Archive for January, 2009

Disney Talk – Read On

January 30, 2009

Starcatchers, Disney teens, and crime stoppers are all back in a new collection of Ridley Pearson novels, set to be released soon.

By Blake

Originally posted January 29, 2009.

Regular readers of BlakeOnline probably notice that when I occasionally write book reviews, they’re usually concerning a new Ridley Pearson novel written for Disney Editions. Compelling and intriguing for readers of any age and great for Disney fans, I really enjoy them.

I was certainly surprised today when I checked out Ridley Pearson’s official website and looked on his schedule of upcoming events to see that three new sequels to different series will be released on bookshelves soon.

The first is a title that I had no idea about until now: Kingdom Keepers 3. I am thrilled that another installment is being written about the group of middle schoolers who get trapped inside the Disney theme parks. The first two volumes were excellent and mainly focused on the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, so I am certainly excited to see what’s going to happen in round three. It will be released in August 2009.

Returning for fourths is the superb Peter and the Starcatchers series (pictured above). Written by both Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, these novels tell the story of what happened before the original Peter Pan tale by J.M. Barrie. Matching my likability of the Harry Potter series, the Starcatchers stories really are full of Disney magic with plenty of fun and humor. I am a bit curious to see how the fourth book, currently titled Peter and the Sword of Mercy, will be done, however, because the third book seemed to cap off the series nicely and didn’t appear to leave any room for continuation other than the original Peter Pan itself. Though I’m sure we have nothing to fear where that’s concerned, as the first three were just so great that I’m more than happy that we’ll get to read another installment. It will be released in October 2009.

Concluding the round of new Ridley Pearson novels is Steel Trapp 2, to be released in January 2010. The first book (which was released last spring) told the story of a boy named Steel Trapp who has a photographic memory and can recall anything he’s set his eyes on. This eventually led him in an epic pursuit involving criminals. The first book was full of suspense, and it will be wonderful to read the sequel.

I hope you’re as excited for Kingdom Keepers 3, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, and Steel Trapp 2 as I am! They are all sure to be very entertaining reads. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to pick up the previous volumes in each of those three different series, as well as the new book Science Fair, which is written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I highly recommend them, especially for Disney fans. Also, if you’re in the area and are interested, Peter and the Starcatchers the musical debuts at La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California on February 13, 2009.

Happy reading (or play watching)!

By Blake; originally posted January 29, 2009. All images (C) Disney.


Channel Flippin’ – It’s Showtime

January 12, 2009

America’s number-one TV show is back.

By Blake

Originally posted January 11, 2009.

I am so excited!

The time is almost here for the season premiere of my (and America’s) favorite TV show, American Idol! This Tuesday, January 13, 2008, will mark the first episode of the landmark show’s eighth season, and there’s certainly plenty to be pumped up about. The show’s even launched a new website look to celebrate the arrival of its eighth year on the air. Also, I’ve been getting into the American Idol spirit by posting some American Idol-related articles into the BlakeOnline archives. I’ve been having to re-post all the past articles when I changed to the current format of the web site and most of the previous BlakeOnline articles have yet to be posted here, so I’d thought it would be an appropriate time to re-post the American Idol articles. So, now you can check out the Disney’s Hollywood Studios changes article (which mentions The American Idol Experience, an upcoming attraction there), a recap of the American Idol season 7 finale, and a report from the American Idol season 7 concert.

First off, there’s a new judge to spice opinions up with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi will join the three famous judges to give the show a little more variation and to add some publicity to the program. It will be fascinating to see what she brings to the show and how she and the other three judges will manage to squeeze in all of their comments into the already-short amount of time given to critique the contestants’ performances.

Not only will a new judge liven things up on this season of American Idol, but the contestants will have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to talent. Last season’s amazing group of performers managed to make season 7 the most memorable (in my opinion) year of the show yet. David Cook, Michael Johns, and Carly Smithson rocked the place out every week; David Archuleta’s voice had the younger and older viewers voting for him weekly; Syesha Mercado and Chikezie Eze added some soul to the show; Jason Castro’s relaxed songs were excellent; Brooke White had sensationally simple songs and a sincere personality; Kristy Lee Cook was the country performer of the bunch; and Ramiele Malubay brought some pop songs to the group. Between the ten of them, there was really something great for everyone.

Additionally, not only did last year’s top ten contestants show they had talent while they were on the show, but they’ve also continued to please audiences outside of the show. All of them toured the country last summer in an outstanding show-stopping concert and some of them have already started their careers as record artists.

Chikezie Eze supposedly has a new album in the works, though I wasn’t able to find much information about it or whether it’s really happening or not.

Ramiele Malubay has released four singles, including a new Christmas song.

Michael Johns released a Christmas single in December and the proceeds of that song will go to the Red Cross and MDA’s Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis fund. Additionally, he helped score the music and also sings in most of the songs in the new documentary of Shaun White (a.k.a. the Olympics’ “Flying Tomato” snowboarder/skateboarder). Michael also has an upcoming album being released.

Kristy Lee Cook released an album in September, called “Why Wait”, which featured her song that was on the country Top 30 Billboard, “15 Minutes of Shame.”

Carly Smithson has been working on music, as well, and will have an upcoming album.

Brooke White has become a spokesperson for the foundation that is partnered between Malaria No More and American Idol Gives Back called Save the World Summer. She has also been writing music updating her blog frequently with posts and videos.

Jason Castro recorded “Hallelujah”, which was (in my opinion) his most memorable song while on American Idol, which is going to be featured in an upcoming Mexican film Amar a Morir. In addition to that, Castro has been updating his video blog frequently with new videos and news. Castro also released a free single of “White Christmas” and is currently working on an album.

Syesha Mercado released a single with Boney James during her American Idol journey and is now working on an album.

David Archuleta released a self-titled CD in November, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. The album featured several songs that were written and co-written by Archuleta and also included Archuleta’s single “Crush,” which was released in August, as well as the new single “A Little Too Not Over You.” Official music videos have been made for both singles. Consistently updating his blog, David has kept his fans up to speed about his post-American Idol experiences. Additionally, in September David Archuleta taped an episode of the Nickelodeon show iCarly, which is set to air sometime in the spring.

Finally, David Cook has had success with the winning song from the American Idol songwriting competition “The Time of My Life” (written by Regie Hamm) and his single from September, “Light On” (of which a music video has been made). Both were featured on his excellent new self-titled album which was released in November. All but three of the songs on his CD were written or co-written by him. Cook plans to have a concert tour at colleges throughout the country beginning in February.

And that’s all of last year’s top ten. It’ll be tough to top that outstanding roster of performers and their varied music and personalities. I’ll definitely expect to be “wowed” this season, but I’ll hold off on any huge expectations for now.

One thing is for sure – with all the anticipation rising, as well as the introduction of the fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, and the new show website, I can’t stand the short wait we have until the season premiere of American Idol! It will premiere on Fox this Tuesday, January 13, 2008 at 8:00pm Eastern time, 7:00pm Central time and will continue every Tuesday and Wednesday through May. 🙂

By Blake; originally posted January 11, 2009. All images (C) Fox.