My 2 Cents… DUDE!

DudeMovie: Dude
Director: Olivia Milch
Writer: Olivia Milch
Stars: Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, and Awkwafina

Blurb:
A group of teenage girlfriends deal with life after high school.

Storyline:
DUDE is a grounded comedy about dealing with first losses in life–leaving your best friends, the death of loved ones, and the passage of time–and that odd mixture of grief and nostalgia experienced by young people as they try to understand these losses. It is also about getting stoned with your friends in your car while listening to hip-hop.

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★
Acting: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3.66)

My 2 Cents:
Netflix recommended this movie to me because I had just finished watching Life Sentence also with Lucy Hale. I did sit through the entire hour and 37 minutes of Dude, although I’m pretty sure I’ll never get that time back. It wasn’t that it was a bad movie, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Definitely not another typical teen comedy where girl meets boy, they fall in love, break up, and eventually end up together again.

Right from the start, a mix-match group of high school aged girls are smoking weed, drinking, and cussing like gangsters. As a mom, this put me on edge. One of my biggest fears is that I’m not raising my kids right and they somehow end up going down the wrong path and end up like the teens in this movie.

Back to reality… I’ll leave my parenting choices out of this.

The acting was good, especially Lucy Hale. [SPOILER ALERT] During the party scene… when Lily finds herself alone with the overly aggressive boy that she only partly knows, Lucy shows just how good her acting chops really are.

The directing, not bad… I can see why she made the choices she made.

The writing wasn’t bad either, and I’m sure there are more high school kids out there living lives just like the ones seen in this film than I’d like to believe. Overall, I think it was a good movie, but I do hope it’s not one my kids watch while staying up late watching Netflix on their iPads.

You can watch the official movie trailers here:

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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Notebook

TITLE: The Notebook
AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

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

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Every so often a love story so captures our hearts that it becomes more than a story-it becomes an experience to remember forever. The Notebook is such a book. It is a celebration of how passion can be ageless and timeless, a tale that moves us to laughter and tears and makes us believe in true love all over again… At thirty-one, Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after World War II, is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At twenty-nine, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who long ago stole her heart. Thus begins the story of a love so enduring and deep it can turn tragedy into triumph, and may even have the power to create a miracle…

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

BOOK JACKET BLURB:
THE NOTEBOOK is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever.

Set amid the austere beauty of coaster North Carolina in 1946, THE NOTEBOOK begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories… until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is not engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. Shining with a beauty that is rarely found in current literature, THE NOTEBOOK establishes Nicholas Sparks as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters.

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Nicholas Sparks has a way of transporting you, emotionally, into a world all his own. When I cracked the spine of this book, I found it hard to put it down. I was reluctant to leave Noah and Allie, wanting—needing—to know what would happen next in their epic adventure. If it weren’t for Sparks’ amazing writing style and his ability to engage the reader on a deeply emotional level, this could have been just about any other love story filling the Romance shelf of your local book store. Yet it isn’t. The Notebook stands out among the others as a true classic in my eyes.

STORY: WOW… Just WOW! I was delighted to find out that this story was based on the lives of Nicholas Sparks’ wife’s grandparents. To know that this kind of deep… unbendable… love exists doesn’t surprise me, as I am truly, madly, deeply in love with my own husband. However, to know that this kind of love, can withstand even the hardest of obstacles thrown at it, gives love a whole new meaning. I imagine this to be the kind of love my own fraternal grandparents must have shared. I remember as a child, watching them look into each other’s eyes in such a loving, longing way. Years into their marriage, and long past their youth, they still loved each other just as much as the day they first realized their love existed.

Nicholas Sparks’ story is a love story to which all love stories should be measured by. I won’t give anything away, because although I am tempted to tell you all about the story, from start to end, this is one book I don’t want to ruin for you. I want you to read it for yourself. I want you to experience it first hand, take the journey with Noah and his beloved, and find out what fourteen years apart can do to the “love” they shared during their fairytale summer romance.

APPEARANCE: The cover is simple, the view from Noah’s front porch. At first glance, the cover reminded me of On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. The cover didn’t draw me in, at first, but as I read I longed to sit on that porch and see the world through Noah’s eyes.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “…But most of all, I learned that life is about sitting on benches next to ancient creeks with my hand on her knee and sometimes, on good days, for falling in love.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/SIPhi_g1d10

Check out the official movie trailers here:

https://youtu.be/yDJIcYE32NU
https://youtu.be/FC6biTjEyZw

Scenes from the movie:

https://youtu.be/Z22EAeIIZM0
https://youtu.be/E1I0hAxGFXw
https://youtu.be/EemLsTG5fX8

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4 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG BOOK LAUNCH & CONSISTENT SALES

woman reading book

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KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG BOOK LAUNCH AND CONSISTENT BOOK SALES:

• Cover Design – YES, people do judge books by their covers! The cover is your books first impression, if people don’t like it they aren’t going to pick it up to read the back blurb (2nd impression).

• Detailed Editing – The more editing the better! Readers will give your book on average 1-3 chapters to impress them, often less.

• Strong Story – Some editing issues can be forgiven as long as your story is strong.

• Marketing – You should start marketing your book at least 6 months prior to the actual book release date.

I want to know your thoughts too!!! Comment below and share your suggestions for ensuring a successful book launch and consistent sales after your book has been published!

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My 2 Cents… Life Sentence (Season 1)

LifeTV Series: Life Sentence (Season 1)
Creators: Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith
Stars: Lucy Hale, Elliot Knight, Jayson Blair, Brooke Lyons, and Carlos PenaVega

Blurb:
When Stella finds out her terminal cancer is cured, she must learn to live with all the choices she made when deciding to live like she was dying.

Storyline:
Stella (Lucy Hale) has lived the last 8 years of her life making every day count. 8 years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, but when she finds out that her cancer has been cured, she struggles to make some life choices. How do you make choices when there isn’t a weight on your shoulders anymore?

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Acting: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

My 2 Cents:
OK Lucy Hale… I’m a fan. Having known Hale only from Pretty Little Liars, I was glad to see her in something a bit more serious. Something that could challenge her acting abilities. Life Sentence is a fun, yet serious, dramedy (drama/comedy) that touches on topics such as cancer, mixed marriages, discovering yourself, sexuality, and marital affairs.

No, cancer isn’t funny… but, in the context of a young girl who discovers her new-found life, the series creators have found a way to make all of life’s ups and downs entertaining. I laughed. I cried. I was disgusted and pissed off. To say that I was emotionally involved by the end of the season would be correct. Sadly, I have learned that there will be no season two as the CW canceled the show. So, I guess if you’re just looking for a short commitment… with minimual time investment… you should binge watch Life Sentence on Netflix, but be prepared for all the feels.

You can watch the official season one trailer here:

 

 

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Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley

Pretty

TITLE: Pretty Little Dead Girls
AUTHOR: Mercedes M. Yardley

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3.5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
“Run, Star Girl.” Bryony Adams is destined to be murdered, but fortunately Fate has terrible marksmanship. In order to survive, she must run as far and as fast as she can. After arriving in Seattle, Bryony befriends a tortured musician, a market fish-thrower, and a starry-eyed hero who is secretly a serial killer bent on fulfilling Bryony’s dark destiny. Mercedes M. Yardley’s Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is a dark, lovely fairy tale with lyrical language and a high body count, and features a cover by Hugo award-winner Galen Dara. Includes “Oliver Bloom” by Ryan Johnson, a short story featuring characters from Pretty Little Dead Girls.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

Let me start by saying I know I’m in a minority with this book review. I’ve seen the amazon reviews… Pretty Little Dead Girls has an average of 5 stars with 82 reviews and that is awesome! I guess this narrative style of writing just really isn’t my cup of tea. Or maybe it isn’t the narration, its more that every character seems to have the same voice… but more of that later, when I talk about characters. 

With all that said – I still think that Mercedes M Yardley is a talented writer, and I do plan on reading more of her work.

WRITING: I have never read anything like this… The author writes from a narrator’s point of view, but instead of standing outside the story and telling you what happens, the narrator speaks directly to the reader. Addressing the reader, outside the context of the story, is very jarring.

STORY: Right from the start of the story, the reader is intrigued. We’re told that Bryony is the type of girl who gets murdered. We don’t know why, but we accept it as truth. Starting on page one, you are drawn in and you start searching each new character you meet to find out if they might be the one to murder Bryony.

This is when the story falls apart for me. I’m intrigued by the concept of the story, the idea that this girl has a destiny that is so plainly clear to everyone, but it’s never explained. We never – throughout the whole book – learn why she is destined to be murdered or who EVERYONE KNOWS IT! The whole story is about how she is destined to be murdered, everyone knows it and tries to protect her, and how she escapes her destiny as people around her die.

I just felt like the potential was there for this to be a really amazing story, but it fell flat for me.

CHARACTERS: I’m not really sure how to describe the characters in this book. Honestly, they all feel the same, other than Bryony. Because everything is told from the Narrator’s point of view, everyone seems to speak in the same voice. I think the part that really threw me, was when there was a full conversation, between Bryony (our lead) and the Murderer, using only eye contact. A conversation that was so absurd… so ridiculous in the moment… that it pulled me right out of the story. This is only one example of many, where I found myself shaking my head and asking myself, “why am I still reading?” Yet, I read it from page one until the end. 

APPEARANCE: The cover was designed by Galen Dara, and the artwork is truly beautiful. Reading the story, I didn’t really envision Bryony looking like the girl on the cover, but that didn’t take anything away from the book for me.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “Bryony Adams was the type of girl who got murdered.” It’s the first sentence of the book and immediately draws you in.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/7PRSrwVQ8RY

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5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG STORY

fashion woman girl women

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5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG STORY:

• A strong opening – Right from the start of your story the setting should set the mood and tone for your readers.

• Balance – You need to have a balance between SHOWING through strong, but not overwhelming, descriptions and TELLING through script-worthy dialogue

• Diverse, well-developed characters – Keep in mind that not everyone is beautiful, people have scars (emotional and physical). Your characters should all be uniquely themselves, with their own back-stories, personalities, etc.

• Conflict and Resolution – Every good story needs conflict, it’s what allows the characters to develop, adapt, and change, throughout the story.

• A satisfying conclusion – This doesn’t mean a Hollywood “happy” ending, it just means that all the plot holes have been filled in and questions have been answered… that is unless you’re leaving your readers with a cliffhanger! I have to admit, I love a good cliffhanger. 

What else do you feel are key ingredients for a strong story? Share your thoughts and comments below! 

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My 2 Cents… Same Kind of Different as Me

Same kind ofBlurb:
International art dealer Ron Hall must befriend a dangerous homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife, a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the journey of their lives.

Storyline:
Ron Hall lost track of what matters most in life. It took an affair, a confession, a dream and an unlikely friendship with a homeless man to help him remember. From the outside, Ron Hall’s seemingly charmed life looked pretty perfect: He had a flourishing art business, a beautiful wife, two fine teen children and an amazing 15,000 square foot house in Fort Worth, Texas. But appearances can be deceptive.

Director: Michael Carney
Writers: Michael Carney, Alexander Foard, and Ron Hall (screenplay) | Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent (book)

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

Based on a true story, Same Kind of Different as Me will bring you to tears, so make sure to have some tissues on hand when you watch it.

I hadn’t heard of the film until sitting on the airplane (it seems I watch most of my films while flying), but it had Renee Zellweger in it so I hit play. It is definitely a film driven by the story and the acting. There are no crazy expensive special effects to keep you entertained and in awe. The story is strong… heart wrenching… and an important one to be told! The acting is perfect in every way.

Denver (played by Djimon Hounsou) is a homeless man who through fate is befriended by, Debbie, a wealthy white woman (played by Renee Zellweger) and reluctantly, Ron, her husband (played by Greg Kinnear). Where their journey through friendship takes them and how they grow as they learn more about one another is beautiful. I won’t give away the ending, or spoil the story for you, but if you’re in the mood to watch something truly beautiful… something with a message… something that isn’t just pure entertainment, then I suggest renting this one.

You can watch the official movie trailers here:

 

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101 MORE REASONS To Break Up by J Edward Neill

101 Reasons

TITLE: 101 MORE REASONS To Break Up
AUTHOR: J Edward Neill

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Appearance: ★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
You think YOUR relationships have been crazy? Think again.

In 101 MORE Reasons to Break Up, dozens of people are interviewed about their best, worst, and weirdest break-ups.

Every one of the tales is real, and each one is crazier than the one before. Affairs, love-triangles, and nutty behavior? Nothing is taboo in these weird, wild break-ups. Once you read one, you’ll want to read them all!

This is the sequel to the original 101 Reasons to Break Up

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: There isn’t really much here to critique in terms of writing. As a compilation of 101 short stories (1-3 paragraphs each), told from the perspective of the real-life person involved in the break-up, Neill only had to transcribe their experiences. There were some editing issues splattered throughout the book, but nothing so terrible that I put the book down.

STORY: Some of the stories were entertaining, but mostly they were a combination of sad, embarrassing, dull, and even horrifying. It only took me a couple of hours to read… My suggestion – take it with you on your next flight, read it and leave it in the seat back pocket for the next traveler to enjoy.

APPEARANCE: Beautiful cover!

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/ViUcgEQ4lZM

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Tips from famous authors…

art business close up decor

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If you do a google search for the best tips for new authors, you’ll be inundated with a ton of advice. Some suggestions will be good… others, not so much. Below are some of my favorite tips from famous authors out there:

  1. Be open to criticism – Be it from your peers, your beta readers, and most importantly your editor. You have to be open to listening to your editor! (Stephen King)
  2. Write for yourself, not the market – Write what you care about. Don’t try to write for the market or just to sell. If you aren’t writing what your passionate about it will never sell. (Neil Gaiman)
  3. Practice makes perfect – Writing is like a sport. If you don’t practice you’ll never get better. Just a little bit every day – a page a day – will make you better. (Rick Riordan)
  4. Ask practical questions – The moment you make a decision about your story, a character choice, a plot choice, etc. you need to ask yourself practical questions about it. How will that work? How will it affect the characters? When you start asking yourself those types of practical questions and finding answers then the unrealistic becomes realistic. It becomes possible. (Salman Rushdie)
  5. Teach yourself that everything is interesting – A common desire for new writers is to edit everything, and although editing is VERY important, you don’t want to edit yourself as you write. Put everything into your story – everything is interesting – everything is important. You can edit out what really doesn’t matter at the end, when you’ve finished your first draft. (Malcolm Gladwell)

Watch the Reedsy video here:

 

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My 2 Cents… Molly’s Game

Molly's GameMolly’s Game – The true story of Molly Bloom, on Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

I picked this movie simply because the “movie poster” looked interesting! If it were a book (as I’ve recently discovered it is) I would have picked it for the cover. Not knowing anything about it, and without watching the preview, I jumped right in.

Jessica Chastain (see her IMDB page here) was wonderful as Molly Bloom! I can’t imagine they could have cast it any better. When I looked up pictures of the real Molly Bloom, I was pleasantly surprised to see Chastain actually does somewhat resemble her.

I’m not going to lie, I have since read reviews that say the book is so much better than the movie. Yes, I plan to buy the book and read it promptly.

Have you seen Molly’s Game? If so, what did you think? 

See the official movie trailer here:

 

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