“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street
Title:
Miracle on 34th Street
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Family
Film Production Studio: 20th Century Fox
Run Time:
1hr 36 min
Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne


BLURB:

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

Classic Cinema Review by Audrey:

Since it is so close to Christmas, we thought we would spark our holiday spirit by watching a Classic Christmas Movie.  After deliberating over a few options, we finally agreed on Miracle on 34th Street, and I can say I was happy with our decision.  Of course,  holiday movies, and especially the classics, are required to include the child-like quality and cheesiness that viewers expect. 

Having watched a lot of Christmas movies over the years, some not so great and others hitting the holiday spirit exactly on point, I know what I was personally looking for; Overall good acting and a good lighthearted story to make me smile.  This is exactly what Miracle on 34th Street gave me.  The actors each portrayed their character how I wanted to see them represented.
I think Christmas movies have an unspoken criteria of required content.
1.) A skeptic that has taken the logical route
2.) The skeptic’s friend who strives to get them back to believing
3.) The child who pulls at everyone’s heartstrings
4.) And of course, Jolly Old St. Nick
Without each of these elements, how can it even be considered a Christmas movie exactly?

Christmas is a time that usually requires us to be around family and loved ones.  Regardless of whether or not you particularly enjoy the converging festivities with all of those family members, there is something special that comes with the craziness of holiday reunions and surrounding yourself with those you love.  Miracle on 34th Street, brings this to light in a subtle way that brings life to the characters and situation. It reveals a sense of purpose and an end game spotlighting what people desire-To be with those they care about and those who care about them, inevitably dealing with a few bumps in the road along the way.  And maybe also a reminder to open our hearts.

Audrey’s Rating: 5/6
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Review of “Sugar Babe” by Wattpad Author WeAreAHurricane

Sugar BabeTitle: Sugar Babe
Author: WeAreAHurricane
Series: N/A
Status: Completed
Parts: 43
Genre: Young Adult, Romance


BLURB:

Ever had Ramen Noodles for an entire month? Lilly Fenster has and she’s tired of it. Which is why she ends up managing the fashion industry’s hottest Brazilian model. Lucky her, right? Not really. Lilly can’t stand the intolerable Joshua Lachowski . Heck, she can’t even pronounce his last name, much less manage his professional life. What happens when the nerd enters the fashion world and meets the biggest jerk imaginable? Mayhem, Ramen Noodles, and love. That’s what.

Wattpad Book Review by Audrey:

From beginning to end, Sugar Babe is full of witty remarks and light concepts that are paired with deeper meanings which make this an enjoyable book. The expression and personality that WeAreAHurricane brings to the story elevates the characters and makes the story more unique than one may first think.

The main character, Lilly, is full of life as she is determined to get through her employed stint with a major fashion business. Of course, with any romance oriented book, drama flows left and right.  Could it even be considered a romance book if a new element wasn’t added at every opportunity? I will be the first to admit, Sugar Babe does not seem all that unique from a lot of books out there, but the individual characters make it a worth while read.  Lilly possesses some attributes that I would like to possess myself, but like the rest of us, she has her own flaws and stereotypes to overcome.  This creates a connection as her character flaws make her more human and relatable.

The plot as a whole is entertaining.  The superficiality and over-the-top-drama that  WeAreAHurricane uses to bolster the plot and personalities, at times may go a little too over the top, but not so far out there to ruin the overall story.  Lilly and Joshua find themselves in a number of situations where, as a reader, I felt it lost a realistic flow.  Fortunately, these situations didn’t derail the progress of the story as the author brought it right back on track to maintain Sugar Babe’s personality and yet still keep it engaging and different from the rest.

This is a shorter review, I know, but what can I say? Sometimes everything that needs to be said can be done in fewer words and not drawn out into long essays that no one really wants to read anyways.

Audrey’s Rating: 4/6
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Review of (Un)bidden by Melissa Haag

Judgement of the Six 4
Title:
(Un)bidden

Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book 4
Release Date: November 24, 2014
Pages: 249
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance


BLURB:

I left home because I didn’t want to end up in a cage like a lab rat. Hitching rides, begging for cash, and sleeping on the ground got old fast. That was the only reason I braved an overgrown path to a group of buildings. I’d hoped to find a bed and a decent night’s sleep. However, what I found was a place overrun by werewolves.

While on the run, Charlene finds herself surrounded by werewolves, creatures she can’t control with her mind like she can humans. Their existence has her believing she’s found a safe place to stay, a place where secrets are okay. However, she soon discovers she’s anything but safe. Charlene must learn how to use her abilities to influence the strange new species because if she can’t, the next bite she suffers might just kill her.

Read how the cycle begins, and have no doubt. Charlene’s past will shape the future of the Judgments.

Chronicle Review by Wendy:

The leading protagonist in the forth installment of The Judgment of the Six Series is a bit different compared to the previous Judgments we have met.  Actually, it is not the protagonist that is so different, but the timing of when her story unfolds.  Charlene’s story is revealed out of chronological order.  The events that occur when we first meet Charlene and then when her life intersects with the supernatural, actually take place many years prior to the telling of the other Judgments’ experiences.  In fact, we were introduced to Charlene’s formidable sons, Emmit and Jim during Michelle’s story, (Mis)fortune in Book 2.

While reading Charlene’s story, we discover she is only 15 during this major turning point in her life.  Despite being the youngest of these rare insights when her path converges with werewolves, Charlene has a maturity far beyond her years.  In fact, Charlene seems to have a sixth-sense in understanding the statement made popular by Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben when he said “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”   The unusual maturity Charlene exudes at 15 establishes a premise of others looking to her for innovation and leadership.  Her nurturing spirit and her impressive abilities, even the ones she dutifully conceals, influence her position among  her adopted family or more specifically, pack.  Charlene holds her secrets tightly, withholding the extent of her powers even from her mate, and werewolf Elders!  I believe her ability to mask the extent of her powers, is a testament of Charlene’s strong mind: Fitting, considering she is Strength among the Judgments. 

Just like Bethi, young Charlene took the extreme step to leave her home and family, a desperate action to protect loved ones and maybe a decision also made out of self preservation.  Similar to the previous three Judgments’ struggles, Charlene is learning to deal with her amazing abilities while navigating the world in isolation.  (Un)bidden is a refreshing episode in the series because in all of the other books up to this point, we learn tidbits of information along the way.  In Book 4, we get an education and not only on Charlene’s back story.  We discover the creation, specifically of this unique pack, how Charlene integrated into werewolf lives, influenced their future and even guarded their survival as a species! 

Charlene’s story is an ongoing saga as the other Judgment’s narratives are released.  Because I can’t remember so many details from these books from when I read them a couple years ago, I am anxious to read the remaining installments and relive revelations and understand the ones not yet explained.  Isabelle’s story is up next in Book 5 and then I’ll finally get to read the conclusion in the recently released Book 6, Olivia’s tale.  

Wendy’s Rating: 5/6
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Review of “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse FiveTitle: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Release Date: October 6th, 1998
Pages: 215
Genre: Autobiography, war drama


BLURB:

Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

Classic Challenge Review by Wendy

So, disclosure from me, right at the beginning….I am not drawn to war novels, or overly heavy stories, or biographies of those enduring horrific circumstances.   I believe I have enough stress in my own life to deal with, why would I want to spend my limited free-time dwelling on someone else’s?   And even though I like my characters and their stories complex, I avoid depressing tales, especially if those tales have no light at the end of their tunnel.  For example, I really did not enjoy “The Giver” for this reason.  I found it depressing and it left me feeling annoyed and empty.  I am also not a fan of satire.  I find that it also leaves me feeling annoyed…so you can imagine my anticipation of reading Slaughterhouse Five as our next Classic Challenge.  As part of a realistic agreement with Audrey for us both to read and review Classic books, I need to read some titles that she is already committed to reading for her AP Language class.  This is the first title we are both reading from her assigned list.

I am shocked, I didn’t hate this book!  This book, written with a pen dripping in satire about a guy and his depressing experiences in war.  Slaughterhouse Five would not normally be a book I would choose on my own, however in hindsight, I am glad I read it.  After all, our goal of reading and reviewing classic books is to CHALLENGE ourselves to become better thinkers and writers. This book was a good stepping stone for that specific purpose.

Vonnegut structured the retelling of Billy Pilgrim’s story in such a way that it was surprisingly easy to follow.  It jumps around from scene to scene in different periods of time and various stages of thought or consciousness,  but it remains consistently told from Billy Pilgrim’s point of view.  Regardless of the symbolism or irony being used, I was able to clearly picture each moment through his descriptions.  Wow! His amazing descriptions!  Common everyday occurrences as well as fantastical events are all described with serene ease.  Usually just by recounting the facts as seen through Billy Pilgrim’s eyes, the writer illustrates beyond sight and smell to include emotions, prejudices, ideals and dynamics that often can be quite challenging to convey!

Many situations had dual, if not at the very least, a deeper meaning.  The bigger picture, I think, is how profoundly poor Billy Pilgrim was affected by his experiences in war-torn Germany.  His mind is overwhelmed with the grisly images he saw and the horrific cruelty he survived, despite his seemingly indifferent narrative.  In the end, I saw Billy as a pretty regular guy with a knack for survival.  Yes, he endured horrific circumstances (as I eluded to in my opening statement), but Billy’s triumph is his ability to remain a relatable character while expounding his perception of reality. 

Wendy’s Rating: 4/6
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My Book Series Christmas Wish List

 

My Book Series Christmas Wish List by Audrey

7.)  Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen .1   Red Queen .1-.2   Red Queen .2   Red Queen 1   Red Queen 2   Red Queen 3

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: None

6.) The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
The Kingkiller Chronicles 1   The Kingkiller Chronicles 2   The Kingkiller Chronicles 2.5

  • Books Read: Book #1
  • Books Owned: None

5.)  Dorothy Must Die Series Prequel by Danielle Page
Dorothy Must Die Prequel 1Dorothy Must Die Prequel 2Dorothy Must Die Prequel 3Dorothy Must Die Prequel 4Dorothy Must Die Prequel 5Dorothy Must Die Prequel 6Dorothy Must Die Prequel 7Dorothy Must Die Prequel 8Dorothy Must Die Prequel 9

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: None

4.) Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Page
Dorothy Must Die 1      Dorothy Must Die 2      Dorothy Must Die 3      Dorothy Must Die 4

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3

3.)  The Dark Artifices Series by Cassandra Clare
The Dark Artifices 1      The Dark Artifices 2      The Dark Artifices 3

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: Book #1

2.) The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer 1     Mara Dyer 2     Mara Dyer 3

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: Book #3

1.) The 100 Series by Kass Morgan
The 100 1      The 100 2      The 100 3      The 100 4

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: None

MuViBox

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My husband noticed online ads for a new device that claimed you could get access to virtually every TV show and movie ever made since the 1970’s through today….without having to pay for cable and membership fees!  We were curious.  Our kids were or are still currently employed at a movie theater, our daughter along with her parents are TV series-binge watchers and previously, we owned two small-town movie theaters… Do I need to explain further that our entire family regularly utilizes cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crunchyroll, YouTube and we all frequent our local theaters.

Pennies copy

About 3 1/2 years ago, I had some crazy, out of the blue, medical issues.  Since that time I have not been able to work full-time.  Like most middle-class American families who rely on the income from both parents, losing one revenue source has been extremely difficult, to say the least!  Our lives have flipped upside down and we are still making adjustments.  We are watching our pennies a lot closer these days, so the idea of saving lots of those pennies, is quite appealing! MuViBox has a one-time purchase price and no monthly fees or user fees or membership fees! Yay!

Pennies copy

After reading up on it online and checking out other consumer reviews, my husband thought, why not give it a try…?  He ordered one and we received our MuViBox a few days later.  We have been using it for a few months now.  I will admit, this little box is pretty amazing!   Since shows are streaming and not downloaded, I was initially skeptical at how efficient it would be.  I am actually impressed.  They weren’t lying when they said they have most movie’s and TV shows made since the 1970’s!  We have found each series or movie we have searched, with the exception of a couple of movie’s not yet released in theaters…yes…seriously!  I have even found older movies that I have been trying to find to watch for our CINEMAS blog page.  Remember I mentioned that we all love our theater movie’s?  Well, here is an eye opener…when you no longer own the theater, you are required to pay (gasp) for tickets, and popcorn, and drinks!  Not only do you have to pay for all of those things, but I must say the popcorn available here locally is sub-par, the theaters can be crowded with noisy people, who chew with their mouths open, crinkle their candy wrappers and talk to their companions!  WTH? I dearly miss private showings for our employees and us and I so very much miss our yummy popcorn!  Well, MuViBox can’t do much about the popcorn, but they have greatly improved upon my other complaints.

Concessions

I feel our best results while using MuViBox have been in watching TV series.  We all just finished all seven seasons of Suits, Audrey just wrapped up seven seasons and is current on the eighth season of Shameless. (They aren’t kidding! The behavior in that show really is shameless. Great acting by a stellar cast though!) The visual and audio quality of TV shows seem to be the most consistent; movies tend to be better quality after they have been released on DVD, but that’s not such a bad trade-off considering the lesser quality box office hits available on MuViBox are usually still in theaters.  We have been able to watch some excellent movies despite no longer having our own theater.  While watching our pennies, we pick and choose which movies to splurge on and go see at the theater.  Some of my favorite recently-watched for the first time in our living-room on MuViBox have been Baby Driver, The Big Sick, and American Made.  A few other amazing movies we originally saw in the theater but have been able to watch again, but this time at home using MuViBox, include Wonder Woman, Spider-Man Homecoming and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

Wonder Woman                               Spiderman Homecoming                               Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them

We have experienced a few ‘buffering’ issues, however, we have been having other issues with our wireless internet strength.  I’m hoping after our internet provider comes to inspect our connection, improvements will be made and most of our buffering issues with MuViBox will be eliminated as well.  In the midst of connection issues, we have contacted MuViBox for help also.  Their team responded politely and have proven to be knowledgeable and helpful, although not all of our complaints have been completely resolved yet.  I do wish there was a better “User’s Guide” to more clearly explain functions, navigating and trouble-shooting on our own.

Buffering

Although it’s not a flawless system, I think MuViBox offers great value.  The cost of one MuViBox is around $350, but there there seems to be a continuous discount available on their website for $50 off, and my father-in-law found a coupon for an even bigger discount!  If you are interested in this new cost-saving tech, I would recommend giving it a try!  You can link directly to MuViBox by clicking on any of the MuViBox links in our website.  If you do choose to purchase one using a link through this blog, (which I would appreciate very much) I do get a percentage kick-back from the company, but it doesn’t affect your purchase price at all.

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Review of “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse FiveTitle: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Release Date: October 6th, 1998
Pages: 215

Genre: Autobiography, war drama


BLURB:

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Classic Challenge Review by Audrey

Kurt Vonnegut is known to be one of the greatest American writers. Slaughterhouse Five is one of his most famous novels, next to Cat’s Cradle. I tend to have difficulties putting into words how a book makes me feel and even though this book made me have conflicting feelings, I know exactly how to describe it.

Following Billy Pilgrim, this book is chopped up into different stages of his life, intertwining the scenes together to connect them to one specific moment, the Dresden bombing. Every moment in the book, and every person leading up to the moment of the bombing, is influential in what would be the result of Billy’s reactions to the war. The simple, but yet complex images Vonnegut writes about, portrays a world that is very much around us. Without the strategic, and dare I say, genius, composition of the book, the impactfulness of the story, would not have had the effectiveness it did. Vonnegut’s make up of Slaughterhouse Five, however subtle as it may be, heavily affected the end result of how this book and its message impacts the reader.

This book focuses on what results from the horrors of war. However, it is not that simple. Not even on the surface is this just a book about a guy that has to deal with the mental tolls the war has put on him. It is so much more than that. Slaughterhouse Five, is about the obliviousness to the truth, because the majority of people do not want to read about the harsh, unwritten facts that these men actually had to face. Instead, we take what we hear, and although we know there was more to it than what was said, we do not want to break this bubble of blissful ignorance surrounding us. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, was just a regular man before the war, but when he came out of it, he was changed because of what he had to lay witness to, even though he was very under qualified to do so.

Slaughterhouse Five, yes, is an anti war book, but it is not simply stating that war is bad. Kurt Vonnegut, not only compels his readers to continue reading, but even through the bland exterior, is able to make you think about life, and not in a “big picture” kind of way, but in a personal and intimate way that pertains to you.

Audrey’s Rating: 5/6
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