performer. Add in television veterans Katherine Helmond and a very spry Jamie Farr as Bert's showbiz cohorts who end up mentoring Becca as she preps for the pageant, and it's a movie that can't help but give you the warm fuzzies.


Gifted: An Indestructibles Christmas Story
Gifted: An Indestructibles Christmas Story
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars "It was nearly Christmas, and Kate Miller wanted to punch something...", December 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The holiday season is upon the City except it doesn't put off Kate Miller - a.k.a. the Dancer - from her nighttime patrols. But when a teammate hands her an unexpected Christmas present, the brooding vigilante is faced with responding in kind. For this, she seeks the help of a fellow Indestructible. If you're a fan of superhero stories and you haven't yet read Matthew Phillion's The Indestructibles series, then you are missing out on a good thing. "Gifted: An Indestructibles Christmas Story" is a terrific short story, one of those "day in the life" one-shots in which nothing much seems to happen, but when you're done reading you feel really good about it. It serves as an appetizer and a holiday treat. It's a sentimental peek into the team's group dynamics as they spend their first Christmas together. And while the core plot revolves around Kate's "mission," there's insight enough into her teammates. As usual, Entropy Emily hijacks many moments with her wonderful kookiness. Expect surprising bonding moments between rival teammates, references to Harry Potter and The Nutcracker, and an overabundance of Christmas lights. Chronologically, this story takes place between The Indestructibles (during Doc Silence's absence) and its sequel The Indestructibles: Breakout.


The Santa Con
The Santa Con
DVD
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars about a grifter engineering a Christmas miracle, December 21, 2014
As my favorite television shows have gone on their mid-season hiatus, I'm left this yuletide season with naught but a parade of Christmas movies to watch. And since it IS the holidays I think we tend to be more forgiving with how emotionally manipulative these movies are. Take THE SANTA CON, a 2014 offering from Lifetime. It is hokey and preposterous and riddled with plot holes... and totally in keeping with the tropes that make up a Christmas movie. Its opening minutes - in which the lead character comes off so smarmy and not as witty as he thinks he is - had me reaching for the remote control, but I pressed on, and it got better.

THE SANTA CON would have us believe that petty hustler and current inmate Nick DeMarco (Barry Watson) is so charming that he's convinced the warden (John Ratzenberger) that he once spent two years as a history professor at Yale, never mind that Nick never finished 11th grade. The warden's even put him in his will. But Nick is out of prison now and mandated to get himself a job. His disenchanted sister Rose (Melissa Joan Hart) lands him a job as a mall Santa and then she sits back and waits for him to ef things up as usual. Sure enough, there's Nick in his Santa guise, distracted, making a promise to a 7-year-old boy (Tucker Meek) that his estranged parents will be reunited by Christmas. The rest of the movie revolves around a remorseful Nick's applying his con man skills to do just that. But to get the kid's parents back together, it'll take - and say it with me now - a Christmas miracle.

So, first, the gripes (and if you care about this sort of thing, there are plot point SPOILERS ahead):

- It's concerning that the mall seems slack when it comes to conducting background checks on its prospective hirees. That, or they're cool with employing an ex-con to have small kids sit on his lap.

- To get in the boy's mom's good graces, Nick poses as a building contractor - the mom (Melissa Sagemiller) requires an addition to the house. But she's so eager to shed her current and very lazy construction crew, she doesn't even bother checking Nick's credentials. Instead she's instantly won over by his glib patter and by that construction company decal he'd moments ago slapped on his truck. And, once in her home, when he acts weird and creepy, she just brushes it off. Later, she asks the weird guy to babysit.

- Syndicated television talk show host Wendy Williams plays the untypical Pastor Ruth who orchestrates Nick's sudden (and unbelievable) change of heart. Williams isn't exactly subtle in her role. The story telegraphs her character arc.

- Melissa Joan Hart produced and directed this movie and only has a small part as Nick's sister and seems okay with assigning herself a tiny, throwaway romance with Jaleel White who plays Nick's ex-con buddy. But it's a romance that isn't set up well - or is set up too quickly - and so comes off as jarring. But 'shippers will have a blast sending Clarissa and Steve Urkel to sit in that tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.

- Speaking of jarring, there's that swerve regarding that shady adman whose behavior late in the movie introduces a darker tonal shift in the story. Where did that come from?

Okay, plot SPOILERS over.

What I liked: It took me a bit to warm up to lead actor Barry Watson, but once I did I was rooting for his ex-con Nick and invested in his machinations. I mean, who doesn't enjoy a heist movie, and there's a whiff of that here. And not only does Watson have a fun chemistry with Melissa Sagemiller, he also has good scenes with Scott Guthrie (he plays the boy's never sober dad). So, listen, I still don't buy that how Nick's change of heart went down was all that believable, but you have to give Nick his props. He really redeems himself and becomes so likable that he surmounts the film's overall silliness and many beats that were too on the nose. 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Cosmic Girl: Looking For Trouble
Cosmic Girl: Looking For Trouble
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Girl, two weeks later, December 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's a reason why sequels are almost never as good as the original. One huge determining element is that in sequels you lose the impact of first impression. R.S.J. Gregory's debut, COSMIC GIRL: RISING UP, delivered that thrill of discovery as we first met 16-year-old Britney Brookes, a Chicago girl who couldn't walk but then was kidnapped with her fellow schoolmates and tortured and experimented on and endowed with super powers. I love stories in which the mortal world has to react to the coming of the superhero. And Britney - a.k.a. Cosmic Girl - and her fellow abductees become their world's first superheroes.

But what this sequel, COSMIC GIRL: LOOKING FOR TROUBLE, loses in sense of discovery it makes up for in plot progression and character development. It's been two weeks since the events in RISING UP, and, fair warning, you shouldn't read on if you haven't yet read that book as the following may spoiler you. In the intervening weeks Devlin De Marco, who orchestrated what led to Britney's and her friends' gaining powers, had successfully eluded the authorities while committing rampant acts of terror across the globe. Because De Marco wasn't exposed as the Big Bad what's been pulling the strings all along until the last pages of RISING UP, I wasn't sure what to make of him. In the sequel, he demonstrates time and again that he makes for a truly terrifying bogeyman. He puts Cosmic Girl thru the wringer.

It's no wonder that Britney is suffering some sort of PTSD. She's been tuning out in class. Her dad isn't on speaking terms with her. The government is sniffing around. Anyway, I like how the writer seamlessly juxtaposes Britney's personal life with her burgeoning superhero career. And because this is a YA read, of course there's some PG-rated romance for Britney. It's good that Mitchell (a.k.a. Crash) is a pretty cool character. As well, others in Britney's supporting cast - from her teammates to her fam to even FBI Agent Forest and Bill that government guy - are all likable personalities. And to change up the dynamics some, new teammates are introduced. My instant new favorite is Ghost Girl.

I appreciate the real-world interjections, like Britney's popping up for an interview on a talk show and that the opening chapter has the team lending humanitarian aid to a soccer stadium in Mexico City that was just devastated by an earthquake. R.S.J. Gregory is a writer who's got a feel for what makes a fun superhero read. The tone is mostly light except for when Gregory dips into heavy emotional content. Cosmic Girl, like Astra from Marion G. Harmon's WEARING THE CAPE and Solar from Matthew Phillion's THE INDESTRUCTIBLES, wears her sense of responsibility on her sleeve. And, like Astra and Solar, she's an analog for Supergirl, except Cosmic Girl has the added ability of a sort of Spidey-sense. But there are moments here when Cosmic Girl feels she's let people down and that burden of failure weighs tremendously on her. LOOKING FOR TROUBLE continues to explore the world's reaction to superhumans as funneled thru the eyes of an extraordinary 16-year-old girl. The author's worldbuilding may not yet be as well realized as that in the Wearing the Cape and The Indestructibles series, and this sequel may not have that sense of discovery that RISING UP had, and I wish that Britney's sister (with her alternate ego) were in the story more, but it compensates for the lack with good storytelling, dynamic action beats, interesting new characters, an ending that whets your appetite even more, and those special touches that make Cosmic Girl stand out from the rest of the pack. Whenever I think of this series, two images immediately come up. One image is Cosmic Girl in flight balancing some sort of junk vehicle over her head with her teammates in it (she's the team's best mode of transportation). The other image - and it's super cute - is of Cosmic Girl gallivanting around town with that Chinese lucky cat backpack she's never ever without.

Other recommended superhero prose:

- Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes
- Marion G. Harmon's Wearing the Cape
- Jim Bernheimer's Confessions of a D-List Supervillain
- Matthew Phillion's The Indestructibles
- Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps
- P.S. Power's Proxy (The Infected Book 1)
- Trey Dowell's The Protectors: A Thriller
- Blake M. Petit's Other People's Heroes
- C.J. Carella's Armageddon Girl (New Olympus Saga, Book 1)
- Rob Rogers' Devil's Cape
- Joshua Guess' Next (The Next Chronicle Book 1)
- Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible
- George R.R. Martin's classic Wild Card anthologies


Twelve Trees Of Christmas
Twelve Trees Of Christmas
DVD
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Can Scary Spice ruin Christmas?, December 16, 2014
Oh, Lifetime Channel, when you're not churning out soul-numbing biopics about serial killers, you can be so charming and uplifting. TWELVE TREES OF CHRISTMAS, a 2013 Lifetime production, gets you champing at the bit for the yuletide season to get here already. The plot has children's librarian Cheri Jameson (Lindy Booth) trying her best to work up a Christmas miracle. She works at the Shaughnessy Library, a public library nestled in a private building in Manhattan. During the holidays, a disastrous memo has dropped, informing the staff that the Shaughnessy Foundation has elected to not renew the library's lease, opting instead for demolition with an eye towards erecting a high-rise condominium in its stead. What would Lifetime and Hallmark do without that age-old tug-of-war between development versus preservation?

In hopes of rallying the neighborhood and softening the landlords' hearts, Cheri launches a Christmas tree decorating contest with the theme "what the library means to you." How much of a jerk move is it when Tony Shaughnessy (Robin Dunne), the scion spearheading the development campaign, decides to participate in the contest just to spite Cheri? And because Tony's one of those guys who just has to win at everything, he sics a professional interior designer (Spice Girl's Mel B, minus the "zig-ah-zig-ah") on decorating his tree.

It's not at all a subtle movie. It's relentless at tugging at your heartstrings. The big bad developer (Casper Van Dien), with whom Tony works in concert, comes off heartless and delivers hissable dialogue about how libraries are graveyards for words from the past. Lindy Booth, adorable ginger, sparkles in this one, with her bright personality and infectiousness and sense of vulnerability. I read a reviewer describing her as a cross between Shelley Long and Bambi, and that made me laugh but also sort of agree. She even breathes life into the usually cardboardy Robin Dunne.

TWELVE TREES OF CHRISTMAS is a nod towards literacy and bibliophiles and those who love libraries. It does such a great job of showcasing what makes your local library such a cherished place, how it's a gathering place for the community and a sanctuary for your children.

I could poke holes into this movie. I could mention the wild coincidence that Cheri and Tony just happen to live in the same swank apartment building or that the turn-around at the end goes down too abruptly. I could mention that Melanie Brown wowwed me more when she was Scary Spice. Or that, of the twelve competitive trees, we only ever follow three of the participants (two couples and Tony). But I could counter those nitpicks by referencing Lindy Booth's wonderful performance, and the pervasive feel-good vibe, and how fantastic and so colorful the finished trees look on display, and how, chances are, you'll be brought to tears by that little girl's (Hannah Levinson) singing of that Irish Christmas song. There's also a series of romances that blooms. Surprisingly, it's not the Tony/Cheri courtship that got to me but, rather, the one between the head librarian (Shauna MacDonald) and the library's custodian (Joe Pingue). They're so sweet together.


OXO Good Grips Coarse Grater
OXO Good Grips Coarse Grater
Price: $11.99
8 used & new from $6.25

4.0 out of 5 stars now added to my skillet and spatula to form my holy trinity of cookware, December 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a confirmed bachelor whose best chum is Señor Microwave, I doubt I have significant insights to offer regarding the OXO Good Grips Coarse Grater. I am an amateur cook. I used to make French toast until I lost the recipe. But even a kitchen oaf like me recognizes this implement for the essential cooking companion that it is. I'm useless when it comes to comparing this grater with other graters. I do know that it's become indispensable and is effortless in curling out these perfect ribbons of cheddar for my preferred food, the omelet (mmmm, the omelet). It's also bidirectional, meaning you can save some time as it grates in two directions. As a bonus, the handle provides a secure, non-slip grip, and, afterwards, you can toss it in the dishwasher. There's also a hole in the handle for hanging purposes or if you want to put a string in and wear it as a necklace, you freak. Items recommended for grating: cheeses, onions, potatoes, apples, chocolate... Items not recommended for grating: grapes, raisins, pudding, dulce de tres leches, fingers...


Hellhole
Hellhole
by Gina Damico
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a tale about enabling the devil, December 15, 2014
This review is from: Hellhole (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Gina Damico's Hellhole is a darkly comic cautionary tale about the perils of petty shoplifting and digging holes and making a deal with the devil. It's a YA read, although I caution that there is inappropriate language peppered throughout the story. Given, it's colorful vernacular frequently bandied about by kids today. But maybe you don't want that kind of exposure for your young 'uns, 10-14 years old.

It's about a shy, awkward, law-abiding, paleontology-mad high schooler named Max Kilgore who comes home one night to find Satan squatting in his basement, scarfing junk food and watching cable TV. Concern for his ailing mother causes our little Faust to stupidly bargain with this particular Satan - one of the 666 Satans in Hell. The rest of the book revolves around Max's attempts to worm out of Satan's stranglehold. His sole chance for salvation just may rest on a sarcastic goth girl whose life résumé includes a past experience with deviltry.

I'd read and enjoyed Damico's Croak trilogy - documenting the lives of teen grim reapers - and I was looking forward to Hellhole. Well, I ended up liking Hellhole okay, but not loving it. Damico puts in the good writing and does deliver enough on aspects of horror and hilarity. But Croak was able to hit me straight in the feels. Conversely, Hellhole's two lead characters - Max and Satan - left me lukewarm and so I wasn't as nearly invested in these proceedings. "Satan" - or, more precisely, Burgundy Cluttermuck; "Satan" is more of a job title - is too much of an over-the-top cartoon character for me to take seriously as a threat, and since he's the big bad of the story, well, there goes the high stakes drama. Damico lavishes a string of absurd traits on Burg and, by doing so, stifles whatever sense of menace he generates. I'll give him this, as a wisecracking foil and with his appalling abuse of hospitality, he does produce some few genuine chuckles. Not that I'm a clothes horse, but my favorite bit may have been Satan's and an inebriated Max's running commentary during an episode of Project Runway. It's such a random but totally hilarious scene.

Max Kilgore is the sort of lead character I cannot stand. He's a wishy-washy kid whom Burg delights in bullying. Max serves up rules for Burg to abide by while living in his house, and yet when Burg broke the rules time and again or amended the rules, Max doesn't stand up for himself. Yes, yes, I realize that Max is going along in hopes that the devil will heal his mom. But, aaaarrrrghhh, it's so frustrating.

If you can get past Max's lack of backbone and Burg's silly excesses and the occasional foray into crude humor (ie: the devil goes pantsless), then Hellhole may be for you, especially if you're a fan of tongue-in-cheek paranormal stories and of Damico's brand of biting witticism. And I did like the concept that Satan can only accept things that are stolen, like the cable TV that Max had pirated. So, yeah, I guess there are enough positive elements for me to tentatively recommend this book. But that kid, Max, he aggravates me so.


The Indestructibles
The Indestructibles
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars might have to put The Indestructibles in my top four favorite superhero prose, December 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Superhero prose inhabits Kindle like ants in my kitchen on a sweltering summer day. Most are ech or blah, but a few are whoa, if I could use Keanu Reeves' vernacular. Matthew Phillion's The Indestructibles falls into the latter category. It's storytelling charged with crackling pace and substance and real emotion and a self-assuredness that belies its being this author's debut novel. I might have to put The Indestructibles in my top four favorite superhero prose, behind only Wearing the Cape, Ex-Heroes, and Confessions of a D-List Supervillain.

It rides on Phillion's knack for character development. I could all day pimp the action - which is well-choreographed, dynamite stuff - and how Phillion is able to introduce familiar archetypes in refreshing ways. But, in the end, it's the compelling character beats that rivet you fast to your seat.

In a world in which the pre-eminent superhero group had long ago disbanded, the story's premise rests on Doc Silence's recruitment of five astonishing teens to help safeguard the world. A solar-powered girl. A ballerina vigilante. A boy whose brain is host to an alien. A werewolf boy. And a girl who can manipulate gravity. If that crazy line-up doesn't at all pique your curiosity, then you, sir, are dead inside.

Not that I'm a card-carrying feminist but fair's fair. It's a well-balanced cast, but I appreciate that the most well-drawn personalities belong to the female characters. There are parallels that could be drawn between the dynamics of Solar/the Dancer and that of Astra/Artemis in Harmon's Wearing the Cape series. And both pairs are rooted in the classic Superman/Batman dynamics. Only it's more pronounced in The Indestructibles than it is in Wearing the Cape. Astra and Artemis are actually close friends whereas Solar and the Dancer are wary allies at best, touting warring philosophies and methods. Doc Silence projects Solar as the moral compass and the light and the hope that the world can latch onto (much like Astra or R S J Gregory's Cosmic Girl). But it's the Dancer who gets the dirty deeds done in shadow. So, yeah, the girls are clearly analogs of Superman and Batman, except, under Phillion's writing, they come across as living, breathing characters. Having said that, it's Entropy Emily, nerdy mistress of gravity, who's become my favorite. Her personality is so rad and loopy...

Heck, even ancillary characters like the cyborg girl and the girl in the storm quickly grab your attention. The big bads consist of a shadowy organization, an utterly terrifying sorceress, and a cyborg operative with a conscience. And they're interesting, but not as interesting or as inventive as the sentient weather system that puts our heroes thru their paces. And while it doesn't get much play, the Division of What as an Abbot & Costello-type word play had me big grinning.

Again, I don't mean to short shrift the action - the action is dope! And, when necessary, the pace has got torried locomotion. But it's the characters that invested me. Jane, Kate, Billy, Titus, Emily - or Solar, the Dancer, Straylight, Fury, and Entropy Emily - have etched themselves indelibly into my brain. The Indestructibles is a moving and smart coming-of-age story. With superheroes in it. Read it and then read the sequel (The Indestructibles: Breakout).

Some recommended superhero prose (in Kindle format):

- Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes: A Novel
- Marion G. Harmon's Wearing the Cape
- Jim Bernheimer's Confessions of a D-List Supervillain
- Mur Lafferty's Playing For Keeps
- P.S. Power's Proxy (The Infected Book 1)
- Trey Dowell's The Protectors: A Thriller
- Rob Rogers' Devil's Cape
- Blake M. Petit's Other People's Heroes (The Heroes of Siegel City Book 1)
- C.J. Carella's Armageddon Girl (New Olympus Saga Book 1)
- Joshua Guess' Next (The Next Chronicle Book 1)
- R S J Gregory's Cosmic Girl: Rising Up
- Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible
- George R.R. Martin's classic Wild Card anthologies


A Royal Christmas
A Royal Christmas
2 used & new from $11.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...hoagies and finger bowls..., December 14, 2014
This review is from: A Royal Christmas (DVD)
A ROYAL CHRISTMAS, one of the twelve offerings produced in 2014 by the Hallmark film factory for its Countdown to Christmas campaign, carries whiffs of The Princess Diaries (Two-Disc Collectors Set) and Hallmark's own A Princess for Christmas. I will say that, of these three, A ROYAL CHRISTMAS isn't the strongest picture. Doesn't mean I didn't like it. I find Lacey Chabert to be perfectly winning, and, even after all this time, I'm still partial to Jane Seymour, never mind that she plays the heavy in this one.

What's it about? It's about Emily Taylor (Chabert) who designs beautiful clothes and works at her father's modest clothing shop in South Philadelphia. It's about Leo James (Stephen Hagan), the nice guy with the posh accent with whom Emily is going steady. The hook in the plot kicks in when Leo drops a bomb on Emily. It's the holiday season and, to quote LOVE, ACTUALLY, "At Christmas you tell the truth."

Leo comes clean to his commoner seamstress, confessing out of the blue that he in reality is Prince Leopold of Cordinia, a tiny sovereign state in the south of France. The prince, posing as a commoner, was permitted to study abroad with the provision that he remained anonymous. And, now, off Leo and Emily dash to spend Christmas in Cordinia where awaits Leo's formidable mother, the imperious Queen Isadora (Seymour).

Schmaltzy and predictable and goofy though it is, A ROYAL CHRISTMAS suits my needs for holiday viewing. It's comfort consumption, like hot cocoa going down on a cold day, like most Hallmark holiday movies. It makes me feel good and safe in knowing that, for the next two hours, I can park the family in front of the telly and not have to avoid eye contact.

Lacey Chabert, whom I first saw way back in PARTY OF FIVE, is cute as a button and brings that girl-next-door accessibility. I buy that her character can effortlessly charm just about everyone in the castle household. I love that she introduces to the castle's bemused kitchen staff the awesome Philadelphia hoagy (one of my favorite foods). Chabert works well in her scenes with Stephen Hagan. Hagan presents a low-keyed likable vibe, but it helps that his princely character is the decent, understanding sort.

The fly in the ointment is the snobbish Queen Isadora. The story conflict manifests when the Queen divulges that she intends to marry off her son to the lovely Duchess Natasha (Katherine Flynn, Seymour's real-life daughter). So, without having set eyes on our girl, she was already predisposed to judge her as wildly inappropriate for the heir to the throne. Can Emily Taylor thaw the Queen's icy heart? Maybe if she can stop slurping off those finger bowls during them fancy dinners. Anyway, when the Queen asks what kind of clothes Emily makes and Emily tells her she has a line of dresses and jackets and hoodies, there's special joy in watching the snooty Queen's lips curl as she distastefully enunciates the word "hoodies." Anyway, it's neat watching Ms. Seymour take on a villain role, which may be a first for her.

If cornered and given a choice, I'd admit that I prefer A PRINCESS FOR CHRISTMAS, that's the better movie. But I had fun watching A ROYAL CHRISTMAS, an agreeable holiday film where icy hearts are melted, irrepressible orphans are adopted (yes, there's an orphan), the head butler is benevolent, finger bowls are used inappropriately and the meaty aroma of the hoagy permeates the royal kitchen.


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