Friday, July 25, 2014

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

My sister gave me this movie awhile back since I had never seen it, and it was alright, better than I expected, especially when I found out that MTV films played a role in the making of it.  Barring Vaarsity Blues, their track record isn't the greatest.  I was quite surprised to see Jeremy Renner in this one as well, especially with his talent.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was released in 2013 and is a German/American horror/action film.  It is meant to be a continuation on from the Grimm's fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel.  In case you know nothing about the original fairy tale, two children get lost in the woods from their dad and end up at a cottage made of candy that is owned by a witch.  The witch is force-feeding them candy, trying to fatten them up so that she can eat them.  As the witch is trying to put Hansel into the oven, Gretel kills the witch, hence the witch hunters.

The cast includes:
Jeremy Renner as Hansel (The Bourne Legacy, The Avengers, MI: Ghost Protocol, Hurt Locker, American Hustle)
Gemma Arteton as Gretel (Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans, Quantum of Solace, RocknRolla)
Famke Janssen as Muriel (X-Men Series, Hemlock Grove, Nip/Tuck, Taken, Rounders)
Peter Stormare as Sheriff Berringer (Constantine, 22 Jump Street, The Last Stand, Killing Room, Prison Break)
Thomas Mann as Ben (Beautiful Creatures, Fun Size, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Project X)


Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was originally supposed to be released in March 2012, but due to Renner's busy schedule with the Avengers and The Bourne Legacy, it ended up getting pushed back.  Although it was not well received by most outside of the horror genre in the US, it garnered international attention and was a hit in Germany, Brazil, Mexico and Russia.   It ended up grossing $225 billion on a $50 billion budget, making it a box office success.  Although I can't personally say it is deserving, a sequel is currently in the works and scheduled to be released in 2016.

The film is written and produced by Tommy Wirkola, a Norwegian director with a love of horror.  This is his first American film and he originally wanted to make the story a short, but ended up selling it in Hollywood as a franchise with the goal of trilogy.  Witches are definitely portrayed as villains and the costumes were done by the same company that did Harry Potty & The Ghostly Hollows.  Filming took place in Germany in a forest near Berlin. 

This movie is entertaining for a B movie, there is weird attention to detail such as Hansel having diabetes from all of the sugar and the drawings on the home cottage wall.  Then there is the inattention to detail in the horrendously out of place weapons for the era, especially the guns, and the fact that at least one of the beginning witches is definitely a large man.  Also, I felt like for 2 people whose occupation it is to hunt witches that they would have a much better aim haha.  Gretel was the worst, she couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.  I also wonder why in the heck no one was pointing out the obvious with the grand white witch's heart and where it now resides.  Overall, I give this movie 3/5 stars.  It is a good movie if you don't want anything too serious and just feel like being entertained by something from the horror genre. 

 Here is the link to the movie's site: hanselandgretelmovie.com/


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Orange Mint Chicken Drumsticks

I was wanting to do something with mint, and happened to have drumsticks needing to be cooked.  Viola; Orange Mint Chicken sounded delicious, and here you go:

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 tsp Orange Emulsion
1 Tbsp Dried Mint (Juiced)
Seasoning (Alpine Touch & Tarragon)
5-6 Chicken Drumsticks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the Oil, Orange Juice, Emulsion. and seasoning together in a bowl.  Roll the drumsticks one at a time into the mixture and place into a deep pan (I covered with tinfoil to make cleaning easy).  Once complete, pour the remaining mixture over top of the drumsticks in the pan and the sprinkle with additional seasoning.  Cook for 40-50 minutes or until done all the way through.  Serve & Enjoy!


Mix the Oil, OJ, Emulsion and Spices together in a bowl
Roll the Drumsticks in the mixture and place on a foil covered cookie sheet
Take out of the over after about 50 minutes
Serve & Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Legend of the Werewolf



I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Legend of the Werewolf is written by Mandy Rosko and is Book 2 in the Things in the Night Series.  Having never read the first book, I can vouch for the fact that it works just fine as a standalone novel.  The beginning of the book gives a little bit of background on the main character, Mike Carter, who is a psychic detective.  I can only assume that the first book goes more in depth into how he got to where he is now, and there is reference to a city “that doesn’t exist” that must be the basis for the initial novel.  

Mandy has written a unique and memorable story in The Legend of the Werewolf.  The events and characters are unique.  She does a great job bringing the characters to live and getting to know them is quite enjoyable.  The story is based in a modern type era, with fantastical creatures and events.

Unfortunately a lot is lost amidst the mass amount of typos that seem to be endless.  There are grammar errors, misspellings and missing words.  It is quite distracting and really detracts from the wonderful story that is going on.  Not only are there typos, but there are also 2 glaring mistakes in the sequence of events.  The first being the event with the car lights; they are desperately trying to start up the cars to turn on lights, but automobiles don’t need to have keys in the ignition for lights to come on.  Later on when the action is over they talk about turning off the lights so the batteries in the cars don’t die, but if the cars are running, than the battery won’t die because of the lights.  The second event was towards the end of the book when they talk about needing to come back to destroy a castle, and then later there is talk about how the castle was already destroyed, but given the sequence of events this is impossible.  All of these things lend to discredit for the author.  Never having read any of Mandy’s other books, I cannot attest to whether this is a unique event or not.  I also find this lack of editing quite disdainful due to the fact that I was reading from a paperback novel. 
 
I want to reiterate that Mandy did a really great job writing an interesting story with great events and bringing her characters to life, given all of the bad edits I would have given this book only 2 stars, but because the story is so great, I rest on 3 stars.   With a better scrub and edit this book would easily be a 4 or 5 star story.  I hope that it is cleaned up in the future before any more versions are released, and barring these typos as the norm, I would love to read more of Mandy’s books in the future, as she really is a great story-teller.  If you are into Fantasy, Paranormal, Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and modern-themed stories, this book is for you. 



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cheese-Stuffed Italian Meatloaf

It had been awhile since I had made some delicious Italian Meatloaf, and cheese makes almost anything better, so here is the delicious recipe. 

Ingredients:
3 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Breadcrumbs (Tightly Packed)
Seasoning (Alpine Touch, Garlic Salt, Mediterranean Oregano, Mediterranean Basil, a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes, a pinch of roasted garlic)
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Italian Sausage
1 Cup Three Cheese Cheddar (grated)
1/2 Cup Mexican Shredded Mix (grated)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, bread crumbs and seasoning.  Mix thoroughly.  Crumple the meat over the mixture and mix all together.   Press half of the meat mixture into a loaf pan.  Sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese over the top of the meat.  Pat the remaining meat mixture on top of the cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.  Meat thermometer should read about 160 degrees.  Turn off the oven.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and let sit in the warm oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve & Enjoy!


Combine the breadcrumbs, eggs and spices
Mix in the sausage & hamburger
Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan
Top with 3/4 of the cheese
Finish off with the remaining meat mixture
Cook for 50-55 minutes
Turn off oven and top with remaining cheese
Remove after 5 minutes and enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jealousy & Yams

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Jealousy & Yams is written by Amanda Hamm and is the 2nd book in the Hartford Series, but reads like a standalone novel.  The book focuses around the two main character of Luke and Summer.  Luke is a shy introverted young man that has started up his own software company.  Summer has just gone through a breakup and sees Luke as an opportunity to make her ex feel jealous.

Amanda has written a story that is a quick and fun read.  Jealousy & Yams tells the story initially from Luke’s mother’s mind from the opening of the book and then between Summer & Jake.  It was a great way to read a book, being able to know the thoughts and feelings from both the male and female perspective.  It was very interesting for me seeing things from both sides and made me contemplate how different past relationships may have been interpreted from the male point of view.

Amanda has written likeable characters that are “normal” people.  It was great to get to know the small town and the people in it.  The small town atmosphere definitely came across through the words on the pages.  It can bring memories back about the apprehension of your first kiss and the lack of self-confidence that is often found in the young dating experiences.

Jealousy & Yams was a worthwhile light read and I give it 4/5 stars.  If you are into a lighthearted
romance and from a small town it is easy to relate to this book.  I definitely recommend this book.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sloppy Joes


I hadn't made any sloppy joes in about 4 months, so I figured it was about time to do some tweaking to the delicious recipe.  Here it is!

 Ingredients:
1 lb ground hamburger
Alpine Touch
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Carrots (Peeled & Minced)
3 Garlic cloves (minced)
2 Celery Stalks (Minced)
1 Tbsp Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar Bourbon Grill Mate (or another great steak seasoning) 
1/2 Tbsp Parsley
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup BBQ sauce (Hickory Mesquite Smoke for a delicious smokey flavor)

Directions:
Brown the hamburger.  Drain and set aside.
In a separate pan add the Butter, minced carrots and garlic and saute' for 2-3 minutes.  Add the minced celery and cook for another minute.  Add the Vinegar and seasoning and cook for another minute or two to thoroughly season the veggies.  Add all remaining ingredients and thoroughly mix.  Add the hamburger to the mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Sauce will be ready to serve.  Serve on your favorite bun, roll or bread for the best eating experience. 

Season and brown the hamburger
Add the butter, minced garlic and minced carrots to a heavy bottom skillet
Add in the minced celery and cook on medium heat
Add the spices
Add the remaining ingredients

Mix thoroughly
Add in the hamburger and stir to warm
Serve & Enjoy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Lived Twice

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Life lived twice started out with an interesting Prologue of a dream state.  It was written by Sherri Wouters.  It is about a 20-year-old girl named Tess. 

Tess has lived a sheltered life, feeling fairly dependent upon her parents.  At the age of 5 her family uprooted and moved and Tess can remember that it had something to do with her, yet she has no idea why and no one will tell her.  After spending some time with relatives, Tess is flying home feeling very anxious about finally moving out on her own.  In her anxiety she goes into a book store and bumps into a stranger trying to grab for the same book.  The touch is electric and by the time she looks into his eyes she feels a connection deep within herself; out of nowhere she calls him “Addison.”

Tess finds herself wondering on the flight home where she would come up with a name that she has never heard and say it to a man that she had never met.  Being assured that the stranger’s name was not Addison she drifts off to sleep… that is when the dreams/visions begin.

This book had excellent flow; I had a hard time putting it down for day to day obligations such as sleep.  It was so enlightening to read this open-minded spiritual experience that Sherri has brilliantly transformed into a book.  I could feel myself within the story with the characters and in the landscape.  The characters were “real” people, and easy to connect with. 

Life Lived Twice was very good at easing a more hesitant reader into a new realm of spiritual beliefs for one that might not be quite as familiar with the amazing universe we are all a part of.  Sherry wrote this in such a manner that I find myself wondering if she is relatable to Tess or at the very least to Tess’s aunt. 

This is a romance that is written in a way that can be compared to traditional historical romance stories, and yet stands out on completely on its own at the same time.  My only complaint of the book was the ending.  I felt as though the ending was not much closure, and was hoping for at the very least an Epilogue.

Sherri personally wrote to me about my comments to inform me that due to fan curiosity and request that she has a sequel in the works that will be released in 2015.  As I excitedly await more to this story I can confidently give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  Sherri obviously has the gift of storytelling and I hope that we will see more of her in the future with more than just Tess’s story.  If you are into historical fiction, romance, spirituality, mystery, fiction, coming into one’s own, you will love this book. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Creamy Chicken Pasta

I love the Bear Creek Mixes.  I also love adding onto them to make them heartier and more delicious, which is exactly what I did with this dinner!  Quick and easy, and so I also had to whip up some homemade cinnamon honey butter to put on our toast.

Creamy Chicken Pasta
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Chicken Breast (Chopped)
Seasoning (Rosemary, Garlic, Sea Salt, Mediterranean Basil)
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Milk
1 Bear Creek Creamy Chicken Pasta Mix
1 Large Carrot (Peeled & Chopped)
1 Celery Stalk (Chopped)

Directions
Heat the oil into a skillet.  Add the chicken and generously season.  Cook on med-high heat until browned all the way through.
In a large pot bring the water and milk to a rolling boil.  Add in the celery and carrots and mix thoroughly.  Add the pasta mix and cook until noodles are al dente.  Simmer while adding in the cooked chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. 


Cinnamon Honey Butter
Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Butter (1 Sticks, softened)
3 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
3 Tbsp Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Directions:
 Add all ingredients together and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.


I used the Creamy Chicken :)
Add the chicken to the skillet and season while also adding the milk and water to a pot
Continue cooking the chicken and add the celery and carrots to the pot
Cook chicken thoroughly, add the pasta mix to the pot
Add cooked chicken to the pot
Simmer for 5 minutes until sauce thickens
Soften the butter

Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl
Blend thoroughly

Serve & Enjoy

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Today I finally had the opportunity to finish watching Catching Fire as the plumbers were fixing stuff in my house....  Let me start by saying:  Wow... just wow.... phenomenal.  I laughed, I cried, I yelled, I hated when it was over, and don't want to wait for the rest of the story!  I have been boycotting reading the books until the movies are over because I don't want to ruin the movies that I love so much.  If the movie is this spectacular, I can't even imagine how amazing the books must be.

Catching Fire is the 2nd movie in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  It was released in 2013 and is based on the Suzanne Collins book of the same name (Catching Fire).  The first movie (The Hunger Games) was released in 2012.  Catching Fire is an American sci-fi, adventure, dystopian film.  The movie is taking place one year after the original Hunger Games movie ended.  Filming began in Atlanta, GA and ended with the majority done in Hawaii.


Lots of returning faces and some new one can be seen in the cast:


Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook, Winter's Bone, X-Men:First Class)
Liam Hemsworth as Gale (Hunger Games, Last Song, Empire State, Expendables 2)
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (Hunger Games, Cheers, Zombieland, No Country For Old Men, True Detective)
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta (Hunger Games, Bridge to Terabithia, The Kids Are Alright, Epic, Journey to the Center of the Earth)
Donald Sutherland as President Snow (Hunger Games, MASH, Italian Job, Pride & Prejudice, Crossing Lines)
Elizabeth Banks as Effie (Hunger Games, Next Three Days, Pitch Perfect, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Scrubs)
Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (Hunger Games, Precious, Zoolander, The Butler)
Stanley Tucci as Caesar (Terminal, Devil Wears Prada, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Julie & Julia, ER)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch (Capote, Doubt, Charlie Wilson's War, The Master, Moneyball, Mission Impossible III)
Sam Claflin as Finnick (Snow White & the Huntsman, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone as Johanna (Hatfields & McCoys, Sucker Punch, The Ruins, Into the Wild, Pride & Prejudice)



Catching Fire currently ranks as the tenth highest grossing film domestically, and surpassed the sales of the first film.  For Thanksgiving weekend rankings: it was the first 2-D film since 2008 (Dark Knight) to top the box office.  It was the first film since 1983 (The Exocist) to have a female lead that topped the box office.  The film grossed over $864 million worldwide.

In order to get rid of the shaky feeling of the arena scenes from the first movie, Catching Fire's arena scenes were all shot using IMAX cameras.  Reviews of the film have been positive overall.  The final installment of the trilogy: Mockingjay will be released in 2 Parts, with Part 1 being released this November and the 2nd part coming out in November 2015.

Overall I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.  It was nothing short of spectacular.  The characters are done excellently.  The story is enough messed up and relatable.  The Costuming is amazing.  The visual effects are stunning.  It is just an all around wonderful movie.  Don't miss it.  Re-watch value is high! 





You can view the official website here: Catching Fire



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Locks



I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Locks:Rapunzel Unhinged is written by Sarah J. Pepper and is a modern retelling of Rapunzel.  In Locks, Rapunzel (or Zel) is determined to escape her tower prison but is brought back and put under watch by a Mercenary that she finds herself insanely attracted to, despite her better judgment.  

I was REALLY excited about reading this book.  I absolutely LOVE the cover art work.  I had to settle for The Death of the Mad Hatter while I was waiting for this one (which I ended up really enjoying).  Needless to say I came to this story without much time in between the two books written by Sarah.  While Death of the Mad Hatter is a young adult book, Locks is written for a vastly different audience.  

Locks starts out as Rapunzel has escaped and is cornered about to be caught.  The sexism of the book is really right in your face right away.  I have no problem with this, but I was caught completely unaware after the darker, yet much more innocent Mad Hatter.  Although the only actual “sex scene” in the book is more PG-13 than rated R, just a lot of sexual tension throughout the story.

Sarah has written a lot of creative characters that I was able to connect with on the level that I could know them through Zel’s feelings.  Unfortunately I feel that the description of the majority of the characters fell a little short.  I could talk a lot about how everyone made Zel feel, but if I had to draw a picture of most of them I would be left wanting.  The environment does lend itself to better descriptors though.  Flynn, is described in magnificent detail, as he is the object of much sexual tension throughout the story.  

Locks reads like a mystery novel, trying to constantly assess and reassess the allegiance of many of the characters and figure out how it will end.  With that being said, I feel like there was a lot of lead up to a slightly fizzle of an ending.  The wow factors of things missing from Zel’s memory were written superbly, but the battle was short and not overly detailed.  The biggest disappointment for me was the Epilogue…  I wanted to know what happened to the ancillary characters as well. 

My biggest negative points were the weird technology references that seemed thrown in.  If Zel has been locked into a tower and no one speaks as she does, I wonder where she learned some of her “potty mouth” language from.  It didn’t bother me, but may deter a more prudent reader.  My issues was with talk of things such as cell phones, and then have nobody use them, while the kingdom doesn’t really deal in technology, it seemed rather out of place, and like Zel wouldn’t know much about it since she spends most of her life in a tower locked away from people.  

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars.  Sarah has a lot of ingenious ideas; she created some really great ideas for characters and some crazy twists and turns to the story.  I love the spunk and fire in Zel’s personality, I love her development as a strong woman throughout the story.  I love many of the ancillary characters and the possibilities that could come about with them.  I love the twists and turns that the story takes.  I have to hold back a star for the seemingly out of place tech talk, the weak ending and epilogue.  Otherwise, it is definitely a story worth reading, there is a lot to love in it.  If you are into fairy-tales, especially Rapunzel, mystery, fantasy, mythology, Romance, etc., you will like this book.