October 1st, 2016


Television Critique 2016 – 06/04/2016: Hallmark Channel Murder Mystery Series

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Worth watching these made-to-TV movies - some easy and some hard to chew candies.

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel has five mystery movies in the form of series - Aurora Teagarden Mystery Movies, Garage Sale Mystery Movies, Murder She Baked Movies, Flower Shop Mystery Movies and Gourmet Detective Mystery Movies. Originally started with Garage Sale Mystery Movies, gradually Hallmark added the remaining three to the package of the mystery movies releasing the new ones together. The Gorumet Detective Mystery Movies released along with these but less frequent that the rest. So for the sake of this discussion I will remove that movie from my post. All these movies are based on books written by real authors. :)

In the month of June, Hallmark came up with four new movies in the series (barring Gourmet Detective Mystery Movies) with leading actresses being the sleuths. I always look forward to these movies but I am partial to some compared to the other.

Here is the order and why of it.

Garage Sale Mystery Movies:

The series stars Lori Loughlin as Jennifer Shannon who owns an antique shop called Rags to Riches. With her keen observation skills and penchant to not let go of a quest, she stumbles upon key evidences and clues in solving several murders in her town. The movies are based on two-part book series by author Suzi Weinert: Garage Sale Stalker and Garage Sale Diamonds.

I like this series the most because - first, its Lori Loughlin and who doesn’t love her since the days of Full House (albeit I saw them mostly as reruns after coming to US). Second, the plots revolve around garage sales, antiques and estate sales which is my favorite activity to do. Third, the rest of the characters simply blend in making it a very beautiful tapestry.

Flower Shop Mystery Movies:

This series stars Brooke Shields as Abby Knight an ex-lawyer who owns a flower shop after being widowed and left with a daughter and nothing to do on hands. The movies are based on books of the same name written by Kate Collins. These movies didn’t come into the package of series for Hallmark until 2016. Yet, I rank them second purely because of the theme involving flowers and Brooke Shields of course.

Although I hadnt watched many of her movies, but I admired her in whatever few she acted in. She always made me wonder how the heck she looked ageless. She and the myriad of actors in this movie series tell a well made murder mystery just like one of Abby's flower arrangement.

Aurora Teagarden Mystery Movies:

This series stars Candace Cameron Burre as Aurora Teagarden who is a professional librarian and belongs to a Real Murders club. With her inquisitive nature, her ability to see clues that regular investigators miss and her profession as a librarian giving power to research, she constantly meddles in a case and inadvertently solves it much to the frustration of the local cops. The movies are based on books written by Charlaine Harris who had written a series of eight crime novels between 1990 and 2003 centering on Aurora Teagarden.

I was hesitant to watch this series in the beginning because of Candace Cameron Burre. Yes, she is also from Full House that I admired a lot watching, but for some reason Candace was never my favorite. Perhaps her permanent frown or scrunch look that she portrays all the time, could be a turn-off to me. All her method of delivering the dialogue  - almost comes out as a shriek most times - also didn’t help in anyway for me to like her. However the plots in the movies and the character she portrayed made me consider her series as well. But, please can someone tell her that she doesn’t have to frown or scrunch her upper face all the time.

Murder She Baked Movies:

This series stars Alison Sweeney as Hannah Swenson who is a small-town baker and always getting tangled with a murder and cops. With her ability to find clues in food and baking, she becomes a valuable asset to Mike Kingston - a cop who moved into this small town after a personal tragedy - despite his reluctance. These movies are based on cozy mystery novels written by Joanne Fluke with 23 books under her belt just for this series.

In the beginning I liked these movies, but as the series progressed, it put me in a lot of confusion about the Hannah Swenson. So far four movies have been released and she still hasn’t decided if she like the cop Mike Kingston better or Norman Rhodes - the dentist. She seems very indecisive. I always like a closure for any chapter or event. When that doesn’t happen I lose interest. That is what is happening with this movie series slowly. Will have to wait and see if in the movies she decides sooner than in her books - which I am told that after 23 books she hasn’t settled on Mike or Norman and still is dangling them along. Verdict on this series is still out until a few more movies and then will decide.

All in all four good movie series to watch out for and enjoy.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) I have not read any of the books all these movies were made of. Something for future reads I should remember.

Book Critique 2016 – 06/05/2016: Angels' Dance (#0.4)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books in the Guild Hunter series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, archangels, angels and humans.

Angels' Dance is the last novella in the Guild Hunter Series written by Nalini Singh so far. It is published in the anthology Angels' Flight in February of 2012 and also was released as an e-book. The plot shows the love affair between Galen - Raphael's Weapons Master and approx 700 yrs old Angel - and Jessamy - over 3000 years old Angel with a broken wing and a Scholar and Teacher at The Refuge.

The stories in this series are set in a world where it is ruled by Archangels with Vampires, Angels and Humans with extra-ordinary powers as their team serving them. The Cadre that is the council of Archangels seats 10 powerful archangels who share the world in ten different continents and rule them, hold sway over the immortals and mortals alike. Archangels are immortals who have lived thousands and thousands of centuries. Angels are born or made but have lived centuries. Vampires are almost-immortals and are Made mostly and some have lived as long as the Archangels. They serve the Archangels and have contracts with their angelic masters that they have to live by. They use humans as cattle for feeding on blood. Guild Hunters are humans with special powers who are tasked to capture Vampires who have gone rogue. They have psychic and physical powers which are extra-ordinaire. The plots primarily revolve around Archangel Raphael, his consort - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

The plot is set 400 years ago, approx a century after Archangel Raphael - ruling North America from New York - becomes Cadre. Raphael is expanding his core team with trusted and able people picked from other Archangel's courts or from elsewhere. Galen sets to The Refuge to give his loyalty to Raphael. He had been the second-in command to the weapons master at Archangel Titus's court - Titus ruled the region of South Africa. In his first test against Dmitri, he captures quite an audience at The Refuge. But the Scholar and Teacher of The Refuge - Jessamy - captures his attention. All along going through different tests to get the weapons master position in Raphael's Guard, he pursues Jessamy and courts her.

Jessamy - with a broken wing and unable to fly - had confined her life to The Refuge, teaching the angels and archiving the angels' history - had never considered for her heart, body , soul and mind to react so vigorously towards someone - a someone who is much much younger to her. She had never been with anyone before. But that was not the reason for her to hesitate in her reciprocation - she feared her inability to fly will ground Galen as well or she have to let him go if he has to go to higher levels; both would cause her pain unbearable. Yet Galen pursues her insistently. In the meanwhile someone is trying to kill Jessamy - already a murder attempt done - as she seems to know too much.

Who is trying to kill Jessamy? What is it that she knows? What is the new war that Raphael is facing? Will Jessamy give-in to her fears? Or accept Galen? Will Galen stay if Jessamy doesn’t accept him as what he wants her to? Will Galen give his loyalty to Raphael and stay despite the situation with Jessamy?

Nalini Singh has expertly spun a tale set centuries ago giving the readers a view of the world that never been seen before, giving them a taste of the life the people let then. But what left me miffed was that no matter how much Galen pursued her, Jessamy was stubborn to accept him as what he wants her to and even ventured to explore other options - now that everyone knew that she was open to the idea of courtship - even though Galen had given her permission to reluctantly. Despite that it was fun to read the beginnings of a different world and learn how they were made. And the love affair between Jessamy and Galen is so sweet that it hurts with pain and love. An absolute read - short, sweet and touching a chord in you somewhere.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) We get to see Aodhan and Illium in their earlier stages. So do we get glimpses of Dmitri and Jason. Along with pieces of their past that get further illuminated in the main books.
2) Michaela is yet to become an Archangel - but is growing into one, at present a powerful angel in this.
3) Archangel Alexander is introduced in this book. He rules the region of Persia.