Category Archives: Entertainment

Edition: Mystery and Magic = Marvelous

Wednesday Reads Wide

 

21897317Ada Bates escaped her torturous life at 14-years-old. Leaving her mother’s care in the middle of the night, she sets sail on a journey both ambitious and tragic. Rising from the lowliness of a servant at the famous Biltmore Estate in North Carolina to the stardom of the first female illusionist, selling out grand theaters around the nation. She maintains a life by creating magic for audiences while keeping up the illusion that she isn’t haunted by an evil past – one that could rear its head at any moment. Along the way she finds Clyde Garber, her manager and eventual love of her life.

The Amazing Arden, Ada Bates’s stage name, is known for her feat of sawing a man in half and then restoring him whole. However, the illusion goes awry when her husband turns up dead from the same wounds as her mesmerizing illusion. Trying to escape, she heads out in the dead of night and is accidentally captured by a local police officer. Now as she is hand-cuffed to a chair, she must recount her story — one that spans over 10 years — to prove her innocence. That tale is one wild ride to the truth – or is it a lie?

Since I’m a voracious reader, I don’t very often come across a book that I adore – and adore The Magician’s Lie I do! As soon as I turned the last page, I couldn’t wait to share this spellbinding story with my friends.

As a historical novel the book dives into a time when society was dominated by males, and yet the story centers around a female illusionist who captivates audiences, both men and women, with her talent. Her occupation alone keeps the reader riveted to Arden’s ever-deepening character. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that return to present day every few chapters. It’s interesting to note that much of the plot’s tension take place in the chapters where she recounts her story to a local law officer who is fighting his own internal struggles. A police station’s phone rings in the dead of night and both sit through the piercing rings while the reader wonders who is on the other end.

The plot was equal parts mysterious, creepy, romantic, and action-packed. The combination provides a riveting page-turning experience. This was one of those books where when I wasn’t reading it, I was wishing that I was. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, and then I was bummed when it was over. The point of view switches from Ada’s story to a movie camera’s view of the events occurring in the police station. Just when you think Ada is guilty, she shares a story that makes you believe in her innocence.  All along though, she tells her side of things with a detached air that causes the reader to question its truth – maybe she was capable of killing her husband.

Readers will cheer for Ada from the moment she first loses the chance to escape her poverty stricken life and the clutches of Ray (winner of creepy character award). She is a survivor, and we love that she is a self-made women who works hard and dedicates herself to her craft. She is talented, beautiful, yet slightly dysfunctional. We want her to love and be loved and when her happiness begins to crash around her, we must flip the page to see if she can hold on to it.

The Magician’s Lie is Greer Macallister‘s debut novel. I guarantee readers will anxiously await the next book published by Macallister as the first one provides a unique thrill ride with characters to both love and hate. That’s a story to adore!

 

Characters that Captivate

My love for books began at an early age. I can’t resist a powerful story, especially if it is filled with  flawed characters who live lives with surprising twists and turns. On the other hand,  characters living ordinary lives while trying to navigates everyday problems really pull me in. I connect with them, seek to understand them, and cheer them on in the midst of their trials.

While my love of books far outweighs my love of television, there are specific shows that I cause me to drop a bookmark in the pages I’m currently reading and flip on the TV (usually Netflix or Amazon Prime). For other lovers of stories, I wanted to share my list of all-time favorite shows that are well-worth some “flixing.”  Today’s list focuses mainly on BBC shows (that’s the British stuff). I am a firm believer that the British might be better at story-telling filled with deep and complicated characters that viewers both love and hate. They also tend to be a little more family friendly, although not always. Some of these shows you may have heard of, others maybe not. I will say that EVERY one of them is worth the watch.  Need something to do this weekend?  Check out one of these greats.

Characters that Captivate (British Version)

1. Downton Abbey

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Best character one-liners in a show – Dowager Countess of Grantham

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Best Male Lead of a Love Story that the Parents Weren’t Happy About (Who wouldn’t break the rules of Aristocracy to be with him?)

Now, I realize that most people have heard of Downton. However, I do realize there are people who think: British Aristocracy isn’t for me.  You would be WRONG!  I am absolutely riveted by the lives of the Crawleys and their servants.  The story-telling is intricate and compelling, BUT it is the characters that I love.  From the dreamy and handsome chauffeur turned aristocrat Tom to the prim and proper grandmother Crawley a.k.a the Dowager Countess of Grantham, I love them all. What’s even worse are the characters that I hate — Mr. Barrow and Edith — often make me cheer for them and take pity on their pitiful selves.  That’s is good writing!!!  The stories from season to season tangle and untangle in delightful and often painful ways (note season 2 finale — so romantic — and then season 3 finale — I cried for days).  I will say that you must push through several episodes of season 1 to get to know characters and be caught up in the story.  I say by episode #3, you’ll be thoroughly hooked.

Available on Amazon Instant Video or DVD

 

2. The Paradise

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Denise: beautiful, smart, and talented

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Moray: a face of romance? or temptation?


Country girl Denise moves to the big city to earn a job as a shopgirl at one of the first department stores in London.  It doesn’t take more than one episode to see the intrigue build in both the arenas of love and mystery.  The dashing, yet brooding, Mr. Moray is full of ambition and a dark secret, yet his business genius drives him to turn The Paradise into a dream come true.  Now that Denise has arrived, Moray has found a “champion” to help him with his dream. However, the beautiful and catty Catherine isn’t so happy with Denise’s arrival.  Before long, Denise is tempted by the charm of the modern world and the possibly dangerous Moray.

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Katherine, mean girl aristocratic style

There’s just so much fun in this show. The love story is powerful and imperfect. The mystery pulls the viewers in and keeps them returning to see if the truth will ever come out.  It’s filled with characters that you hate yet you simultaneously cheer for them. You’ll be captivated by the store’s beauty and the concept of “department store shopping” when it first comes to the modern world. Romance, mystery, and shopping. . . what more could a girl ask for?

Available on Amazon Instant Video or DVD.

3. Call the Midwife

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Jenny, Trixie, Chummy, and Cynthia are all midwives serving in the East End of London during the 1950’s – otherwise know as the slums of London. While the characters of the previous shows  developed in the minds of a great storyteller, the characters of Call the Midwife are real. The show is based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth.  Story lines center around different births, but find their power in the relationships the midwives build with their patients and one another. Each episode gives the viewer a reminder of the significance of motherhood and childbirth. While that is important, the characters are my favorite!!!  Oh, how I love Chummy!  When she arrives on the scene she brings laughter and joy as well as some awkward moments.  Her character is priceless – -and based on a real person.  After the season finale for season 3, I thought the show was over. But to my great surprise a fourth season will be hitting the airways soon!  I cannot wait.

Available on Amazon Instant Video and DVD

Even if you are familiar with one of these shows, there might be one that you haven’t heard of, and I guarantee it will give you hours of viewing pleasure while satisfying that need for great story-telling.  Disclaimer:  These are not shows that your male significant other will enjoy. Plan for a date with just you and the TV.  Happy Viewing!

 

If you’ve watched one of these great shows, share your enthusiasm below.  If one has caught your eye, let me know which one, so I can share in your excitement.