Tag Archives: reviews

Quickies 3

coffee notebook pen write list

Welcome to my quick reviews ~ a mix of short takes on movies and books I’ve recently watched/read.

  1. The Girl Most Likely To… I picked up this 1973 “black comedy” DVD on eBay. Watching the film was an enjoyable experience for several reasons. One, I love Stockard Channing and Ed Asner. Two, it is fun to return to a 1970s setting before cell phones, etc. Three, it’s basically about bullying and people being horrible, a topic to which I can relate very well. I was bullied in my early years, though we didn’t call it that then, and no one cared enough to address it, not even my parents (not that I told them about every incident). Though TGMLT takes place during college years, it exposes the SOP of people ostracizing and mocking anyone whose physical appearance doesn’t meet the standards of the day. I cheered when the victim began getting even with the folks who had made her life miserable. The ending is golden as well. I had forgotten many things over the years, including Fred Grandy playing an idiot plumber (Gopher!). Jim Backus was great as the Professor (yep, Mr. Howell was the Professor here). The whole cast was good. I have a minor criticism, which is that Stockard’s peppy narration doesn’t match the trauma she endures. Sure, some people build up a funny, sarcastic persona as a defense, but there should be moments of despair imo.
  2. Vanilla Sky. Yup, another movie. This 2001 flick was available on Prime, and I liked the title as well as the star ~ Tom Cruise. But this wasn’t his best work. The premise is a woozy, confusing series of flips between dreams and reality. Sometimes I can enjoy that, but here TC annoys me with his two modes: giant grin or horrific screaming. Ugh! His costars’ performances are better. Cameron Diaz does an excellent job as a psycho stalker, and Penelope Cruz steals scenes as a somewhat sensible alternative. Kurt Russell is fine as the psychologist. It wasn’t a terrible movie, just a bit irritating. My friend says I would probably enjoy the original Spanish version, so I may give that a try.
  3. Quantum of Solace. Another movie and a Bond! This is one of the ones I missed, and I want to catch up before the new 007 arrives this fall (No Time To Die). I now understand why QoS received such crappy reviews and I previously gave it a pass. There is no gun barrel sequence at the beginning (just a brief hint at one), no Q/gadgets, and no “Bond, James Bond.” Ugh! I’m not going to judge it on the ridiculous plot because most of them are ridiculous, but it truly is a mess. However, I appreciate the reference to Vesper ~ both that Bond felt something for her and also describing the “Vesper Lynd” martini. Very nice. Another enjoyable aspect is the emotional interplay between Bond and M, illuminating how they care for each other, and setting the stage for Skyfall. So it wasn’t all bad, just mostly bad.
  4. Sunburn by Laura Lippman. I grabbed this novel on sale when a friend mentioned it on FB. Really enjoyed this unpredictable book! Just when I thought I knew what was going on, it switched up again. Top-notch writing on setting, characterizations, interior dialog, etc. The protags were not particularly likable, but I don’t mind that if the story is compelling and the writing is gripping and authentic. The ending was superb. I didn’t give it 5 stars though (only 4) due to too many coincidences. Writers really need to watch that. One or two, okay. When everything becomes a series of lucky breaks (or unlucky ones), I can no longer suspend disbelief, which knocks me out of the story. It’s as bad as introducing a vampire. Remember that in a love story the fact the protags meet at all is coincidence #1. You don’t have that many more to use up before the reader goes OH COME ON.
  5. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was the best book I’ve read in ages! I received it for my birthday and finished it yesterday. OMG, such a fantastic story… sci-fi, or was it? I mean, it was totally believable. I think the best sci-fi is. You wonder if the future really will be something like this. The story takes place in some unnamed location that I first thought was London, but it might have been New York. It is entirely and perfectly told from the point of view of an AF ~ Artificial Friend. Privileged children had AFs as companions in this story and we go from there. While Klara, the AF, waits in a store to be chosen by her person, she observes her surroundings, learning and understanding objects as well as human beings, in a limited way, as she processes the data. The AFs are solar-powered, so everything about the Sun is of crucial importance to Klara. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Read it! I now want to read everything else by Kazuo.

~*~

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Ghosted: Disappearing Acts [repost]

ghosted

Book Review: Ghosted: Disappearing Acts

https://mentalhealthathome.org/2020/12/23/book-review-ghosted/
— Read on mentalhealthathome.org/2020/12/23/book-review-ghosted/

Ashley reviewed my book! Thank you, friend. It’s a very detailed review too and I really appreciate it.

~*~

Book cover image is mine.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Just Desserts

A friend gave me one of these gorgeous treats for my birthday, so naturally I need to describe it here. First, Just Desserts is a great name! Second, my readers may remember that I often don’t care for chocolate cake. Why put perfectly good choccy in a cake when you could make tasty candy out of it, right? Well, there are exceptions and this was one. The cake was moist and delicious, with a luscious texture. (So many choc cakes are dry.) Third, what about caramel frosting with chocolate cake? I was a bit wary of the frosting, since it practically slid off the cake when I cut it (my housemate and I both tried and judged this concoction, agreeing on every point). But it was wonderful, rich and creamy, truly bursting with flavor. It was actually a cream cheese flavor and a great complement to the cake. This may have been the first time I tried cream cheese caramel. I give Just Desserts top marks for this excellent cucpake!

What typo?

~*~

Image from Just Desserts.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Switching Positions [repost]

Paula light book switching positions

Switching Positions

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2021/01/02/switching-positions/
— Read on crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2021/01/02/switching-positions/

Thank you, Caramel, for reviewing my book!

~*~

Book cover image is mine.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Spectre [repost]

Spectre

Thought we were done with 007, eh? NOPE! Here’s a straggler review from 2015 I’m reposting as a Bond Bonus. You’re welcome.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

OK, I saw Spectre yesterday, and it was a lot of fun as Bond movies always are. Craig does an awesome Bond (and I was one of the original skeptics). Overall, I recommend the movie to Bond fans and action movie lovers in general.

But.

I was disappointed in a couple things. Right at the start there was something I considered a faux pas. Bond’s in a hotel room with a beautiful girl and tells her he’ll be right back. He goes off to kill a guy, gets chased, leaps across rooftops, etc., as he does… and then the film cuts away to the opening song and credits. Wtf? The Bond of old would have kept the date and they should have shown that. (“Now, where were we?”)

Next, I did not like two of the main plot twists. One, Franz the villain turns out to be Bond’s brother via adoption (Bond’s adoption), which leads to a bunch of babble about Franz killing their father out of jealousy and always having it out for Bond cuz he stole daddy’s attention. Ugh. Yuck. Two, Franz announces that he has taken his mother’s surname and is now called Blofeld (complete with white cat). No! No no no no. This was not a REMAKE of an old 007 flick, but a progression in the life and times of James Bond, and it’s completely uncool for the writers to grab back a done and dusted bad guy. (Supposedly, Blofeld died at the start of For Your Eyes Only, 1981.) What next ~ Scaramanga? Goldfinger? There was no reason not to have a new bad guy with a new name to “reboot” Spectre. No reason at all.

I think writers should be a lot more careful with reboots/remakes and the like. Either you stick to the original and update it with cellphones and stuff, or just move the hell on and write something new. Certainly don’t take a franchise and grab stale fries from fifty years ago to scatter about a film in the here and now. That’s kind of a cheat, and we know what happens to writers who use cheats a la Stephen King’s Misery.

My last criticism of Spectre is more basic. I object to this kind of SOS writing we’re seeing in action movies lately of having the hero always be a dude who is bravely going against his own government because of one flimsy piece of info, and then it turns out his boss is in cahoots with the villains, or is the biggest villain of all, blah blah blah. Usually Alec Baldwin plays a belligerent general at some point. Then, there are always one or two other peeps in the gov’t who believe in the hero and help him save the world, thereby putting their own careers in jeopardy. Yawn.

Other than these minor nits, I enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to the new one this fall!

~*~

PS: Here are some other reviews I found interesting.

Image from the movie.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Quickies 2

coffee notebook pen write list

Continuing with my quick reviews, here are my next set of short takes.

  1. The Night Sun by Zin E. Rocklyn. I don’t know where this book came from or why it was in my library, but what the heck, right? Following the usual tech idiocy of breaking things that work, my Kindle “updated” itself when I logged on to eliminate the book length and percentage read, so I didn’t even know if this was a novel or what. Finally, I found the setting to restore that info. It’s a short story. Unfortunately, the interesting ideas presented in TNS didn’t work well as a shortie. There were too many ideas, too much lengthy, complex history, and a huge tangle of emotional content that were all mashed together in a 2-bite appie when it should have been a full-course meal. I don’t actually know wtf went down here… it was bizarre though.
  2. Tasty Treats at Seahorse Bites Café by Emily Harvale. With a title like this, you know you’re in for a silly read. I don’t mind silly, fun books… if they’re good. I read a previous book in the Seahorse Harbour series and it was enjoyable. But this one was so incredibly dumb: I’m cool with a protag who makes mistakes, but I can’t root for a total idiot. I finished it though, not because I cared about the romance, but because there was a scam/con going down, and I wanted to see how that ended up, since I like to write them too. It was the best part of the book, and I wish there was more on that and fewer dopey fake arguments between our protag and her “annoying” hot male friend.
  3. Pixy by Linda G. Hill (our blogger buddy). This was a cute shortie love story, but it’s not in a genre I like much. I’m willing to give magic a go occasionally, but when I do, I need to feel grounded in the created world. Pixy didn’t do that for me, unfortunately. Perhaps it would work better as a novel, so I could immerse slowly in a new world and it would make sense. The emotional content felt real though.
  4. Do Her No Harm by Naomi Joy. Ooh, I enjoyed this one a lot! I tend to gravitate to this genre now, if it is a genre: murder mystery whodunits that take place in England and involve unhappily married people. Anyway, this is such a mishmash of POVs, plus flipping back and forth in time, that you’d think I’d go feh too confusing and messy. Nope, it was a fun read. A couple times I thought I had the mystery figured out, but then it got switched up again. I gave it only 4 stars though because there were too many coincidences, and I thought the story would have been much improved if it had begun at a different point in time. I can’t help thinking of that kind of stuff when I’ve also written novels, ya know?
  5. The Beautician and the Beast. Yep, a movie will occasionally sneak into my reviews. This 1997 film starring Fran Drescher and our favorite Bond Timothy Dalton (lol) was a box office BOMB… but guess what? I love it! I was inspired to rewatch because of my Bond post on Dalton, and coincidentally a friend and I were chatting about the movie on FB. Dalton makes a perfect beast with his glaring and grumpiness, while Fran is gorgeous and hilarious in every scene. The film riffs on the Sound of Music as well as the Disney flick Beauty and the Beast to create a unique romcom. It’s on Amazon Prime right now, so I highly encourage you to give it a whirl.

Catch you on the next Quickie!

~*~


Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Zorin, Max [April A2Z]

Max Zorin

This post wraps up my April A-Z. Every day except Sunday I’ve posted about James Bond 007, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. I hope you enjoyed reading about this topic; I certainly enjoyed writing about it!

Today I introduce Maximillian Zorin, the fictional baddie in A View to a Kill (1985). Christopher Walken played this role, and Roger Moore portrayed James Bond. Max is a high-IQ psychopath, the unfortunate result of Nazi experimentation during WWII, and he was raised in the Soviet Union by an evil doctor. Later, he was trained by the KGB, but he is too wackadoo even for them and ends up plotting badness on his own. Max kills his own men to further his plans and is willing to sacrifice his lover May Day as well, who is played brilliantly by Grace Jones.

Zorin’s plan is to destroy Silicon Valley with a massive earthquake, causing the whole place to flood and wipe out all the computer companies, which would leave him as the microchip king of the world. He has some cockamamie idea of mining underneath the lakes and then using explosives to blast through the San Andreas Fault and the Hayward Fault simultaneously, yada. This is a familiar Bond movie trope, right? Goldfinger wants to wreck all the gold in Fort Knox so his will be more valuable; Mr. Big tries to put all the other heroin dealers out of biz so he can corner the market. Etc.

Anyway, May Day survives and joins up with 007 to thwart Max. She sacrifices her own life to move the explosives out of the strike zone, though there is still a huge blast. Now Max decides he must get Bond in revenge, taking Bond’s love interest captive. This is Stacey Sutton, played by the gorgeous Tanya Roberts, who sadly passed away in January 2021 at the age of 65. Stacey and Bond escape from Zorin, who tries to kill them with an axe, but instead he falls to his death into the San Francisco Bay.

Stacey Sutton


A bit of trivia: Max’s role was first offered to David Bowie, who declined. Rutger Hauer also said no thanks. Finally, Walken agreed to do it.

~*~

Information and images from Wikipedia and IMDB.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

You Only Live Twice [April A2Z]

James Bond 007

Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy! We are almost at the end…

You Only Live Twice is a 1967 Eon-produced Bond film, the fifth in the series, and starring Sean Connery as 007. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert who also directed The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker in 1979 (both are Roger Moore Bond films). Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for YOLT (not as catchy as YOLO, unfortunately, but we are using it here), and it was based on Ian Fleming’s novel, though it’s entirely different. This began a new tradition of basically writing an entirely new story for Bond films, while keeping the name of the books. Dahl said that YOLT was Fleming’s worst book with no plot whatsoever, and he had six weeks to write the screenplay with no prior experience. He was told to create three female characters for Bond to seduce. LOL

Bond is sent to Japan to figure out why American and Soviet spacecraft have disappeared ~ and for the first time, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, SPECTRE’S chief baddie, appears on screen. He’s sequestered away on some remote Asian island plotting bad things and working for an unnamed Asian government, assumed to be China, to provoke war between the other superpowers. This film didn’t do as well as previous Bonds, and during filming Connery said he was retiring, though he was persuaded to return in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and later in the non-Eon Never Say Never Again (1983).

In any case, I never understood the weirdness of why Bond had to fake his death in Hong Kong and then show up on a Japanese island, not even looking Asian or different in any way from his 007 face, to participate in a lengthy “marriage” ceremony with an Asian girl. It literally made no sense whatsoever and doesn’t fool the baddies either. Oddly, however, this section is straight from the book! The idea is that Bond will pose as an ordinary fisherman hubby who will row over to the baddies’ compound to see what’s up and infiltrate it. There are some cool special effects with the spacecraft and also a volcano where the baddies hid it. The escape from the volcano as Blofeld sets it to destruct is pretty exciting. But we never find out what Blofeld’s motivation is in helping (presumably) China begin a kerfuffle wherein the US and Russia will supposedly destroy each other. Not my favorite 007 flick, but still better than most other action movies.

Bit of trivia: Sean Connery’s wife at the time, Diane Cilento, performed many of the swimming scenes for the Japanese actresses. Also, Queen Elizabeth II attended the premiere in Leicester Square.

Bernard Lee plays M in YOLT, Lois Maxwell portrays Moneypenny, and Desmond Llewelyn is Q. Once again, Nikki van der Zyl is uncredited, this time as the voice of Kissy Suzuki, the local operative assigned to help Bond.

Tune in tomorrow for the final A-Z Bond!

~*~

Information and images from Wikipedia and Pinterest.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Vesper Lynd [April A2Z]

vesper lynd

Vesper Lynd is a fictional character created by Ian Fleming in his novel Casino Royale (1953). She was portrayed by Ursula Andress in the 1967 film version of the novel, which is mostly a parody and doesn’t follow the book, and by Eva Green (pictured) in 2006’s Casino Royale, which starred Daniel Craig for the first time as Bond. Fleming created a cocktail recipe named after her, and the phrase “shaken, not stirred” comes from that as well. In the 2006 movie, Vesper works at MI6 headquarters and is assigned to help Bond bankrupt SMERSH baddie Le Chiffre, who has been staked by Mr. White. After 007 takes all Le Chiffre’s money in a game of baccarat, his henchmen kidnap Vesper. When Bond goes to rescue her, they grab him too. Vesper saves 007’s life when he gets poisoned. Naturally, they both are fine, though Bond is injured, and Vesper visits him daily as he recovers. They fall in love and become lovers when he regains his health.

However! Vesper is a double agent working for Russia. Her former lover had revealed to SMERSH (under torture) this information about her. After Le Chiffre’s death (via Mr. White, due to Le Chiffre losing his stake), Vesper hopes she can make a fresh start with Bond in Venice, even though she takes the money Bond won to give to her peeps, but then she sees a SMERSH baddie following them and knows her cover is blown. In an attempt to save 007’s life, she commits suicide. Upon discovering that Vesper was a spy for the other side, Bond appears to immediately dismiss any emotional attachment toward her and proceed with his next mission. But secretly he still has feelings for her, as we see in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) when he visits her grave annually ~ no matter that OHMSS took place decades before Casino Royale. We do not concern ourselves with such trivial details. Bond also mentions her in Goldfinger (1964). Gah, how do these dates make any sense???

Quantum of Solace supposedly makes sense of all this lover, former lover, embezzling stuff, but I haven’t seen it yet! In 2015’s Spectre, Bond finds a video of Vesper’s interrogation by Blofeld, who taunts 007 by saying he caused her death to hurt Bond. So even after her death, the Vesper Lynd character plays a significant role in future (and former) 007 films. Just don’t get hung up on the dates (I say to self).

Tune in tomorrow for more A-Z Bond!

~*~

Information and images from Wikipedia.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Quickies

coffee notebook pen write list

Hey there! I’ve been reading loads of books lately in order to keep pace for my goal of 100 by 12/31/2021. I’m juuust on target, but I could be doing a little better. My excuse is that I had a super stressful month; I still plan to achieve my goal however. I thought I’d treat you to some quickie reviews. Hope they are helpful, or at least a bit enjoyable.

  1. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Two friends read this one and recommended it, so I jumped aboard. It is fun! In a way, it reminds me of my favorite book The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Not that this one is about a big event like the Prague Spring, but rather the similarity lies in the way the narrative is paced. Some may find it a bit dizzying, but I don’t mind being kept off-balance a bit in fiction. Backman stops the story to interject philosophical observations about life, the universe, and everything (not politics), which is always welcome to me. The novel is at heart a detective story, and I missed a huge, important detail during the first half of the book, which I suspect was by design. But it was there, not something tacked on later, so I was cool with it. There’s also a neat connectedness among some of the characters, which I also loved.
  2. The Arrangement by Kiersten Modglin. OMG, I could not put this book down! Just when I thought I knew what was going on, nope, wrong. In a way, it was like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but the pacing was faster. I was first attracted to the story because it presented as a typical stale marriage scenario getting spiced up with a bit of polyamory, which would of course end up becoming much more complicated than a few episodes of casual sex with strangers. Yep, it did take some crazy twists, but not in any predictable ways whatsoever. Ooh, I don’t want to give anything away. I highly recommend it! I have another one of Modglin’s books queued up and I hope it’s just as good.
  3. The Roommate by Kiersten Modglin. Was this one as good? Idk, I gave them both 4 stars, but perhaps I should have waited a minute to jump into the next one by Modglin. It was so similar! We have the overworked husband, who has been neglecting his family, and the angry, sad wife. We have a teenaged daughter. A dead dog buried in the yard sometime back. A weird new friend who is not what they seem. But then it takes a completely different turn and all is well in the suspense department. The story is very career-focused, which I enjoyed because people DO think about their jobs all the time. I loved the ending ~ if you read it you’ll see why. Hehe. It may be one of my favorite endings. Not gonna say more.
  4. The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda. Welp, poor Harley got booted as our Rep, but at least Kaira is still writing… and yay for that because this was an exciting read. What makes it fun for me is that all the characters are unlikeable. Yes, I like unlikeable characters, lol. Well, when they’re interesting anyway. The first wife is more complex than the trophy wife, as you would expect, but she isn’t exactly sympathetic. No one is gonna feel sorry for the cheating husband, but maybe some will sympathize with the spoiled daughter. Or just hate them all and hope they come to a bad end. Hah.
  5. First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami. When my friend Sal posted on Facebook that this book was out, I bought it impulsively ~ not something I normally do, but Murakami is one of my favorite writers. Funny, this month I’ve read two “real” physical books, after reading only on Kindle for a long time. The experience for me is not profoundly different in any way other than the ease of sharing a book among friends, which is super nice. Anyway, I’m sorry to report that Murakami’s book of long short stories disappointed me. The first story, Cream, I’d already read somewhere, though I’ve forgotten where. It’s a good story… but still. Already read it. The next three were meh. Then there was Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey, which I loved. What a fabulous write! Murakami is at his best with magical realism in this one. Then two more meh and a final story I liked a lot (the title story).

    It seems to me that Murakami got a bit lazy with these stories. They are biographical, meandering, and repetitive. I feel like he’s saying, “Yep, I’ve made it. I’m successful and am done with slaving away at the keyboard. I’ll just slap a word sandwich together for ya.” But I’m used to a gourmet meal from Murakami, a delicious new concoction, not some stale leftover turkey wrap with wilted lettuce and questionable mayo. Bleh. But that’s how I felt about Leonard Cohen’s last album and Bowie’s Dark Star too. I mean, it’s OK to retire if you’re out of interesting material. Go out on a high note, is my advice, not that anyone listens to me.

I may be a bit scarce until April 27th or so due to taking a much needed vacation. Posts are scheduled to appear daily, but I may not reply to comments promptly or check the feed that often, especially while I’m driving!

~*~

Image is mine.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.