My 2 Cents… The Jane Austen Book Club

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JaneTitle: The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) 
Director: Robin Swicord 
Writers: Robin Swicord (screenplay) and Karen Joy Fowler (book) 
Stars: Maria Bello (Jocelyn), Emily Blunt (Prudie), Kathy Baker (Bernadette), Amy Brenneman (Sylvia), Maggie Grace (Allegra), and Hugh Dancy (Grigg)
Genre(s): Comedy/Drama/Romance

Writing: ★★★★
Cinematography: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Acting: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

Buy it HERE

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships – both old and new – begin to resemble 21st century version of her novels.

The Jane Austen Book Club explores Austen’s adage that general incivility is at love’s essence. Sylvia’s husband dumps her for another woman, so Bernadette and Jocelyn organize a book club to distract her. They recruit Sylvia’s daughter Allegra; Prudie, a young teacher whose marriage may be on the rocks; and Grigg, a sci-fi fan who joins solely out of his attraction to Jocelyn. The six book club members read and discuss one Austen novel per month. While Jocelyn attempts to peak Grigg’s interest in Sylvia, she fails to see her own interest in him rising. Allegra falls in love with a woman she meets skydiving. Then, after unexpected heartache she is able to mend her heart through a new relationship. Prudie contemplates an affair with one of her students and may take things a little to far. Sylvia’s ex-husband keeps popping back into her life and eventually tells her he still loves her. By the end of the movie, the truth about each of our characters is revealed.

I’m not going to lie, this is a chick-flick. I love a good romantic comedy chick-flick every now and then, but they are not my typical go-to movie. With that said, as an author and an avid reader, I LOVED THIS FILM!

The cast is amazing… In fact, I really can’t image a better cast. With Emily Blunt, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, and Kathy Baker taking the lead, this movie was destined to be a success. And a story line that manages to infuse the characters’ lives with pieces of Jane Austen’s fictional world is just plain fun.

Like most chick-flicks, this film isn’t about wowing the viewers with amazing cinematography and extraordinary special effects. This film relies solely on the dialogue and the actors’ abilities to communicate their emotions to the audience. The character development within each relationship as well as individually gives the viewer so much to watch, explore, and relate to. Of course, not everyone will be able to relate to every character… but that is the beauty, there is a character for everyone.

I believe that if Austin were alive today, she would be proud of the way this film utilized her themes and wove them into the lives of the characters beautifully.

Watching the film, you get a sense that Karen Joy Fowler, author of the book ‘The Jane Austin Book Club, truly has a passion for and understands Austin’s books. Although I have not yet read ‘The Jane Austin Book Club’ I do intent to add it to my ‘To Read’ list. I think that anyone who admires Austin’s books will enjoy this film.

If you have watched this movie (or read the book) please comment below and let me know what you thought of it. If you haven’t seen the movie, but are intrigued enough to watch it, then I challenge you to watching and then come back and let me know what you thought.

“Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” ~ Bernadette

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You can watch the official trailer here:

The Fireman by Joe Hill

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The FiremanTITLE: The Fireman
AUTHOR: Joe Hill

Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Appearance: ★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (3.25)

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

Buy the book HERE


WRITING (★★★): This is the second book I’ve read from author Joe Hill, the first being 20th Century Ghosts. It is really well-written, aside from the fact that it is 749 pages and could have been trimmed down significantly without loosing any of the story. His long-winded writing style came as no surprise when I realized he is Stephen King’s son. However, when I read a Stephen King novel, I am drawn in completely. That didn’t happen with this story.

There were many times where the writing gave away too much to the reader. Foreshadowing the twists and turns in a way that made them predictable and anticlimactic when they did happen.

STORY (★★★★): The story starts out strong, with a powerful moment for one of our lead characters, Harper Grayson. However, shortly after it starts to slow to a snail’s pace. I found myself putting the book down rather than being compelled to read it.

The Fireman, at its heart, is based on a really cool premise – a spontaneous combustion plague that is wiping out humanity. We not only see how the plague destroys humanity but also how society changes, turns on itself, and ultimately destroys itself.

Hill creates some really great images through his writing, the bird of fire, the glow of the camp members as they sing, the woman of fire, and so many others. The problem I had, was that they were to few and far between.

When all is said and done, I still recommend reading this book. If you are at all a fan of Joe Hill, or his father, Stephen King, you should pick up a copy and read it. The premise is awesome… just be prepared to have to push through some of the slower parts in order to get to the really good parts.

PS… there is a hidden ending to this story. If you read the credits included at the end of the book, you’ll get a little surprise from the author.

CHARACTERS (★★★): The dialogue between the characters often felt forced and redundant. It seemed that character personalities changed depending on which characters were in the scene. My biggest issue with this was with Harper Grayson. Harper is a kind, loving nurse who just wants to help people. Then, when she is talking with The Fireman, after getting to the camp, the way she talks gets hard and brass. It didn’t feel natural.

I did feel however, that Hill was able to give solid character development to the main characters throughout the story. Although I couldn’t relate to many of them, I do feel like I was able to understand what motivated their actions.

APPEARANCE (★★★): I love this cover… There is just something about a cover printed with only 2-3 colors that draws my eye. The movement in the fire, throughout the lettering, is beautiful in a destructive way. It looks great and intrigues the reader, tempting you to find out what’s inside.

“There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”

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NOS4A2The spine-tingling, bone-chilling novel of supernatural suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Horns—now an AMC original series starring Zachary Quinto, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Ashleigh Cummings.
“A masterwork of horror.”— Time


Full Throttle

Full ThrottleIn this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including “In The Tall Grass,” one of two stories co-written with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.


Heart-Shaped BoxHeart-Shaped BoxJudas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman’s noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can’t help but reach for his wallet…  GET IT HERE!

Wolverton StationWolverton StationSaunders made his fortune as a hatchet man for hire and has come to England to do what he does best: chop down the little guys to clear the way for a global firm. But his train north just made an unexpected stop to let on some passengers straight out of the worst kind of fairy tale. Now he’s up to his ankles in blood and finding out just what it really means to live in a dog-eat-dog world… GET IT HERE!

WraithWraith – The graphic novel prequel to the bestselling novel and upcoming AMC series NOS4A2!

Discover the terrifying funhouse world of Christmasland and the ageless monster who rules it. Climb into the passenger seat as Hill and artist Charlie Wilson III explore Charlie Manx’s twisted beginnings, introduce a new and depraved cast of characters to Christmasland, and take us for a 100 MPH ride down an icy nightmare road in a car with no brakes… GET IT HERE!

HORNSHornsA twisted, terrifying new novel of psychological and supernatural suspense, Horns is a devilishly original triumph for the Ray Bradbury Fellowship recipient whose story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, was also honored with a Bram Stoker Award—and whose emotionally powerful and macabre work has been praised by the New York Times as, “wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty…a Valentine from hell.”  GET IT HERE!

Strange Weather

Strange WeatherA collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.



11/22/63 by Stephen King

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TITLE: 11/22/63
AUTHOR: Stephen King

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)


One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco


In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Buy the book HERE


WRITING: I love reading, and I’ll be the first to admit that if the story is good enough bad writing doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience for me. Because of this, some books may receive a higher rating from me simply because the story was fantastic… maybe as a reader you don’t agree with that method, but I feel that creativity in a story should outweigh the other flaws one might find. HOWEVER, this was not one of those books… This one topped the charts on writing, story development, character development, back story, flashbacks, structure, etc. etc. etc.

Stephen King is a master when it comes to creative writing. He develops characters that are more believable than the people you live next door to… but, with this story, he weaved together a fine thread of life. Creating fictional characters and weaving them into a reality with real life historical figures can’t be easy, yet King makes it seem seamless.

STORY: At first glance, looking at the cover, one might think this book focuses on the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy. In reality, this is a time-travel novel. Sure, it involves the Kennedy assassination, but that is not the primary focus. This book focuses on Jake Epping, a man of 2011 who travels back in time to 1958. We get to see how his actions in the past affect his life and the lives of others. It shows how the butterfly effect can have both positive and negative ramifications on the world and the course of history. It begs the reader to think about what he/she might do in a similar situation, or to think about the decisions you make in your every day life that seem mundane or harmless… How do those small decision affect the greater good?

CHARACTERS: As with all of King’s novels, I loved getting to know the characters. I enjoyed reading the details of Jake’s realization of what was happening and the weight of the responsibility that was placed on him. His journey takes him through struggles we can only imagine. He grows, learns, fails, succeeds, falls in love, and endures unmeasurable loss.

APPEARANCE: The cover is simply perfect.

I’m an author, so of course I loved this one: “When all else fails, give up and go to the library.”

“Sometimes the things presented to use as choices aren’t choices at all.”

“When you put on a clown suit and a rubber nose, nobody has any idea what you look like inside.”

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11.22.63 mini series


Did you know that Hulu turned 11/22/63 into a mini-series? It did… Want to know my thoughts about the mini-series? Check out my blog post HERE! Blog Review of the mini-series will be active on Sunday, April 14, 2019. 


You can also check out my YouTube review of the mini-series below (video review will be posted on Sunday, April 14, 2019:


Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard

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Finding GobiTITLE: Finding Gobi
AUTHOR: Dion Leonard

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

Bring home the incredible true story of a friendship so strong that it crosses the globe! You will love the inspiring tale of Gobi, a lost dog who kept pace with an ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, across a vast desert. Follow their unlikely friendship through the challenges of an 80-mile race and Dion’s struggle to bring Gobi home for good.

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey is the incredible true story of Dion Leonard, a New York Times bestselling author and athlete, who was befriended by a stray dog while running an ultramarathon through the Gobi Desert. Named for the desert in which he found her, Gobi became Dion’s closest companion for 77 miles of the 155-mile race across China. The scrappy little pup ran mile after mile alongside Dion, through treacherous conditions and across raging rivers. He let her sleep in his tent and share his food, and eventually, his focus shifted from winning to the newfound friendship he and Gobi shared.

They crossed the finish line together—not first, but together—and Dion decided to bring Gobi home to Scotland. Just before they were about to leave, however, Gobi disappeared, setting off a worldwide search for the stray. In a town of more than 3 million people, the search seemed hopeless, but this tale of friendship will surprise and delight you as you find out what happens!

Join the almost too-good-to-be-true story of hope, friendship, and beating incredible odds in Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard.

Buy the book HERE

The Critical Points:
Finding Gobi is the true story of one little dog’s big journey, written by Dion Leonard.

WRITING: I read this book with my 11-year-old son, as part of our mother/son book club. I had never heard about Gobi or the story that went global, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the book. My son enjoyed the book as well. I love the fact that Dion Leonard not only wrote his story, he chose to write a children’s version too. I don’t think my son would have made it through the longer version, but the Young Reader’s Edition was perfect for him.

I highly recommend this book. The young readers’ edition is perfect for readers of all ages from children to those young-at-heart. The sections written in Gobi’s perspective are very endearing and sweet.

STORY: You just can’t go wrong with a true story of a man and his dog. Much less one that carries the reader around the world on an epic adventure of friendship, heartache, and eventually a joyous reunion. Did I give away too much?

CHARACTERS: Gobi and Dion aren’t really characters… they are the real life dog and dog owner. So, I can’t judge the character development as everything that happens in Finding Gobi is true to life.

APPEARANCE: The cover shows a cute image of Gobi, trotting along across a map… showing, through the image, the journey she must have taken.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes almost half a planet to rescue a dog.”

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On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson

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Golden Pond

PLAY TITLE: On Golden Pond
AUTHOR: Ernest Thompson

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

A comedy for a cast of 3 men, 2 women, 1 boy. This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory-but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness-and slang-in return. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Buy the play HERE!

Buy the movie HERE!
On Golden Pond is a classic. The way that Thompson brings these characters to live is simply beautiful. It’s about life, relationships, and the heart.

I love when an author like Thompson can take a simple story, a retired couple spending the summer at their lake house, and turn it into so much more. By the end of the script, you’re emotionally attached to the characters, you care what happens to them, and you long to learn more about them.

The father/daughter relationship between Norman and Chelsea is heartbreaking. In just the few scenes in which they are together, it is obvious how much they love each other… how much they want to be close… and yet, they aren’t. It isn’t until Chelsea brings Billy, her boyfriend’s son, to visit her parents that Norman finally bonds with a child. It’s just said that it wasn’t his own child.

The husband/wife relationship between Norman and Ethel is exactly what I believe my grandparents had. They lived a similar life and were not only each other’s best friends, but they were soul mates. They were perfect together in every way. I believe that Thompson wrote their relationship to be perfect… almost to perfect, but not unbelievable in any way.

As an actress, reading this script has just added two characters to my list of dream roles I’d love to play. If I ever get the chance, in the next few years to audition for Chelsea, I will not let it pass me by, and of course… Ethel would be a dream role when I get older.

As a director, I have to be honest… I think it would be hard knowing how emotionally connected I am with the characters. I think I’d want to be on stage too much to do justice as a director.

APPEARANCE: Plain green cover with black text… Typical Dramatists Play Service cover. I feel like the plain cover allows the reader to use their imagination when envisioning the characters.

“Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you.”

“Well, that’s what happens if you live long enough: You end up being old. it’s one of the disadvantages of a long life. I still prefer it to the alternative.” 

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on golden pond movie posterMovie Title: On Golden Pond
Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer), Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer Jr.), and Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer Wayne)

STORYLINE: The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea — whom they haven’t seen for years — feels she must be there for Norman’s birthday. She and her fiancé are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiancé’s son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last? (IMDB.COM)

Watch the official movie trailers here:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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TITLE: Of Mice and Men
AUTHOR: John Steinbeck

Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.33)


A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression.

They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

“A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished. Steinbeck has touched the quick.” —The New York Times

Buy the book HERE!

Buy the play HERE

Buy the movie HERE

The Critical Points:
I picked up this book because of a recommendation by one of my youtube viewers. So, if you haven’t checked out my youtube reviews, make sure you check out the page HERE.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, was originally published in 1937. A lot has changed in literature and society since 1937…

With that said, let’s get into the guts of this story and my opinion of it. Just a warning… there will be spoilers in this review.

WRITING: Of Mice and Men is a classic, read in many high schools across the country, although I don’t believe I ever read it in school. Although I never read the novel, until now, I had read the play while studying theatre in college.

I can understand why the novel received the Nobel Prize in Literature, but I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite of Steinbeck’s novels. The writing style, although probably a good example of the time period, was choppy and repetitive. I found the excessive foul language to be distracting and often unnecessary.

STORY: The story is beautiful. It is the relationship between two men, George and Lennie, an unlikely pair of friends. George takes care of Lennie, who is mentally challenged, as they travel the country looking for work on farms. Their goal… or rather, their dream, is to one day own some land of their own. However, Lennie is continually getting into trouble causing them to have to pick up and move at a moment’s notice, which in turn makes it difficult for them to save up the money for the land they hope to purchase.

CHARACTERS: George is a small, caring man, who looks after Lennie like he is more than just a friend, as if he is a brother. Lennie is a rather large and very strong, mentally challenged man who doesn’t know his own strength. He doesn’t know how to think for himself and as a result relies on George to tell him what to do and how to react to situations. When left to his own devices, Lennie reacts physically and is unable to control himself, hence killing the mice he keeps hidden in his pocket, or the puppy he so desperately wanted to pet. Although, it isn’t until he kills his boss’ wife that George realizes that he has to stop covering for Lennie and make the hard decision of letting him go.

The final scene of the book is heart wrenching, emotionally draining, and sad. It was also predictable, but that didn’t in any way dampen the emotional affect of the scene when reading it.

“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head.” ~ Of Mice and Men

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of mice

Title: Of Mice and Men
Director: Gary Sinise
Screenplay Written by: Horton Foote
Stars: John Malkovich (Lennie) and Gary Sinise (George)


Check out the official movie trailer here:


Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson

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Silent Sky

PLAY TITLE: Silent Sky
AUTHOR: Lauren Gunderson

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love. The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

My 2 Cents: 
This is a beautiful play about one of the first women who worked in the field of astronomy. The reader (or audience if seeing the play life) get to see how she balances, or fails to balance, life while still pursuing her dream of reaching for the stars. It is intelligent, artistic, heart wrenching, and emotionally moving.

I started reading this play with no knowledge of what it was about other than that it had to do with female astronomers, or ‘computers’ as they were called back in the early 1900s. I was happy to find that it was not only beautifully written with humor woven throughout the story, but it avoided the typical traps stories like this often fall into such as only focusing on the negative aspects of women in what is considered a “man’s world”, over dramatizing work and home life balance… or lack thereof, or not sharing all aspects of the story such as family/science/and love… there is room for it all and I believe that Gunderson successfully brought it all together.

CHARACTERS: Through her writing, Gunderson brings to life each of the five characters in such a beautiful way. They each have their own history, their own desires, and their own goals. Life ends up differently for each of them, and as with our lead character, Henrietta, they all experience

  • Henrietta Leavitt
  • Margaret Leavitt
  • Peter Shaw
  • Annie Cannon
  • Williamina Fleming

APPEARANCE: it’s a plain colored cover, in this case blue, with black lettering, typical of a Dramatists Play Service playbook. I personally prefer this style of cover for plays because I want the writing to tell me what the characters look like, rather than an image on the cover.

“I used to think that to be truly alive I needed answers. I needed to know. But all this does not in fact need to be known, does it? We do. Because the real point… is seeing something bigger. And knowing we’re a small part of it, if we’re lucky. In the end that is a life well-lived.” ~ Henrietta in Silent Sky

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Henrietta Leavitt, (born July 4, 1868, Lancaster, Massachusetts, U.S.—died December 12, 1921, Cambridge, Massachusetts), was one of the first female American astronomers. She was known for her discovery of the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheids, pulsating stars. 

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Things My Mother Taught Me by Katherine DiSavino

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PLAY TITLE: Things My Mother Taught Me
AUTHOR: Katherine DiSavino

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)


Olivia and Gabe are moving into their first apartment together. They’ve just packed up all of their belongings and driven halfway across the country, to start a new life together in Chicago. Their moving day doesn’t go exactly as planned, though, and things become slightly more complicated when all of their parents show up to help! Can a two-bedroom apartment contain all of the love, laughs, worry and wisdom that’s about to happen?

This brand-new comedy from the author of Nana’s Naughty Knickers takes a generational look at relationships, and how sometimes parents are passing their best lessons on to their children without even meaning to. Funny and touching, this one will make you laugh out loud and fall in love all over again.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

The Critical Points:
I don’t usually review plays, but this one just spoke to me! Things My Mother Taught Me has something for everyone! It’s your typical family drama full of unexpected encounters, comical misunderstands, and drama… lots of drama!


WRITING: Katherine Disavino, author of Seasonal Allergies and Nana’s Naughty Knickers knocks it out of the park with Things My Mother Taught Me. It is a quick, easy read full of laughs.

STORY: Olivia and Gabe, a 20-something couple move from New York to Chicago… Gabe has hidden an engagement ring in the cushion of his favorite chair, the chair Olivia hates! He has also invited both of their parents to come down for the weekend, so they can share in the excitement of the surprise proposal he is planning. Things don’t go as planned, the moving truck is stolen (along with the $20K ring), and the engagement is cancelled. However, DiSavino doesn’t let it end there… they all live happily ever after when a plastic, cereal box ring gives Gabe hope and Max, the Polish building super, comes to the rescue and saves the day.

CHARACTERS: DiSavino pulls together a beautiful ensemble cast of characters in ‘Things My Mother Taught Me’.

  • OLIVIA KEEGAN – late 20s; energetic; neat; slightly OCD; an architect.
  • KAREN KEEGAN – late 50s-60s; Olivia’s mother.
  • CARTER KEEGAN – 60s; Olivia’s father.
  • GABE LAWSON – late 20s; a writer; good-natured.
  • LYDIA LAWSON – late 50s-60s; Gabe’s mother.
  • WYATT LAWSON – 60s; Gabe’s father.
  • MAX MIROWSKI – late 50s; Polish accent; building super; may be played by a man or woman.

APPEARANCE: The cover is cute, but when it comes to theatre scripts, I prefer a plain colored playbook. I don’t like to be shown a photo of the characters, instead I like to use my own imagination to figure out what they look like.

“Don’t even try that Casanova bull on me. I just peed in front of your mother. The last thing I want right now is a cuddle from the child that came out of her uterus.” ~ Olivia in Things My Mother Taught Me

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Check out this short clip from the
Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse production September-November 2013

A Door to Our Minds

bookTITLE: A Door to Our Minds
AUTHORS: Lilly Brown, Bethany Martin, Jordan E. Lasater, Brenton Porter, and Bearcina

Writing: ★★★★
Stories: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

Take a journey through the minds of five young, teenage, aspiring authors with this exciting anthology of short stories. You’ll start in a world not too different from our own, where a group of teens are undergoing a deadly quest to bring peace to their land in The Spark. Then, you’ll meet two curious young adults and follow them as they uncover the mysteries of several unsolved disappearances in The Peculiar Case of Matthias Chase. In There is Love in War, you’ll be thrown into a world full of werewolves, griffons, Gods and Goddesses. Next, you’ll travel back in time to a realm where medieval guardsmen fought with swords and bow and arrow to protect their Emperor from building threats in The Trials of Gebhuza. Finally, you’ll travel light-years away, to the endless depths of space in Years in a Blink, where a raging war on the small planet of Rainmia has forever changed the life of young Artemia and set her on a scientific course and a lifelong journey.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

First let me start by saying that I had my hand in this book as well. Although I am not one of the authors, I did help them through the process. This group of amazing teen authors took their stories from concept to publication, a task that many would love to achieve. I am beyond proud of all five of them and am so honored that I was able to go on this journey with them. It is there first published work and I am looking forward to seeing how the grow as authors from this to the next.

WRITING: I won’t discuss each of the stories or authors separately, but what I will say is that they are developing authors who are learning to express themselves through their unique voices. There is true talent in these pages and I have a feeling this is not the last we will hear from them.

STORIES: This collection contained 5 short stories as you will see below.

The Spark, by Lilly Brown
During the brutal war over the Flame throne, a prophecy was delivered forever changing the lives of Elyse, James, Beth, Dan, and Reese. Even as children they were charged with the responsibilities of being named the Prophecy Warriors. Now, eleven years later, the prophecy has come to bare truth and these noble five must fight to save their country before it is ripped apart at the seams. Not all will survive, but if they can band together long enough to fulfill their birthright then their losses will not be in vain.

The Peculiar Case of Matthias Chase, by Bethany Martin
MATTHIAS CHASE, a small-town Golden Boy, has been missing for three days. With little evidence and no leads, the local detectives are getting nowhere. However, Aiden Altoviti, who recently graduated in Matthias’s class, has become quite invested in the case. With the help of his best friend, Bexley Craig, they uncover some strange details that tie Matthias’ disappearance to cases long in the past.

Unexplainable events continue to happen to Aiden and Bexley, causing them to believe there is so much more to the case than meets the eye. With unknown forces working against them, the teens find fiction and reality blurring together. Aiden and Bexley quickly piece things together, but Matthias’s time is running out. Perhaps Aiden and Bexley can get there in time to save Matthias. However, fate might have other plans for him.

There is Love in War, by Jordan E. Lasater
Have you ever loved someone so desperately but knew in your heart you couldn’t be with them? Love in War is a crazy tale full of werewolves, griffons, Gods, and Goddesses. Two star crossed lovers, Luna and Cyrus, try to make a life together, only to be pulled worlds apart. Surrounded by death and war, their souls get torn apart life after life. Is trying even worth it? After all he is just a boy and she is just a girl. Or are they?

The Trials of Gebhuza, by Brenton Porter
Amerellius and Amy are just two ordinary citizens serving the empire and living a normal life. That all changes when the emperor comes to town. After a failed attempt to take the emperor’s life, the Gebhuza, an elite force, is tasked with protecting the emperor and his empire from any and all threats. The time to put that force to use comes sooner than expected when trouble brews within the kingdom’s borders. Can Amerellius and Amy lead the Gebhuza and save the kingdom from utter desolation or will it fall in flames?

Years in a Blink, by Bearcina
Billions of Lightyears away, something- or someone- may just be screaming out in the endless depth of space, and you just can’t hear it.

A war raged across a lone little planet called Rainmia, and caught in the middle of it was a Betta named Artemia. She yearned for vengeance on a planet to be long forgotten in the eternity of time. Now, the Betta is much older, with her own laboratory that hosts the Universe’s best technology and brightest minds. Princess Persephone happens to get caught up in this mess right alongside Artemia.

Just remember, no one can hear you scream.

CHARACTERS: Again, not going to dive into each of the stories, but considering these are all short stories, I believe the authors did a beautiful job of giving us back story and just enough character development to care.

APPEARANCE: The cover, which was designed by Contagious Covers, is beautiful, whimsical, and draws you in before you even turn it over to read the back. Within the pages of the anthology, each story has its own cover as well. These interior story covers were created by Amanda Orneck with input from the authors themselves. I believe she did a wonderful job capturing the feel of each story.

“You’ve proven you can beat is alone, but we were trained to fight together. How can you stand against two of us?” ~ Reese in The Spark

“Yeah, I’m great. I absolutely love getting thrown against trees, this is the highlight of my day.” ~ Bexley in The Peculiar Case of Matthias Chase

“That’s very generous of you, but I’m giving you one last chance to hand her over – and I promise to make it quick when I kill all of your men.” ~ Princess Luna in There is Love in War

“If there is any more knocking, the door might just break.” ~ Amerellius in Trials of Gebhuza

“Panther, listen, that’s not going to reverse the sulfuric poisoning. I don’t care what kinds of miracle medicine she so called, needs; she can’t wake up, or she’ll die.” ~ Riddley in Years in a Blink

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My 2 Cents… Ocean’s Eight

Oceans Eight

Title: Ocean’s Eight
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross and Olivia Milch (Screenplay)
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter

Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★
Acting: ★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3)

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Danny Ocean’s estranged sister Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect all-female crew: Lou, Rose, Daphne Kluger, Nine Ball, Tammy, Amita, and Constance. Written by Coors71

My 2 Cents:
Let me just say up front that Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses. As an actress myself, I’ve always wanted her career. I obviously don’t have it. With that said, I was sad to give this movie only a 3-star rating, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. If I’m honest with myself, it probably shouldn’t have even been a 3-star rating, but I refuse to give it any less because it did keep me minimally entertained on the airplane… and it kept my mind off the fact that I was nauseous and hate to fly.

Admittedly, the cast lineup was fantastic. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, and even Anne Hathaway.

However, what this movie proved was that even with an AMAZING CAST, you wont always end up with an amazing film. The directing was subpar – trying to live off the success of the previous Ocean movies… The script was predictable. It wasn’t humorous, the characters weren’t likeable, and worst of all there was no suspense. It was supposed to be a heist movie, where was the thrill, danger, suspense?

All in all, I’d say, if you’re really bored and there is nothing else on – go ahead and watch Ocean’s Eight. However, I wouldn’t rent it. Save your $3.99 and watch it when it becomes free on Netflix.

You can watch the official trailers here: