Beauty & The Beast (Film Review)

Beauty and the Beast
Walt Disney Pictures
PG | 2h 9min |  17 March 2017

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is a live-action re-telling of the studio's animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. "Beauty and the Beast" is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

Disney strikes gold again with another live action re-telling of one of their classic animated films. Disney fans of the original will not be disappointed with the brilliant presentation.

Your favourite characters come to life in beautifully done CGI that doesn't destroy the imagination instead only adds to it.

Disappointments? While she did a fantastic job in the role, I'm not sure that Emma Watson was truly the right choice for Belle. This isn't any fault of her own, however as she both acted and sang beautifully in the film. However, I have a tendency to find with her that she does not become her role. When I watch her in a film I am not lost in the story in the sense that I feel I should be. I do not see Belle, I simply see Emma Watson.

Josh Gad, while hilarious in his role as Le Fou left something to be desired in his singing for the much beloved Gaston performance, though the scene itself was brilliantly presented.

Speaking of the Villain you hate to love, Luke Evan's performance as Gaston was utter perfection! He was my Gaston in every way I could have imagined.  I simultaneously loved and hated him a lot more than the original!

The gem of the film however is Dan Stevens in his performance as Beast/Prince Adam. He perfectly embodied the man turned creature turned man and shifted your emotions for him from annoyed, to sympathetic to nothing but pure love. By the end of the film, you too were in love with a the Beast.

So well done! If you're a Disney fan this is an absolute must see!

The Cutaway (Review)

The Cutaway: A Novel
By Christina Kovac
320 pages | March 21st 2017 | Atria / 37 INK

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

The Cutaway is an intriguing mystery that holds your attention. I'm easily lured into a book where I don't have the answers right away. This one keeps you guessing and that is what makes it such a good read. Some of the characters do come off a little flat, unimaginative but I was willing to read through it because the plot was well done and the book written well overall. 

I didn't absolutely love it but I was intrigued and entertained which is what I believe the author intended. I would recommend it for a quick read to anyone who loves a good intrigue.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for an ARC copy of this book

Christina Kovac managed newsrooms and produced crime and political stories in the District. Her career as a television journalist began with Fox 5's Ten O'Clock News, followed by the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. For the last nine years, she worked at the Washington Bureau of NBC News. She lives with her family outside of Washington D.C.

Confessions of a High School Disaster (Review)

Confessions of a High School Disaster (Chloe Snow's Diary)
By Emma Chastain
March 7th 2017 | Simon Pulse

In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.

I’m Chloe Snow, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.

On the plus side, I got the lead in the musical!

On the down side…

1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.
3. I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, the most popular senior guy, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.

Mom tells me everything is copy. So I’m writing down all the horrible things that happen to me in this diary.

This is the worst year of my life so far, unless maybe it’s the best.

I instantly loved this book. Chole is a funny, honest teenager dealing with a lot of changes in her life. While I'm not sure that I see the Bridget Jones references (other than the fact that it's told in the form of her diary), I was refreshingly reminded of Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. 

While I'll admit a lot of what we see from Chloe in this story is tedious and somewhat annoying, it's pretty honest for a teenage girl. She is witty, snarky, petty and exceptionally observant of her surroundings which creates a funny, entertaining read. However, I probably wouldn't give it to my Thirteen-year-old sister anytime soon. I would pitch it more to mid-late teens or young adults looking for a flashback.

Traveling With Ghosts

Traveling with Ghosts: A Memoir 
by Shannon Leone Fowler
304 pages | Published February 21st 2017 | Simon & Schuster

From grief to reckoning to reflection to solace, a marine biologist shares the solo journey she took—through war-ravaged Eastern Europe, Israel, and beyond—to find peace after her fiancé suffered a fatal attack by a box jellyfish in Thailand.

In the summer of 2002, Shannon Leone Fowler, a twenty-eight-year-old marine biologist, was backpacking with her fiancé and love of her life, Sean. Sean was a tall, blue-eyed, warmhearted Australian, and he and Shannon planned to return to Australia after their excursion to Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. Their plans, however, were devastatingly derailed when a box jellyfish—the most venomous animal in the world—wrapped around Sean’s leg, stinging and killing him in a matter of minutes as Shannon helplessly watched. Rejecting the Thai authorities attempt to label Sean’s death a “drunk drowning,” Shannon ferried his body home to his stunned family—a family to which she suddenly no longer belonged.

Shattered and untethered, Shannon’s life paused indefinitely so that she could travel around the world to find healing. Travel had forged her relationship with Sean, and she hoped it could also aid in processing his death. Though Sean wasn’t with Shannon, he was everywhere she went—among the places she visited were Oświęcim, Poland (the site of Auschwitz); war-torn Israel; shelled-out Bosnia; poverty-stricken Romania; and finally to Barcelona, where she first met Sean years before. Ultimately, Shannon had to confront the ocean after her life’s first great love took her second great love away.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk in this beautiful, profoundly moving memorial to those we have lost on our journeys and the unexpected ways their presence echoes in all places—and voyages—big and small.

I'm going to be honest, memoirs aren't always my thing. Typically when I'm reading a story I want to get lost in a false reality, and memoirs, reliving someone else's experiences often feel too real and personal. On many levels, I can't always relate. A memoir is such a personal and unique recollection of the individual's journey. 

This memoir was the exception for me. The moment I read the description, I was intrigued. I knew that wanted to read this story and I wasn't disappointed. Traveling With Ghosts is a beautifully written account of love, loss and adventure. Shannon doesn't sugar coat anything and allows the reader to see the truth. A story that had the potential to be extremely depressing, was instead empowering and intriguing. 

I recommend this to anyone I think this story has something to teach all readers and will have a profound impact on anyone who dares to read it. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an ARC of this book. 

Shannon Leone Fowler is a writer, marine biologist, and single mother of three young children. Since her doctorate on Australian sea lions, she’s taught marine ecology in the Bahamas and Galápagos, led a university course on killer whales in the San Juan Islands, spent seasons as the marine mammal biologist on board ships in both the Arctic and Antarctic, taught graduate students field techniques while studying Weddell seals on the Ross Ice Shelf, and worked as a science writer at National Public Radio in Washington DC. Originally from California, she currently lives in London. Traveling with Ghosts is her first book.

Lost Legacies (Cover Reveal)

A Lost Legacy: Awakening (Lost Legacies 1) 
By C.E Dimond
258 Pages | Write Addictions Publishing

Finn Adams thought she knew what her life had in store for her; a mundane existence of day to day life. The arrival of a stranger in town turns her world upside down. When her mother goes missing, Finn soon discovers that she is a witch and she is being hunted for her power. Ripped from the only life she’s ever known, Finn is transported across the country to Broadhaven, Maine to discover the secrets she never knew about herself, her heritage, and the tremendous power that's been kept from her for so long. Her loyalties are tested when she learns of her true parentage and discovers she is part of a prophecy, destined to awaken an ancient power that has been lost for centuries. As she struggles to learn from her mother’s past, she is faced with the ultimate struggle of good and evil, family or friends, she must learn who she can trust and find the power within herself to stop the prophecy from coming true.

A Lost Legacy: Wandering (Lost Legacies Prequel)
By C.E Dimond
110 Pages | Write Addictions Publishing

Seventeen-year-old Warlock Eamon O'Neill was born and raised in the Broadhaven Coven. Life at Broadhaven meant two things; One, he was inherently magic and two, he had a role to play. What his role was, never seemed to be clear. Descended from Celtic royalty, the expectations on young coven members are high. Coven life is a series of ancient rules, traditions, and secrets. Eamon has always trained to be the perfect Warlock and the perfect son but struggles living in his father's shadow. When a threat from the past resurfaces, the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself. One of his own will be chosen to track down the last living Witch in their Coven, and he is determined to be the man for the job. Eamon will need to place his own issues aside and focus his most powerful magic to complete the trials. He must prove he is the only one powerful enough to protect their only weapon.

About The Author

C.E Dimond is an Irish-Canadian author. She has always had a passion for literature and from a young age indulged her mind in the fantasy fiction world. As a child, her bedtime stories consisted greatly of Irish folklore and songs that inspired a true love of her heritage. She has a love of World Religions, psychology, languages and history and has put all of these inspirations to work in her writing. She is an alumna of St. Mary’s Academy and studied Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. Currently, she lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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