Minions

I know it’s been out for awhile, but I just went to see Minions today. I took my four year old niece and had a special little afternoon.

minion 2

I haven’t seen her much lately between my new job and her family’s vacation, so I was glad to make a couple hours free. From her reaction, I will definitely need to be doing it more often ❤

Minions was ok…. the humour definitely saved it. I was laughing my way through but don't think that I would be too eager to sit down and watch it again. It is certainly more of a kids' movie, rather than one parents enjoy just as much.

minion 1

If you haven’t taken your little one to watch Minions yet, I would recommend it. My niece had already seen it when it first was released with her parents, but she sat enraptured the whole time, laughing and worrying as the scene called for, and said she still really enjoyed it. Any movie that can keep a four year old hopped up on sugar still and quiet for 90 minutes gets a passing grade from me.

This is just cute.

This is just cute.

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Deliverance by AJ Adams – a review

Deliverance is the “third” book in a series, but it is written as a standalone. There is very little plot from the previous two books and the characters from them turn up for about a half a chapter, only. So I’m calling it a side-quel, and if you haven’t already read The Bonus or Songbird, don’t feel you need to to read Deliverance.

3

Blurb:

“I’m sending you a girl.”
“What?”
“She needs sorting out. I’m talking Exit Strategy.”
Exit Strategy. That’s what we call deprogramming these days. You might call it brainwashing. It’s one of my skills. Give me a man whose idea of heaven is a suicide vest, and I can turn him into a peace loving hippy wannabe.
“She’s a white widow?”
“No. Human trafficking victim turned sex slave and mule. She’s a fucking mess.”
Christ, poor little bint. Now I knew why Suarez was calling me.

Mac is all set for an undercover job when an old friend lands him with Pepper, a human trafficking victim of a Moroccan-Turkish crime syndicate. Unable to turn her away, Mac now has two missions: to infiltrate a terrorist training camp in the Sahara and to be a Master for Pepper.

Warning: contains graphic violence and sex.
Standalone novel, no cliffhangers

—                     —                      —

Ok, I’m going to be honest from the get-go, this book was a bit of a flop for me. I really liked the first two in the series, but Deliverance was a major departure. To begin with, all those characters we met in the first two novels were not in this one, which takes place in England and Algeria. Chloe and Kyle make very brief appearances, but I was expecting the main characters, Mac and Pepper, to go to Mexico at some point and reconnect with them; especially since Mac and Kyle are close and Chloe and Pepper are close. But they didn’t, and although I can understand what the author was trying to do, I feel like she spent two books developing a community only to completely depart from it.

I hope she writes another novel, and returns to Mexico, but I don’t know who would be the main characters. Generally in romance series, there is an obvious next choice or two, and this time there isn’t.

Another reason that I had trouble with Deliverance is because it repeats a lot of the psychological stuff from The Bonus. Chloe and Pepper were both “Raj’s girls”; they came from the same hellhole, although experiencing different “paths” after they were too old for his pedophile tastes. While Chloe got to escape to a limited degree, as a mule for the organization, Pepper was sold into sexual slavery. She was taken so young by her first owner (seriously wish I could use another word that would work but I can’t) that she cannot remember anything before that. I did like some of the new psychology ideas that the author includes. For example, the development of personality and how some aspects of it are just who we are from birth, but mostly, it is shaped by our experiences, circumstances, and models of behaviour around us. Her discussions of multiple personalities, and how we all have them was very intriguing. If you think about it, it’s true. We all act differently between time spent with co-workers, an employer, casual friends, best friends, different family members … it isn’t an act – at least I hope you don’t feel you have to act – but we are a different self with each different group.

What I didn’t enjoy was the repetitious aspects of trying to break the poor girls out of these learned habits. For example, the personas they adopted to please their “Master” and escape brutality for a bit, like Chloe’s kitten and Pepper’s rodeo-girl. In the bonus it was a good addition to the plot and character development. In Deliverance, it just became too much. I didn’t want to read it, and for that long.

I greatly admire Mac for allowing the poor girl to develop herself within the parameters that he set for her, to protect her. I can see how some might argue that he was abusive himself, but I disagree. It is unusual to find a romance novel that is written almost entirely from the man’s point of view. I don’t really think that that is why I had trouble connecting with this book, I think it was just the lack of major plot points and too much space devoted to character development.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough action for me. I wanted some big dramatic moments and more appearances by past characters. I have to admit, I got bored and skimmed the last third of the book because I just lost interested and didn’t want to DNF this book, especially after loving the first two books so much.

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Songbird by AJ Adams – a review

Songbird is the second novel in the Zetas series that I have reviewed. They are about young women emerging from the hardest of lives imaginable, and men who are the ultimate baddies. Songbird is the sequel  to The Bonus.

Gorgeous model held captive behind bars

Blurb:

When cartel boss Arturo Vazquez discovers his girlfriend Gina is a DEA rat and his deputy Escamilla is staging a take-over, Arturo fixes his problems by killing everyone – except for Solitaire, Escamilla’s unwilling mistress. Solitaire is intelligent, tough, and shares Arturo’s interest in BDSM. Arturo falls head over heels but someone is leaking information – and the evidence point at Solitaire.

Songbird is a complete and self standing novel. Warning: This book contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex.

—                    —                   —

I am impressed with how Adams was able to redeem Arturo after his actions in the first book. Talking so cavalierly about the murder of a four year old child to further business, and his ordering of Chloe’s torture at the beginning of The Bonus, made me feel like there was no way Arturo could possibly be a protagonist in his own novel.

I was wrong.

I liked how he took a chance on Solitaire. He could have easily killed her or ordered Kyle to, and not dealt with the hassle and risk of letting her out of that house alive. I think Kyle’s (admittedly limited) morals have rubbed off on good old Arturo a bit!

This book was great because it wasn’t just a repeat of the first novel. Although Solitaire and Chloe both have some serious mental issues to deal with following their pasts, they have very different personalities and coping mechanisms, which keeps the material interesting.

There was a lot more mystery and subterfuge in Songbird, compared to the first book where it felt like the reader just watched events unfold.

One thing that I didn’t like though, is that it was obvious (to me at least) who “Songbird” was from the get-go. The mystery sections of the novel should definitely have been written better.

I also would have preferred to see Solitaire have some problems adapting to her new life in Mexico! She just seemed to soar into this whole new world like it was nothing new, and that is unrealistic. She doesn’t have to struggle pathetically the whole way through, but it just seemed all a little too easy.

* * possible spoiler * *

My favourite scene by far was Kyle’s interrogation of Solitaire in the hotel. Going into that scene, knowing his usual methods of interrogation, I had chills! I wish that the book had of stayed like that all the way through.

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The Bonus by AJ Adams – a review

The Bonus is the first book in the “Zetas” series, by AJ Adams. I discovered it through the recommendation of another blog: http://www.romanceandsmut.com/topics/best/all/1/

This is actually the same blog where I discovered the “Twist Me” series by Anna Zaires, which I loved and previously reviewed on here. Another hit, so I guess I’ll keep using Romance and Smut when searching for books for awhile.

1

Blurb:

Chloe is a seasoned drug courier who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Facing a lingering and painful death at the hands of the Zetas, Mexico’s most brutal cartel, she persuades their enforcer to claim her. Has Chloe made a huge mistake, or will her choice prove her salvation – and his?

Warning: This book contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex.

—                   —                      —

I really liked this one!!!!

If you regularly read my blog, you probably know by now that I favour books with anti-heroes, partially because I like bad boys and partially because the characters tend to be more complicated and twisty, exactly what I am looking for.

Kyle Suarez is definitely that. Former Spec Ops Marine and Gitmo interrogator, he became disenfranchised with life in the United States after as nasty run-in with DEA agents hunting his older brother. So he moved to Mexico and became the number one interrogator and security specialist for his broski’s cartel.

The way that he and Chloe, aka “The Bonus” meet is seriously f***ed up. Like, the brother and his men torture her by making her balance on a melting block of ice, with a noose around her neck until she slowly strangles. But she gets off and runs to him, the late-comer, offering him whatever if he will only take her with him. Since his brother just offered Kyle a bonus gift for a job well done, he takes her home to serve.

What I like most about The Bonus, is the author’s balancing of Kyle’s personality. He is a bad dude. And not like in a cool leather jacket, brawler kind of way.

Hello?!!! He’s the head enforcer for the cartel and specializes in sending … messages.

Like crucifying his victims. To make headlines around the world. Not the kind of guy you expect to be merciful.

But Kyle gets to know Chloe really well and really quickly. She has been through things as bad as anything Kyle could dish out and reading her journal, he gets to know her intimately in a matter of days. Add to that her shaking, night terrors and just generally being one step away from a complete mental breakdown, he is more gentle with her than you ever expect him to be based off of first impressions.

I definitely enjoyed this book and will read the next couple in the series forthwith. Hope you enjoy, my loves.

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Limitless, Coming Autumn 2015

limitless

According to imdb.com, Limitless is about a man who gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain’s capabilities… informative, huh?

Seriously though, this tv show is based off of the 2014 movie called Lucy, starring Scarlet Johansson. Basically, this new designer pill comes out that unlocks the brain’s ability to use the other 90% or so capacity that is currently locked away.

Which is such a fascinating idea. I hope they do this show right because it would quickly skyrocket to my favourite thing on television if they do.

Can you imagine if your ability to process information doubled? What if it kept doubling?? How incredible would it be to be able to learn a new language in seconds, to understand anything you had the remotest interest in, without struggling? To be able to make connections and predict probabilities, enabling better decision-making for future possibilities?

The list of things you could do, become, are endless.

** Next few paragraphs will have spoilers from the film **

In the movie, Scarlet’s character assumes super-human abilities by the time she reaches 50% brain capacity. She doesn’t just understand forces in the world, like gravity, but understands how to manipulate and bend them to her will. Hence her ability to suddenly manifest “magic” or “psychic abilities”. Because to the rest of us, that is what it looks like.

This topic always brings me back to a saying I heard when I was young, that magic is just science unexplained.

Arthur C Clarke: “Magic’s just science we don’t understand yet”.

How true that statement is. I believe that anything is possible. In my life-time, no. In ten generations, maybe not even. But eventually, we will unlock things that make Millenials seems like Neanderthals to our nth degree grandbabies.

Scarlet’s character, in many ways, became GOD. Or at least, a good estimation on what/who GOD is by human standards. After her human body died, her consciousness remained in this realm and was able to communicate with individual people, to pull strings around the world and manipulate far-reaching events. She became omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.

Bradley Cooper is attached to the television show and states that he is very invested in its future. I hope that means he will continue to be involved and that the show will have the much higher budget that shows usually have in later seasons, rather than a typical first season budget which greatly constrains the action scenes and special effects needed in a show like this.

Limitless premieres on September 22, 2015 on CBS and I will definitely be watching.

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Ethan Frost series by Tracy Wolff- a review

The Ethan Frost series is very similiar to the Crossfire series by Sylvia Day, which I read a couple of years ago and liked.

The first two books, which I’ll review in this post, are written from the perspective of the heroine, Chloe.

Background info: Chloe is a university student, pre-law, who scores her dream summer internship working in intellectual property law for a big, reputable company. She runs into billionaire CEO on her first day without realizing who he is and they hit it off.  He pursues her relentlessly, trying to start a relationship but she has some serious past scars preventing her from jumping at the chance to be with someone who makes her heart-rate quicken.

Book 1

ethan 1

Blurb:

Ethan Frost is a visionary, a genius, every woman’s deepest, darkest fantasy—even mine. And, somehow, I am his.

He stole into my life like a dream. Turned my reality upside down and made my every desire come true—especially those I never knew I had. He demanded everything I had to give and gave me everything of himself in return.

But dreams don’t last forever, and ours is no exception. Because my nightmares are darker, and my wounds deeper, than I could ever reveal. And as much as Ethan wants to protect me, the secrets we share will only tear us apart.

Book 2

Ethan 2

Blurb:

Ethan Frost is everything a woman could want in a man. He’s rich, gorgeous, powerful, one of the most eligible bachelors in the world.

But that’s not why I’m with him.

I love Ethan for all the things no one else gets to see: his innate kindness, his reckless spontaneity, his unwavering determination to use his brilliance for good. I love the way he looks at me, the way he touches me. The way he makes me forget the wreckage of my past and the twisted fear that still lives inside me.

But sometimes it terrifies me how much I crave him, how much I need him just to breathe. I always thought it would be my past that ruined us, but there’s a darkness in Ethan I never dreamed existed. Can we survive as his secrets surface—threatening to unravel us both?

—                  —                    —

I liked both of these books, a lot more than I had expected to. Wolff writes about very complicated relationships and characters, which is always something that I am looking for in a book. I like depth.

I also liked that there were some complications that I didn’t see coming in their relationship, that develop around the end of the first novel. Can’t talk about it without major spoilers, but you know I mean if you’ve read the book.

Their back and forth over the blender was hilarious but it also had meaning. That stupid blender represented something far more complicated and important, that was affecting their relationship. Chloe is extremely uncomfortable with Ethan’s billionaire status. She doesn’t trust people with money, having had many awful experiences with “the other half” in her short life.

There are a few things that I would have picked up on though, if I had been beta reading for Tracy.

Firstly, I question how Chloe didn’t recognize Ethan the first time that they met. Granted, their chance meeting placed him completely out of context, but if she has supposedly done all this research on him and his company and looks up to him as an ethical CEO, you’d think she has a pretty good idea what he looks like. Even more so because he is a billionaire bachelor who is always in and out of the society pages and gossip magazines.

The other things are more minor, mostly personal preference. The first book was too long in the ‘getting to know you-should we have a relationship’ stage. I was getting bored, but thankfully lots of good stuff happened to bring me back.

In the second book, Ethan and Chloe get torn apart and then find their ways back together several times. Even though Chloe had A LOT that she was dealing with, I didn’t like how she ran away from their relationship so many times. I wanted him to call her out on that and remind her that it isn’t a relationship when one party runs out every time things get difficult. You can leave for awhile to think and get perspective, but that isn’t the same as running out and breaking up.

There is a third book out in this series, and a fourth due to be released in 2016. They are both written mostly from Ethan’s perspective however and I am not a fan of authors who switch halfway through a series. Not sure if I will be reading either of those.

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Dark Crime by Christine Feehan – a review

Edge of Darkness is an anthology that includes 3 novellas from different authors. This review is only looking at this first in the book, Dark Crime, which is written by Christine Feehan, one of my favourite authors.

feehan

Dark Crime by Christine Feehan
Blaze knows who killed her father and she has merciless plans for payback. Until a phone call from a seductive stranger pleads with her to wait. Retribution is in his blood, too. Now, he and Blaze will be united in the blood of the guilty. Tonight, vengeance is theirs.

—                   —                     —

Ugh. I hate anthologies. And so does Ms. Feehan, she says so all the time on social media and her website, so I don’t know why she agreed to write another one when she doesn’t like reading or writing them. She wrote a bunch when she was a new writer, usually at the start of a series, but hasn’t written one in some time,  five years at least.

Why don’t I like anthologies? Because they’re too short for a story to evolve naturally. The characters don’t have that depth they would in a full length novel. And because the book is so short I find it is much more predictable, especially in a series where books tend to have a natural order of unfolding.

In the Dark series, generally the heroine becomes aware of Carpathians and vampires, they have an initial flight or fight moment with their lifemate, and at some point the woman is converted to Carpathian. When you don’t have the wordcount to add in all that extra stuff that is relevant only to this couple, you have to go back to that bare bones series format and the book is super repetitive to others in the series.

So about Dark Crime.

It was just okay.

I found it easy to scan because it was so predictable; the story did not hold my attention and I didn’t feel like I had enough time to connect to the characters. The main characters also didn’t have enough time to connect with each other. Other than sex scenes, they were never alone.

In a series there is a place for predictability. You know what is going to happen because it is a romance novel … there will be a happy ending or at least happy for now. Because this book is #27 in the series and because it is an anthology I found it to be too predictable.

In a novella you almost need to shake things up, make the book a game changer. The characters were enjoyable but I felt cheated because we didn’t really get to meet them. There was lots of action by secondary characters, which normally I love – that is my favorite aspects of series,  but there isn’t room in an anthology or novella. The word count is too short. So in this case, it just took away from the couple.

I finished this book with the feeling of ‘thank goodness the next in the series is being released right after’. In one month to be exact. I don’t know why. Normally books in the series or at least a year apart and it doesn’t seem like it is a two-part book.

Overall, I didn’t really like Dark Crime. I felt cheated, and the main characters were as well. It was just a waste of a book. The story wasn’t enjoyable; everything was so compressed and I felt completely disconnected from the events. Hopefully the next, which is a full length novel, will be better.

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