Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Five Christmas Songs

There are a ton of Christmas songs out there and while some are good, I get annoyed by most by the time Christmas actually rolls around. To keep myself in the correct mood, the following are my top five favorite Xmas songs.

1) Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

There are numerous versions of this song out there and none come close to how amazing Eartha Kitt is. So saucy and sassy and hot. Definitely my favorite.

2) Baby, It's Cold Outside from Glee

I know that some people have a problem with this song, but it is fun and entertaining and the Glee version is my favorite. Think of it as a romance novel!

3) 12 Days of Christmas by Bob and Doug McKenzie

I like this song mainly because it reminds me of listening to it on record at my grandma's house every year. Also, back bacon!

4) All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

This is literally the only Mariah Carey song I like. And I especially like it when hockey players are dancing to it.

5) Los Peces en el Rio by Manheim Steamroller

 I like this for two reasons. I really enjoy Manheim Steamroller and I learned all the words (in Spanish) in high school.

Honorable Mention:

My friend Sarah introduced me to this song last year because I had never heard it/heard of it. It is made of crack and wonderfulness!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Midweek Mancandy: Benedict Cumberbatch (Again!)

We decided (independently but on the same day, because our brains are connected, apparently) that we want to revive Midweek Mancandy, our blog feature when we feature hot celebrity dudes every Wednesday. This week is a bit of a cheat - it's a guy who is in the news right now, but we've already featured him once (back in July 2011). Still, he rocks, so ... 

This week's Midweek Mancandy is ... BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!

Cumberbatch, best known for being AMAZING on BBC's "Sherlock," is in the news right now because he's playing the yet-unnamed villain in May 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness."

(Photo from here, related to this article
Click for bigger, for maximum Benedict Cumberbatch studying!)

Cumberbatch, as I said, made his name here in America as Sherlock Holmes on BBC's "Sherlock," (which ran on PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery") and he amazed us with his unique brand of hotness. He's downright otherworldly, actually. It's the cheekbones, which you can see much better in this photo of him has Sherlock Holmes:
(Photo from here. Also, yum.)
The words we used last time were "exotic," "unique" and "enticing," and it definitely still fits. Plus, now we're going to see him in what looks to be a very different role in "Star Trek Into Darkness," and, trust us, we're freaking out!  Hopefully he'll take his energy, unique look and excellent acting skills and bring to life whoever he is playing in "Star Trek."

What do you think of Benedict Cumberbatch? Who would you like to see us feature on Midweek Mancandy? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Waiting For "Star Trek"

By now, everybody who's even remotely nerdy has seen the "Star Trek Into Darkness" trailer about 700,000 times.

Though, if you somehow missed it, here it is:

Heck, I just watched it again as I went searching for it, because OMG.

It's probably a good thing, honestly, but there isn't much to go on there, as far as figuring out what the hell is going to happen in the movie. I mean, we see all the main characters, except Chekov (off drinking some vodka, no doubt), and we get several glimpses of Benedict Cumberbatch as the new villain.

BUT WHO IS HE? Is he Khan? Gary Mitchell? Garth of Izar? Paramount called him John Harrison, but they also said that he's an original series character from canon, and there is nobody named John Harrison. That's a red herring, of course. I wonder how long we'll have to sit through the movie before his true identity is revealed.

We don't see Peter Weller, who is rumored to be playing a mentor of Cumberbatch's character. Who could he be!?

A teasing tidbit came out today that there is somebody in the trailer who was in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," but it's not Khan. However, the blond woman played by Alice Eve is none other than Dr. Carol Marcus, a scientist for the Federation and the mother of Kirk's son - at least in the original timeline (this is all alternate timeline, remember).

I'm interested to see what other information comes out about "Star Trek Into Darkness" between now and May 17. On one hand, it seems inconceivable that we'll go 5 months without information about the movie leaking, but J.J. Abrams is pretty notorious for secrecy. It would be great to walk into the theater not knowing who the villain is!

All I know is, I can't wait to see "Star Trek Into Darkness." I loved the 2009 movie - as a huge original series fan, I didn't think there was any way that modern actors could come CLOSE to the original actors, but they did a great job - and every time I read about the new movie I get a big tingle of excitement!

What do you think? Who do you think Benedict Cumberbatch and his magnificent cheekbones are really playing? Do you think we'll make it to May without knowing for sure? And what do you think about Dr. Carol Marcus' appearance in the movie?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

It's time for another installment of the Pop Tarts Book Club. This time, we read "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" by Eloisa James. Spoilers ahead, of course.

The cover. Read more from Eloisa James at her website, here.

Synopsis: Beautiful Linnet Berry Thryne starts out "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" as a ruined woman. She's been flirting with Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, so when she pukes at a musicale after eating a bad prawn, then shows up at a party in a gown that makes her look pregnant, she's screwed, even though she hasn't been, well, screwing. (It doesn't help that her late mother was notorious for having lovers that were not her husband.) Prince Augustus can't marry her, since he's a royal duke (and, perhaps, a royal ass), so Linnet's father and her chaperone hatch a plan to marry her off to a so-called beast - Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant. He lives in a castle in Wales, working as a doctor and being generally foul-tempered. He has a terrible leg injury, which reportedly also left him immune to the charms of women. Piers challenged his father, the Duke of Windebank, to find the perfect woman, and his father finds him Linnet - who he also believes is pregnant, which would give him an heir even though his son can't give him one.

Linnet journeys up to Wales to meet her husband-to-be, and they almost immediately agree that they don't want to get married. However, she sticks around and starts to get to know Piers. They go swimming together - the pain in Piers' leg is only helped by swimming in a beautiful salt-water pool overlooking the ocean - and Linnet gets to know a few patients and changes a few things at the makeshift hospital - she sees the value in allowing family members to visit and other human things like that.

Also in the middle of all of this, Piers' beautiful French mother, who is divorced from Piers' father, shows up to meet Linnet, and Piers' parents flirt and fight.

Of course, Linnet and Piers can't help but enjoy each others' company, not to mention noticing that they are two very attractive people. After much flirting and fighting and swimming, they get caught in a storm while they're swimming and have to dash to the guardhouse. Pretty soon, they have sex - turns out that Piers isn't impotent after all! He just made that up to make his father feel bad because his father injured his leg while he was hallucinating on opium! - and soon they're doing it all over. They still say they don't want to get married, and that they're only playing, but things are more complicated.

Things get even more complicated when Piers realizes that a patient has scarlet fever, and that it's starting to spread. He kicks his parents and Linnet out of the castle, and tells Linnet that it's over between them. Linnet gets in a carriage to go back to London, while Piers' parents shack up in the guardhouse. Unfortunately, Linnet has already caught scarlet fever, and when she shows up at an inn with the fever, she is put in a chicken coop by an innskeeper and slips near death. Once the epidemic is under control at the castle, Piers realizes that Linnet had been dancing with someone who came down with scarlet fever, and he is sure that she has the fever too. He takes off on a desperate search, realizing that he wants to marry her after all. He finds her in the chicken coop near death, kicks the innkeepers out and drags Linnet upstairs to begin caring for her. After a tough, dramatic night, Linnet begins to recover, but she has horrible scaly skin and scabs. For about a week, Linnet won't see Piers because she's ashamed of how she looks, so he brings her to the pool. She is still embarrassed, but Piers tells her that he loves her for her wit and personality, not just her beauty. The saltwater helps the scabs fall off, they reunite and all is right with the world.

Kel's Thoughts: I sped the hell through this book I loved it so much. Linnet Thynne goes down as one of my top ten favorite romance novel heroines. No, she wasn't perfect, what with her epic freakout over having blisters all over her body. But I think I can forgive her for that since if it happened to me, I would probably have a bit of a meltdown also. I wouldn't probably worry quite so much about losing my looks, but I can definitely see how one would need an adjustment period. Also, she had almost died, so I think we can cut her some slack. Other than that, I loved her. She was funny and smart and had no problem standing up to Piers, who tended to be an epic dick most of the time. Plus, she was really nice and kind to everyone and didn't mess with Piers' head. Speaking of Piers, who doesn't love a House-type doctor in the Regency period? I mean, come on. In real life, I would smack him, but in romance-novel world, I love him.

I really enjoyed their relationship. An engagement before they had met, a genuine dislike of each other's personalities, a stubbornness for admitting that their dislike was not really probably all dislike. I mean, what more could you ask for? My favorite thing was right after they had sex for the first time, they went right back to arguing and not wanting to marry one another. And even after admitting to themselves (though not each other) that they liked one another, they still didn't want to marry. As I said...stubborn!

I thought the drama was really good. Obviously, you know that Linnet is not going to die of Scarlet Fever, but knowing that she has it when Piers doesn't and then figured it out...oh so good. And the scene in the Inn when Piers is carrying her and trying to nurse her and struggling...so good. So Good!

And besides that, it was a genuinely sweet and funny story. I laughed and giggled multiple times. And found myself doing little girly sighs. It was great. Exactly what I look for in a good romance novel. I occasionally have issues with Eloisa James characters being too dumb to live (Annabel from "Kiss Me, Annabel" comes to mind) or just really weak, but I thought all the characters were really good. And I absolutely loved the side-story of Piers' parents. Overall, I really enjoyed When Beauty Tamed the Beast and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Jen's Thoughts: I really enjoyed "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" as well. I thought it started out a little bit too slow - there were a lot of scenes showing that Linnet was beautiful and able to charm men, and naive, but also very smart and sassy, and lots of scenes of how much of a dick Piers is. I did like the whole aspect of Piers being basically Dr. House in regency times. He was a pretty great character, and I liked his various layers - his issues with his parents, his injury, his interest in medicine, his stubbornness in not letting patients die ...

Once the book sped up, it really sped up and I couldn't put it down. I loved them getting caught in the guardhouse, and all the "playing" thereafter, and then Linnet getting scarlet fever and Piers having to save her. Apparently I like the medical drama subplot of historical romances - most of my favorite romance novels have somebody getting a fever or an injury or something - and this had a good one! It was especially great to see Piers trying to save Linnet the first night in the inn. It was sweet and dramatic and just plain great.

I thought Piers and Linnet were a great pair. There was a lot of chemistry there, and that makes for a good book. It was nice to have two intelligent protagonists - Linnet was naive, but it was understandable since her mother died when she was young, and Piers was incredibly smart with his brain if not with his heart. They both had real, complicated personalities, which was also great. They weren't just a series of quirks, but they both seemed to be pretty well thought-out. Their relationship really made sense, going from being not particularly interested in each other and then slowly, as they spent time together, falling in love. It was very romantic and fun.

I really enjoyed this book, and I, too, would recommend it. It wasn't too deep, but it was dramatic and also had a lot of very funny parts. If you're looking for a good romance novel, check this one out ASAP!

Next time on Pop Tarts Book Club: Next, we're reading "The Lady Risks All" by Stephanie Laurens, which was recommended by our mom! Thanks, mom!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Let's Geek Out Over ... "The Hobbit!"

It is LESS THAN A WEEK before the release of  "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," also known as "The Hobbit: OMG THE HOBBIT IT'S REALLY HAPPENING OMG OMG OMG!"

Here are ten reasons I am extremely excited about "The Hobbit" next week:

10. It's one of my favorite books! "The Hobbit" is a delightful novel. My grandma bought it for me when I was in middle school, and it was my very first trip into Middle-Earth. I read the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in high school when the movies were coming out, and it was a wonderful place to escape and enjoy, and "The Hobbit" was my first foray into the world. It's also an easy, fun little read.

9. Gandalf is coming back, yo! I love Gandalf. He is one of my favorite literary characters, and he's played to perfection by Sir Ian McKellan, who I lovelovelovelovelove!

8. It has dwarves! Dwarves are cool! Pretty self-explanatory. Who doesn't love dwarves? They're tough and honorable, but also fun and funny.

7. I really loved the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy on the big screen! My friends from high school can attest - I was rather obsessed with the "Lord of the Rings" movies when they came out. I'm not quite so crazed anymore, but the movies still rank among my favorites, and seeing them rank among some of my favorite moments in the theaters (especially giggling at the hobbit orgy at the end of "Return of the King").

6. Howard Shore is doing the music again! I loved the soundtracks from the "Lord of the Rings" movies - they were epic and soaring, perfect for epic fantasy movies.

5. It's going to look fantastic! The "Lord of the Rings" movies look fantastic. They did a great job with the sets, costumes, computer effects, etc., and the technology has only gotten better with time. It's going to be great!

4. Legolas! It doesn't look like our favorite pretty-boy elf is going to be in the first movie, but he is showing up in the trilogy. I saw pictures! That is just plain fun, y'all.

3. Peter Jackson! After seeing and loving the "Fellowship of the Ring," I watched pretty much everything else Jackson has done, and he became one of my absolute favorite filmmakers. He is diverse, talented, creative and funny, and I am a big, big fan. I'm glad to see him make something else - especially something Tolkein-related!

2. Gollum! 'Nuff said, preciousssssssssssss?

1. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins! Most. Perfect. Casting. Ever. Ever. Ever! EVER!!!! He's sweet, but has an underlying toughness, and he is absolutely adorable. Once they cast him, I knew it was going to be great.

Are you excited about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?" What are you most looking forward to?