Tag Archives: reviews

Regarding Mark Manson… [repost]

Man in sunglasses

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Mark Manson phenomenon. I found his blog ages ago. At first, I loved him. He was new! He was brill! Then when he become super popular and began charging for his words (NTTAWWT), I viewed those words more critically. Hmm, I thought, he’s actually just recycling stuff advice columnists have said forever but packaging it up in cool terms with swear words. Feh. Also, I was mad because someone advised me not to use F*CK in a title and I listened, but Mark did and his book became a best-seller. We won’t talk about the fact that I never actually finished my book. That’s irrelevant, people!

But lately, in the last year or so, I’ve wandered back into the MM fold like a lost little sheeple. Not really in the fold, more like on the edge of the field, ready to bolt away again at any moment, but… I kinda inadvertently subscribed by email to his newsletter. The free one! Gawd. And I may have the PDF of his free self-help book ready to download in another email. Maybe. Not saying if I do or not. I’m certainly not a stan, just an interested observer. Curious, ya know. He’s interesting. Once, lol, I wondered if Mark was actually a real person or the creation of a marketing team, so I did some sleuthing and concluded that he probably does exist.

Anyway. Point is, this last article from Mark knocked my socks off. I mean, it was the bees’ knees, my friends. The cat’s PJ’s. And the best thing about it? It is only telling you what you already know! But Mark puts together a bunch of disparate things you know in one place and ties them together in a way that makes sense and gives you a clear insight into something really profound: the relationship between effort and reward.

Why The Best Things In Life Are All Backwards” may be the most brilliant piece I’ve read from Mark, and that’s saying a lot. I encourage everyone to read it right now and keep it bookmarked. I intend to reread it many times. The following quote is one gem, and it makes logical as well as intuitive sense:

Pursuing happiness takes you further away from it. Attempts at greater emotional control only remove us from it. The desire for greater freedom is often what causes us to feel trapped. The need to be loved and accepted prevents us from loving and accepting ourselves. — Mark Manson, in “Why The Best Things…”

You need to read the whole piece to really grok what he’s saying. It’s so great, and yet so simple too. That’s what makes it outstanding. I sort of stumbled toward this idea several times when I grew frustrated with my writing and couldn’t bear to do marketing, and then went back to my WIPs but only on my terms, which were pleasure-only. I can’t pursue writing for the goal of making money or selling X-number of books, since that only makes me frustrated and upset when it doesn’t happen. I don’t enjoy writing when I’m pursuing those goals because I’m thinking about them instead of immersing myself in words. I start obsessing about details of marketing and sales instead of points of plot and character or intricacies of rhyme and rhythm. And then I give it all up and watch TV.

There’s so much more to MM’s article ~ I’m just giving you a little taste in my bloggery here. If it doesn’t appeal, check out one of his greatest hits. I’m not getting a kickback. I just think he has some good things to say.

~*~

Image from Lovethispic.

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

Family Matters

Family

There are so many great songs (and books and movies) to illustrate Jim’s Thursday Inspiration prompt this week. It’s funny that I just finished rewatching all 6 seasons of the Sopranos along with the prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark. In these fictional mafia stories, family is hugely emphasized, both blood relatives and also your partners in crime, who sometimes motivate more love and loyalty than birth families. Until they rat you out to the Feds!

I also recently read a book that focused on family relationships, both blood relatives and also chosen families. It was The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion and I gave it 5 stars, which is rare for me lately. I highly recommend this novel. The plot was exciting, the characters were compelling, and the narrative was straightforward, third-person, past tense, as stories with multiple POVs should be. There were no awkward jumps into first-person, present tense like so many books lately. Uck!

But I digress. Some of my favorite family-themed songs are ”Rock & Roll Lullaby” by BJ Thomas, ”Daniel” by Elton John, and ”Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast” by Wayne Newton. Enjoy!

~*~

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.

Ocean’s 8 [repost]

Ocean's 8

First, I must make a confession. It’s really difficult to watch Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett now without remembering that article about their penis facials. I mean, obviously the facials work because their skin is super-glowing and beautiful. But still… this knowledge is distracting.

Second, the problem for a movie with 8 main characters is that… it has 8 main characters. These Ocean movies are overcrowded with protagonists, or anti-heroes, to be precise, since we are talking about criminals. I don’t know about you, but I can’t really root for characters committing crimes unless they’re setting to rights a miscarriage of justice, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that’s not what these Ocean movies are about. They’re about very good-looking people committing crimes, is what.

Third, putting that aside for a moment, I can still have fun with a movie like this if I can let go and jump into it, but that’s difficult when the set-up drags on and on and on. For gawd’s sake ladies just steal something already! Since I’m not a scriptwriter, I don’t know how you make it fun for an audience to sit through the minute details of hacking into a computer system or copying a diamond necklace or whatever, but geez they need to spice that stuff up! And I had the same criticisms about the male Oceans ~ in fact, I dozed off during each one. Yawners, even with Clooney. I know!

Finally, the action happens and it’s good. Nicely paced (finally). I enjoyed the last third of the movie. James Corden was hilarious as the insurance detective. The ending was fun as well. But overall Ocean’s 8 was a disappointment after all the hype.

~*~

Image from the film.

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

All Due Respect…

Books and butterflies

Can you tell I’ve just binge-watched all 6 seasons of the Sopranos? Yep, I am now ready for The Many Saints of Newark (possibly this weekend), after which I will dump HBO. There are not enough good shows to justify the $15/month, especially when I am also paying for Prime.

Remember when we had only a few shows to choose from, yet they were high quality? Or maybe that’s just my old-person, rose-colored view. All due respect for the writers, directors, actors, et al, but almost everything available for streaming is crap. This is why I usually rewatch an old fave rather than start something new. I will let you know my opinion of Many Saints, but I don’t have high expectations because I was disappointed in El Camino, which came after another fabulous drama (Breaking Bad).

But actually I started this post to bitch about books, though I suppose I could wait until Monday. Eh, like I’ll ever run out of peeves! I read my 86th book for the year this week, and my gawd it sucked. I was hooked by the title ~ The Ghost Writer (by Alessandra Torre) ~ and dutifully trudged through to the end, but it was a chore. I reacted in a moment of extreme irritation by awarding it only one star.

I am calm now, but I’m still not upping the rating. The writing, though technically error-free, drove me nuts. To be brief, the story centered on a horrible protagonist, but not a semi-lovable horrible one like Tony Soprano. Helena was a self-centered, melodramatic monster, and there was nothing redeeming about her. The fact that her dead husband turned out to be more of a monster didn’t excuse any of Helena’s character flaws. She was simply a ghoul waiting to die.

The narrative was presented in that style I despise of half first-person, by someone who DIES, and half third-person. Why does this sh!t even pass editing? We all learned not to write “and then I died” back in third grade. It’s awful and disjointing to the reader. It’s also lazy, as if the author couldn’t decide how to tell the story, so she hedged by using first and third. PICK ONE, argh!

I also hate when a novel is unnecessarily mysterious. A detective story should be mysterious, since we are discovering clues along with the protag. But these books where the narrative keeps teasing us with a Big Secret, which the protag already knows, are just annoying. We keep getting allusions to “the thing,” but it’s too horrible to mention even though the protag is obsessed with it throughout. Every moment, every interaction is steeped in drama because of THE THING that we can’t know. The reason a writer does this, in my opinion, is because her story and characters aren’t strong enough alone, so she layers on a phony mystery. Ugh.

I am so tired of these crappy books.

~*~

Image from Happy Color.

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

Hereditary [repost]

movies film projector

A little bit spoilery, not a lot. Written in 2018…

Welp, I ended up seeing this movie after all. It received loads of rave reviews, but also the critics warned that it was insanely terrifying, so I was torn. Generally, I avoid horror films, but I have seen a few great ones. A group of friends decided to go last night and I impulsively joined in. One of them is a medical doctor, so I felt relatively safe.

As I drove over to Huntington Beach, “Thriller” played on the radio. Geesh! I haven’t heard that song for ages. I wondered if it was an “omen.” When Vincent Price’s scary laugh reverberated at the end I almost turned around. But no, I bravely (foolishly?) soldiered on and met my peeps.

I worried the previews would be for terribly scary films, but my fears were unfounded. Just Tom Cruise adventure type stuff. Then the feature began. I made sure to have my hands ready to cover my eyes just in case, but that mostly was not necessary. The movie kept prepping for big drama with ridiculous music, but then nothing would happen. There were no outrageously frightening scenes for a long time. Yes, some yucky stuff occurred, but that’s all. It did give foreshadowing though, so if you see it, pay very close attention. (I missed some.)

I’d like to make a general comment about supernatural evil in fiction. This is an ongoing issue with powerful forces that seem to be able to do all sorts of wackadoo things, make stuff move at will without regard to physical laws, have mysterious signs appear and disappear, kill peeps randomly, etc., and yet… AND YET… these forces need something from humans so badly, just one particular thing from one particular mortal person will suffice and nothing else, and an entire plot hinges precariously on this powerful force subduing said human because complicated. Yah okay, let’s go with that. No prob.

I enjoyed the movie. It was fun trying to figure out what, exactly, was happening. Was it all in someone’s head, or “real?” Which character was sympathetic ~ the mom, the dad, the son? Hmm. It did get scary, of course, but not as scary as I had expected from all the reviews. It wasn’t as scary as, say, The Shining. Neither was it as good. I’m not sure what prompted all the rave reviews, but in my opinion the story simply didn’t hang together and make enough sense to warrant all the fawning. I figured it was just me, so I looked up some explanations this morning to see… and am still unconvinced Hereditary is a great movie.

Good, not great. Scary, not horrifying. You’ve definitely seen better, and scarier.

~*~

Image from Pixabay.

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

Sabrina, 1995 [repost]

movies film projector
[Written in 2018.]

For some odd reason, I never saw Sabrina (the 1995 version with Harrison Ford) until this weekend, even though Prime constantly recommended it. I generally like Ford, and romcoms, so it’s baffling. Well, turns out I hated it. What a horrible movie! Maybe I had some weird subconscious warning, who knows.

This bloggery will spoil the movie, so if for some inexplicable reason you want to see it, quit reading now and go watch a cute kitty video.

Sabrina begins like a typical romcom with an obscenely wealthy family, two handsome brothers, and one cute daughter of the chauffeur  ~ too young for both of them. Oh sorry, I’m being judgy already. My bad. (But this isn’t an 1890s romcom, it’s set in the 1990s, so pffft.) Sabrina has a crush on the younger brother, David, but she bops off to Paris as a Vogue intern (because that’s believable), yada. While in Paris she learns that David has become engaged to a doctor and she’s heartbroken. Immediately, she morphs from a pretty young girl with a fresh face and long hair to a sophisticated vamp with short hair and impeccable style. Why? Dunno. But it seems to be a thing in movies and on TV that women chop off their hair to signal post-heartbreak fortitude.

Sabrina jets home to Long Island, where David doesn’t recognize her and starts his seductive routine until Linus (Ford) steps in to put a stop to it. The doctor fiance, you see, isn’t just any gorgeous doctor, but a TYSON, and Linus needs Daddy Tyson for a merger because of an indestructible TV screen. It’s complicated and worth a billion dollars. Sabrina and David aren’t dissuaded, but David sits on some champagne glasses and gets a cut-up butt. While he’s recovering, Linus begins to fake-woo Sabrina. Apparently, she’s this brainless, faithless dingbat who can easily transfer her lurve from one brother to another while he’s telling her a series of idiotic lies. Oh, this is my halfway house. Here is a homeless man I helped when he got out of prison. Sabrina the Paris “sophisticate” gobbles it all up. WTF?

Suddenly, Linus grows a conscience and decides he can’t do this any longer, right after he bought plane tix to Paris, for himself and Sabrina, where he was planning to ditch her, fly back home, and finish the Tyson deal. Linus confesses to Sabrina that he’s a horrible person, etc. He knows she’s always loved David, and he’s going to transfer his ticket to David’s name so they can go to Paris together and be happy. Sabrina takes her ticket, says goodbye to people, and leaves. David decides that Linus must really love Sabrina to jeopardize a billion dollars, tells him to keep his original ticket, and insists Linus go after her. David and the doc go on as if nothing happened, and the deal with Daddy Tyson continues unharmed.

Linus flies to Paris and reunites with Sabrina, who apparently would have fallen into the arms of whichever brother showed up! Gah. Not that anyone actually ever cares how Sabrina feels at any point in this whole freaking mishmash! Except maybe her father, the chauffeur, but he’s satisfied when Linus says that he needs Sabrina, and he’s never needed anything before. Okay, then!

So dumb. So enraging. I assume the older version is similar, but I’d have to pay to see it, so no thank you.

Also, I want to talk about the brothers’ mother, Nancy Marchand. Yes, Livia Soprano, Tony’s mommy dearest. It’s like she was auditioning for the Sopranos’ part in advance, I swear to God. She is the exact same character, and it freaked me out! I could not believe it. I was all, WTF is Livia Soprano doing at this fancy schmancy Long Island party? The same voice, the same tone, the same mannerisms. I expected Uncle Junior to pop in next. When she was lecturing Linus on going too far in wooing Sabrina and said, “I didn’t teach you this,” that was SO LIVIA. She was a bright spot in this otherwise terrible movie.

Nancy M. had a long and interesting career.

~*~

Image from Pixabay.

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

Two Reviews [repost]

Couple silhouette romance

I read a couple romance novels recently and liked them both a lot.

The first was As Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye. There were many good things about this book, including great chemistry between the protags, something different in that the hero was a skilled tattoo artist (even though of course being a supertough ex-military dude), and fun side characters. I loved the hero’s brother ~ great sibling banter between them. There was also a bunch of funny banter among the military buddies.

I did have a couple minor issues with this book. The first was the meaningless addition of a stray three-legged dog ~ we already know the heroine is a caring, warm-hearted nurse. There was no reason to toss in the dog to bring this out. It felt completely arbitrary. And what’s with these missing-limb pets lately? They even thought of naming it Tripod! Gah.

I also had an issue with the plot. While using the abduction of the heroine’s brother to bring the protags together was fine, the massive depth and breadth of the secret involving her father/the hero’s commander was ridic. I’m sure the entire Baltimore police dept would really be in on that. The reason I’m calling this a “minor issue” is because we all know the plot is secondary in a romance novel. The character development and love story between the protags were rock solid. But I’d rather not get distracted from that by stupid conspiracy theories. Overall, ’twas a good book. (I bought the sequel apparently via the very clever one-click thingie at the end of the Kindle novel. D’oh.)

I also read Irresistible by Susan Mallery. This was a perfect romance novel; everything was exactly right. The main characters were good peeps with trust issues, and the slow untangling of those made for a great read. The side chars were interesting in their own right, and some also have their own novels, yay. I will probably be buying one or more of those, and possibly other books by Ms. Mallery. Irresistible had a very simple plot structure and no glaring over-complications thrown in at random. It skirted the edge of believability at times, such as with the meanness of the hero’s grandmother, but never crossed over.

OK, one thing. Irresistible had a gorgeous pink cover with a pic of a cupcake on it ~ gosh, I wonder if this influenced me to buy the book at CVS in the first place? But there are no cupcakes in the book, not one. The heroine baked a pie for the hero after he fixed her car and there were lots of other food incidents, but no frosting. I still gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads because I loved it, but really is it so hard to have covers that go with books? The worst are the covers of old where the hair color is wrong. Nothing worse than buying a novel with a pic of a swooning redhead in a pirate’s arms… only to find out she’s really a blonde. Horrible.

~*~

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.

Two Times Four [socs]

sky

Far be it from me to criticize such a colossally successful writer such as Dean Koontz, but I gotta be honest… I gave the last book I read of his (The Other Emily) only 2 stars. Sure, it was “exciting” as his plots often are, but ugh. If you’re gonna write about an impossible thing, you can’t just gloss over the details, and you especially should not “fade to black” at the climax. What the crap is that? I felt like I was staring at that cartoon where one side of the board is filled with a bunch of math and the other side says “and then a miracle occurred.” Yep, Dean relied on the miracle to make his story work instead of explaining to us how the future humans, who were sort of aliens, time-traveled and created a new Emily. I am so done with him (which I have said before, I know).

But he’s not the only one. I read 2 books by Colleen Hoover this month and gave them both 2 stars. They were about evil women who ruined a man’s life, and, like the Emily book, they also suffered from crazy situations that Hoover failed to adequately explain. In Verity, a mentally ill wife/writer who has murdered her daughters convinces everyone, including the best doctors, that she’s a vegetable, while she plots revenge against hubby and his new love. How did she fake her own X-rays of her brain? Oh, let’s not dwell on that! In Layla, the soul of an insane, murderous ex somehow takes over the body of a guy’s new girlfriend, he finds a ghost helper on the internet, they figure out a way to switch the real soul back in, etc. It’s all preposterous, not to mention vaguely disturbing that a writer is so fixated on the evil woman theme with no real acknowledgement that these men were no prize. I’m done with Hoover as well.

I gave The Singing Trees by Boo Walker 2 stars also. It just went on and on, churning up ridiculous drama over nothing. Every character was absurd. I toyed with giving it only one star, but then I felt guilty. I did read the whole thing, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. I have quit many books before I hit the 10% read mark, and those I don’t rate at all. Not that my reviews probably mean much, since I rarely write anything these days in the body of the review, but I keep track of the stars in my spreadsheet where I list all the books I read. Is that OCD? Well, how else will I know when I hit 100 books for the year (up to 85, thank you)? I no longer belong to Goodreads because of all the spam and garbage I received there.

Anyway, it’s time to get tougher with my ratings on these Kindle Unlimited books. Beware! The one-star ratings are near!

~*~

Image is mine. Written for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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

TJ’s Lemonade Cupcakes [repost]

lemonade cupcake

For a while now, I’ve pretended not to notice that Trader Joe’s has been deliberately and wantonly tempting me to buy their luscious-looking pink and yellow lemonade cupcakes sneakily displayed in the dessert section, where naturally I would have to see them. And you know what they say about temptation: the easiest way to get rid of it is just to give in to it already, and so today I did that.

They’re very pretty, no frills cupcakes. No sprinkles or doodads adorn these treats. Just cake and frosting, fin.

The cake is surprisingly dense ~ this is not light and fluffy party cake, my peeps. It has a heavy texture, almost muffin-like, but not oily. And it is highly flavored, very citrussy. Definitely not overly sweet. Serious cake noms happening here. The frosting is lemon cream cheese, a perfect complement.

Very tasty overall, though heavy. The nutritional info says one cupcake has 320 calories, which is considerably less than a Sprinkle’s lemon, but it feels just as satisfying. I’m kinda over the gourmet cupcake, tbh, which is why you don’t see me yapping about them much anymore. This isn’t because I’ve hopped onto the next trend (idk what the next trend even is), but because I got a bit bored chasing after cupcakes, not that I’d turn one down if it magically appeared in front of me, and also… heartburn, bleh.

But it was fun to have one of these lemonades. OK FINE I HAD TWO. Geez.

[Written in 2016.]

~*~

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.

At The Duke’s Wedding [repost]

music romance roses piano

WARNING ~ SPOILERS ABOUND ~ CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

At The Duke’s Wedding is a collection of four novellas, all set at a grand old English estate during the week of festivities surrounding the wedding of the Duke of Wessex. Each novella has a different author.

1. That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale. This story is incredibly, tediously stupid. Jack is a gorgeous moron who misplaces the heirloom wedding ring he picked up for the groom from a jeweler. Inexplicably, the bride-to-be requests great grand Aunt Whozis’ companion, Henrietta, to get moronic Jack to hand over the ring. They spend days sneaking around trying to find it because Jack, who is a moron, can’t remember where he put it. As they do this, they fall in love. That’s the plot.

2. I was going to stop reading after that first awful story, but decided that wasn’t fair to the other authors. Glad I continued. In P.S. I Love You (by Miranda Neville), the witty and poetic scarred-face Christian reluctantly agrees to write love letters to Rosanne for his boring but good-looking cousin Frank. Of course Chris falls in love with Rosanne because her letters are so charming, and she with him, though of course she thinks he’s Frank. When they all meet at the Duke’s place, complications ensue. Predictable, but actually good.

3. When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden.  This story is about the Duke himself, who is not some old gross gouty fellow but young and beefcakey, and how he falls for his betrothed’s hot and unconventional sister the moment she steps down from her carriage in front of his house. Liked it.

4. How Angela Got Her Rogue Back by Katharine Ashe. This story involves time-travel, which I don’t mind at all, if it makes some kind of sense. Even a little bit of sense will do. Modern-day Angela materializes at the Duke’s party 200 years earlier after reading a weird book and falling into a Michigan river. That was OK, but less so was the convoluted blackmail scheme she thwarts to save Viscount Studmuffin’s family. What really bugs the crap out of me though is when Angela ~poof~ vanishes again for no reason. I totally lost interest in the story right there. But I finished it and read the teaser for an upcoming story, which has the Duke’s little sister finding Angela’s cell phone…

Onward!

~*~

Image from Lovethispic.

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