LEGO Friends Heartlake Dog Show (3942)

Review:



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This was the first Lego set I bought for my daughter. She’d been playing with sets owned by her cousins, as well as hand-me-downs from my own childhood, for awhile, but hadn’t done a significant amount of actual building, so I wanted to get a relatively simple set to start with, yet one with good play value. This one fit the criteria, with the additional advantage of being animal-themed and relatively inexpensive.

Now that she has several larger and more diverse sets, she doesn’t play very often with the actual stage, but she still makes frequent use of the minifig, animals, and accessories, especially the see saw and jumps.

Update: Since we purchased it, this set has been discontinued and is now priced as a collectible rather than a children’s toy. As an alternative, consider the Heartlake Horse Show (41057).

My rating: (3 / 5)

Supernatural Season 3 Review



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Review:

While I appreciated that Kripke and the writers didn’t allow the Yellow Eyed Demon storyline to drag on and on, it left them without such a strong arc and much of season three seemed to be grasping at straws trying to fill in the gap. On top of that, the Writer’s Strike forced the season to be shortened (16 episodes instead of the usual 22), leading to the compression of several storylines, inconsistent characterization and plotting, and inadequate payoff at the end of the season. Thus, I consider season three to be the weakest of the first three seasons, even though many individual episodes are actually quite good. (I’ve starred the good ones below for your convenience.)

My rating: (3 / 5)

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Gladiator Movie Review



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Review:

To be honest, I think this movie is over-rated, but I picked it out of the $5 movie bin because my husband likes it.

Gladiator has much to recommend it: excellent performances, impressive visuals, classic fight scenes, beautiful score, and cool costumes, among other things. However, I’ve always found the plot a bit paint-by-numbers and predictable to a degree that takes away from the movie as a whole, more so because guy-seeks-revenge-for-murdered-family is NOT a favorite trope of mine.

My rating: (3 / 5)

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Vidalia Chop Wizard Review



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Review:

Due to a combination of poor knife skills and worse knives, I’ve never been very good at dicing, so I bought the Vidalia Chop Wizard to help. It dices beautifully, and I use it frequently, probably more days than not. Cutting veggies up into smaller pieces makes it easier to get them into my childrens’ stomachs. So I definitely consider this $20 extremely well spent.

However, it’s not perfect. It’s surprisingly loud to operate and depending on what you’re dicing, it can require a fair bit of force to use. It can be a little fussy and time consuming to clean as well.

Note: Be wary of unethical sellers passing off cheap knock-offs as the real thing on Amazon. I got mine at Target to be safe.

My rating: (3 / 5)

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Whoonu



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Review:

A fun icebreaker game.

Everybody is dealt cards with words or phrases such as “rainstorms” and “reading books” on them. One person per turn is “it” and the other players have to choose which card from their hand will be that person’s favorite. The person who’s it then ranks the cards he or she received based on which actually are his or her favorites and awards points based on who chose best. You can learn new things even about people you’ve known your whole life!

My rating: (3 / 5)

Journey Book Review

Journey (Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy) (Hardcover)
by Aaron Becker

Price: $13.19
162 used & new available from $1.97
4.7 out of 5 stars (479 customer reviews)

Review:

This book got rave reviews but I wasn’t wowed as much as I expected. The art is certainly lovely and imaginative, but it didn’t resonate with me on the same level as, for example, the similar messages found in Calvin & Hobbes strips such as this favorite:

kazam

My rating: (3 / 5)

Les Miserables (2012) Movie Review



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Review:

A more successful film adaptation of a Broadway musical than The Phantom of the Opera thanks to excellent performances from a much stronger ensemble cast, but still vocally disappointing. (I know it’s not really fair to compare the voices of non-musical theater actors with those of musical theater stars, like those who filled the cast of the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert, but I can’t help it!)

At least they were smart enough to cast a bona-fide Broadway star (Samantha Barks) in the role of Eponine. (“On My Own” being the showstopper song you really don’t want to mess up.) I was also impressed by Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” which was too quiet and broken to work on stage, but fit the character at that stage of her life perfectly.

My rating: (3 / 5)

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Saving Mr. Banks Movie Review



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Review:

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are two of my all-time favorite actors, so I was eager to see this despite it not being a particularly accurate depiction of Mrs. Travers’ feelings about the movie version of Mary Poppins. (Apparently, she hated it until her dying day.) As I expected based on the cast, the acting was excellent and the film was beautifully shot and moving.

My rating: (3 / 5)

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Austenland Book Review



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Review:

I didn’t much like the movie based on this book, but I decided to give the book a chance because I almost always like a book better than its movie. Austenland proved no exception. I still felt the characterization was shallow and overly convenient, but the book made better use of the fun premise and the secondary characters were no longer reduced to ridiculous caricatures, which was a huge relief and made the whole thing make much more sense. 

My rating: (3 / 5)

 

Lost in Austen



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Review:

A fun and entertaining, though sometimes contrived, miniseries about a modern Austen fan who accidentally switches places with Elizabeth Bennet, and soon finds that the story she knows and loves isn’t behaving exactly as it’s supposed to. Wondering how everything will manage to get straightened up will keep Austen fans like me glued to their seats, and even my husband (a much more casual fan) enjoyed it a lot.

My rating: (3 / 5)

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