Tag Archives: reviews

Two for Tuesday: Book Reviews

1. The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan. This is a classic romance novel, so we know how it ends; the fun is (supposed to be) in getting there. The novel begins well enough with Marcus (the Duke) awakening in a horse stall with only a vague memory of what happened the night before. I thought maybe some sort of mistaken identity puzzle or murder mystery would need to be untangled along the way to the happily ever after. No.

Marcus finds Alyse being “auctioned” in the town square by a husband who no longer wants her, and in an impulsive act, Marcus “buys” her. Even though the Duke is an educated gentleman who knows you can’t buy a person (well, there in England anyway), he feels responsible for Alyse now because she has nothing and nowhere to go. Of course, being a Duke, he acts like a jerk about it. Alyse knows he’s a jerk, but she has no choice at the moment except to accept his help.

That’s it. That’s the plot. Alyse and Marcus travel north to his estate in Scotland, and they fall in love, despite Marcus being a jerk and Alyse being a commoner he can’t possibly marry, ha ha ha.

I gave it two stars, which was generous.

2. Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos. Now this first-person suspense novel has a unique twist: what if you save someone from suicide and then wish you hadn’t? The concept grabbed me, which is why I chose this book from my October Kindle first pile. And it is a good hook. The problem is that Alice (you remember Alice) is so annoying. She does the dumbest things one after another. I don’t like her husband either, and they have a terrible marriage ~ hard to believe it was good before she saved Manfred, with the crappy way they communicate, or don’t rather. Yet, I had to keep reading to see what happened, so there’s that.

And it’s fun to see how frustrated she gets with the Swiss police, so ploddingly slow and skeptical with her stalking complaints, until of course they suspect her of something, and then suddenly they’re super competent and on the ball.

As stupid as Alice is, the stuff she does near the end is unfathomably bizarre, so I have to conclude she is just a nutcase all along.

Three stars.

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Two for Tuesday [movie reviews]

SPOILERS!!!!!

1. A Simple Favor.

This is one of the movies I was really looking forward to seeing. The previews were so tantalizing… and after watching Henry Golding slay in Crazy Rich Asians, I wanted to see him in another role. Plus, I was predisposed to like the female leads: Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. Am I now going to say boo I hated it? Nope! I loved it. It was fabulous!

However. I would not have liked it as a book. Generally, I say to myself, self, I like the written version best and the screen is never as good as what I can imagine from the words. But not this time. There were several elements, one in particular (which I hesitate to reveal even to those who don’t mind spoilers), that are on my hate list. If I see this on a novel description, I won’t read the book. Yep, that bad. But I didn’t mind it in this movie.

There were other things that would have annoyed me as a reader ~ I would have paused and thought wtf? Why is this here? Gratuitous backstory weird sex scene. Unnecessary veering into the possibility of the supernatural. But the movie was too fast-paced to pause and think. It was just damn good fun with a satisfying ending.

I walked out grinning like an idiot. Love these three actors. Blake was especially great.

2. Puzzle. This is another movie I had been trying to pin down on Movie Pass and finally gave up. So, I just went and saw it on Sunday with a few friends. Odd flick. Not what I had expected.

I didn’t much like the protagonist. She’s supposed to be some sort of repressed genius whose mind works too damn fast for her mundane life, yet apparently not fast enough to pick up a book or any kind of smart hobby all these years until someone gives her a jigsaw puzzle. And then she doesn’t know where to buy another puzzle without traveling an hour or so by train into Manhattan to a special puzzle store. Because this genius has never heard of Target.

But they need her in the big city for the plot to work, so okay. And it seems we are supposed to dislike her husband, except I don’t. I actually dislike her new man, so there’s that. I don’t like people who jabber psychobabble at you that ostensibly is supposed to make you feel good about yourself, but is ultimately designed to manipulate you into doing what they want all along. I have a big thing about that actually! 😡 Oo Paula’s issues! But it was still an interesting movie overall about family dynamics and such, and I’m glad I saw it.

I’m looking forward to Colette, A Star Is Born, The Old Man & The Gun, Serenity, The Nutcracker & The Four Realms, Bohemian Rhapsody, Robin Hood, Welcome To Marwen, Mary Queen Of Scots, and Mary Poppins.

Geez, that’s a lot of movies. Good thing I have my trusty pass! 🙄

The Pink Cupcake [a dating story]

A couple people have asked about my blog icon photo, so here’s the Saturday night special version. This isn’t a funny dating story with a twist at the end, but a stupidly sad one, or a sadly stupid one. Take your pick.

I had a relatively popular blog from 2004-2007ish. Then I grew weary of the (self-imposed) pressure to come up with funny and/or interesting poasts several times per day. Back then, I grabbed a lot of my topics from the news, including political stuff, and wasn’t afraid of generating arguments; now, I avoid this.

For a while, I tried keeping a super light blog about cats, cupcakes, and shoes only, but it became too boring for everyone, including me. Then my mom died, and my marriage broke up. Those two things aren’t related, but they’re both at the top of the life stress scale. I latched onto the first person who offered emotional support… and I fell in love with him. And he was married ~ one of those who was just waiting to leave when X happened, but then X turned into Y, and then Z. (He’s still there, living in the house with his wife long after X, Y, Z, yada.)

So, to cope I started a new blog, this one. My first poast was March 25, 2011. I didn’t talk directly about my relationship of course, since he knew about the blog too, but I would poast song lyrics and excerpts from books I was reading that alluded to it. Later, after we broke up, I did write a bit about how I felt at certain points, though I’ve probably deleted most of that now. Long-time readers will know him as TMW, short for “the man who broke my heart.”

In 2010, for his birthday I bought cupcakes for us. Not a cake because obviously he wouldn’t be able to take it home with him. I took a pic of mine ~ it was strawberry with a chocolate heart. Later I realized the heart was broken and I thought it was a neat pic. When I began the blog, I decided to use it for my “subtle” profile photo. If anyone asked, I figured I could say I was planning to resume doing cupcake reviews again. But I’m not planning to do that. I just like this photo. It’s held up over time.

In Praise Of The WP App

No, they aren’t paying me. Though they could, if they wanted to. I wouldn’t mind. 🙂

I was not an app fan, until lately. Why do I need to clutter up my phone with dumb icons, I used to whine? I can just go to the websites. But then I got clued into the fact that apps gobble less battery. Ooh, that’s nice. Next I realized that Twitter is actually better on an app. Can’t explain ~ it just is. After that came the banking and insurance apps ~ not only more convenient, but more secure. Well!

But that’s enough. I’m certainly not going to write lengthy poasts and emails on apps, I sniffed. I need a real keyboard for these dreamy endeavors. And then I destroyed my laptop on July 4th with a glass of iced tea. Whoops! Since I didn’t feel like running right out and buying a new laptop, I began using my phone for everything. Including those long emails and bloggeries.

That’s where the WP app comes in. Not only is it ideal for starting and saving draft ideas, it also has a great newsfeed. I can read, like, and save other poasts! 🤩 In the past, whenever I wanted to save another blogger’s poast for linking later, I had to keep it open in a browser tab. Sometimes I screwed that up and closed it. Now, all saved poasts are in a tab in the app. So fab! Easier to select categories and tags via the app and to schedule poasts. Also, it’s easy peasy to edit or delete one of my own published rants and do blog admin stuffs.

It’s not perfect, alas. This morning I was forced to return to the browser newsreader when I realized that the app reader had missing poasts. Yep, there was a 6-hour window in the middle of the night through which a pile of poasts up and fluttered bye. 🦋 Sad! And the browser newsreader felt clunkier than ever. I could like poasts but not save any. There were annoying “you might like these” blogs mished in with the ones I follow. This made me appreciate the WP app even more. They need to keep the windows closed though.

However, fingers x’d, I am picking up a new (used) Mac tonight, so I will have a real keyboard again shortly. As the days grow shorter, I will resume my favored position of sitting at my kitchen table, WIP in front of me on the screen, while staring out the window at nothingness. But I will keep any beverages far, far away from the puter! 😜

Peanut Butter

I stole these 26 questions from Fandango, who snagged them from Barbara, at Teleportingweena. But I have an issue with 26 (yes, including our alphabet, annoying). Twenty-five is a great number, and oddly enough (hehe) so is 27. But 26? Meh! I guess I can think of it as 13×2 and be okay that way. That’s what I’ll do then: renumber the questions halfway through.

1. Share your profile picture.

– Which profile? Here’s one from last year, taken at the happiest place on earth.

2. Who are you named after?

– Paula Abdul.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

– Like Fandango, I used to have great handwriting, but now that I’ve gotten older, it sucks.

4. What’s your favorite lunchmeat?

– Peanut butter.

5. Longest relationship?

– I had a good relationship with my dad from the day I was born until he died in 2013 just before I turned 52.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

– Nope.

7. Would you bungee jump?

– NFW!

8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

– Sometimes.

9. Favorite ice-cream?

– Coconut chocolate chip.

10. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

– That they’re too close to me.

11. Football or baseball?

– Neither.

12. What color pants are you wearing?

– White lounge pants with grey and pink flowers.

13. Last thing you ate?

– Peanut butter on a banana.

1. If you were a crayon what color would you be?

– Ultraviolet, baby.

2. Favorite smell?

– Cinnanommmm.

3. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

– One of the partners at work.

4. Hair color?

– Light brown plus some silver.

5. Eye color?

– Hazel (this feels like filling out a dating profile now).

6. Favorite food to eat?

– Seafood pasta.

7. Scary movies or happy endings?

– Romantic comedies with happy endings.

8. Last movie you watched?

– I rewatched American Gigolo a few days back because it came up on Prime. Saw it over 30 years ago and liked it a lot. Didn’t like it that much this time. I didn’t sense any chemistry between the leads; it was just trashy and sad.

9. Favorite holiday?

– Loved Fandango’s answer, but I’ll go with New Year’s Day.

10. Beer or wine?

– Neither. Alcohol triggers migraines.

11. Favorite day of the week?

– Sunday.

12. Three or (four) favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?

– Anyone who plays along.

13. Added info you didn’t know you wanted.

Buy my books!

Activity vs Energy

Two perfect words popped up as prompts today: activity and energy. This is a great follow-up to my migraine poast because many days are a balancing act between wanting to participate in more activities and lacking the energy because of dealing with a chronic disease. Managing migraine is a serious job.

Today is a good example. I woke with a bad migraine and had to take Rx meds in order to go to work (Excedrin was not gonna cut it). They helped, but by the time I got home I was exhausted. I have no “spoons” left for anything social, and right now I am trying to summon up some scraps of energy to do a bit of exercise. This is pretty ordinary for me and I’m sure other chronic pain people can relate.

Check out Amanda Workman’s article about how migraines affect our social life. She really nails it.

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Btw, it was amusing trying to find a scales or balance photo in the WordPress free media library. Scales produced snakes, and balance gave me yoga. So, I had to steal from Google. Whaddaya gonna do?

MP15: Searching

I saw Searching today at Metro Pointe, not an E-ticket theater. What an ordeal it is to see a movie now with Movie Pass ~ I do sympathize with peeps who have given up and canceled the service. Even at the E-ticket theater, it’s a daily crapshoot to check out what shows MP will allow, and that might change before evening. Best not to make plans with people! Luckily, I mostly don’t. Thing is, three movies per month for ten bucks is still a great deal and I hate to give that up.

***Spoilers for Searching***

This movie is a classic mystery. A man’s daughter goes missing and he feels the police aren’t doing enough, so he tracks some leads himself. He (and we) are led down various paths in such a way that we start going omg aha! Only to be proven wrong once again. Believe nothing.

And that’s today in a nutshell: we don’t know who to trust, what to believe. It’s so easy to create fake identities. To steal ID’s. It’s so easy to spy on people. Only the most technologically adept know how to take advanced precautions.

I feel unsettled from this movie. It reminds me of something I’ve believed for quite a while: that I disagree with the concept of online anonymity. Everyone should be required to be a “real person,” locatable by name and city, and an adult. I know many disagree, which is fine. Some will say this would put a damper on free speech, but so does the presence of vicious anonymous trolls. So, take your pick. I’d rather have an internet without the anonymous harassers and stalkers, scammers and ID stealers, if I got to choose.

But I don’t get to choose and things get worse all the time. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had little kids today ~ I would not want them anywhere near the internet. Of course, that is an unrealistic position.

I don’t know what to tell you about Searching. Did I like this movie? Honestly… not that much. It started out very slow, almost annoyingly so, and the part with the mom was unbearably predictable. I can appreciate why they set up all the tech the way they did, but repeated texting on the big screen just isn’t compelling. I loved the dad’s character, but he seemed too naive and unsophisticated for a Silicon Valley guy. I’ll just leave it at that, to not give too much away. 🙂

Here’s The Thing…

I get bored easily. And while I would say my bar for suspension of disbelief is relatively generous, it definitely exists, and once it snaps, we’re done. Last night, I finished S5 of Monk and then watched the final two eps of S8. I just couldn’t take any more of the preposterous plots. (Not that the finale itself wasn’t beyond absurd.)

While I liked the Natalie assistant more than the Sharona assistant, I think the shows were better with Sharona. Idk if this was due to the acting talents of Bitty Schram or the fact that the writing was fresher overall, but regardless that’s my opinion. Sharona sometimes annoyed me, it’s true, and Natalie didn’t, but maybe that’s simply because Natalie was so much blander. I also thought the Captain’s divorce was a cheap writing device. Like damn we’re running out of ideas… we gotta get someone pregnant or divorced. Sorry Leland, your wife’s gotta go. They didn’t even bother coming up with a reason! The reason was he “didn’t know why” she was filing. Dumb.

I’m sad though, since I love Monk, the protag, and I thought the first two seasons were fab. He deserved every episode to be great, not stupid like getting amnesia (another cheap device) and ending up in Wyoming or that absolutely idiotic one with the shock jock and the dog. Omg and that ridiculous thing with the excon befriending him just to steal a postcard out of his mail. That may have been the worst.

I’ll miss my brief fling with this show. While I’m nowhere near the Monk level of OCD, I found much to relate to and smile about.

MP14: Crazy Rich Asians [FOWC]

Today’s prompt euphemism reminded me that I didn’t poast about the last movie I saw, yikes. So many prompts. So many topics to jabber on about. You know how it is. Anyway, I saw Crazy Rich Asians several days ago and loved it. Fab romcom, just fab.

I guess there might be some slight spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

A few points. Generally, to get the full flavor of a romance, we need to be present at the couple’s first meeting. This isn’t a diehard rule, like the happy ending, but it’s nice to have. I grok that opening with the poker game foreshadowed a later game, and metaphored (can verb if I wanna, pffft) a lot of gamesmanship throughout the film, but still. We could have had a flashback to Rachel and Nick’s cute-meet at some point.

One of the critiques of this movie mentioned that we didn’t get treated to the way “regular” people live in Singapore, only these crazy rich ones. Well, true, but it’s not about crazy average-income Asians. And I wasn’t expecting that. Wasn’t expecting a documentary on Singapore. Why hold the film to this standard? I think that’s really unfair. No one complained that Sleepless in Seattle neglected to show homeless peeps living on the streets. No one said Notting Hill should have shown the poor people in London. These are fairy tales, for cryin’ out loud!

So, I bet you’re wondering when I’ll get to euphemism. As they’re flying extra mega deluxe first class to Singapore, Rachel suspects that Nick’s family may be kinda… wealthy. He cops to “comfortable,” which she declares is exactly what a wealthy person would say. Is it? Since I’m not wealthy, nor do I pal around with the super rich, I wouldn’t know. But I do know it’s a euphemism for loaded!

If I were a rich girl (cue music), I think I’d keep things on the down low. No need for flashy cars or mansions that require lots of people around for upkeep. The more you own, the more you need. One of my blog buddies recently poasted about taking the bus, which I remember doing in Chicago, and that had certain stresses, but mostly people did not interact with each other; traveling by car and dealing with auto maintenance is probably on the whole more stressful. Of course, having a silent chauffeur and unlimited funds for limos could be the way to go. Hmm.

Anyway, like nearly every romcom, so much of the “plot” of CRA is built upon layers of communication failures. Nick didn’t tell Rachel the full story of his family’s empire before whisking her off to a gala event. Rachel’s mother never explained her own circumstances. Side characters are involved in other deceptions ~ to be explored in sequels, I presume. But this is what we expect from romantic comedies. And unless it’s done well, watching the protags resolve their miscommunications can be boring and irritating to sit through, but this one was excellent, IMO.

Anyway. It was fun diving headlong into a pure fantasy again. I really love this stuff, knowing I can depend on a happy ending, unlike real life. Such a great cast. I was thinking of seeing Alpha today, but then decided nah… just gonna keep watching Monk. I’m sure I’ll see something at the theater next weekend. My MoviePass is still working fine at the E-ticket place, and that’s good enough for me.

MP#12-13: Family Style

First, I want to talk about Movie Pass. There’s been a lot of complaining about the lack of movies, the restricted times, the new three per month rule, etc. And I get that. It’s frustrating to get used to seeing a movie a day ~ any movie ~ for ten bucks a month, and now you can’t. Wah! But seriously. You didn’t really believe this was a sustainable business model, did you? Since May, I’ve seen 13 movies for $20, and that’s fab. (My first month was a freebie.)

Even if I saw three matinees a month at the lowest price around here, which is $6, that would still cost more than Movie Pass at $10. Please forgive me for not jumping on the bashwagon, okay? I hope MP lives on; I won’t be shocked if it goes under though. It’s still bleeding a lot of cash.

I’m lucky because I live about a mile and a half from an E-ticket theater. MP prefers those and gives a wider selection of movies at the full range of showings. I saw Mission Impossible when other MP holders were having problems. Last weekend I saw Christopher Robin and this weekend I saw Dog Days. Apparently everyone else is being forced to see Slender Man or The Meg. 😛

Okay then, a bit of spoilery reviews. Click away now if you don’t want to read them.

1. Christopher Robin. Good family movie with some adult themes of death, war, etc. I was surprised at the uneven pacing, but yet I enjoyed it. Excellent cast and acting. My main criticism is that I wanted the magic to make more “sense” ~ I don’t know how I feel about Pooh & Co. being randomly alive for humans other than CR and outside of the wood. Something about it bothers me.

2. Dog Days. Cute, super predictable flick. Romantic and heart-tuggy. Lots of cute doggies and cute children. Hilarious dog therapist who was the best part of the movie imo. Liked the trailer for Alpha, another dog movie, shown before this.

I’m ready for some adult films now: The Wife, A Simple Favor, The Old Man and the Gun, etc.