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Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (2009)
A light but very entertaining book for a beach or trip read, especially if you've been or are going to Italy. Valentine, raised in a true Italian family, lives with her aging grandmother as they try to keep their family business (a high-end Italian shoe designer/ manufacturer) up and running. Love enters in for both Valentine and grandma and the ending has a twist. Chick lit, maybe, but I truly enjoyed it!

Read an excerpt and review at Bookreporter.com and visit the author's website.

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge! (2001) PG-13
The opening scene of this movie is a frenetic, whirling burst of lights, colors, and music! But try and stick with it because it is one luscious movie!

As the story goes, Christian, an impoverished writer, comes to Paris and falls in with Toulouse-Lautrec and the Bohemians of Montmartre, which leads us all to a merry romp at the Moulin Rouge. Christian meets Satine, the club's star and a beautiful courtesan. When he falls head-over-heels in love with her, a dangerous love triangle begins!

Ewan McGregor is terrific as Christian, Nicole Kidman is perfect as Satine, and they sing and dance! Visit About.com to find more about the movie, the stars, and the music.

He’s Just Not That Into You

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) PG-13
A smart, hilarious film starring an ensemble cast. He’s Just Not That Into You features interconnected stories showing relationships and misconceptions – from blind dates and extramarital affairs to long-term commitments and marriage.

Check out the video "10 Chick Flick Cliches You Won't Find in He's Just Not That Into You" and watch the trailer below to get a taste of the movie.

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (2008)
Gina Foxton, host of a Georgia public television cooking show, is stunned when her show is cancelled – and doubly so after she finds out why: her producer (and boyfriend) was caught sleeping with the sponsor’s wife. Things are looking up when Gina learns she has a chance to host a national show at The Cooking Channel. But there’s a catch: she’ll have to beat Tate Moody, host of a popular hunting/fishing/cooking show, in a reality show cook-off. Sparks fly as the two clash, cook, and click.

Enjoy the delightful Southern setting, the hilarious situations throughout the novel, and the wonderfully entertaining cast of characters surrounding Gina and Tate. A fun, breezy novel that’s perfect for the beach, or for a lazy afternoon in your own backyard.


Check out the Book Reporter interview with the author, or visit Mary Kay Andrew’s website for an excerpt and book discussion guide.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (2007) PG
This moving film tells the story of the fight to outlaw slavery throughout the British Empire during the late 18th century. Based upon true events, we learn of idealist William Wilberforce, who fights in Parliament for the abolition of the trade and is pushed along by many including his pastor, John Newton.

Newton was a slave trader who experienced a "great deliverance" during a storm at sea. He came to recognize the inherent evil of the slave trade and for the rest of his life tried to make amends to his savior for the wrong he committed against his fellow man. Newton is the author of the timeless hymn "Amazing Grace."

The film is moving and inspirational with wonderful acting by Albert Finney and Michael Gambon.

Bread & Tulips = Pane e tulipani

Bread & Tulips = Pane e tulipani (2000) PG-13
Bread & Tulips is a charming and quirky Italian film about an overlooked housewife who impulsively vacations to Venice and, with the help of a wonderful cast of supporting characters, finds herself. Part comedy, part romance, part fairy tale, this colorful film will leave you smiling!

In Italian with English subtitles.

Australia

Australia (2008) PG-13
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star in this epic movie that’s also a love story. Baz Luhrmann directs this tale set in the Northern Territory of Australia during World War II.

My husband had traveled to Australia, and he loved the scenery portrayed in the movie. He was in the area where it was filmed.

Check out a LA Times interview with Nicole Kidman where she discusses the film and the region. Also visit Amazon.com for a behind the scenes video clip featuring Hugh Jackman. If you want to preview the movie, IMDb.com has several featurettes and trailers.

It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night (1934)
Heiress Ellie Andrews eludes her controlling father by jumping off their yacht and swimming ashore. On her way from Miami to New York, she encounters unemployed newspaperman Peter Warne. The two fall in love as they deal with a washed out bridge, a broken down bus, and hitchhiking misadventures.

Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night was the first movie to win all five major Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay in 1934).

Visit the American Film Institute to find more information on the movie AFI rated the #3 romantic comedy. You can watch a trailer of It Happened One Night, plus read film details and a summary. Also check out About.com's Classic Movies section for trivia.

Moonstruck

Moonstruck (1987) PG
When Loretta, an Italian America widow, agrees to marry Johnny, confirmed bachelor and mama’s boy, the fireworks begin. He asks her to visit his brother Ronny and invite him to the wedding. Not only does Loretta invite Ronny to the wedding, she falls in love with him. Her close-knit Italian family offers her their insights on love and life. Cher and Olympia Dukakis glow in their Oscar award-winning performances.

John Patrick Shanley won an Oscar for the screenplay of Moonstruck. He recently wrote the play and screenplay Doubt.

Charade

Charade (1963)
Charade, a film written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, tells the tale of a woman (Audrey Hepburn) pursued by several men, including Cary Grant, who want the fortune her murdered husband has stolen. Directed by Stanley Donen, it also features Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and an Oscar nominated score by Henry Mancini.

It spans three genres: suspense/thriller, romance, and comedy, and is both charming and amusing. The interaction between Hepburn and Grant is the best part of this 1963 film shot in Paris. Check out About.com for more about the plot, cast, backstory, and more.

Leatherheads

Leatherheads (2008) PG-13
Starring George Clooney (also the director), Renee Zellweger, and John Krasinski, Leatherheads is an old-fashioned movie about the early days of professional football when there were no rules and the public viewed it as beneath college football.

In the 1920s, to keep pro football alive (and financially afloat), Dodge Connelly (Clooney) recruits war hero and college superstar Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) to play for the Duluth Bulldogs. Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) is a Chicago Tribune reporter trying to discredit Rutherford’s war record. Lexie grows close to both men – but who’s she going to end up with in the end?

For more on the early days of professional football, check out What a Game They Played by Richard Whittingham (1984) and America’s Game by Michael MacCambridge (2004).

Definitely, Maybe

Definitely, Maybe (2008) PG-13
Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin star in this cute chick flick with an unusual bent. Will Hayes (Reynolds) is a soon-to-be divorced dad with a precocious 10-year-old daughter, Maya (Breslin). When Maya starts asking questions about how babies are made, Will distracts her by telling her the story of how he met her mother. He adds an extra twist, though, by changing her name and adding the stories of his two other serious relationships. Maya’s quest is to figure out which woman is her mother. And by the end, Will wonders if he let the right woman go.

Costarring Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz.

27 Dresses

27 Dresses (2008) PG-13
This entertaining love story stars Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Jane (Heigl) loves weddings – and she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times to prove it. But then her sister gets engaged to George, who Jane is secretly in love with. And that’s when the fun begins. Will Jane finally graduate from being a bridesmaid to being a bride?

One of the highlights from the movie is when Jane modeled her bridesmaid dresses from the various weddings; it was fun to see the different styles. You don’t want to miss it!

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping (1995) PG
America’s sweetheart actress Sandra Bullock stars in this romantic comedy. She is a subway worker who helps a young man (Peter Gallagher) who has been mugged. His family begins to see her as his girlfriend/fiancée, and she lets them believe the lie. All is fine until she fall in love with his brother (Bill Pullman). Soon she must decide…

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn (1942)
Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire shine in this classic film featuring the music of Irving Berlin. After his girl leaves him for showbiz partner Ted Hanover (Astaire), Jim Hardy (Crosby) heads to Connecticut to run an inn that’s only open on the holidays. While the best known “holiday” song is the Academy Award-winning “White Christmas (1943 Best Song), other entertaining tunes include ditties for Washington's birthday (“I Can't Tell a Lie”) and Independence Day (“Song of Freedom”). Follow the men as they meet each holiday to compete for a woman – who also happens to be Hardy’s new partner.