Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Film Review: Beauty and the Beast


Beauty and the Beast Film Review by Lauren

I purchased the ticket to see the film; all opinions are my own

To be honest, Beauty and the Beast has never been one of my favorite Disney animated films. I always related to Belle and her love of books though. When I heard the film was going to be turned into a live-action movie and that Emma Watson would be playing Belle, I immediately knew I had to see it! This past Saturday I was finally able to watch the movie, after what seemed like years of waiting, with my mom and sister. By the time the credits rolled - and they are really cool looking credits - all three of us knew that we'd fallen in love with the story of Beauty and her Beast. I thought the acting was done well, and I loved all the songs. I'm a big musical fan so it was exciting to see mostly real people sing these beloved songs, including a few new ones that really added to the film! I especially loved the song that the Beast sings alone. It really makes you feel for the guy beneath the rough exterior. Dan Stevens did a great job as the Beast. It can't be easy to play that role, and I know he had to do a lot to bring the character to life, such as learning to use stilts. As for Emma, I thought she made a lovely Belle. She was smart and eccentric, and always a genuinely nice person. I thought her singing was lovely and I liked that it sounded like her - it made her seem young and approachable, like Beauty should be in my opinion.

T sets were just breath taking and I love that they actually created these rooms. I'm sure it really helped bring the whole world to life for the actors. The costumes were wonderful - matching the animated film without being corny. As for the secondary characters, I thought everyone was perfectly cast. Luke Evans was a handsome, yet overly irritating (in all the right ways) Gaston and his companion, LeFou was wonderfully played by Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf). If you heard any of the press surrounding the film, then you already know that LeFou was going to be shown as openly gay in the film and that this upset a lot of people. I thought it was great that Disney was going to finally have an openly gay character, but I understand the criticism that LeFou wasn't "one of the good guys" so to speak or that he was a stereotypical gay man. I can't speak for everyone, of course, but after seeing the movie, I believe that Josh and the film's creators did the character of LeFou well and made his character - gay or otherwise - one to rejoice! 

Finally, I have to mention the castle's inhabitants. In an animated film, it's easy to have a singing/talking tea pot and candlestick, but when bringing these elements in a live-action film, it's easy to see it being done wrong or coming across as corny. However, I think Beauty and the Beast did a great job. All of these characters felt and seemed like people, yet still containing their distinct look of a clock or dresser drawers. The voices for these characters were also fantastic additions to the cast and who included many people I love like Emma Thompson and Ewan McGregor. 

Beauty and the Beast was a fantastic addition to the Disney canon and it's one I'll definitely buy on DVD for my personal collection! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: You're Welcome...Queens of Geek


Rainbow Roundup is where I share LGBT+ book reviews and posts. If you ever want me to share something from your blog, let me know!

Jo's Book Blog reviewed We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (YA)

Sparkling Letter reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (YA)

Jo's Book Blog also reviewed At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA)

Novel Ink reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Crushing cinders reviewed The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (MC's father is gay)

YA Bibliophile reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (MC has two moms)

In Bed With Books reviewed Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (YA)

Writing My Own Fairy Tale reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon


Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEx–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.  
When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it's the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.  
The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer's twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.
Review: This is the third book in the All's Fair series. For whatever reason, I must not have realized this when I requested the book from Netgalley as I have not read the previous two. Regardless, I think you can read Fair Chance on its own and still follow the story just fine. I might have to go back and read the first two at some point though, as I really do like Josh Lanyon's writing.

Anyway, back to Fair Chance! Elliot Mills is an Ex-FBI agent who is still stuck in the midst of a case as the serial killer he helped catch, while in jail now, is still toying with him. The Sculptor won't talk to anyone but Elliot, and when Elliot goes to visit him in jail, he's given information that may or may not be true, but if it is true? It changes the game...and not in any way the FBI is happy about.

Special Agent Tucker Lance is Elliot's partner and none too thrilled that Elliot is still involved in the case. He wants him to be separate from all of this. However, when Tucker ends up going missing, Elliot is determined to do everything he can to figure out just where Tucker went and if it's at all connected to The Sculptor.

This was an exciting read with plenty of suspense and mystery. I thought I had an idea of what was happening, but then new information was revealed and things change again. I love this in a good mystery! It keeps the reader on their toes and that's never a bad thing. I thought the characters were well-rounded and wonderfully written. It was easy to get into Elliot's head and feel his fears and emotions, especially when Tucker goes missing.

While this book is mostly a mystery, there is a bit of romance and it all balances itself out well. Definitely recommended!

Want to read? I'm an amazon affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale. Check out Fair Chance in print or as an e-copy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon



Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAs an agent with the CIA’s special activities division, Seth Lang lives for risk—and yet he’s stuck playing bodyguard to the U.S. consul general in Munich. Although Seth’s last assignment nearly killed him, babysitting some desk jockey in a suit sounds way too easy. But when he lays eyes on the new top man, tactical expert Rick Fine, Seth’s thrilled to see just how hard this job is going to get. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Quiet has a body worth guarding—and he requires hands-on attention day and night.
 
Dispatched to a German consulate to expose the murder of his predecessor, Rick finds himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He needs a man like Seth—in so many ways. This mission will inevitably plunge them both into jeopardy, but each new threat only brings them closer. Rick just hopes that he can keep his deepest, darkest secret hidden—or else risk imperiling a relationship they’re both fighting for their lives to protect.


Review: Guarding Mr. Fine is the third book in the Tough Love series, and while I've loved them all, I think this might be my favorite. I just loved the relationship between Rick and Seth. There is a big secret that involves both of them - which only Rick is aware of - but it's a secret that makes sense to be kept, at least while the mission is happening. It adds drama to the end of the book, but nothing unwarranted or too over the top.

As for the rest of the book, this is essentially a mystery novel, and I loved that. Sure, it has plenty of romance, but it also has suspense and intrigue. Rick is sure that the former ambassador to Germany was involved in something shady and that his death is more than a suicide. He has to keep this theory mostly a secret though, so that if something is going on, they aren't spooked and hide away. It soon becomes clear that Rick is correct as someone tries to take Rick out. They don't know Seth though. He's been in the CIA for years and he's an excellent "body guard." He may have feelings for Rick, but that doesn't distract Seth. It might just make him more determined to bring down whoever would dare kill Rick.

Definitely a great read! I'll include links to the other books in the series below in case you want to read in order!

Check out the Tough Love series on Amazon - I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale.

Mr. and Mr. Smith - check it out
The Talented Mr. Rivers - check it out
Guarding Mr. Fine - check it out 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Working It by Christine D'Abo


Working It by Christine D'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.
 


Review: Oh, I really loved this one! I really loved Nolan and Zack. They both have issues they are working through -Nolan has extreme anxiety attacks and Zack has a definite attitude/anger issue - but these aren't things they are willing to let hold them back. When Nolan gets the job as Zack's assistant, he's determined to do the best he can and show his sister that he can make it on his own. As for Zack, his surly demeanor has obviously started to change after working with Nolan.

Working It is essentially a story of moving forward after tragedy, finding a reason to change your life, and going after one's dreams. Since Zack is essentially Nolan's boss, he knows that he shouldn't start anything with him, but he can't help but be drawn to him. I'm a big fan of drama in books and relationships as long as it's not drawn out by not talking or is something completely unrealistic. I thought the drama was done really well in this book and it just made me root harder for Zack and Nolan to be with each other, and to have their future be what they always imagined. I do recommend, and I'm curious to read the second book in this series!

Want to read? Check it out on Amazon, where I'm an affiliate and get a small percent of any sale.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen


Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.


Review: Block and Strike was a really good read, full of emotion and even a little suspense. I liked that both of the main characters had heartache and drama in their past but they didn't let that define their future. They both worked hard to make things better for themselves. With this inner strength, they were also able to be there for each other when needed. They didn't fix each other, but they were able to help each other a great deal.

Jacob is fresh out of prison for something he'll always regret, but he has a fairly sunny disposition. He's a hard worker and while he has anger problems, he's working on them. As for Max, he's had a rough life and a prickly exterior, but there is definitely more to him below the surface. Meeting Jacob helps him slowly come into his confidence, and it was really great to see!

This book features various secondary friends and family members that just added to the overall story. Max and Jacob aren't living in the void - there are people around them that care a great deal. I loved the emotion in this one too. It brings you into the story, and you end up caring very deeply for these men. You want them to get a happily ever after - together or apart. Definitely a good one!

Want to check it out on Amazon? I'm an affiliate, so I get a small percent of any sale.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sound Proof by C.A. Blocke


Sound Proof by C.A. Blocke

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen Chris is unceremoniously dumped by his longtime girlfriend, his best friend Thomas picks up the pieces and remind there's more to life than his lost relationship. In the process of letting go of a relationship that wasn't what he thought, Chris slowly comes to realize that everything he's ever wanted may have been right beneath his nose the whole time…

Review: First off, this isn't a gay for you novel, so you're worried about that, don't be. Chris is actually bisexual and he's hooked up with his best friend Thomas years before when they first met. However, when he's dumped by his longtime girlfriend, feelings start to come up between the two again. I didn't hate this one but it definitely wasn't my favorite book. I could say things moved quick, but with their history, it wasn't too bad. I suppose the book is more of a novella than a full-length novel too, so that aspect didn't really help things feel realistic either. I did find Thomas' main job interesting - he does voice over, so that includes anime and audio books and reading a bit about that was cool. I'm not really sure what I'd rate this one, if I was going to rate it, but let's just say it was more of a miss than a hit for me.

If you're interested, though, you can check it out on Amazon. I get a small percent of any sale, as I'm an affiliate.