Tag Archive: london


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It is the Christmas season. And every year I find myself talking about the same movies.

New movies come about and one wonders if they are to be new classics.

I know a lot of people like to watch Elf but I have never warmed to that movie. There are others that are meant for older teens and adults but not for children. I love Bad Santa, Love Actually, and The Holiday but their content is adult focused. It’s hard to display these as family friendly movies when the are definitely not for the kids.

Other movies or shows are meant for kids, a whole variety of cartoon characters have special christmas episodes. Maybe it is Thomas the Tank Engine or Angelina Ballerina or Dora. These are really meant for kids and only kids.

Man who invented ChristmasOne of the newer movies made for Christmas that intrigues me is called The Man Who Invented Christmas. The movie is about the time period in which Charles Dickens was writing A Christmas Carol. Some might say that this is Dickens’ masterpiece. The movie takes place in the 1840s as Dickens is going through a tough time financially as his last three novels were flops.

His latest serial is not doing well and Dickens needs a better cash flow. That is when the idea of his classic tale comes to life in his head. But writing it all down, creating the story is hard work. Dickens is blocked in his attempt to write and illustrate the story during a frustrating six-week period.

As he is writing, characters come alive and state how they want to be treated in the story. Scrooge ridicules the writer while demanding his story be told through his own written narrative. Soon, other members of the cast show up and help him figure out the rest of the story.

Dan Stephens plays the author with gusto and creativity. He is joined by Christopher Plummer as Scrooge in a performance that defines the character. This movie has received a variety of awards from family movies groups. It is wonderful and weird watching the writer in his process.

the-man-who-invented-christmas windowMost of the time I would tell you watching a writer create is not exciting. We sit at a writing table or a keyboard and work to create by typing and checking our research. Dickens apparently used to walk through London, even the dodgy areas, while in the middle of creating his various stories.

But by making these characters come to life, some who are also played by members of the household, the director, Bharat Nalluri, adds dimension to the process.

We know that A Christmas Carol is a classic story that our society enjoys every year. Dickens’ story changed the way England and America celebrated Christmas. It brought back hope and goodness that we now associate with the season.

In seeing how this story was created, we develop better understanding of this wonderful traditional Christmas tale. And that can make the story all that more special.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Now for that favorite time of the month when I talk about the book I’ve read for the ChickLitPlus reading challenge.

Last month, I totally bailed on the reading challenge. Not that I meant to but July just passed by so fast.  I missed out on a bunch of things.

So I did what I do best. I watched a few more episodes of Ghost Adventures and rested my feet as they hurt, hurt, hurt. Then I got off my butt and started getting myself into gear.

I cleaned a few things, did some gardening, got ready for the rummage sale at church as well as the back-to-school chores. I still need to clean up the area around my bed but I have been throwing stuff out.

One of the rules for this reading challenge is to read two debut novels during the year. I have read one debut novel this year and jumped at the chance to read another that appears on one of Samantha’s blog tours.

Image from Barnesandnoble.com

So this month’s selection is Breaking The Rules by Cat Lavoie. This first novel from the Quebec province native is set in New York City and feels as if this is written by a native who knows their way around.

The story focuses on lifelong best friends, Roxanne and Ollie, who live together in a small but great apartment.

Ollie is leaving soon to take a new assignment in London as a Green architect.   Roxanne plans to stay in her position as personal assistant to a Public Relations maven. She dreams of owning her own restaurant and is a great cook.

On his last night in New York, Roxanne throws a farewell party and manages to forget to invite Ollie’s girlfriend. Roxanne’s boyfriend shows up outside but does not join the party because he does not like any of Roxanne’s friends.

The morning Ollie leaves, he has to tell Roxy she cannot come to the airport because Rachel, the girlfriend, does not want her there. So she sees him off and before Ollie gets in the cab, they share a stunning kiss that makes them re-think everything.

However, life cannot stop. Ollie gets on the plane and Roxy goes back to work. One night she comes home to find both of her sisters at her apartment. Izzy is a lawyer having a mid-life crisis. Steffi is six months pregnant and refusing to talk about the father.

Roxy also receives a slight promotion at work, helping to publicize the new restaurant of a star chef. And her fiancee, Ethan, has different ideas about their wedding than she does. Oh and there is the looming mother-in-law who uses her nose to look down at Roxy.

With all of that action, there is plenty of drama to draw on. Roxy’x bad boss, her battle-ax future-mother-in-law, rollicking best friends and a boyfriend that is a jack-ass. Why does the slightly over-weight girl always find the one guy who treats them like crap?

Author Cat Lavoie; Image from Chick Lit Plus

Anyway, once I started reading it was really difficult to stop. I stayed up way later than I should have because I enjoyed being with Roxy and her sisters. Roxy is fun, an admitted procrastinator and someone who feels stuck in life. She loves food, is a loyal friend but also lives on the river of Denial. In other words, she is a lot like most of us who has a domineering sister, a cute baby sister and parents who try to have their girls be as independent as possible.

The writing is lively and interesting. And when the twists start coming, I thought they were imaginative and real. Most characters are developed well and we understand why Roxy hangs with them. Why she is in love with Ethan is a mystery.

This was a great book to read for relaxation and I would recommend it. Cat Lavoie has a good ear for dialogue and how bad people act in various situations.

I also need to mention that this was my first time with an e-book. If Lavoie’s book had not been a good read, I would have given up on it. I am not a fan of reading from the computer with the light in the back ground and my having to sit up the whole time. I like to read in bed while lying down and this was not a good experience for me.

You are probably wondering how it all ends. Do Ollie and Roxy figure out their feelings? What is going on with Izzy and Steffi? What happens with the bad boss?   Is Ethan really involved in this relationship? Well, you know how it goes, read the book to find out.

This is Cat Lavoie’s debut novel and it can be found at Barnes and Noble in a nook version for $2.99.

The Opening Reminiscings

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Did you watch the opening of the Olympics in London?



Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale;” Image from IMDb.com

Oh, I did and was happily blown away by most of it. From the beginning film of Queen Elizabeth II jumping out of a military helicopter with Daniel Craig as James Bond to the lighting of the copper bowls that would rise up to become the Olympic cauldron, I was spellbound for most of it.


I found myself crying when I remembered that the last time the Brits hosted the Olympics, The Queen’s father had been king at the time. She was a newlywed. At some point I read how poor the country was in 1948. Then again, they were a last-minute substitute when a fire destroyed the other site.


This time, the Olympics are the hope of the East End of London that has seen much economic turmoil. With new buildings and all of the activity, natives to the area are hoping for an economic boom. One of those people includes David Beckham, world football/soccer star who grew up on the East End .


So many movies went through my head as I watched the ceremonies. Some are for adults while others can be shared with children. Of course, I thought of the James Bond movies. Sean Connery (From Russia with Love) may be the best of all the Bonds but Daniel Craig (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) is a close second in my book. And he is only followed by Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day and The World is Not Enough).



Kenneth Branaugh as “Henry V;” Image from IMDb.com

Kenneth Branaugh played the part of the Industrialist who transforms England from an agrarian nation to the Industrial revolution. He delivered his lines with the enthusiasm of a Shakespearian actor. How can we forget Branaugh’s speech in Henry V as he bolsters the morale of his troops.  How can we forget his silliness as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.


When JK Rowling took the stage and read a portion from Peter Pan, I nearly started bawling. While Peter Pan did not make an appearance, Captain Hook did as well as other villains from British children’s literature. Lord Voldemort drew himself up so tall and I remembered how much I loved the books and movie about Harry Potter.


But it was not Harry that drove away the evil creatures of the night. It was a nanny, Mary Poppins with her umbrella and satchel. My daughter asked about her and while I explained that Mary was a magical character I realized that we need to see this movie. Refrains of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ suddenly went through my head.


During the montage of music, I was lost on some of the references but loved the moment from Trainspotting and Four Weddings and a Funeral. I sang along with so many songs, including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’



Rowan Atkinson as “Johnny English;” Image from IMDb.com

Perhaps my most favorite moment though was with Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean playing in the orchestra. I think any movie improves just by having Atkinson in a scene or two as he was in Love Actually. I love what ever he does and would rent the wonderfully bad Johnny English. Also, catch him as The Black Adder. Priceless is his comedy.


What a way to open the Olympics – totally eccentric, totally British, totally wonderful.


 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.