fifty shades darker, the movie

Looking for a last-minute way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Look no further—let this review guide you to your evening’s entertainment. And if you need some inspiration on what to wear for your night out, let the fashion blogger du jour, TokesTakeOnStyle, steer you to looking your best on the national day for lovers.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Fifty Shades series—me and millions of others. So of course, I feel compelled to see the movies. The first in the series, was not my favorite. My review summed up the lackluster performance and general disappointment I felt. Not so with Fifty Shades Darker.

This 2nd installment of three was better acted with more chemistry between Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Dornan was less stiff and brooding for his efforts, while Johnson’s dialogue flowed more naturally. Their increased comfort level with one another and the characters they were portraying helped to make them more relatable and showed far more personality than their debut in Fifty Shades of Grey.

There was also a new addition to the cast, Kim Bassinger. She has the makings of a really good “Mrs. Robinson,” though like all of the secondary characters, she isn’t given much screen time. This is one of the short comings of the movies. The supporting characters in the books bring a lot to the plot but on the big screen they’re underutilized. I think this is a missed opportunity for the franchise as a whole.

“I don’t expect you to fetch me coffee unless you’re getting some for yourself.”—Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades Darker and Tess McGill, Working Girl

And then there was the sex…And there was quite a bit, but no, not nearly as much as in the book. But it was well directed, definitely steamy, and had me blushing. I didn’t expect an R movie to handle something classified as ‘mommy porn’ so well on the big screen. (And for the record, there were some very mature women in the theater with me. Hope I’m as cool as them when I’m their age!)

For a movie that was 2 hours long it sometimes felt rushed. The interactions with Jack Hyde didn’t have a chance to play out as they did in the book leaving his character seeming to be an instantaneous jerk, instead of one who slowly comes to the forefront. Similarly, the storyline with Leila was so fast-paced, the movie missed the chance to show the compassion and deep feelings that Christian had for her. (Also, the actress who played her looked like she was about 14.)

Overall, any fan of the books will enjoy this sophomore installation more than the freshman try. I’m sure the film will be a box office success but it will hardly win any Oscars. Then again, if you’re entertained for 2 hours and you come out with a smile, isn’t that all that matters?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

the red collar, by colette makray

I read the wrong book; seriously, who does that??? The Red Collar was recommended to me by a friend who’s book club had read it. She said it was short and a really good read. So upon searching Google, Goodreads, and Amazon, I found several books with the same title. But one in particular stuck out and seemed like it was ‘the one,’ so I read it.

Soon, I realized it was the wrong book. But I didn’t care. At 50% through, it dawned on me that I was supposed to be reading about a man and dog associated with the military, set in the early 1900’s. Not a single mother struggling with loss and an elderly man doing the same.

They meet periodically at the cemetery. Both grieving. Both trying to move past the hurt that death and loss often bring. At the center of this poignant short story is a dog. 2 dogs really. And the love between man and man’s best friend. Loyalty. And the enduring, often magical, thing we call life.

Since I bought this as an e-book, I’m not entirely sure how many pages it is, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 16. A very fast read but one that will stay with you. I think it’s somehow fitting that my first read of 2017 is one that ends with the realization that, life goes on.

top 5 reads of 2016

Welcome to 2017 book lovers! I know, I know, everyone does a best of, a top whatever… But really, doesn’t it always suck you in? It does me! So, at the risk of being part of the herd, know that the list for the edible bookmark is unique. So without further adieu, following are 5 of the books that I loved most in 2016. Hope you find something the piques your interest.

the bourbon kings, by j. r. ward
To say I couldn’t put this book down would be an understatement. And the release of the final installment in the trilogy is several months away in August. I’ve described this book as Dynasty or Dallas meets a little Downton Abbey (though I admittedly only watched an episode of the latter show). Regardless, any book that I finish in 2 days is worthy to be recommended in my book (pun intended).

dirty, rowdy, thing, by christina lauren
I have to say, Finn stole my heart almost immediately and that’s quite a feat considering I just knew that Ansel from Sweet, Filthy Boy, was the be all, end all. While Finn is far from perfect, he is very real and that alone makes him appealing. (Well, real in a book boyfriend kind of way. You know what I mean.)

the beast, by j. r. ward
I had reservations about putting 2 books by the same author on this list, but they are dramatically different and hey, if it’s awesome, it’s just awesome. Bring on, The Beast. With a focus on Rhage and Mary, probably my least favorite couple in the series, once again, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book as much as I did. But this book is one of my few 4-bookmark reads for all of 2016 because the way Ward continues their story and the surrounding characters, is one of the many reasons I keep coming back for more.

bounty, by kristen ashley
As one of my all-time favorite authors, for the most part, if Kristen Ashley writes it, I read it. The story in Bounty is reminiscent of her earlier works (in a good way), while having the benefit of her growth as an author and storyteller. This has me anxiously awaiting, The Honey series, about an alpha sub. C-R-A-Z-Y!

moonlight on nightingale way, by samantha young
My introduction to Samantha Young was through the book, Hero, not the expected, On Dublin Street. Moonlight is actually the final installment in the On Dublin Street series, a book I still have yet to read. But after thoroughly enjoying the 2 books I have read by this author–Moonlight having a level of character depth that is truly to be appreciated–I will find my way to the other novels penned by this author.

So, there you have it! 2016 has come and gone but there are still sooooo many books to be read and I for one am very excited! Speaking of which, are you participating in the 2017 Goodreads reading challenge? My goal is to read 40 books this year, which means I better get started!