Thursday, October 10, 2019

To Me, This Movie is Trash: Joker (SPOILERS)

I was nervous about seeing Joker. The release of the film was preceded with over the top accolades, Oscar buzz, and lengthy standing ovations. Every clip and trailer I saw promised Joaquin Phoenix would be dancing maniacally, laughing maniacally, and dirty. It seemed to be the Siren Call of the White Guy. Todd Phillips clarified that call with his silly statements about leaving comedy. (But did you DIE Todd Phillips?) I like the character the Joker. I was interested in seeing what a great actor like JP would bring to the Joker. I liked that it was supposedly in no way connected to the current DCEU movies. I tried to be optimistic. I went to see Joker. SPOILERS from here on out.

Things that were excellent about Joker
Gotham. Specifically Gotham in the 80's. The grit and grime of the city, the people, the clothes, the opulence of the rich, the attention to every detail, including the old Warner Brothers logo. It was a flawless execution done so well, it looked like a movie FROM the 80's. Hat tipped.

Joaquin Phoenix. To be clear, all of the acting in this movie was great. JP gave 110% to his performance and the supporting cast all showed up and showed out.

The homage to Taxi Driver and Scorsese. So many deliberate and intelligent choices were made here in service to an homage to Martin Scorsese, and the result is a beautifully shot and cleverly filmed production. The portrayal JP gave as a man with mental illness and SOME of the ways it was handled on film were great.

Um. I guess that's it. I have heard some people say they liked the score but I don't remember it.

Things that were Trash about Joker
The "twists" 
Apparently the twist that Arthur Fleck was in fact NOT dating his beautiful neighbor Sophie, played by Zazie Beetz, was shocking to many.

Fuck outta here.

He followed her all day and imagined that she would a) just knock on his door and be cool with that creepy shit and b) come see him do a comedy set. Nah, bruv. If she was actually dating him, I would have been even more upset but there is no way on Beyonce's internet that Sophie was dating Arthur or letting him around her child. She knew who the fuck he was because you keep track of crazy people when you are a single mom.

Speaking of moms - so many unanswered questions about where he was while his mom was committed...I don't really care. He ends up being adopted but they have similar delusional mental illnesses, which was strange.

Then there were the did he or didn't he twists (?). Did he actually shoot Murray Franklin? Was it a delusion? How much of the movie was accurate? Joker has always been an unreliable narrator, so in a way these questions are valid. However, my mind wasn't blown by the Inception-ness of it all. Arthur was a sad, sickly man who at best, may have accidentally ignited a movement and at worst was delusional and homicidal (but also still sad and sickly.)

The way Black Women were portrayed
From the beginning, my Black Lady Suspicion Meter (c) was going off. How the movie managed to create these opportunities for wonderful actresses and then throw them into these classic tropes is just disappointing.

In the trailer, a frowny Black woman on the bus snapped at Arthur and told him to quit bothering her adorable son, who was turned around in his seat facing Arthur. "How odd." I thought. "There must be more context to that in the movie."

There wasn't.

That woman on the bus must have already known what I didn't know - that Arthur was not suitable to be around her son. She was the physical representation of the way the world responded to Arthur packaged as a Sassy Black Lady.

Then there was his social worker, who was overworked, underpaid, and tired of Arthur's shit. She was the physical representation of the system failing Arthur, and we are meant to feel that her apathy is letting Arthur down, too. She was doing the best she could and Arthur needed more from her. And now we have a Mammy trope.

The stunning Sophie, who was his object of fixation as he created a fictional relationship with her. Forbidden Fruit. *eyeroll*

The psychiatrist at Arkham, who might as well have worn a t-shirt that said Magical Negro. I'm so tired. And he killed her off-screen.

Separately these characters wouldn't be so irritating, but together they create a tableau of tired ass writing from men who should know better.

The writing and indulgent pace
Speaking of writing...this movie had clever moments, and was written like it knew it. It was like someone smirking at you waiting for you to get the joke, but the joke doesn't make sense. Why would Murray let an obviously unhinged man get on his show with clown make-up on, when the lower classes are revolting in clown make up? Why would he not kick him off when he grabs Dr. Sally and kisses her against her will? Who took care of him between the time he was adopted and his mother was committed? This movie is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.

I can't count the number of times I sighed and was ready for certain scenes to just MOVE ON. There were moments of levity, but there were also moments of unintentional comedy. I'm mystified by the fanboys who had a life-changing experience by this movie.

The comic connection
This film was touted as an independent Joker movie, separate from the DCEU, and I assumed (incorrectly) that is would have nothing to do with the Wayne family.

I was wrong.

Thomas Wayne was a gaping asshole in this movie. He was an elitist snob, a take I hadn't heard of before. Why did we have to YET AGAIN see the Waynes murdered? Why did Joker have to meet young Bruce at all? He didn't actually kill the Waynes, and he wasn't Bruce's illegitimate brother (as his delusional mother believed.) In the end, it was a waste of characters and time for a scene we have seen a thousand times. How many ways can pearls drop??

I had to write this up. I'm sure people may disagree and I'm happy to discuss. I was wholly unsatisfied with my movie experience, but in the end, Joaquin Phoenix did an exemplary job in a movie that would have been more compelling if it had no comic connection at all.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: That Kind of Guy

That Kind of Guy That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a wonderful ending to a series I adored. Zach has been on my radar for a while so I was extra pleased to see him with Rae, a divorcee of a certain age (ok my age) with her wicked facial scars to boot. It was fascinating to read about demisexuality, which I was not familiar with.

Rae and Zach are good friends, but Rae has been harboring a lust-crush for the younger and extremely hot Zach. They end up hatching a plan for him to be her pretend boyfriend at a writers conference where Rae's horrible ex husband will also be in attendance.

Such a fun and sweet read. Also, Duke the dog is a Very Good Boy.

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Review: Hate the Game

Hate the Game Hate the Game by Winter Renshaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll admit my hopes were not high for a hero named Talon and a heroine named Irie.

However, I am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised. The unfortunately named Irie was a smart cookie, knew exactly why Talon was after her, and didn't let her lust get in her way...for about 3 and a half years. The author was very smart in making Talon a fleshed out, 3 dimensional character with issues of his own and gave him a full arc. Irie almost had the same treatment, but I was a little let down by her arc at the very end. There is an HEA, so no worries there.

Talon and Irie had great chemistry, and Talon was as respectful as a relentless, single minded young man could be in this situation, which I appreciated. If you dig a frenemies to lovers story, this would appeal to you.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Review: Sparrow

Sparrow Sparrow by L.J. Shen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Monster's Moll

Sparrow is the unwilling bride of notorious Boston badass Troy Brennan, The Fixer. Despite his cold reputation, Sparrow still manages to give as good as she gets from him, and he respects her all the more for it. There are tons of secrets and lies that weave their way around this book, and when Sparrow and Troy finally come together, the sparks fly. I was riveted. Great page Turner, hot scenes, well written.

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Review: The Right Swipe

The Right Swipe The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Soooooo Good

If you haven't been reading Alisha Rai, do you even like romance?

Rhi is a romance app designer that used her app and found the one night stand of a lifetime. Unfortunately he ghosted her and turns up months later as former pro footballer Samson Lima, who is now the spokesman for a rival dating app-one that Rhi wants to acquire.

The chemistry between Samson and Rhiannon is a perfect mix of spicy and sweet. I adored them together, and there is a tie in to Alisha Rai's previous series! Seriously, it's fun and cute and so hot. Read it.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review: Wylde Fire

Wylde Fire Wylde Fire by Sarah Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot. Having read some struggle books, it was so nice to read a book that had just the right amount of drama and some sexy times, too.

Sam and Holly grew up in the same town, but Sam was one of the fancy Wylde boys - star athlete and rich. Holly was an introverted artist a few years behind him. Now Sam finds himself in a bind - his cousin broke his event planner's heart and she has left them in an lurch. Holly needs the cash, no matter how challenging the event is, but she is talented and knows that she can pull it off. And then the plot thickens - if they get married, they can help each other out in a BIG way and maybe fall in love in the process.

This series is about a small town that has some diversity (!) and really loves their whiskey. It was a fun, sexy read. I'm looking forward to reading about the other characters that fall in love - these Wylde boys already seem like a handful.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Review: Passion By Design

Passion By Design Passion By Design by Rifi Strawn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't like to be negative but...nope.

This book was not to my taste, but I could see how it may appeal to someone else. It was a decent effort, but the characters seemed out of touch and unrelatable. There is a certain polish that I enjoy reading in author's works that isn't here, however there is a solid story and HEA.

An up and coming interior designer lands a sweet account with the billionaire who rear-ended her recently. He is the owner of a historic property that needs to be furnished. Of course they butt heads but end up doing more than that as they fall in love. However, he has some serious demons in his past to deal with as well.

I hope this is more enjoyable to others. I ended up skimming and cringing for most of the book unfortunately.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Review: Million Dollar Devil

Million Dollar Devil Million Dollar Devil by Katy Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delicious Read

James "Jimmy" Rowan is a fine-looking diamond in the rough youtube daredevil who will do anything for a buck; Elizabeth "Lizzy" Banks is a corporate powerhouse working in her father's company, very much under her father's thumb. When he gives her full control over a huge marketing account, she goes all in and discovers Jimmy. If she cant find the face of the new ad campaign, she decides to make the man, and in the meantime, the man is very much ready to do more than work with her.

Jimmy is a delight. He is sexy, honest, loving, delicious rough, and salivatingly delicious cleaned up. His chemistry with the unlucky in love but hard working Lizzy is so sweet and spicy, too.

Enjoyed this a lot, and ready for the next in the series.

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Review: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Friends to Lovers Heat

There could be some debate about this being a second chance romance, but since Adele's initial crush was unrequited, it would seem to be placed squarely in friends to lovers. Either way it was a funny, charmingly awkward, and spicy read. Adele spent summers with her dad as an adolescent and teen. Pete, who worked for her father and was about 10 years her senior took her under his wing and they were constant companions -best friends.

That all changed on Adele's 18th birthday. Not, 7 years later, she is back in town to attend her father's wedding and meet his new bride. And unfortunately for her, she is staying at Pete's house.

There were so many moments when I howled with laughter and growled in frustration. I do love a grumpy hero and sexy Pete fit the bill. Adele was so brash and hilarious. I enjoyed her and I loved that she made Pete work for it.

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Review: Curvy Attraction: Aiden & Cecelia

Curvy Attraction: Aiden & Cecelia Curvy Attraction: Aiden & Cecelia by Christa Wick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute, steamy read

Plus sized heroine discovers her longtime crush is actually crushing on her, too. Breezy, steamy read. Some of the comments the heroine makes about her size are kind of bothersome but the hero is a gem.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: King

King King by Riley Ashby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 rating
King is about a young woman, Sophie, that gets involved (well, traded) to Ellery King because of her alcoholic father's gambling debts. King is dark, mysterious, kinky, and alpha. Sophie is headstrong, yet fragile and as it turns out, kinky as well.

A slimy underbelly is revealed in this book, so the dark ambiance is set. Ellery is a secretive and controlling man, a seeming puppet master to Sophie, who is sometimes unpredictable. They fall fast and hard, with amazing chemistry that produces very sexy and sweet scenes. Considering how they were brought together, will their relationship weather the storm of trust and illegal business dealings?

There were a couple of things that made me want to throw my Kindle - Sophie's temper tantrums and Ellery's easy acquiescence. These dramatic blow ups and apology tours for no good reason seemed out of character for both of them, and there was plenty of tense drama where these episodes weren't needed.

The secondary characters here were great as well, and I actually want to read the next book in this series. Castel is passionate and sexy and I can't wait to read about him some more.
CW/TW for rape/non consensual sexual situation.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Review: Queen Bee: A Bad-Boy Military MC Romance

Queen Bee: A Bad-Boy Military MC Romance Queen Bee: A Bad-Boy Military MC Romance by Simone Scarlet MMA
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was not familiar with The Knuckleheads before this book. There were a lot of gaps for me because I was coming so far into the series, and I can tell that if I knew the players, some of those gaps would have been filled in a little better. Gaps in meaning, not content - there was PLENTY of content.

Betty aka Big Bertha aka Queen Bee was the heart and soul of the Knuckleheads MC. Partnered with leader Coyle, they reigned for 15 years over a giant group of biker/military vets and lived by their own rules. One day, Betty decided to leave it all behind and isn't it the way it always goes that your past comes back to find you.

This was a colorful saga of Betty and her life. There is an HEA at the end, but I felt the HEA was missing in the book. What WAS in the book was everything else - shootouts, bedlam, lots of sex, hard living, almost rape, and lots of sex. I was certainly fascinated by the lives of the Knuckleheads and their motto: No one rides for free.

This writer has a particular style that readers will either love or not love. While I was engaged in the story itself, sometimes I would be taken out when there was mention of things like lady juices dripping down legs. In any case this was a wild, raunchy, and violent romp, just what you want to read in an MC book.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Review: Dirty Boss

Dirty Boss Dirty Boss by Crystal Kaswell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lizzy met Nick in San Francisco and had a hot one night stand. Fast forward a few months, and it turns out Nick is her new boss and is a tech titan. She needs this internship to stay in NYC with her sister and she has to convince Nick to let her stay on, going against his ethics of not dating the staff. Unsurprisingly (smirk) they come to a different arrangement - work and sex can happen, just with clear cut rules and no expectations.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. Lizzy was written very accurately for her age - annoyingly so sometimes. She isn't 21 yet, so she was using fake IDs to get drinks. (Not my usual go to, but Nick was only 27 in comparison.) Nick needs control, but I liked how he also had a warm side to him, so that I believed his intentions later in the book. I'm new to this author so I would love to see if Lizzy's sister and her fiance had a book written about them!

If you love kinky billionaires, this is the book for you. Seriously hot scenes, and there are plenty of them! If you have read a lot of these kinds of erotic romances, there won't be anything new here, but it's still a fun, sexy read. If you are new to this genre, enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review: Mowed: An Erotic BBW Comedy Romance

Mowed: An Erotic BBW Comedy Romance Mowed: An Erotic BBW Comedy Romance by Grace Risata
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A rare DNF for me.

This was supposed to be a comedy, but between the self hating comments disguised as self deprecation and the rambling commentary, I put this down before I even met the hero. Wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm glad it was enjoyable for others.

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Review: Lies

Lies Lies by Kylie Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was damn delightful. A book like this could go badly, but Kylie Scott is a great writer.

Betty is buxom and leaving her boring fiancee when their condo explodes. Turns out tired Thom is really a secret operative who has been playing a role with her. But maybe through the lies, he actually has feelings for Betty...and once she sees Thom in his true element sparks start flying. Sexy, funny, clever read.

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Review: Repeat

Repeat Repeat by Kylie Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clementine has amnesia after a seemingly random attack and robbery left her with a traumatic brain injury. Eventually she wanders into a tattoo parlor to ask the artist if the distinct style of her tattoo means he inked her. Turns out it was more than that - Ed was her ex, very recently just before her attack.

I loved Clem's voice in this book. It was so well written and Kylie Scott was a master at unpeeling the layers of memory, love, and mystery. Also Ed just seemed ridiculously hot. Loved this book!

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Where is Miss Boxy Frown?

I'm around, reading when I can, live tweeting when I can, and listening to audio books...when I can.
What I am doing mostly is sprinkling my Black Girl Magic all over this MBA program, so I don't have a lot of time for this the moment!

However, I will poke my head in and write up something that makes me really happy and I can't help but recommend it. Stay tuned, beloveds!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny

Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So great, so sexy!

This book was such a delight. Sloan, a single divorcee and accomplished surgeon with incredibly adorable and clever twin girls, needs a new nanny asap. Enter Rafe, a tall drink of buff ginger tatts and years experience in nanny work.

Sparks fly instantly and what a breath of fresh air - these two confront their attraction head on. This book made me happy; I had a big goofy smile on my face while reading it. The dialogue was hilarious between the characters, especially between Sloan and her bestie (who is getting her own book soon!!)

Listen. He does the twin's hair. *drops mic*

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: More Than Crave You

More Than Crave You More Than Crave You by Shayla Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this delicious almost-arrangement trope romance. Evan is a tech CEO and values his executive assistant, Nia, to handle everything in his life, from business to personal. After his pregnant wife died unexpectedly, Evan grieved but he is ready to get his life back in order - so he asks Nia to put a personal ad in for him. Long story short, he realizes quickly that once he sees Nia as a person and not just his assistant that he may have been looking for what was right in front of him the whole time.

This was a great read, cover to cover. Evan was a very interesting personality - so literal and analytical. His relationship with Nia humanized him and showed his passionate side. Nia was a great heroine - intelligent, warm, and she wouldn't settle for less. They were a fun couple to read about and the second I have read from this series. I'm behind - I need to go back and read the rest of these couples!

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Review: Phenomenal X

Phenomenal X Phenomenal X by Michelle A. Valentine
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book recently came up on twitter and couldn't remember if I had read it (first red flag) but thought, well I don't remember hating it, so it must be ok. I was right - it's just ok.

This is a book filled with wild emotional outbursts for no reason. For instance, the hero, who is a professional wrestler, has a personal assistant and admits to the heroine (whom he has known for less than a week) that he has a sexual relationship with his PA. Forward to a day later and the heroine finds the PA in the hero's apt and flips out when the PA "reveals" she slept with the hero a few days previously.

There were lots of bits of conflict that didn't make sense to me like this. It's a shame; I enjoyed the premise as a casual fan of pro wrestling and sporty-boy romances. This book also ends on a cliff hanger. It seems like this author has written a lot since this was released in 2014, so I would really like to check out some of her more recent offerings.

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