hollywood dirt, by alessandra torre

This was a fun and relatively fast read. There was a lot of humor infused with real emotion and just the right amount of sexual tension. Alessandra Torre is quickly becoming one of my most adored authors and I could easily go on a binge devouring one book after another from her. In this case, Hollywood Dirt is being made into a movie. And while not a big budget summer release, casting has begun and you’re sure to recognize a face or two on the big screen when it’s brought to life.

Cole Masten, the hero (a term used loosely) is the epitome of an egotistical a*s. He’s Hollywood elite, with over-the-top good looks and talent for days, all slathered in charm. He’s also the male half of ‘Codia,’ being married to Nadia Smith, a Hollywood starlet in her own right. But the demise of the Cole/Nadia acronym is upon them.

After returning home one day, Cole discovers Nadia engaged in extra curricular activities with another man in their bathroom. Needless to say, Cole doesn’t take it well. After arranging a meeting between the other man’s head and shoulder with a ceramic elephant, the divorce of “Codia” ensues; along with a lot of bad behavior on Cole’s part.

Enter Summer. A down home, tell it like it is, care free southern girl. She manages to wrangle a job on Cole’s next movie as an assistant to the location scout. But what starts out as a short-term assistant gig, turns into the part of a lifetime for Summer and as it were, Cole.

The interactions between Cole and Summer are rife with will they/won’t they as well as insults and pranks galore. It makes for a well-written enjoyable story that takes a light-hearted approach to dealing with serious matters of the heart. The reader has the dual benefit of knowing what’s going on inside both Cole and Summer’s head to get a clear view of where they stand, even though they aren’t expressing it to one another. Peppered with one liners and secondary characters almost as entertaining as the primary, this is one book I hope the movie-makers do right by.

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.

the angel’s share, by j. r. ward

angel's shareingredients:
Drama, suspense, and a little humor.

servings:
If you read The Bourbon Kings and loved Dynasty, Dallas, and the likes this will be up your alley.

rating:

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preparation:
I read The Bourbon Kings in 2 days. I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I did, though I don’t know why. I was a huge Dynasty fan and loved Dallas by proxy of my mother. So, considering how The Bourbon Kings ended, I was anxious to read the continuing saga. And a saga it is.

It’s a well-known fact that if I don’t like any characters in a  book, odds are, I’m not going to like the book overall; and that was the case in this one. In the first book, I actually liked several of the characters–in this one, some that I liked in book 1, I grew to dislike in The Angel’s Share.

Lane turns into a serial black-mailer with questionable ethics. He, himself begins to fear he is turning into his father. The volatile relationship between Gin and Richard is disturbing on many levels. She is admittedly allowing him to beat and rape her, repeatedly, because she fears being poor. Edward, the shell of a man that he is, actually begins to show signs of life in this book–but only because of his impending fate–which is unfortunate.

The truly redeeming characters in this book are Lizzie, who is too good to be true. Miss Aurora is the embodiment of every stereotype of a black worker in the south employed by a rich family. Which leaves us with Samuel T., the only character who is truly fun and has embraced his flaws and those of the people around him, and finds the humor in all situations.

There is little to no resolution in this book from the events set in motion from book 1. It appears that book 3 (which there has to be) has the potential to tie up some of the loose ends that are currently hanging. By the end of this book, the cliché’s are in full effect. Predictable continues to be a theme and at this point, book 3 isn’t of interest to me, personally.

difficulty level:
Hard. This was a tough read for me because it was so obvious on so many levels. It’s not poorly written, but honestly, I don’t care about the Renoir’s hanging in the game room and the Aubusson rugs in the parlor. I know others love this series, I’m just not one of them.

asking for it/begging for it, by lilah pace

asking begging for itingredients:
Drama and suspense.

servings:
This series deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

 

rating:

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preparation:
This was a bit of a dark read. Not as dark as some other books I’ve read, but still, dark. As if the disclaimer didn’t already give that away…

Vivienne is looking to have certain fantasies fulfilled and her boyfriend isn’t exactly on board. So when at party her recent ex lets it fly why he wasn’t the man for Viv, there were several people within earshot who take notice. Enter Jonah.

Jonah comes from a very entitled background and gives new meaning to sexy and brooding. A professor at the college where Viv is taking graduate classes, their worlds collide through a mutual friend, which only makes their newfound ‘arrangement’ all the more awkward.

While the premise of the ‘arrangement’ seems, on the surface, like a theme that’s already been done to death, trust me when I say, “This time it’s different.” The explosive secrets in both Viv and Jonah’s pasts are enough to tear apart their relationship and make each one second guess what they’re doing and for very good reasons.

Asking For It and Begging For It are titles that represent both what you are thinking, but then again, not quite…

difficulty level:
Hard. This was not hard to read because of the writing, but because of the topic. There was abuse and the role-playing that was done is not for the faint of heart. An interesting story with difficult topics handled fairly well.