Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday ... Electric Idol

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 Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn't careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that's as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there's always a price to pay. Psyche knew she'd have to face Aphrodite's ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake...or for Aphrodite's gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can't do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros's life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all...and she's not sure she can survive the loss.
I just recently finished Neon Gods, the first book in this set of companion novels, and I am desperate to get my hands on this one. They're a fun, super sexy retelling of various Greek myths with the first offering up a great Hades and Persephone retelling.

The second book is Psyche and Eros and I am very excited to get their story after what we've seen/heard of them in the first book.

If you like sexy reads and mythology I highly recommend adding this to your reading pile. 

Expected release date - January 4, 2022

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Glass of Wine at the Movies - Are You Lonesome Tonight?


Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Rating:  Not Rated

Director: Shipei Wen

Language: Chinese (with subtitles)

Length: 95 minutes

Cast: Eddie Peng, Sylvia Chang, Wang Yanhui

Viewing Method: TIFF Digital Screening

Release Date: June 12, 2021 (China release date)

Synopsis: On a dark night, Xueming hits a pedestrian with his car and flees the scene. Desperate to escape his feelings of guilt, he decides to approach the dead man's wife, Mrs. Liang. Meanwhile, the body is discovered -- riddled with bullets. Chen, the detective in charge of the investigation, becomes obsessed with the case. Years later, all three remain caught in a tangled web of memories and lies, desperately searching for a truth that refuses to be revealed...


Have you ever seen a movie where all the elements are there - the acting is good, the story is decent, the directing shows promise - only to end up feeling lukewarm towards the movie? That is Is You Lonesome Tonight for me. It just a movie that feels too similar to other movies like it and doesn't stand out as something all its own.

The plot is one that has been done before. A man is driving late one night and hits something. He discovers he has run over a person and they are dead. He feels guilty and decides to check in on the man's widow to see if she is okay/how he can help her. This sets off a chain of events that reveals that there may be more to the story and that the man he ran over may not be what he appears to be.

The director takes a few creative risks that make the film a little more interesting but it felt like something I had seen before. The gritty visuals match the story rather well, and the director makes great use of the setting to create something visually interesting. Nothing, however, stood out to me, particularly plot wise. The acting is perfectly fine, but nothing you would gush over. The tow leads, Eddie Peng and Sylvia Chang, offer subtle but effective performances. It is ultimately ends up being an okay movie that leaves you wishing it offered just a little bit more.

I left this movie feeling indifferent towards it. I neither loved not hated it. I didn't resent the time sent watching it but I also do not want to highly recommend it to others. If the genre is your thing, especially if you like foreign films, this may be for you. Otherwise I expect you have seen more than  a few movies like it.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Glass of Wine at the Movies - The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Rating:  R

Director: Jane Campion

Language: English

Length: 126 minutes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemmons

Viewing Method: TIFF Digital Screening

Release Date: December 1, 2021

Synopsis: Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.


There are movies that ask something of its viewer. It demands your full attention and that you spend time digesting and dissecting what you have just seen. The Power of the Dog is one of those movies.

It is a movie that cannot be half watched. It requires your full attention to fully absorb everything. It may, in fact, alienate some viewers because of what it asks of its audience. It, in my opinion, only makes for a richer and more rewarding viewing experience.

The performances are all solid with Benedict Cumberbatch providing one of the best of his career. He is a deeply cruel man whose joy seems to be gained by hurting others. Kodi Smit-McPhee was a stand out to me with him being worthy of inclusion in Best Supporting Actor talks. It's a performance that doesn't snap fully into focus until later in the movie but it was his character I left the movie thinking about. I wish that both Jesse Plemmons and Kirsten Dunst had more to do. They are both solid as usual and do a lot with the material given but they are not given the same opportunity to shine that Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee are given.

The atmosphere that flows through this movie is one of tension. The viewer is on edge dreading impending violence at every moment. Each moment is laced with the potential for it to abrupt and it makes you almost sick with it. It feels like waiting for the other shoe to drop but you cannot pinpoint why you feel this unease. You are reacting to something the actors are giving off and it is one of the most powerful elements of the movie.

Jane Campion is an esteemed director with awards recognition for her previous work. This movie looks beautiful but it is also sharply directed. I think fans of her previous films will find much to love here.

Masculinity and how it can effect someone is a large piece of the story being told. Cumberbatch's character is definitely a commentary on masculinity and the toxic side to it that can harden and darken someone. It is fascinating to see this reflected from a female director's perspective. 

This is the type of movie you are going to watch at least twice. You want to catch every nuance and dig into every layer. It also is a movie that sits with you. It's ending is one you will want to dissect with fellow film lovers and the performance are certainly awards chatter worthy. I cannot wait to dive into the book before I rewatch this one.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

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 week. 


Bee Merry by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone Annoucement

Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone have announced that they'll be releasing a holiday themed romance and it sounds amazing!

They referred to this as a raunch-com in the announcement and I am entirely here for it. I can't wait to get my hands on this and it doesn't come out until 2022 and probably not until fall 2022 to lead into the holiday season. 


Nightmare Alley Trailer

We're in fall film festival season and that means we're getting a bunch of trailers for movies that are releasing in the later half of the year. 

First up is Nightmare Alley. It's based off the acclaimed book by William Lindsay Gresham. It's directed by Guillermo Del Toro. It's got a very stacked cast. It was basically in the wards conversation as soon as it was announced.

This is most likely going a cinematography nomination. Probably a bunch of other ones too. It's look is stunning and this is an impressive cast. It's a teaser so we can't tell too much from it, but I am definitely intrigued.

Hawkeye Trailer

The MCU television shows offered over at Disney+ have been a perfect distraction during this pandemic and their next offering centers the character of Hawkeye. It's first trailer is DELIGHTFUL!

The magic of setting it during the holidays is evidence. There is something incredibly charming about this entire trailer. Hailee Steinfeld is going to be a great Kate Bishop. I love the humour (seriously, who knew Hawkeye could be this funny) and the way that Hailee and Jeremy Renner play off each other. I think this may be one of the best Marvel television shows (which I definitely did not expect). 

 Don't Worry Darling Date Announcement and First Look 

Olivia Wilde released a first look at her upcoming movie along with its release date. It doesn't come out for over a year at this point, but the excitement has already begun.

Such a fun tease and I am very excited to see a full trailer once it is released. I want to get a better idea of what it is about but I am sold already.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday .... Hotel Magnifique

 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 Hotel Magnifique by Emily J Taylor

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle Époque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.
I love stories set at hotels with secrets within them. This takes that notion and combines it with magic which only increases my need to read this one. The fact that the hotel moves locations has me intrigued. 

I am really excited for the world building in this one and cannot wait to unravel the secrets of Hotel Magnifique. 

This one has a bit of a wait, as it doesn't release until April of 2022, but you can add it to your wishlist and join me in (im)patiently waiting.

Expected release date - April 5, 2022

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A Glass of Wine at the Movies - Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen

Rating:  PG-13

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Language: English

Length: 137 minutes

Cast: Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Adams

Viewing Method: TIFF Digital Screening

Release Date: September 24, 2021

Synopsis: The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.


The Dear Evan Hansen musical has plenty of fans. It is a story that seems to have resonated with a lot of people who relate to some of the themes and the emotions that the title character experiences throughout the play. It's getting a big screen adaptation and I am not so sure that the impact the play has translates from stage to screen.

It is easy to see why Ben Platt won a Tony for his portrayal of Evan Hansen. There are plenty of online jokes detailing how he looks too old for this role, but you immediately understand why they wanted to capture his performance of this character. He's incredible and I finished the movie wishing I had gotten the chance to see him perform this role on Broadway. Sadly, all of the nuances that made Ben Platt amazing in this role on stage do not translate quite as well to screen. He's still great, but a lot of the larger mannerism and ticks that go into making the character of Evan come to life feel too loud when transferred to the more intimate feel of film. 

The supporting cast is equally well cast. Both Kaitlyn Dever and Amandla Stenberg are wonderful. Amy Adam and Julianne Moore shine in their perspective roles. Colton Ryan also stood out to me in the role of Connor. He's great in the few scenes he has and shines brightly whenever he is on screen. The casting is probably one of the strongest elements of the movie as I don't think anyone is miscast. 

The music is probably one of my favourite elements of both the play and this movie. Catchy and designed to be memorable, you'll be singing them long after you've watched the movie. The cast does well with their respective songs and Ben Platt's voice is a perfect match for the material. They are songs that are easy to infuse with emotion and will resonate with viewers. I expect it'll sell a lot of soundtracks after the movie is released.

The plot of the play has problematic elements to it and those elements are carried over to the screen adaptation. Evan's actions are certainly misguided and feel very cruel in the end. The biggest problem is the lack of consequences for his actions. We can forgive some of Evan's transgressions by taking his youth into account (something Ben Platt's age doesn't lend itself to) but there does come a point in which he should have known better. The pain his actions cause others is profound but little is made of how his lies would have weighed on Connor's family. It's a hard thing to get past and one that feels all the more glaring on screen.

Connor's death also feels like a footnote in the Evan Hansen story. His death is made to be all about Evan in retrospect. His life is made to be a catalyst in Evan's and that doesn't allow his loss to be registered by the viewer in any significant way. It's viewed through the prism of how it relates to Evan. This also feels by design because if we cared more about Connor than Evan's actions would feel even more egregious.

There are a lot of themes that this play delves into. I think would work well as a conversation starter between parents and young teens if this was watched together. Evan's actions could be dissected along with the more positive messages it offers. The 'it gets better/you are not alone' message is one that has been shared before but it never hurts to have it shared again and in a format that goes down pretty easy for the viewer.

I think fans of the play will mostly like this. I also think it will be a hit with most audiences. It's very watchable, and you cannot help but get swept up in the story and sympathize with Evan's pain. It will particularly appeal to younger teens who may seem themselves reflected in some of these characters. It requires deeper thought and reflection on the execution of its message, but I can't deny the power of the message being shared wrapped in good performances.

Friday, September 10, 2021

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 week. 


Mass Trailer

This movie has had lots of Oscar buzz since it debut at a film festival earlier in the year. It's trailer has finally arrived and I can see why people are calling it an acting showcase.

It appears it mostly takes place in one room so the focus will be on the actors and the emotions they are dealing with.

I think this is a movie dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting (just based on what we get in this trailer) but I am not one hundred percent sure. It's on my list for this fall and I am even more interested after seeing the trailer.

Only Murders in the Building

I listen to many true crime podcasts and have watched a lot of documentaries so I was immediately interested in this show that plays with some of those true crime podcast tropes.

It's got two good mysteries at its core, and some delightful performances (the casting in this is perfect) and it is a mix of thrilling and comforting. I've watched the first three episodes that were released twice since they were released and I am eagerly anticipating the next episode.

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

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Release Date - July 13, 2021 
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette's worst fears are realized--someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

The Final Girl Support Group is a love letter to fans of classic horror movies. It takes those films and questions what it might be like if they were based on real crimes with real final girls. It ends up providing a fast paced read that starts out strong but doesn't quite land the ending. 

Trauma and how it shapes and impacts people is sort of the heart of this story. This asks the question of what the life of the final girl in those horror movies would be like after the credits run. Who are they when they have had time to process the events that happened to them. We have a few different 'final girls' and each of them is different and processes their trauma differently. They share a common thread but that is where their similarities stop. It was incredible to read about a group of women who were all working through trauma with various degrees of success and be able to see so many different variations. It is an empowering message that however you are handling your own trauma is valid and okay. It was also refreshing to see that some were better at processing their trauma compared to others. They were all at different stages and that was okay.

As with any larger group personality clashes are something that happens . The women are all so varied that there was bound to be some friction. I even appreciated how this was handled and that at the end of it all the women helped and supported one another. It really is pretty feminist which is often something seen in horror movies.

Part of the fun if reading this is matching up each girl with their well known classic horror movie inspiration. The book even manages to ground the ones with more of a supernatural flair (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) so that they feel more realistic. There are fun nods to the inspiration in the character's names which film buffs will delightedly pick up on.

Sadly, like a lot of horror movies it doesn't quite land the ending. It felt a little rushed and bumpy to me. It also does not feel as strongly written as the amazing first half. I would have loved a bit of a stronger ending as that would have moved this up to five star status.

If you are a fan of the classic horror movies (particularly the franchises) I highly recommend giving this one a shot. It, like many horror movies, is incredibly fun even if it doesn't quite live up to its potential.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Waiting On Wednesday - Reprieve

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 Reprieve by James Han Mattson

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A chilling and blisteringly relevant literary novel of social horror centered around a brutal killing that takes place in a full-contact haunted escape room—a provocative exploration of capitalism, hate politics, racial fetishism, and our obsession with fear as entertainment.

On April 27, 1997, four contestants make it to the final cell of the Quigley House, a full-contact haunted escape room in Lincoln, Nebraska, made famous for its monstrosities, booby-traps, and ghoulishly costumed actors. If the group can endure these horrors without shouting the safe word, “reprieve,” they’ll win a substantial cash prize—a startling feat accomplished only by one other group in the house’s long history. But before they can complete the challenge, a man breaks into the cell and kills one of the contestants.

Those who were present on that fateful night lend their points of view: Kendra Brown, a teenager who’s been uprooted from her childhood home after the sudden loss of her father; Leonard Grandton, a desperate and impressionable hotel manager caught in a series of toxic entanglements; and Jaidee Charoensuk, a gay international student who came to the United States in a besotted search for his former English teacher. As each character’s journey unfurls and overlaps, deceit and misunderstandings fueled by obsession and prejudice are revealed, forcing all to reckon with the ways in which their beliefs and actions contributed to a horrifying catastrophe.

An astonishingly soulful exploration of complicity and masquerade, Reprieve combines the psychological tension of classic horror with searing social criticism to present an unsettling portrait of this tangled American life. 
This one sounds perfect for the spooky season. A murder that takes place in a full-contact haunted escape room. It's told via different points of view to give us a picture of what happened that night.

I have heard that this is different than you might be expecting, but I am definitely interested. It's one I am going to hopefully be getting to at the end of the September.

Expected release date - October 5, 2021

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Monthly TBR and Wrap Up

I am kicking off September with an actual long weekend so I am hoping for a much better reading month compared to August. It's also the start of cooler temperatures and so many amazing smelling candles. I love the fall season.

I've been working a weird shift (lots of training) for months now and it is definitely impacting my reading. I am hoping it'll ease soon and I can take some vacation time for some much needed time with my books.

Before sharing what I hope to read this month I have to recap August first.

The books that were on my list are:

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (goodreads)
Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Liftin (goodreads)
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (goodreads)
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll (goodreads)

Plus I had some ebooks on my list:

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (goodreads)
The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn (goodreads)
The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix (goodreads)

Here is what I managed to read in August:

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll (goodreads)
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (goodreads)
The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn (goodreads)
The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix (goodreads)

I managed to get in four books this month which is not great, but I am calling it a win because of the hours I have been keep at work. 
My #PopCultureResolution book for August was The Golden Cage by Camilla Lackberg which I just got from the library. The movie was Ready or Not. I reviewed the movie and the book will hopefully be coming soon.

Here is what I hope to read in September:

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (goodreads)
Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Liftin (goodreads)

I also have some ebooks I am hoping to get to:

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (goodreads)
All These Bodies by Kendare Blake (goodreads)
The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins (goodreads)
White Smoke by Tiffany D Jackson (goodreads)

My #PopCultureResolution picks for this month are Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane and Rosemary's Baby. I am very excited for both of these!

Next up is an update on my two reading challenges:

September's pick for my '12 friends, 12 books' reading challenge is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi so I'll be getting to that at some point this month. I am two books behind, but I am hoping to make it up soon. I am determined to have it done by the end of the year.

Jan - The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Kelly)

Feb - 
The Birthday List by Deveny Perry (Emilie)

Mar - Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine Von Radics (Ciara)

April - Marriage for One by Ella Maise (Katie)

May - Written In The Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (Christy)

June -  The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth (Christa)

July - The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Jess)

August -  The Grace Year by Kim Leggitt (Christa)

Sept - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Meaghan)

Oct -   Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston (Katrina)

Nov - Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (Kim)

Dec - Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney (Julia)

As for the reading challenge inspired by The Bachelor I have nothing to scratch off my list. Hopefully next month.

1. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
2. If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
3. Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
4. Further to Fall by Catherine Cowles
5. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
6. Isn't it Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams
7. My Favorite Souvenir by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland
8. Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
9. Marriage for One by Ella Maise
10. Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks by Nathan Burgoine
11. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
12. Open Book by Jessica Simpson
13. Isn't it Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

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


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