Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review for 'The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land' by Thomas Asbridge


The Crusades: The War For The Holy Land was written by Thomas Asbridge and published by Simon & Schuster UK. The book is set for release in January of 2010. We at WebbWeaver were asked by Simon & Schuster UK to review this title based on a 100 page excerpt and reference materials with maps. We graciously accepted their request and we were quite pleased.
We began our journey into The Crusades with Chapter 13, 'To Crusade' and continued through Chapter 16 'Lionheart'.
In late summer of 1187 Archbishop Joscius of Tyre, set sail for the West. Since Saladin's overtaking of the Holy Land, the most powerful men in the Latin world had become compelled to take up the cross and engage in the campaign and call to arms known throughout history as The Third Crusades. Among the most powerful were Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor of Germany and Phillip II Augustus, the young King of France. But it would be Richard the Lionheart, King of England who would rise as champion of the christian cause and challenge Saladin. The two would meet head to head in the Third Crusades, pitting King against Sultan.
Saladin's rise to power had grown quickly but his taking of Jerusalem marked the beginning of his real trials of leadership and would almost certainly become his downfall. It was much easier to conquer a land than to rule it. The battle between Christendom and the Jihadists is highlighted in great detail, re-enforced with artwork and maps that strategically place the reader directly in the heart of the conflict as it unfolds. We are witness to the first battle where the Christians are finally in a position to go on the offensive and begin the task of attempting to reclaim that which has been taken by Saladin but, a shift in the tides results in mass casualties and the Christians are defeated on the plains of Acre.
The turn in Christendom's favor begins when three and a half years after taking up the cross, King Richard I of England, finally sails into Palestine on June 8, 1191, bringing with him much needed supplies, re-enforcements and positive morale for the weary. Abandoned by the King of France, Richard the Lionheart would step up as a leader and king making the world know his intentions to reclaim the lands Saladin had taken.
After the execution of over 2,600 Saracens due to a broken treaty he and Saladin had entered into together, Richard the Lionheart was free to lead the Third Crusades on to victory. He would do this with the help of many including, the Templars, Poitevins, Normans and the English.
Though he may not be responsible for the turn in The Third Crusade, it is widely believed that Richard's contribution of outward gallantry just may have been the deciding factor in the direction the Crusades would take. The battle at Acre would indeed drive Saladin's forces into retreat however it would not signal the end of the Third Crusades, though it would bring Richard the Lionheart to the brink of victory.
The Crusades is an intricately and beautifully woven tapestry of historical proportions.
Though we have not had the pleasure of reading the book in its entirety, the small part of the journey we took with the writer was entrancing and enlightening. We are quite anxious to read more on the Crusades and that interest was sparked by our reading of three small chapters from The Crusades.
WebbWeaver is giving The Crusades:The War For The Holy Land a 4-spider rating. We would recommend this to any history lover and anyone who has ever wondered about or questioned the past. Pick up Thomas Asbridge's book at http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/, you are sure to be pleased.
CK Webb & DJ Weaver
WebbWeaver

TV Movie Review for 'A Dog Named Christmas' - Rated G


We here at WebbWeaver, don't normally review television movies, but in the case of Hallmark Hall of Fame's A Dog Named Christmas, we are making an exception. This feel-good movie was directed by Peter Werner, with Jenny Wingfield writing the script from the New York Times Best Selling book by author Greg Kincaid. It stars Bruce Greenwood as George McCray, Linda Emond as his wife Mary Ann and Noel Fischer as their developmentally challenged, 20-year old son, Todd.
This wonderful story opens with the McCray family who own a farm in Kansas. George and Mary Ann's son, Todd has a way with animals and when he learns of a local animal shelter's 'Adopt a Dog for Christmas' program, he immediately sets out to convince his dad what a great idea it would be to foster a dog for the holidays. George and Todd visit the shelter and find a dog with no name. Todd decides that the dog's name is Christmas . But there are 32 other dogs in the shelter without homes for the holidays and Todd begins his own campaign to insure that they all get placed and loved by a family, for Christmas.
While Christmas is with the McCray's, Mary Ann tries to convince George that Todd should be allowed to keep the animal, but personal trauma in George's past causes him to resist the idea.
This film was not just a movie about a dog, but a movie about the love of a family, one person's impact on a community and the inner turmoil of a man who is trying to resolve his past. A Dog Named Christmas will make you warm inside and show you how the love of an animal can open our hearts and save us from our pasts.
A Dog Named Christmas is available for purchase on-line at http://www.hallmark.com/ or from any Hallmark Gold Crown Story. If you want a wonderful and heart-warming story to share with your family, believe us...this is it. WebbWeaver gives A Dog Named Christmas a 5-spider rating and we highly recommend this movie for the Holidays.
CK Webb & DJ Weaver
WebbWeaver

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Movie Review for The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Rated PG-13


The Twilight Saga: New Moon, from Summit Entertainment, was released in theatres on November 20, 2009 and was directed by Chris Weitz. New Moon, the second in the series written by Stephanie Meyer and adapted to screenplay by Melissa Rosenburg, stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning and a plethora of other up-and-coming stars.
When a birthday party for Bella (played by Stewart) goes horribly wrong, Edward (played by Pattinson), begins to believe that there is no place for Bella in his vampire world. Edward and the rest of the Cullen family then disappear from Forks, Washington and from Bella's life. Months pass as Bella sinks into a deep depression and longs for her lost love. Through a chance meeting with some local 'bad boys', Bella receives a rush of adrenaline from the dangerous situation, but also a surprise; a spectral image of Edward. Believing that placing herself in danger is her only means of seeing the man she loves, Bella sets out to live life on the edge.
Jacob Black (played by Lautner) and Bella become best friends as he helps her to forget the pain of her loss, but when Jacob begins to exhibit some unusual traits, Bella pushes to find out the truth about her friend and discovers that maybe ALL monsters are real.
Edward, believing Bella dead, goes to The Volturi, rulers of the vampire world and asks to be exterminated but is refused. He then sets out to expose himself in an effort to force the Volturi to end his existence without his beloved Bella. Alice (played by Ashley Greene) and Bella embark on a race against time to save not only Edward, but the entire Cullen family. As Edward, Bella, and Alice are forced to face the Volturi, Aro (played by Sheen) gets a glimpse into Bella's uniqueness and a different turn of events are set into motion.
I must confess to being a big fan of the Stephanie Meyer series and I watched this movie as unbiasedly as possible. The wolf transformations in New Moon are, for lack of a better word, FANTASTIC! The fight scenes that pit vampire-on-vampire are literally mesmerizing and I even held back a tear at more than one point in the movie. Though the movie soundtrack felt lackluster and dull, the introduction of the new characters made up for the musical short comings. If you are a fan of the series you will love New Moon, as it is in good keeping with the book. But if you have never read the series, I recommend that you wait and enjoy the film adaptations first and then read the books. I am giving The Twilight Saga: New Moon a 4-spider rating based on the incredible special effects, the nail biting fight scenes, the intensity of the character emotion and definitely on the promise of things to come.
CK Webb

Movie Review for 'Star Trek" - Rated PG-13


Star Trek, starring Chris Pine (James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Eric Banna (Nero), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Bruce Greenwood (Christopher Pike) and Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy) was released through Paramount Pictures. Star Trek premiered in theaters on May 8, 2009 and the DVD was released on Nov. 17, 2009.
When the US Kelvin is attacked in deep space by the Romulan ship Narada and it's captain, Nero, Captain George Kirk must replace his leader who must go to meet with Nero and evacuate the damaged starship. As these events unfold, George Kirk's son, James T. Kirk is being born and the Kelvin is falling apart. George Kirk must sacrifice himself in order to save the 800 persons on board the Kelvin.
Twenty years later, James Kirk is a young troublemaker who is inspired by Capt. Christopher Pike to follow in his father's footsteps and become a starship captain. Kirk attends Starfleet training and finishes with high honors but is not assigned to the Enterprise because he has been relieved of duty over a dispute with one of his instructors, the young Lt. Spock. Lucky for Kirk and the Enterprise, Dr. McCoy or 'Bones' as he is known to his friends, through some medical hockus pockus, manages to get Kirk on board the Enterprise.
The planet Vulcan is destroyed by the same Romlulan vessel that destroyed the US Kelvin and James Kirk must fight to save the Enterprise and the Earth, which is Nero's next target.
This movie is an action-adventure of the truest kind. It neatly fits to the story line created by Gene Roddenberry and is true to his vision. The action is non-stop and the plot will keep you entertained throughout. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto convincingly portray Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock in a manner that would make William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy applaud and Mr. Nimoy even makes an appearance as the aging Mr. Spock who sets Kirk on his course to save Earth.
This movie has all the action scenes, sci-fi chromatography and believable characters that come together to make a box-office hit and I loved it. I am giving Star Trek a 4-spider rating and advising you that if you missed it at the movies, please rent the DVD. If action is your genre, you will be PUMPED by this one.
DJ Weaver

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review for 'The Last Song' by Nicholas Sparks


The Last Song was written by Nicholas Sparks and released by Grand Central Publishers on September 30, 2009. The Last Song will also be a 2010 coming-of-age drama film starring Miley Cyrus.
Ronnie Miller is an up-and-coming prodigy in the world of classical piano. With the help of her father who is a Julliard instructor, Ronnie is destined to do great things. When her parents' marriage falls apart and her father leaves, Ronnie's hurt and pain change to rebellion and she turns her back on the two things she loves the most...her music and her father.
Three years pass while Ronnie's rebellion spirals out of control and she refuses to speak to her father. Her mother intervenes forcing Ronnie to spend the summer before her eighteenth birthday with her father and brother at her father's home. Her father is now living a much simpler existence and his life's work consists of building a stained glass window for a local church. Ronnie feels only bitterness towards her father but in the end, the journey Ronnie takes in that summer will change her forever, opening her eyes to the real truths behind her father's leaving. With pure, raw human emotion the story also shows us the love of a father for his child, and the spiritual awakening he must embrace.
The Last Song is a heart wrenching tale of love and of love lost, of family and their pull on our lives and of the secrets we sometimes keep. Nicholas Sparks does something in this novel that he always does...he breaks our hearts. Then he does something truly wonderful...he always rebuilds whatever he breaks and we leave stronger than when our journey with him began.
As I read this book it became clear to me how the story would progress and yet I was still moved to tears. Nicholas Sparks has a way of doing that and even though we see the sadness coming, still it overwhelms us. This is not only a beautiful story but an inspiring one as well. I would definitely recommend The Last Song to all fans of Sparks but also to those who have never felt the intensity and strength in this talented author's writing. The Last Song is deeply moving and beautifully written, with characters that vividly bring to memory, times in our own lives. It is for this very reason that I am giving The Last Song a 4-spider rating. You surely will not be disappointed in this poignant story.
CK Webb

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review for 'The Lost Throne' by Chris Kuzneski

The Lost Throne is the fourth book for Internationally acclaimed writer Chris Kuzneski. It was published in the US in July of 2009 by G.P. Putman's Sons/Penguin Group.
When the decapitated bodies of seven monks are thrown from the high cliffs of the Meteora monastery of Holy Trinity, Nick Dial from the Homicide Division of Interpol, is plunged into the strange world of a monastic religious group guarding an ancient secret in Greece.
Half-way across the globe in St. Petersburg, FL, special forces elites Jonathan Payne and David Jones receive a phone call from a man they do not know who asks for help. When the two men learn that a friend of theirs is also in danger, they decide to get involved. What takes place from this point on is a whirlwind adventure that uncovers a strange twist in history, a phenominal ancient treasure and a beautiful damsel-in-distress.
This tightly written, nail-bitter has something for everyone. The Lost Throne is boldly written and extremely riveting and will keep you on the edge. Kuzneski's descriptive passages are sprawling and make you feel that you are in Greece seeing the ancient monasteries and walking through the small, little-known villages that make up the setting for the book.
The characters are bigger than life and hell-bent to discover the secrets of The Lost Throne. Chris Kuzneski has woven a tale of ancient Greek lore, hidden treasure, murder and intrigue with this one and you could not go wrong reading this thrill-ride adventure story. Put this one on your list of 'must-reads' because your going to love it. I gave The Lost Throne a 4-spider rating and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great adventure.
DJ Weaver