Book Review: A Handmaid’s Tale

I’m late to the party.

Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale was released back in the 80’s, but thanks to the television adaptation currently running on Hulu, a new generation has been introduced into the fascinating and equally terrifying world Atwood has created. My feelings after reading this book aren’t as simple to digest or explain as is the case with most of the books I read.

thehandmaidstalebook

Did I enjoy it? Somewhat. At times. Different parts. Yes. No. Like I said, it’s complicated.

The truth is, Atwood is an exceptional author. Her words flow and the picture she paints is vivid, but it wasn’t a book that I couldn’t put down. In fact, I had to force myself at times to dive back in due to the dark nature of the content. Reading about a society where women lose their rights and dignity isn’t exactly an uplifting journey and on top of the nature of the story, I was frustrated by the ending.

I thought more would happen. I thought there would be some sort of resolution. I wanted there to be a revolution. I wanted an uprising, change, blood in the streets, but not the kind that flowed throughout the story. All of my negative feelings aside though, I think the way Atwood told the story was more realistic which made it all the more horrifying.

Now that I’m finished with the book I’m looking forward to the show. The show runners have taken liberties as show runners do, but in the case of Offred, Moira, Nick and the rest of the handmaids that may not be such a bad thing. Maybe we’ll finally get the closure we all need. handmaidstaleshow

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Review: Anne with an “E”

I’ve been a fan of Lucy Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables for over twenty years. Anne Shirley, the heroine of her novels, has long entertained me with her mischief, overabundant imagination, and mishaps. That being said, there’s only ever been one adaptation I’ve ever truly loved and that was the one starring Megan Follows.

Does that mean I’m not open to another version? No, but it’s going to be hard to top it.

anne

Color me surprised last summer when I stumbled upon Anne with an “E” on Netflix. It was similar in many ways, though it strayed slightly from the book, but that’s okay. The heart of the story was there and intact. Now, let’s fast forward to season two. . .

Season two was a very different animal. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it because it didn’t simply stray from the book, it was a completely different story with characters of the same name. There are new characters, con artists, a side to Aunt Josephine Barry that was never explored and Gilbert isn’t around for most of the season. It took me a couple of episodes to adjust my thinking, after all, Game of Thrones has long since left the books behind, but the show is better than ever, so it’s important to keep an open mind–which seems to be the theme in season two.

This is a progressive Anne of Green Gables; one that seeks to be inclusive, but in the most tasteful and touching of ways. Much like Anne herself who is determined to live life her way and not how everyone thinks she should, it seems to me like this is what an updated Anne should be.

Bottom line: Take a chance and let yourself fall in love with Anne and her friends all over again even if it’s not exactly what you remember.

 

 

Summer Shows: The Good and The Bad

Are you having hiatus-itis like me? (You know that thing where all of your favorite shows are on a break?) If you are, then look no further than the recommendations I have for you.

Summer is great for a lot of things: the beach, the pool, catching up on my TBR pile, but it is definitely not great when it comes to television. By this point in the summer I’ve hit a sort of television purgatory. I’ve cleaned up my DVR and binged a show or two on Netflix (Glow season 2 = awesome) and now I’m counting the days until Outlander, Grey’s, and TWD return.

But, before you find yourself spiraling into the abyss that is channel surfing, let me offer some direction. As I’ve recommended to my newsletter recipients before, everyone should be watching The Bold Type on Freeform. It tackles important issues, has an awesome trio of friends and is a lot of fun, which makes it an excellent choice for summer. It’s currently in its second season, but you should watch it from the beginning. It was my fun find last summer and it’s holding up again this year.

As of late, I’ve tried two new shows, Yellowstone on Paramount and Take Two on ABC, yellowstone

and of those two shows I’d like to highly recommend Yellowstone. Kevin Costner is the patriarch of a family who owns what feels like half of Montana and he’s dealing with developers on one side, a new Chief on another and each of his children have their own demons we’ve yet to see all of. Think Dynasty, but higher quality, excellent acting and rated for mature audiences.

 

As for Take Two… Listen, I wanted to like it. I really did. It stars Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian and it’s obviously the network’s attempt to recapture a Castle-like will they or won’t they vibe, but where Castle had heart and certain amount of depth, Take Two is lacking. My take? If you’re craving a little Rachel Bilson in your life, find Heart of Dixie on Netflix where she shines.  taketwo

Find me on Twitter @CKirbyWriter and let me know what else I should check out.

Review: Incredibles 2

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of taking my little guys to see Incredibles 2. In the usual Disney/Pixar fashion, there were heartwarming moments, humor, and a story line capable of resonating with families everywhere. The film also touched on relevant topics such as mom guilt and how hard raising kids can be—but of course it was all done through humor.

incredibles

In one particular scene involving a raccoon, I found myself laughing as hard if not harder than my kids, which is refreshing since so many movies geared toward the younger audience can’t seem to do better than the ever tired fart jokes. High-fives all around to the team behind the movie and for making it one that wasn’t painful to sit through. To the parents who suffer through a lot of kid movies, know what I mean.

 

 

Bottom line: Go for the air conditioning. Stay for Jack-Jack. You won’t be disappointed.

Bring On the Joy

After what can only be described has a hellacious weekAug 2017 038, I found myself stuck in Debbie Downer mode. Sure, everyone has bad days, but as a writer my mood can make or break my daily writing. And, while the angst can work in my favor if the scene of the day is steering that way, it’s not exactly helpful when I’m working on a big romantic moment.

So, how do you break out of the blues bubble? How do you shake the outside demands and write about love when your heart is full of sadness and doubt?

Well, for me, it starts with a call to my mom. She’s one of the few people I can sit and spew all the crazy on who will listen without complaint. So, step one, rant, re-hash, complain and then it’s time for step two: find some quiet. Now this doesn’t have to be literal quiet. For instance, I need to turn off the television and stay off of social media, (those aren’t exactly unicorn and rainbow filled places). And, I find that it’s much easier to hear my muse when I embrace the silence.

After the first two steps it’s time for the final and most important: search out the joy. Where do I find it? Well, that all depends on the person. I find it in the simplest of ways; putting a record on (I have a rather awesome vinyl collection), talking a walk outside and a tour around my ever evolving garden (it’s almost blueberry time), and two of my most favorites, hugging my little dudes and snuggling with my cat. It’s the simplest things that bring me the greatest joy.

It may seem silly to put so much emphasis on something that seems simple, but lightening your heart and taking a deep breath on occasion are necessary steps to help you stay centered. Don’t lose sight of yourself or your goals when life starts closing in around you. Instead, try your own version of ‘steps’ and surround yourself with what makes you happy.

What about you? What do you do to break out of the cycle and find your joy?

A Guest Post from Author D. R. Grady

Have you been plowing through your summer reading list? Do you like getting new recs? Well, if you said yes to either of these questions, today is your lucky day. I’d like to introduce author D. R. Grady as she recommends some summer reads you’ll want to check out.

It’s hard to find a great new read these days. There are so many choices, and so many great potential favorites, how do you know if something is funny, or smart, or fingernail chewing worthy?

By word of mouth, of course! Here are some of my favorite authors. Hopefully this helps you figure out what to read this summer.

Paranormal/Fantasy:
Christine Feehan – her stories can be intense and dark
Vickie Burkholder – more fantasy based stories

Paranormal on the lighter side
Jayne Castle – The Harmony books have dust bunnies! (set in another world)
Eve Langlais – Kodiak Point Series (set in Alaska)
Dana Marie Bell – Halle Shifters Series (set in Pennsylvania)
Vivian Arend – Takhini Shifters Series (set in Alaska)

Contemporary Romance:
Jayne Ann Krentz – some of her contemporaries veer into the paranormal (Also writes historical romance as Amanda Quick)
Jennifer Crusie – laugh-out-loud funny contemporary romance

Shorter, affordable stories
Noelle Adams
Gretchen Galway
Susan Hatler
Betty Neels

I also recommend anthologies. These compilations are typically affordable, involve shorter stories, and offer a nice sampling of authors.

Try: The First Sentence: A Collection of Romance Novellas (The Sentence Collections Book 1) 

Of course, I also recommend my newest contemporary romance:

 The Trouble The Trouble With Nerds coverWith Nerds

 Odd things keep happening to Dr. Sara Newton. She’s a soon-to-be-unemployed pediatrician with an alleged stalker, a hot cop on her heels breathing dire warnings, and way too much student debt.

It doesn’t help that the hot cop is Clay Morrison, her best friend’s older brother. The man has made her heart pound and her palms sweaty since puberty. The trouble is, he only interacts with her when he’s expounding on new security measures. He sees threats everywhere.

Clay Morrison is frustrated. He hates his new job, misses his Army Ranger days, loves his well-meaning, pushy family—and when did sweet Sara Newton grow up? She won’t admit she has a stalker, and she won’t keep out of his thoughts. He can only protect someone in denial for so long. No matter how attractive she is…

Clay and Sara are circling each other, trying to meet in the middle. Then a brand new threat sends them in a completely different direction.

 The Trouble With Nerds Excerpt

Clay placed a hand at the small of her back and ushered her out of the hospital. He didn’t move it until they reached the front passenger door of his massive SUV. Sara calculated the distance between the passenger seat in relation to the ground.

“I’m wearing a pencil skirt.”

“I can see that.” No indication whether he approved of this state or not.

Maybe she could step into the huge vehicle sideways? There was no way she could avoid flashing the fact she did still possess a few pairs of underwear if she had to step up into his SUV.

She sighed.

Clay opened the door, scooped her around the waist, and swung her into the vehicle. All without breaking a sweat. He buckled her seatbelt with professionalism. Then shut her door in the same detached manner.

Did I miss something?

Her breathing had only just resumed normal operations when he strode around the vehicle. The man didn’t use the running board to climb in. Like a normal person. He stepped into the driver’s seat as though this beastly SUV was car-sized. Muttering under her breath about tall people, Sara settled into the seat.

“Dinner?”

Her heart tripped a beat. “What?”

He repeated the question.

“What about it?”

“Do you want to go somewhere for dinner?”

 

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJ3CK1GDRGrady

D.R. Grady writes paranormal, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance. All are clean, satisfying reads, usually involving at least one nerd. She lives with her husband near Hershey, PA. She adores chocolate, laughing, collecting bags, books, and shoes, and writing stories that resonate with others.

Website: http://www.drgradybooks.com
Twitter: @drgradybooks

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007HR0ULS
Facebook Page: D.R. Grady https://www.facebook.com/drgradybooks
Google+:  D.R. Gradybooks   https://plus.google.com/u/0/114138197846185543554/posts

 

 

 

My Summer Movie Must List

It’s ridiculously hot outside. RIDICULOUSLY hot. As in you have to be sitting in a pool with water up to your eyeballs to stand being out there. Anyway, you get my meaning. So, what happens after you’re sunburned or what if it actually rains? Then, it’s time to go to the movies. Where the snacks are plenty and the air conditioning blows true (fortunately, on someone else’s bill).

To help you decide what to watch while you munch on some snacks and suck up all that cool air read my breakdown below. Please keep in mind this is the adult guide. All kid friendly movies can be found on a future list.

June – It’s not too late – there are plenty of good choices left.

Wonder Woman –On the off chance you haven’t seen this gem yet, go! This is easily DC’s best. Grab your girls and catch the ultimate chick flick.

The Bad Batch – Go for the cast. Jason Momoa people… I repeat it has Jason Momoa.

The Book of Henry – This one might require a tissue or two.

Baby Driver – Another cast bursting with talent oh and it’s about a heist which is always the bad batch

 

fun.

Kill Switch – Could be the first interesting sci-fi flick of summer.

The Beguiled – Based off a book and with a stellar cast, Colin Farrell is going to wish he’d ended up somewhere else.

July

Atomic Blonde – Hands down the July movie that I would consider my must-see. Come on, it’s Charlize Theron kicking ass with a little James McAvoy on the sideatomic blonde.

The Big Sick – You’ll laugh, you might even cry, but it’s original and should definitely be checked out.

Dunkirk – Oscar bait in July? If Christopher Nolan has anything to do with it, then possibly so.

Spider-Man Homecoming – This kid was a lot of fun to watch in Civil War, so why not go see him in his own movie? Not to mention Iron Man himself, Michael Keaton and Marissa Tomei are also part of the cast.

Wish Upon – This is for those of you who need a little horror in your life. You can let me know if it was worth the $$.

August

The Dark Tower – I can’t wait for this one. Like millions of others, I’ve read the books and while I know they’ve taken serious liberties with the movie, for once, I might be able to look past that little issue. Bring on the gunslinger.the dark tower

Tulip Fever – If you like old school forbidden love, this one’s for you. Oh and little actor named Christoph Waltz is in it.

Detroit – A little history that plays like a thriller starring Finn from Star Wars – go.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard –  Okay, this might be terrible, or the humor might work. Since it stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, I’m willing to give it a try.

Okay, so that’s my list. What’s on yours? Or if you have a chance to see any of these gems, let me know what you thought. I’ll be in the pool if you need me…