Monday, December 21, 2015

Top Ten Holiday Movies-Kiss of the Virgin Queen by Sharon Buchbinder

With the holidays upon us and a little down time on the horizon, I thought it would be good to stock up on my favorite things, including my top ten holiday movies. So, with little ado, I present you with my shopping list, in no particular order.

1.      When Harry Met Sally
A classic the moment it was released, this movie asks the age old question, can men and women be friends without sex. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are the stars in this funny movie, but Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are wonderful secondary characters. Favorite scenes: Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in the deli, and the woman (Crystal’s mom) who says, “I’ll have what she’s having!”; the argument over the wagon wheel coffee table; and, of course, New Year’s Eve. No spoilers. Go get it and enjoy.

This Christmas classic won Oscars and the hearts of everyone who watched it. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed jitterbug through this film that pulls on your heart strings at every moment. Favorite scenes: Clarence in his white nightgown, the alternate reality if George had never been born, the town gathering together to bring their money to George, and, of course, the littlest daughter’s pronouncement at the end of the film. Get popcorn and tissues at hand before you start.

3.      Scrooged
Bill Murray plays the biggest jerk in the world—someone who wasn’t always a bad guy, but who has become blinded by ambition and success. In this re-telling of A Christmas Carol, Karen Allen plays his old girlfriend and is spot on with each appearance. Bobcat Goldthwaite reports to Murray and decides his life is over when Murray fires him at Christmas. Bobcat shows up at just the right times to provide a detour into insanity. Favorite scenes: Robert Mitchum trying to convince Murray they need a show with detective who plays with string to entertain cats, Carol Kane clobbering a very dense Murray, and the elevator where Murray tells the Grim Reaper, “That may work with the chicks, but you need to back off, man.” Grab a cocktail and sit down, just watch out for the eyeballs.

4.      A Christmas Story
Ralphie is obsessed with getting a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas, which his mother, father, and everyone else tell him will put out his eye. Undeterred, he proceeds to make it his mission to convince them otherwise. Between Ralphie’s friends, his blue-streak cursing father, and his exasperated mother, anyone with a family can relate to this film. Favorite scenes: double dog dare you, the father’s pronunciation of fragile (FRA-JEE-LEE), the LAMP, and Ralphie’s ultimate acquisition and consequence of owning said gun. Fun for the family, make your kids watch it with you and tell them they will never, ever, ever have a BB gun. Let the mayhem begin.

5.      A Christmas Carol (original version)
The black and white original version is the one you want to see, not all the wannabees in color and redone with new actors. This is the one that will give you goosebumps and make you wonder how they did the special effects without computer animation. Old movie, old techniques, a message that never goes out of style. Ebenezer Scrooge is as miserly as it gets in this film—but is capable of change. If he can change, we can, too. Favorite scenes: Ghost of Christmas Past, the visit to Bob Crachitt’s house where they bless everyone, including the Scrooge, and the Ghost of Christmas present showing Scrooge dire consequences of his behaviors. Tiny Tim saying, “God bless us everyone!” can still choke me up. Have tissues handy.

If not for bad luck, the Griswold family would have no luck at all. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, the nominal heads of the household, have a beleaguered life. Bad incidents pile up like a train wreck, authored by their relatives. Their children are dragged along into the mayhem at the hands of elderly eccentric relatives, a hillbilly cousin from hell, and neighbors who out yuppie everyone. Favorite scenes: the shaking, jumping poorly wrapped holiday package; the flying reindeer and lights that blind the yuppie neighbors; and, Randy Quaid in his bathrobe emptying his RV’s sewage into the storm drain. Forget the tissues, have an adult beverage and frequent bathroom breaks unless you wear adult diapers.

7.      Elf
If you are not a Will Ferrell fan, you may not want to add this to your list, because this movie is Ferrell at his goofiest. And I just watched “Get Hard,” which was completely off the wall, so be prepared. One Christmas Eve, Santa Claus visits and orphanage. A baby climbs into his sack and becomes an unwitting stow away to the North Pole. Years later, the baby now a man called Buddy the Elf, discovers he is not one of the little people (surprise!) and is informed by his tiny father that he is adopted. Shocked at first, Buddy decides to search for his real father. He leaves the North Pole in his green elf suit and heads to New York City. It’s the Holiday season and he feels right at home. So much so, he becomes a bit of a problem. Favorite scenes: when he sees a department store Santa and mistakes him for the REAL Santa; his redecoration of the department where he is employed as, what else? An ELF;  his appearance at his biological father’s office and insistence that James Caan really is his dad; and, James Caan taking him home for dinner. Guard your candy jar and stock up on candy canes.

8.      Home for the Holidays
While technically not a Christmas movie (it centers on Thanksgiving), this movie puts the focus on a family that knows how to put the FUN into DYSFUNCTIONAL. Holly Hunter loses her job and is left alone for Thanksgiving. She decides to go home and encounters all the reasons she moved far away in the first place. Her sister is a full on martyr guilt-tripper who believes she is the only person in the family who cares for their parents. Her brother (played by the wonderful Robert Downey Junior) is in the closet, and her parents are not incompetent boobs, as her sister would lead one to believe.  Favorite scenes: Hunter’s mishaps driving home; the brother lying on the floor behind the sofa, hiding from the insanity; the sister’s frenetic race against aging on the stair climber; and Hunter’s budding romance with someone who isn’t afraid of crazy. Get comfortable and watch out for flying food.

9.      Holiday Inn (original version)
The definitive holiday musical, this movie celebrates an era we can now only experience through film. With great Christmas classic songs, Bing Crosby croons, the women swoon, and Fred Astaire taps his way into your heart. Favorite scenes: The ENTIRE film. Light a fire, grab a blanket, and curl up with this heartwarming movie.

10.   Miracle on 34th Street (original version)
Maureen O’Hara plays the tough minded mother who has raised her daughter not to believe in Santa Claus. However, when the store where she works employs a kindly old man to play Santa, Macy’s gets a bit more than they bargained for. When he goes to court to be legally declared  the real Santa, it is not just Santa who is on trial, but the whole notion of human kindness. Favorite scenes: The ENTIRE film. Hot cocoa and tissues are required to accompany this classic.

Kiss of the Virgin Queen
Kiss of the Jinni Hunter Series
Book Two
Sharon Buchbinder

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: October 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5092-0392-5 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5092-0393-2 Digital

Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 75K

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Book Description:

Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon is on a mission to prevent terrorist attacks. Hard enough to do when the threats are human, almost impossible when it's an evil, shape shifting jinni. Eliana needs help so she calls the sexy and beguiling psychiatrist, Arta Shahani. However, no matter how good he is at his job, the man is on her blacklist. On their last case together, the guy left her for dead.

Arta is stunned when he receives Eliana’s call. Forced to abandon the woman he loves, he now fears she won’t accept his shape-shifting skills as a Persian Lion. Eliana, in the meantime discovers she is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba with special powers of her own. But will her skill and Arta's be enough to defeat the jinni, or will they lose the love history decreed for them as well as their lives in this battle of good versus evil?

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Short intro: This full length novel is the second in the enthralling new Jinni Hunter series from award-winning author, Sharon Buchbinder. Edgy and suspenseful, this paranormal romance series explores diverse cultures and an array of supernatural beings. Join the Special Agents of the Anomaly Defense Division as they race to save humanity—and the people they love.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Summertown, West Virginia, U.S.A., Present Day

A picturesque flight over the Appalachian Mountains to Summertown, West Virginia gave Special Agent Eliana Solomon of the Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, Anomaly Defense Division time to process the urgent report she’d received by email. Up until this week, the existence of werewolf packs had been concealed from the general population. Now reports of the secretive shape shifters exploded in her inbox. Where had this information been all this time? Had the government monitored them all along? If so, why had her boss, Bert Blackfeather, insisted on her obtaining proof of their existence, along with the jinnis? She’d pry an answer out of that closed mouth man—someday. Right now, she had a more pressing matter at hand.

Five days ago, three nine-year-old werewolf boys and their three eighteen-year-old sisters went on a birthday expedition in the heavily wooded state wildlife area and disappeared. By day, local human authorities, volunteers, and bloodhounds brought in from surrounding jurisdictions combed the forest, the hills, and caves. By night, pack members ran through the forest using their extraordinary senses—olfactory, visual, and auditory—to hunt for their missing kin. Divers also explored the waterways, all to no avail. No clues to the kids’ whereabouts had been found, not even a backpack—until two this morning.

A night security guard discovered the boys in the middle of the Adalwolf Winery parking lot. Slightly bruised and scratched up, but otherwise alive and well, in their human forms, the youngsters had no  recollection of anything between arriving at the park and waking up in the parking lot with their back packs under their heads—their five-day-old lunches untouched.

Rushed to the ER and examined thoroughly, the boys displayed no evidence of physical abuse. The blank space in their minds where the memories should have been was inaccessible to parents and psychologists. If it weren’t for the fact that the three older girls were still missing, the local authorities wouldn’t continue to press the boys for information. Over time, their memories could return, but without ransom notes, calls or clues, the clock was running down for a successful search and rescue. The local police, state troopers, sheriff’s office, and the West Virginia Bureau of Investigation feared the operation would soon become a search and recovery.

The plane touched down, bounced along the runway, and Eliana’s cell began to vibrate.


The gruff voice of her boss boomed in her ear. “New development in the case.” Blackfeather paused. “A hiker found one of the missing girls in a culvert near an abandoned mine. Bites, claw marks. Throat ripped open. Damn thing nearly tore her head off.”

She shuddered. “Black bear?”

“Based on the paw prints around the body, the first responders are saying these weren’t bear bites. More like a dog—or wolf.”

“Boss, aside from zoos and wild animal preserves, there are no wolves in the eastern U.S.”
He sighed. “I stand corrected. Werewolf.”

Her stomach lurched, and she gripped the armrest so hard her knuckles turned white. Shit. Shit. Shit. A werewolf attacking one of its own? Why? What the hell was going on?

“West Virginia Division of Homeland Security has a car waiting for you, fully loaded with everything you’ll need for the investigation. Get to that scene.” Her boss clicked off.

Bossy desk jockey.
A flush of shame rushed over her. He’d taken on the orphan Anomaly Defense Division of the Science and Technology Directorate that no one else wanted, along with a mission no one else supported or believed in. As abrupt and abrasive as he could be, the Gulf War veteran deserved credit for giving her the opportunity to pursue what everyone else thought was something out of the tales of The Arabian Nights: jinnis. With the needed proof of werewolves and jinnis from Project Aladdin, support surged into the division. A stable funding source made her jinni hunting work possible So far, it seemed wherever there were werewolves, there was jinni activity.

This case was no different. According to the report, relationships between the local humans and werewolves were more than cordial. They were so intermarried, almost everyone was family. A large non-denominational wedding facility placed Summertown on an international list of destination weddings, like Hawaii and Las Vegas, but specifically for werewolves. A thriving bed and breakfast trade supported the wedding industry, along with other leisure activities, such as biking, hiking, white-water rafting, and winery and sightseeing tours. Murder of a werewolf girl wasn’t just bad for the family, it was bad for the town.

About the Author:

Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. When not teaching or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.

Twitter ID @sbuchbinder

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1 comment:

Sharon Bell Buchbinder said...

Thanks for hosting my Queen!