Category Archives: Reviews

Yokozuna Sushi

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to spend with your spouse, your boyfriend, and even yourself. And its even better when you can go to a nice restaurant together.

My husband, David, took me to Yokosuma Sushi in the Ashland shopping center (the same one as Anthony’s and Martins) and we sat down at a table.

When you first walk in, you notice a professional and romantic atmosphere where you’re approached by one of the waiters. They tell you that you can sit where ever you want, which is a choice between the bar and the dozen or so tables scattered around the floor. Once you sit down, you’re asked what you want to drink with a wide selection of alcohol and only three choices for sodas: Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite*. However, the food choices varied from deep fried cheesecake to delicious sushi rolls and appetizers everywhere.

The food was delicious. Every bite of the tuna rolls and the shumai my husband and I had were divine. My taste buds did a little dance every time I took a bite. And for dessert, we had the deep fried cheesecake. That was the best choice we could have made. Presentation was beautiful.

The staff were friendly and helpful. They also seem to have a few regulars, so that’s a plus. It means that they care about all their customers, treating them more like guests.

I also visited the bathroom while I was there. Admittedly, there must be something wrong with the toilet and the drain in the floor was not in the right place, leaving a hole that someone could trip on, but the bathroom was classy and decorated nicely. It also smelled good.

I give Yokozuna Sushi four out of five stars.

*Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite are all trademarked.


Anthony’s Italian Food

Anthony’s an Italian restaurant in the Ashland area that serves pizza, pasta, sea food, and more. After three visits, I feel like I can give a fair assessment of their food, atmosphere, bathroom, and more.

When you first go in, there are the typical tables and chairs lining the restaurant, but at the bar area start the booths with only enough room between the bar and the booths for one person to walk. Behind the bar, are where they work their food magic. The atmosphere is rustic, sort of what you expect from a vineyard you might be visiting. The windows has painted images of plants and food. Inside, the walls have various pieces of art that run from obvious to abstract. Its cozy and lit a little romantically.

However, there is a modern jukebox that breaks the cozy, rustic feel of the room, and turns it into a claustrophobic nightmare in one spot. Its possible to avoid that spot, but at the same time, you don’t want your customers to feel like they need to make a run for it.

The food is delicious. My favorite dish–stuffed shells, which is on the special once a week at around $9.00–is amazing. The shells are always cooked to perfection and the sauce makes your mouth water. Their calzones are impeccable, and everyone I dine with at Anthony’s loves the food. They have Pepsi products, which isn’t too bad, but if you want tea or water they’ll bring it to you.

Our waiters/waitresses are always courteous and only once have we had any problem with anything coming out in a timely manner.

The bathrooms… the bathrooms… What can I say about the bathrooms? They’re… small. Anthony’s bathrooms desperately need an overhaul. The toilet was not properly attached to the floor and moved while you sat on it, if you shifted your weight. Water–from the toilet–is constantly on the floor, because its leaking. The sink is cramped, and the trashcan is always full. It is not parent friendly, in that there is no where to change your baby’s diaper. Nor is there any room if you have to go in with your child.

I give Anthony’s 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Overall, I’d say that you should go and eat there. Just don’t use the bathroom.


Need a Review?

I currently have no novels, television shows, movies, etc. to review for this blog. Thus, I will accept requests for reviews at this time. Send me your requests in the comments section below.


Don’t be Overdue

There are somethings its easy to do for a head librarian to do, but is solving a murder one of them?

According to Jenn McKinlay in Due or Die, they’re more than able to juggle a new puppy, a job, and saving a friend from getting framed for murder. Lindsey, the library director in Briar Creek, Conneticut walks in with two friends on one’s murdered husband sitting in his chair. Its a race against the clock to solve the murder before someone else is overdue.

Now, before I begin: this book was given to me by my mother-in-law because it has a cookie recipe in the back. I now regret not writing it down before returning it to the library.

Anyways, I very much enjoyed this mystery novel. The pacing was fantastic and Heathcliff (the puppy) was very believable. If a pet chooses you, it’ll do anything to protect and love you. Lindsey learns that the hard way.

Every character was believable and I felt the frustration of having an attraction from a man who wasn’t showing his interest in dating her. Sully and Lindsey’s relationship was part of the nail-biting suspense. Every one of Lindsey’s friends added a bit of fun to the story, pulling more human characteristics out of our main character. The more human she seemed, the more I liked her.

The ending was hard to see coming, though once you know the ending (I’m not spoiling) you can pick the clues up easier.

Unfortunately, no story is perfect. Trust me, I wish this one was:

I felt more suspense from the budding relationship between Lindsey and Sully than I felt for every scene that was involved with solving the crime. Bulking up some of the supsense would have helped, because then I would have needed to keep reading. Instead, it was a “I’m really bored” type read. Due or Die wasn’t a poptart, but it wasn’t as much of a meal as, say a sandwich. It was kind of more of a bowl of Ramen noodles. Filling enough, but you always want more. I guess, its a good thing Ms. McKinlay has more books in the Library Lover’s Mystery series.

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.


A Well Spun Tale

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert is about a man named Gabriel, with a secretive past, who is put up against two extraordinary women. His old fling, Frankie, sends her husband, William, to get him to find his son, Robert. Robert’s been the cohort of two women with natures as different as the sun and moon. Gabriel finds himself getting to know these women, but what do they have to do with Robbie’s disappearance?

The book was phenomenal. To me the pacing was fantastically done, keeping the mystery up with clues. However, the clues are not these obvious pieces of literacy, but a hint of a fragrance in the mall. One recognizable, but you’re not sure where from. That is how a mystery and magical book is supposed to feel like. Natasha’s writing style is grand. You get impressive insight into each character, my favorites being Isidore and the two feisty witches. Morrighan and Minnaloushe Monk are these two larger-than-life women whose house is something from my dreams. I want to live in that house, with all the roses and spiders, etc. Morrighan is a risk-taking, daredevil and her sister is this sensual being that all women would love to be.

Natasha Mostert explores several ideas in the book that have their roots in history as well as academia. Everything from the US’ STARGATE program to the memory palaces of old are very well researched. She admits to expanding some connections to make the story smoother, but she does so with spider-like touches. Its like Goliath (the spider in the story that the Monk sisters own) is walking on every word of every page the concepts are mentioned. Season of the Witch makes me want to research it all myself.

I do have a couple of problems with the novel, because nothing is perfect. Gabriel was annoying to me. He did grow and becomes someone better, but the man was annoying me. I cared more about the diary entries and William than Gabriel. Gabriel’s problems didn’t mean a damn to me. As interesting characters go, Isidore should have been the one we saw anything through, but then we wouldn’t have actually had this story. Morrighan Monk was interesting and she does help the reader feel the exhilaration that comes with activities such as bungee jumping. Minnaloushe brings us the femininity that lies within all women. They’re like Yin and Yang. Gabriel did not feel like he was needed for anything more than to introduce these people to us.

Overall, though, it was an outstanding read. I just wish there were more books. There needs to be more about the sisters. Now, I do want to say that I think Natasha put herself in the book as a plucky blond with a kid who wants to write a book. See if you can find her.

I give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Note: Thank you to my wonderful husband for the title of the review.

Also, you can find out more about Natasha Mostert on her website. Her Facebook is here. Her reader’s group is here.


Conjure This!

the-conjuring

“Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse” (IMDB, 2013).

 

The Conjuring starts out with the story of this family being terrorized by a porcelain doll inhabited  by an inhuman spirit. However, that is just a real from the Warren’s collection as they talk about their jobs as demonologists and proverbial Ghostbusters (so to speak).  Then we move on to the family moving into the farmhouse before they are terrorized by the spirits that inhabited their home first. Throughout the movie (which is a telling of the true story of the Perron family) the mother is tormented by this woman, and so are her five daughters. Ed and Lorraine Warren leave their daughter, Judy, home and try to save this family from the horrendous past the house holds.

Vera Farmiga plays Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant woman who is the wife of Ed Warren (played by Patrick Wilson). She does a fabulous job, though I must take a moment and say that I really wanted her wardrobe. Lorraine is a delicate character who portrays herself as a strong woman, but she’s dealt blows from devils and witches and spirits of all sorts that make her weak. She needs the support of her husband. Farmiga does a fabulous job keeping the two parts of the character’s personality visually balanced, though when its time to show her vulnerability she doesn’t hesitate to explode.

 

Ed Warren is the only non-clergical recognized Demonologist and is played by Patrick Wilson. He’s a stronger character than his wife, being unable to see the monsters his wife can. Wilson does well, playing a strong, father-like character once again. He’s a good father, a good husband, and does a good job befriending each of his clients. The protective feel you get from his character slowly travels all over the characters. Wilson seems to be unstoppable. His performance is honest and pure.

Carolyn Perron was the typical mother back in the seventies: a loving wife, a wonderful mother, and a hard worker to keep her family together. Unfortunately, that’s everything that the monster in their new farmhouse loves to feed off of. Lili Taylor (from The Haunting) does a fantastic job portraying a woman tormented and terrorized in her own home. Once again, you find that she does such a realistic job playing a vulnerable woman with her own inner strength. You can’t help, but root for Carolyn through the entire movie, hoping she makes it out alive.

Ron Livingston plays Roger Perron, Carolyn’s loving husband. Roger is a truck driver who stays away from the home in the beginning week, doing his job. However, once the proverbial shite hits the fan, he does the right thing and stays home with his family. His strength dissipates over the course of The Conjuring, losing control of his will the more he loses his wife. Caring for his girls, Roger is the typical father figure. Livingston doesn’t seem to cover the role very well.

 

The Conjuring was a great horror movie that is actually real. Everything that happened in the film, happened to the Perron family. The coolest part of the movie was the end credits. You got all the names on actual family photos and newspaper clippings. About 90% of The Conjuring actually happened. My only problems with the movie was that you really got to know the five girls (Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April), but we don’t get to know Judy Warren as well. You only get snapshots into her life with her parents and grandmother. The other problem is that we don’t get a clearer idea of what had happened to Rory, the little boy ghost, at the end.

 

I give The Conjuring 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Work Cited

Amazon.com. IMDB. The Conjuring (2013). 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1457767/?ref_=sr_1>


Williamsburg: The Ghost Minefield

The Setting:

Historic Williamsburg, an age of old fashioned, colonial dresses and horse drawn carriages. Its a place of education, information, and people walking about for the sole purpose of enjoying history live (or as alive as possible). However, what most people don’t think of are the ghosts of the past. Axwild Tours will take you into the past and give you a detailed description of the hauntings that would normally send people running.

 

The Path:

You start in front of the Wilma Sonoma, on the Duke of Gloucester Street, standing in the middle of the street to talk to your tour guide. He or she tells you about ghosts that people had seen all the way to the famous Jamestown (Island). You progress without moving all the way back to the school before starting off on the official walk. You head away from the college on the same street, stopping in front of the theatre before continuing again. Just past the barricade, to the right are the bathrooms and visitor’s/ticket center. The tour will continue, stopping outside Martha Washington’s house (before she was a Washington) and then again beside the courthouse, right in front of the stocks. Then, you’re taken to the Randolph Peyton house before going towards the Palace Green. Then, to conclude the trip, your tour guide takes you to just outside (or inside if you’re lucky) the cemetery.

 

The Stories:

While you’re on the ghost tour, there are a few stories you get to hear.

 

There was a theatre that used to be Annie’s House. During the Civil War, Annie found an injured confederate soldier and brought him home. She tried her best to save his life, but he died. Annie called in the town for the Union soldiers who had taken over the city. She showed one the soldier and it was his brother. They buried him. Afterwards, the Confederate soldier marched around her property, keeping her safe. After the Rockefellers bought the property and turned it into a theatre, people started seeing the man in gray sitting in the back row during intermission between two movies in a double feature.

 

The Palace used to have grand parties and the Wythes would attend. Mrs. Wythe loved the color red and she was also quite the red head. No one knows what she wore on her last night, but everyone remembered her red slippers. Well, she went looking for her husband in the garden, only to find the man she loved in the arms of another woman. Mrs. Wythe’s temper was well known and in a fit of rage, she rushed from the mansion and halfway home, lost her shoe. She ran inside the house and up the stairs, but she tripped, lost her balance, and fell to her death over the bannister. Now, today as a rite of passage, pledges will bring a red shoe or sandals and knock on the door, telling her they brought her slipper. They hear someone having a fit inside and run off.

 

My Reaction:

Our tour guide, Alison was awesome. She was well informed and very friendly. She even let me (pregnant as I am) go to the bathroom when the tour first started. I loved listening to her talk. We had fun. Lots of fun. We even had our own ghost experiences while on tour. Alison was a delight and my fiancée and I enjoyed every second of our ghost tour.

 

I give Axwild Tours 4.5 stars out of 5.

 

My only complaint was that the lantern Alison carried had a fake candle instead of a real one.

 

You can find out more about their tours on their facebook page here and on their website here. Call 757-565-0311 for reservations.


“Mama” Don’t Kill My Friends-A Review

Image

Mama is a horror/suspense movie about kids who were dropped off/abandoned in a cabin in the woods. They’re found years later and reintroduced into society via a psychologist, their uncle, and their uncle’s girlfriend, but they didn’t come back alone…

Warning: Spoilers Below.

So they are taken to this psychologist who tells the uncle that he won’t get the kids unless he takes this house for testing and the like. So they move in and things are fine and dandy until weird things started happening. A lot of them in the beginning aren’t in front of the adults, but Lilly does scare Annabel pretty badly. Then, as the uncle-Lucas-gets closer to them “Mama” starts getting violent towards him. Soon, he ends up in the hospital. Annabel has to take them on by herself. She ends up getting close to Victoria, but Lilly keeps pushing her away. Until one night and then she and Lilly start getting closer. Then, Annabel starts having dreams about “Mama” whom the children have been playing with. 

Mama was an insane woman who broke out of an asylum with her child and tried to kill both of them. They both died, but the kid did not join her in the lake. Instead, he or she ended up hanging from a branch on the cliff. So, Mama started looking for her daughter or son and found Victoria and Lilly. She started raising them. Mama tried to possess Annabel, but stopped because Victoria reminded her that she promised. Then she possessed their aunt who doesn’t have any real importance until here in the movie. Mama takes them back to the cabin. In a big, climatic moment, Mama tries to kill the girls and only succeeds in Lilly. And then the movie ends with no resolution.

Analyzing the Character and the Actors’ Abilities:

  • Annabel was the girlfriend of Lucas. She was kind of bad-ass with short hair and a base guitar that she played in a band. Jessica Chastain was phenomenal. I really did believe that she didn’t want to be around the kids and that she didn’t really know if she wanted to stay in the relationship.
  • Lucas and Jeffrey were played by the same man. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau did a fabulous job playing two different characters. He played the psychopathic father who killed his wife because of the economic crash and tried to kill his daughters. Lucas was the loving uncle harmed by Mama. I much preferred him as Lucas, because sometimes it looked like Jeffrey was just putting on airs. He seemed to not really have loved his daughters.
  • Megan Carpentier played Victoria. She has been Amanda Seyfried’s younger version, according to Internet Movie Database.I think she did a good job being disturbed, but I’m not sure about her as an actress. I cannot really make decisions on children unless they were absolutely horrendous. Victoria has a chance of re-socialization.
  • As with Megan Carpentier, I cannot truly judge Isabelle Nélisse based on her performance as Lilly, but I did enjoy it. Lilly probably wouldn’t have been able to be re-socialized into society.

They were the main characters, so I am not going to go into the others acting, especially since I did actually enjoy this movie and I want to smack the psychologist because he’s an idiot.

Anyways, it was a good movie that had some rather interesting twists that we didn’t see coming until towards the end of the movie. Then it was a typical “cross over” and “possession” film. The cliches did hurt a little.

I give the film Mama 4 out of 5 stars.


Still Good – A Review of “Still Alice”

Still Aliceis about a woman who has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease or EOAD. Alice has it all. A husband and three grown children. She’s a tenured professor of Cognitive Psychology and is asked to give speeches regularly. She’s noticed a few memory lapses, but thinks nothing of them until she gets loss in a place she goes to everyday for twenty-five years. When she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease its a conflicted time for everyone. Not just her, but her husband and children as well. Will they be able to make it through or will she succumb without helping others like her?

First, I’d like to mention that this is a textbook for my Sociology class, but I decided to read it early.

Written beautifully in Third Person Limited point of view by Lisa Genova. She easily conveys the emotions that come with any disease as will as the ones that are specifically attached to Alzheimer’s. Alice goes through frustrations, fears, strain from memory loss, and others on a month to month basis.

Separating each chapter as different months was a good device for helping us mark the passage of time as we ourselves grow attached to her as if she’s our own family members and loved ones. We watch her deteriorate with her family and with Alice herself. It is displayed that the victims of Alzheimer’s goes through the same emotions we do, but fifty millions times stronger. You even hear from people from her support group who’ve known they might get EOAD before they get it. The struggles everyone suffer are realistic and strikes a chord in the readers.

You get to really know the characters we follow throughout their months:

Alice was a tenured professor of Cognitive Psychology who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We follow through her point of view as we deal with her frustrations and rewards. Her ups and downs show us what a patient dealing with Alzheimer’s is really going through.

Joh is Alice’s husband who has to watch his wife deteriorate every day. Through him, though not the point of view character, you see how the direct caregiver goes through every up and down of his or her loved one.

Lydia is their daughter who decided to be and Actress. Through her we actually get to see how even though Alzheimer’s is devastating, it can bring family members together.

Anna is their other daughter who got her law degree before the start of the novel. She’s married to Charlie and through her we see how the burden of the knowledge that you may be diagnosed can weigh heavily on someone, but also how it is possible for the grandchildren won’t have to go through the same thing.

Tom is their son and he’s the medical student int the family. He also comes across as a playboy. Even though the joy of not having the mutation should have lifted the weight from his shoulder, but the knowledge that his sister did kept it there. Shows love, but also the misunderstanding that Alzheimer’s patients need to either rely on someone completely or be completely independent.

Charlie is the son-in-law who just has to go through the knowledge that he may lose his wife as he knows her.

There were many believable situations laid out for us, but I can’t believe that there were be such a large gap in support for the patients.  And if there were, then it may have taken longer for the social worker to get even permission to get permission for the other patients to contact Alice. Other than that, all was believable.

Still Alice gets 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks.


Good Ol’ Girls at Hollins Theatre–A Review

Going to the Little Theatre to watch any performance is exhilarating, but musical especially. There’s something about the way the actors, the set, and the musicians come together that can let you know the style of the director as well as his or her teaching style. Ernie teaches his actors while he works with them. They don’t notice at first, but after a while its obvious. I should know, I was in Goodnight Moon in Fall 2011.

Good Ol’ Girls is a montage of different stories of the Good Ol’ Girls of the south. It has a Nashville, TN style of music that demands a twang to your voice. The girls are sassy, young, old, crazy, easy, in love, out of love, beaten, and even more. They go through birth, death, first love, last love, and so much more. The musical made me laugh, cry and my heart burst.

The story line is just that its a tribute to the good ol’ girls who go through so much. Its a montage of music and monologues that show who and what a good ol’ girl is.

“A Good Ol’ Girl…speaks her mind. Just ask them ol’ boys who crossed her one time.”

We see this throughout the musical.

The actors were phenomenal. Their voices fit together better than the lime and the coconut. The set looked like they took months to build, but I know it was shorter than that and for the first time the band was up on stage. I’ve never seen the band actually on the set. Above, yes. Below, yes. Offstage, yes. It was nice and the actors played to each member. It was like they were actors as well. It made things amazing.

I only had a few issues. Okay, ’twas only two.

1. There were a few technical difficulties. Mics cut off suddenly mid-line only to come back again. That was all the TD, but it was still annoying. Really important scenes were ruined because I couldn’t hear the girl’s voice.

2. I couldn’t understand half the songs’ lyrics. I understand there’s that twang, but I know its possible to sing in a way to be understood with the southern twang. Country stars who don’t act can do it. Why can’t actors. Alright, I’m being hard, but that’s because Ernie accepts nothing less than perfection. Most of these girls don’t naturally have southern accents, but its easy to learn the accent in Roanoke. Southern accent hotbed, people.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to give five stars, but it wasn’t meant to be. I do appreciate how hard these girls worked though. There are encore performances in May and June, so you should really really check it out and buy tickets.