movie review: ingrid goes west

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to a private screening of the movie, Ingrid Goes West. A dark comedy with an extreme take on social media–Instagram in particular–I found this movie to be very entertaining. While the cast is largely unknown, with the exception of O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (son of rapper Ice Cube and star of Straight Out of Compton) they deliver solid performances with perfect timing.

Ingrid, played by Aubrey Plaza, has just lost her mother and is desperately trying to connect with someone, (anyone) and at the same time, get over her recent loss. When the grief and pressure prove too much for her, she snaps and her antics land her in hot water. But after a stint out of the lime light and having seemingly pulled herself together, Ingrid takes her inheritance and moves across the country to California to start anew.

With O’Shea Jackson, Jr., as her landlord and Elizabeth Olsen (sister to Mary Kate and Ashley) her new bff, the ongoing adventures begin. And in the era of social media where people document their every move online, Ingrid’s actions are captured in real-time. But as most people have come to realize, most of the time what you see on social media, isn’t what’s really happening, or is it…

On top of being funny and thought-provoking, there are a host of messages in this flick; and while overt, they aren’t preachy. This movie just might give you pause the next time you decide to broadcast where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing.

Ingrid Goes West will be released broadly on Friday, August 11.

black lies, by alessandra torre

black liesI read this book a while ago. And much like the baked chimichanga’s I love, it’s better after sitting over night–or in this case, a few months. Clever, is one word that comes to mind to describe the story. I also used that word to describe Gone Girl and I hated that book. (And yes, I know I’m in the minority on that one. Don’t care.) Black Lies, however, I did not hate. Did not love. But I could appreciate it.

On the surface, Lana is a beautiful and bored socialite who takes her volunteer work very seriously. Brant is a handsome, polished, highly successful and rich business man who owns a small empire, if there is such a thing. Lee, is a rugged, sexy, broke landscaper. And Lana falls for both of them. Here’s where the trouble begins…

This is a story about a very twisted love triangle. Brant is madly in love with Lana and wants nothing more than to devote his life to her. Lana, feels the same way about Brant–oh, and Lee too… Who is also in love with Lana and comes to resent Brant and all of his money and power, as well as his feelings for Lana and hers for him.

To further complicate matters, there is a secret overshadowing this sordid tale of romance. And that’s where my challenge with the book comes in… I was fine knowing there was a secret. I was also fine with the secret not being revealed right away. What I was not ok with was the secret being referenced, all the time (it felt like every other page) throughout the majority of the book.

Torre’s story is different. It’s not BDSM. It’s not some over-the-top insanely jealous billionaire who’s out of his mind trying to control some 20-year old naive school girl. These are adults, who yes, have a lot of money–well, 2 of them do; who have careers and wants like marriage, kids, etc. And the twist to the plot is actually something I haven’t seen done before, which is why I was so hopeful for this book.

To be fair, that is really the only issue I have with the book. While it did make for a frustrating read at times, I understand Torre was building up the suspense aspect for the reader. I just wished it could’ve been written a bit differently. Overall, if you’re looking for a love story that’s off the beaten path–give this one a try. Clever…


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debt, by nina g. jones

debtIn recognition of Valentine’s Day, tara’s take will be celebrating romantic reads for the month of February. So, in a “go big or go home” kind of way–let’s kick off the month with a review of the book Debt, by Nina G. Jones.

This falls into the totally twisted category for sooo many reasons. I don’t give disclaimers on too many books, but be forewarned on this one–subject matter content is extremely intense, graphic, and down right disturbing. What does it say about me that I really enjoyed this book??? That’s a post for another day. Let’s get started shall we?

Tax is an extremely rich, good-looking, and successful business man. Mia is successful in her own right; she’s an executive at an “adult toy” company. Both grew up in a small town with incredibly humble beginnings, Tax’s more so than Mia’s.

Their paths cross in adult-hood when Mia’s friend talks her into going on a no-holds bar fantasy site to book a service. Mia gets far more than she bargained for.

As she’s blackmailed for reasons unknown to her and subjected to down right cruel behavior from her blackmailer, she discovers unimaginable things about herself and the man who holds her fate in his hands.

tara’s take:
Tax’s back story is beyond tragic and heart-breaking. Mia’s naïveté and bravado balance one another out making her a heroine you don’t want to roll your eyes at or kill-off. There are so many disturbing sexual scenes in this book it makes Raw look… Ok, nothing could make Raw look anything but what it is…

Mia is feisty and yet unsure of herself all at the same time, which makes her relatable. There are some very sinister undertones and overtones in this book. And while quite often,  you hate the hero that is Tax, you also understand the vengeance that has been driving him and his twin sister all of their lives.

Jones writes the book in both the present day as well as flashbacks. (I feel like this is happening more and more in the books I read.) But she does a great job of balancing the new and old so that you get just enough to whet your whistle and want more before she she switches eras on you, keeping you sucked in for the whole book.

Again, I can’t stress enough the extremely graphic nature of this book. If it were a movie, you’d most certainly have to look away. But in print, it makes for a seriously twisted and captivating read.

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Book Review: Raw

rawRaw by Belle Aurora is one of those books that was following me. It was constantly turning up in my Goodreads search. It appeared, repeatedly, when I was on Google. I saw it on other book blogs. It was in my  Twitter feed. Seriously, the book was stalking me! Which is funny because…

In a nutshell:
Twitch is a sociopathic stalker. He’s been watching Alexa (Lexi), forever–and she knows it. He’s covered head to toe in tattoos, constantly wears a hoodie, and lurks in the shadows. Lexi, is a straight and narrow, upstanding social worker, helping underprivileged teenagers. Lexi soon learns that nothing is at is seems with Twitch–or is it? Aurora takes the reader through incredibly emotional twists and turns with this story–drug use, graphic sexual situations, and heart wrenching trauma. The story of Twitch and Lexi is complex and certainly not for the faint of heart.

Tara’s Take:
I admit that when I first started reading this book, it was a bit of a challenge for me. I almost gave up. Suffice to say, I persevered and finished–and I am sooooo glad I did! I cried. Literally, shed real tears. Be warned, this book is not an easy read. There are some very disturbing scenes. Often, Lexi wonders what the H*ll she’s thinking and doing and so does the reader. But it works. This is more than opposites attract or the good girl being drawn to the bad boy. There is a lot of depth to the main characters and to the supporting cast in the book.

The story is set in Australia, which I was looking forward to ‘seeing’ some of in the book. However, you don’t. It is really more of an in-depth emotional character development, which again, works. I’ve never been ‘Down Under’ so bringing some of the beauty I’ve heard about to life through words, would’ve been nice–but by no means was I disappointed.

One can only hope that there will be a sequel. Raw was released in Jan. 2014 as a stand alone and currently, Aurora hasn’t let the world know if there’s a sequel coming. But my fingers are crossed!