The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton, #2) – Julia Quinn

Source: Goodreads

Anthony Bridgerton has always known he would die young. He has no plans to fall in love because he can’t bear the thought of leaving someone like his father left his mother – alone. He will marry, of course, to bear an heir for the family line, but he knows he won’t live to see the child grown. As the head of the Bridgerton family since he was 18, Anthony is a hardened man with a healthy appetite for women. He just needs a young, pretty thing to raise his children and make his mother happy.

Kate Sheffield has been the head of her small family since her father’s death. She loves her stepmother and half-sister more than life but is overly protective of them, especially when her stepmother convinces them both to have a London Season. Overshadowed by her younger sister, the diamond of the season, Kate is happy just to attend the parties and make a few friends before they return to the country for good. Then Anthony Bridgerton, a Viscount and pronounced rake, not to mention the catch of the season, begins angling for her sister’s affection and Kate smells trouble. Her efforts to prevent Anthony from sullying her sister’s reputation or breaking her sister’s heart have an entirely unintended effect, however, when Kate quite suddenly becomes engaged to the man herself after he loses his composure in the presence of a bee.


This book is cheesy and adorable, and to two main characters are just like puzzle pieces looking for each other all their lives. I always start this series thinking I could never love anyone more than Daphne, and then along comes Kate, who completely turns Anthony’s world upside down and confounds him to no end. Kate is the kind of character who sticks with you for years and years after reading. She is quiet and calm, but also aggressive and outspoken when the moment demands it. She is no wilting flower, but even heroines need saving some of the time.

I return to The Bridgerton Saga again and again because it has the trifecta of great writing: magnificent world-building that doesn’t overwhelm the reader, vibrant characters that are interesting on their own but shine in the presence of each other, and plots that are personalized to each character’s unique personality and position in the world, drawing everything together with a little bit of the magic of fate.


HHC Rating: 5 stars.



Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – The Duke And I
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman (Review available 2/12)
Book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Review available 3/5)
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love (Review available 3/26)
Book 6 – When He Was Wicked (Review available 4/16)
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss (Review available 5/7)
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding (Review available 5/28)

Film Review – The Kissing Booth

Source: Wikipedia

I finally watched The Kissing Booth on Netflix. And I have to say… it has a lot of issues. And these issues are sugarcoated by the obvious choices of very good looking people to play the characters and the supposed true love they find with each other. But all those good genes and true love can’t completely cover up just how toxic 90% of this film is.

The premise of the movie (and the book it was based on, which I have yet to read) is that Elle and Lee have been best friends since the moment they were born — which was at exactly the same time at the same hospital, to mothers who had already been best friends for ~10 years. They have friendship rules, which in my experience is rarely a good thing, and one of those rules is that relatives are off limits romantically. Also from experience, you can’t dictate who people are allowed to fall in love with. That’s just not how hormones or actual love work.

Now, the weird part of these rules? Lee is the only one with an older brother. They also came up with these rules when they were six. SIX. Elle’s little brother wasn’t even born at that point, and anyways, who decides their friendship is threatened by a brother (who is only a year older, btw) at six years old? Everything about those rules was ridiculous. Obviously, Elle has been in a tizzy over the older brother, Noah, since forever. Noah has always looked out for Elle and Lee, but he is also shown as always getting into fights (and winning). The fights, for the most part, are presented at first as in defense of Lee and Elle, but throughout the film they become meaner and more aggressive.

When Noah is a senior (and of course on the football team) and Elle and Lee are juniors, the Dance Club hosts a Kissing Booth at the annual school fundraising fair, and Noah kisses Elle while she’s blindfolded. She takes off the blindfold right after and they start making out, which is nice and all, but he’s also spent the first half of the film basically calling her his little sister and telling all the boys in the school not to ask her out or he’ll break their noses.

After a beach party post kissing booth, Noah gets into a fight with a dude who tried to drag Elle off to a hot tub. When Elle runs off Noah follows her and tells her to get into the car. She continues walking away and he pounds on the hood of the car and yells at her, demanding that she get in the car. I don’t care that he said please after that. Elle stopped walking away the second he yelled, obviously scared. And then she lets him drive her home. Not only that, but he doesn’t even take her home! Noooo, they go to the Hollywood sign and decide they’re going to date in secret until Elle figures out a way to tell Noah’s younger brother and her only friend that she’s breaking their friendship rules. Then they make out and sleep together. On their first date. Because you should always sleep with someone who got into a fight, screamed at you, said they would drive you home and then didn’t, and then agreed to date you in secret while lying to their brother and your best friend about it. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

When Lee eventually finds out, he insists that Elle doesn’t know what Noah is like, or what she’s getting into, and that is just the most ridiculous piece of crap in the entire film because A) She grew up with both Lee AND Noah. There’s nothing she doesn’t know. and B) Even if she hadn’t grown up with them, she’s gone to school with them both forever, has seen Noah in fights every other day, and has spent the better part of four months dating him every second they’re not at school. There’s no one that knows him better. And yet when Lee sees a cut on Elle’s face he jumps to the conclusion that his brother punched her?! Where does he get off? Sure, Noah has anger issues and gets into fights, but Lee would get into a lot more fights if Noah didn’t keep stepping in and ending them before Lee could get a swing in.

I appreciated the beginning, which was cute, and the ending, which was also cute. The whole middle though — which the entirety of the plot — was a mess. Noah’s anger issues became full-on terrifying and were probably toned down from the novel if I had to hazard a guess. Lee has his own anger issues, but what got me the most about him was his inability to share. When he finds out about Elle and Noah the thing he is most upset about is that Noah always gets whatever he wants and that the only thing Lee had that Noah didn’t was Elle. And he can’t stand it. That, to me, is just disgusting.

This is a film that only gets by because of its good-looking actors. Even I was eventually drawn in to watch it, despite thinking the premise sounded like bad news since the first trailer. And reader, the chemistry was there… but so was the violence. 3/10, would not recommend without a trigger warning for violence attached to it. Might be good fodder for a psychology class though.

If you would like to judge it for yourself, you can find The Kissing Booth streaming on Netflix. Trailer below.

HHC Rating: 3/10, or 1.5 Stars.

Trailer for The Kissing Booth

The Lido – Libby Page

Source: Goodreads

Kate Matthews has lived in Brixton, London, for a year and knows no one. She’s a writer for the local paper, and she loves interviewing people, but she’s yet to be assigned anything she can sink her teeth into.
Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton all her life. She’s seen the neighborhood change as wars, love, and businesses came and went, and every day she swims at the lido (an outdoor pool), where some of her dearest memories were made.
Kate and Rosemary’s worlds collide the day it is announced that the lido will close. Kate has been assigned to write about the closure and it’s effect on the town, and she starts her story by interviewing Rosemary. A single meeting changes both of their lives, and the two women come to realize they will do everything within their power to keep the lido from closing.

I picked up this book by accident. My friend Hannah and I went to the movie theater to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, and they were handing them out for free at the ticket counter. Why, I may never know. Hannah and I went home and devoured the book. It was heartfelt, deep, and shockingly real. Rosemary deals with the loss of her husband, and Kate deals with crippling anxiety. They both find their focus and community by swimming at the lido, and it’s threatened closure sets their lives in downward spirals. The two women find meaning in their mutual friendship and build new lives in a town they thought was falling apart around them.
I still can’t believe Page is a debut author. Her writing speaks of years of experience, and the way she gets into characters’s heads is enchanting. I had trouble putting this book down and nearly started it over again when I finished, it was that good. I for one can’t wait to see what Page writes next.
Stay tuned for a live video discussion between Hannah, myself, and our friend Hallee once she finishes reading it. We’ll talk plot, writing style, and marketing strategies.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Watch Hollow – Gregory Funaro

Source: Goodreads

Lucy and Oliver Tinker live with their father at his clock repair shop, scraping by selling antiques ever since their mother passed away. When the rich Mr. Quigley walks in at closing one day and offers Mr. Tinker a fortune to fix a giant clock at his home in Rhode Island, they can’t say no. Blackford house is situated in the middle of nowhere, falling apart at the seams and without electricity. The forest around the house is barren and quiet despite it being the height of summer, but Lucy is determined to make Blackford house home. Then the wooden animal statues she finds around the house start talking, and Oliver meets a mysterious boy who lives in the dark woods. Before long the Tinkers are drawn into a centuries old war between light and dark, and the fate of Blackford house hangs in the balance.

I received an ARC of Watch Hollow from the author in exchange for an honest review, but this is something I would have eventually picked up anyway. The characters are lovable and yet complex for a middle-grade book, and I love how the world itself is alive. The plot moved well and I was quickly swept up in the Tinker’s adventures. Funaro plans a sequel, making this a duology, and The Maze of Shadows is sure to be just as good when it comes out next year.

My favorite part of this book was definitely the clock animals. The whole idea of light and dark being incarnate in them, balancing the powers and powering the clock and providing electricity for the house, not to mention the naming conventions – Torsten Six, Fennish Seven, Tempest Crow – Everything about them is just fantastic. My second favorite part was obviously the shadowood vs. sunstone debate, and the ash-acorns. At ~250 pages, this book was the perfect length to get wrapped up in. I would have loved to read this as a child, and it’s still great as an adult! I will definitely be picking up the sequel next year.

Available from January 12th wherever books are sold!

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
The Maze of Shadows (Available 2020)

Star Trek Watch Through Part 4: The Original Series – “Mudd’s Women” and “What Little Girls are Made of”

Original image via Wiki Media Commons

Welcome to part four of my Star Trek watch through! It’s been quite a while since I posted one of these, but I found myself with some down time over the holidays and was able to get back to watching it. This post will cover The Original Series, Episodes #6 and #7, “Mudd’s Women” and “What Little Girls are Made of.” Other posts in this series can be found linked at the bottom, and the watch order can be found on the first post, here.

Episode #6 – “Mudd’s Women”

This episode was a strange one. It starts with The Enterprise in pursuit of an unidentified Class-J Cargo vessel… Which turns out to be carrying just three women and a man named Mudd. The Enterprise blows most of its circuits chasing Mudd’s ship and must head to Rigel 12, a nearby lithium crystal mining planet before its life support systems fail. The longer the women are aboard the ship, the more strangely the male crewmembers act. Spock, obviously, is not affected. McCoy makes a comment that one of the women made his medical equipment beep as she walked past it, saying that any alien who could make itself so beautiful would be smart enough not to have that effect on the equipment. He wonders aloud to Kirk if they are actually just acting beautiful and if that is what makes them beautiful. Near the arrival at Rigel 12, Mudd is shown tearing apart his quarters to locate a drug for the women, and after giving it to them, using a stolen communicator to contact Rigel 12 and beg for them to negotiate his release in exchange for the women.

Once on Rigel 12, the miners want nothing to do with Kirk or the USS Enterprise and instead focus on the women. Running low on power, Kirk reluctantly agrees to give the women to the miners. One of the would-be-brides, Evie, runs off into a sandstorm and by the time the miner rescues her the drugs that Mudd gave her have worn off. Kirk and Mudd arrive to retrieve the power supply crystals and Evie looks as though she has aged 10 years. She claims that the so-called Venus drugs are what have been making her beautiful, and takes some when Mudd offers them to her. Kirk points out that it wasn’t the drugs which made her beautiful. She insists that they are, but Mudd admits that she just ate colored jello, not the Venus drug. Evie decides to stay with the miner and Kirk and Mudd return to The Enterprise.

I think it worth noting that only two women aside from Mudd’s three women appear in this episode. One unidentified crew member and Uhura, who is notably wearing the yellow uniform of a commanding officer rather than the red of a communications, engineering, or security officer.

Was the point of this episode that women are only beautiful when they believe they are? I expected them to out Evie as an alien who can change her appearance at will. The concept that her appearance could change (from no-makeup to makeup much less) by just deciding she wanted to be beautiful is a little silly. In real life, confidence does play a part in beauty, but not anywhere close to that drastic of one.

Episode #7 – “What Little Girls are Made of”

Finally, the return of Majel Barrett! I loved her as Number One in the original pilot, “The Cage”, that was scrapped. She returns in this episode as Nurse Christine Chapel, who signed up to work on the USS Enterprise in order to find her fiance, Dr. Roger Korby.

The crew of the Enterprise arrives at Exo-III, where Dr. Korby was last stationed, and Captain Kirk and Nurse Chapel beam down to the cave he has supposedly been living in, where they spend hours wandering the abandoned tunnels before locating Korby and meeting a few of his friends – Dr. Brown, whom Nurse Chapel is acquainted with, and Ruk and Andrea. When Chapel questions the fact that Dr. Korby and Andrea seem close, and that Dr. Brown does not remember her, Dr. Korby reveals that Dr. Brown is also an android, created by transferring Dr. Brown’s personality to the robotic body just before the doctor died. Ruk and Andrea are also androids.

Dr. Korby shows Kirk and Chapel how an ancient machine left behind by a race known as “the old ones” makes androids, using Kirk as an example. While Korby shows Chapel around his home, Kirk returns to the Enterprise to check in. During her discussion with her fiance, Nurse Chapel finds out that he, too, is an android, built by the actual Dr. Korby as he was freezing to death. Korby-droid, who has up until now insisted that the androids cannot feel emotions such as love or anger, proclaims his love for Chapel is everlasting, and that he is exactly who he has always been, just immortal. Chapel spurns his advances as Captain Kirk arrives, revealing that the Kirk aboard the Enterprise was actually the android version of him. Kirk-droid has been killed and so has the male android, Ruk. Dr. Korby is forced to confront his fears when Andrea, the female android, proclaims her love for him and kisses him. Dr. Korby cannot stand his own creation and fires her phaser, destroying them both.

With all of the androids destroyed and no one left on the planet, the crew returns to the ship, where Nurse Chapel decides to stay on for the remainder of the mission now that she has no ties elsewhere.

Both of these episodes put women in competition with one another and in a spotlight where they could only interact with other characters romantically. In that way, they were both mildly disturbing. I enjoyed Majel Barrett’s return, as I enjoy her acting and can’t wait to see where she goes from here, but overall I was underwhelmed by both of these episodes.

Other Posts in This Series:
Star Trek – The Original Series: Season #1
“The Cage” and “The Man Trap”
“Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
“The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
“Miri” and “Dagger of the Mind” (COMING SOON)

The Duke and I (Bridgerton, #1) – Julia Quinn

Bridgerton-1-The-Duke-And-I-Julia-Quinn
Source: Goodreads

Daphne wants nothing more than to marry and raise a family. As the fourth child in the Bridgerton clan of eight and the first girl, she knows a lot about men – from her three older brothers. Unfortunately, this knowledge makes her a pal to the men who would court her, and she has been hunting a husband for two years now without success, much to the chagrin of her mother, the widowed Lady Bridgerton.

Simon, Duke of Hastings, has returned to England after the recent death of his father, whom he despised above all else. After six years on the continent, he is ready to get back to visiting his friends and his clubs. The problem, of course, is that at the age of 28 many of his friends have married and now possess young wives who scheme to introduce the new duke to potential future duchesses.

After a significant encounter, Simon and Daphne hatch a plan. They will pretend to form an attachment. The women will stop hounding Simon, and the men will jealously pursue Daphne, finally viewing her as a potential bride instead of a best friend who happens to be a woman. The biggest problem, of course, is Daphne’s family. Her eldest brother, Anthony, is Simon’s best friend, and her remaining six siblings – as well as her mother – take an immediate shine to the idea of having Simon as a permanent fixture in their lives. Simon’s reasons for fleeing to the continent in the first place will pose a challenge as well, as his past haunts his every decision.

Julia Quinn is one of my all-time favorite writers. The Bridgeton clan, as well as Lady Whistledown and her gossip paper, are some of my favorite characters ever written, and their emotions are palpable as you read their stories. Every character is richly developed, with complicated, deep relationships between every sibling and acquaintance. Daphne and Simon’s story is one that dragged me whole-heartedly into the realm of Regency Romance and has enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined.

I first discovered this series in high school or college when I swiped it from my mother, who had, in turn, swiped it from my grandmother, and I am overjoyed to be coming back to them now. Their depth and breadth of emotion and action are just what I needed to kickstart me out of my reading slump.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other Reviews in this series:

Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me (review available on Jan. 22nd)

Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman (review available on Feb. 12th)

Book 4 – Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (review available on Mar. 5th)

Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love (review available on Mar. 26th)

Book 6 – When He Was Wicked (review available on Apr. 16th)

Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss (review available on May 7th)

Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding (review available on May 28th)

Someone to Care (Westcott, #4) – Mary Balogh

Westcott-Someone-To-Care-Mary-Balogh
Source: Goodreads

 

Viola Kingsley has suffered a lot in the three years since the death of the man she thought was her husband. True, there has been much happiness as well; she has gained friends, a son-in-law, grandchildren, and found real love from a family she wishes she could claim as her own. But she still feels isolated in her misery, unable to process and move past the horrific events that she has been forced to live through. So she runs. She meant to go straight home and hide out alone for a month or so, but fate had other plans.

Marcel Lamarr is a haunted man. After the death of his young wife, he took up a life of frivolity and womanizing, unable to look after his two young children for more than a few days at a time. Over the past seventeen years, he has hidden from his obligations in every way he knows how. Until he runs into Viola, the woman who spurned his love fourteen years earlier. He tries to leave her in peace but instead finds himself running away with her, fleeing their lives entirely. As Marcel and Viola find their true selves again, their lives start to creep back in, and a split moment’s decision might cost them everything they’ve ever wanted.

 

 

 

Mary Balogh does a wonderful job bringing Marcel and Viola to life in this fourth book of the Westcott series. Whereas I felt disconnected from everyone in the last installment, I felt the emotions acutely in this volume. Viola and Marcel’s problems run deep. This is not a simple miscommunication mix-up. They have both glimpsed happiness and had all they hold dear taken away from them in the blink of an eye. These are not wounds that can be healed through any of the common methods, and Balogh goes above and beyond to bring the characters to the roots of their problems.

I am thrilled that Viola’s book went so well, and I can’t wait to see how Elizabeth fares in the next installment, due out at the end of this month.

 

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars.

 

Other Reviews in this series:
Book 1 – Someone to Love
Book 2 – Someone to Hold
Book 3 – Someone to Wed
Book 5 – Someone to Trust