Short Film: Morning After (2017)

Morning After (2017)

Morning After

Director: Patricia Chica

Cast: Thomas Vallieres, Kristian Hodko, Jordana Lajoie, Joey Scarpellino, Zoe De Grand Maison

Michael is faced with a dilemma, when a night of drinking with friends, turns into a sensual exploration of sexual identity. – IMDB

Morning After is the prequel for a full length feature film that is currently in the works. In the fifteen minutes runtime of Morning After, there is so much to love. The shots are framed well and being from the beautiful city of Montreal, it makes for a great setting for the story it wants to tell as well. As for the story, Morning After aims to tell one that evolves into a sexual fluidity and have the freedom from having labels. Its quite an accomplishment to achieve that simply from a short film but this short film does it very well especially when centering around a friendly gathering that takes a turn for a much more sensual and eye-opening experience.

Morning After

I love watching films that explore these open-minded relationships. There is something about watching someone grow from learning/embrace their nature and their sexuality that is very intriguing. The best example is Spanish romance drama, The Sex of the Angels (review here) which takes a similar approach to the characters embracing or accepting a functional relationship with more than two people. We watch films to not only entertain but broaden our views of the world around us and films that break away from the norm offer unique feelings and angles to the traditional romance.

With that said, Morning After is a short film that carries its message very well. Other than some awkward monologues, the film itself shows off a liberating feeling. Perhaps a little simple in the sense of just friends talking and then it starts raining and they all dance in the rain but standing in the rain is a cooling experience and one that works well when people enjoy nature. An example from Morning After of how it does a truly liberating feeling. Its a journey for the main character here in this short film to acknowledge this new view and mindset. It will be interesting to see what the full feature will offer and the story they choose to tell.

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The Colours Blogathon: Blue Jay (2016)

The Colours Blogathon

This is an entry for The Colours Blogathon hosted by Thoughts All Sorts.

Interesting that that original plan fell through with White Oleander as the DVD has vanished somewhere in my house. It will pop up when I don’t need it. Going back, looking at my too long Netflix to watch list, it felt right to finally give Blue Jay a watch, a 2016 indie romantic drama.

Blue Jay (2016)

Blue Jay

Director: Alex Lehmann

Cast: Mark Duplass (writer), Sarah Paulson, Clu Gulager

Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past. – IMDB

Blue Jay is truly a unique experience. The way its presented is solely in black and white however it quickly becomes not so noticeable when the focus on the two characters, Jim and Amanda are so deep. Jim and Amanda both have returned to town and we quickly see the high school sweethearts go from the awkward meeting to revisiting their memories and from there the chemistry is feels incredibly authentic and we can’t help be wonder what split them apart. The film does answer that as well by the end. The film’s black and white doesn’t only focus on them but in between scenes will also switch over to the small town scenery: empty streets serene nature and the likes. This is a nice way to approach a transition as it takes us into simple natural beauty and lets us see the town and everything around them. They regard it once as a “shithole” when in fact it doesn’t quite seem that way.

Blue Jay

As aesthetically pleasing as Blue Jay is made, the true gem here is the telling of the story between Jim and Amanda. We see them find the pieces of their young romance over 20 years ago. The awkward and weird parts when they were very different than now. There is something very believable about Jim and Amanda’s relationship. Perhaps its their awkward re-encounter of a first love, possibly the first true love that many say is unforgettable and will always influence us. The script takes a careful step to learn about them between their nostalgia and getting into deeper conversation of how both Jim and Amanda’s current life dilemmas are. However, there is an undeniable chemistry between them that is so real to watch come to life that it sucks us into their story, wondering why this beautiful couple split up. It is obvious that even they envisioned themselves together till they were old, making this relationship very much different from a high school fling but something made of true love and possibly the rare high school sweetheart stories that make it. The script also treads carefully to find the perfect moment to reveal the pain that has broken them apart.

Blue Jay

Overall, Blue Jay is a rare gem in the romantic drama genre. It also happens to be a favorite setting of mine to be set in a one night period and very character-based. The black and white adds to the aesthetic and appeal of the film as well as the tone. It helps with the nostalgia that these two characters carry for their relationship. At the same time, these characters are deep and carry many layers. Blue Jay captures young love, memories, chemistry and loss so well and in a believable way. There are laughs and thought-provoking and emotional moments. Its definitely a must-see!

Thanks to Thoughts All Sorts for hosting this fantastic blogathon so that I could discover this wonderful movie!
Find more entries for this blogathon here!

Book Tour: The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal

The Last Dragon Rider
By: Errin Krystal

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Romance
Release Date: August 9, 2017

Synopsis 

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal. When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers. The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived? – Goodreads

Review

The Last Dragon Rider is a pretty good fantasy adventure novella. One of the best parts is the world it creates. This elven world and the kingdom along with its characters and their relationships are fun to be involved in. There is a language specific to it even and that is very creative. It feels a little like reading a much lighter and easier read of something along the veins of Lord of the Rings. Being someone who had a hard time getting through that trilogy, Errin Krystal uses a very easy but still refined style of writing. That helps make it a charming read. Each of the characters are also developed well especially within a novella since it has a shorter length to let us understand each of the characters.

However, the romance of this novel is where it falls short a little. Perhaps, it has to do with my aversion to books that like to use unnecessary sex scenes and there is a few here. In my opinion, they didn’t need to be there mostly because it diminishes the charm of the book. The romance was perfectly portrayed before these scenes. It was very apparent already with her elegant words that the couple was in deeply in love whereas these scenes actually made me less involved into their romance.

The Last Dragon Rider however does do many things right. It has a decent amount of relationship building, decent conversation exchange and a good amount of action. Its words are very vibrant to make the scenes visualize. Only little details like the aboved sex scenes bit that make this novella fall short a little. This is the first book of a series and it manages to keep itself rather self-contained as well.

Goodreads rating: 3/5

About the Author

Errin Krystal

Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen. She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

Giveaway Details

5 digital copies of the book (Giveaway runs from July 31st to Aug. 9th)

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f16/?

Links

Website

Facebook

 Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Blog

Cover Reveal: The Last Dragon Rider

Reads & Reels Book Tours

Hosted by R&R Book Tours, today I joined in to share a cover reveal for an upcoming book release called The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal. This upcoming book is all about fantasy, adventure and romance.

Without further ado, here it is!!

THE LAST DRAGON RIDER
By: Errin Krystal

The Last Dragon Rider

Synopsis

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

Excerpt

She began wrapping the cloth tightly about her, binding her breasts firmly, criss-crossing the gauzy fabric around her torso and across her stomach, tying it off at her hip. She shimmied into a pair of leather leggings and reached for her foot wraps. To other races—like the dwarves and humans—the elves lack of footwear was strange. The elven people had strong ties to the lands, their magic and mystique were inexplicably linked. Even those who did not practice magic felt the connection to nature, and the elven people had maintained the practice throughout their long history.

After binding her feet and leaving only her toes exposed, she tossed an olive green tunic over her head before quickly weaving her tresses into a thick braid.

Sivath was waiting, and Flintathriël was late. Again.

She was reaching for her leather jerkin when he finally appeared in her doorway.

Arms akimbo, he slouched against the frame, all lean muscle and sharp angles beneath his leathers. Silver-white hair fell across his forehead, hiding the dark arches of his brows as he gazed at her with silvery blue eyes. The mop of hair barely touching his shoulders. His coloring typical of the royal family.

Her gaze traced his tattoos. Sweeping vines encompassed runic symbols, curling downward from his bottom lip, winding and weaving their way down his chin and neck. She knew every line that twisted and spread across his shoulders, and across his back. Etchings that disappeared beneath his tunic and reappeared along his arms. She still remembered the day he received the markings, branding him Nuvian. The day she first gave herself to him, the day she truly became his.

Author Bio

Errin Krystal

Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

Links

Website: http://errinkrystal.weebly.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ErrinKrystal/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErrinKrystal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/errin.krystal.bookishwriter/?hl=en
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16828644.Errin_Krystal
Blog: https://errinkrystal.wordpress.com/

TV Binge: Refresh Man (2016)

Man, its been a month since our last TV Binge. I can assure you that I’ve been watching a ton of TV series and just having a lot of fun in general. TV Binge posts are fun but sometimes its hard to share a lot of it. The reason why this one took so long is really on post scheduling issues since there’s been a ton of other things to get in and I don’t want to just be writing about movies or TV every single day. I’ve already expressed myself about this issue before and that hasn’t changed. However, I never give up a chance to talk about Taiwanese TV series, because no matter how generic they are, there are some that just are absolutely incredible and 2016’s Refresh Man is. In fact, I said it already before also in another post but I’m currently slowly watching it a second time. That’s how much I love it.

Refresh Man (2016)

refresh man

Cast: Aaron Yan, Joanne Tseng, Lene Lai, Yun-Ching Li, Roy Chang, Cherry Hsia, Jenny Chen-Ni Huang, Sara Yu, J.R. Chien

In high school Zhong Yu Tang was the overachiever with a bright future ahead of her while Ji Wen Kai was the underachiever. Ten years later the tables have turned when he becomes the new CEO of the cosmetic company Yu Tang works for. – IMDB

It is a little sad that Taiwanese television dramas have not caught on as much as other foreign shows like Korean dramas for example. I’m personally a huge fan of Taiwanese series because they are a little formulaic at times but they also have a lot of creativity and the best ones create a good balance between romance, drama and comedy. Its a shame that I’ve fallen out of it for a while but at the same time, coming back to it these past two years have really opened up my eyes to how well the shows are. There is still a big issue with the industry and one of the actors here have brought it up but I’m going to avoid diving into that issue but focusing on how great this show is because of its colorful cast, well-timed comedic moments and general fun moments.

Refresh man

What I love about this series:

  • Wen-kai Ji (played by Aaron Yan): Aaron Yan is possibly my favorite part of this series. He is so expressive with his motions and reactions. His dialogue was done so well and his chemistry with Joanne Tseng who plays Yu-Tang Zhong is so awesome. Not to mention, he came back based on a promise that he’ll take care of her and the way he is doing that is by pushing her to be better.
  • Yu-Tang Zhong (played by Joanne Tseng): Its hard to find series that I like both of the couples equally as much and in this case, Joanne Tseng does a stellar job. She captures a very innocent girl who is really very smart but has fallen into a comfort zone as an executive secretary. When she is suddenly pulled out of her comfort zone, she accepts her challenge and you see her grow, being stronger and more courageous and eventually become a fantastic woman. What makes her so endearing is her lack of knowledge to her feelings and what people around her feel for her (aka Wen-kai Ji and the other male character, Zi-yu Wang).
  • Sales Team 3: The team that Yu-Tang ends up doing sales is the most rag-tag team of unmotivated individuals. In many ways, they all are the “refresh man” concept here that needs a fresh start and the extra push. They are funny together and truly fun to watch grow as they all find their potential and let it grow as they realize that they can be more.
  • The Romance: I already mentioned the chemistry before but there is so much about the trials and tribulations between Yu-Tang and Wen-kai from their high school years to how they finally owned up to their romance. Its hilarious and crazy and yet so touching to watch. Its one that truly does make us love and ship them. One of the rare on-screen couples that I actually route for fully and completely because they are worth every moment of it. You can feel their pain and their love no matter before they find their balance to be together or after they finally get together and are forced apart. If you watch any of these drama series, you know that it isn’t a spoiler but an eventuality.

refresh man

Refresh Man is a great series, probably one of my absolute favorite. Its great to see that Netflix has acquired some good ones. This was a fun spontaneous discovery and I quickly binge watched it twice in a row. Joanne Tseng and Aaron Yan are awesome actors and they capture their role perfectly. The script is charming for the most part and still pretty predictable however, there are some spontaneous bits that will take you by surprise here and there. There is also some odd moments that make us wonder why it was done that way. However, whether you find it funny or entertaining or downright warm and fuzzy (or maybe a little in pain when things go wrong), Wen-kai and Joanne Tseng are characters that come to life who make us want them to win whatever challenge is in front of them. When they aren’t in the romance thing, which actually is in the background a lot more, Sales Team 3 will make you want to cheer for them to pick up their slack and succeed in their almost impossible task of selling a product that no one really cares for anymore.

Overall, a great show and one that deserves to have great appreciation. I’m glad to see that Aaron Yan has grown so much from the first series I saw him in till this one. Joanne Tseng also looks familiar and yet I can’t place where I’ve seen her before but she is fantastic and I’m going to look for more of her series. If you do like Taiwanese series, this is one to check out.

Blog Tour: Before the Tempest (UK Crush Series #4) by Tani Hanes (with Giveaway)

Blog Tour

Before The Tempest
(UK Crush Series Book #4)

by: Tani Hanes

Before the Tempest

Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult Romance/Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

Aileen Foster, poor, orphaned, musically gifted, never imagined her life could change so much, so fast, but getting a job as interpreter for boyband UK Crush pitched her headfirst into tumult and a glamorous life she never thought she’d have. Now, engaged to band member Theo Shelley, and having survived her audition to Hamilton Conservatory in Manhattan, she’s off to the Bahamas with the boys while they write their new album. Life has never been easy for her, but she’s trying.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34664760-before-the-tempest?ac=1&from_search=true

About the Author
Tani Hanes

Tani Hanes was born in Yokosuka, Japan. She spent the first few years of her life traveling back and forth between Japan and the US, making the permanent move to the Central Valley of California when she was five. She visited family in Japan on a regular basis, and attended college in Tokyo for one year at ICU before getting her degree in Language Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has two children, and was a substitute teacher for fifteen years. Hanes currently resides in New York City with her husband and cats, Moss and Lily.

Previous books in the UK Crush Series

Author Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tanihanesauthor/
Website: http://tanihanes.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaniHanes
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tani-Hanes/e/B01M4PYCA6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1493136660&sr=8-1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16028512.Tani_Hanes
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tanihanes/
Swoonreads: https://www.swoonreads.com/a/tani-hanes/6QA49L/

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Before+the+Tempest+by+tani+hanes
Pre-order Link for “Surviving the Hurricane” Book #5: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072HKLYYV?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

Giveaway:

5 digital sets of the UK Crush series and 1 complete print set of the UK Crush series, signed by author

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f4/?

Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ultimate 90’s blogathon is done and wrapped up. It is time to embrace some movie reviews. I have to admit that I actually didn’t watch a lot of movies over the last three weeks. I took the opportunity to catch up on TV series and gaming, which was a really nice change in pace.

I am a fan of Anna Hathaway and especially in those Princess Diaries days and I am also a sucker for princess/Cinderella stories which makes Ella Enchanted all the more fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to see this one so I was excited to see it land on Netflix! Lets give it a go!

Ella Enchanted (2004)

ella enchanted

Director: Tommy O’Haver

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Aidan McArdle, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Punch, Jennifer Higham, Eric Idle, Vivica A. Fox

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling. – IMDB

Ella Enchanted is an innocent fun movie, actually much more than my first impressions that I remembered of it back when it released. While it does give a Cinderella-esque story, Ella embodies quite a few princesses we are familiar with. She does have an evil stepmother who brings two stepsisters and they do push her aside but Ella also has a fairy in the household and ends up getting a curse, like Sleeping Beauty except her curse is one of being obedient. While it seems great as a baby for their parents, as she grew up, it started to cause her to do many things she didn’t want to. Ella lived with no choices and under people’s desires because of this curse. However, she is very kind and accepting. It is hard to not cheer for Ella when she sets out on her journey to find Lucinda, the fairy who granted her this “gift” and feel bad for her predicament when she gets caught up in bad situations.

Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does a great job at being Ella. There’s a bit of the whole innocent and Princess Diaries’ vibe in her at this point. It is a likeable trait and shows lot of potential in being more as an actress. We do know that she is capable of bigger and more mature roles nowadays. Most of the scenes with Ella as some of the best because she is so fun to watch. Along with the fact that her and Hugh Dancy have pretty good chemistry that it makes their love story even more appealing. I haven’t seen Hugh Dancy in a lot of movies. The one I remember slightly might be a few years ago when I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic (and then IMDB tells me that I’ve also seen him in Blood and Chocolate and The Jane Austen Book Club, oh well). He is a charming man for sure and fits well in the role of Prince Char. Perhaps the most entertaining part of Ella Enchanted is watching these two characters. While over the top to a certain degree, still manages to remain believable.
Ella Enchanted

Aside from our main characters, Ella’s crew of friends that she makes along her journey probably are the silliest. She has a magical book that is her household fairy, Mandy’s (played by Minnie Driver) boyfriend. There’s an elf who wants to be a lawyer and not sing and dance. There’s some silly orcs (I think) and of course, some friendly giants. The story is that Char’s uncle is ruling over the kingdom before he comes into coronation, which is pretty much when the story is set and he has decreed rules that make the other species feel repressed and treated cruelly. These friends while filled with a heart of courage and help with making this funny, sometimes can be a little off beat from the story. It still is fun and innocent especially seeing as this is a truly harmless story and one that we’re pretty familiar with.

Ella Enchanted

Finally, our villain. All fairy tales have one. Ours is none other than Char’s power lusting uncle Edgar played by Cary Elwes. And he also has a sidekick which is a magical CGI snake called Heston. Are you sensing an Aladdin’s Jafar feeling here with his Iago? Either way, Ella Enchanted is very lighthearted and even in its most sinister and dark moments still manages to keep it light and funny. Edgar is completely comedic in many ways. The other villain, in some ways, is the stepsister played by Lucy Punch who really just wanted Ella out of the way in order to get her hands on Prince Char for herself. Nothing too threatening about this character other than the fact that she’s merely a pawn in the whole ordeal to Ella’s dilemma. What makes sure that we are definitely watching a mash-up princess movie and not Cinderella is that our villain isn’t the stepmother who would mimick the role of Lady Tremaine but really has a small role here and who is not at all threatening.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is an innocent and fun movie. It never lets us forget that we are watching a fairy tale story with an impressive heroine geared towards a younger audience. It keeps it light by staying comedic and making it a funny affair to watch. There is good chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy who are clearly the strength of this film. The story is familiar and simple and quite predictable and yet, there’s something charming about it. Perhaps it is because fairy tales, especially live action ones nowadays are getting so dark that its nice to visit one that remembers to keep it fun and fantastical.

Have you seen Ella Enchanted?