January 31, 2012

book reviews: january 2012 recap

January Read of the Month:
Heather Wardell's Blank Slate Kate
This year starts off big with several solid good reads. I spent the first 21 days of the new year sick in bed, but fortunately I had these great books to keep me company.

Along the way I also made friends with some pretty awesome authors. It's going to be a great year if this month was any indication -- bookwise at least.

And the first pick of the month for 2012 is... Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell. Heather's story was fantastic and had me flipping the pages almost faster than I could read the words on them.

Check out a recap of all of the books featured on Change the Word this month.


Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark
Rating: 4 of 5
It does not take a fellow journalist to appreciate the humor and frustration in Lauren Clark's Stay Tuned. But as one, I found myself relating all to well with the plights, successes and everyday life experienced by the novel's protagonist, Melissa Moore.

Melissa is the producer of the nightly news in her Georgian hometown. Her only child has gone to college, her husband becomes increasingly distant under the stresses or his job and her mother suffers from dementia. Struggling to deal with her already stressful life, her world shifts again when she must step up to co-anchor the show after the previous on air talent is fired for fighting on the air.

And her life pretty much gets more chaotic from there.
Read the rest of the review here.

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Rating: 4 of 5
In Smooth Talking Stranger, the heroine learns to act on her own wants and desires rather than those of others — and she lands two guys in the process.

Ella Varner is an advice columnist who lives in Austin with her vegan boyfriend. (She became a vegan, too, though she really craves steaks, hamburgers and everything else a good Texas girl would want.) Her life is going along smoothly, if a little uneventful, until family drama gets in the way. Her little sister abandons her newborn son with their mother, and Ella must either come care for him herself or the child's welfare will be at stake.
Read the rest of the review here.

Promises to Keep by Jane Green
Rating: 3 of 5
In Jane Green's Promises to Keep, Callie Perry lives a content life as a photographer, wife and mother in small-town New York. Her biggest worries are for her loved ones. Her sister Steffi has trouble growing up and continues wandering through life. Her best friend Lila Grossman has finally found a good man, but doesn't know if it is meant to be. And her parents divorced 30 years ago, and have barely spoken since that time. Also, her husband works too much, and that's a little tough.

This is what I thought the book would be about when I picked it up. Without giving away too much of the plot, just let me say it takes a huge turn halfway through. 
Read the rest of the review here.

The Next Always by Nora Roberts
Rating: 4 of 5
Nora Roberts knows how to deliver an entertaining story with likable characters, well-developed plot elements in a polished presentation. The Next Always, one of her latest installments, hits the mark on all of these points.

The first book in the trilogy, The Next Always begins with the three Montgomery brothers and their mother renovating the Inn BoonsBoro. The youngest, architect Beckett, lives above a pizza parlor and spends most of his days fine tuning his family's vision.

He also pines for Clare Brewster, the girl he has loved since high school, but who married another man and moved away. Years later, she is widowed, raising three sons and running Turn the Page, her bookstore.
Read the rest of the review here.

Breaking Even by Kathleen Kole
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Kathleen Kole's Breaking Even tells the story of a woman who wants to see if the grass is really greener.

Penelope has a stable job as an account, a loving fiancé and a family of in laws who adore her. Though her life seems idyllic, she realizes she may be in a rut after a meet-cute with Scott, a single father. She begins to question her life and if she is the woman she wants to be.

After making over her hair, makeup and wardrobe, Penelope and Scott are brought together again, and she wonders if there is something to it. But there is something holding her back from completely going with Scott — namely her fiancĂ© and his family.
Read the rest of the review here.

Unscripted by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz
Rating: 4.5 of 5
If you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of reality TV shows — or your just enjoy a fun read — check out Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz's Unscripted, where you will get more than a glimpse.

Abby Edwards left Kansas for Hollywood years ago with hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Fast forward to present day, and she drifts between reality shows and clip shows as a producer. Her latest is a Bachelor(ette) knock-off where one of her bosses Will, is an adorable person from her past who gives her mixed signals.

And while she is trying to figure out her professional and romantic life, Abby also has to deal with friend troubles and the fact that an ex-boyfriend has shot to fame with a screenplay written based on their failed relationship.
Read the rest of the review here.

Princess of Park Avenue by Daniella Brodsky
Rating: 4 of 5
You can change your zip code, job and highlights, but can you ever change who you are at heart? That is where Lorraine Machuchi finds herself in Daniella Brodsky's Princess of Park Avenue.

She's a Brooklyn girl who devoted most of her life to loving Tommy Lupo and waiting for him to commit. Lorraine realizes her visions of happily ever after might not come true unless she changes.  After throwing away earlier opportunities, she finally makes it to Manhattan as a hair stylist to prove something to the world — especially Tommy.
Read the rest of the review here.

Scotland by Starlight by Nancy Volkers
Rating: 3.5 of 5
In Nancy Volkers' Scotland by Starlight, the sequel to a Scottish Ferry Tale, Cassie Wrentham moves from America to Scotland to make it work with her on-off gentleman friend, Ralph. Trying to find a balance between love and independence, Cassie is afraid of jumping head-first into anything.

Through the book, she learns to deal with these reservations and appreciate the moment and what it has while she has it.
Read the rest of the review here.

Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell *PICK OF THE MONTH*
Rating: 5 of 5
In Heather Wardell's Blank Slate Kate, the main character wakes up naked next to a man she does not know. To complicate matters more, she realizes she is 32 — even though her last memories are of being 17.

Calling herself Kate, the protagonist begins the challenging, frustrating and suspenseful journey of finding out who she is and what happened to the past 15 years of her life. Along the way, she must reconcile whether or not she wants to be the person of her past or forge a new future.
Read the rest of the review here.

Year of the Chick by Romi Moondi
Rating: 4 of 5
In Romi Moondi's Year of the Chick, a young woman must take control of her life, or face having it run by her strict parents.

Like most other women her age, heroine Romi Narindra worries about finding love, meaning to her life and losing the extra pounds that have somehow accumulated in the past year. But unlike all women, Romi comes from a traditional Indian family who, despite living in Canada for years, still want to control her life. That means interfering in her life to ensure she slims down and gets a husband (but only if he meets their high standards).
Read the rest of the review here.

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where ideas begin

I'm taking a break from the Vile Villains countdown (What can I say? I've been lazy.), because I want to talk about something else.

And it's my blog, I'll do what I want.

I want to chat about ideas. That's where everything begins. Someone has an idea and develops it into something more.

I sound totally arrogant when I say this, but I never have a shortage of ideas. The novels, short stories, blog posts, TV shows, movies and other projects I have on my to-do list is quite long. I love that, and have no apologizes for it.

A friend recently asked me where I came up with all of my ideas. That's a tough one for me to answer, because while some people put out fires or kick field goals (super manly professions I just threw out there), I come up with ideas. It's just something I do.

Still, there are a few practices I can share with you, and I hope you'll post comments with any tips you might have.


Five Ways to Get Ideas

•  Listen to your dreams. If a dream is vivid enough to keep my attention after I wake, I make a point to quickly jot it down in the notebook on my nightstand or in my phone. I try to put down as many memories as possible before I am completely out of that lucid state. I've actually had a few dreams pan out into scenes in a book or inspire a whole book.

•  Change your routine. I learned this one in journalism school. By changing your routine, such as taking a different route to work, you will not only get your brain thinking differently, but you will also see something new that might inspire you.

•  Eavesdrop. Every conversation you inadvertently (or intentionally) overhear can give you ideas. My writing group buddies and I just talked about this last night. You can not only add some flavor to the dialogue in your book, but who knows? Maybe hearing a girl recall her awful date from the night before might inspire something more. (This is another instance where having a notebook or phone handy will help. I've written down things people have said to me and worked them into stories later. That brings up another point: Be careful of what you say around me. You might end up in a book.)

•  Talk to others. In the past week I have had a few clear instances where talking with others helped me come up with a story idea, or at least plans to tell an already existing idea. For example, Friday night while conversing with a fellow author on Twitter (Natalie Aaron, one of the fabulous co-authors of Unscripted), I shared a personal story. She thought it was funny, threw out a book title and told me to write it, because she wanted to read it. I mentioned the exchange with my sister, who gave me a similar response and a few pointers on where I thought the story might go. By Saturday evening, I had a first chapter written and a rough outline for the rest of the book. Will this turn into a novel? Maybe. If it does, I'll have to send some major props to the woman who helped me come up with the idea. And this is only one example. For every story I tell, I can guarantee there was a moment where a conversation I had with a person transformed it into a better idea. This leads me to the next idea way...

•  Learn from experience. While I'm not saying you have to write a memoir, reality can inspire fiction. Take that story I shared with Natalie. It was a quick anecdote, but the more I talked about it with people and thought about it, the more I realized I could make it into a story. At this point it's stopped being autobiographical, but inspirational works. 

Now it's your turn. What do you do to come up with ideas? 

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January 30, 2012

following the dream

Blogger's note: After reviewing Romi Moondi's Year of the Chick yesterday, I'm pleased to welcome her as today's guest blogger. Being a writer is a tough process, and Romi was good enough to share her experience. She is proof that instead of waiting for opportunities, you have to create them.

By Romi Moondi
Guest blogger

Hi Laura, I'm really glad you gave me the chance to post here, because especially with the hope of a new year upon us, I wanted to talk about lifelong dreams and never giving up.

My dream for the last 10 years was the following: finish a book, get it published and have an audience of readers who aren't just my friends.

For the first several years of my dream, I was aimless and ignorant. The quality wasn't there, the focus wasn't there, and the research required in finding a good agent wasn't there.

By 2008, with six months of random blogging under my belt, a good friend helped me figure out a theme, and the blog for Year of the Chick began. It was one girl's diary of taking a year to find a man and avoid arranged marriage. It bordered on ridiculous and many of the scenarios were far-fetched, but the underlying feelings were real.

After 12 months of Year of the Chick, more than 100,000 hits and an average of 40 comments per post, I felt confident that this topic was something people cared about.

So in 2009 I wrote Year of the Chick into a novel.

Again with the help of a friend and fellow writer, a writing group I formed in Toronto, and an online writing workshop where I posted a chapter a week, I finished my first full-length novel.

Then came the literary agent rejections.

It was probably 80 rejections and no-replies, until I finally found an agent.

Then came the PUBLISHER rejections.

Every publishing house I'd ever heard of said they liked my book but didn't love it, or whatever else you might say to a wide-eyed writer trying to break through the slush-pile.

By mid-2010, I banished Year of the Chick, far, far away into my hard drive, and focused on blogging for a while. Blogging was fun, there was no rejection, and I was writing what I loved.

For the rest of the year, I switched between blogging and writing a parody of the bestselling The Book of Awesome. When my agent decided she didn't like this parody, I said goodbye to her. The only other option was changing it to suit her interests. And I refused to do that. So I finished my Book of Awful parody by early 2011, because even if I didn't know who would take it, I wanted to finish it for ME.

Then came Amazon, and the wonder of "self-publishing." This wasn't a brand new thing, but it was the first I'd heard of it, and it finally overcame the obstacle of the gatekeepers standing in my way. The only trick of course was that you had to publish something very good, or the readers would let you know it sucked.

Fair enough, so I decided to try.

What followed was the resurgence of my dream, and since then I've never looked back.

I've been self-published for eight months now, with The Book of Awful accounting for most of my 1,100 sales, and the new release Year of the Chick making up the rest. That's right, self-publishing on Amazon/iTunes/Kobo/Barnes & Noble gave me the confidence and opportunity to dust off Year of the Chick, re-edit it, and bring it out into the world this past November. It is available in digital and print, and it's the best thing I ever did.

This was never the route I imagined, when ten years ago I wished to be a published author. But does it really matter how it happened? I don't think so. Best of all, each new stranger that leaves a wall post on my Facebook Author page telling me they loved Year of the Chick, makes me realize my dream came true.

So don't give up when the path to your dream looks different than what you envisioned; just remember the main desire, and follow it to the end.

Thanks for listening and I hope you'll enjoy Year of the Chick, a humorous book one in a trilogy that means the world to me.

Brief bio:
I am Canadian, and here are some strange personal facts:

•  I wore denim-top-to-bottom in high school (there is a direct inverse relationship between how much denim I wore and how few tongues were launched down my throat at school dances...or anywhere in high school at all).
•  I'm continually baffled by that Malaysian baby whose father let him smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. That baby had so many fat rolls, and I thought cigarettes were supposed to be slimming.
•  I always hated those insufferable couples who would cuddle and make out on the subway...until I became half of one. But now I'm back to being none of one so I hate them again.
 

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/RomiMoondi
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/romimoondi 

Buy the book!

http://www.amazon.com/Year-of-the-Chick-ebook/dp/B005ZY7DG0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1326240962&sr=8-6


Check out Romi's other stops on her blog tour: http://www.clpblogtours.com/2011/12/year-of-chick-by-romi-moondi.html

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January 29, 2012

book review: year of the chick

In Romi Moondi's Year of the Chick, a young woman must take control of her life, or face having it run by her strict parents.

Like most other women her age, heroine Romi Narindra worries about finding love, meaning to her life and losing the extra pounds that have somehow accumulated in the past year. But unlike all women, Romi comes from a traditional Indian family who, despite living in Canada for years, still want to control her life. That means interfering in her life to ensure she slims down and gets a husband (but only if he meets their high standards).

Hoping to avoid their meddling, Romi gives herself one year to lose the weight and land the guy on her own terms. That journey is often bumpy, and does not always go as planned, but it makes for a good story.

In short, this book is funny. The main character is sometimes ridiculous, but in the most charming way. She's a bit vulgar (when out of earshot of her parents), fights with her siblings and gets a little dramatic when the situation calls for it. As a fellow lover and user of the dramatics, I totally got it. (I like to pretend I'm not dramatic, but who am I kidding. Just don't tell my parents I owned up to it.)

One of my favorite aspects of the story is the relationship Romi has with her sister. It is funny to follow. They're rude and awful to each other, but in another regard they have an unspoken alliance dealing with their common enemy: their parents' plans.

This is the first book I've read with an Indian heroine. I've seen a couple of movies that introduced me to some aspects of the culture (i.e. "Bend it Like Beckham," "Bride and Prejudice," etc.), but otherwise this was a new and welcome experience for me. Moondi did a great job of using humor and storytelling to help out a novice like me, who has no personal experience. That's good work on her part.

Because at the heart of the story, no matter who you are or where you came from, we bitches face the same issues, right?

Aside from that, the story was captivating enough it held my interest through the end. I look forward to reading the next two installments in this series, and recommend this book.

Rating: 4 of 5

Check back tomorrow to read a guest post from the author!

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/RomiMoondi
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/romimoondi 

Buy the book!
http://www.amazon.com/Year-of-the-Chick-ebook/dp/B005ZY7DG0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1326240962&sr=8-6

Check out Romi's other stops on her blog tour: http://www.clpblogtours.com/2011/12/year-of-chick-by-romi-moondi.html

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January 27, 2012

parks and recreation: bowling for votes

Notice: This review/ recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I've said it the last two weeks, and I'll say it again: I love the Knope 2012 story arc on Parks and Recreation. Like other long-running plot lines on the show, such as the Harvest Festival, it brings out the best in all of the characters.

And by best I mean the most ridiculous and funny to watch.

For the main plot, in response to a focus group about her campaign, Leslie and Ben decide to hold a bowling night. Ben thinks they're doing it to show Leslie being more approachable to the masses. In actuality, she is targeting one specific man from the focus group who said, "She doesn't seem like the type you can go bowling with."

As we all know, and Leslie admitted, she is not letting go of things. Of course mayhem ensues.

Ron, Tom and Ann also join in the bowling fun by playing on a lane on the other side of the alley. Now, this is a bit I wish we would have seen more of. Every moment of it was historical. From Tom taking forever to pick out his nickname, only to have Ron enter him as "Tom" (and putting Ann down as "Girl") to him beating Ron by bowling granny style (Ron: "Son, people can see you"), the whole bit was a hoot.

My favorite part was the bit at the end where Ron returns to the alley, but I won't spoil it for you now. Just know, it was one of my favorite scenes ever.

At Casa de Andy-April-Ben-Champion, the rest of the crew is fundraising for Leslie's campaign, with Jerry in charge. The prize for the person who raises the most dough: two free tickets to a movie theater.

Of course this is just about the most exciting thing ever for Chris who loves winning.

Everyone had their moments of beauty in this arc.
•  Chris offering praise or advice to all of his calls while raking in money.
•  Jerry giving out his social security number to a potential downer.
•  Donna talking dirty to one of her call recipients.
•  Andy telling a caller they cannot accept donations greater than $50.
•  April using different accents with each call so she can be Chris (because she doesn't want him to be happy).

During this bit we also learn that Chris plans to ask Jerry's daughter to move in with him, while she plans to break up with him. The scene between Chris and April at the end is super sweet. (It even made one of my friends tear up a little, apparently.)

Back at the bowling alley, Leslie took on Derek, the jerk who said he didn't like, and after letting him win once, she challenges him to a rematch. If she wins, he has to vote for her. If he wins, she has to clean his house for a month.

Being a really good bowler ("Just ask Ron"), Leslie defeats Derek who calls her the b word (rhymes with witch).

Ben, who had spent most of the episode trying to calm down Leslie, loses it at this point and sucker punches the guy (it wasn't the manliest punch I've seen, but it did the job). Though Ben is horrified by his actions immediately, Leslie isn't. In fact, it turns her on a little.

That's what I love about these two. Though Leslie is typically the nutty one, and Ben the straight man, when he loses it, he loses it. Total awesomesauce.

And instead of firing Ben as her campaign manager, or making a real public apology, Leslie stands by her man and publicly announces that she appreciates him sticking up for her. One of my favorite lines of the night, "I do not condone violence, but I have to be honest, it was awesome. And my campaign manager and I made out a lot afterward."

Well said, Leslie. (And apparently the voters liked it, too, as shown in a follow-up focus group.)

Like I said, this episode did a great job featuring every characters' strengths, making it a real ensemble piece. At the same time it carried on a few story lines, and I'm excited to see what is up next.

Now it's your turn: What did you think of last night's episode?

January 26, 2012

thursday tv preview - 1/26/12


Tonight's 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation offerings look to be good, here's what we have in store.

30 Rock
Season 6, episode 3: Idiots Are People Three

After causing rage in idiots everywhere last week, Liz will have to find a way to appease Tracy, who is joined by his fellow idiots in protesting TGS. She will also have to deal with the ramifications of Jack meddling in her personal life — namely her new relationship with Criss. Jack, who is preoccupied, will also face off with the infamous Devin Banks.

And don't forget Jenna and Kenneth are wrapped up in mayhem with Kelsey Grammer and their Best Friends Gang.

With lots of guest stars, and a story line to continue from last week, this episode has the potential to be funny.


Parks and Recreation
Season 4, episode 13: Bowling for Votes

Running against the likable, if not completely idiotic Bobby Newport (guest star Paul Rudd), Leslie and Ben decide to host a bowling night. Meanwhile, April, Chris and Jerry will hold a competition to see who can raise the most funds.

Here's the official word from the Knope 2012 website:
Hello, Pawneeans! Do you want to meet Leslie Knope? Do you think Leslie Knope isn't the kind of person you would go bowling with? Do you think you can bowl better than Leslie Knope? Do you bowl an average of 132 and base your opinion of others on how they bowl, Derrick? Then come down to the Rock N' Roll Bowling Alley this Thursday and meet Leslie Knope. She is running for City Council and wants your vote, but just as importantly, she is a really good bowler.

This show is all about the details — I encourage you to check out this and the Pawnee Parks Department and Harvest Festival websites. Too funny. (And I want that "I Met Li'l Sebastian" T-shirt.)

I'm loving this campaign plot, and I'm sure tonight's episode will be hilarious. Plus, who doesn't love bowling?

Check back tomorrow morning for my recaps and reviews of these episodes.

January 25, 2012

book review: blank slate kate

In Heather Wardell's Blank Slate Kate, the main character wakes up naked next to a man she does not know. To complicate matters more, she realizes she is 32 — even though her last memories are of being 17.

Calling herself Kate, the protagonist begins the challenging, frustrating and suspenseful journey of finding out who she is and what happened to the past 15 years of her life. Along the way, she must reconcile whether or not she wants to be the person of her past or forge a new future.

It's hard to say much about this book without giving what I consider key plot elements. Every word from beginning to end drove the story forward. The story kept me guessing, and I truly did not know until the end how it would turn out. I can't remember the last time I read a book and had so many audible gasps or "Oh my Gods."

Wardell crafted the story well, which constantly drew emotions ranging from laughter (such as her astonishment of the boy band craze to sweep the world in the late 90s) and sadness (as she faces tragedies that happened such as 9/11 and Columbine).

Like the title suggests, Kate is virtually a blank slate. Yet, I found her relatable, quite a feat considering I've never suffered amnesia. Initially, the only thing I thought I had in common with her was a mutual love for iPhones. (I have two — one for work and one for personal, and I in no way find that excessive.)  As the story progressed, though, Kate's less relatable issue (amnesia) grows to include ones readers can identify with (desire to appear perfect while overcoming personal demons).

The supporting cast, including her family and friends also added to the suspense. Up until more than halfway through the book, I can say I did not know if I preferred her romantic figure from the past or the prospect form her present. Much like Kate, one minute I would find myself rooting for the new guy, then the next cheering on Mr. Past. (Lucky girl: two studly prospects? No fair.) Then I'd decide I hated them both, and something else would happen, and I'd be torn again.

All of this combined kept the story fast-paced. I devoured the book in one evening, and basically forced myself to put it down long enough to eat dinner.

My only issue with the book? The fact that it made me realize I may have some deep issues to deal with, because I apparently like books and movies where the main characters sustain memory loss (i.e. Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me? and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

Actually, having mentioned both of those stories, I saw a parallel in the theme: your heart does not always forget even if your mind does. That's a powerful thought right there.

This was the first of Wardell's books that I have read, but I know it will not be my last. I'm also going to go ahead and break out this rating for the first time in 2012 (so forgive the dust)...

Rating: 5 of 5

Author Bio:
Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1,200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours).

After careers as a software developer and elementary school computer science teacher, in 2005 I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month. I succeeded, and the first draft of my first novel "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!

Buy the Book!
•  Smashwords.com (variety of formats)
•  Amazon.com (Kindle)
•  Kobo (ePub format)
•  Barnes and Noble (for their nook reader)
•  Apple's iBook store on your iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch 

Blank Slate Kate is also available in paperback at: 
•  CreateSpace.com
•  Amazon.com   

Connect with Heather!
http://www.heatherwardell.com/contact.shtml
http://www.twitter.com/heatherwardell
http://www.facebook.com/heather.wardell.author
http://www.goodreads.com/heatherwardell

Also, Heather's book Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many is available for free on Amazon.

Everyone who leaves a comment at http://www.clpblogtours.com/2011/12/blank-slate-kate-by-heather-wardell.html will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Blank Slate Kate before Jan. 27 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries! 

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January 24, 2012

rogue lawman

Vile Villain No. 8: Lawrence Wargrave from Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None

Spoiler alert: This post contains specific Plot information.

And Then There Was None was the first grown-up detective novel I read. To this day, it's the one with the most shocking ending I've ever seen.

If you've read it, you know why.

It's the perfect crime.

Hide your bloodlust most of your life while handing down vicious verdicts as a judge. Fake your own death while systematically killing off everyone else you trapped on an island using a poem as inspiration. Leave almost no clues of who the real killer was only to reveal it posthumously through a message in a bottle.

Judge Wargrave pulled it off, and he would have gotten away with it if not for his own desire to be acknowledged.

Sure, most of his victims were unpunished killers and guilty to his thinking. It still doesn't change the fact that he chose to terrorize people to see the murder through and did it only, because he spent most of his life wanting to kill them.

Totally creepy and bad, right?

Check back later, today, for No. 7. 

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January 23, 2012

pushing through

Blogger's note: I am thrilled to welcome Nancy Volkers as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. As an aspiring author, I wanted to know how someone like Nancy manages to push through those moments when writing another word seems impossible. Thanks to Nancy for doing such a great job answering, and for giving me the chance to review her book.

By Nancy Volkers
Guest blogger

Thanks Laura, for inviting me to post! I’m having a great time touring with Scotland by Starlight.

Laura asked if I could talk about how I deal with difficult-to-write moments – what happens when the newness of a story wears off a bit? How do you keep going?

The first thing that came to mind was that writing a novel can be like having a relationship. At first, everything is rosy and wonderful – there’s this overwhelming sense of anticipation and a “high” that comes from new love. When that dies down a bit, you’re left either with the basis for a long-lasting, solid relationship, or not much of anything. I think it can be the same way with a novel… you start writing, and after that “newness” wears off you realize that either you have the core of a solid, fascinating tale, or you have a false start. ;-)

Even if you know you’ve got a novel in you, it’s not always as easy as sitting down and letting the words flow. I think that’s partly because you can’t know the entire story all at once. Even if you know how the novel ends, you never know what’s going to pop up along the way. Instead of fighting that lack of knowledge, embracing it is one way to get through the tough-to-write moments. E. L. Doctorow said that writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

I had moments during both novels when I was stuck. Those moments came more often during the writing of Scotland by Starlight, because (I think) it covers more ground and follows more characters. Sometimes I was “stuck” in the classic, writer’s-block sense – I couldn’t see which path to follow – and sometimes I was “stuck” by having so many paths to follow and not knowing which one to take.

There’s no magic to getting through the difficult parts. It helps to know why I’m stuck, though. Being frustrated with a scene or the direction of a story can mean that I’m exhausted and need a break. It can mean that I’m headed in the wrong direction. Or it can mean I’m headed in precisely the right direction, and something in the story is hitting a bit close to home and making me uncomfortable.

My most common remedies for stuckness: Take a break. Have a snack. Go for a run. Take a nap. Do some hard physical labor, something that doesn’t have anything to do with words! And sometimes, I just breathe through it and keep typing.


Contact Nancy:
Visit Nancy’s website!

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January 22, 2012

book review: scotland by starlight

In Nancy Volkers' Scotland by Starlight, the sequel to a Scottish Ferry Tale, Cassie Wrentham moves from America to Scotland to make it work with her on-off gentleman friend, Ralph. Trying to find a balance between love and independence, Cassie is afraid of jumping head-first into anything.

Through the book, she learns to deal with these reservations and appreciate the moment and what it has while she has it.

The story had nice moments. There was romance, good description and story-telling. And as someone who did not read the first book, I felt Volkers did an adequate job of catching me up on what I might have missed. I never felt like I was playing catch-up, which is good.

The Cassie and Ralph were the whole package: likable, interesting and entertaining. Though an older gentleman than the leading men I am accustomed to reading, I found Ralph adorable. He is kind, passionate, romantic and everything you could want. He definitely reignited my dream of landing a Scottish boyfriend. (Feel free to spread the word if you know any hunky Scot bachelors. I'd take a Brit, too.)

Like others have said, the book's epilogue was sad and unexpected. Both of those words only touch upon what I experienced reading it. I found it completely heartbreaking.

I'm torn on my thoughts about it. It evoked emotion, which was good. It was also beautifully written. But, without giving away what happens, it hurt to read (be prepared to shed a few tears). Ultimately, I don't know if it helped this particular story. I would have preferred to leave book two as it was and develop the epilogue in a third book.

Rating: 3.5 of 5

Check back tomorrow to read a guest post from the author, Nancy Volkers.  Click on the image below, and leave a comment for your chance to win a prize as part of her blog tour.



Contact Nancy:
Visit Nancy’s website!

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January 20, 2012

parks and recreation: campaign ad

The latest Parks and Recreation episode worked on a whole lot of levels. It was funny — with long, thought-out bits and quick zingers — progressed the story arc and it effectively used the cast.

In Campaign Ad we met Leslie's main competition in the city council election: Bobby Newport, the heir of the Sweetums empire played by my longtime crush Paul Rudd. He is a politician wannabee not because he wants to change the world, but because he wants to prove he is not the complete idiot he is to his father. And he just wants it.

Team Knope must come up with a way to counteract it. I loved Leslie's one-on-one with the camera about her campaign: "I'm running for office, I'm surrounded by my friends, my campaign manager and I are in love. This is exactly how I dreamed it would be when I was a kid. Except I wasn't 70 points behind, and my campaign manager was Mr. Belvedere."

Ben, Leslie's new campaign manager, decides the best way to combat this increasingly popular new candidate is to blow their budget on an ad during a local basketball game. He wants the ad to point out Bobby's flaws, but Leslie does not like that. She wants to keep it positive.

This arc was hilarious, because even though Leslie and Ben are together and in love, they are also both stubborn overachievers. I mean, these are the same people who waged a war during Model UN. To resolve their differences, they set out to create two different campaign ads and will use the one people like best.

Classic Tom wants to choose the side of the victor, and helps both teams with their ads and makes a point to tell both that he thinks they are great. He's always good for a laugh.

My favorite part about this whole bit was the moment Ben, Jerry and Tom sat down to do the voiceover for Ben's ad. Deep movie voice: "Bobby Newport." Deeper: "Bobby Newport." Deeper and darker: "Newport." More: "Neeewwwwwwwppooooooorrrrt." (And of course Leslie puts Jerry on Ben's team as punishment. Poor Jerry. He's never going to get a break.)

Through all of this we see the big campaign budget Bobby Newport has with multiple ads on TV, buses, benches and even candy bars. ("Have a Bobby Bar. My dad made them.")

Ultimately, the campaign team decides Ben's ad is the best, but Leslie tackles Ben at the TV studio preventing him from delivering it. (This was so funny. The two of them rolling around on the floor fighting over the DVD while Leslie shouts, "I am Leslie Knope, and I do not approve of this message.")

They eventually work things out with an ad the compromises — and even includes some cute footage of young Leslie. Even cuter: watching Ben and Leslie cuddle up to watch it on his computer. Swoon.

Meanwhile, Andy and April decide to make a week of getting everything checked out with their doctors. This whole montage was funny, and it highlighted the good chemistry between these characters.

Also, Chris reaches out to Ron as a potential replacement for Ben. Forever hating to be the bearer of bad news, Ron could be the perfect answer to Chris' problems. Ron not only can do it, but he takes pleasure in it.

And for all the Chris haters out there, I thought this was a good episode for him. His interaction with Ron was interesting to watch, and it brought out one of the best Ron lines we've had in a while during a one-on-one interview.

All around a good episode. This show is smart and they don't leave details untouched. (For example, the scroll screen on Leslie's ad showing everything she approves of was filled with comedy. I'm going to have to re-watch and pause it so I can read them all.)

This was probably my favorite of the Leslie's campaign episodes to date. The choice of villain was good, and I think the writers are setting up a good story. Leslie is the candidate who should win, but maybe won't. And even if she doesn't, maybe there will be something else for her to do.

We'll be back next week with another recap. Until then, what did you think of last night's episode?

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30 rock: idiots are people two

Last night's new 30 Rock episode was packed with celebrity guest stars. Three of the four appeared in the first 90 seconds alone and all had a hand in pushing along the main and supporting story arcs, which will be continued next week in Part Two.

Kelsey Grammer is back starring as a version of himself in the Best Friend's Gang. We got a glimpse of him at the beginning of the episode — and at the end with his James Bond-esque phone call and song number — which means we'll likely see more of him in next week's part two of the same episode. Jenna and Kenneth, the other part of the Best Friend's Gang, were on a quest to change Jenna's light bulb when things went awry. Who couldn't see them making trouble out of something as simple as changing a light bulb? That pretty much sums up subplot No. 1.

James Marsden makes his first appearance on the show as Criss, Liz's new boyfriend. Because he plans to open an organic gourmet hot dog cart and he spells his name without an h and with two ses, Liz is hesitant to introduce him to Jack. During a M&M pancake lunch, Liz misses most of her conversation with Criss, because Jack is in her head pointing out all of the flaws she knows he would hate. This arc takes a nice twist at the end of the episode.

Ann Curry and Denise Richard star as versions of themselves in the main story arc. In true Tracy form, he manages to offend the gay community, requiring Liz to step in to fix his problem. In doing so, she offends the "Idiot Community," and Tracy spearheads an effort to unite all idiots to protest NBC. As celebrity spokesperson, Denise arrives. It should be fun to see what she does next week.

This episode was a hit for me as 30 Rock endeavors to get back its swagger after months off the air. The writing — especially dialogue — was well done, and I found myself scrambling to try to remember all of the one-liners. My favorite of all was one we saw in the season preview, and it will likely become part of my vocabulary in the upcoming weeks:

"Now I'm headed home for a nooner, which is what I call having pancakes for lunch."

That's classic Lemon.

Other notes from the episode:
•  I love the idea of M&M pancakes. Delicious like chocolate chip pancakes, but you also get that thin candy shell.
•  Jack claiming he was hurt by Lemon not telling him about her new relationship shows they have come a long ways in the past few years. Her worry about them meeting, and his determination to get involved, also add up to the fact that Liz and Jack's friendship have gone deeper.
•  Probably my favorite moment was when Jack writes "I used your bathroom" on the memo note of a check, and Liz responds "Not cool." Another example of the good writing on this show.

What did you think of last night's episode?

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January 18, 2012

book review: princess of park avenue

You can change your zip code, job and highlights, but can you ever change who you are at heart? That is where Lorraine Machuchi finds herself in Daniella Brodsky's Princess of Park Avenue.

She's a Brooklyn girl who devoted most of her life to loving Tommy Lupo and waiting for him to commit. Lorraine realizes her visions of happily ever after might not come true unless she changes.  After throwing away earlier opportunities, she finally makes it to Manhattan as a hair stylist to prove something to the world — especially Tommy.

Enter the princesses. Forget Paris and Nicole, this band of frenemies are at the top of the social pyramid in Manhattan now. As characters go, these ladies might make it onto my list of favorites to hate. They're fake and catty, and while I would hate to ever cross paths with them in real life, they were fun to read.

When Lorraine gains the princesses' notice, she sees an opportunity to take her ambitions higher. Throughout this journey, she becomes a famed stylist, finds romance with a new man and learns to appreciate the friends and family from her old neighborhood.

It took me a while to get into Lorraine's world, because it took me a while to get into her. On one level I could relate with her. I know what it's like to sit around and wonder "will he, won't he" with a man. Granted, I didn't waste 20 years, just a Saturday night, but still, I get it. On another, I was frustrated with her. Couldn't she see what she was doing by hanging onto a loser like Tommy? And even after she made changes in her life, was she doing it for the right reasons?

Ultimately, she grew on me, and I found myself rooting for her. When I was frustrated, it was because I wanted her to succeed.

There were a few parts of this book I enjoyed and want to note:
•  The eBay auction sales items at the beginning of the chapters. The item descriptions and buyer comments were not only funny, but they gave a unique glimpse at what was ahead for Lorraine and her friends.
•  The celebrity cameos. Like when Bridget Jones interviewed Colin Firth in The Edge of Reason, I love to see a main character hang with celebs. I always wonder how accurate they are portrayed. I especially wonder if Sarah Jessica Parker likes chatting while she gets her hair done.
•  Pooh-Pooh, the dog. I always love a well-written pet, and I can totally relate to the bond she develops with him.
•  Matt. He was totally adorable, and for a while I was ready to offer myself in Lorraine's place if she didn't wake up and see the sexy in front of her.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author
Daniella Brodsky is the author of six novels published by Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster, one of which has been adapted by Disney as the film, Beauty & The Briefcase, starring Hilary Duff.

Daniella teaches at ANU’s CCE and at her Captain Cook Studio. A native New Yorker, she lives in Canberra, where she is writing her next novel, The Book Code, which has been awarded a 2012 Varuna fellowship.

Connect with Daniella!
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Buy the Book!
Amazon


View the rest of her Chick Lit Plus tour here and enter to win prizes.

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January 16, 2012

calling in sick

I know two weeks ago I said we all have to play hurt sometimes, and I meant it. But after being ill since New Year's, I realize I need to take some time off to focus on getting better.

That means I will be skipping a few of my segments this week: Vile Villains, Thursday TV preview and Reading in the Kitchen. I still plan to have the Thursday TV reviews up on Friday, but I cannot guarantee it.

I will have a previously scheduled book review up Wednesday, because being sick won't prevent me from fulfilling this commitment.

I plan to be back at full speed next week, and I will keep you posted.

Thanks for understanding.

interview with the authors of "unscripted"


Forget what you know about reality TV. Unscripted, by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz, tells the behind-the-scenes story of a producer and her life in the biz.

After reviewing their novel yesterday — and giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars — I am pleased to welcome Natalie and Marla to Change the Word to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Unscripted.

Change the Word: How did you come up with the idea for Unscripted?
Natalie and Marla: It was a natural evolution – we’re both producers and we had stories we wanted to tell (not to mention our friends’ stories!) And as Chick Lit readers, we knew we’d love to read a book about the behind the scenes world of reality TV — so we decided to actually write it.

CTW: Why did you decide to co-author this story?
N&M:
We both had similar pop culture sensibilities — we loved the same TV shows, movies, music and books.  And most importantly, we have the same twisted sense of humor. How many people can say they’ve watched Tommy Wiseau’s cinematic tour de force “The Room” all the way through — twice?  Enough said.

(Blogger's Note: They have me on this one. I've only watched "The Room" in its entirety once. However, I've watched my college newspapers' spoof of it on YouTube a couple dozen times.)

CTW: What is the writing process like when there are two writers involved instead of one?
N&M: Admittedly, it took us a while to find a system that worked. We had great fun talking about the book — we made some light character profiles and had a basic overview of the plot. It seemed so easy — until we actually started trying to write it. We’d sit side by side and stare at the computer — it judged us — and found us lacking. After God knows how many wasted hours we realized the only way we’d be able to write was on our own.  And the only way we could do that is if we outlined the hell out of the book. So we spent months doing just that — and by the end — we had every chapter mapped out. So knowing a few highlights and the basic outcome, we would each take a scene. Then we’d email the pages to each other and make our notes. Next, we’d get together, go over the notes and move on to the next scene.  We loved our system and it totally worked for us.

CTW: What are the benefits of co-authoring a book?
N&M: Number one, we weren’t writing in a vacuum. We had creative feedback, we’d edit each other’s work, and could occasionally pawn off a scene that had us stuck.  Plus, we’d both suffered from the procrastinator’s disease and writing with a partner is a pretty reliable cure. We didn’t want to let each other down (or, err, piss the other one off) so we actually stuck to a pretty strict writing schedule. And lastly, you have someone who knows exactly what you’re going through at every stage of the process…we’re not sure how we would have handled the ups and downs of this mother alone!

CTW: Any drawbacks?
N&M: No — although we’re sure Marla’s husband felt like he had two wives for a while there.

CTW: How did you settle any disagreements or differences of opinions?
N&M: Luckily, we didn’t have too many issues — the winning vote usually went to the person who felt more strongly about the matter.

CTW: What advice can you give to other writers considering a collaborative project?
N&M: For us, keeping our bestie status intact was more important than the book. So we made sure we were on the same page about everything, from writing to promotion — we wanted to be of one mind when it came to all aspects of the book. That’s the only way we could make it work. Our other advice is to be patient — it’s a slow process and at some point you have to just let go and be okay with the big wait.   

CTW: What's next for the two of you?
N&M: We’re still working that out…we’ve talked about maybe writing a follow up to Unscripted…we’ll let you know when we do!

CTW:
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your work?
N&M: Just that we are so appreciative of the support we’ve received from our friends and fellow writers. So many people have gone out of their way to help us and we are forever grateful. Oh, and to our editor friends out there — Knit Cap isn’t based on you — we swear!

NATALIE AARON was born in Kansas, moved to L.A. and based solely on her astrological sign, was hired as a PA on commercials and music videos - only confirming what she’d heard about L.A. was true.  Natalie went on to such critically acclaimed shows as Taxicab Confessions, Behind the Music and Movies That Shook the World, where she learned how to coax interviews from reluctant celebrities. Her recent producing credits include The Judds, Ruby, Sweet Home Alabama and Little People, Big World.  Natalie lives in L.A. and hardly ever wonders how she wound up doing this for a living.

MARLA SCHWARTZ was born in L.A. but moved to England to pursue a graduate degree in Medieval Studies.  After working as Head Researcher for both Dreamworks Animation and writer/director Andrew Niccol, she began working as a television producer. Marla’s producing credits include Blind Date, Starting Over, Making the Band, Bad Girls Club, Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, and Wanted:  Ted or Alive, an assignment that required her to screen footage of a deer being shot, gutted, and cooked.  Marla lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and hardly ever wonders how she wound up doing this for a living.

Visit their website at www.unscriptedbook.com 
Follow them @Unscriptedbook

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unscripted-ebook/dp/B005UPRLM0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326141966&sr=8-2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unscripted-natalie-aaron/1105486508
Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/unscripted/id477827479?mt=11

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January 15, 2012

'like' change the word on facebook

You can now "Like" Change the Word on Facebook! View it here: http://www.facebook.com/changetheword.blogspot.


Check it out for updates of new posts, news and whatever else might be in store. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter @lmchap.

book review: unscripted

If you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of reality TV shows — or your just enjoy a fun read — check out Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz's Unscripted, where you will get more than a glimpse.

Abby Edwards left Kansas for Hollywood years ago with hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Fast forward to present day, and she drifts between reality shows and clip shows as a producer. Her latest is a Bachelor(ette) knock-off where one of her bosses Will, is an adorable person from her past who gives her mixed signals.

And while she is trying to figure out her professional and romantic life, Abby also has to deal with friend troubles and the fact that an ex-boyfriend has shot to fame with a screenplay written based on their failed relationship.

This novel was a big win with me. Abby was a great protagonist to have. She was relatable, funny and someone I cheered for. I felt bad for her when things didn't go well, I was thrilled when they did. The secondary characters were also great. Her friends were eclectic and fun. Her co-workers included a nice mix of hot messes and buddies. 

Plus, Will was definitely crushable. You could see why Abby fell for him, because I did, too.

Aside from the characters, the story itself was fun and interesting. It moved at an appropriate pace, and was filled with action. It kept my attention from the first page until the last. And when it got to the end, I found myself wanting more — not because there were any unanswered questions, but because I was having such a good time.

I also felt like I learned something. Both authors have worked in the industry, and the story answered a lot of questions I have had from years of watching clip and reality TV shows. Even if you aren't interested in the biz, the story still resonates with anyone who had higher hopes for themselves and has been drifting through life. The story shows that sometimes, to get more out of life a person has to take some chances.

I would definitely read another book written by this duo, and I hope they will be back.

Rating: 4.5 of 5



Check back tomorrow to read my interview with Natalie and Marla.

Visit their website at www.unscriptedbook.com 
Follow them @Unscriptedbook

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unscripted-ebook/dp/B005UPRLM0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326141966&sr=8-2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unscripted-natalie-aaron/1105486508
Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/unscripted/id477827479?mt=11

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January 13, 2012

bones: the crack in the code

After a kind of blah first half, the Bones mid-season finale had a lot to offer.

With proper attention given to Brennan and Booth's living arrangements and future brood, most of the show's attention was on introducing a new serial killer villain. This one is a good one. The killer is probably the creepiest they have ever gone up against.

Hours after watching the episode, I am still freaked out about this one. Without giving away too many details, let me just say that this villain will be tough for the Jeffersonian team to beat, and there will be a lot at stake for everyone. It appears no boundaries are in place and nothing is off limits.

The fast-paced episode kept my interest and even had my heart rate going a little faster at moments. The crime was good. The crime-solving was intriguing. This was the first case in a while that really piqued my interest.

As far as other parts of the episode go:
•  The crew effectively used Brennan given the stars' condition. (I believe she gave birth in real life quite soon after filming wrapped — like within a day or so.)
•  The subplot of Brennan and Booth finding a home was also good to see come to fruition. Though important to them, and continuously on their minds, it didn't dominate the other elements of the story (which has kind of been an issue this season).
•  It was good to see Hodgins and Angela work together to do some serious crime solving. They, along with the other secondary characters, stepped it up in this episode.

Bones will be on a break while The Finder takes its regular spot. We'll be back in a few months on this one.

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parks and recreation: the comeback kid

The return of Parks and Recreation offered solid laughs and progressed the story lines set in the first half of the season.

Both Leslie and Ben are separately dealing with their fall from grace after going public with their relationship — and inadvertently creating a scandal by bribing a government employee to keep their relationship a secret. Leslie is trying to revive life in her city council campaign, while Ben is soul searching and exploring his hobbies with his new time off.

Leslie and her makeshift volunteer crew decide to host an event to restart her campaign. Leslie declares Ann her campaign manager, despite suggestions she turn to Ben, who has experience. Her argument against: "he is poison to my campaign." (A statement, though harsh, is something both of them seem to feel.) This moment offered up one of my favorite lines from the whole episode: "Don't listen to your head or your heart and look into my eyes and say yes."

While they put together the event, Chris shows up at Ben's to pull him out of a slump. He finds Ben at work making calzones for a potential business (which he wants to call "Zones") and creating a claymation video. Chris ultimately helps Ben see that he is depressed, and he needs to do something to get out of it.

Back at the Knope campaign, all is not well. No one really knows how to run a campaign, and the volunteers aren't able to put together a good event.

Ultimately, Leslie must face facts about her campaign and turn to someone else for assistance. (I'm not going to flat out say it here, but you should know who it is if you follow the show. I mean, we all know who her campaign manager was going to end up being from the get-go, right?)

Aside from the main storyline, there were other fun elements:
•  Andy and April adopt a three-legged dog, together. The dog is present throughout the whole episode and creates some cute comic relief in tense moments.
•  The Knope 2012 team walking onto the ice was painful to watch, but hilarious.
•  Have to say I love Tom's love for red carpet. It makes me want to stretch some out in my house or put it in my shoes as insoles.
•  Ben's abbreviations for his activities. From "Zones" to "Claymash," it cracked me up.
•  Leslie's attempt at break-dancing. The girl does not have moves, as much as she wants them. I don't either, which makes it all the more fun to watch.
•  Jerry finally gets it right at a moment when everyone wishes he wouldn't. The poor guy can't get a break.

I enjoyed this episode. While I don't think it will make it into my list of all-time favorites, it was a good one to start the second part of the season. It built upon elements we have seen before and planted a few seeds for the future. I think this campaign story arc will be fun to watch through, and every episode about it makes me more excited to see where the rest of it goes.

Parks and Recreation will be back next week at 7:30 CDT on NBC with the episode "Campaign Ad."

Check back later today to see my review of last night's Bones.

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30 rock: dance like nobody's watching

Friends, 30 Rock is back, and I am more excited than ever to see where this season goes after last night's debut.

We have not seen the crew at 30 Rock since May, but it appears they have been busy. Fresh off their holiday breaks, some of the characters appear to have come back changed, while others are as much the same as ever.

The first big news, and probably my favorite part of the episode, was Jenna's big break in the entertainment world. After year's trying to steal the spotlight she has it as the judge America loves to hate on a televised children's singing contest. This story arc provided solid one-liners while she ridiculed the young talent.

For my part, it was nice to see Jenna finally achieve some success and giving Tracy a chance to sweat it out and be jealous.

And Tracy was not the only one reacting to Jenna's work.

Though initially thrilled with the success of the TV show, Jack undergoes a bit of a crisis after realizing he might care more about hurting the children's feelings than a boost in ratings. His sudden conscious comes after being the primary caregiver for his young daughter. With Avery still captive in North Korea (Sidenote: Loved the quick homage to her in a holiday card), Jack assumes primary responsibility for his daughter. In one scene, he sits her down in his office — her dressed in a little pink suit — to tell her about the harshness of life and gain her insight into what to do.

There will surely be more to come from this story based on the things that were not said, and I look forward to seeing how this continues.

For her part, Liz Lemon does not seem entirely affected by everything going on around her. Though normally pessimistic, Liz is super happy throughout the episode, even surprising Jack by saying "I have better things to do than watch Jenna humiliate children." Not even Tracy can bother Liz, and it was fun to see Tracy grow up a little in the process of figuring out what was going on with her.

In another, basically unrelated, storyline, Kenneth is preparing for the end of the world, after his pastor calculated the date of the rapture. He devotes his time to completing the chores he has always wanted, while Frank and the other writers play off his naivete. This was a funny storyline, and meshed with Liz's new motto to "dance like nobody's watching."

My favorite moment of the episode: Liz Lemon busting out some dance moves during an WNBA game.

Overall the episode was the funny we've come to expect from "30 Rock." The episode was not necessarily Earth-shattering, but it was solid and a good start to the season and sets up a few plot elements.

The show will be back next week at 7 p.m. CDT with "Idiots Are People Two!" on NBC.

Be sure to check back later for my reviews of this week's Parks and Recreation and Bones.

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January 12, 2012

thursday tv preview - 1/12/11


Welcome to my first ever Thursday TV. Tonight will be a good one, with all three of the shows I plan to review airing. It will also be a good mix of shows to watch. One show is premiering its season, the second its midseason premiere and the third has a midseason finale. 

Now, to see what is in store tonight. 

Spoiler alert: The following contains plot information about previously aired episodes. 

30 Rock (NBC: 8 p.m. EDT/ 7 p.m. CDT)
Refresher: Liz was still single at the end of last season, and looking forward to spending her summer hiatus learning Spanish and spending time outdoors as part of a community service section gang. Jack's wife is still kidnapped, and he's raising his daughter solo. Tracy won an Academy Award, but lost some of his clout by returning to TGS and his wife's reality TV show is a hit. And so on.

Up tonight: The new season of 30 Rock is FINALLY here, and I'm super excited.

Here's an interview with Alec Baldwin, who gives a quick preview of the season:



My thoughts: In addition to James Marsden, several other fabulous guest stars are signed on for this abbreviated season. Most of all, I'm excited to see what is in store for Jack and Avery's story line with her in North Korea.

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Parks and Recreation (NBC: 8:30 p.m. EDT/ 7:30 p.m. CDT)

Refresher: Before the mid-season break, Leslie and Ben rekindled their romance and went public with it. In return, Leslie received a two-week suspension from work, dropped to a 1 percent approval rating in her city council race and lost her political advisors. Ben "resigned in disgrace," and decided to turn down a boring accountant job to pursue other options. As a Christmas gift to Leslie, the rest of the Parks and Rec cast volunteered to help Leslie win her campaign.

Up tonight: In "The Comeback Kid" (Season 4, Episode 11), Leslie and the Parks and Rec crew attempt to revamp her Pawnee City Council campaign with a swanky event. Meanwhile, Ben kills time while he figures out his next step.

My thoughts: Now that we don't have to worry about Ben and Leslie getting back together, I'm looking forward to a story arc focusing on her campaign. If the show follows the precedent set with the Harvest Festival arc from Season 3, it should be a funny and sometimes unpredictable ride.

From the looks of this preview, it should be a funny episode:



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Bones (Fox: 8 p.m. EDT/ 7 p.m. CDT)
Refresher: During the first few episodes of this season see Booth and Brennan together as a couple expecting a baby. In her third trimester we are only episodes away from their daughter's birth. The Jeffersonian also welcomed a new squintern as a replacement for Mr. Nigel-Murray. Angela and Hodgins are adjusting to life as young parents, and we really haven't seen a whole lot into Cam or Sweets' personal lives. (Sweets did get a gun, I suppose.) Oh, and the crew solved some murders.

Up tonight: A new serial killer will be introduced in "The Crack in the Code" (Season 7, Episode 6). Word is this guy is super smart and tech savvy, which should create some good drama. Also, Booth and Brennan will finally find a place to live, together.

Check out the promo:



My thoughts: Tonight's episode was originally planned to be the midseason finale, so expect to see a cliff hanger. We'll be back in a few months.

Note: Because this episode is airing at a different time to allow for the series premiere of Bones spin-off The Finder, I will post this review Friday night.

In addition to posting my reviews of these shows tomorrow, be sure to follow me on Twitter @lmchap. I will Live Blog some of my impressions during the shows.