Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - My TIFF Choices

Fall film festival has begun. The Venice Film Festival is happening this week and TIFF is just around the corner. I had talked about some of the titles being showcased at TIFF that caught my eye when the first part of the schedule was revealed. The entire schedule has now been revealed so I figured I would share my top five movies that I would want to see at TIFF this year.

You can see the full list of movies that are being showcased and the schedule by visiting the TIFF website.

My choices for the five movies I would most like to see at TIFF:

1. Marriage Story

Marriage Story stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and tells the story of a marriage falling apart. There is quite a bit of buzz about this one and the dual his/her trailers are amazing.

2. Lucy In The Sky

This movie is, rumouredly, loosely based on a true story. Astronaut Lisa Nowak is who Natalie Portman's character is apparently based on. Lisa was charged with assaulting another woman who was the girlfriend of a man Lisa had an affair with.  Natalie's performance, based solely on the trailer, looks incredible.

3. Judy

This seems like a very straightforward biopic but Renee is giving what appears to be a noteworthy performance. I also am excited to see Finn Wittrock in something different than what he usually gets to do with Ryan Murphy. I am really hoping for this to be good.

4. Joker

Rumour is that Joaquin Phoenix is going to blow everyone away with his performance in this movie. It certainly doesn't look like the usual comic book fare. It seems to have more in common with King of Comedy or Falling Down than any Batman movie I've seen. It certainly looks like Joaquin is giving a mesmerizing performance. I am mainly curious as to what comic book fans are going to think of this highly unusual, and perhaps Oscar worthy, comic book movie.

5. Knives Out

This murder mystery looks like it is going to be a ton of fun. It may end up being the more popcorn fare that is counter programming to all of the Oscar releases that normally pepper November. It will probably end up being perfect Thanksgiving watching for people visiting their parents. Chris Evans looks to be having a blast! I love every scene of his in this trailer. 

What movies that are being shown at TIFF would you most want to be able to see if you could attend the festival? Let me know in the comments. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday .... Chosen

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Chosen by Kiersten White

** Spoilers for Slayer**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right? 

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my all time favourite shows. I was originally hesitant to read the first book in this series but I ended up loving it a lot. It's a perfect blend of nostalgia and something new.

I am now excited to see where Nina's journey takes her (and hopefully see more of her and Leo) next and what other cameos may happen in this sequel.

Expected release date - January 7, 2020

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date - June 25, 2019
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books/Bloomsbury
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship...

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?
You never know what someone might be struggling with or facing behind the persona they present in public. There is always more to the story than the rumours that swirl, and the truth is usually different than you think it is. Call It What You Want To looks at the ways in which we don't really see others, the ways in which we hide things from others, and how our mistakes don't need to define who we are.

Rob and Maegan, much like all of Kemmerer's other characters, are complex and authentic. They are, for me, a perfect example of what characters in a young adult novel should feel like. They are dealing with issues and problems that are just as complex as they are and that radiates through the characterization. There isn't a perfect solution or answer to the things they are facing. There is no right way to act in their situations and that makes for some interesting, and dynamic relationships. Even though they are going through some pretty adult circumstances these characters always feel like the teenagers they are. They cannot do this alone and that is evident throughout the entire book. There are adults who are there to help them. It was nice to see teen characters not having to deal with everything on their own.

This is about that is partially about mistakes and the ways in which they can define us, but also how the perception of others defines us. Rob's painted with the actions of his father and begins to act out to become what everyone says he is. Maegan made a mistake and is dealing with how it changed people's perspective of her and carrying that with her going forward. It paints these characters and their actions as neither good nor bad. It's this murky middle ground where things are not so easily definable and that resonates into the entire premise of the story.

The theme of things not being black and white weaves itself into all the side characters as well. There are a few characters who could have been cliches. They could have easily been one note villains but care was taken to show them as just as complex and layered as the story around them. People are not all one thing and sometimes perspective matters. The book asks if you can do the wrong thing for the right reason and that is integral to a lot of the plot within these pages. Plenty of the plot points are things that feel like they should have a definitive right or wrong answer, and we are continuously reminded that life doesn't always work that way. Things can be messy and there are varying degrees to things. The book really embraces those nuances and looks at all angles of a situation rather than just presenting it one way.

This could be a book that had an issue with too much going on. There is a lot to unpack here from the aftermath of an attempted suicide, an embezzlement scandal, bullying, teen pregnancy, and academic cheating. It could have easily gone into a territory where it felt too crowded, or unrealistic that it would all be contained within this one story. Kemmerer's writing, however, meshes it together perfectly. Each of these situations is nuanced and layered in a way that make them feel entirely believable.

Those who have read Kemmerer's other contemporary novels will absolutely love this one, as will those who are just reading her for the first time. Her contemporary novels nail a realistic, complex feel that comes naturally. I highly recommend any of her books, but particularly suggest her contemporary to those who love the genre.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Sunday post this week thanks to a really quick trip to Orlando. I am probably behind on so many things but here is what is making me excited this week.


A Marriage Story Trailers And Posters

This movie already had Oscar buzz before the release of the trailers but after watching both of these I think it might be warranted.

This is a story of a marriage crumbling and these trailers managed to make me invested in these characters. I also love the 'his and hers' marketing that they are doing for this.

Along with  these two trailers we get two movie posters that compliment each other. These seem to reflect a west coast / east coast vibe. Nicole is California and Charlie is New York, maybe?

I love the colour palette used for these two posters. They both invoke a specific feeling and I imagine that is going to come into play in the movie as well. It's high up on my list of movies to check out during Oscar season.

El Camino Trailer

I am both excited for and terrified of this movie being a thing. I loved Breaking Bad. It is easily one of my top five television shows EVER. Jesse Pinkman remains one of my favourite characters from a television show. I am one of those people who think that revivals/continuations/etc are a double edged sword. You are getting more of something you love BUT it has a high chance of being disappointing or ruining what you loved so much about the show in question

This trailer seems like it is going to answer the question of what happened to Jesse Pinkman after the events of Breaking Bad and I have such a detailed head cannon of what I wanted for that character that I am probably going to be disappointed in anything else (he better have kept driving that car all the way to Alaska and became a carpenter). I do, however, trust Vince Gilligan and the rest of his team to create something amazing. We'll see how it all plays out but I really don't want Jesse Pinkman to suffer anymore, he did that enough.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Mini Hiatus

I am off to Orlando for a few days to visit Universal Studios with family so that means a mini hiatus from the blog.

Regular posts will resume next week but you can expect a Weekly Obsessions post this weekend (Sunday most likely).

Hope everyone has a good rest of the week!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... Yes No Maybe So

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance. 

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely. 
Becky Albertalli always writes really cute and adorable books. I have pretty much loved everything I have read from her so I was immediately interested in checking out what her new co-written book is about. I haven't read anything from Aisha Saeed yet but I am excited to discover her style and how her and Becky's writing meshes together.

The premise sounds really adorable and it'll be out just in time to read for Valentine's Day.

Expected release date - February 4, 2020

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Another Sunday post. A lot of trailers to share this week and a new podcast that I am absolutely loving.

I binged the second season of Mindhunter and absolutely loved it. I am debating reviewing it so you might see one on here next week.

Speaking of next week... this might be a little sparse as I am heading to Orlando for two days and it is going to be a quick, packed week but I am going to do my best to have regular posts on the blog.


Trailer For Little Women

This trailer had been much anticipated by fans of not just the actors involved but Greta Gerwig as well. It was finally released and was well worth the wait.

Those who are fans of Little Women seems to really love the trailer. I was certainly charmed by it and cannot wait to go see this. As long as it is showing in Ottawa on Boxing Day I think that is going to be how I spend the afternoon after Christmas.

Trailer For Last Christmas

This trailer certainly garnered a lot of discussion on Twitter for various reasons. I'll let you watch it before getting into my thoughts.


So I have a specific theory about Henry Golding's character and none of them are indicative of a happy ending for this movie. I wanted a cute holiday rom-com and I think we're getting something else entirely. I am pretty sure it is going to have more in common with It's A Wonderful Life than people were anticipating. The script was apparently inspired by the Wham! song Last Christmas.  Unrelated side note - how charming is Henry Golding in this?!

Last Christmas Poster

The poster for Last Christmas was also revealed and it's super cute. It makes me wish we were getting the rom-com I wanted this to be.

The tag line makes me even more convinced we're getting something more in line with It's A Wonderful Life.


Lover By Taylor Swift

Taylor released another song from her upcoming album and it is PERFECTION. It is romantic, and sweet and exactly what I hoped this album would have on it.

It's got some amazing lyrics but these may just be my favourite:
And there's a dazzling haze, a mysterious way about you, dear
Have I known you 20 seconds or 20 years?
They capture so perfectly the kind of connection people want to have. It's a beautiful song.

You Must Remember This Podcast (link)

I came across this podcast after having it recommended to me and I am absolutely obsessed. It's a podcast that tells the 'secret or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century' as the host, Karina Longworth, explains at the opening of every episode

Anyone who is into Hollywood, particularly classic Hollywood, should listen to this. It's well researched, well presented and edited, and entirely entertaining. It's made me want to watch some of the movies discussed, read some of the books mentioned, and dive deeper into stories being told.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Books I Cannot Wait To Read This Fall

How is it almost the end of August? This summer seems to have flown by. We're about two weeks away from the end of the month and with it comes my favourite time of year. I cannot wait for cozy blankets, pumpkin spice everything, beautifully coloured leaves, and sweater weather. It's honestly my favourite season and for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons is that it is the best time for amazing books, movies, and television. We're typically treated to an abundance of goodness during this time from all of our entertainment sources and I cannot wait to dive in.

There are some books that I already have on my radar and that I think should be on your radar too! I am going to share the ten that I am, perhaps, the most excited about.

1 The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

New Orleans, vampires, and a murder mystery. Enough said but throw in the fact that it is also a historically set novel and I am fully on board. I am so glad that vampires seem to be making a comeback and cannot wait to see Renee's take on them.

2 Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The fact that this is written by Leigh Bardugo is kind of enough for me to want to read this one. That is also happens to be her adult debut is just icing on the already tempting cake. This one is about secret societies, the occult, and what seems like possible supernatural/paranormal components (if I hear correctly). It is basically perfect for October.

3 American Royals by Katharine McGee

What if instead of a President America had their own version of royalty? That is the exact premise of this new book from Katharine McGee. Her books usually have a lot fun drama, and some great twists. It'll be perfect for those wanting to offset all the horror, and spooky entertainment on offer during the season.

4 The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

A romance novel with the fantastic premise of a guy joining an all male romance reading book club in an attempt to save his failing marriage. It sounds funny, fun, and entirely unique.

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

A forbidden romance between a witch and a witch hunter was the big draw to this book for me. It also doesn't hurt that this will be perfect for Halloween with witches and magic taking the main focus.

6 Crier's War by Nina Varela

Automae have risen against their human owner's and humans now serve them. Naturally an Automae and a human are falling in love and a rebellion/war might be brewing. This sounds like a fantastic start to a series that could be filled with action, adventure, and romance.

7 Capturing The Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

The final installment in the Stalking Jack The Ripper series that is basically made for the Halloween season. This one take some true crime inspiration in the form of H. H. Holmes and offers up a Chicago setting this time.

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

This series takes famous rom-coms and gives them a twist. This is inspired by "How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days" and is the start of a series of companion novels. It sound fun and again offers something for those not into all of the spooky stuff on offer during this time period.

9 Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

I have loved all of Jasmine Guillory's other books and I am confident that this is going to be no exception. A story of a woman who goes with her daughter (who we've met in previous books) to Europe for a work trip and ends up falling for the private secretary for the royal family is sure to be the perfect way to end a day of holiday shopping. I cannot wait to read this and get into the holiday spirit.

10 Disgraceland: Musicians Getting Away With Murder and Behaving Very Badly by Jake Brennan

I love the Disgraceland podcast and this book that will look at both musicians covered on the podcast and those haven't been is going to be perfect for anyone interested in true crime. Jake's writing is so good on the podcast that I have no doubts this is going to be amazing.

What books are you most excited to read this fall? Any of mine make your own list? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... Anna K

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I also realize it is Thursday but this did not post properly yesterday and I wanted to make sure I shared it. Sorry for the delay.

This week's pick is Anna K by Jenny Lee

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna's brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Story is a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy's timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.
I have another retelling to share today! This time it is a retelling of Anna Karenina that comes with a fun cover and a delightful synopsis. I love the more modern take and the New York setting.

This book doesn't release until March so we have a bit of wait, but I expect it'll be perfect to bring on those winter breaks.

Expected release date - March 3, 2020

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen

Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen
Release Date - August 13, 2019
Publisher Website - Sourcebooks / Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common―they didn't have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You'll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You'll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara's pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools―and the rules―to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you've read before.
This is a story of a true crime journalist who went from reporting on unsolved cases to helping solve them. Anyone who has a interest in true crime has probably heard the name Billy Jensen before. Maybe it is from his work helping to finish the brilliant Michelle McNamara's book on the Golden State Killer, or perhaps you are a Muderino and know of him thanks to Karen and Georgia, or perhaps you are familiar with his work on Crime Watch Daily.  The point is that he, obviously, has a lot of experience. It is this experience combined with his passion that makes Chase Darkness With Me so compelling.

The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the voice. There is a fair amount of humour mixed in and I feel like the reader really gets a sense for who Billy is. If you listen to his podcast, The Murder Squad, you'll immediately notice that Billy writes like he talks. This is someone confident in his voice as a writer and that makes for a strong read.

There is also an empathy that steeps out of the pages of this book. Billy is a man who cares deeply about the victims and the loved ones trying to get answers. You get the impression that some of these cases haunt him because of how much he cares. Any voyeristic or sensational tendencies that true crime tends to lean to are stripped away.

Billy takes the reader through various cases he has worked on and the different methods he used to try to solve them. Most fascinating is the way that Billy uses targeted ads to help solve cases. The same algorithms and technology that helps companies target potential customers is also being used to get particular details about a crime in front of the right people.

It's a must read for anyone with an interest in the true crime genre and entirely different from most of the books you would have read. It's a fascinating, and engaging, look at the good one man tries to do and the cases he's helped solve in a way that shines a light on how we look at and discuss true crime. It highlights the work that still needs to be done and gives the reader to tools to safely, effectively, and most important, ethically help if they so wish.

Billy has said before that the villains in true crime are so often the focus because they are larger than life but we need to shine a light on the heroes. He's pointed to Paul Holes as one such hero. I suspect that Billy would be too modest to consider himself to be among the heroes but this book proves exactly that. Billy's passion, dedication, and drive to help not just solve unsolved cases, but to also be an advocate for victims everywhere makes him one in my opinion. Thank you, Billy for not only striving to make the world a little bit safer but for being a voice for the voiceless.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Mindhunter season two releases on August 16th and that is pretty much all I care about right now (other than Succession returning this weekend for its second season).


Mindhunter Season Two Trailers

Netflix has released both a teaser and full length trailer for the upcoming second season.  Both are incredible and only make me want to watch the next season immediately.

I especially love our first looks at some of the new serial killers being interviewed. This show's casting is always spot on when it comes to the interview subjects.

I was particularly glad to see Cameron Britton back as Ed Kemper. He and Holden are going to have lots to discuss after that first season finale.

Succession Season Two Trailer

Succession is returning this weekend and I could not be more happy. I was late to season one and didn't watch it until after the season had already aired so I am excited to be part of the conversation each week for this season.

Everyone in this show is horrible. I have seen it described as Game of Thrones in boardrooms but everyone is a Lannister and that is pretty accurate. 

The finale of season one was bananas in the best possible way so I am excited to see where the story goes in season two. I am laughing already at the Cousin Greg and Tom scene. I also look forward to see Kieran Culkin deliver another amazing performance (still bitter that he is not up for an Emmy this year).

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Transcend by Jewel E. Ann

Transcend by Jewel E. Ann
Release Date - March 2, 2018
Author Website - Jewel E Ann
Author Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**borrowed from a friend**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
“In another life, she was my forever.”

An unexpected tragedy leaves Professor Nathaniel Hunt a widower alone with a newborn baby.

He hires a nanny. She’s young, but well-qualified, with a simple life, a crazy name obsession, and a boyfriend she met at the grocery store.

Over time, he discovers she knows things about him—things that happened before she was born—like a hidden scar on his head, his favorite pizza, and how he cheated on a high school Spanish test.

She speaks familiar words and shares haunting memories that take him back to over two decades earlier when he lost his best friend in a tragic accident.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when you realize I’m not her.”

Transcend is a sexy, mind-bending journey that uncovers possibilities, challenges beliefs, and begets the age-old question: is there life after death?
Reading Transcend feels a lot like being on a rollercoaster. An emotional one that is. It offers a book that is a perfect mix of emotionally draining and exhilarating. It is the kind of book you feel as you are reading it.

This is also the kind of book I recommend going in as blind as possible about. It's the type of book that is best experienced along with the characters. The emotional impact will be the most felt that way and the story will resonate more.

The writing feels effortless and ensures that you are pulled into the story and that the emotional beats resonate as much as they do. It is one of those books you cannot put down and that is due largely in part to the writing.

I adore all of the characters for different reasons. They all resonated with me in some way. The author gave them all room to be flawed, realistic characters who make decisions the readers are not always going to agree with while ensuring we understood them.  Swayze and Griffen are both still pretty young and Nate is in the midst of grief that just seems to continuously open old hurts and pile them on top of each other. They are all going to make mistakes and flounder a bit, especially as things unravel.

The relationships are the heart of this novel in so many ways  Swayze's relationship with Griffen. Her relationship with Nate. Nate's relationship with Daisy. All of these are swirling and creating this atmosphere where the tension keeps building to the point you are breathlessly waiting for something to break it. You end up caring about all of these characters and that makes this read all the more bittersweet because you know heartbreak is all that is in store.

Those who are not fans of the love triangle will want to beware. Transcend certainly is setting up one of the more complex, conflicting, and discussion worthy triangles that I have ever experienced. It is what I consider a love triangle done right and authors who want to pull off a successful one in their own books should take notes. I have a feeling it is only going to break my heart but I cannot wait to see all of the relationships progress in the next book. Both guys are worthy for different reasons and the supernatural-ish element of the story adds a complication to one of the pairings that, for me, only makes the story more interesting.

The ending offers a cliffhanger that will leave you breathlessly scrambling to pick up the sequel to get the answers to the million questions you'll undoubtedly have. It also sets up the sequel to be just as emotional and dynamic as the first.

It's a sexy, beautifully written, thought provoking read that I entirely fell into. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves intense, romantic reads that, possibly, have a hint of supernatural in them. Just make sure you have the sequel on hand because I am not kidding about that need-to-know-yesterday cliffhanger ending.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... Of Curses and Kisses

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can't shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.
This Beauty and the Beast retelling captured my attention for obvious reasons. I not only love fairytale retellings but this one also happens to be set in an international boarding school! This is going to be a series that features different fairytales from what I understand and I am excited that Beauty and the Beast is first.

This one doesn't come out until February but it'll be the perfect way to spending an evening right after Valentine's Day.

Expected release date - February 18, 2020

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Rating: R (USA)/ 14A (Canada)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Language: English

Length:  159 minutes

Cast: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie

Viewing Method: Regular Screening

Release Date: July 26, 2019

Synopsis: Quentin Tarantino's ninth feature film is a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), former star of a western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don't recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor...Sharon Tate.


My interest in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood should really surprise nobody. It connects my love of Hollywood with my fascination with true crime. There were many things that led to the end of the 1960's era of peace, free love, and flower power and the Manson murders are definitely on that list. Tarantino's latest uses a Hollywood on the cusp of change as its backdrop and delivers a standard Tarntino movie in the process.

The performances of both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are the stand out in the film. Brad, as Cliff Booth, is all effortless cool and charm circa Brad in Thelma and Louise. He reminds you why he is a bonafide movie star. It is a fun, enjoyable to watch performance that has a Best Supporting Actor nomination written all over it.

DiCaprio's Rick Dalton is just as strong with DiCaprio giving a more vulnerable performance than I have seen from him in a while. Dalton is an actor looking at the brightest moments of their career being behind them and DiCaprio taps into the razor's edge the character is on emotion wise perfectly. We see Dalton's insecurities reflected in one of my favourite Sharon Tate moments. We see Robbie's Tate's watching one of her movies with a crowd of people in theatre. The delight that registers as people react positively to her performance is a moment that lingers. It hammers home that both of these actors are worried about their appeal to audiences and how they are perceived.

The chemistry between Cliff and Rick is a testament to how well Pitt and DiCaprio play off one another. I would easily watch these two together in another movie. It wasn't a pairing that immediately came to mind when thinking of who I would like to see together on screen but they work extremely well together as these characters.

I, like many who are interested in true crime, have experienced the Manson murders told in many different formats and from just as many perspectives. Tarantino's version is the first in which I feel that I actually got to know Sharon Tate. It is certainly the first that focuses on her life rather than her horrific death. Margot Robbie is criminally underused but the movie makes you love her Sharon. She's incandescent and filled with joy. She is a sweet, luminous presence that takes back some of her narrative. Charles Manson is a footnote in this movie, barely worth a mention. This is Tarantino saying that Manson doesn't get to be the focus. It is Sharon's turn (and Jay's, and Abigail's and etc) to be the focus. This is, perhaps, the most refreshing aspect of this story. We got to see Sharon just living her life, blissfully happy, and I cannot express how much that matters.

This movie is filled with a bunch of actors playing small parts and many of them stood out for various reasons. Dakota Fanning is terrifying as Squeaky Fromme. Margret Qualley offers a memorable performance as Pussycat. Austin Butler made me really excited to see what else he can do after his role as Tex Watson. These are just some of the few memorable 'cameos' from the movie. One of my favourite parts of a Tarantino movie is seeing all of the big names that pop up in small roles and this one definitely doesn't disappoint. It is even, dare I say, more embraced because of the nature of the story being told.

There will be much discussion about the violence in this movie, specifically the ending, and how it relates to the rest of the movie. It certainly made me think about the violence we consume and the whos and whys behind how we feel about it and when we deem it acceptable versus reprehensible. A lot of it comes down to who is committing the violence and against whom the violence is being committed and that feels really apparent here.

The next section is going to be within spoiler tags. It relates to my point about violence, but gives away the ending. Read at your own risk.

There are, naturally, a few issues I had with the movie, some of which I have already discussed such as the treatment of its female characters. Plenty of people more eloquent than than I have discussed the Bruce Lee portrayal and the problems within it. Mike Moh, the actor who portrayed him certainly did the best with what he was given. I much preferred the second, quieter, scene where he is seen training Sharon Tate some stunt fighting for one of her roles to the problematic first.

Ultimately this is a movie that will leave you with a lot to talk about and will not be for everyone. This is a very Tarantino movie, even if I do think it is his most accessible, and that either appeals to you or it doesn't.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.


Cover for Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (goodreads)

Fairytale retellings are always a favourite of mine and the fact that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in a boarding school was enough for me to want it immediately.

The incredibly fun cover was revealed and I want to read it even more now.

I love the colour scheme and the font used for the title. It also done in a style that is very popular right now with the characters being drawn instead of using real people. This is a highly anticipated one for me and I cannot wait to read it.

Cover of Anna K by Jenny Lee (goodreads)

A story inspired by Anna Karenina and set in modern times. That alone should have you taking a second look at this novel. The adorable cover doesn't hurt either.

It's bright, and eye catching in a great way. I cannot wait to read this one!


Queen and Slim Trailer

We had a teaser trailer which looked awesome, but not the full trailer for Queen and Slim has been released. It is sort of a Bonnie and Clyde story (which I have always been fascinated by) so I am obviously going to see it. Daniel Kaluuya looks to be giving a heck of a performance in this one.

The line 'Can I be your legacy?' gets me for some reason. This looks like it'll be romantic, heartbreaking and hard to watch at times.


Recent Etsy Finds

I loved the third season of Stranger Things so was thrilled when one of my favourite Etsy shops, HappyHello, has these adorable Robin and Steve bookmarks from the third season.

Picture copywrite @ HappyHelloCo

The next item I absolutely love is this cute pin from the KrystanSaintCat Etsy shop. It is available in different colours, but the black and silver one caught my eye. I, obviously, needed to get one because it is very much on brand for me.

Picture copywrite @ KrystanSaintCat

Stand By Me is one of my favourite movies (if not my absolute favourite). I immediately coveted this adorable art print that I found on the AnchoredDesignsUK Etsy shop. It has so many of my favourite quotes and just makes me so happy. Hopefully I'll get to own this soon and it'll find its way on to my wall at some point. It's too good for me not to own.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Crashing The A-List by Summer Heacock

Crashing The A-List by Summer Heacock
Release Date - March 12, 2019
Publisher Website - Mira/Harlequin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  400 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is still stuck sleeping on her little brother’s ugly couch in Queens. Determined to keep her minuscule savings account intact, she takes a job clearing out abandoned storage units, but is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or trying to identify exactly where the perpetual stench of beets is emanating from.

When Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service, she finds the brothel “résumé” of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich… an astonishingly famous British actor. Her best friend thinks she should sell the gossip to a tabloid to fund her way off the couch from hell, but Clara instead manages to track down Caspian’s contact info, intending to reassure him that her lips are sealed.

Unfortunately, Caspian misinterprets Clara’s attempt at altruism and shows up on her doorstep, accusing her of blackmail. When the paparazzi capture a photo of them together, Caspian’s PR team sees an opportunity to promote his latest film—and if Clara wants to atone for her “crimes,” she’ll have to play along. Pretending to be Caspian’s girlfriend seems like it will be a tolerable, if somewhat daunting, penance… until their fake romance becomes something more than either of them expected.
Romance novels that involve Hollywood in some format are a weakness of mine. I will immediately want to add it to my reading list. Crashing The A-List was no exception when it came to my attention. It turns out that this novel really has the best of both worlds - it involves a Hollywood actor, but is set mostly in New York. Summer Heacock has infused a Hollywood love interest into a story that only sort of involves Hollywood. The reader gets something that ends up feeling more realistic, less wish fulfillment, and an all together fun read.

When we meet Clara she is having the worst luck. She's just lost her job and has to move in with her brother while looking for a new one. She's feeling more than a little sorry for herself and what her future holds. She's a bit of a mess, but an entirely relatable one. She's the type of character that the reader immediately identifies with because of her imprefections. The author wasn't afraid of making Clara flawed. It is her owning up to her mistakes that makes the reader love her.

Caspian Tiddleswich is, as you probably guessed, inspired by certain famous British actor who has played both a world famous detective and a superhero (and it is not Robert Downey Jr). Anyone who is a fan will delight in the comparisons found within the novel. Heacock has ensured that Caspian becomes a fully developed character however, and not just a stand in. The readers will equally delight in the things that make up the character of Caspian that have nothing to do with his inspiration. It takes a bit to get past his frosty demeanour but he ends up being a rather fantastic love interest.

The romance is, naturally, a rocky one. Miscommunication is culprit of much of this couples woes. They both tend to react rashly and strongly before talking which leads to plenty of misunderstandings. There is some great banter that happens between Clara and Caspian but there are also a lot of moments that just feel a little too aggressive and mean. Care is taken to balance this by showing the characters having real remorse for their actions, and actually admitting wrongdoing and apologizing. They both can be abrasive at times, but Caspian's demeanor can be repellent at time and I am glad that is addressed in a meaningful way. He is properly contrite and, more importantly, actively wants to change. It's refreshing and showcases that only real apologize for bad behaviour is the modification of that behaviour.

Clara's friendship with CiCi is the true heart of the story. Their friendship is supportive, honest, and caring. They felt more like the closest of sisters than just best friends. They can call each other out on their bullshit in a way that shows how much they care about each other. I appreciated a female friendship that didn't have even a hint of jealousy, backstabbing, or competition. I would love a companion novel that was CiCi's story because she really was a stand out character.

This is a fast paced, enjoyable read that felt like it would appeal to both those who love Hollywood inspired stories and those who typically do not. It won me over with its banter filled romance, sweet friendship, and actual repercussions for bad behaviour. I predict romance readers will love it and immediately want to get their hands on whatever Summer Heacock writes next.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Monthly TBR and Wrap Up

It is time, once again, to check in with my monthly reading. It's obvious that summer has not gotten me back on track but I am hoping August will at least show some improvement.

July was a crazy month (as I anticipated it would be) but I did manage to get some books read.

To wrap up July ....

The books that were on my list are:

Finale by Stephanie Garber (goodreads)
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (goodreads)
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (goodreads)
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (goodreads)
Transcend by Jewel E Ann (goodreads)

Plus I had a bunch of ebooks on my list:

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (goodreads)
King Of Fools by Amanda Foody (goodreads)
There's Something About Sweetie by Shandya Menon (goodreads)
Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey (goodreads)
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory (goodreads)
Crashing The A List by Summer Heacock (goodreads)

I managed to read four books this month which I am pretty happy about considering how much travel I did. I read:

Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey (goodreads)
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory (goodreads)
Crashing The A List by Summer Heacock (goodreads)
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter (goodreads)

As you can see they were mostly ebooks  that I managed to read. This means that my reading pile for August is exactly the same as what it was for July. I am hoping August changes that and I have entirely new books. I will be focusing on my physical books this month more than my ebooks.

Finale by Stephanie Garber (goodreads)
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (goodreads)
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (goodreads)
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (goodreads)
Transcend by Jewel E Ann (goodreads)

I have some ebooks on my reading list this month as well. Keeping it small so that I can focus on getting some of my physical ARCs read.

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer (goodreads)
These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch (goodreads)
Interference by Harlow Cole (goodreads)
Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour (goodreads)

What books are you reading this month? Have you read any of the ones in my list? If so, let me know what you think in the comments.

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