Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nuts ( Hudson Valley #1) by Alice Clayton

I have been holding off posting a review for this one simply because I wanted to read all the books in the series first.  I can't wait any longer. You may have read some of my earlier posts on the Wallbanger series and the Redhead series by Alice Clayton.  I freaking love her books. I know the second I pick one up that it will be hysterical, sexy, and have the perfect amount of smuttiness. This is book 1 in her new Hudson Valley series.  It did not disappoint at all.

Roxie Callahan ( a character that appeared in the Redhead series) has been a private chef in Hollywood catering to some pretty famous people.  She is constantly re-vamping recipes to fit in with her clients various eating habits which makes her love cooking that much more for those clients that eat real food.  Her mother calls out of the blue one day to inform her that she needs to come home and run the family dinner.  Mom and her sister are picked to be on a reality show and so they will be gone for several months. Roxie is stuck because she loves what she does even when she can barely make ends meet but needless to say her family loyalty (with help from an unfortunate, career ending dairy incident) wins out in the end.  She moves back home to upstate New York to her small town where nothing exciting happens and everyone knows you. The only good thing she can see about the move is that she will at least be close to her best friends again.

Enter Leo Maxwell and his gorgeous farmer self.  The minute he walks into her diner carrying a basket full of walnuts Roxie knows she is a goner.  The sparks fly and witty, sexy banter starts flowing.  Leo is part of the farm to table movement and is helping Roxie realize maybe there really is no place like home.  Naturally Leo comes with a little baggage and a tall, dark, broody, hot friend who runs the neighboring dairy farm. Hint: He is one of the main characters in book 2. Leo is everything you want in a sexy farmer.

Naturally, I loved this book.  I will warn you though. I laughed out loud so many times that I actually had tears running down my face at one point. I will also warn you that the food mentioned throughout this book had me starving and.....I ended up planning a visit to upstate New York myself to tour one of the many farms supporting the food to table movement. I did not run into any farmers quite like Leo but it was an amazing time for the whole family.

In case you are wondering, this was a 5 star rating for me on Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Netflix Original: Girlboss

                                          ******Courtesy of YouTube and Netflix*******

This is my pick for "What to Watch Wednesday".  It is a full season but each episode only runs about 25-30 minutes long.  I will admit I had only a vague notion of  Sophia Amoruso prior to this show. It's based very loosely on her life ( so it says at the beginning of each episode).  I loved everything about it but this is NOT kid friendly. I repeat NOT kid friendly. There is a lot of filthy and yet wonderful language flying around not to mention the sex scenes and drug use. It is super entertaining though.  I didn't like the main character periodically just because she was pretty nasty and mean at times. I believe the message behind it is to show what a struggle Sophia ( as a young woman of 22) went through trying to find her calling in life and achieving it but this is sometimes a bit overlooked in my opinion.  I actually did Google her afterward because...duh, why wouldn't you?  She published a memoir called #Girlboss that tells all about her founding her eBay store Nasty Gal. I must read it now because Netflix has canceled the show and her comment regarding it implied that she would rather have control over the facts of her career and life anyways.  I am unsure how much is true or false in the series but you will absolutely be glued to the screen. I can definitely appreciate any woman trying to become a self-made business mogul. I am sad that the show has been canceled because there is so much more to the story that the viewers will not get to see.

Side note: Nasty Gal filed bankruptcy in 2016 and was sold to a British company but that didn't slow Amoruso down. She is now the founder and CEO of Girlboss Media

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

***I was granted an ARC of this from NetGalley and Ballantine Del Rey.  All opinions and thoughts are my own honest views.***

The cover on this book was the first thing that drew my attention and then once I read the description I knew I had to read it.  This was a very good book. This is the first book by author Callie Bates and it is a fantastic start.  The book itself is much longer than I had thought ( 32 chapters plus a prologue and epilogue) it would be but it moved at such a steady pace that I hardly noticed.

Lady Elanna was stolen from her home as a very young child in what was a cleverly orchestrated political move.  She is taken because she is Caerisian and her father is key in leading a revolt against a neighboring country.  She is taken to the palace of  Antoine Eyrlai, the King of Eren and her captor.  He raises her for 14 years as if she is his own daughter. She is given all the best in clothing and education and fed lies about her home country. She is 19 and all she wants is to study botany when suddenly her precious King is murdered and she finds herself accused of regicide.  She knows she must escape and somehow the magic that has been lying dormant in her must be awakened to help her.  Suddenly, everything and everyone she knows is being tested. She is aided back to her parents in Caeris but then begins questioning the loyalty of everyone she encounters on her way to fulfilling her destiny as the steward of the land.  This is a story of magic, betrayal, love, hope, change, and finding one's place in the world.

I am giving this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads but only because I found some of the words difficult to pronounce and so it distracted me a bit from the story but overall a solid read.

The Mummy was Awesome!

 I want to start by saying that I was very skeptical about rebooting The Mummy and having Tom Cruise play the lead.  I love the funny versions that Brendan Fraser is in and couldn't imagine anything different being as good.  Once again, I have been proven wrong in the best possible way. This movie did not open to great reviews and I really feel that it has been grossly overlooked.  It is awesome.

The first thing that sort of grabbed my attention was the references I had seen online to Universal starting a series of films that would become part of their "Dark Universe" ( If you want to check it out... I love the idea of a monster-verse. There will be a series of movies to follow that includes Bride of Frankenstein (starring Javier Bardem) , Frankenstein, The Invisible Man ( starring Johnny Depp), Phantom of the Opera, Dracula ( at this point no one has mentioned if Luke Evans will be reprising his role from 2014's Dracula Untold),The Wolf Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It is still early on so some of this may change but how amazing is this plan?!

The Mummy is the first to kick it off and it was a solid start for sure.  It starts with Nick Morton (Cruise) and his partner/friend Chris in the Middle East looking for a hidden antiquity that they can sell on the black market but of course, what they discover is the hidden tomb of  an Egyptian princess that has been purposely removed from history.  The minute Nick enters the tomb he begins feeling a connection to her. The tomb is moved to London where the Mummy rises and unleashes holy terror all over the place.  I will not lie.....I jumped at least 3 different times throughout the film.  There is a surprise I was not prepared for in the form of Dr. Henry Jekyll ( Russell Crowe).  He is the mysterious buyer of the Mummy tomb.  The brief interaction we see in the film between Jekyll and Nick in the mysterious building known as Prodigium is enough to make me super excited by what all may come.  The ending of the movie surprised me a bit as well but I love some good foreshadowing.
This film is action packed from the very beginning and I love how dark and entertaining it is.  This is by far gonna be one of my favorites for quite a while ( sorry Brendan). The Mummy/princess Ahmenet is played by Sofia Boutella whom you may recognize from the movies Atomic Blonde and Street Dance 2.  Jake Johnson ( New Girl/Let's Be Cops) is a familiar face in the role of Chris. Do yourself a favor and go see this one you will not be sorry.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

5 Reasons Why the Wonder Woman Film is a Must See

                                      ***Trailer courtesy of Regal Cinemas and YouTube***

Yes! Yes! Yes! I saw Wonder Woman and I will never be the same.  This is hands down one of the best movies I have seen in forever. I know there are like a million reviews out there on this film so I will not bore you with another one. However, I will break down the things I loved most about it.

1. I love that it opens with Diana having a slightly jaded view of humans in the aftermath of Batman vs. Superman.  She is in Paris in the opening scene and there is an truck clearly labeled Wayne Industries. She then opens a letter from Bruce that includes the very same pic she was trying to steal from him in that movie.

2. Diana is the only child on the island of Themyscira. Her mother reads her a bedtime story that was awesome!! It explained the relationship between the Gods and the Amazons. It also featured a pretty bad ass fight scene of her mother Hippolyta (played perfectly by Connie Nielsen).

3.The fight scenes were AMAZING!!! They go into slow motion at the perfect time and are just breathtaking.

4. Chris Pine is so funny which was an unexpected bonus. I can't imagine a better pick for Steve.  The love story between Diana and Steve is handled very well. It's not the main focus of the movie and their roles are reversed since he is always trying to keep Diana from harm and she is always rushing forward into battle.  

5. Speaking of battle, one of the most powerful scenes in the film to me is when Diana is taken to the front of the war line in her search for Ares. Her and her band of soldiers (a very diverse group of men) are walking through the trenches and she is stopped by a woman and begged to find her family and the rest of the village that have been trapped across the line by enemy forces and free them. She is told by Steve that it is called "No Man's Land" and they will never be able to cross through with out dying.  Diana immediately removes her coat and is in full battle gear.  She grabs her shield and sword and charges forward without a second thought.  She inspires everyone else to follow her and it is fantastic.

There are so many reasons to watch and love this film but if I list them all we would be here for hours and there would be some serious spoiler alerts.  Hats off to Patty Jenkins for bringing us the first female action hero movie. I can hardly wait to see Wonder Woman in action yet again in the Justice League movie. Way to step up your game DC. Marvel may be getting a serious run for their money.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Book vs Series

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I read this amazing book in the Spring of 2015 and I loved everything about it.  The characters created were so memorable and the story was so good I literally couldn't put it down.  I had never read anything by Liane Moriarty before but I saw that my local library had made it their book of the month so I gave it a try.  I was excited and apprehensive all at the same time when I heard HBO was making it into a series.  You just never know how it's going to turn out.  I have seen some great adaptations of books into series or movies ......and some not so great.  The thing that gets under my skin when these adaptations happen is that you can miss out on a lot of great stuff because it got cut  or changed in the process.  I loved this book EXACTLY how it was and so any changes could be awful.  I had nothing to worry about. HBO made this series pretty darn perfect.  
The story revolves around 3 women and their lives and friendship.  Madeline Martha Mackenzie (played by Reese Witherspoon) is on marriage #2.  She is funny and pretty passionate about almost everything.  Her oldest daughter is a very moody teenager who suddenly starts spending more time with her Dad and his new, very young, yoga loving wife and their daughter.  Did I mention that the Ex's youngest is in the same class as Madeline and her new husband's daughter? Talk about awkward!
Jane Australia ( Shailene Woodley) and her son Ziggy have just moved to the town and because she is so young she actually gets mistaken for a nanny.  She is a single mom and she doesn't talk much about her past or Ziggy's dad but she always seems on edge.  There is a mishap on the way to orientation day at the school and she finds herself befriended and defended by Madeline.  Jane meets Madeline's other friend Celeste Wright and the 3 click right away. Celeste ( Nicole Kidman) and her husband make a stunning couple.  They are literally the talk of the school because of the way they seem to still be so in love after all the time they have been together.  Celeste has twin boys that are very rambunctious and as such seem to keep her pretty busy. She may seem like she has the perfect life from the outside but it is nothing like people expect.
The story covers a lot of topics from abuse, bullying, murder, and more. I can not say enough good things about either the book or the show. Read it, watch it, do both!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review of Snatched featuring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn

I love the Spring/Summer weather. I really, really do. I hate the seasonal allergies that come with change in weather and as such have been out of commission for a full week.  I even had to cave this time and go to the doctor and get prescription strength pills and nasal spray. Yuck! There was some serious down time for me so I caught up on all the shows I haven't been able to see.  It also gave me a chance to make a list of the movies I have watched and neglected to post about.  First up is Snatched.

Santched stars Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer.  It was released around Mother's Day and I was pretty excited to see it.  I love both of these ladies because they are just so freaking funny.  The story is about Emily Middleton (Schumer) getting dumped pretty publicly by her boyfriend before their big vacation out of the country.  Emily decides she still wants to go and convinces her mother Linda (Hawn) to be her plus 1.  Once they arrive at the resort they meet 2 other Americans played by Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes who advise them to be careful because of the known cases of kidnapping that happen in the country. Linda's idea of a good vacation is to curl up poolside, fully clothed, covered in sunblock while reading her cat stories.  Emily ends up meeting a cute guy at the bar and they spend the whole night dancing and drinking.  He invites Emily to bring Linda and they can join him the next day on a countryside tour.  This leads to the ladies being kidnapped and the only person that can be asked to pay the ransom is Emily's brother who lives with Linda and never goes outside.  The movie ends on a good note with everyone safely getting rescued.  I had some pretty high hopes for this film and was sadly disappointed.  I really didn't care for it that much.  Don't get me wrong there were a few very funny parts but mostly thanks to Goldie Hawn's character.  I wanted to see more comedy and less boring  moments.  I would say this was a 3 out of 5 possible star for me.                                                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

10 Reasons Why I Loved Kong: Skull Island

 I know that Kong: Skull Island did not get the best reviews. I read a lot of different reviews before making my decision to see it.  I was not disappointed in the least. Everyone in my house actually agreed that it was a great movie and was vastly underappreciated.  I want to share my top 10 reasons for why I loved this movie and would recommend others watch it.

Here we go:

1. This King Kong was larger than any of the others in the last several remakes.  (At approx. 104' he is freaking huge.)

2. Samuel L. Jackson as a bad guy. (Need I say more?)

3. The same producers as Godzilla, which I also loved.

4. John C. Reilly is awesome!

5. It is more like monster movies of old.

6. It contains a government cover-up ( Monarch) that hid the original discovery of Kong.

7. The actual moment when you realize that all Kong wants is to protect his island and be left alone

8. The other larger than life monsters that Kong has to fight.

9. The fact that Kong is not even fully grown in this movie.

10. The hidden scene at the end that eludes to other monster movies in the works. Legendary films may be starting its own franchise with a shared universe (MonsterVerse) like Marvel and DC. (ie: Mothra, Godzilla, Rodan, etc).

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Party by Robyn Harding

Jeff and Kim Sanders are the epitome of wealth.  They live in an affluent neighborhood in San Francisco. They have the perfect life from the outside. They have a far from perfect life. Kim works from home in advertising and is having a pretty serious flirtation with a co-worker. Jeff has a very high profile job and when he isn't working he is training for a triathlon.  The couple only seem to communicate when it involves their two children.  Their oldest, Hannah, is turning sixteen and to celebrate they are allowing her to have a party with a few of her friends.  This one night turns everyone's life upside down.  Nothing will ever be the same after Hannah's party.  There is a terrible accident that leads to the truth coming out about the Sanders and their not so perfect marriage.  Friendships and people are damaged beyond repair.

This book tackles a lot of difficult subjects.  There is bullying (physical and cyber), drug use, under age drinking, infidelity, and absent parents.  The book is listed as YA and I wasn't sure what to expect but it was very well written. It caught my attention right from page 1 and held it so well that I read it all in one sitting.  **I did request this as an ARC from NetGalley and all opinions in this review are my own honest thoughts.**

This is hitting the market officially tomorrow and you can purchase it from your favorite retailer. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

13 Reasons Why...My Thoughts

This is a new type of post that I will be having from time to time.  It's all about books made into movies or shows.  This is something that Hollywood has always done but it seems like there are so many more books being made into films these days.  I had been hearing from friends all about this book by Jay Asher for quite awhile.  I admit that I was only mildly interested because the way it was described to me was as a YA book that focuses on bullying in high school.  The subject itself did seem like a good idea but I couldn't get myself motivated to read it and it didn't help that the local bookstore didn't carry it.  Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I hear that Netflix had picked it up and planned to feature it as a series and the executive producer was none other than Selena Gomez.  Since Netflix is one of my favorite things in life there was no way I wasn't going to watch it and see what all the hype was about.

Typically I will be reading the book in addition to viewing the movie or show based on it but this time around I haven't read the book ......yet.  The season has 14 episodes that run about an hour each.  The story is based around Hannah Baker and her mysterious suicide.  It opens with Clay Jensen coming home from school and finding a box with his name on it just sitting on his doorstep.  He quickly realizes that inside are 13 tapes from Hannah that were recorded 2 weeks earlier just before her suicide. Clay was one of the first friends she made when she moved to the town. She was his crush and he is still reeling from the fact that she is no longer around.  He opens the box and finds a map of the town with various places highlighted on it.  Clay listens to the first part of tape 1 and finds out that Hannah felt there were 13 reasons why she took her own life and Clay is one of them.  She says in order for him to find out why he must listens to all the tapes and visit all the places on the map. He begins working his way through the tapes and the viewer along side Clay has first hand knowledge of life from Hannah's perspective.  My daughter (she's a Junior in HS) watched the series together all in one sitting. all I had as an initial reaction. There are some pretty graphic scenes that I would not recommend for younger viewers but it is something I would recommend parents and teenagers alike to watch.  The story is so haunting.  It sheds light on the very real bullying epidemic that happens these days and how social media has amplified it.  This sends a powerful message to anyone who watches it especially teenagers. My daughter's Dad and I have always been very involved with any sort of online/social media interactions she has and we try to keep the lines of communication open with her in the hopes that we can show her how to make smart choices.  This series forced us to have some pretty difficult conversations with her but it needed to happen.  It also opened up several discussions between her and her friends that watched the series as well.

I have read that there will be a season 2 coming at some point and I will be front and center for that. I can't say enough about how well done this series was.  The actors and actresses in the show tackled some pretty heavy stuff and done an amazing job.  This is a 5 out of 5 stars for me.