Day: June 27, 2017

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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4 out of 5 stars to the 2017 release of Beauty and the Beast. If you’re unfamiliar with the latest version, check it out at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200/

I’m sure most people have heard this story before… either through the Disney versions or reading the original French fairy tale. In case you haven’t, the story goes essentially as follows:

  • Prince doesn’t realize how good he has it and fails to be kind to others.
  • A curse is placed upon him, where he will turn into a beast for a very long time.
  • Years later, he may or may not torture a village (different versions).
  • A beautiful maiden, Belle, meets the Beast.
  • He captures her and she’s forced to stay in his castle.
  • She stays there to protect her family and the village from him.
  • She falls for him, but he cannot allow himself to be with her.
  • He eventually lets her go, his way of showing his love.
  • Belle leaves, but something draws her back.
  • She kisses him and the curse is broken, now that’s he’s learned his lesson.

Disney tells the story one way. Literature another. The TV show Once Upon a Time yet even other way. But it always comes down to the simple saying:

“If you love someone, set them free. If it’s meant to be, they will come back to you.”

I never realized how much this story was similar to Phantom of the Opera. What’s with those French? That said, I’ve seen a few versions before this one. I wasn’t anxious to see it in the movie theatre, so I simply downloaded it On Demand this weekend and watched it with a lovely glass of champagne… or a bottle actually… somehow in the 2 hours the movie ran, I finished off the whole bottle. And no, I’m not saying the movie drives you to drink. It just happened.

I enjoyed the movie and the changes in the story. The graphics were amazing, especially with all the inanimate object characters that come to life. Wow! That was fantastic editing. The music was good. The acting was strong. All in all, a solid effort. It didn’t completely overwhelm me, so it earns a 4 out of 5 on my movie scale. Key players include:

Emma Watson Emma Watson
Dan Stevens Dan Stevens
Luke Evans Luke Evans
Josh Gad Josh Gad
Kevin Kline Kevin Kline
Hattie Morahan Hattie Morahan
Haydn Gwynne Haydn Gwynne
Clothilde
Gerard Horan Gerard Horan
Jean the Potter
Ray Fearon Ray Fearon
Ewan McGregor Ewan McGregor
Ian McKellen Ian McKellen
Emma Thompson Emma Thompson
Nathan Mack Nathan Mack
Audra McDonald Audra McDonald
Stanley Tucci Stanley Tucci
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Gugu Mbatha-Raw

What I found most interesting was all the hullabaloo over LeFou being gay in the movie. From everything I’d heard, I expected him to be flamboyant, out and a main part of the show. But it was such a small aspect… he flirted a tiny bit with Gaston. He danced with another guy at the end. And he had a bit of flair. But so did they all. Ugh, please. Not even worth mentioning anymore. Was totally fine for all viewers. And to think a movie theatre wouldn’t show the film. Yikes.

The setting and scenery between the abandoned castle and the woods were gorgeous, especially the aerial views, which seemed to capture everything. I thought the film was a bit short and could have told a few more stories between some of the other characters, as if you didn’t know who all the characters were from previous versions, you might have missed a few pieces of the beginning and how they connected to the rest of the movie.

beast

Anyone else see it? What’d ya think?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

 

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TAG: Desert Island Discs Blog

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Thank you so much Patty @ Moohnshinescorner for nominating me for the Desert Island Discs Blog Tag.  Patty has awesome adventures… it’s her birthday week… and we have lots of books and thoughts in common. So if you like my blog, you’ll love hers!

desert-island def

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The Rules:

  • Link back to BookBum’s original post, so she can see all your answers! (Remember to do this via pingback, she won’t get a notification if not!)
  • Thank the person who tagged you… show some love!
  • Come up with your answers
  • Then tag others to keep the tag going!

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The Premise:

You are cast away onto a remote desert island:

  • You can bring 5 albums – what are they?
  • You can bring one book – which is it? You are provided with a Bible/ other religious text if you want it, as well as the Complete Works of Shakespeare. No series!
  • You can have one luxury item (it has to be inanimate and can’t help you escape the island) – what is it?

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Image result for desert isles

My Answers:

The Albums:

I am the single worst person to ask this question as I don’t buy music or albums. I am a radio guy and always find a station I love. I do download some songs on Spotify, but I like different artists and genres, so I’m just gonna pick 5 artists and we’ll assume it will be a compilation of their best songs. And to be fair, I’ll explain why.

  • Phantom of the Opera
    • We all need a little drama and excitement. I love this entire score and see its dark side, its beauty and its ability to make me laugh and cry. I’d need both those things on a desert island.

phantom.jpg

  • Adele
    • I’ve come to love and adore her music over the years. It’s haunting. It stays with you. The lyrics are beautiful. I can get lost in the message and forget that I’m stuck on an island.

dele.jpg

  • Madonna
    • OK, so I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s when she was in her heyday. I can dance all night to her without ever getting bored or tired. It’s pretty, it’s mysterious, it’s dark, it’s deep, it’s funky and it’s disco. It would have just about everything to keep my mind occupied when I can no longer deal with the heat on this insanity of an island… and whoever dropped me there will pay!

madonna.jpg

  • Maroon 5
    • OK, primarily because of Adam Levine. Between the tattoos, his attitude and his appearance, I’d survive this torture just thinking about, looking at or listening to him. Oddly enough, his brother and I seem to have more in common, so maybe Adam will be my brother-in-law one day. {Sorry, Winston!} But the music is just as good. I love the beats and the range. Some of their songs just stick in my mind all day. I could listen to it while building myself some sort of hut to live in.

maroon 5.jpg

  • ABBA
    • So… don’t judge me… but I always wanted to be a child of the 60s and 70s. Whenever ABBA comes on, my body starts dancing without my mind’s permission. If I had to get stuck on this stupid island where it’s hot and sunny, which I am not fond of, then I need something that just takes over my entire being so I can forget where I am. ABBA would do that. I could just go to town on my own dancing from one side of the island to the other until some plane saw me and realized another fan needed rescue from the 60s.

abba.jpg

The Book:

Well, not only do you put me on this island… you tell me only one book? Well fine… then I’d take a blank book… so I could write my own stories and any quotes or lines I remember from my favorite books. I can have them all… assuming I can find a writing utensil. But you see… I’m smart… so I’ll find a henna plant and make some ink to use. Thought you had me there, huh?

 

 

henna

 

The Luxury Item:

Toothpaste. I thought about soap, but perhaps the water would clean me enough, or some flower cream I create. But I’d want to have fresh breath for my rescuer.

toothpaste.jpg

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I tag…

 

The last 6 people I chatted with today:

 

Have fun with it! Skip it if you are not interested. If you were not tagged, but want to play along, please do it! Love to see everyone’s answers… 😛

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

TAG: Friends for Days

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Many thanks to my friend for cwhiteweb for tagging me. You must check out her site for great content, but especially for her daily 6 word writing challenge… the two characters have been dating for the last 85 days and there’s lots of interesting action going on in only 6 words! Also, Cheila from pinkfordays created this tag, so check that out too!

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The rules:

  • Say who created the tag and provide a link to their blog.
  • Do a blog post showing your Tag.
  • Add the logo to the post.
  • Always thank the person who nominated you, provide a link to their blog and, if you like, say something positive and supportive about their blog.
  • Choose 5 bloggers that you don’t know very well or that are just starting their blog.
  • Go over to their blogs and read a few posts, like and comment.
  • Say 3 things you love about their blogs; (3 things for each blogger)
  • Those 5 bloggers are automatically nominated to do the same.
  • Nominate two bloggers who have been doing this for a longer time! Don’t forget to let them know you’re nominated them!

 

My nominees are:

Five (5) people I am relatively new friends with… who all deserve a shout-out and mention… some have had blogs for a while, some are brand new. Go check ’em out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 107 – Idle

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Idle: without purpose or effect; pointless; avoiding work; lazy

idle

As an advanced warning, today’s post will be an exaggerated one to wake myself up. And it’s not about a car engine or someone patiently waiting for someone to arrive. It’s 100% about me, as I had a moment this morning where I realized I am absolutely, positively, certainly, and any other definitive word, being IDLE about something. You’ve probably read at least one post where I’ve talked about trying to figure out my next career, searching for a job or looking for an agent for the book I’ve written. And on the outskirts, I must seem pretty busy and prolific in all that I’m doing. Well… it seems I must confess that I’ve been lying to you, by way of lying to myself, by omission and tunnel vision, that is…

I claim to be smart. I pontificate about how focused I can be. I tell everyone how I’m determined to achieve my goals. Yeah, sure, that’s all true. But I’m not practicing what I preach, and I am starting to realize it more and more as each 365 Daily Challenge post is released. A few pieces of background information to set the stage… I actually am an extremely hardworking individual. I have an incredible passion for what I want to do. I usually achieve more than feasible in any given period of time. My former career and frequent promotions serve as evidence. The project plans I’ve kept to achieve so many goals clearly speak for themselves. That I wrote my 400 page novel in less than 2 months supports these statements. And the 500 book reviews I’ve written in the last year certainly show my stamina. But you know what? Somehow I got off-track in the last few months… and I became idle.

And here’s how I know why… for someone who claims to have needed a few months rest and re-focus so he could plan his future… for someone who wanted to make a giant leap into a new and different future… for someone who provides so many thoughts and advice to others in the 365 Daily Challenge, here are also some facts you deserve to know:

  • I am not consistently sending out my query letters to potential agents.
    • How will it get published if I don’t do this?
  • I have not researched the Amazon self-publishing route.
    • How will I have a back-up plan if I don’t find a traditional publisher?
  • I have not truly started the second book.
    • How will I have more works to be published without putting myself on a writing schedule?
  • I have not joined any writer’s groups or developed stronger relationships with writers.
    • Who is going to push me and help provide guidance?
  • I haven’t connected with publishers and online sites to get my name out there.
    • How will people know of me as more than just a blogger and book reviewer?
  • I spend at least 6 hours a day sitting on my ass, reading other people’s posts and reviews on all the social media sites but don’t have any sort of regular plan or approach.
    • If I’m so inconsistent, how will people trust me?

So… since I always put myself out there… it was important for me to say these things aloud — to recognize them and be fair and honest. It’s all fixable. I strayed. I went off track. But if I want to pursue a different future, well then I better get off my ass and get back to what has made me so successful in the past. I’m wallowing in my self-pity and it ain’t a pretty sight. No… this isn’t a pity party… and I promise you, I don’t need anyone to tell me “it’s good you realized it now and can change it.”

I need everyone to hold me accountable… to push me for content, to partner on changes for the future… and to ask to see some sort of a plan within the next 7 days. Because if I want something… or if you want something… how is doing the same thing every day hoping it achieves a different outcome anything other than the definition of insanity?

______________________

That’s the line in my sand. This week I write my project plan. It’s always made things more clear and organized in the past. And next Monday, I will start the second half of 2017 with my formal plan in place to achieve my goals in publishing, writing and reviewing.

I will get back to being me!

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: See What I Have Done

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See What I Have Done4 out of 5 stars to See What I Have Done, a historical fictional account of the “Lizzie Borden Axe Murders,” written by Sarah Schmidt and set to be published on August 1, 2017. Many thanks to NetGalley, Grove Atlantic Monthly Press and the author for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of this fantastic book.



Why This Book


I’ve become a NetGalley member and saw this in the update feeds of a few fellow Goodreads’ members. I am fascinated with historical re-telling of real-life stories and knew a little bit about the Lizzie Borden murders. I thought this would be a great way to learn more and read the debut novel of a new author. And if you’re interested in some additional facts about the whole affair, check out this site: http://www.history.com/news/9-things-….



Approach & Style


I read the electronic Kindle Reader version on my iPad over three days. The book mostly takes place over a 3-day period, covering the day before, the day of, and the day after the murders occurred. It takes place in the small Massachusetts town in the Borden home.

There are about 15 chapters with each one told from the perspective of all the main and supporting characters. You see and hear the voice of each person before or after the murders occurred, learning different facts that weren’t clear to everyone else.

I believe most of the main facts are accurate, but there is likely some embellishment in the thoughts and actions of the other characters. For example, the uncle’s motivations behind hiring a supposed accomplice are not fully explored in the book but were more detailed in real life. As is traditional in historical fiction, there is some element of drama being added in to help support some of the known information. It felt natural to me, and nothing seemed to throw me at any point, which means the author has done a fine job at telling this story.



Plot, Characters & Setting

I’m breaking this area into two sections to set the stage of what has previously occurred and what actually happens in the book. Since this is a real-life story, I don’t think any of this counts as a spoiler, but if you want to be surprised about what’s actually covered in the book, you may want to skip this review.

Background covered thru conversations
Andrew and Sarah Borden were married and had two daughters, Emma and Alice. Alice unfortunately died in infancy from dropsy. A few years later, Lizzie was born, but Sarah never quite recovered and passed away. Andrew later married Abby, who became a stepmother to his two surviving daughters. Sarah’s brother, John Morse, would visit from time to time, checking in on his nieces in their small hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. Though they lived in somewhat poor conditions, the Bordens were very wealthy; Andrew was just unwilling to spend any money. Abby hires a house maid, Bridget, recent Irish immigrant. At first, the ladies are friendly, but over time, Abby becomes more and more difficult, which leaves Bridget wanting to escape the family’s clutches, as she feels there is a dark cloud surrounding both the family and the home. Emma loses her chance at getting married when Lizzie orchestrates a small blackmail scheme in order to keep Emma from leaving. But Emma eventually moves away from Fall River on her own, leaving Lizzie behind. Lizzie’s mental state is somewhat questionable as a result of these actions.

Action in novel
Lizzie and her father have a peculiar relationship. They love one another, but for a nearly 30 year old woman, Lizzie certainly plays a few too many games to capture his attention. She also raises pigeons in the backyard to keep her mind occupied. Lizzie does not like her stepmother, Abby, and often treats her poorly. Lizzie also plays mind games with Bridget, the house maid. Lizzie has some great lines, and quite a number of times, I had to stop reading and think about what that loon was trying to do. She might actually scare me if I met her in person, and I don’t scare easily.

The Bordens are planning to have a small party in a few days. Abby tells Bridget what needs to be cleaned and arranged, but it is too much for one person. Bridget asks Lizzie to help with some of it, but Lizzie has a fit and tells Bridget it’s not her responsibility. Bridget is trying to escape the house and has been saving up enough money. As she’s telling the neighboring house maid, Mary, Abby overhears Bridget’s confession and steals the money, so Bridget is unable to leave. Bridget is very upset and agrees to clean up for the party but begs to leave afterwards. Abby says she’ll think about it, but truly has no intention of letting Bridget leave. Andrew is off at work when a visitor arrives. It’s his former brother-in-law, John Morse, who has stopped in to check in on his nieces.

Uncle John has a flashback to a conversation the previous day with Benjamin, a somewhat friend of his, who has been hired to “do something” to Andrew Borden, as revenge for the way he treats his daughters. John sees the pain and struggle in Emma and Lizzie, and wants to teach Andrew a lesson. Benjamin hides out in the house and the barn for several hours. Andrew arrives home and is angry to learn from Abby that John has shown up unannounced. Abby then tells him that Lizzie knew earlier in the day he would be stopping, but failed to tell anyone. As revenge on his own daughter, Andrew harms her pigeons. Lizzie is distraught over the whole situation. The next morning, an odd series of events occurs involving Abby supposedly leaving to visit a sick friend, the uncle heading in to town to meet some bankers and Andrew preparing to leave for work, too. Lizzie and Bridget are mulling about the house. Bridget hears strange noises but can’t find anyone. Soon after, Lizzie comes running to find Bridget and tells her that her father has been cut. He’s resting on the couch in another room but looks very sick. Bridget runs for the doctor. Everyone assumes Abby is out with the sick friend. But events quickly turn when the cops arrive and find Abby has also been brutally murdered with an axe, just like Andrew.

Emma is brought back to the house. Benjamin is hiding out in the barn, then meets with John. John asks him why he killed Abby too, as the plan was only to harm Andrew. Benjamin wants his money, but says he never got to hurt anyone. When he arrived, he found both had already been killed. John doesn’t understand but when the cops arrive, Benjamin escapes. No one knows he was there until years later when he surprises Lizzie and asks for his money. Emma, Bridget and Lizzie band together to help clean up the house, trying to get some rest before the bodies are moved to the mortuary. Lizzie says many odd things but no one accuses her of murder. She doesn’t seem upset that her father has died, but she is also given sedatives to keep her calm. A few days later, she’s arrested but is not found guilty. The book doesn’t cover the trial, instead it’s told in a few small sections as part of the conclusion to the book. We learn what happened to Bridget, Lizzie and Emma in the future years, as well as John and Benjamin.



Strengths


I am not certain how much knowledge the author had of all the events beyond what people may have already read about or seen on TV. Perhaps she had access to all the police reports, trial summaries and information handed down to future generations. But what she’s done with it is truly amazing. She’s brought to life this once great family and shown us the complexities of living in the 1890s beneath one’s means when there was money to do things in a better way. She’s shown the crazy and tender side of Lizzie. She’s made Andrew and Abby into very peculiar people who either were indeed crazy themselves or truly just impacted by raising someone like Lizzie. Nothing is clear cut, as the author offers up scenes and emotions, but the reader gets to choose how to interpret the action. It feels very accurate from what I know of the true story. The embellishments add drama but don’t take away from the sense of reality that occurred. The writing feels authentic to the 1890s. The descriptions clearly show what the house looked like and how the family lived. I love how the murders were handled, as they weren’t. But it was fantastic. In one scene change, we go from a few missing hours of time to suddenly Lizzie yelling her father has been cut. You might think it is awkward, but it really is integrated quite well. It’s exactly representative of the missing hours in the real story, since we don’t for certain know what happened.

For those who are a tad squeamish, there are a number of scenes describing how different people react to the dead bodies. And some of these characters have an unhealthy fascination with blood and cuts. If you can’t handle a few descriptions about how some of the characters touch the bodies and want to feel where the axe has cut open flesh and bone, you may not want to read this one. I loved it, but as much as I find this kind of detail cool… what two of the characters do is absolutely insane… are there really people like that? Oh my!



Concerns


I would have liked more background on why they thought Lizzie was guilty. No evidence is provided, but very little of the arrest and trial is included in this novel. It leaves you wanting more. I would have liked to see a fact sheet in the back, letting us know what was embellished and what was real. There is some information showing the timeline of events, but you won’t know on your own without reading other literature or websites, which makes you wonder which parts are true, e.g. the whole concept of Bridget and the stolen money or the events with the pigeons.



Questions & Final Thoughts


It’s a solid book. It deserves a 4 rating, given how well the author has told a story that actually happened but with some flair and drama to make the intricacies even more complex. It is an easy read and leaves you more curious about the events and the author’s future in writing. I will definitely pick up another book if and when she writes another one.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews