Thursday, September 4, 2014

TELEVISION: Has Once Upon a Time lost the magic?

ABC’s Once Upon a Time is one of those shows I can’t make my mind up about.

The first season was great. The introduction to the characters was spot-on – and the show runners managed to seamlessly weave flashbacks from the Enchanted Forest in with the present day world.

The season one finale was breathtaking – with the greatest twist on true love’s kiss ever.

And then?


The second season started off seconds after the first concluded, and viewers now found themselves in a world that would never be the same again.

Emma realized that she was, indeed, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming – and they’d hidden her in a magic tree to protect her from a curse. Unfortunately for Emma, her life wasn’t exactly Cabbage Patch Kids and cartoons. No, she grew up in the foster care system, where she was neglected her entire life.

While Snow tried to forge a bond with her daughter right away, things spun out of control when
Emma and her newly discovered mother were shuttled through a portal to the Enchanted Kingdom – where they remained for the first third of the second season – away from everyone.

This was our first clue that the writers were penning “ministories” instead of complete arcs.

The first season was one complete arc – and it was beautifully done. The second and third seasons were broken into parts.

Part One: Emma and Snow in the Enchanted Forest.

Part Two: Cora’s assault on Storybrooke.

Part Three: The “Agency” comes to town.

Part Four: Neverland.

Part Five: Pan in Storybrooke.

Part Six: Return from the Enchanted Forest.

The problem is, by creating these “acts” – the writers actually built stumbling blocks into the narrative. And, when they did that, a show that was built on the fantasy of fairy tales lost all the fun associated with them.

Where is the fun associated with Emma being the same age as her parents? Where was the stern talk with Neal (or even Hook) about their intentions with his daughter?

I understand Ginnifer Goodwin’s real life pregnancy was a curveball (and she got so big it was virtually impossible to hide her pregnancy) but there were ways around it. A new baby seems like a contrivance.

I rewatched the third season last week, trying to find something positive to say about it. This is what I
came up with: I still like the actors. I like the chemistry. I like Storybrooke itself. I do not like the contrivances or whiplash associated with these stories, though. It’s like there’s no forethought.

What am I talking about?

Example One: Regina’s romance with Robin Hood is so rushed, we never get a chance to get used to them as a couple. Whether it be during their year in the Enchanted Forest – or their weeks together in Storybrooke – we never got to see the emotional attachment of the couple. That’s why Emma and Hook saving Marian and bringing her back to Storybrooke in the finale meant absolutely nothing. We can’t grieve with Regina because we never saw her fall in love. Marian’s return is just a way to make Regina evil again.

Example Two: Hook and Emma’s sudden “love.” I have never been a fan of over-propped characters – and Hook is a prime example of an over-propped character. I think the actor is charming and the character has promise. I still don’t buy this undying love. Hook spent a few days with Emma and Snow in the Enchanted Forest before they escaped. He then spent about a half hour with her in Storybrooke when he returned. He then offered his boat to find Henry – but that trip was filled with Neal’s return (although Hook was already acting like Emma was his soulmate) and saving Henry. When they got back to town, the curse hit, and all the fairy tale characters were sent to the Enchanted forest while Emma and Henry had their memories wiped and lived in New York for a year. Then Hook shows up, still besotted with her, and she finally remembers and they spend another week together while all the wicked witch stuff is going down (and that week included Neal dying and the birth of a baby). That means these two have spent three weeks together. How are they in love? It’s ludicrous.

Example Three: Neal’s death. I don’t care whether Neal and Emma ended up together or not. She’s
had way too many love interests in my book. If I had to pick one for her – one she had actual chemistry and spent time with – it would be Graham. Yeah, I said it. I feel nothing when Emma and Hook are on the screen together.  I’m talking about Neal, though. Neal’s death seemed like nothing more than an easy way to clear the path for Hook (and the two of them could've had a totally awesome bromance). How can Rumplestiltskin’s son – Henry’s father – Emma’s ex be out of story that quickly? It seriously ticks me off. Neal did not have to be a part of Emma’s happily ever after. He certainly should’ve been a part of Henry’s, though.

My worry with Once Upon a Time is that it’s the new Heroes. What am I talking about? NBC’s Heroes had a tremendous first season, a grand story arc that left viewers on pins and needles all season to see what would happen. I’ll tell you what happened, the story flopped. The show never recovered from that stellar first season and was cancelled prematurely.

I don’t want that to happen to Once Upon a Time.

The writers need to step up their game, though.

I have been close to quitting this show twice. The first was at the mid-season finale last year, when the new “curse” came down and cast everything into doubt again. I was sucked back in.

Then I was completely bored for the entire spring run. I was considering giving up again, and then the writers delivered a great season finale that allowed Emma to see her parents fall in love and finally “get” what being a fairy tale character is all about.

I’m still on board this season. The problem is, the upcoming Frozen arc already looks to be another gimmick. I haven’t seen one shot of footage and yet I’m already cringing.

I want this show to be good. It’s one of the few shows I still watch on network television.

It needs to make some adjustments, though.

What do you think? Has Once Upon a Time lost the magic?

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Billy Miller is officially the new Jason Morgan

When word broke this week that Young and the Restless alum Billy Miller was going to be the new Jason Morgan on General Hospital, my first reaction was: Meh.

That’s not a reaction to Miller, mind you. I think he’s a fine actor. I really enjoyed his guest stint on Justified – as well as his work in Genoa City.

No, this is a reaction to the return of Jason Morgan.

It’s no secret that GH’s ratings fell starting in the late 1990s because three characters – Sonny, Carly and Jason – took over the show. Fans tuned out in droves as those three took over.

The ratings have never recovered.

Ron Carlivati has done a lot wrong as head writer of GH (we’ll get to that in a second), but one of the things he did right was “killing” off Jason. The show has felt “lighter” since the morose mobster tumbled into the harbor.

Now, I’m hopeful that the Jason we get back isn’t Jason Morgan but, rather, Jason Quartermaine. For those that don’t remember Port Charles history (and I doubt you would be reading this if you didn’t) Jason Quartermaine, he of the reindeer Christmas sweaters, was involved in a drunk driving accident with his brother and was rendered brain damaged.

He had no memory of his previous life.

That’s how Jason Morgan – mobster, murderer and thug – was born. Jason Quartermaine wanted to be a doctor. He was a good person. Jason Morgan killed people for money and was made out to be a hero.

Yeah, it was annoying.

I have no idea which Jason is coming back. I doubt it will be the same Jason we remember, though.

So why don’t I want Jason back?

It’s all about the economics really.

Billy Miller is a high-profile actor, which means he’s getting high-profile money. The cast is already so bloated we see our beloved vets once – or maybe twice – a month. Miller coming in means he’s going to be getting a lot of money – and a lot of episodes.

This is on top of Maura West’s Ava – the biggest air hog of the year (and a high-priced actress) and the newly introduced Nina, played by Michelle Stafford. Nina is on four days a week – and there’s no way she’s getting newbie money.

Anthony Geary will be back in the next few weeks (he’s been recovering from surgery) and then the Fluke story will be front and center.

And yet, my question is: Where is Anna? Shouldn’t she have been involved when Lulu and Maxie were kidnapped? What is she doing?

Where is Duke? We haven’t seen him in months.

Where are Felicia and Mac? I mean, would Mac really allow psycho Levi to steal Maxie and then remain behind? Um, no.

GH’s cast is too big. Hard cuts have to be made. And, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather see a fulltime return for a character we know and love – like Ned – than the mobster with exactly one facial expression.

If RC wants to add new characters – or bring back old characters with new faces – fine. He needs to cut the dead weight, though. Enough is enough.

Watching GH has become a chore. And why? Because there’s no pace. You can’t get into the swing of a story because you’ll get it for three days and then not see it for two weeks because there’s so many other stories going on.

RC needs to be willing to cut his losses. He’s introduced a few characters that work, namely Julian, Britt, and Nathan.

He’s also introduced a lot of duds. He needs to let Sabrina, Carlos, Nina and Franco go. They’re not working. They’re never going to work. It doesn’t matter how much screen time he gives them. They’re already dead.

There are other characters – older characters introduced by other regimes – that are also flat-lining. I’m talking about Olivia and Liz here (and it pains me to turn on Liz). They’re just superfluous to the action. I’m not saying to kill them off. Just send them out of town until they fit onto the canvas again.

I know a lot of people have been clamoring for a Jason return. For me, though, it’s just another worry. Who’s air time will Billy Miller be eating?

What do you think? Are you excited for Jason Morgan to return?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New book release update for Grim Tidings

I'm about to launch the first book in my new series -- and I want fans to make sure it's something they're genuinely interested in before they buy it. With that in mind, I decided to post the first chapter here.

It's still snarky. It's still irreverent. It's also a little darker. I hope you enjoy it.


“Bow down before the harvester of your doom!”
I rolled my eyes, glancing over at my brother, Aidan, as he stood before the cowering spirit in the corner with a devilish grin on his face. “Really? That’s how you do it?”
Aidan’s dimples deepened as he sent me a wink, while ignoring the middle-aged man and his pitiful whining as he kept trying to convince himself that he was dreaming.
“It’s just a nightmare,” the man tried to soothe himself.
“Do you have another idea?” Aidan asked.
“Have you tried talking to him?”
“That never works,” Aidan replied. “They never want to believe they’re dead. And, if they do, it’s usually
because they’re depressed and they offed themselves because they were looking forward to the hereafter.”
I ignored Aidan’s blasé attitude and glanced down at the list in my hand. “Stan Parker, 54, accountant for Thompson and Hopkins.”
“See, he’s evil,” Aidan said. “He’s an accountant for a big law firm. You can’t get slimier than that.”
“It’s an environmental law firm,” I replied.
Aidan merely shrugged in response. He was clearly enjoying himself, if his flushed skin and gleaming eyes were any indication. I had a feeling it was because he had been put in charge of my “training,” something I wasn’t convinced I needed.
“It says here he’s a Catholic,” I said, reading further into Stan Parker’s file. “I think I know how to handle this.” I took a step toward Stan, squatting down so I was at eye level with him. “Mr. Parker, my name is Aisling Grimlock, and I’m here because there’s been an … incident.”
“Incident?” Aidan arched a dark eyebrow.
I ignored him. “Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done and you’ve … um … passed on.”
Stan Parker glanced up at me, finally focusing on something other than his own feet – and the uneven tile pattern in his bedroom – and fixed me with a bleak stare. “Are you an angel?”
“You’ve obviously never seen her in the morning before she’s had three cups of coffee,” Aidan scoffed.
I waved him off. “I’m not an angel,” I said. “I’m a reaper.”
Stan Parker looked confused. “Like a grim reaper?”
“Exactly,” I replied, sending him my most encouraging smile as I brushed my long black hair – shot through with enough white streaks to give my father a coronary when he saw them – out of my face. “I’m here to help you get to your final destination.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Parker replied, his voice dull and his eyes lifeless -- OK, no pun intended. “You make it sound like you’re a travel agent.”
Aidan snorted. “Yes, we’re here to take you on a fabulous vacation to Greece.”
“I am kind of like a travel agent,” I said, shooting Aidan a withering glare. “I’ve got all your arrangements right here.” I tapped the file in my hand for emphasis.
“That’s a file on me?”
“It is,” I replied. “It’s all about your life.”
“It’s kind of thin.”
“It sure is,” Aidan agreed.
I kept my violet eyes trained on Stan’s face. “It’s not your whole life,” I said, “just the highlights.”

“And lowlights,” Aidan added.
He was starting to grate, which I suppose is a brother’s job. Since Aidan and I were closer than normal siblings – that whole twin thing had bonded us a little too closely – our new working relationship was starting to strain the easygoing thing we’d had going for the twenty-five years since our birth.
“What lowlights?” Stan asked, his lower lip trembling.
“I don’t think they’re important,” I lied.
“I really like the one about you sleeping with your best friend’s wife,” Aidan said. “Then, when he confided his problems with the marriage, you pretended that he was imagining things until he started seeing a shrink.” He’d moved away from Stan and was busy studying his bedroom, opening drawers and poking through the contents, something that was making Stan decidedly nervous.
“What are you doing? What is he doing?”
“Ignore him,” I said. “We should really get going, though. Aidan, bring the scepter over here.”
“The scepter?” Stan’s eyes widened. “Is that like a magic stick to beat me with?”
“Why would you ask that?” Aidan seemed genuinely curious, until his bright purple eyes narrowed under the weight of sudden knowledge. “Is that what you’re into?”
“No! Who told you that? That’s not on the list, is it?” Stan tried to peer over my hand to see what had been written into his file.
“No,” I replied, although now I was curious about what was buried in his file. I had read only the highlights. “Mr. Parker.”
“Call me Stan. We should be on a first-name basis, after all.”
“Stan,” I said, forcing myself to keep my voice pleasant. “We really need to get going. We’re kind of on a tight schedule today.”
“Doing what?”
“Collecting souls,” I explained, standing back up to my full five feet, six inches. My knees were beginning to ache from crouching.
“And this is your job?”
“It is now,” I said. “Unfortunately.”
Aidan grinned at me. “It’s not as easy as you thought, is it? It’s a lot harder than you gave us credit for.”
“I never said it was an easy job,” I argued. “I just didn’t think it was as action-packed as you made it out to be.” I glanced back down at Stan. “And I was clearly right.”
“They’re usually not this … whiny.”
“I am not whiny,” Stan said. “I’m going through a shock. I just found out I’m dead, and it wasn’t even a good death.”
“What’s a good death?” I asked.
“You know, running into a burning building and saving children from a fiery death,” Stan said. “Or pushing an old lady out of the path of a speeding bus. Or riding a supermodel until your heart just gives out.”
I glanced at Stan’s paunchy stomach and thinning hair and couldn’t help but think that all three of those scenarios were very likely outside of his wheelhouse. “You can’t control your death – unless you want to kill yourself,” I explained. “And, if you do that, you don’t go to one of the better final resting places.”
Stan looked momentarily hopeful. “Am I going to Heaven?”
“Yes,” I said, glancing at his file again for confirmation. I frowned, though, when I saw where he was really going.
“That doesn’t look like I’m going to Heaven,” Stan said, his voice rising an octave. “That looks like I’m going to the other place.”
Aidan leaned back on Stan’s bed -- blocking my view of Stan’s body, which was thankfully buried beneath his plaid bedspread covers -- and waited for me to handle the situation.
“Define the other place,” I said, taking a step so that I could again make eye contact with Stan.
“Define the other place? Define the other place? I don’t want to go to Hell!”
“Well, good news,” I replied, using my best faux tour director voice. “You’re not going to Hell.”
“I’m not?” Relief washed over Stan’s shaking body.
“Nope,” I shook my head emphatically. “You’re going to Purgatory. It’s an entirely different place.”
Stan looked shocked. “Purgatory? Isn’t that like limbo? Is that better than Hell? It certainly doesn’t sound as good as Heaven.”
He wasn’t wrong. “The good news is, your file says you’ll only be there for fifty years.”
“Fifty years!”
“Your file says you have a few things to work out,” I offered, hoping that my explanation didn’t sound as lame to Stan as it did to me.
“What does that mean exactly?” Stan pushed himself to his ethereal feet and placed his hands on his hips. I think I was getting a glimpse of his courtroom persona, which was one of the reasons he was going to Purgatory.
“Well … ,” I hedged.
“I want to know exactly what that file says about me,” Stan ordered.
“I’m not sure I’m supposed to tell you that.”
Aidan groaned from his spot on the bed. “Oh, just tell him. Otherwise we’re going to be here forever, and I’m ready for lunch.”
I didn’t know how he could think about lunch with a dead body – and the traumatized spirit that belonged to that body – in the room. “Well, under your transgressions list you have quite a few entries.”
“Such as?”
“Well, it says here you put fifteen witnesses on the stand even though you knew they were going to perjure themselves,” I replied.
Stan looked incensed. “I did no such thing!”
“Then there’s that whole sleeping with your best friend’s wife.”
“I went to confession for that!”
“Each time?” Aidan asked. “You have to go each time.”
Stan worried his lower lip with his teeth. “That wasn’t made clear to me. That’s not fair. I thought going once was a blanket confession that would absolve me of all of my sins.”
“Did you do the required penance?” Aidan pressed.
“Of course I did.” Stan was scandalized.
“That’s not what the file says. The file says you were supposed to say fifty Hail Marys, but that you didn’t say any of them.”
“The priest still absolved me of my sins,” Stan argued. “You can’t possibly be telling me that fifty Hail Marys are standing between me and Heaven. I’ll do them right now, if that’s the case.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” I said.
“It also doesn’t count if you don’t do the penance,” Aidan shot back. “While you’re still alive, that is. Aisling, seriously, enough with this crap. Let’s just absorb him and go.”
“I want to speak to your superior,” Stan said. “You can’t be the last word on where my fate lies.”
“We’re not even the first word,” I answered. “We’re just grunts. The list comes from higher up and we just follow it. We’re really just the last word.”
“Higher up where?” Stan didn’t look convinced.
That was too long of a conversation for this particular moment. “Just higher up.”
“Well, I still want to speak to your superior.” Stan was adamant.
“We can arrange that,” Aidan said, getting to his feet. “You have to come with us, though, and then we’ll have to make an appointment for you.”
“And how soon can I get this appointment?” Stan asked, new hope flitting across his face.
“I think the current wait time is seventy-five years,” Aidan said. I had no idea whether he was telling the truth.
“Well, that’s not fair,” Stan complained. “I demand an immediate appeal.”
I glanced at Aidan, waiting for his response. His world-class charm obviously wasn’t working today.
“We can arrange that.”
“And how soon will my argument be heard?”
“I think the current time frame is eighty-five years,” Aidan replied. He was clearly bored with the direction of the conversation, his mind already focused on the hamburger in his future.
Stan’s mouth dropped open in horror. “So, you’re saying my only options are to go with you, climbing into some weird scepter of death and spending fifty years in Purgatory making up for my crimes or wait seventy-five years to plead my case?”
“Pretty much,” Aidan said, nonplussed, “although, you don’t climb into the scepter.”
“That’s something, I guess,” Stan said, shuffling uncomfortably.
“The scepter just absorbs your soul,” Aidan added.
Terror flitted across Stan’s bland features. “Absorbs?”
“It’s not as gross as it sounds,” I offered.
“Oh, okay,” Stan said. “Um, just give me a second to get ready. It’s going to be fine. I’ll wake up in a few minutes and everything will be fine.”
“Of course.” Clearly my approach was getting us nowhere.
Stan started pacing his apartment, stopping at each photo frame to give it a long gaze. I thought it was kind of sweet. He wanted to get a last look at his loved ones. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all?
Stan was completing his circuit, moving back toward the open bedroom door when he suddenly disappeared into the living room. I glanced at Aidan worriedly. “What do you think he’s doing?”
“He’s probably running,” Aidan replied, his disinterest evident.
“Shouldn’t we stop him?”
“He’s your charge,” Aidan reminded me. “I’m just here to supervise.”
“This sucks,” I grumbled, moving into the living room to make sure Stan didn’t try to run. I shouldn’t have worried. He was standing at the door of his apartment, trying to turn the door handle so he could escape into the hallway. He clearly didn’t realize that he could simply walk through the door because he was stymied by the fact that his hand just kept moving through the handle harmlessly. That was a small favor.
I opened my mouth in an attempt to talk him down once more, but Aidan shook his head to dissuade me. He was right – and I knew it. I sighed, pulling the sterling silver scepter – shaped like a snake with ruby red eyes (don’t ask) – out of my jacket pocket and pointed it at Stan.
The scepter lit up, emitting a bright flash of light, and I could see Stan’s spirit start to break up as it filtered into the scepter. The last look he managed to muster was one of abject terror before he completely disappeared.
“Well, that went well,” I said finally.
“That’s not what Dad is going to say,” Aidan replied.
He was right. I scowled as I imagined the diatribe I was sure to be on the receiving end of later tonight. It sucks when your Dad is also your boss.
“You want lunch?” Aidan asked. He didn’t look too worried about the ass-chewing we were sure to get in a few hours.
“Make sure it’s some place we can get drinks, too.”
“We’re Irish,” Aidan laughed. “That’s a given.”
I followed him out of Stan Parker’s apartment without a backward glance. This was turning into a terrible first day of work.

If you're interested in purchasing Grim Tidings, you can do so here. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 22, 2014

TELEVISION: True Blood ends Sunday -- and I'm glad

True Blood comes to an end on Sunday and I can’t help but feel … relieved.

The show, which started as a dark and dirty guilty pleasure seven seasons ago, is not exactly going out on top of its game.

Let’s face it, when True Blood landed and took the country by storm, it was a wild ride full of sex and blood. There were colorful sets, multifaceted characters and outrageous situations. What we’re dealing with now isn’t even a shadow of the show’s formal greatness.

I had to laugh at Sunday’s preview for the finale: Will it end with true love or the true death?

I would love for it to end with true death – for Bill and Sookie. I cannot take one more second of Bill’s maudlin flashbooks, his moody stare or his martyr complex so he can sacrifice himself so he won’t saddle Sookie with Rosebilly’s baby.
As bad as Bill is, though, Sookie is worse. She mourned Tara for 15 seconds. She spent months with Alcide, watched him die trying to protect her, and then hopped in the sack with veiny Bill in less than a week. Where is her rooting value?

I have no doubt that Bill and Sookie will get their “happily ever after.” It makes me want to gag, but the writing is on the wall.

And, before I hear from aggressive Eric fans, he doesn’t belong with Sookie either. She’s like an albatross around the neck of every man she’s been paired with on the show. Eric does not want to settle down. He doesn’t want to be domestic. He might want to “win” – but the life Sookie wants is not the life that Eric wants. So, no, they don’t belong together either.

Quite frankly, when it comes down to it, I’m not watching Sunday’s finale to find out how Sookie and Bill get their happy ending. All I care about right now is Jason, Jessica, Lafayette and Hoyt.

The writers did a huge disservice to the bulk of the secondary characters this season, but what they did to Tara was downright criminal. The original character met a bloody death – off screen – and then served as her mother’s V-fueled hallucination for a few episodes, finally digging an old gun out of the dirt and leaving. Nice.

Of course, poor Sam’s story wasn’t much better. After giving up his bar to be mayor (what qualifies him for that position again?), his pregnant girlfriend (who he fell in love with in five minutes -- a five minutes where he should have been mourning the death of the girlfriend before her-- last season) was kidnapped by rabid vamps. After saving her, she gave him an ultimatum and left town. Then, in a flashback sequence while reading a letter (completely disrespectful for an original character, by the way) Sam just took off and left town in the penultimate episode.
Another slap in the face to fans.

Lafayette turned a straight vampire gay and then helped Tara’s mom dig in the dirt.

Eric and Pam got some cool scenes – especially Pam’s Russian Roulette round Eric’s assault on Sarah Newlin. However their flashback sequences were just as boring as Bill's -- and Pam's nonreaction to Tara's death felt a little insulting.

The only characters that got any decent story were Jason, Jessica and Hoyt.

Jason has been a favorite of mine since the first season (Tara finding him in the freezer with a steak on his junk and his subsequent trip to the hospital was hilarious). As a fan of the books, Jason was always one of my least favorite characters. On the show, though, Jason was often the only reason to watch. He was an idiot – but he somehow managed to get things done and help despite the fact that he’s an idiot.

I wasn’t so sure about Jessica’s story at the beginning of the season. I saw no chemistry between her and James and watching her guilt over killing Andy’s fairy kids manifest as obsession was painful. Unlike a lot of other people, I never wanted Jason and Jessica to settle down. Jason strikes me as the type of guy that’s going to have kids – and he’ll probably be a good father – and Jessica can’t give him kids.

Jessica also wants a guy who’s going to be loyal to her, and Jason just isn’t capable of it. He’s loyal in his
own way, but he can’t commit to one woman. It’s just not who he is.

I was actually crushed when they sent Hoyt away. His romance with Jessica – especially in the second season – was so heart-warming and sweet I couldn’t help but love them. I honestly thought that Jessica and Hoyt were done for good after what happened – but the way the writers brought Hoyt back (and had him dispatch Violet) was some of their best writing all season. I can only hope Hoyt and Jason find a way to be friends again in the finale.

I have no idea if there is going to be a big death in the finale. True Blood always liked to be controversial – so maybe the writers will really kill Bill. I honestly don’t think so, though. The writers made Sookie and Bill the central love story – and they’re the couple who will be the centerpiece of the finale.

Looking back on True Blood, I can’t help but be thankful for the earlier seasons as I try to forget the horrible writing from the latter seasons. Even with all that disappointment, though, I can’t hate a show that gave me eye candy like Alcide, Jason and Eric – even if the writing ruined the show’s overall legacy at the end.

What do you think? Will you miss True Blood?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When does your favorite television show return this fall?

It’s that time of year again, and the new television season is quickly approaching.

So, when does your favorite show return this fall?

Sept. 3
The League, 10 p.m., FXX

Sept.  7
Sunday Night Football, 8 p.m., NBC
Utopia, 8 p.m., FOX
Boardwalk Empire, 9 p.m., HBO

Sept. 9
Sons of Anarchy, 10 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10
Hell’s Kitchen, 8 p.m., FOX

Sept. 11
The Biggest Loser, 8 p.m., NBC
Thursday Night Football, 8 p.m., CBS

Sept. 15
Dancing With the Stars, 8 p.m., ABC

Sept. 16
New Girl, 9 p.m., FOX
The Mindy Project, 9:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 17
Red Band Society, 9 p.m., FOX
10 p.m., The Mysteries of Laura, NBC

Sept. 21
60 Minutes, 7 p.m., CBS
Madam Secretary, 8 p.m., CBS
The Good Wife, 9 p.m., CBS

Sept. 22
The Big Bang Theory, 8 p.m., CBS
Gotham, 8 p.m., FOX
The Voice, 8 p.m., NBC
Scorpion, 9 p.m., CBS
Sleepy Hollow, 9 p.m., FOX
The Blacklist, 10 p.m., NBC
Forever, 10 p.m., ABC

Sept. 23
NCIS, 8 p.m., CBS
The Voice (Results), 8 p.m., NBC
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 9 p.m., ABC
NCIS: New Orleans, 9 p.m., CBS
Awkward, 10 p.m., MTV
Chicago Fire, 10 p.m., NBC
Person of Interest, 10 p.m., CBS
Faking It, 10:30 p.m., MTV

Sept. 24
The Middle, 8 p.m., ABC
Survivor, 8 p.m., CBS
The Goldbergs, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Law & Order: SVU, 9 p.m., NBC
Modern Family, 9 p.m., ABC
Black-ish, 9:30 p.m., ABC
Chicago P.D., 10 p.m., NBC
Nashville, 10 p.m., ABC

Sept. 25
Bones, 8 p.m., FOX
Grey’s Anatomy, 8 p.m., ABC
Scandal, 9 p.m., ABC
How to Get Away With Murder, 10 p.m., ABC
Parenthood, 10:30 p.m., NBC

Sept. 26
The Amazing Race, 8 p.m., CBS
Dateline NBC, 8 p.m., NBC
Shark Tank, 9 p.m., ABC
Hawaii Five-0, 9 p.m., CBS
20/20, 10 p.m., ABC
Blue Bloods, 10 p.m., CBS

Sept. 27
48 Hours, 10 p.m., CBS

Sept. 28
Once Upon a Time, 8 p.m., ABC
The Simpsons, 8 p.m., FOX
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 8:30 p.m., FOX
Family Guy, 9 p.m., FOX
Resurrection, 9 p.m., ABC
CSI, 10 p.m., CBS
Revenge, 10 p.m., ABC

Sept. 29
Mom, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Castle, 10 p.m., ABC
NCIS: Los Angeles, 10 p.m., CBS

Sept. 30
Selfie, 8 p.m., ABC
Manhattan Love Story, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Happyland, 11 p.m., MTV

Oct. 1
Criminal Minds, 9 p.m., CBS
Stalker, 10 p.m., CBS

Oct. 2
The Vampire Diaries, 8 p.m., CW
Bad Judge, 9 p.m., NBC
Gracepoint, 9 p.m., FOX
Reign, 9 p.m., CW
A to Z, 9:30 p.m., NBC

Oct. 3
Last Man Standing, 8 p.m., ABC

Oct. 5
America’s Funniest Home Videos, 7 p.m., ABC
Bob’s Burgers, 7:30 p.m., FOX
Homeland, 9 p.m., Showtime
Mulaney, 9:30 p.m., FOX

Oct. 6
The Originals, 8 p.m., CW

Oct. 7
The Flash, 8 p.m., CW
Supernatural, 9 p.m., CW

Oct. 8
Arrow, 8 p.m., CW
Kingdom,  9 p.m., DirecTV

Oct. 10
Cristela, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Oct. 12
The Walking Dead, 9 p.m., AMC
The Affair, 10 p.m., Showtime

Oct. 13
Jane The Virgin, 9 p.m., CW

Oct. 14
Marry Me, 9 p.m., NBC
About a Boy, 9:30 p.m., NBC

Oct. 22
The 100, 9 p.m., CW

Oct. 24
Grimm, 9 p.m., NBC
Constantine, 10 p.m., NBC

Oct. 27
2 Broke Girls, 8 p.m., CBS

Oct. 30
The Millers, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Two and a Half Men, 9 p.m., CBS
The McCarthys, 9:30 p.m., CBS

Elementary, 10 p.m., CBS

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie Cooper Mysteries find the sarcasm (and don’t let go)

I think sarcasm is one of those things that you either get – or you don’t.

I happen to get it.

I know there are some people out there who don’t like sarcasm – and they certainly don’t find it funny. I am not one of those people. If I didn’t have sarcasm, I wouldn’t have anything to fall back on besides snark.

Luckily for me, I have discovered the Sadie Cooper Mysteries by Vanessa Gray Bartal – and they fulfill my sarcasm and snark quota at the same time.

I almost didn’t give these books a shot. I’m not going to lie, the cover of the first mystery – Pecked to Death – was not exactly giving me confidence when it came to the book. And, just to be completely honest – I hate all the covers. There, I said it.

The stories, though, the stories are magical. I would be really sad if I had missed these stories.

At the center of the narrative is Sadie Cooper, a small-town girl turned weather forecaster who embarrasses herself on television and gets fired, loses her boyfriend, and has to return to her childhood home all in one day – due to the death of a close family friend.

Sadie is not your typical heroine. She’s sarcastic, snarky and not above using her looks and body to get what she wants. She’s unapologetic about using people and blasé about certain things in her life.

Then there’s her former best friend – Luke – who Sadie basically dumped in the dirt when high school hit. Luke is an academic and he doesn’t understand why Sadie just stopped being his friend one day. Oh, and then there’s that pesky hookup they had during their college years that left Luke brokenhearted – again – as Sadie took off with her football player boyfriend.

Sadie understands what she did was wrong. She wishes she could go back in time, but she knows she can’t. Her decisions in life were formed around her dying mother’s wishes: She wanted to make her proud, so she remade herself.
Once home, Sadie is butting heads with Luke and her father, Gideon. Much like Luke, Gideon doesn’t get (or like) Sadie’s personality change in her teen years. He’s pretty much given up hope that his daughter will turn into the woman he wants her to be.

Despite Sadie’s hard edges, she does have a good heart and she does want to make amends. That doesn’t mean she’s going to revert to the same kid she was before she “changed.” At a certain point, Sadie just informs Luke that they’re going to be friends again so he had better get over it.

You learn, through the narrative, that something bad did happen to Sadie (which I don’t want to ruin for you) – so maybe there’s more to her story than anyone knows. I don't think it is enough to wash away the horrible things Sadie has done, but it does make her more vulnerable as a character.

Anyway, at the end of the first book, Sadie decides she’s going to stay in her hometown and move in with Luke – and another family friend. Since the sexual tension between Sadie and Luke is thick enough to cut with a knife – and then build a sandwich with it – Luke is worried.
There are currently three books in the series. And, while the mysteries are silly and entertaining, the most important thing in these books is the sense of family. I love a book when the mysteries are secondary to the character development – and I can honestly say that’s what is going on here.

Sadie is learning – and at a quick pace – that she wants what she gave up years ago. Luke is hiding behind an annoying girlfriend that he sees no future with -- but he needs a shield to keep him away from Sadie. Before it’s all said and done you know, as a reader, that these two will find their way together. You’re just waiting to find out how.

The secondary characters in these stories are just as important as Sadie and Luke are – especially Gideon. While Sadie’s relationship with Luke is a work in progress, her relationship with Gideon is a natural disaster in progress.

The whole ensemble really is charming and I’m just enjoying the ride. I can’t wait for the next chapter in the story.

Pecked to Death (Book One) is .99. Slumbered to Death (Book Two) is .99. Salvaged to Death is .99.

BOOK REVIEW: Liliana Hart's J.J. Graves Mysteries offer hot times, true emotion

When I find a series I love – I run with it.

I mean, I devour every single book in the series – not a thought to anything else on my Kindle – until I’m done. That’s why my entire winter was filled with J.D. Robb books and nothing else. Yeah, I came to that series late.

Well, while on vacation last week, it happened again.

I discovered Liliana Hart’s Addison Holmes mystery series two years ago. I liked the sassy heroine and the bevy of colorful people in her life. I found that Hart’s writing style was so easy, it was almost as if she was reading my mind when it came to the way that people talk.

So, while I have kept up with Hart’s Addison Holmes series over the years, I never tried her J.J. Graves Mysteries. I have no idea why.

This week, though, bad weather and vacation collided and I finally gave them a try. Less than 24 hours later, I had read through all three of them. Yes, I loved them that much.

The series is about J.J. Graves, a small town funeral home director and city coroner who has had her fair
share of trouble. Her parents died two years ago and, while they weren’t bad parents (they weren't especially good parents, mind you), they were bad people. It seems that J.J. – Jaye, to her friends—didn’t exactly know what was going on where her parents were concerned.

After their deaths, Jaye is forced into the “family business” of running the funeral home and has to return to her small town roots.

Jaye isn’t alone, though, her best friend from childhood, Jack, is the town sheriff. And while everyone else in town looks down their nose at Jaye – he is always her rock. Although, he’s starting to look at her a different way. Yeah, you know the way.

Enter Brody – a famous writer – who wants to follow Jaye around on her latest case to get ideas for a book. Brody and Jaye quickly fall into bed – much to Jack’s chagrin – and there’s a certain sinister element closing in on Jaye -- and Brody just may be a part of it.

So far, there have been three books in the series (a fourth is coming this winter). As a reader, it’s not hard to see where things are going here. Jack and Jaye are the couple to root for and – after the surprising and horrifying events at the end of the first book – Jack makes his intentions known pretty quickly in the second book.

The strength in these books is not the mysteries themselves – although they’re fine. The background on Jaye’s family and Jack’s time out of town is very interesting. They’re not what’s important, though. Jaye and Jack are what’s important – and it’s their bond that keeps the series at such a high level.

Jaye is a character that is constantly unsure of herself. Jack is a character that is never unsure of himself. Jaye needs a little push from time to time. Jack is willing to give her that push. They’re fiery and hot and they don’t put up with each other’s crap -- so they're arguing (and making up) a lot.

That is why I love them.

Seriously. If you’re a fan of the genre – and you like a lot of sex (if you don’t like sex, don’t read it because there’s a lot of sex in these) – these are the books for you.

Trust me, give them a try.

Dirty Little Secrets (Book 1) is free. A Dirty Shame (Book 2) is $4.99. Dirty Rotten Scoundrel (Book 3) is $4.99. For what I'm sure is a limited time, an omnibus of all three books in the series is available for .99.