Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Yes, I'm finally getting my TV Recap for the week posted.  Just now got a chance to finish last night's Amazing Race.  Here you go.

Castle – Back to light and fun Castle with a locked room episode to boot.  Or maybe I should say locked planet.  I was a little disappointed they included the evil computer cliché, but for the most part I really did enjoy the episode.  Now, I’m wondering if Martha will really move out this time, and if so for how long.  You can read my full recap here.

Agent Carter – An action packed climax, and a great one, too.  Overall, I enjoyed this series, although they could have tightened up a couple of those middle episodes.

Arrow – This show is on fire.  Another great episode with so many wonderful character moments and twists and suspense.  However, I am wondering, do we know why Sara was killed?  The motive behind that seems to be missing, and since that is what is driving the season, it is rather important.  I probably missed it somewhere.

Melissa & Joey – Honestly, I think the characters made it longer than I would.  Having said that, I can go without when I’m camping or something else like that.  But at home?  I spend so much time on my phone, or at least my computer, it isn’t even funny.

Baby Daddy – From the promo, it sounded like they were ending the triangle last night, yet it felt like a cliffhanger to me.  I think I’m actually rooting for Danny, but I don’t have all the history since I just started part way through the last season.  Very interested to see how this all resolves.

Survivor – I guess I give in to stereotypes, too, but I really didn’t figure that White Collar would be the first to lose.  And really, you never start off lying on day one, especially about something so obvious.  However, that one guy on the No Collar team sure is insecure.  That’s going to come back to bite him.

Amazing Race (Wednesday) – I’d actually read that they started this season near me, but I would have known anyway.  I recognized it in about 2 seconds.  Plus they had them doing a mud run!  How cool is that!!  I’m surprised at how well the blind date teams are doing.  I will be interested in seeing if that stays for the entire race.  So far, there aren’t any teams I’m rooting against.

Suits – Donna is in hot water.  I thought for a minute they were going to drop it in one episode, but no, that is continuing into next week.  So how are they going to get her out of that?  And is this really it for Jessica’s love interest?  Because that would be a bit of a surprise in a way.  However, he is just a guest star, but that is probably all we will get from him.

The Big Bang Theory – I was a little surprised about how much Penny and Sheldon did share.  That was by far my favorite part of the episode since I love their relationship.  Oh, I don’t want them as any more than friends, but they can be very sweet together.  The zombie was pretty funny, especially with how quickly they got out of there.  I don’t know that I would have been that quick about it, but I didn’t quite catch what the first couple of clues where.

The Odd Couple – Not quite as much fun as the first episode, and I guess the sister isn’t a main character.  Still, not a bad episode, and I’ll keep watching.

The Amazing Race (Friday) – What is with all the selfies this season?  Seriously, I’m already over it.  And really, you pay attention to the train times and then mug for the camera.  Still, I was sorry to see them go since they seem like a nice couple.  My guess is the blind daters current at the bottom are the next to go.  They seem to be having some difficulty getting along, but we shall see if I’m right or if they get it together and surprise me.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ornament Review: 1939 - Disney Studio Opens in Burbank - Moments that Made Disney #5 - 2014 Disney Store Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Another great looking ornament commemorating a Disney milestone
Cons: Can think of one thing that would have been more fun
The Bottom Line:
New, permanent home
Creates much Disney magic
That’s remembered here

Mickey’s Ready to Yell Lights! Camera! Action! at the New Studios

Up through the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Walt Disney was renting space for his artists to work.  And they were working in various nearby buildings.  That’s why Disney took the profits from his first film and put them into a new permanent studio space in Burbank – space the company is still using.  This is the event commemorated in the fifth Moment that Made Disney ornament from The Disney Store, appropriately enough entitled Disney Studio Opens in Burbank.

The ornament shows Mickey as director at the new studio.  He’s dressed in brown and tan with a tan cap on his head.  He’s sitting in a director’s chair and is holding a megaphone.  He’s smiling and all ready to yell for the action to start.

This had to be a hard ornament in the series to create.  Yes, it was a milestone for Disney, so it should have been included.  However, how exactly do you mark the occasion?  A building would just be boring.  I must admit that a replica of the street signs that have popped up every so often on behind the scenes specials would have been fun.  But that’s about the only thing I can think of that would top this.  Yes, Walt often referred to the studio as the studio that Snow White built, but as he also said, it all started with a mouse.  Somehow, I can picture Mickey directing animation; heck, I’d love to see what he’d come up with.

As with the others in the series, the details are great.  There aren’t quite as many of them, but it is fun to look at the ornament.  And somehow, Mickey dressing in brown makes him appear more serious than normal, which is appropriate for his new job as director.  Even the grin on his face doesn’t completely diminish that look.

The ornament sits on a circular base, meaning you can leave it out all year long in a Disney display.  In this case, the circle is silver and there is a star under Mickey’s chair.  It’s just enough to invoke a bit more of a Hollywood feel, which really adds to the ornament.

The Disney Store has included a red ribbon for hanging the ornament on your tree.  The ribbon attaches to a loop in the top of Mickey’s head, and he hangs perfectly straight.  As with other ornaments that Disney has created, it’s a little larger and heavier than your typical ornament, so plan placing it on your tree accordingly.

Like most DisNerds, I would love to tour the Disney studio some time.  So much magic has come from that place.  Disney Studio Opens in Burbank is a great way to commemorate the opening of a place that has created so many wonderful stories.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Moments that Made Disney series.

Original Price: $19.95

February 27th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

Well, look at this.  It's finally time for Book Beginnings and Friday 56.  Yes, it's been one of those weeks.  But any week that starts after two days at Disneyland is definitely going to suffer in comparison.

But I'm not here to whine.  I'm here to tease you with a couple of excerpts from The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen.

This is the newest in her Molly Murphy series set in early 1900's New York City.  It actually comes out on Tuesday, but thanks to an ARC, I've actually read the book.  Come back on Tuesday to see what I thought of it.  (Here's a clue - I love this series.)

For today, here's how it begins:

"Don't open your eyes until I tell you." - His hand gripped my forearm as he half-lifted, half-dragged me down from the hansom cab.

Page 56 doesn't give me too much to work with since it is the ending of a chapter.  But there are several great lines on it.  I decided to go with this one:

Daniel took the papers from me and examined them, frowning.  "That's an acute observation, Molly.  But if there was one murder he couldn't commit, how would we ever find out about it?"

That's a good question, wouldn't you agree?

As I said, come back on Tuesday to read my full review.  In the mean time, have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Book Retreat Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters; something different for the plot
Cons: Loose threads and holes in the plot
The Bottom Line:
Book resort, murder
Weak plot but great characters
Wanted to love it

Some Loose Threads in the Mystery Suite

There are many popular cozy authors I don’t get around to reading much.  Too many books and all that.  One of the names I haven’t kept up with at all is Ellery Adams, but I decided to give her a try.  Since I am so far behind, I decided to go with her latest series since there’s only one book in the series.  That means I’m up to date on this series at least, right?  That’s how I came to read Murder in the Mystery Suite.  Unfortunately, a weak plot kept me from loving it like I had hoped I would.

Jane Steward enjoys her life as the manager for Storyton Hall, the family estate located in the country in Virginia.  This resort is a reader’s paradise with libraries and libraries of books, and people come from all around to spend time in solitude reading.  However, the estate is beginning to need some repairs, and so Jane hits on the idea of hosting themed weeks with more events to draw in crowds.

The first such weekend is a Mystery and Mayhem Week with costume balls, scavenger hunts, and other fun activities.  The scavenger hunt is held on opening night, and the prize is a first edition book about the letters of mystery author Adela Dundee, creator of the beloved Umberto Ferrari.  However, soon after awarding the prize, Jane’s great-aunt insists that they gave the winner the wrong book.  When Jane goes to switch out the copies, she finds the winner dead and the book missing.  What was in that particular book that made it worth killing over?

The author tries hard to break out and do something different with this book, and I applaud her for that.  At first I wasn’t sure what to think about that twist, however, by the time I reached the end, I was on board with it.  In fact, I could see how it would lead to lots of fun in further books in a series.  Likewise, the mystery is complex and has some twists to it I wasn’t expecting at all.

However, the more I’ve thought about the ending, the more I’m disappointed with it.  The majority of the story is wrapped up in a satisfactory manner, but there are some questions left outstanding that are bugging me.  I can guess what the answers might be, but I’d really like to know for sure.  Additionally, there’s a plot hole or two out there.

That’s a shame because I really liked the characters.  I can see plenty of potential for fun and growth with them in future books.  My only nitpick here is that Jane’s twin sons occasionally seemed to act about eight or nine, while other times they acted their true age of six.  Still, the large staff of the resort and many members of the town were so much fun, and I would love to visit them again.

There were so many references to famous detectives past and present that it was a blast to read.  Many of them I am familiar with only by reputation, but I still got a kick out of seeing their names pop up here.  However, my favorite mention was of Mrs. Polliax.  (And if you don’t know why I would especially love that, click on the Carstairs? link on the top of the page.)

Still I will probably pass on future visits to Storyton Hall.  The weak plot was enough to keep me from returning, so I will not find out what happens after Jane solves the Murder in the Mystery Suite.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TV Recap: Castle 7-16 - The Wrong Stuff

You know when Castle says, “Best.  Case.  Ever.” that it will be a fun episode.  It may not be the most satisfying when it comes to character development or overall story line for the characters, but it is going to be fun, and the light, comedic episodes were why I started watching in the first place.  That was the case last night when we searched for a murderer on Mars.

Yes, Beckett’s first thought was it was outside of her jurisdiction.  However, it turns out it was only a Mars simulation to get the five lucky astronauts ready for the trip.  This is one of two private companies who are in a race to get a man on Mars first.  It turns out the simulation is actually just a few floors down in a huge building, but they have pumped in noxious gases, so those who go in to investigate have to wear special space suits and breathers.  That makes Castle’s day, and he even admits he applied to be part of this team sometime in the past when he and Beckett were fighting.  (Beckett makes the same admission about the competitor’s company later.)

The victim had gone “outside” to do some maintenance.  He screamed, and the power went out.  The four remaining members of the crew was inside the space pod, and their tracking chips confirm this.  No one could have gone inside without setting off alarms.  In other words, we have the perfect locked room mystery.  I love those!

Ornament Review: Cool Icicles #2 - Santa - 2014 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun combination of Santa and winter
Cons: Not as many collectors seem to like
The Bottom Line:
Proving that Santa
Is cool as an icicle
Fun and different

He’s a Jolly Icicle

After so many years of creating ornaments, I’m sure that the artists who create the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments have a difficult time coming up with something new and different.  I know I would.  That’s why I like the Cool Icicles series, which takes various Christmas icons and uses them with icicles.  It’s creative and fun.  Santa was the second offering in the series, and he’s fun as well.

The ornament features Santa in a classic pose.  He’s wearing his red hat and suit and holding his hands at his waist.  However, just at the point where his legs and pants would normally be, he starts to tapper down to a clear icicle point.

I will admit, I had hoped that the bottom half of this ornament would be a clear red, however, the more I looked at this ornament, the more I liked it completely clear.  The top part is mostly opaque, but it’s not as solid as an ornament normally would be.  The result is lovely when you put it on a lit Christmas tree.  The lights sparkle and shine through it, and it is just fun.  There is also glitter on the white trim on Santa’s suit and hat, which really does add to the fun.

Plus there’s the creativity aspect of the ornament.  Combining characters with a winter symbol this way isn’t something I would have thought of, but it adds a fun touch to the tree.  Unfortunately, the series doesn’t seem to be super popular, but I really like it.

Because of the point at the bottom of the ornament, you have to hang this one on your tree.  The loop is on the top of Santa’s head, and it’s no real surprise that he hangs straight.

Looking for the series marker?  Take a look at Santa’s backs.  It’s small, but you can find a 2 in a Christmas tree there.

So if you are looking for Santa is a slightly different context, track down the second Cool Icicles ornament.  This is something fun you can enjoy for years to come.

And if you like this fun idea, you'll want to check out the rest of the Cool Icicles Series.

Original Price: $12.95

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's On My Nightstand - February 2015

We're at the last Tuesday in the month, so that means it is time for What's on Your Nightstand.

Currently, I'm about 100 pages from the end of The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen.  I'm reading an ARC of the book, which officially comes out next Tuesday.  This is the latest in her Molly Murphy mystery series and involves a stranger case of serial murders, a girl with nightmares, and Freud's interpretation of dreams all wrapped up in 1905 New York City.  It's a great book as always.  This is the fourteenth (or so) in a long running and favorite series, and I'm quite enjoying it.

Or maybe I should just call this favorite series Nightstand because up next is the latest in another series.  Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke hits bookselves today, and I hope to buy a copy so I have it on hand when I finish the book I'm currently reading.  I've got to find out how the cliffhanger from the last book gets resolved.

Up after that is Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  I've had this middle grade book from Chris Grabenstein (another favorite author) since it came out, and I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it.  Yet.  But the time has come to definitely fix that.

Beyond that?  I don't have the rest of my March reading planned out.  I'll probably grab a couple of the books that were published in January and February that are the latest in favorite series and read them.  I will have some ARCs to be reading late in the month, but I've got a couple of fun weeks before I get to them.  On the other hand, I've got busy weekends, so I probably won't be able to read quite as much as I have been.

We will just have to see how my reading all shakes out this month.

Movie Review: Three Amigos

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny western with actors as the heroes
Cons: Randomness will turn off some
The Bottom Line:
Actors turn heroes
Random comedic moments
Classic still brings laughs

Actors Get in Over Their Heads in Old Mexico

My brother has raved about Three Amigos for years, and somehow I had never managed to see it.  On a recent visit, we fixed that.  While I didn’t find it quite as funny as he did, I certainly did enjoy it.

The movie tells the story of Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms, and Ned Nederlander (Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short), three stars of silent films who have starred in a series of Westerns together.  They always win against overwhelming odds no matter where their picture is set.  This catches the attention of Carmen (Patrice Martinez), who doesn’t realize she is watching a movie.  Her village has been attacked by the evil El Guapo (Alfonso Arau), and she is trying to find someone to drive him and his henchmen away for good.

Her request comes at the perfect time since the actors have just been fired.  Mistaking her request for help with a request for a personal appearance, they quickly set off for Mexico.  Will they realize they are in way over the heads?

This is a cornball comedy.  Don’t be expecting anything too serious or at times even logical.  There are a couple of very random scenes in the film.  You’ve certainly got to be in the right mood to watch the film.

I had heard about some of the lines and scenes from my brother over the years, yet I was able to enjoy them again when I saw them in context.  This is absolutely a movie where knowing the punch line doesn’t diminish the humor at all.

And it is funny.  The film is 30 years old, but it still brings the laughs.  While I wasn’t laughing as hard as my brother was, I was certainly enjoying it.  And I have a feeling that repeated viewings might make it even funnier for me.

The actors do a great job.  Of course how could three comedy legends in the lead roles miss?  All three are brilliant and deliver many of the laughs.  The rest of the cast holds their own and get laughs when the occasion calls for it.

This isn’t a film that calls for much in the way of special effects, although there are a few moments that do.  They work, although they don’t work quite as well as you’d expect today.  Remember the age of the film and the genre, and you’ll be fine.  There are many stunts in the film, however.  They aren’t anything elaborate, but they work well.

So if you are in the mood for a funny movie with some pretty random moments, Three Amigos will certainly fit the bill.  Sit back, relax, and laugh.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent by Bill Peet

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun story and even better pictures
Cons: Cyrus’ motives at the beginning, but he doesn’t act on them
The Bottom Line:
Creative story
Made better by the pictures
Still entertaining

Three Cheers for Cyrus

I remembered liking Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent from when my family first read it years ago, so I was expecting to enjoy it when I picked it up from the library recently.  However, I wasn’t expecting just how much I would enjoy it.  This is a charming story from the pens of Bill Peet.

Cyrus the sea serpent is living an uneventful life.  In fact, he’s a little bored.  That’s why he takes a dare from a shark to attack a ship about to set sail.  However, his good nature wins out and he decides to try to help the ship reach land again.  But can he help them with all the dangers of the sea?

Yes, Cyrus’ reason for coming in contact with the boat is bad.  However, he never acts on his intentions and clearly has a good heart, so I don’t mind.  In fact, there are some subtle lessons here in doing the right thing in the end being the most important thing and the potential dangers of peer pressure.

The fact that the story is fun certainly helps.  Parents will easily see the outline of the story early on and the solutions aren’t necessarily that surprising.  However, they are still delightful.  Kids will certainly not expect much of what happens over the course of the story, so they will be entertained the entire way through.

Don’t forget to factor in Bill Peet’s delightful illustrations.  This guy was a master artist, and his pictures are always a delight.  But here they add a touch of humor to the story.  Some of them are quite funny even when the text isn’t.  This is especially true when Cyrus deals with the pirates.  Kids will find the pictures lots of fun, and I’ve got to admit I still enjoy them.

So if you are looking for a creative and different picture book, Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent should fit the bill.  Even all these years later, it is truly unsinkable.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 21st's Weekly TV Thoughts

Castle – They left a few things dangling at the end of this one – minor things like red herrings from the first episode.  Still, what we got was a wonderful piece of drama.  I was riveted the entire time.  Not the fun Castle we know, but still a great episode.  My full recap ishere, of course.

The Flash – Episodes like this one make me wish I knew comics better.  I’m sure there was some set up in there that I would appreciate more if I knew the characters.  Still, the development it gave us for the main characters was great.  I think Barry is delusional if he thinks he is going to save him mom, however.  Not that he won’t try, of course.

Agent Carter – You know, I’m over the entire Carter is brilliant and the other guys are stupid plot point.  Yes, it worked early on, but come on.  Can’t anyone figure out that she might know what she’s talking about by this point?  Seriously?  That one thing is what has driven the plot entirely by this point.  I hope everyone is working together in the climax.  (And if you think it’s that I don’t like strong women, I loved Beckett’s part in freeing herself in the Castle episode from this week.)

Arrow – Okay, now Thea can hate her dad.  The flashback was fun, especially seeing some of the minor almost cameos some main characters got but what it told us about where they were 5 years ago.  I’m glad that Thea didn’t kill Slade.  I like him being back in prison.  Laurel and her dad’s scenes were realistic, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out for the remainder of the season.  The show is really going so well right now.

Melissa & Joey – Wow, if that was really those actors, they both have amazing voices.  The boy band stuff was pretty funny.  Oh, and Joe, it isn’t quitting if you make a decision to go in one direction over another.  It’s only quitting if you stop with no backup plan in place and then do nothing.

Baby Daddy – Never use your corporate card for personal stuff.  I’m glad that Riley got caught but managed to save her job.  The stuff with the ex-wife was pretty good, too.  I’m so glad I started watching this show.  I just wish I could go back and watch the earlier episodes.  (Don’t have Netflix.)

Suits – So many interesting stories got started this week.  Although when will Donna learn not to be stupid.  For someone so smart….  I’m really wondering where Jessica’s relationship is going to go at this point, too.  I knew he’d get the truth from Litt even if Litt didn’t mean to tell him.  Maybe not quite as gripping as the first couple episodes this half were, but they are still very good.

The Big Bang Theory – I’ll admit, I was expecting a bit more about Howard’s mother passing, but what they had was wonderful, especially Sheldon’s line about Howard having friends to help him through his loss.  Nathan Fillion was under used, although I have a feeling that was because he’s so busy and didn’t have time for much else.  Still, it would have been awesome if he’d pulled out some Nikki Heat books and said, “No, I’m Richard Castle.”  Of course, the shows are on different networks, so that wouldn’t really work, but I can dream, can’t I?

The Odd Couple – I think I read the play back in college (for fun), and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original TV show.  I wasn’t blown away by the pilot, but it was fun and I did laugh.  And you know me, I will give a show a few weeks and not jump based on the pilot unless it was truly awful.  I’ll definitely be back for a few more episodes at a minimum.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: Buttercream Bump Off by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Delightful characters, good mystery, fun
Cons: Comes with recipes and not actual cupcakes
The Bottom Line:
First date turned deadly
Lots of fun and mystery
Makes a page turner

Fun as Frosting

A year and a half ago, I finally started the popular Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, and I enjoyed the first book.  Yet I didn’t get around to coming back and reading the second until now.  (In my defense, I did read the first two books in the author’s Hat Shop series last year.)  When I found out that Buttercream Bump Off was set leading up to Valentine’s Day, that seemed like the perfect time to bump the book up my to be read pile.

It’s a few weeks before Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air.  Mel and Angie, owners of Fairy Tale Cupcakes, are hosting a contest where the winner will get a fancy dinner on the holiday.  This is in addition to their couple’s cupcake baking class.  Even Mel’s mother, Joyce, has been hit by Cupid’s arrow since she is going out on the first date she’s had since Mel’s father passed away a decade ago.

However, Joyce calls in a panic in the middle of her date.  She has found her date, Baxter Malloy, floating in his pool dead.  With the police questioning Joyce, Mel feels the need to find out who really killed Baxter.  The suspects are numerous since he was running a pyramid scheme, but some of them hit even closer to home.  Which of the suspects actually committed the crime?

While the characters weren’t fresh in my mind, it didn’t take me long to short out all the relationships.  While I had remembered liking the characters before, I had forgotten just how much.  They are really fun to spend time with and feel like real people.  The new characters introduced here are just as strong.  I especially loved Marty and hope he sticks around in future books (or comes back in we haven’t seen him again).

The mystery was intriguing with some great clues and twists to the story.  I would argue that the pacing could have been a little better overall, but quite often, things were slowed down by some funny situations that Mel found herself in while investigating.  I laughed a couple of times and smiled at others, so it’s hard to complain about the pace for that reason.  The ending was logical, exciting, and funny all at the same time.

Being a culinary cozy, the book has to include recipes, right?  There are 4 cupcake recipes in the back, and my mouth watered reading them.  That’s quite a feat since I’m not a big fan of frosting usually, but the frosting here sounds delicious.

You can bet I won’t be waiting nearly as long to read the next in the series.  Buttercream Bump Off is a delight to read at the Valentine’s season or any other season of the year.

Looking for more delicious treats?  Here are the rest of the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries in order.

February 20th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

Welcome to Friday!  What am I going to do next?  I'm doing to Disneyland!!!  (Somehow, I have to get through the work day first.)

To celebrate, I'm going this week's Book Beginnings and Friday 56.  (Okay, fine, I'd do that anyway, but that's beside the point.)

This week's selection is Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams.

And here's how it begins:

There were books everywhere.  Hundreds of books.  Thousands of books.  There were books of every size, shape, and color.

Does that beginning appeal to book lovers or what?

And here's the first sentence from page 56:

If the Hastings look-alike's angry expression had Jane concerned, it was nothing compared to the unease she felt when she saw a man step from the shadows in the corner of the room to follow Felix into the hall.

Now to work on some posts to go up while I'm away and get to bed.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ornament Review: 1937 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Opens - Moments That Made Disney #4 - 2014 Disney Store Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Prince Charming and Snow White is their happy ending
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Snow White makes hist’ry
Commemorated with this
Christmas ornament

And It’s Happily Ever After for Snow White, Prince Charming, and Disney

While some of the ornaments in the Disney Store’s Moments that Made Disney series are more for the DisNerds, there are some moments that everyone can name without thinking about it.  That’s definitely the case with the fourth in the series, which commemorates  the year that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs opens.  It is such a huge moment not only in Disney history but film history it had to be included.

The ornament features Snow White and Prince Charming from the end of the movie.  The Prince is holding Snow White in his arms as he carries her away after waking her up from the spell she was under.  They are looking at each other and smiling.  The Prince is standing in grass that is sitting on the circular base of the ornament.  There are even purple flowers at his feet

I love this ornament for a couple of reasons.  First, the Disney Princes don’t get enough credit for their part in the happy endings.  It’s nice to see Prince Charming get included in this ornament.  I almost would have expected to see Snow White with the dwarfs since they are also in the title of the film.  The sculpt of these two characters is great.  But the way they are looking at each other is the second thing I love about it.  The look between them perfectly captures the look and love captured on the screen in the movie as they look into each other’s eyes.

Like the others in the series, this ornament has a nice flat base, so you can set it out and display year round.  But if you want to treat this as an ornament, you’ll find a red ribbon tied through the loop on the top of Prince Charming’s head.  That’s got to hurt.  But his sacrifice is worth it since the ornament hangs straight.

It’s hard to imagine a world without animated movies, and those of us who love the format owe a debt to Walt Disney and the huge risk he took for this movie.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Opens is an ornament that every Disney fan will be proud to display on their tree.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Moments that Made Disney series.

Original Price: $19.99

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Music Review: No Turning Back by Brandon Heath

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great tracks reflecting on life live then and now
Cons: Weak choruses on a couple of songs (but I do still love the songs)
The Bottom Line:
Fun musical style
Combine with some great lyrics
Make this a must buy

Reflections Back While Looking Forward

2015 marks a milestone for Brandon Heath.  It was 20 years ago, in 1995, that Brandon Heath gave his life to Jesus while attending a summer camp.  While No Turning Back is not all about that summer, it absolutely influences several of the songs on this disc.  The result is a great CD that his longtime fans will love.

The disc starts off strongly with “One Way to Heaven.”  Brandon’s folk/rock style is in fine form here as he sings:
Ain’t no doorway
Or a stairway
Ain’t no your way
Ain’t no my way
Ain’t no shortcut
Or a highway to Heaven.

I also love the title track.  Anyone who grew up in the church will absolutely recognize the theme of the lyrics to “No Turning Back.”  Yes, it borrows heavily from the Sunday School song “I Have Decided,” but the additions to it are strong and fun.  It’s a great song of commitment.  He’s joined by the group All Sons & Daughters, and the resulting song tips more toward his country side of things, but the beat is strong and it’s just plain fun.

Unfortunately, a couple of the songs tilt toward the Jesus is my girlfriend style of song writing.  You know the songs – talking about love and really the chorus feels like it could be any love song.  “Only Just Met You” is definitely one of them, but “When You Look at Me” suffers the same fate, especially since it comes after “Girl of My Dreams.”  If you listen carefully to both songs, especially the verses, there really is some good meat to the songs, so don’t write them off.  But those choruses.  And I do say unfortunately because I actually do like both of those songs.

Not all the songs are about the summer Brandon gave his life to Jesus.  A perfect example is the songs I just mentioned – “Girl of My Dreams.”  It’s a love song about how he met and married his wife.  Brandon’s guitar is strong on this one the entire way through, and some of those lines definitely make me smile.  It’s a great song.

“Everything Must Go” is about simplifying life.  It really does make you stop and think about all the things we collect.  I also love the fact that the music on this one is extremely simple, mostly one guitar with eventually piano and drums when he hits the first chorus after the minute mark.

Then there’s “When I Was Young,” where Brandon sings about how fearless we are to do and try anything before we start worrying about how others view us.  Even more, he brings it home to our “grown up” faith in God.  It reminds me of Jesus talking about having the faith of a child.  This song has a bit of an unusual melody to it, but that just makes you listen to it more.  I love it.

Honestly, I’m hard pressed to find a song I don’t like here.  Yes, I really do like those two I mentioned earlier.  Brandon continues to take some risks musically that really pay off.  This disc is unlike anything you have in your collection, and that’s a good thing.  It’s fun to listen to with great lyrics to think about.

So if you haven’t discovered Brandon’s music yet, No Turning Back is a great place to start.  And Brandon’s established fan base will love his strongest release yet.

CD Length: 40:44
1. One Way to Heaven
2. Only Just Met You
3. No Turning Back (Featuring All Sons and Daughters)
4. S.O.S.
5. When I Was Young
6. All I Need
7. Girl of My Dreams
8. When You Look at Me
9. Everything Must Go
10. Behold Our God
11. Sing Brave

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

TV Recap: Castle 7-15 - Reckoning

Well, I’m one for two.  I publically made some predictions on what we’d see in the conclusion of the two parter last night.  We didn’t see any more about Beckett wanting to or even thinking about starting a family.  However, my other prediction came true.

We pick up where we left off.  Beckett’s been kidnapped from the corner where she thought she was going to meet with Amy, Tyson’s “girlfriend.”  As soon as the rest of the group realizes that, they rush out there.  It just happens to be in a corner with no cameras.  Castle and Ryan go to visit Tyson and Esposito goes to visit Dr. Neiman, but neither of them will admit to anything.  Both are placed under surveillance.  Castle gets a phone call from Beckett begging for help.  They trace it to a pay phone, but find a recording there.

Castle, fed up with how the investigation is going on its own, goes to confront Tyson.  He throws him around a little and then pulls his gun, threatening Tyson.  But Tyson sticks to his story that he is the guy named Mike.  He almost had me believing it, I must admit, until we saw the look in his eyes at the end of the scene.  Then the police show up and Castle is arrested for assault.  Tyson even wants to press charges.

Book Review: Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford (Amish Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and a well-crafted mystery
Cons: Pacing of mystery could be better; a handful of writing miscues.  Both are very minor issues.
The Bottom Line:
Complex characters
Draw you into this debut
Where pages will fly

Conflict and Murder

A few years ago, I was reading some Christian fiction in addition to my cozies, but as more and more of the focus in the Christian fiction market turned to Amish set stories, I stopped paying attention to what was being published.  As a result, I shunned Hearse and Buggy when it came out even though it was a mainstream cozy mystery.  Really, I wasn’t that interested in reading about the Amish.  But the praise I heard for the third in the series last year made me decide I had to give it a try.  All that praise was well earned and I now have a new series I must keep reading.

When Claire Weatherly’s marriage fell apart, she needed a safe place to get away, and her aunt’s invitation to visit the inn she runs in Heavenly, Pennsylvania, deep in the heart of Amish country, seemed perfect.  Claire quickly found a home there and has even opened up a shop that sells items that her new Amish friends make.

However, Claire’s new friends are threatened when the body of a man is found in the ally by her shop one day.  The victim is Walter Snow, the former owner of Claire’s shop, who left town after people realized he was cheating the Amish out of money.  Obviously, those he stole from would be logical suspects, and Claire knows several of them.  Complicating matters further, Jakob, the new detective in town, left this very Amish community to become a detective, and his home coming has not been pleasant since he is shunned by the community.  Can Claire help the investigation along to find the killer?

Characters in the best series grow over time.  I can like them right off the bat, but sometimes, it is two or three books before I feel like I truly know them.  That wasn’t the case here at all.  Oh, there is definitely room for them to grow as people, but these are real people already.  I feel like I know them and my heart was breaking for them at several points in the book.  These are now friends I must visit again soon.

It is the strong characters that propel the plot forward early on in the book.  The author has a background in romance writing, and the romantic sub-plots are stronger than in some series I read.  There are also conflicts in addition to the murder, and they take over much of the early portion of the book so there isn’t as much advancement on the mystery as I would have liked, even though the body of the victim is found early on.

Now, normally, that last paragraph would be cause for me to take off a star, and I thought about it.  But in the end, I just couldn’t.  Even though the murder takes a back seat at times near the beginning, there is so much compelling conflict that I was constantly turning the pages and never wanted to put the book down.  As the mystery takes more of the center stage, it is extremely well plotted and the solution is logical with several well planted clues, yet it was surprising at the same time.

I did feel the author told us things instead of showing them to us, especially near the beginning as we were learning background on the main characters.  The story is told in the third person, and a few times the author gives us several lines of dialogue in a row and then throws in a “she” to help us remember who is saying what.  Unfortunately, there were two women in those scenes, so it doesn’t help as much as I would like.  Again, these are very, very minor issues that seemed to smooth out as the book progressed and are worth noting only in passing.

I read for pleasure, so I tend to stay away from books and series that don’t really interest me.  However, every so often it is good to reevaluate, especially when you start hearing praise for a certain series or author.  I’m glad I gave Laura Bradford and Hearse and Buggy a chance because I am now hooked on this series.  I will be making time to find out what happens next to these characters very soon.

If you get hooked like me, here are the rest of the Amish Mysteries in order.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ornament Review: Mickey's Fire Brigade - Mickey's Movie Mousterpieces #3 - 2014 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good pose from a fun Mickey Mouse short
Cons: Can’t stand up on its own
The Bottom Line:
Rush to put fire out
Great short and fun ornament
Hangs great on your tree

The Third Mickey’s Mousterpieces is One Hot Ornament

I know I have seen all of the Mickey Mouse shorts.  I bought the Walt Disney Treasures collections and have watched all of them.  However, that doesn’t mean I really remember them all, so I am taking the ornaments from Hallmark’s Mickey’s Movie Mousterpieces series and rewatching each year’s short.  I’m finding that a fun way to rediscover some great animation, and that certainly was the case with Mickey's Fire Brigade.

The featured short is from 1935 and features Mickey, Donald, and Goofy rushing to the scene of a four alarm fire.  As they attempt to go about fighting the fire, they run into problems from wild fire hoses and a fire that fights back – literally.  It closes the windows and chases after them.  And then they discover Clarabelle Cow up in the bathroom oblivious to the danger she is in.  The creativity and humor of the short is wonderful.

But I’m not here to review the short.  Instead, I’m here to review the ornament inspired by it.  It features Mickey holding a fire hose all ready to fight the fire.  He’s dressed in his traditional red shorts and yellow shoes with a red fire hat on his head.  There’s the number 1 on his hat (and he was the only character in the short to have a number on his hat).  He’s holding the brownish-green colored fire hose with both hands and he’s smiling.  Little does he know what is about to happen.

The smile doesn’t quite match the scene from the short, but the rest of it is spot on.  The colors are perfect, too.  I love this series because it gives me a chance to collect something that represents these usually overlooked shorts, and this really is a great short.  Yes, the DisNerd in me completely approves.

Looking at the ornament, you’d expect that Mickey could stand on his own two feet.  Sadly, that is not the case at all.  They are actually at such an angle that they don’t both touch at the same time.  Further complicating things is the hose which actually sticks down below his feet.  Instead of the three points of contact you would expect from a quick glance, you have only one, and it’s pushing Mickey forward.  Then again, considering the craziness of the short, maybe that is appropriate.

However, you can hang this ornament without worry because it is perfectly balanced.  The loop is actually at the front of Mickey’s hat just above the 1.  It doesn’t look like it would balance, but it truly looks great when hung.

On the bottom of one of Mickey’s feet, you’ll find the copyright information and the 3 in a Christmas tree series marker.  On the other one, you’ll find the name of the short and the year it first came out.  Even though I store my ornaments in their boxes (I’ve got to figure something else out since it takes up too much room), I still love that added DisNerd touch on each ornament in the series.

It’s a shame you can’t stand this ornament since it really could be displayed year round.  However, it is still plenty of fun and a great reminder of the entertaining short Mickey's Fire Brigade.

Check out the rest of the Mickey's Movie Mousterpieces series.

Original Price: $12.95

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Review: Story Thieves by James Riley (Story Thieves #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun story, characters, and humor around a great premise
Cons: The story within the story a little weak
The Bottom Line:
Jump into story
Literally with Owen
And Bethany here

Don’t Steal This Story.  Just Jump In!

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.  (Shocking, right?)  And as a kid, I would dream of jumping into a book and meeting my favorite characters.  As soon as I heard the premise behind James Riley’s new series, I knew I wasn’t alone because the characters in Story Thieves get to do just that.

Real life is boring.  That’s what Owen has decided, and he much prefers to live in the world of his favorite books, at least in his day dreams.  And then he meets Bethany when he finds her crawling out of a book.  Wait, what?  Turns out she is half fictional and can jump into books.  She’s spent years looking for her father, who disappeared into a book, and works very hard to stay out of the stories so no one learns about her abilities.

But Owen has a plan.  He wants to trick Bethany into jumping them into the climax of the sixth Kiel Gnomenfoot book, just in time to alter the cliffhanger, meet Kiel himself, and become a hero to the series legion of fans the world over.  What could possibly go wrong?  Turns out plenty, and as things spiral out of control, will Owen and Bethany be able to return things to normal?

Now obviously the book we spend most of the time in is completely made up.  And yet, there are many references to the books I loved as a kid and even some of the newer ones I’ve come to love as an adult.  These mentions made the book geek in me smile.

Honestly, the fictional series that features in this book is the weakest part of this book.  However, that’s not the point of our story.  A couple of minor things with it just didn’t seem to quite work for me, but it’s a very minor thing that is only worth noting in passing.

This is a very fast paced story.  Owen and Bethany actually spend much of the book apart, and we follow them in mostly alternating chapters.  In classic fashion, each chapter ends in a cliffhanger, making it even harder to book the book down.  And, while I wasn’t a super big fan of that story within a story, I loved the main story with Owen and Bethany as the stars.  The way things came together for a climax was great as well.

Speaking of Owen and Bethany, I really liked them as main characters.  They grow in some great ways and were just fun to be around.  It helped that they were surrounded by a crazy assortment of characters.  And yes, this includes the characters from the Kiel Gnomefoot story.

Plus there’s the humor.  I was smiling from the very first page and often had to laugh at the situations the characters got themselves into or the conversations they had along the way.  There are great moments that readers will especially appreciate.  That fun just made it all the more enjoyable to read.

Even though most of the book takes place around a made up book series, I still have to admit that part of me is jealous of Owen and Bethany’s ability to meet their favorite characters.  There was definitely some wish fulfillment in my love of this book even as things just go from bad to worse for the characters.

So whether you are a kid or a former kid who used to fantasize about meeting your favorite characters, I highly recommend Story Thieves.  This is a fun series debut that will leave you anxious for the further story jumping adventures of Bethany and Owen.

You'll want to jump into the rest of the Story Thieves series in order.

This review is part of the President's Day edition of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Edition of the Weekly TV Recap

Happy Valentine's Day!  I guess you could say I'm featuring my love of TV on my blog today, right?

In all seriously, you will notice one show missing.  I said last week that I would give Fresh Off the Boat at least one more shot.  I couldn't do it.  I made it half way through the first episode Tuesday night and took it off the DVR.  Just not my sense of humor, I guess.

But here is what I watched and loved this week.

Castle – I knew who the big guest stars were for the episode, so I wasn’t that surprised by the set up.  But man, I could not look away from the screen.  It was a captivating hour, and I can’t wait to see how they recover from the cliffhanger.  And yes, I have a full recap here.

The Flash – I’d been hearing that time travel turned out to be one of Barry’s powers, so I suspected whose blood we’d find on the wall.  Still, an interesting twist, and one I can’t wait to see how they deal with.  I’d forgotten that Victor Garber was going to be on the show, and it was fun to see him.  But seriously, can we get beyond the cliché of the superhero having to cut dates short because of a crisis?  Thank you.

Agent Carter – I think I’m more interested in seeing the next episode where she has to try to talk her way out of the mess she’s in now.  Still, this was a good episode as Carter once again got to show the men who is boss.  I do love strong female characters (just look at the books I read).

Arrow – The drug induced scenes with Sara were okay and fairly predictable, as was Laurel’s story arc for the episode overall.  However, that final scene?  It almost had me crying as hard as Laurel and her dad were.

Melissa & Joey – With the cancelation announcement that came out this week (the show is ending this summer), I was also happy to learn that Ryder has a lesser part of the show since he’s been getting parts in movies.  Good for him.  It was fun to see Valerie Harper, aka Rhoda, on the show, too.

Baby Daddy – Somehow, I did not see that ending coming with both the guys being jerks.  Very funny stuff, however, and the scenes with the brothers playing video games were pretty good as well.

Suits – Seriously, can they cut back on the swearing?  It is really, really getting annoying.  And I thought that Harvey and Louis got along better than this near the beginning of the series.  I mean, Louis did ask Harvey to be the best man at his wedding not that long ago.  Still, I’m glad they appear to have worked through their issues and I hope for some conflict of a different kind for the last few episodes of the season.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting main character and setting
Cons: Pacing of story, especially in the beginning; Flavia acts her age at times
The Bottom Line:
Unusual sleuth
In story that fits her well
And a good debut

Sweet Mystery Debut for Flavia de Luce

I have been hearing raves about the Flavia de Luce series ever since the first book came out, yet I never had managed to read a book in the series.  So many books, so little time, right?  But all the talk from fans as the latest book hit the shelves made me look up the series on audio.  Sure enough, my library had it, so I checked out The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  While I didn’t love it as much as I thought I might, I certainly did enjoy it.

Life for 11-year-old Flavia de Luce is fairly easy in 1950 England.  True, she doesn’t get along with her two older sisters, but she gives as good as she gets from them, usually thanks to her passion for chemistry.

Then one June day, their housekeeper finds a dead jacksnipe on their doorstep complete with an old stamp on his beak.  That first upsets her father, who goes into his study to be alone.  However, Flavia wakes up in the middle of the night and heads to the garden to find a stranger dying in the cucumber patch.  As these two events connected?  What might they mean?

I’m wondering if part of my reaction to the book was the universal praise I usually hear for the series.  Were my expectations too high?  Possibly.  Again, it’s not that I didn’t like it, but I didn’t think it was quite as charming as others have said.

Let’s start with Flavia.  She’s a typical 11-year-old, which meant at times I loved her and at times I was very irritated with her.  She is certainly smart, but she’s also a little arrogant.  While I really didn’t like her sisters much at all, the way she treated them at times was pretty mean, too.  In the end, I did enjoy her.  Most of the characters are entertaining as well, and felt real to me.

The plot is actually fairly solid.  The pacing could have been better, and it is Flavia’s first person asides that often slowed it down.  However, her reasons for getting involved in a murder and the way she gathers and pieces together the clues is very realistic.  The twists and turns along the way were good, and the climax was wonderful.

To expand on the first person narration, it at times provides some charm and at others tends to drag on.  This is especially true early on as Flavia tells us about her passion for chemistry.  Hopefully, that will be smoothed out in future books since we already know about it now.

The narration by Jayne Entwistle for the audio version was truly wonderful.  Her voice perfectly captures that of an 11-year-old girl and the highs and lows of the story.  At times, her enthusiasm seemed a bit over the top, but for the most part her reactions usually fit the mood of the story.  There was certainly no over acting that got in the way of the story on her part.

While I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I might be, I really did enjoy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  I will be adding Flavia’s further adventures to my audio book rotation in the months to come.

And if you need more, here are the Flavia de Luce mysteries in order.

February 13th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

I'm breaking a bit with tradition for this week's Book Beginnings and Friday 56.  Normally, I use whatever book I am reading.  And I'm reading a book I'm really enjoying.  However, I just have to go with Story Thieves by James Riley, a book I finished on Tuesday, for the memes this week.

This is a middle grade fantasy novel about a girl, Bethany, who can jump into books, and the trouble she gets into when a boy, Owen, learns her secret.  It's perfect for book lovers because, while most of the book revolves around a made up series of novels, there are so many references to books I've read and loved I couldn't help but smile.

But that's actually not why I couldn't resist using this book this week.  You see, the quotes I'm going to pull as just so great I couldn't resist.

For example, here's how the book begins:

Owen wanted to scream at the horror before him.  But the sound wouldn't come and the nightmare only continued, forcing Owen to ask himself, deep down, one question:
"Can anyone tell me what three-fourths times two-thirds is?"
Mr. Barberry stood at the board at the front of Owen's classroom, his arms folded, waiting for a hand to raise.
No, not that question.  The real question was this: Was there anything in the world that could possibly be more boring than fractions?

Yep,  I was grinning when I read that, and I thought about sharing it on Friday.  But the deal clincher was when I ran across this gem from page 56:

"Hello?" Dr. Verity shouted, glowing with the light of his force fields and from the large green ray gun in his hand.  "Sebastian?  I rang the bell upstairs, but you must not have heard me, so I destroyed most of your tower instead."

Want to know more?  Pick up the book or come back on Sunday for my full review.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

TV Show Review: Boy Meet World - Season 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of laughs and love as the show beings
Cons: Continuity errors to come (but they are still minor even then)
The Bottom Line:
Growing up sitcom
That is still funny, charming
Great family fun

“Confused, Mr. Matthews?”  “Yes.”  “As It Should Be.”

I didn’t start watching Boy Meets World until season 5.  I enjoyed it, but I never went back to watch the earlier episodes I had missed, and I wasn’t going to buy the DVD’s.  No, really, I wasn’t.  All that changed when I started watching Girl Meets World (which, if you haven’t started watching, you must do immediately).  I gave in after Thanksgiving and bought the DVD’s, so I’ve finally gone back to watch season 1 of Boy Meets World.  I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

The Boy of the title is Cory Matthews (Ben Savage).  He’s in sixth grade and lives next door to his teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels).  His life is surrounded by family and friends, including his parents Alan and Amy (William Russ and Betsy Randle), older brother Eric (Will Friedle), and younger sister Morgan (Lily Nicksay).  At school, there’s his best friend Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) and the geeky know it all jerk Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris).  And, while not a regular cast member yet, there’s also the strange New Age girl who often sits in front of Cory, Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel).

If that reads like the set up for many a sitcom, that’s because it is the set up for many a sitcom.  But that’s because this set up works.  And, as I am fond of saying, it’s not the set up or even the outcome that makes or breaks something, it’s how much fun you have along the way.  Over the course of this season, Cory finds out that it can be costly to earn money, he cheats on an intelligence test, takes on teaching his class for a week, and hides Shawn from Shawn’s parents over some petty vandalism.  Also on tap this season, the class puts on a production of Hamlet; Minkus, Topanga, Cory, and Shawn have to be a family for a class project; and Eric and Cory try to get out of a father/son baseball game.  Oh, and there’s the episode where Eric and Cory think that Amy might be cheating on Alan.

And that last episode might just be my favorite in the season.  The laughs are strong and hilarious.  Frankly, that’s the case with most of the episodes here.  I found myself laughing multiple times in all of them, yet they often come together for some well-earned tender moments as well.  Furthermore, the adults are much more intelligent than the kids give them credit for being.  This may be the first season, but most of the characters are already fairly strong.

Now, let’s be honest.  This is a show aimed at families from the 1990’s (these episode ran from 1993-1994).  This will appeal most to those with fond memories of the show or people like me who still enjoy humor aimed at a broad audience.  Even when I started watching its final few seasons in its original run, I was older than the target audience, but that didn’t stop me then, and I’m not letting it stop me now.  My only criteria for liking a show is if I laugh and enjoy myself, and that certainly happens here.

I had heard that the characters did really change as the series went along, and I certainly noticed plenty of things that didn’t fit with the characters I knew from the later seasons.  Cory is pretty sane and normal here (although he can still overreact to things), and it is Topanga who is out there.  She’s a stereotypical new age character, but they do draw plenty of laughs from her.  Eric is another character who changed a lot. He’s fairly girl crazy here (okay, that didn’t necessarily change), but again he’s much smarter and saner than he would be later.  And I’m curious how Shawn’s life changes as the series goes along because his family isn’t presented much like it turned out to be later on.  Heck, even Mr. Feeny doesn’t seem to care for the characters quite as much as he does in later seasons, although that is obviously changing by the final episode.

But all that is worth noting mainly in passing.  Why?  Because the show is fun and funny.  I think I might have mentioned that already, right?

The actors have jumped right in and made their characters come to life.  They inhabit these characters perfectly and make us laugh in every episode.

The first season consisted of 22 episodes, and they are all presented here in full screen and stereo, which is how they originally aired.  The extras consist of three audio commentaries features creator Michael Jacobs and stars Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, and Will Friedle.  These commentaries are equal parts funny and informative as they reminisce about their time on the show, tell a few behind the scenes stories, and lovingly mock continuity errors and the styles they are wearing.  (It was 1993, after all.)  You can tell everyone loved working together and are having fun hanging out again.  Heck, Matthew Lawrence, whose character didn’t show up until the era where I started watching the show, pops by for a commentary.  Finally, there’s a bonus episode from season 4, “Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow,” with another optional commentary featuring the entire gang (including Matthew Lawrence).

Season 1 of Boy Meets World is a funny family sitcom the entire family can watch together.  And since that’s exactly what it set out to be, I’d say it succeeds perfectly.  If you’re looking to relax and laugh, this set is definitely for you.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. On the Fence
3. Father Knows Less
4. Cory’s Alternative Friends
5. Killer Bees
6. Boys II Mensa
7. Grandma Was a Rolling Stone
8. Teacher’s Bet
9. Class Pre-Union
10. Santa’s Little Helper
11. The Father/Son Game
12. Once in Love with Amy
13. She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
14. The B-Team of Life
15. Model Family
16. Risky Business
17. The Fugitive
18. It’s a Wonderful Night
19. Kid Gloves
20. The Play’s the Thing
21. Boy Meets Girl
22. I Dream of Feeny

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ornament Review: 1932 - Flowers and Trees - Moments That Made Disney #3 - 2014 Disney Store Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lovingly captures a lesser known Disney milestone
Cons: Tips forward when hung
The Bottom Line:
This historic short
In ornament for DisNerds
Great collectible

Colorful Addition to Your Ornament Collection

While most of Disney’s animated shorts are well known, his Silly Symphony shorts seem to have been forgotten by all but the biggest Disney fans.  This series of unrelated pieces from the 1920’s and 1930’s allowed for lots of experimentation that helped break ground in the then new field of animation.  And it was one of those shorts that became the first color animated short.  Naturally, the Disney Store picked that short as part of their Moments that Made Disney ornament series, and Flowers and Trees is a real winner.

The short itself is typical of much of the Silly Symphony series.  It features lots of music and little dialogue as we watch various plants interacting to the music.  It’s fun, but not especially memorable outside of its place in history.

And yet, I was thrilled to get this ornament.  Why?  It’s the DisNerd in me.  Since this short isn’t popular today, we rarely get any merchandise related to it.  Yet it forms a big milestone in Disney’s history.  So a limited edition series like this is perfect, right?

The ornament itself looks great as well.  It focuses on two trees.  One is kneeling with one of his branches/arms extended.   The second tree is looking at him with a small smile on her face.  Of course, that expression is buried under all her hair, I mean leaves.  This female tree also have a bird in her leaves and some butterflies sitting on her trunk.  It’s a cute moment in the short, and it’s just as cute here.  Finishing off the ornament, there is grass on the circular base, and there are flowers on the edges of the base.

But what really makes this ornament special is the same thing that makes the short special – the color.  It is rich in greens, browns, and yellows that really bring it to life.  I can’t help grinning as I look at it.  It’s that special.

Because of that circular base I mentioned, you could really make this part of a display year round.  It would fit in perfectly with any display of Disney memorabilia.

However, if you want to hang it, you’ll find a red ribbon coming out of a loop.  That’s right, it’s all ready to hang on your tree.  Unfortunately, it does tip backward when you hang it, but that’s the only flaw.  And actually, that makes it a little easier to see the female tree’s face, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This ornament and the others in the series are slightly heavier than your typical ornament, so you’ll want to make sure that it is hanging from a sturdy branch.

Like the others in this series, the limited number of pieces sold out quickly, proving there are a lot of Disney fanatics like me out there happy to have something to represent this milestone in Disney animation.  If you missed it, I suggest you track down Flowers and Trees as quickly as possible.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Moments that Made Disney series.

Original Price: $19.95