The Rundown (2003)

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A tough aspiring chef is hired to bring home a mobster’s son from the Amazon but becomes involved in the fight against an oppressive town operator and the search for a legendary treasure.

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I haven’t written any film reviews in a while and I have been curled up watching some lately, so I thought I would share a few of my favourites.

The Rundown is an action film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Christopher Walken, Seann William Scott, and Rosario Dawson. Hard to believe that this film is already 15 years old!

The plot is pretty simple and pretty well spelled out from the above summary provided by IMDB.

I love action films – as long as they have a credible plot – and The Rundown is funny as well which makes it that much better! Definitely one I recommend.

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xx

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Rome’s Chance (Reaper’s MC #6.6)

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Rome McGuire knew he was in trouble the first time he saw her.

She was sweet and pretty and just about perfect in every way. She was also too young and innocent for the Reapers Motorcycle Club. He did the right thing, and walked away.

The second time, he couldn’t resist tasting her.

Gorgeous and smart, fun and full of wonder, she jumped on his bike and would’ve followed him anywhere. Still, she deserved a shot at happiness somewhere bigger and better than a town like Hallies Falls. Walking away wasn’t so easy that time, but her family needed her and he had a job to do.

When she came around a third time, he’d had enough. Randi Whittaker had been given two chances to escape, and now it was time for Rome to take his.

This time, the only way Randi would be leaving Hallies Falls was on the back of Rome’s bike.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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Rome’s Chance is the first book to be released in this series in more than a year and I am so thankful Ms. Wylde is back!! Both the heroine and hero were initially introduced as secondary characters in Reaper’s Fire although the timeline has skipped forward several years since then.

I haven’t compared the word counts but this book felt so much shorter than the previous novella, Shade’s Lady. I have no idea why that is because I enjoyed both books, but this one just felt much shorter!

I will warn you, this book was drawing out my tears more than any other I have read in months! I was sick while reading it and perhaps a little more emotional than usual, but there are still some sad moments that you should prepare yourself for.

There is much less sense of the MC in this Rome’s Chance. To me, it read more like a contemporary romance with a hero who just happened to ride a bike, than a typical Reapers MC book. There is no visit to the clubhouse, no discussion of club business, and the only other Reaper who is even named in the book is Gage. And he still doesn’t have a single line. Also, there is less sex than normal for this author, but considering the shorter word count of a novella, that is obvious. I just felt like they had a less physical relationship that I was expecting.

I am glad that this author is back and hope that we get another book before summer is over. I will read anything she writes!

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xx

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

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Writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos firmly believed she was supposed to be a mom, but Mother Nature and modern medicine had put her in a headlock. So she made a choice that shocked friends, family, and even herself: with only fourteen hours’ notice, she adopted a preschooler.

Instant Mom is Vardalos’s poignant and hilarious true chronicle of trying to become a mother while fielding nosy “frenemies” and Hollywood reporters asking, “Any baby news?” With genuine and frank honesty, she describes how she and husband Ian Gomez eventually found their daughter . . . and what happened next. Vardalos explores innovative ways to conquer the challenges all new moms face, from sleep to personal grooming, and learns that whether via biology, relationship, or adoption—motherhood comes in many forms.

The book includes laugh-out-loud behind the scenes Hollywood anecdotes, plus an Appendix on how to adopt worldwide. Vardalos will donate proceeds from the book sales to charities.

Vardalos candidly shares her instant motherhood story that is relatable for all new moms (and dads!)

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I have been very interested in listening to adoption related true stories lately. Adoption is something that calls to my heart. One day, when I am ready to start a family I will adopt. Hopefully I will be able to have biological children as well.  But I know that I will become a Mum through adoption.

I had no idea before coming across this book that Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, had adopted and was the celebrity face of the national adoption campaign in the US. It seems natural now that she has written a book about the adoption process and her personal stories, even though she and her husband do not live the glam Hollywood lifestyle and seek to protect their daughter’s innocence and privacy.

Nia Vardalos is Canadian-born, which added a warm perspective for me. As a fellow Canadian, I could relate to a lot of her anecdotal stories, like wearing a snowsuit under her Halloween costume.

Instant Mom is a funny and poignant story of womanhood. I love Nia’s perspective on life. Her brand of feminism feels organic; it isn’t “ra-ra sisterhood” or anti-man. She doesn’t try to tell you what you should do. I found her story superbly easy to relate to and felt like she would be someone I could easily be friends with if she were to move in next door.

In a world where we all seem to take ourselves too seriously, we could use a little more light-hearted comedy and a few manners reminders from Nia!

This audiobook is read by the author.

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xx

Girl Last Seen (Nina Laurin)

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.

An intense psychological thriller for readers of I Am Watching You, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and All the Missing Girls.

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Girl Last Seen is a fascinating thriller told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator… sidenote: that phrase is so funny. When I first saw it on my reading challenge list I was perplexed over what it meant. I could only think of the narrator of an audiobook … one who wasn’t so good at his/her job, who mispronounced the characters’ names? Then I realized, it is the character telling the story, s/he is the narrator. And Laine(y) is a perfect example of this.

Annnd, getting back on topic…

Lainey is a mess. She had a disastrous youth, even before her kidnapping, but she has not healed or adapted well at all. She has abandonment and trust issues, intimacy problems and is a drug addict. Although not recognized as an alcoholic in the story, she also uses hard liquor to drown out her inner demons. She believes she is a fuck-up and that she can never be good because of what happened to her.

Lainey experiences severe emotional and behaviour disorders. As the main (and only POV) character, she is difficult for most readers to relate to but her past trauma is very easily believed as a result.

I’m not sure what it was that bothered me, but I had the hardest time getting through this audiobook. Halfway through I switched to the physical book and finished it in one sitting!

Always remember that if you are having trouble with a novel, maybe something so simple as changing the medium will help.

In Girl Last Seen, Laurin takes a very commonplace core idea of a thriller and writes it from a completely new perspective – one that I haven’t seen anyone else approach before. This helped keep the book fresh in a genre that is exploding with bestsellers right now. I can’t get into the specifics without spoiling it so I will leave it at that.

I did know who was behind the mystery in the end, and there was no one else I ever seriously considered. I wish it had been written with a few more levels to make it harder to discern the identify of the person.

Girl Last Seen is a easy-to-read gripping thriller that is written by a stellar new Canadian author.

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xx

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle is a novel from Philip K. Dick. It has been turned into a stellar television series on Amazon Prime. There are currently two seasons available for viewing (as of April 2018).

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This is a dystopian alternate history set in “America” 1962. It posits that the Axis forces won WWII and that the continent is now divided between the Japanese Pacific State (western side of continent) and the Great Reich (the rest of the continent) with a slim band of neutral zone between the two territories.

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This is such an imaginative show. I have often wondered what would have happened if history had gone the other way. I love that there is a show exploring this (and incredibly thankful it is only on TV)!

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most streamed show. So that must mean lots more people than just me enjoy it 🙂

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The main part of the story follows two characters: a woman from the Pacific States (Juliana) who gets pulled into the Resistance, and Joe, a man from the Reich with questionable allegiances.

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It is startling to see some of the most iconic images from the free world turned into Nazi symbols. The American flag, Times Square …

The Man in the High Castle is a drama. It does have some humourous parts and the violence is manageable, but the material can be heavy at times.

One of my favourite quotes:

You’re about to die horribly but your hair is fine.

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I started watching this series on a whim the other night because I was bored and the weather was bad. Well, ice and freezing rain pretty well had me stuck inside all weekend and I binged on both seasons. This show is completely addictive. It has a tendency towards cliff-hanger endings – both for individual episodes and seasons – so you will constantly find yourself clicking on just one more episode.

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There is an element of mysticism or other-worldliness to this show which greatly surprised me. The storyline takes on more meaning towards the end of the second season and starts to become more clear why they included it, but I still think I would have preferred the show without it.

What strikes me most about The Man in the High Castle is how complicated each character is. They all have multiple levels. I approached the show thinking that the Nazis would be the antagonists and the Resistance would be the protagonists, but it is much more complicated than that. Even the Nazis who do terrible things are softened in the show by their love for the families. And the “freedom fighters” come across much more strongly as terrorists.

Everything is not as it seems. No one is all good or all evil. We are just different shades of grey.

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xx

Covert Game (Ghostwalkers #14)

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Despite the death of a traitor and key conspirator, the plot to use the GhostWalker experiments to undermine the security of the U.S. by foreign interests still exists. The GhostWalkers themselves must race against the clock to neutralize the danger.

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I really liked the couple in this book but overall I didn’t like the book itself. I just feel like nothing happened for most of it.

I have been frustrated with this series lately anyway, which didn’t help. There are four different Ghostwalker Teams but they interact very little. As a reader, I fell in love with the original team we were introduced to but there hasn’t been an update on them in YEARS. There seems to have been a trend in recent books to only write about a handful of Ghostwalkers, even within a team. There are members of Team 4 who were not included in this book, or who only showed up for a couple of chapters. I miss the camaraderie that was displayed in earlier books where more characters were included.

I did enjoy reading about Zara and Gino and I appreciate that their relationship is different from many of the others. It is hard for me to relate to warrior women heroines all the time, which Feehan has often written in this series, because that is not my personality at all. Zara is much closer to how I am.

This book was ok for me, but not one that I plan to read again. I am glad I waited to borrow it from the library, rather than purchase the more expensive hardcover price placed on the kindle version.

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Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

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Carmen Pyre had it all until her husband was murdered by a madman who threatened everyone she loved. Now that her husband has been avenged, it’s time to move on… she just doesn’t know how.

Two men who fill her husband’s former roles offer to help her move forward with her life. Should she choose the dangerous new crime lord who will feed her dark cravings or the man who will anchor her and give her the deepest desires of her heart?

WARNING: Dark themes, cliffhanger, books must be read in succession!

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THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!

The first three books of the Crime Lord series were about Lyla and Gavin and this is the first book that is told from Carmen’s POV (her story will be continued in the next book). But hands down, Awakened by Sin is my favourite book in this series by far.

It is different from most romance novels in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the leading lady has two suitors who are vying for her attention, and she is attracted to both (although much more serious about the one). This is not a book with cheating in it, and the relationship(s) are not the focus of the story.

Carmen’s is pretty much the only POV character in the story and she is still grieving the loss of her husband, Vincent. Although it has been nearly three years since he was murdered, Carmen still suffers overwhelming grief and guilt over it and bounces from one obsession to the next, trying to keep her mind occupied. Despite these efforts, she still enters periods of depression and self-destructive behaviour on a regular basis, seeming to display manic-depressive behaviour.

As I mentioned before, the romantic relationship forming between Carmen and her man is not the focus of Awakened by Sin. Of course, it will develop in the next book(s) because it IS a romance, but expect a slower burn with few emotional entanglements at first.

Ms. Knight excels at making her reader feel compassion and empathy for her characters. Carmen is the most relatable so far; her emotions are so honest and human, that it is impossible not to connect to her feeling of loss, even though her life is so far removed from normality.

I read this book in a day and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on the next. I seriously pray the author will have it available by the end of summer at the latest!

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xx