Friday, February 24, 2017

*Movie Review* 50 Shades Darker

So I did it. Tonight I went to see 50 Shades Darker with a friend. There were supposed to be more than two of us, but everyone else got sick, I think. Now, I didn't go see the movie because I desperately wanted to see the movie. I would have been just fine waiting until it was available on DVD and renting it from the shoppette. But when my friend invited me to go with them to watch it, the invitation included dinner at a super amazing sushi restaurant beforehand, and I basically never get to eat good sushi because my husband does not like seafood, especially raw seafood. I would have agreed to go see a Barney the Dinosaur movie if it came with the promise of sushi beforehand.

So I was less than impressed by this movie. That's not surprising though. I don't really like either Dakota Johnson as Anastasia or Jamie Dornan as Christian, and I'm not a major 50 Shades fanatic to begin with. (Again, I was there because of sushi.) While watching the movie, I checked the time at least a half dozen times, just trying to figure out when it would be over already. It would have helped if I'd figured out how long the movie was supposed to last in the first place, but it's too late for that now. If it had been thirty minutes shorter, that would have been just fine by me. There were several scenes that would not have suffered much from a little trimming.

But the movie wasn't all bad. There were a few lines that had me cracking up, like Ana's line early on when Christian asks her to go to dinner with him where she says "Okay. But because I'm hungry." It was a great, well-delivered line. And it wasn't the only one, but I wasn't sitting there taking notes so I can't directly quote any of the others off the top of my head.

Another bonus for the movie, at least for the straight men in the audience, was that there was about 300% more boob-time than in the first movie. And there is not a doubt in my mind that decision was made in part to appeal to the men dragged along to the movie by their significant others. Also, almost every single time Christian and Ana have sex, Christian keeps his pants on. (He does however take his shirt off, a lot.)

Would I see this movie again? No, probably not. Unless by some strange twist of fate my husband wants to watch it after it comes out on DVD because of the extra boob-time (but that's not likely.) If you haven't seen it already because you're like me and interested but not THAT interested, you'll probably want to skip paying the outrageous ticket prices to see it in theaters and just wait to rent it on DVD. - Katie

Thursday, February 23, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Genre: Memoir
Published: November 15, 2016
Pages: 304


A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).


I listened to the audiobook version of Scrappy Little Nobody, and I highly recommend it if you are an Anna Kendrick fan. The narrator sounds just like her (you know, because it is her.) I would not recommend listening to it around young children, however, unless you do so with headphones. Kendrick talks about many things you may not want to have to explain to your kids just yet, or ever really.

I've got to admit that I have not always been a Kendrick fan, in fact I was rather the opposite for a while when my only exposure to her was in Twilight. I did not like the character she played at all (in the books or the movies) and while I realize that not liking Kendrick because of her character in Twilight is absurd, it is what it is. And it's very possible that I would appreciate her portrayal of Jessica more now that I've read this book, so that's kind of a win I think.

As I listened to Scrappy Little Nobody, I came to the realization that Anna Kendrick is basically my spirit animal. I desperately want to be best friends with her, not because she's a celebrity, but because we seem to have a similar sense of humor and she appreciates Harry Potter (the movies at least). Also, she just seems like a really cool chick. At one point she describes various types of potential parties she has planned, and I legit want to attend all of them because they just sound like so much fun. I'm certainly left feeling like I really know Kendrick personally now, and I like her in all her glorious awkwardness, and I'm even going to give her another chance in Twilight.

I am quickly coming to the conclusion that celebrity memoirs are best listened to rather than read, as long as the celebrity is the one doing the narrating (and I have yet to encounter a celebrity memoir where that is not the case). I'm even coming to the conclusion that I really like listening to celebrity memoirs, and I used to think that I just hated audiobooks in general. But honestly, if you're going to read a book about a celebrity, you may as well have them read it to you. So I definitely recommend springing for the audiobook here.

Overall I give Scrappy Little Nobody 5 out of 5 stars because it was thoroughly entertaining. - Katie 

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About the Author

Born and raised in Portland, Maine, Anna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of twelve in her Tony-nominated performance for the musical High Society. Since her Academy Award–nominated role as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air, she has made numerous theatrical appearances, including starring roles in Into the Woods, the Twilight saga, and the Pitch Perfect film franchise. In 2013, she achieved musical success with the triple-platinum hit song “Cups (When I’m Gone),” featured in Pitch Perfect. She lives in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

*Book Movie Match-up* #BeatThe Backlist - Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Book Published: September 13, 2012
Pages: 300
Genre: YA Fiction

Movie Premiered: July 27, 2016
Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, and Emily Meade



Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever's behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it's thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?


Big Brother meets The Hunger Games in Nerve by Jeanne Ryan.

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

This book completely sucked me in. Like I was legit supposed to be proofreading a book, but I put it off for a day just so I could plow through Nerve. And I needed that. Reading was starting to feel way too much like a chore and this book renewed me. 

The story was intense and exciting, which is strange because the dares weren't really that dangerous, at least not at first. Like they are absolutely the kinds of things that I would agree to do when drinking and playing truth or dare with my friends. But I was so deep in Vee's head that her emotions were my emotions. It helped some that Vee is an introverted wallflower type, much like me. Still, I was just as nervous as Vee was about dumping a cup of water over my head in the middle of a coffee shop (yeah, that was really one of the dares.)

When Vee reached the finals, things got more intense and felt more dangerous. The addition of five more players contributed to the intensity greatly. There was much more animosity from the new players than we'd been exposed to up to that point, and the situation started to feel legitimately dangerous.

I was also totally shipping Vee and Ian for most of the story, although that made me feel a bit sorry for Tommy, but only for a minute. There are a few reasons why I don't feel too sorry for Tommy. The least of which is that I'm working on not expecting women to date guys just because they're nice to them, even fictional women.

Overall I give Nerve 5 out of 5 stars. 

Alright, so the movie is basically nothing like the book, like at all. About the only thing that is the same is that Vee is playing a game where she gets rewards for completing dares that she receives through her phone. That's where the similarities end. I'm serious. 

But the changes were not a bad thing overall. I mean a girl having to dump a cup of water over her head in a coffee shop would not really make for good cinematography, and it would inspire a lot less nervous energy in the audience because in the movie we're not so much in her head. I even actually liked how the movie made it easier for other characters to take part in the game prior to the finals. It added a fun element to the story.

So the movie was exciting, but in a different way than the book. The book was much more cerebral excitement. The movie was more action packed excitement, so much more visually appealing, you know, like you expect from a movie. As an adaptation, the movie gets an F, but it gets an A- on it's own merit. I thoroughly enjoyed it in spite of all the differences between the book and movie. I can actually recommend watching the movie even after reading the book, and that doesn't happen often. - Katie

About the Author

I’ve lived all over the world, raised in a family with eleven brothers and sisters. I spent my early childhood in Hawaii and the rest of my growing-up years trying to figure out a way to get back there, with stops in South Korea, Michigan and Germany along the way. Before writing fiction, I tried my hand at many things, including war game simulation and youth development research. But I decided it was much more fun to work on stories than statistics.

These days, I still love Hawaii, but have found my home under the moody skies of the Pacific Northwest.

Note, I post news on Twitter @Jeanne_Ryan and on my FB page:

You've Got Mail. Not.

Guess what! Once again IABB Confessions have given me something to talk about. As a reminder in case you are not aware, neither IABB nor the graphic artists who create the images for us are responsible for the contents of the confessions. They merely provide the platform for their airing. The confessions themselves are entirely anonymous. This just happens to be one that I took particular issue with, partially because I feel like it is directly targeting me (I don't think it was necessarily written about me specifically however.) 

I operate one of those websites where I clearly state that I will only reply to your email if I have chosen to review your book and the review is posted. I've even gone into detail with the reasons behind that decision. If you want to see them, simply click on the Review Policy tab above. But the fact of the matter is that I have been very straightforward letting anyone who chooses to send me an email know not to expect a response from me. I feel like I have done my part to be professional in the matter because that information is readily available. If you miss that information because you skipped over that part of the page to simply grab my email address to submit a request, well that's a you problem.

And I'm not prepared to set up an auto-response on my email at this time, because there are far too many people that ignore my guidelines and request to not receive blog tour sign ups and the like. I have no desire to have my email send an auto-response to promo companies that have failed to do their due diligence saying something along the lines of "Your request has been received and will be taken into consideration" because those people need a response more along the lines of "This email address is for review requests only. Please remove it from your promotional mailing list." When did it become okay for promo companies to send unsolicited emails for promotion? (It didn't, that's called spam, but it still happens all the time.) So you will get no auto-response from me because some people are dumb and I refuse to encourage them.

Now I get a lot fewer emails than most bloggers (probably partially because I refuse to send replies to review requests, but mostly because I don't get the daily requests for release blitz sign ups from a dozen or more promo companies. Seriously, those things will get your inbox out of control in next to no time. I scrapped the email address I originally used for this blog because it was easier to just get a new email address when we decided to no longer sign up for blog tours and stuff.) I probably could take the time to send a personal message to every person who sends a review request to me. But I check my email on my phone or iPad, and typing anything on a mobile device takes me at least twice as long as typing on a computer does. Also, I just don't want to. That is not something I want to spend my time doing, and that is my decision to make.

Which brings us to the "okay not to be professional" aspect of the confession. You wanna know why I feel like it's okay to not be professional where emails are concerned? Because this is not my job. This does not pay my bills. Blogging does not put food on my table or clothes on my back. This is a hobby. This is something I do in my free time (or that I make time to do because I enjoy doing it.) For most bloggers, blogging is just that, a hobby.

This is the point where authors argue that we bloggers need you. I've discussed this topic before, but I'll briefly do it again here. The relationship between author and blogger is an unequal relationship that favors the blogger. The fact of the matter is that we bloggers don't need individual authors nearly as much as indie authors need us bloggers. As bloggers, we just need there to be authors, and traditional publishing guarantees that there always will be (not that I think indies are going anywhere any time soon, and I wouldn't want them to. But authors will always exist.) For instance, I won 412 books through Goodreads First Reads giveaways last year alone. I read between 120-150 books a year. I'll let you do the math. So far this year I've won 46 books on Goodreads, and I've only read 14 books for the year so far. As you can see, I could read entirely for free without even being a blogger. So as shitty as it sounds, I don't need you. I would be sad if you stopped writing, because indie authors produce some very entertaining books, but I don't need your free review copies to continue blogging. I can do that without you.

So to this confessor, I see what you're saying. I get that it may be frustrating for you. But all of the above is exactly why I personally feel no shame at all for not responding to emails as a blogger. After all, this is my blog and I do what I want. - Katie 

*Book Movie Match-up* #BeatTheBacklist - The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Published: February 11, 2014
Pages: 385
Genre: Science Fiction

Movie Premiered: October 2, 2015
Length: 2 hour, 24 minutes
Starring: Matt Damon


A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man's struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
I listened to the audiobook version of this book. I felt like the narrator did a decent job with the voices. I don't remember cringing at the female voices, feeling like they were caricatures, and the accent for Vogel, who is German, is consistent with my experience of speaking to Germans living in Germany. Granted most of the narration was for a single character, the focus was on Watney after all, but it was still always clear who was speaking when it wasn't Watney. And he had a great wry tone for Watney's humor.

The story got off to a slow start for me, although some of that may be because I listened to the audio rather than reading. Endless descriptions aren't quite as interesting to listen to as dialogue and action, and there wasn't much action to start. But about a third of the way into the story, things started to pick up and get interesting.

I thought that overall this story was hilarious. The way Watney approaches issues made this fun to listen to. I mean there is talk about space pirates for crying out loud. And Watney isn't the only one in the crew who's got jokes, although some of the humor from the rest of the crew could be response to Watney's jokes. Although it may also just be a personality trait NASA looks for in astronauts. 

There was also a fair amount of suspense in the story. There were several times where it seemed all was surely lost. Obviously it wasn't for some of them. Those times had me on the edge of my seat wondering how Mark would get himself out of that scrape. 

5 out of 5 stars.

I think I may have set this movie up for failure by listening to the audio as opposed to reading myself. I mean, I knew the voices would be different in the movie, but I wasn't prepared for Vogel to basically have no accent at all. And that probably wouldn't have stood out to me nearly as much if I'd read the book myself. This was a much bigger problem for me while watching that it really should have been. 

So the movie changed a lot of things, but most of the changes made a certain amount of sense, up until the end at least. At the end they removed book suspense to replace it with slightly different suspense a little later on, and that change just made no sense to me. There was also an exchange between Watney and Lewis that was altered to be about 75% less funny in the movie, that since I had just finished listening to the book earlier that day, really stood out to me as a major disappointment. But aside from those two things, the changes really did make sense, and I didn't mind them much (although I obviously still pointed them out, because duh.) 

All in all, I would say that this was a decent adaptation of the book, although I would recommend not watching it immediately after finishing the book so that exact conversations have a chance to get a bit muddled in your head (you'll probably be less irritated that way.) This movie gets a B+. - Katie 

About the Author

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

*Review* Her Dark Past by Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Erotic Romance
Published: January 23, 2017
Pages: 326


Brynn Adler is a writer with a unique ability—everywhere she goes, images of the past haunt her. 

After taking over the estate of her murdered ex-husband, Nathan Cole, Brynn is at the center of a mystery. A mystery the ruthless members of the Corde Noire Society want solved. Sent to discover Brynn’s secret, Declan Corinth plans to arouse her former submissive ways. There’s just one problem … he knows nothing about being a Dom. If Declan doesn’t get what the Corde Noire requires, Brynn Adler could become its next victim. Can he win her trust in time? The clock is ticking. 

To uncover the past, embrace the darkness.


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

When I started reading this book, I thought I knew how it was going to end. Honestly, I thought I knew how this book was going to end when I finished reading the previous book in the series. I was wrong. I was so very wrong. Now that's not a bad thing, the book just went in a different direction than I had been imagining it taking for all the months between books. I definitely liked the actual ending, and it was very satisfying for the story, and even makes more sense because of information that is revealed throughout the course of the story. But in spite of me being wrong about the direction this book would take, it was still the book in this series that I most needed. 

This book was almost like a classic romance novel, where it's obvious the two main characters are supposed to be together, but they just don't see it because they're both so freakin' busy pretending to be something that they're not. You just want to grab them and yell at them to force them to see it too, but you can't because that's undignified, and they don't actually exist. It made me feel reminiscent of the romance novels I read back in middle school though, and that was nice. 

Overall I give Her Dark Past 5 out of 5 stars because it was thoroughly engrossing. - Katie 

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About the Author

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. 
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*Review* The Blessed Knights by Mary Ting

Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: October 28, 2016
Pages: 234


***Silver Medal Winner for Readers' Favorite International Book Award for Young Adult-Fantasy*** 2016

Above a small hill lay a home.
And green men peer out under the dome.
Thirteen crisscrossing arches behold,
with angels singing must be told.
Cubes like teeth thus showed,
pierce one and the door shall glow. 
Part the sea like Moses, 
to see the bundle of red roses.
Only then you shall see,
what is destined to be free.
But beware, if you are not the heir,
for damnation you shall declare, 
for the false burden you shall bare.

Eli, Lucia’s half-demon love interest, has been stabbed with a true-cross dagger and captured by Cyrus, master of the possessor demons. The Chosen Knights must work together once again not only to save Eli, but also to decipher a clue to find the second missing page of Jacques de Molay’s journal. Meanwhile, Uncle Davin informs Crossroads’ Divine Elders of the danger ahead and learns there is much to fear. Countless children are being taken from all over the world to be turned into demons. Michael has no choice but to intervene. The Chosen Knights track down Mortem, the demon who is the key to finding Cyrus, and learn they must travel deep into the pit of a Hawaiian volcano. When they astral travel to the past in search of a clue and follow Jacques de Molay to Rosselyn Chapel in medieval Scotland, what they find will rewrite history.


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

I apologize in advance if this review seems a bit off the wall. You see, I read this book back in October, and while I largely remember the storyline, I have read a couple books from the Crossroads saga (for which this is a spin-off) since then, so my emotional experience is tainted somewhat. I promise to never make this mistake again. (I'm totally probably going to end up making this mistake again.) Moving on.

I really enjoyed returning to the mystery of the Knights Templar with Lucia's Blessed Knights. I did not particularly enjoy the rescue mission we had to go on to try and save Eli though. I really rather wish that rescue mission had not been necessary in the first place, although it was rather exciting and detailed at the time. I am also anxious to get to the next book in the story to see how the mystery will continue to play out. 

I also enjoyed the return of some old favorites from the Crossroads Saga. It was almost like spending a weekend white water rafting with friends from high school. The chance of dismemberment or death was definitely there, but it still felt relatively safe because of their presence.

While I wouldn't say that you HAVE to read the Crossroads Saga first, because this spin-off is definitely it's own story, I would recommend it because it lays the groundwork for the lives of Lucia and the other Alkins and the half-breeds that they meet in Hawaii. At the very least you'll have fewer questions about how that all works if you start with the Crossroads Saga. Just trust me on this. 

Overall I give The Blessed Knights 4 out of 5 stars because it was entertaining and exciting. - Katie 

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About the Author

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

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