Posted in Books

“The Devil’s Own Duke” by Lenora Bell

The Devil’s Own Duke is a historical romance that follows an unlikely couple- Lady Henrietta Prince, the daughter of a duke, and Ash Ellis, the gambler who turns her life upside down.

When her father’s heir unexpectedly dies, only child Lady Henrietta frog-marches her reluctant father to the marriage mart, telling him in no uncertain terms that he must wed and do his duty so that they may keep their estates in the family. Enter Ash Ellis, an underworld prince who claims to be the legitimate heir to the dukedom. While Henriette protests, her father is only too happy to welcome Ash to the family, and be freed from the need to marry and beget more offspring.

To preserve her family’s vineyards, her pride and joy, Henrietta agrees to a marriage of convenience with Ash, who seems bound and determined to sabotage all she has worked for. Henrietta knows that she can make her wine a success, if people would give English wine half a chance. Ash is determined to turn the estate towards profit, and keep his managing wife in her own sphere. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

I loved Henrietta. Despite her naïveté, she is fairly sensible and the reader can really sympathize with her. She and Ash are both compelling protagonists, and even as they are at odds, their chemistry is off the charts. I’m personally a sucker for the lost heir trope, and this is also a bunch of other fun ones, like enemies-to-lovers and marriage of convenience. I think that a lot of the time we see young women taking charge of their lives in historicals it can come across as a bit far-fetched, but I love what I see here. Henrietta knows she can succeed, and always takes the best path to getting what she wants. Ash is obviously deceptive in his dealings with the ton, but not in a way which makes him distasteful. I really like him, and he definitely comes across as worthy by the end of the story.

The Devil’s Own Duke can be purchased wherever books are sold, or borrowed from your local library. The reviewer was provided with a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Books

“A Lot Like Adiós” by Alexis Daria

A Lot Like Adiós is an amazing new contemporary romance from Alexis Daria , following Michelle Amato, cousin to the heroine from You Had Me at Hola, and her one-that-got-away, Gabe.

Gabe and Mich were best friends and neighbors, but Gabe ran away from his family (and by extension Michelle) after high school. He started his life over on the other side of the country, while Michelle got on with her life. Michelle is successful, motivated, and intentionally single, with little desire to cave to her family’s marriage-minded proddings. Gabe is equally unattached, focusing on expanding his business. When chance throws Gabe back into Michelle’s orbit, the two have a lot of tension to work out, and a lot of history to untangle. Michelle is still angry, and Gabe hasn’t fully moved on from what made him leave.

This book bangs, just leading with that. Michelle and Gabe have crazy chemistry and seeing them try to work that out, first physically and then emotionally, really works. I’m also a sucker for a lot of the tropes in this one- it’s a second chance, childhood best friends, enemies-to-lovers, and secret-FWB. This is all catnip for me. Just like You Had Me at Hola, these characters have issues that are backed up by a strong emotional core, making the conflict between them feel real and urgent. I think the family stuff (on both sides) was handled very well, without minimizing the past. I loved this book, I think it’s incredible. Definitely read it if you liked YHMaH, I think it’s even better.

The reviewer was provided with a copy of this book for review. You can purchase A Lot Like Adiós anywhere books are sold, or borrow it from your local library.

Posted in TV

Finding Carter: Throw Momma From the Train

So we left Carter literally holding a new life in her hands. She has been ripped away from all she knows once already, but now she has the chance to take her life into her own hands, and make the choice to be with her mom, or stay with her family.

And we start with a sweet morning wake-up call by the fam for their birthdays. It’s kind of a sin of convenience that their birthday falls on the day Lori has proposed to run away, but I’ll let it slide, since it appears to be working.

I love the silent communication between Carter and Taytay. They have bonded pretty well, despite having been separate most of their lives, and the way they act together now feels way more natural than in earlier episodes. 

Okay, the family in this scene is actually perfect. Gammie and Grandad both are great. Grant does his thing perfectly. Macy’s product placement! I also love how well Gammie knows her girls- “Something without holes in it.” and “Slinky, sexy.” 

Also Sassy Gammie is my new fave. “unload this loser” “Please tell me you’re seeing someone else.” Kind of a rich parents disapprove of their daughter’s husband cliche, but whatever. 

Oh, Carter’s birthday is obviously the day Lori took her. And how many of them are drinking mimosas? The girls are only seventeen!

Ooh, Taylor inherited the sassy genes from Gammie.

Fashion side note: When did Tay pick up her sister’s exposed bra straps thing? Also, what is with these girls and sleeping in their bras? There’s this thing called comfort.

MACY’S PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

Sassy Taylor is on point this episode! I love that eyeliner on her. Also, they both actually pull the dress off pretty well. Similar body types.

“I can’t remember the last time I was this happy.” Really, about to break up her marriage catastrophically? Elizabeth seriously has low standards for happiness.

LOL Max. In every scene, Max is the best ever. “That’s a trick sentence.” Also, “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to Taylor.” I swear, Max is the best, I freaking love him. I also love the way he acts around Taylor. While he and she call Carter out on her BS, he also has so much respect for Taylor, which I really love about him. 

Okay, this party looks very adult friendly, which means it can’t possibly be any fun. Also, poor Grant taking coats.

Not exactly graceful going down the stairs, but eh. It’s a party. Also, sweet moment between Crarter- I’m starting to warm up to them, but they still seem like crazy rushed and more than a little forced on Carter’s side. She also appears to be becoming less and less sure about her decision though.

Also, asides with Bird and Ofie. they are the rosencrantz and guildenstern of Finding Carter. 

Nothing is more awkward that your girlfriend’s husband being overly polite and welcoming to you.

And more awkwardness appears to run in the family, with Gabe having a brief moment of Maxflower jealousy. I thought you guys had a mutual agreement! Dude, make some decisions. Also, Max remains fabulous. 

Poor Grant! Being the replacement child’s gotta be hard when the original is getting so much attention. Seriously, Gammie, cut the little dude some slack.

Also, Crash is so clearly in love with Carter, and she just wants him to chill a little. I get why he’d want to run away from his shit life, but it’s a bit overboard. Okay, this moment where Crash suggests that he and Lori could be everything for Carter is so weird. No one can be everything for someone- she has all of this family now, how could they possibly be that for her? Also, does no one notice that two out of three of the Wilson children are missing from the party? 

Okay, Gabe. You have no right to feel bad for yourself. You pursued both sisters pretty half-assed, so just chill out and go mack on Bird. Okay, sweet moment with Gabe and Grant followed by them shutting themselves in a closet together. That’s not weird. 

Okay, Bird is acting OOC, by being a supportive friend. Also, Ofie, a Bop It is way more entertaining that diamonds. Seriously, Bop It is a girl’s best friend. Also, Sassy Ofie is sassy.

And Sassy David is sassy. Rawr. Okay, let’s just say that no one noticed him grab her and drag her up the stairs. Ooh, the Grant & Gabe cheese puff extravaganza was just a ploy to get them both somewhere they could secretly overhear their parents loudly discussing their extramarital affair. #sin of convenience

Poor Grant, he feels so on the outside. At least Gabe is there to make him feel a bit less alone. In a darkened, tiny closet.       

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 10.34.07 AMMore product placement! Macy’s must have given them a crapload of money. Also, Lori is looking crazier and crazier.

Thing is, in a twisted way, I get what Lori did. Lying to Carter, calling the day she took her a birthday. I mean, the kidnapping is completely inexcusable. Who just does that and expects a normal kid? But she appears to really love Carter, and lying to her about their past is something she had to do. Still, the jokey hospital scene is like, okay. Not a red flag? Well fine then.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 10.46.00 AMAnd David is up late into the night typing his contraband. It actually shows which parent Carter feels trusting towards and connects with best, because she brought all of this to her Dad. Also, this is why you don’t kidnap people. They get f’ed up in the head. It’s good that David’s all there for her and stuff, but I’m really not sure what he’s going to do about it.

Oh, poor Grant. Suffering under the weight of secrets concerning his mother’s sex life. That kind of beat most of the stuff everyone else is dealing with. Except for maybe Carter and Lori. NO CARTER. YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS INFO. DO NOT LET IT SLIDE. YOUR YOUNGER BROTHER IS CLEARLY TROUBLED. BE A FUCKING SISTER.

Oh, man. This is actually a pretty good scene with Elizabeth and David. Elizabeth is a little more human, David is a little more cryptic. Seems likely that he and Lori had an affair or something way back when, and maybe she took Carter for revenge? Okay, also, weirdest foreplay ever.  

And that’s the end! Wow, okay.

Mom has had an affair with her old partner, who is also Gabe’s dad. She ended it, but now it’s back on and she said that it’s over between her and her husband. Daddy David actually has known about it this whole time, he was planning to divorce her, now he seems to be unsure, because he kind of confronted his wife’s boyfriend, and now they seem to be doing it again. But Gabe and Grant overheard his dad and Elizabeth arguing, so they might actually blow the lid off the big secret.

David and Elizabeth know that they are in foreclosure, but the kids aren’t in the loop. Also, they just used their daughters to get money from her parents. Also, David got a huge check from his publisher, but his agent took it back so that Elizabeth won’t get half when they separate. But now that seems to be kind of up in the air.

Dad is secretly writing the book about Carter, though he promised her he wouldn’t. That’s where he got the big bucks. Seems like she may find out pretty soon though.

Carter and Dad are the only ones who know that Carter nearly got caught with Crash in a stolen car.

Carter appears to be the only one who knows that someone abused Bird. We’ll probably hear more about this later.

And now the complicated romantic entanglements!

Carter is dating Crash. She has kissed pretty much every other guy on the show, except Ofie. They seem to be happy, but he’s starting to kind of creep me out.

Gabe used to be into Carter, but then he wanted Taylor, but they mutually decided that they’re more like family. So now he’s kind of in love limbo. But he also seems to be jealous of everyone.

Taylor wants Max, and used to want Gabe, but she got over him. She and Max are together now.

Bird screwed Crash in her closet, and appears to be a bit jealous of Carter and him. Plus she has that mysterious abuser in her past that we don’t know much about yet.

Crash is now dating Carter. He seems to fully reciprocate her feelings, but is starting to freak me our a bit and act a little cray cray.

I’ll also be doing an analysis on the mid season trailer, so I’ll post a link to that here once it’s up. This episode was actually pretty good, it exceeded my expectations. A-, because of all the suspension of disbelief due to the whole convenience of the entire episode.  

Posted in Books

Thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars”

While I am certainly late to the cinematic party in terms of writing about The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation, released to the general public more than a month ago, I HAVE A GOOD REASON.

                                                Augustus Waters John Green animated GIF

I have been a nerdfighter since 2010, and I wanted to see the film with my oldest friend, the one who introduced me to the world of Nerdfightaria, the books of John Green, and Brotherhood 2.0. So, yesterday, Tuesday, July 15th, she and I went to go see the movie. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I had low expectations of the film initially. I love the book immensely. I own two copies of the book, one of which is a signed from the first printing, a button, and two tFiOS themed tee shirts. I have read the book at least five times, and I believe it to be frankly genius. I have not been impressed with many recent adaptations of books I’ve loved, and I was underwhelmed by the trailer, so I tried not to get too excited, though I did bring a plastic bag of tissues just in case.

Frankly, I was favorably impressed. The adaption was extremely faithful, taking whole passages from the novel without sounding like they were shoehorned in. Like the novel, it has a really poignant tonal quality, a sad, sardonic kind of humor. Book purists will be very pleased, most of the exchanges between Gus and Hazel are straight from the book, as are all of Van Houten’s and Isaac’s lines. The film is well-made, in some instances movies that heavily quote the books they are based on come across poorly, but tFiOS is an utter triumph.

The cast is a sweeping success, Laura Dern as Frannie Lancaster (Hazel’s mother) is a standout. In such a small cast, there are several big winners. Aside from Dern’s flawless performance, Mike Birbiligia (Patrick, support group leader) is delightful, Nat Wolff is perfect in all senses of the word, and Willem Dafoe is phenomenal. While underutilized in such a tight movie, Birbiglia’s scenes manage to convey a lot of importance for the cancer culture Green wrote about at length in the book. Willem Dafoe does not play the reclusive Peter Van Houtan, his is Van Houtan. Every mannerism, line and facial expression seems to spring straight from the book, he’s simply brilliant. Nat Wolff, recently confirmed to also be starring in an adaption of Green’s novel Paper Towns, is a breath of fresh air. The rapport between his character, Isaac, and Augustus is perfect, and, like Van Houten, most of his lines are also from the book. The scene depicting The Night of the Broken Trophies is a shining moment for Wolff. He is also, in this writer’s opinion, pretty darn cute. Honestly, in moments he was far more appealing than Augustus.

The performances of the two lead actors are overshadowed by the brilliance of the rest of the cast, but Augustus’s eyebrows deserve a film of their own. At times Gus does gets a bit irritating, his vanity and pretentiousness comes across a little more grating on film than on the page. Shailene Woodley looks right for Hazel, she has this girl next door look about her, in the way she talks and moves. Both Elgort and Woodley are aesthetically pleasing and have a great presence onscreen, and their love is magical. Their ability to transition from playing siblings (in another book to movie adaption, Divergent) to lovers is impressive.

As is to be expected, some things that were important in the book that were left out of the movie, including the humanization of Gus’ family. We barely see his mother and father, and his sisters and nephews are left out entirely. Though the movie does an impressive job showing us their story, it fails to grasp some of the complexities of the book. Green has spoken several times about how the book chronicles the journey from strength to weakness, and we do see Gus’ strength. We see Hazel struggle to keep up, but there is none of the book’s foreshadowing of his recurrence, and eight days (or infinity) before Gus dies, he looks much the same as before, though in a wheelchair. There is one really great scene, when he calls Hazel from the gas station, when Elgort really shows us Gus’ frustration, his hatred for his sickness. But we don’t see him look too sickly, and though Hazel promises not to sugar coat their love story, some parts are left out entirely. The relationship between Augustus and his dead ex-girlfriend Caroline is left out from the film, a story which really highlighted the realities of the disease.

                          The Fault In Our Stars animated GIF 

The Anne Frank house scene, while meaningful, is not quite as touching as in the book, and also a bit weird. I know it’s a movie, but one simply does not clap when strangers, even disabled, beautiful strangers, make out. Even just watching other people kiss is weird. Also, strange French lady in the background, kissing in the Anne Frank house is not “cute.” I was talking to my friend about how that scene made us uncomfortable in the book, mostly because of the seriousness of the location. The Anne Frank house is essentially a Holocaust museum, and kissing at one of those would be considered a bit disrespectful. It just rubbed us the wrong way a bit. But we’re Jewish, and John Green is not, so we would obviously have different perspectives.

                                        Ansel Elgort Shailene Woodley animated GIF 

This movie further proves that the truth resists simplicity, as the movie is an impressive (and profitable) effort, receiving critical acclaim and raking in more than 237 million dollars, though it does not reach quite the brilliance of the book.

Green, Elgort, Wolff and Woodley did a series of very delightful interviews in anticipation of the film, which I would suggest you watch, purely because they are adorable and funny. There are some links below, as well as a link to the last post I did on John Green.

https://chamberofspoilers.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/12-essential-john-green-gifs/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJpaoELLhAM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZg1KFLJiaE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11wavAHn4cs