Tag Archives: reviews

PFF2: Crabby Book Review

Welcome to the second edition of Paula’s Friday Flashback! For this one, I present a crabby book review I wrote on June 14, 2013. What makes this funny (to me) is that just yesterday I was defending the entire romance novel genre from that twit Nicholas Sparks, but here 6 years ago I was disgusted with it myself! Hah. That’s probably because I was dating back then and trying desperately to blame my poor choices on anything other than my own bad judgment. Oh, it must be because I was overly influenced by romance novels. Sure, Jan.

Or maybe I’m just inconsistent. Whatever!

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Animal Attraction

By Jill Shalvis. I gave this book a 2-star rating (“it was okay”) on Goodreads even though I enjoyed it for the most part, but I’ve given better books a 3-star, and I want to have some sense of fairness in my ratings.

As I thought objectively about AA, and disregarded the fact that I ripped through it because it was fun and sexy and had a kitty (and lots of other aminals too ~ hero Dell was a vet), I realized it had one of the Fatal Flaws of romance novel writing. The “plot,” such as it was, hinged on the premise that there was an End Date looming, a date at which our heroine Jade absolutely had to leave Sunshine, Idaho and return home to Chicago, therefore preventing Jade and Dell from becoming emotionally entangled, which they would resist in any case since Dell was one of those emotionally unavailable kind of guys we all break our hearts over in real life though in RNs they always become available which upfucks the brains of women who read these STUPID BOOKS but I digress, and they both knew this. (Of course Jade tried not to become physically involved with him either, but that didn’t work. Obviously.)

But as it turned out the End Date was totally arbitrary ~ Jade didn’t have to leave. She had made a promise to her family she’d come home, mostly because they’d been nagging her unreasonably, and since she was a 30 year old woman, it would have been totally acceptable, if not downright advisable, for her to tell them, dudes, I found a good job, a cool apartment, and a great boyfriend here in Idaho, so BACK OFF, I’m staying indefinitely. And so basically there was no plot if you discount this made up out of thin air date. If you do discount the date, then the whole story becomes this whiny thing of ermahgerd I gotta go, can’t let myself fall for hunkyvet, and him thinking why must she go, everyone abandons me just like mommy. Bleh.

Plus there were sloppy POV switches within scenes (annoying and unforgivable!) and missing quotation marks, super-distracting. Upside, the dialog was great and witty, and there were fun minor characters. Shalvis has a ton of books available and I can tell from the blurbs and reviews (however positive) that they’re all gonna be about the same. But one was enough for me.

~*~

Check out Fandango’s FF, where this whole idea originated. It’s all his fault! 😂

Another Award! 🤩

A big bouquet 💐 of thanks goes out to Tanya of Salted Caramel for nominating me for this award! Very lovely of her to think of me. I enjoy her blog as well.💖

Now I’m to talk about how my blog began. As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t my first blog; that one started way back in 2003 or so, simply because other writers had one. Yep, I’m a follower, not a leader. My posts were snarky and intended to start arguments in order to generate traffic, which they did, but it was still low compared to the hot blogs at the time. Back then, I was obsessed with stats.

But I got hoisted by my own petard, as they say. (Do they actually say that? And what is a petard anyway?) Long story short, I ended up in an huge kerfuffle over pit bulls, of all things, and my comments got hacked… it was quite a mess.

I don’t like mess. What I generally do when things get messy, ugly, yucky, or in any way unpleasant, is GTFO. And Ultrablog was no exception. I archived and deleted it.

A while later, I began a second blog. This one was incredibly boring. Deliberately so. I posted only about cats, cupcakes, and shoes ~ in fact, that was the name of the blog. But I did have a private one where I posted more personal things and invited selected readers whom I trusted.

After my mom died, the private blog had pretty much served its purpose, and I was bored with CC&S. So, I began Light Motifs on Blogger. I held the WordPress address just in case… and then it turned out I wanted to switch over in 2009 due to some annoyances with Blogger.

Back then, I posted infrequently compared to now, maybe a few times per week. I’d post song lyrics and other people’s poetry, book reviews and excerpts, etc. It was all regarding my emotional state at the time, which was a mix of hope and despair over a romance. After that ended and I went onto dating sites, this blog became a pit of bitching about that. I went through several cycles of deleting those posts, which is why the years between 2012-2017 have giant gaps in them.

Since I’ve quit dating and facebooking, I’ve not deleted any posts here. I’m more mindful of what I write in the first place, which is my first piece of advice to new bloggers (we’re supposed to give two bits of advice in this award post). Even if you don’t have many followers yet, try to keep in mind that your posts are public and envision an audience when you write. Make each post the best it can be, and give something of yourself to your audience, whether it’s a personal anecdote or an original creative writing or photo. Don’t just link to another site without comment. That’s no fun. 😢

And for heaven’s sake, never mention pit bulls! 😱🐶🤯

I’ll stop here because I don’t like to tag people for awards. I hereby nominate all my recent commenters for this one ~ you’re recognized! Grab the award and make a post. G’wan… don’t be shy! 😀

The Most Important Lesson from GOT

***WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GAME OF THRONES’ SPOILERS!***

It’s sport for GOT fans to mercilessly drag every episode of this last season, in gory detail, and I agree with the main criticism ~ the ending is rushed. The show runners spent 7 long seasons setting up an intricate story, and now they’re zooming to finish, stuffing two wars into three episodes out of six, and leaving lots of loose ends.

Meanwhile, I’m basically enjoying the eps, besides wishing there would have been more of them. I don’t share the common criticism that the plot twists and character arcs are “unearned.” The first seasons generally followed the books, so if you’d read them, you weren’t shocked by twists. Ned’s beheading was accepted because those of us who read the books knew it was coming, but normally the sudden death of a beloved character early on would have generated criticism from fans.

So, when I read today that people are upset about Varys’ death, I roll my eyes. The dude was a great character, but he was always plotting and scheming against rulers, and it was inevitable one would discover it and kill him. You have to wonder why it took so long really, except for the fact that he was smarter than all of them. Littlefinger was also, but Varys was not evil and selfish, so he caught more breaks. Both men were lucky they lasted as long as they did.

People who are carrying on today about Daenerys going “mad” haven’t been paying attention. She has stated all along that she was going to take what was hers “with fire and with blood.” She has torched people throughout the show, but that was okay with us because we didn’t like them. Her character has been stable, her mission unchanged, and her vision focused on one goal.

If you want to pick apart the military strategy of Euron and his crew, I get that. One day he takes out a dragon with his first shot and sinks the entire opposing navy; in the next encounter, he’s totally inept. What the hell happened there? Gotta say though I enjoyed his rambunctious battle to the death with Jaime. Good stuff, though I did think Euron would have mentioned the baby he thinks is his. Might have thrown Jaime off-balance.

Okay, so Jaime fooking Lannister, amirite? People are yelling about his character arc. Pffft, I say. You know what? It’s perfect. The more I think about it, the more perfect it is. Here we have a handsome, spoiled, rich jerk who is in love with his sister and does horrible things for a long time. Some of these things he does for her and some he does just because he’s an arrogant ass.

Then, Jaime gets captured, tortured, and has his comeuppance and epiphany. He begins to be a slightly better person. He sees that he could maybe love a woman who isn’t a monster and be loved in return. He could fight for the people instead of his shitty family name. Some of his interior ugliness is replaced with goodness.

But then… then… bratty, snotty Sansa (more about her in a sec), says nyah we’ve taken King’s Landing and your sis is gonna die! Jaime immediately reverts to form, dumps his new sweet love and breaks her heart, and gallops back to his wicked twin. Why?

Because people don’t change!

That’s the lesson here, folks. And it’s a good and important one. Dany never changed, not one iota. Jaime appeared to change, but he didn’t really. And what about Sansa, who began as a pretty wounded bird and allegedly turned into a strong confident woman? Nah fam. She’s still a petty, snide, gossipy bitch. Dishonest and backstabbing.

Jon/Aegon never changed either. He can’t help but be a noble, relentlessly honest lump of boring. Tyrion is still the same brilliant little scamp who puts his family first no matter how terrible they are. And he does sometimes back the wrong horse, especially when it’s very pretty. Sandor had one main mission in life, and though he did get sidetracked with other tasks along the way, ultimately he refocused on his goal, the Cleganebowl.

Arya? Let’s see what she does in the final ep. Any predictions? I admit I was wrong when I predicted Jaime would kill Cersei, and I’m glad to be wrong. I love that they stuck to the “people don’t change” theme instead, and decided to ignore Maggie’s prophecy. Now, the prediction is that Arya will kill Dany. I don’t know… What do you think?

Thanks for reading all this!

The Weekly Smile

Sharon gave me a lovely early birthday gift last Sunday: tickets to Fiddler on the Roof at the Pantages in Hollywood! This was a mommy-daughter afternoon, just the two of us, which we haven’t done since my granddaughter arrived. So much fun to spend time with my sweet girl! And what a fantastic show!

I’ve seen Fiddler on the screen a zillion times and practically have it memorized. It’s one of my favorite musicals. But the stage show is slightly different. Forex, the part of Perchik, the communist scholar, is much funnier. Actually, I thought the actor who played Tevye, Yehezkel Lazarov, made his lines funnier too. This was apparent in “Tevye’s Dream,” which was totally hysterical. The entire cast did a fabulous job. 💖🎶😀

The Pantages itself is a beautiful, comfy venue, plus it was fun to be in Hollywood. We got to walk down a portion of the star sidewalk, which was neat. When I go to Los Angeles these days, I generally visit my fam and then come right back.

Still smiling! 🎉😀 🎶

Z is for Zany [A2Z]

Zany, madcap, wacky, screwball, etc. are all great words to describe What’s Up Doc? This is a super hilarious romantic comedy from 1972, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. Madeline Kahn (RIP) costars brilliantly in the same kind of role she plays in Young Frankenstein: the OCD uptight fiancée who is made to appear less desirable than the manic pixie dream girl (before we called them that).

The movie opens in San Francisco and begins with four identical plaid suitcases. One belongs to Ryan’s Dr. Howard Bannister and contains special rocks he needs for a science conference. Another is filled with top-secret documents and belongs to “Mr. Smith.” A “Mr. Jones” is chasing after these documents. The third bag is filled with expensive jewelry. The last bag belongs to Barbra’s Judy Maxwell and contains clothing. Judy chases Howard around his hotel, both to try to find her bag and to score free meals.

At the same time, two hotel employees are attempting to steal the bag they believe has the jewelry, while Jones is trying to get the document bag. Everyone ends up with the wrong bag, of course! Howard’s fiancée is having trouble understanding why Judy keeps popping up all over the place. There is a rival for a science grant who tries to take advantage of Howard’s predicament. It’s all so wild!

Since it’s a romcom, there is a happy ending for Judy and Howard, yayyy. 💖

And with that, I am finished with the alphabloggery, thank Godzilla.

Y is for You [A2Z]

You’ve Got Mail is my favorite romantic comedy. It stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, both outstanding, and it’s written and directed by Nora Ephron. I love the build-up of conflicted feelings between Kathleen and Joe, who not only are business rivals but also are with other partners as the story opens. (Both sets of couples break up before K&J get together.) None of that can overcome their growing attraction toward each other though ~ and for quite a while it’s not a physical attraction, which is the best part to me. It’s a combination of an emotional and intellectual connection sustained in writing via chats.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s always been my preference/dream to find this with someone before meeting in person and discovering that it translates to physical chemistry as well. Probably this is why I was so magnetized by the idea of dating sites in the first place. But just like in this movie, most men are deceptive in chats; in real life, though, the ending doesn’t work out so happily ever after.

To me, You’ve Got Mail is simply perfect, the epitome of a romcom. The best of the best. I only wish I could have saved it for last, but there’s one day left…

X is for Xenobia [A2Z]

Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James is a perfect Regency romance novel. It has everything a fan of the genre wants. There is a beautiful and headstrong heroine, who is determined to live life on her own terms, even if it is 1799. We also have an arrogant, handsome, bastard son of a duke, focused on marring someone sweet and biddable. Said sweet miss is terrified of the bastard and would much rather hang with the affable country doctor. School friend comes to visit bastard and says hey nice decorator you got there… shame if some other man took her away from you. Bastard doesn’t like that idea!

Very fun book with little Easter eggs (homages) to other pieces of literature buried in the pages. I probably missed some. Explicit sex scenes abound.

W is for When [A2Z]

When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the characters and the humor. Once again, I think Rob Reiner does an excellent job of directing. I used to list WHMS as my favorite romcom, but now I don’t, even though I still adore the film and rewatch it yearly.

Harry and Sally meet right when they’re graduating college at University of Chicago and share a ride to New York City. They get to know each other a little on this trip, and dislike each other, arguing continuously about the nature of relationships between men and women. Over the next decade, they bump into one another repeatedly in various venues as they attach and detach from other partners.

There’s so much wonderful humor and profound insight about the complexities of relationships here, not to mention fabulous quotes. I treasure the supporting cast as well ~ in fact, when I rewatch the movie now, it’s the instant spark between Marie and Jess that really affects me.

I know the on-again, off-again, passionate drama between Harry and Sally and his crazy run through the streets of Manhattan on NYE is what makes this movie such a beautiful piece of art, but but but…

When Marie (Carrie Fisher, RIP) and Jess hit it off immediately, jump into that taxi, and spend the rest of their lives together without all the BS… that gets to me. I mean, Harry and Sally had to keep sleeping with other people (and in Harry’s case marry one) before they finally figured out hey duhhh we’re right for each other. But Jess and Marie don’t have to hurt each other to love each other.

I like that. Of course I get that the smooth path doesn’t make an interesting movie. But I still like it!

V is for Valley [A2Z]

Valley Girl is a cute romcom starring Deborah Foreman and Nicholas Cage. It’s essentially a conflict between social class and peer groups. Julie is part of the upper middle class “Galleria” crowd, all about being popular at her high school, dating a football player, looking cute at all times, etc. Randy is an edgy Hollywood dude, part of the tougher L.A. scene “over the hill,” and shunned by Julie’s friends after he crashes into their world one night.

Though the movie is about high school kids and can seem silly at times (not to mention dated now), it still has the universal theme regarding choices we make, even as adults, and how difficult it is to step away from our social group and their expectations and prejudices.

U is for Until [A2Z]

Until We Kissed was such an enjoyable read that I went and downloaded the other 6 Pine Valley contemporary romances right after I finished it!

Librarian Livvy believes she’s dating the perfect man until she meets writer Mason. Sparks fly immediately. Why doesn’t she feel this amazing chemistry with Mr. Perfect, the doctor? It’s a mystery she’ll have to solve as Mason returns to the library day after day to work on his next novel.

Neither Livvy nor Mason are flawless, and they overcome their imperfections to become better and build love and trust. Some readers dismiss books where protags are imperfect, but I like to see characters work on themselves as humans do (ideally) and become their best selves with the help and support of someone who cares for them deeply. When that happens, I find the happily ever after to be more satisfying.

This romance novel does not have explicit sex scenes.