Movies and Tea #25 – The Father Knows Best Trilogy

Movies and Tea has officially begun its SEASON 4! This season we are doing a retrospective of Ang Lee’s films. The first episode is our heavier one as we dive into his debut films which make the Father Knows Best Trilogy: Pushing Hands, The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman.

Head over to Movies and Tea blog to listen to our discussion of these films. Let us know whether you’ve seen these films and your thoughts on them!

Movies and Tea

Season 4 kicks off with a Lee’s first three films which are commonly refered to as his Father Knows Best trilogy with the three films connected by thier themes rather than characters.

Pushing Hands – Moving from Beijing, elderly tai chi master Mr. Chu (Sihung Lung) struggles to adjust to life in New York, living with his Americanized son Alex (Ye-tong Wang) and daughter-in-law, Martha (Deb Snyder), a writer who seems to blame him for her own paralyzing inability to focus. But when Chu begins teaching tai chi at a local school, his desire to make a meaningful connection comes to fruition in the most unexpected of ways.

The Wedding Banquet – Wai-Tung (Winston Chao) and his boyfriend (Mitchell Lichtenstein) are living happily as a gay couple in New York City even though Wai-Tung has not come out to his Taiwanese parents (Sihung Lung, Ah-Leh Gua). To get his…

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

You can check out the reviews of the previous books in The Illuminae Files series:

Illuminae
Gemina

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)
By: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Obsidio

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken. – Goodreads

The Illuminae Files series is one of those rare series that really keeps up their momentum throughout. It keeps a unique structure of telling the story through surveillance reports, radio transmissions, official documents, etc. The first two books had hints of paying tribute to certain popular horror classics in a sci-fi context with their own little twists added in. The characters are teenagers primarily as the main protagonists but yet also have their supporting characters in the crew to save their world. To be fair, all three books use a similar structure of having a countdown heading toward some possible imminent death. However, due to the time crunch that adds to the tension, there are the relationships who give the character depth but never let it overshadow the main issue at hand, survival. Its also the fact that we only get a chunk of the situation and never the full picture that there leaves mystery and a lot of spots to add in our own conclusions, if any can be made until the final act.

I’ve talked a lot about the general series up to this point. The fact is, The Illuminae Files are the most effective a unit together and for that, I have been debating to re-read the entire trilogy back to back. Even though I say that, because I did read each of these books, a year or two apart from each other, they still have a very nice self-contained element even if this final book, Obsidio brings together the stories of Illuminae and Gemina to create it, the level of connection to the characters is the main factor that gets pulled into the equation. The first two books are essentially two different stories. With that said, it is inevitable that the final book of the trilogy becomes less self-contained than the previous two. However, the story here, while still having some events overlapping the previous books, still manages to craft its own story and pulls together all the loose pieces lying about and pulls it all together and even gives us an idea of how these Illuminae Files came together. In the realm of what it does, Obsidio shows really detailed view of getting to this point and seeing the big picture of how to put together this story in a complete way.

There’s so much to love about Obsidio. Fact is, at this point, the characters are all such a crucial element. With each hardship, they grow and develop a little more. Obsidio is done with so much care for the situation at hand, the sci-fi factor but also keeping in check that these characters are young and have to make some difficult decisions and become such a pillar and being pulled into a situation that they didn’t want to and the courage they have. Its a fast-paced novel with layers of tension, sarcastic humor and adventure. Its a book full of surprises and twists and turns and done in such a clever way.

Goodreads: 5/5

The Illuminae Files may be done but I’ve finished just in time as this author duo’s next book (maybe starting off a new series) is going to be released soon and I cannot wait to read it.

Book Blitz: The Onyx Crown by Alan Hurst

The Onyx Crown
by: Alan Hurst

The onyx Crown

Publication Date: January 27, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

SYNOPSIS

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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EXCERPT

The Equinox Hunt was the once-every-ten-moon foray into the chakkha, or jungle, made by only the most celebrated hunters of the Nabii tribe of Numeria. It’s primary purpose was to keep the beast population to manageable levels, and stop them from foraging into the grasslands, but had long ago become a reliable way to create fortune for some Nabii tribesmen (simply called ‘the Hunters’), and their families.

Although wealth and riches beyond all imagination could be found beyond the gates of the chief Nabii citadel, Abir City, if the Hunters knew where to look, for most families it was more likely that they would return to the gates destitute, starving, and missing several family members.

K’Nan knew this as well as anyone. He knew he was looking at mostly dead men. Damn men are such fools, he thought. Most of these hunters were already successful enough to provide for their families, own property, perhaps even bribe for themselves a pathetic position on the council. Success was never enough, and, in fact, it spurs on the hunger drive for more success.

This time, he th ought, things just may turn out differently for them. Why he had decided to lead the Hunt this year was a puzzle even to himself.

He knew better than to rely on the nonsensical rumors that had been trickling out of the wilderness for the last year and a half. Tales of mythical beasts and fearsome fighters attacking the Numerian migrants seemed just that, more myth than reality, except…

Except he’d also dreamt of them for the last ten years of his life. He could probably count the number of peaceful nights he’d slept in that time quite easily if he stopped to think about it. There damned sure hadn’t been many.

How could he sleep? The unimaginable horror of some of the things he’d seen during those dreams weren’t easy to forget—man-eating beasts, blood thirsty warriors, and infants dying in the wilderness.  

It was this last dream, the one about three infant children that spurred him toward the savannah. The innermost reaches of the savannah were referred to as the chakkha—the destination of the Equinox hunters, the Win-Daji.  

“Why does it bother you so much?” he said to himself. “It’s just a dream like any other, and those other three are long lost now.”  

And yet here he was. All because of a dream.

He shook his head at himself. “When will you finally give up hope?”

The winds started blowing even more briskly now, bringing a mini-sandstorm to the town gates. Instinctively, everyone covered their eyes and faces, through conditioning more than fear.

It was apparent that they were in no danger from sand this far from the wilderness, but hiding from it was a habit both born and bred in them from childbirth. Heat can indeed kill you, but in the wilderness you learn to fear the sand much more than the heat.

Luckily for the Win-Daji, the summer had not begun. In the summer, sandstorms morphed from deadly catastrophic—it was widely known that the one approaching would last for many months and be one of the hottest ever recorded.

The hunter talking with the sentries now was unique enough to catch K’Nan’s interest. This man was tall and pale-skinned (a rarity this far south) with a scar leading from the corner of his left eye to his left ear, a love kiss from a Deluthian rhino most likely, K’Nan’s imoya, or spirit, told him.

He wore his hair in the traditional Nabii tribesman style, shaved on the sides with a strip of hair about two inches high down the middle. On his hip he carried a crescent sword, very worn and very menacing, and two bows slung carelessly across his back.

Tied around his left thigh was a two-cubic-long dagger with a polished bone handle covered with notches. This man has done some killing, thought K’Nan, and without a doubt not confined it to beasts.

Whatever he was arguing with the sentries about must’ve been important. Gradually all of the other Win-Daji and Halanbi moved closer to them to listen in. Some were nodding and raising their weapons. Every now and then there’d be a little shout of encouragement from the group. Meanwhile the guards were shaking their heads all the more emphatically.

K’Nan ended his reverie and motioned his two companions, Semri and Semarion, to follow him down the rocky path toward the gates. The steadfast twin brothers hastily complied.

They had fought and hunted with him the better part of the last five years and were two of the only people he felt he could really rely on, despite the fact that they were not full-blooded Numerians. So, he’d asked them to accompany him, without telling them the true reason.

What are you so worried about? He asked himself. Aren’t you K’nan the Savage Slayer, a legend in all three territories of the savannah, defender of the Numerians, the scourge of all Panthia? How many countless men have died under your two-bladed spear, deservedly all?

How many beasts have you saved these wretched villagers from? You’ve dined with tribal chieftains between both seas, shared their spoils, and bedded their daughters. How could a life as full as yours end so quickly? Have you forgotten what the prophetess told you?

Purchase Links

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Hurst

Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Check out the review of the second book, King For a Day, here.

King of Me (King’s Trilogy #3)
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King Of Me

What if you were asked to love a dangerous man who betrayed you at every turn, who terrified you even in your sleep? Could you do it to save the people you hold dear?

Mia Turner is ready to give it all—her body, her heart, her soul—to the mysterious, ruthless billionaire who holds the cards to saving her family. But when this sinfully sexy man, simply known as King, demands something more, something horrifying, Mia will be forced to face the impossible truth about their lives.

Sometimes the truth brings salvation. And sometimes the truth breaks you. – Goodreads

In the final book of the King’s Trilogy, King of Me is a pretty decent read. It has a lot to thank for the first two books doing a great build-up to this point. Of course, this third book also has to bring an end to all the teasing and seducing and arousal from before so we finally get some sexual action here. However, the core of the story is Mia embracing who she is as in the time of danger she escapes to the past before King was cursed. However, history is set in a certain way and even Mia’s Seer abilities aren’t almighty so there is some mystery behind what she does and how things turn out. Its journey to the past that feela destined and changes Mia’s mind about King and his demons and also drawing comparisons to the other people linked to King as well. Its a big unveiling and does a decent job. Everything makes sense and the erotic scenes play out well. It adds even more depth and development for all our characters, King and Mia but also Mack and the Spiros as well as the truth behind the story from the last book while seeing why Mia falling in love with King is the key to changing everything one way or another, at least for a better outcome.

With that said, King of Me did suffer some of the erotic novel pet peeves that I have. I have some odd ones and it comes from a little similarity of finding redemption for King drawing some comparisons to Christian Grey in the last book of Fifty Shades trilogy. Its this way out where they feel compelled to make love center to just giving in to abusive behavior. However, King of Me does give it a reasonable route afterwards to somehow shed the light a little on why there was this drastic change in that point in King’s history that Mia had stepped into.

Overall, King of Me was decent as the supposed final book of the series. It answered all the questions and sorted all the emotions out. It was fast paced and added depth to the characters.

Of course, reading it after the initial release means I also know that the trilogy turned into more so this isn’t actually the end. There currently two more books, #4 Mack and #5 10 Club. I was hoping to wrap up the series and move into something else. I will try to catch up to the final two books later this year. With that said, I wonder how they will be seeing  as the original idea was a trilogy but these two has now turned it into a series. Hopefully it will work out well.

TaleSpins (TaleSpins #1-3) by Michael Mullin

After a nice weekend off from mostly everything online, I’m happy to be back writing again. It was something that I needed a lot to just sit back and take some time to break out of the normal routine. Its a new week and time for more writing. Next up is a book review of TaleSpins which is technically three short stories put together into this one book.

Let’s check it out!

TaleSpins (TaleSpins #1-3)
by: Michael Mullin

TaleSpins

A trilogy of alternative fairytales and retellings. Discover the real Snow White story through the eyes of Creepy, the unknown 8th dwarf! Meet a teen princess who hires “The Frog Prince” witch to get revenge on a Mean Girl! And learn how the giant, boy thief and magic beans tale truly went down! – Goodreads

I love reading fairy tales and the retellings are usually so fun as well. Disney makes them suitable for all ages and in many ways, tells some of these stories without the true darkness it may have. However, perhaps its how innocent we know all these stories that when they retold, it turns into a darker affair. TaleSpins’ three story is set up in a deeper story, adding in characters and events while putting it into a sing song rhyme poetry sort of way. Because of this new approach, it is a refreshing take on how we read these unique stories.

The first story in this trilogy is a spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and its called The 8th Dwarf, an awkward dwarf that was punished to live in the basement of the dwarves home. This character intercepted the story really well and definitely was the best of the three stories here.  The second story is based on The Frog Prince and somehow was taken with bullying and a girl trying to get revenge on a classmate in an extreme way. Also an interesting take as the endeavor of it was for the girl to succeed however the Frog Prince character here takes a more conscience sort of role and teaches us a little lesson. The last story is a take on Jack and the Beanstalk which actually turns things around as we see the ogre being the centre of attentiom instead of Jack who really if you think about it is a thief.

TaleSpins is a collection of three short stories and they are pretty fast to get through. I like reading poetry and rhyming pieces out loud, so that worked for me and had me really invested. However, as the story gets into the longer sentences, I started wishing this was a physical book to really see the sentence structure better. The writing and language is very polished as well. Overall, a pretty good read. Mostly the last story fell flat for me a little in the middle but still a solid entry to the retellings of these three stories.

Have you read TaleSpins?

King’s (The King Trilogy #1) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Back with more Kindle Store adventures, this was also during that whole batch of books I’ve been downloading with my last two reviews of those books that kind of pissed me off. At this point, I have no hopes and if this is another steamy romance, I’m about ready to rip it to shreads.  I didn’t even bother to read the description of this one and decided to just jump in.  With that, a deep breath and be brave, we are checking out King’s (part of The King Trilogy) and written by a New York Times Bestselling Author.  Now, I’m a little more confident about this one. 🙂 I mean, it can’t get worse than the last one, right?

Let’s jump right in!

King’s (The King Trilogy #1)
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King's

When Mia Turner’s brother goes missing in Mexico, while on an archaeological dig, she believes that life couldn’t get much worse. But when she’s blocked at every turn from finding answers, by both local and U.S. authorities, she must turn to a man she swears is the devil. Others might be fooled by his private jet, fine tailored suits, and disarming smile, but Mia knows something dark, sinister, and unnatural lurks behind those penetrating, pale-gray eyes. And the more she learns, the more she realizes she may never be free again. – Goodreads

 Now we’re talking! King’s was a fun book to read! What makes King’s different from the other two is that it exceeds our expectations and the sexy bits are simply adding onto the mystery building both Mia and King’s character.  Its not afraid to tease its audience with the scenes as we watch their connection grow throughout the deal they have with each other.  Okay, its a little mystery paranormal mixed with a mild investigation thriller.   Its a good mix and it sets a decent tone that matches the story it wants to tell.  Point is, the writing is refined but casual enough to be an enjoyable read.  You know exactly what sort of book you are getting into and it keeps it well-paced to make sure there’s enough of both character development and mystery to make it intriguing to keep reading. However, while the writing is refined, there are still moments of clunky or cheesy dialogue.  I guess its unavoidable but with a decent story, it gets rewarded with a little laugh.

But, nothing quite beats this quote that just cracks me up and changed the tone of the book completely.

Okay.  So, apparently this entire conversation was code for, “Come and get me, muthafucka.” and “Oh, I’m comin’, all right. Your ass is mine.”… -King’s

Mia seemed rather uptight and really incredibly weird that she kept thinking about getting into King’s pants even when she claimed that she didn’t like him at all, but they kind of explain that by the end. I’m happy with that, you know, reasonable enough explanations for things that come out of the ordinary.  It adds a little weird to it since it gives Mia’s character a little mystery.  And that is where this book does well in adding some fun but folding in a little mystery for each character.  However, this book is definitely only meant as a beginning for a series because the ends with a cliffhanger that would only be answered.  That is something I don’t quite like about books (or movies) that aren’t self-contained enough.  However, I did end it right there and didn’t pursue the next book yet (but intend to eventually).

While Mia’s character is fun because we read from her perspective throughout the entire book, the character that is the most intriguing has to go to King’s, our mystery man. King’s is a dominant character here but also quite smart.  It doesn’t take long for us to realize that not only does he have some connections but also that he has some mystery skills/powers that teases us throughout the read.  It makes us wonder until one scene where its apparent of what it is even if we don’t quite know the why. With that said, there is only a limit to what I can say to make it still a fun journey for you if you haven’t read this yet.  However, there is one more character which plays a supporting role and I believe at this point has a book in the series to himself, Mack, the guy who flies the plane for King’s and is something like a right hand man and while he can’t tell more about King’s to Mia, he plays as a messenger but also a mentor to how to interact with King’s and gives his friendly advice.  If there’s anything about this series, I can’t wait to see how his character is developed.

Overall, King’s is a fun start to a series.  It might not be that self-contained but it still is well-paced and mysterious enough of a story to keep me interested in eventually reading the second one.  King’s definitely surprised me and to think it has a few more books already in the series released makes me feel like there is still a lot to look forward to. However, King’s does have a well-paced story, enough mysteries to keep the reader intrigued and good characters all wrapped up in some casual reading package and I like all that quite a bit.

Have you read King’s?

Cover Reveal: Death Before Daylight by Shannon A. Thompson

Welcome to another cover reveal! This time around its for the third book in the Timeless Death Trilogy called Death Before Daylight.  While the previous two cover reveals were for novels in the trilogy being re-released, Death Before Daylight has never been launched.  I had the opportunity to read it, thanks to the lovely and talented author, Shannon A. Thompson.  You can check out my review here. But today is not about me, its about Shannon and her announcements of when this trilogy will be launched and her books.

Without further ado, I present to you the cover of Death before Daylight:

Death before Daylight

Synopsis

Two eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects is to finally hear the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric—and only Eric—and Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must choose who she will be—a light or a shade.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

Message from the Author

It’s here! It’s here! The final cover of The Timely Death Trilogy has finally been released. A special thank you goes out to Clean Teen Publishing and this lovely Member of the Dark who is helping share this message today. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, re-releases on July 28 – with an all new interior and exterior – and both are beautiful. Seconds Before Sunrise follows on August 25, and Death Before Daylight (the only novel of the trilogy to never see the shelves before) is finally getting it’s day . . . hehehe . . . Well, it’s releasing September 15. Even more exciting? You can win prizes throughout all of these events and more by becoming a Member of the Dark . . . or a Member of the Light. Check out the details below! I look forward to speaking with you!

Shannon A. Thompson (a.k.a. SAT)
http://shannonathompson.com

Dark Activities

Become a Member of the Dark (or Light) by emailing ShannonAThompson@aol.com. Your email will never be given out, and you are not required to do anything, but you will win more prizes the more you participate.

Win a paperback of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/131705-minutes-before-sunset

Pre-order Minutes Before Sunset: http://www.amazon.com/Minutes-Before-Sunset-Timely-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00WTRV9FC/ref=reader_auth_dp

Stay Updated via The Timely Death Trilogy FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Timely-Death-Trilogy/227663240691565

Visit the Extras Page:
http://shannonathompson.com/novels/a-timely-death-trilogy/extras/

Pin your favorite photos from The Timely Death Trilogy Pinterest board:

**Doesn’t that cover look awesome!! I’m loving all three of the covers for the trilogy.  Plus, its not just looks.  This series is really great and I had a lot of fun reading it!!**