Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Check out these new Summer movies - Reviews by Melissa Keir

Looking for a feel good movie that will have you laughing out loud? Pitch Perfect 2 is just that movie! It seldom takes itself seriously. I give it an A. 

The Bella's are back, and they are better than ever. After a leotard mishap at the President’s birthday celebration, the team needs to get their act in gear and win the International Competition. But the girls have a lot on their minds and their singing suffers for it! In order to win, they need to regroup and recharge and learn to harmonize again. 

Rebel Wilson is the new Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett. Her comedic skills showcase physical comedy as well as amazing wisecracks. Then there’s the Acapella hosts, John and Gail! They have no filters or tact. Some of the most outrageous lines are theirs! In fact, Elizabeth Banks who played Gail is actually the director of the movie! And without spoiling anything, there are some wonderful guest appearances! Keep your eyes peeled!

Having not seen the first movie, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. This movie stood on its own. The message of girl power and working together is one that everyone needs these days. While the movie does feature some raunchy adult humor, most children won’t understand it. So don’t be afraid to bring your whole family. 

When does intelligence occur? Can a robot think for him or herself? The premise behind Ex Machina is a study in when does sentient life begin? I give it a B+.

Caleb is an upcoming hot programmer who wins a week retreat with the CEO only to find out that the trip isn’t what it seems. When there, he’s asked to determine if a sexy robot is really sentient or just running her programming. Ava becomes more than just a robot to Caleb. She worms her way into his mind.

This movie is twisted, with mystery and surprises. Viewers won’t see them coming. It keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat because you learn to not trust anyone at face value. It’s a very intellectual movie, and does have a large amount of drinking and nudity (I felt bad for the young child who’s family brought him).

I found the movie to be intriguing but I hated the CEO. He wasn’t a nice person and each time he came on the screen, I wanted to see him hit with a club. There wasn’t anything redeeming about him. He’s supposed to be the CEO of a Google like search site but comes off as a bully with a God complex. Without spoilers, I also was disappointed with the ending, too contrite and quick to wrap it up, leaving the main character at a loss.

We’ve waited over a year to see the latest Avenger’s movie, but they don’t give us all the answers. Only more questions. I give Avengers: Age of Ultron an A. From the very first scene, Joss Whedon keeps you on the edge of your seat with amazing action. There are whole towns demolished in this Marvel movie.

Tony Stark is afraid that another alien race will come to Earth again putting everyone in danger. So he creates an artificial intelligent program to protect the world, but of course something goes wrong. Trust breaks among the Avengers team. Too many alpha males.

Ultron sees the human race as flawed and that only through elimination, will life be better. He believes machines and himself to be better than humans. And it will take the whole team-along with some old favorites to defeat him.

Age of Ultron gives moviegoers a glimpse at the past of the Black Widow and a look at Hawkeye’s secret life. It also introduces us to two new characters: Quicksilver and his sister The Scarlet Witch. Of course Stan Lee has a cameo and many hints of future events in upcoming movies are implied. Snarky comments abound and this movie has as many laughs as action moments. Those were some of my favorite moments. 

I loved the movie but it didn’t live up to the hype or maybe my own expectations. I felt let down at the ending, maybe it’s because we don’t really have a happy ending or that it doesn’t feel like they triumphed. But I am anxious to see what the future Marvel Universe movies hold.

Directed and starring Russell Crowe, The Water Diviner brings to life one man’s search for his missing sons during World War I. I found it enthralling and give it an A.
Joshua Connor is a man so in tune with the land that he can find water beneath the bedrock. When his sons are reported killed in WWI, he tries to move forward but his wife is unable to handle the loss of her sons. When she dies, he finally agrees to bring them home, even though it means heading to Turkey which is still involved in major conflicts. The Water Diviner is based on real life inspired events and will have you wanting to know more about the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

It’s hard to categorize this movie. It’s a war piece, it’s a romance, it’s a sweeping epic…it’s all those things. Along the lines of Brad Pitt’s Fury, it doesn’t hide the harsh realities of battle, nor does it glorify it. We do see a seldom seen part of WWI, the point of view of the Turkish people and their amazing history. 

Russell Crowe does a nice job sharing small pieces of the big picture as the movie unfolds and you find out more and more, like a hidden picture or puzzle. The Water Diviner will have you reaching for a tissue but will also make you laugh out loud with the outrageousness of the Grandfather and believe in a second chance at love and redemption.

Paul Blart attends a security conference in Vegas which is just the thing to help him get over the loss of his mother and his new bride leaving him. I suggest that if you want to lose your money, go to the casino rather than this movie. I give Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 a D. 

I grew up watching great physical comedians from Lucille Ball to Carol Burnett, from Jerry Lewis to the Chevy Chase. Kevin James isn't one of them. He tries to be funny as a mall security guard who thinks more of himself than reality is in this story written by James and produced by Adam Sandler. Yet the story was trite. Bad guys are stealing the Wynn art collection to get back at losing money at the resort and only Blart and his band of guards can stop them. 

I know that the first Mall Cop was a cult favorite but in this story all the typical comedic parts are there from the bad guy with two different colored eyes who thinks he’s crazy, to James’ stumbling , bumbling accidents. There’s a fight with a bird while a man continues to play the piano and a chase scene on a modified Segway. Gun’s that misfire as well as all the bad guys being such horrible shots to miss everyone!

I didn’t even crack a smile during the movie and while I saw a lot of YOUNG children at the theater, I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 10. Better yet, go spend the money to take the kids to see Cinderella again or take them to a picnic lunch.

“Love requires sacrifice... always”…Nicolas Sparks’ movies are guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings and The Longest Ride does just that. Much like his movie The Notebook, this story shows flashbacks of another relationship, which mirrors Sophia and Luke’s blooming relationship. I give the story a B+.

There were two reasons I wanted to see this movie- Scott Eastwood and to see how Mr. Sparks’ cowboys compare to my own cowboys in the best-selling western romance books Cowboy Up and Cowboy Up 2.

Luke, a champion bull-rider who is sidelined with an injury tries to regain his top standing the Pro-Bull Riding circuit. Sophia’s an art student who’s leaving for an internship in NYC in two months. The two are opposites who connect. We see their love story play out amongst the letters and remembrance of Ira (played by Alan Alda) and Ruth’s relationship.

Scott Eastwood looks so much like his father that you close your eyes and you’re watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly if it was a sappy romance. The bull-riding scenes will have you gasping and wishing for your own sexy cowboy. But the storyline is predictable and while it does have a happy ending, like most Nicolas Sparks’ movies, it leaves you in tears. I liked Ruth and Ira’s romance more than Luke and Sophia’s. Their love was one that stood the test of time, sacrifice, and even death. Alan Alda is perfect for this role! 

The Longest Ride refers to being married forever...this movie is sure to appeal to women who love romance and believe in the strength of love, so see it with your girlfriends. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers - Blog

Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers - Blog

Posted: 05 May 2015 05:24 PM PDT
Seeking Redemption (Emerging From Darkness Book 2)
By: J.M. Maurer

Publish Date: May 2, 2015


After surviving a bitter divorce and emerging from a darkness that became all too familiar, Jessica finds herself on top of the world, her soulful awakening allowing her to feel again, trust again, and even love again. Her painful past, however, is relentless, both physically and emotionally, bombarding her daily and not allowing her to overcome the lingering demons that ultimately control her life.

As Matthew lovingly guides her toward a healthy future, his own secrets become known, threatening to destroy the trusting relationship that had quickly grown between them. But despite what life throws her way, Jessica pledges to put the past in the past, accepting that events are often out of her control. She fights for a future with the man who drew her out of the darkness, steering her onto a healing path . . . seeking redemption.

Buy Links:
Amazon US:  bit.ly/amznSkR
Amazon UK: bit.ly/SkRamznUK
Amazon CA:  bit.ly/SkRamznCA
Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/SkReBN
iBooks: bit.ly/SkRiBks
Kobo: bit.ly/SkRKobo
Smashwords: bit.ly/SkRSW

    Grandma O flipped the light switch to what she called my office and stood just inside the door, her soft features and gentle smile inviting me in. I shivered, poised one step away, with a strange yet familiar emotion rushing through me—an awareness that the instant I entered, my life would be forever changed. Again.

    Was this Matthew’s plan all along? They all seemed in on it, the thought making me feel railroaded and agitated, yet oddly aroused and enchanted too. Unsure how to deal with such conflicting emotions, I moved forward, looking to Grandma O for answers as I walked through.

    The office was spacious, slightly smaller than Matthew’s, with a mahogany desk in the far corner and in front of an expansive bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. I ran my fingertips along the colorful wall of psychology books and periodicals as I walked along, passing a leather couch on my way to the desk, my desk, and paused in front of an empty nook within the bookcase.

    It struck me as odd, the cold wooden surface needing something to spruce it up, make it mine. I had to think about that, my anxiety making it difficult to ponder the issue, my restlessness preventing me from staying in one place.

    I moved to the windows and stared out the tiny cracks between the blinds, the world outside just as complicated as the one I had chosen to live in.

     “We all read your master’s thesis,” Grandma O said, her voice pulling me out of my thoughts. “It’s obvious you have a natural gift for research and writing.”

    I turned and looked at her, questioning how they’d gotten their hands on a copy.

    Sedation in the ICU: Patient Accounts of Their Dreams, Their Pain, Their Fears; I hadn’t published it. As it was, after countless hours revisiting old charts and conducting hundreds of interviews, I’d never been more nervous or scared the instant it was pulled from my tight grip to be placed into the hands of someone who would actually read it. There was no way I’d ever publish it, opening myself up to a world filled with critics.

    “If you’re wondering, Dr. Moi is a personal friend of Professor Marienetti. The sexual fantasies accounted for and described within your research were fascinating, probably more so than Dr. Marienetti could digest. We’re baffled as to why you chose not to publish. The results, Jess, are far reaching, from ICUs to dentists’ offices. You have a special gift; embrace it.”

    She walked toward me and leaned her back against the wall, her gaze drinking in the room.

    “This office has been vacant, just waiting for you. You could do great things here.” She patted my arm, her grandmotherly smile telling me it would all be okay. “I’m next door if you need anything.”

    Embrace it, I thought, watching as she walked out the door. I’d heard that advice before—from Matthew. I sighed and looked down upon the desk, the one I knew would take me a while to start calling my own.

    My desk, my office, my couch, it all sounded quite foreign. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

J.M. Maurer lives with her family in Chicago. She makes it a point to never work on a full moon and cringes when a coworker uses the “Q” word—never, ever say, “It’s a quiet day today," at her day job.

Known for being overly superstitious, she can usually be found scraping at the remnants of a Nutella container, screaming at a hockey game, or putting pen to paper, allowing the “real” crazy voices in her head to come alive. And after all this, it’s no wonder she’s an incurable romantic and loves escaping the rat race of life to immerse herself inside the world of a really good romance book . . . because, after all, what’s better than a happily-ever-after?

Find J.M. Maurer Here:
Website: http://jmmaurer.com
Blog: http://jmmaurer.com/blog.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JMMaurerAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMMaurer1
Goodreads: bit.ly/GoodreadsJMMaurer
tsu: http://www.tsu.co/JMicheleMaurer  
Amazon Author Page: bit.ly/AmznJMMaurer

Seeking Hope (Emerging From Darkness Book 3 ~ Fall/winter 2015)

The conclusion to the captivating romantic trilogy where love came easy, forgiveness came with time, but healing from devastating loss proved daunting. Together, Jessica and Matthew pursue an extraordinary future . . . seeking hope.