Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup Movie Poster

No, not a recipe.  It's a movie.  I am finding there are many good flics available if you take a look.  Tortilla Soup is a remake of Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman.  It features Hector Elizondo (that fact alone makes it watchable for me!) as Martin Naranjo, a retired Mexican American master chef.  Martin has three daughters who watch out for him. He doesn't need to be watched out for, but their concern is nice to see.  He is widowed and has not chosen to get back in the dating game.  His kids do not want him to be alone.
Now, the girls have their own set of issues to either deal or live with, which makes for a "soupy" (pun intended!) life with the four of them!  Enter Raquel Welch as Hortensia, the mother of the next door neighbor.  Wow! She would like Martin's affections to be toward her.  Well, no, she would like to capture Martin, actually!  Yes, she pretty aggressive.  Add to this his friends he still has at the restaurant and his life is pretty full.  He does, however have someone in mind that he would like to spend time with---not telling you who.  This movie is a blend of real life circumstances and imagined situations that gives it a good realistic feel.  Everything in this flick could happen in real-life and does.
I found it totally absorbing.  It is well acted by the whole cast.  Hector Elizondo does a great job as the main character.  His daughters, played by Elizabeth Pena, Jacqueline Obradors and Tamra Mello suit the parts and support his performance very well.  The additional cast is more than just additional.  They add their own talent which rounds out the story line.
I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Another escape for me into some great entertainment.  It has it's own endearing charm and the well played script is quite believable; making it a must watch!  I loved it. IMDb gives it 3.5 stars out of five.  Rotten Tomatoes scores it a 74%.  I include these figures for you because I liked it so much, I cannot be objective.  I give it five stars! 
It's a good movie.  You should watch it.  Disclaimer: I say that because all genres are not for all movie lovers.  If you are stuck on Sci-Fi, Action flics, Murder Mysteries, then you may not care for this.  If you like well done movies with family drama/comedy you will like this movie a lot.  Released in 2001, I streamed this movie from Amazon Prime.  You can also get it on Netflix and HuluPlus.  Also, check your local library if you watch on DVD.  The flicks available at the library are increasing all the time.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'll See You in My Dreams

Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Rhea Perlman, Mary K Place; how could I not watch this movie?  I mean, these are some of my favorite contemporary classic actors.  So, of course I decided to watch it.
  I watched this just yesterday and found myself thinking I should tell my friends/people how good I think it is.  "OH!  I should review it on my blog!"  Imagine that.  So, here I am and here are my thoughts on this delicious film, which actually about sums it up. 
But I will tell you more.  On the film rating sites, it was given high marks.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it 93%.  Metacritic came up with 75%, still a good rating.  These are the two most used sites for judging quality in a movie.
Carol Peterson (Blythe Danner) is the main character.  She has a group of close friends and an almost daily game of bridge at the Senior Community clubhouse to fill up part of her time.  These chicks are no "Golden Oldies."  They live life like they are single and like it.  Her three closest friends all live at the "Village" and think she needs to live there too.  She remains in her house and prefers it.  She used to sing in a band but quit that when her husband passed away 20 years earlier.  She has not dated since then. She became a school teacher and did that the rest of her working years. Her days are full enough and she keeps busy with activities that interest her.  But, she feels a sense of her life not having the sparkle that it once had. 
Add to this the perfect comedic timing of Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place and you have a movie sure to please.  With Sam Elliott as Blythe's love interest then Oh My Goodness, it becomes a definite "must watch."  Oh, and the speed dating session that takes place at the clubhouse is an absolute hoot!  There were several scenes/situations that really gave me a belly busting howl of a laugh!
The well written script explores the nuances of aging in a way that does not patronize.  Their lives are lived much as people decades younger live theirs.  If you are over 50 years old you will relate to this film.  If you are a senior citizen, you will embrace the films message and love the experience.
I'll See You In My Dreams is so well made that I felt like I was there with her, living her life with her.  I almost forgot I was watching a movie. Blythe always brings such understated class and dry wit to any role she plays.  She does not disappoint in this film. 
The same goes with the rest of the ensemble cast.  They are all good and this movie is all good!  I give it five stars.  This film is rated PG13 by the Motion Picture Association of America. 
I streamed this free from Amazon Prime.  I am sure you can get it on Netflix, as well, if you don't have Amazon.  It is also available on DVD.  It was a limited theatrical release in 2015. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife

I like an exotic locale for a novel, so this book cover drew me in pretty quickly.  The novel by Dinah Jefferies takes place in Ceylon, known for growing some of the very best teas.  Beginning in 1925, young Gwendolyn is wed to Laurence Hooper, an Englishman who owns a tea plantation in Ceylon.  She is excited to arrive at her new home and learn about tea growing and be the mistress of the house.  When she arrives, mysteries begin to appear and an atmosphere of distrust and resentment on the part of the employees causes her to feel a sense of foreboding and disquiet, although she cannot put her finger on the cause.
Among the mysteries are an unmarked grave in the woods, a sister-in-law who obviously does not want her around and the plant foreman who has no use for the owner's new wife.  She feels alone and homesick to the point of exhaustion.  As complications develop, Gwen feels a very real sense of her life being in danger; no more on that.  I wouldn't want to be guilty of giving you a spoiler!
The Tea Planter's Wife is well written from a technical standpoint.  Sentence structure is good and grammar is spot on. It is easy to read. Ms. Jefferies does a good job describing the atmosphere and the beauty of Ceylon.  What it lacks is a real sense of depth.  It is a story written "on the surface" bringing the reader intrigue that does not play out as it appears.  All is not as sinister as it seems and the  mysteries have simple, human emotional origins.  It is solved too easily and no one is as bad as they appear to be.  This is not a disappointing book, as it were, it is just benign, promising a mysterious malevolent dark cause that is not there.  There were no surprises.  If this is what you like in a book, this one is for you.
What it does have in it's favor is what the author left out.  That is very little sex, no dirty language and it is not offensive.  I was pleased that it was written for the sake of the story being told.  That is the mark of a good writer, in my opinion, however lacking in depth this story was. It did not pull me in.  I was not absorbed or compelled to keep reading.
The Tea Planter's Wife spent sixteen weeks on bestseller lists in the U.K.  This is her second novel.  She also wrote The Separation and The Silk Merchant's Daughter.  Her fourth novel, Before the Rains, will be published in the U.K. in February 2017.   Dinah Jefferies lives in Gloucestershire. 
I give this book two and a half stars.  Published by Penquin Random House, I received a review copy from Blogging For Books, for the purpose of an honest review.  These words are my opinion. 
You can read more about Dinah Jefferies and her novels at Dinah Jefferies.  To find out more about Blogging For Books, visit them at Blogging For Books
Thanks so much for being here!

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Devoted

What a fitting end to The Bishop's Family series!  As always, with Suzanne Woods Fisher's books, lives are changed, answers are found and faith is deepened.
This one centers on Ruthie Stoltzfus and her search for meaning in life.  We join her struggle to decide between leaving the Amish and staying the course to make her life in Stoney Ridge.   She just wants to do something important and make a real contribution.  She develops a sincere admiration for her Aunt "Dok," her father's sister, who has come back to Stoney Ridge to set up a medical practice.  She brings a perspective that Ruthie could not have but Ruthie misses the point, which she does with some regularity.
The host of characters are back in this edition and there are plenty of real life story lines to keep you reading all the way through.  Suzanne brings to light the Amish struggle with many of the same issues we "Englishers" do.  They are not immune to the ways of the world.
I discovered Suzanne's books last winter and I have proceeded to work on reading everything she has written.  I review many types of books, fiction and non-fiction and I sometimes need relief from the murder, mayhem, political intrigue and the like.  When I pick up one of her books, I know that I will get that much-needed relief while at the same time reading a story that brings real life to my reading.  The added bonus is that her stories always bring faith lessons learned by the protagonist and reveal God's glory.
I simply "love" her books!  They are real, intelligent, human, and centered on God.
The Devoted can be read alone, as can all the books in her series and I suggest you "rush right out" and secure your copy!  I highly recommend this book, and all of her writing.
I give The Devoted five stars!  Learn more about Suzanne's books at  Also at
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing for the purpose of writing an honest review.  All words/opinions are my own.
Thanks so much for being here and happy reading to you!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Newton & Polly A Novel of Amazing Grace

This novel, based on the true story of John Newton, the writer of one of the most beloved hymns of all time, Amazing Grace, is a journey through doubt, denial, rebellion, all of them emotions that a person goes through when struggling with the idea of an Almighty God.
Jody Hedlund is the author of this historical novel.  The story is a "sweeping saga" that takes the reader along for the ride.  It is closely based on John and Polly Newton and the life he lived before he became a Christian.  Polly, whom he almost did not win the hand of, was instrumental in exposing him to the love of God and the salvation of Christ.  However, it was not until John was at his very lowest point, that he allowed God in.  He went through jobs like water through a sieve.  His father, whose love was always there, however distant, rescued him countless times and found him jobs but John carried a bitter resentment after his mother's death when he was a child and he squandered every single opportunity.  That resentment bred a rebelliousness that nearly got him killed more than one time.  He grew up mostly without his father around who was a seaman and was gone a lot until John reached a certain age, then taking him on the ship voyages with him, teaching him to be a seaman.  But, he remained cold and distant after the death of his wife and John's resentment grew.
He carried anger toward God and his father and had a chip on his shoulder he could hardly stand up under.  He thought the world owed him and had little regard for authority or responsibility.
When he met Polly he was instantly smitten and she for him. But, she held back, seeing his irresponsibility.  Just when he thinks he will never see her again, God works on his heart and brings him to his knees one dark and stormy night at sea.
This book drew me in and I felt the despair he went through and the broken heart that Polly suffered.  It is a turbulent journey and about halfway through I reached a point where I could hardly put it down.
Ms. Hedlund is the author of numerous Christian fiction books including Luther and Katherina and was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award for that novel; again, based on a true story.  Her novels have also won the INSPY Award, the Carol Award and the Christy Award.
Thank you to Blogging for Books for this volume.  All opinions are my own.
If you would like to know more about Jody Hedlund's writing visit her at Jody Hedlund.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for being here!
See you next time,

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Domino Effect

As a top risk analyst at one of the biggest banking organizations in America, Esther Larson works daily with financial numbers and assesses risk. She is beginning to see something that looks very dangerous, and is struggling with a course of action.  As the markets begin to unravel she begins to talk about what she is seeing and engages some top financiers and friends.  This is the plot of Davis Bunn's newest novel. 
Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, but that is the meat of it.  The characters have very real personalities and struggles, which gives the story a good feel of reality. That is also the scary part of this novel. What the author writes could certainly happen to the stock market and would set off a real panic.  As Esther struggles with the reality of what is happening, she begins to fear for her life.  There are people who do not want her to go public with this information and they will stop at nothing to silence her.
This is my fifth Davis Bunn novel.  I have been moved, scared and convicted by the other four.  They have all been thought provoking and left me very satisfied.  This one was almost as good, but not quite.  It is well written and absorbing.  The middle of the book has a lot of financial explantion which Esther is giving her friends as she talks to them about what is taking place and that lost me a little.  I had to lay it down for a bit.  I was disappointed that Bunn did not include deep faith in the characters persona as he has in the other books of his that I have read.  I know this is a different type of story and not entirely about personal faith and seeing God work in the lives of the characters, but I enjoy that piece of the story too. He does have an excellent ability to write in various genres and make all of them read well.  I loved his Marc Royce series which was fast paced, scary and also well written, as this book was.  The Domino Effect was a good book, but not my favorite Davis Bunn book.  If you have an interest and some knowledge of the stock market and the global economy, you will love this book. I enjoyed it.  It was good but not exactly my cup of tea.  Excellent writing, grammer, sentence structure, as always.  I will still read Davis' books!  You can read more about this book at Bethany House and more about this author at Davis Bunn Facebook
I give The Domino Effect four stars and suggest you get a copy and give it a read!  
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks so much for being here!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

To Follow Her Heart

Captain Jeremy Horton's ship, The Swallow, is wrecked and all the crew but him is lost.  Adrift at sea, he is eventually picked up by a frigate, a gunner ship headed to Boston.  Family and friends have had a memorial service and declared  him dead.  All but Patience Terry, his lifetime friend and fiance.  She never gives up hope and when he reappears to her and all of Southold, they pick up where they left off.  She wants him never to sail again and he cannot bear to leave the sea.  He was raised on it and it is in his blood.  The ensuing emotional struggle forms the main storyline with several additional characters which give this novel substance and depth.
Rebecca DeMarino is the author of this historical romance.  It is set in the summer of 1664 in Southold, Long Island.  So, that being the case, we are talking (reading) about very early colonial New England.  I am always struggling to tell you about the story without giving it away and writing a spoiler!  It is hard.
The plot centers around a small group of colonials who are working and struggling to make a new life in a new world.
This is a good story.  I have not read any of Ms. DeMarino's work until now and I was impressed with her command of historical facts. I am sure, in part, because this is loosely written on the adventures of a great-grandfather from "generations ago."  For me, that always lends an authentic feel to a book.  I was absorbed from the beginning and read this fairly quickly.  The excellent grammar and sentence structure made it easy to read.  It flowed well from page to page.  The author included phrases and Old English that would have been spoken in the 1600's and that added to the novel.  She did that very well, also.  Enough to give you an idea of how colonials spoke but not so much that it sounded corny.
This is Book 3 of The Southold Chronicles.  Another series that I am going to have to go back and read Books 1& 2 of!
I give To Follow Her Heart five stars and suggest you give it a read!
Read more about Rebecca DeMarino at Rebecca DeMarino
Explore Revell books and sign up for their email newsletter at Revell Publishing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  These opinions are my own.

Thanks for being here!  Up next, Davis Bunn's newest release The Domino Effect.
See you soon!