Book Talk Tuesday: ON SECOND THOUGHT

I’m in love with Kristan Higgins. I’ve said it before, but she is an amazing writer with wonderful stories.

Which is why I was so disappointed by last year’s IF YOU ONLY KNEW, Higgins’ first foray into women’s fiction from romance, her wheelhouse. It was okay, but I’m trying to only review books that either I a) really love or b) received to review.

So I was reluctant to try ON SECOND THOUGHT which came out recently. I still love Kristan Higgins. I still love her romance. I just wasn’t sure I was going to love her women’s fiction.

ostTurns out I had nothing to worry about.

ON SECOND THOUGHT is the story of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. They are actually half-sisters, born more than a couple of years apart.

When the book opens, both girls are in happy relationships. Kate is nearly forty and a newlywed who’d given up dating and trying to find her soul mate.

Ainsley has been with Eric since she was 21. She’s supported him through his career and through chemo.

Kate is suddenly widowed and Ainsley is suddenly single. They are both shocked and grieving and can’t believe what has just happened.

I loved the relationship between the sisters, and how it grew. Kate has always been more reserved while Ainsley is like a Labrador Retriever puppy. They learn to appreciate each other and their different approaches to life. Both women also get to know themselves better.

The story asks hard questions, like if you knew you’d be widowed after 96 days of marriage, would you remain single and never risk your heartbreak? Would you pour yourself into a selfish jerk if you’d been able to see his true self? And can you risk your heart a second time?

I’m so glad I risked my heart on Higgins’ second women’s fiction book. I loved it!

 

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Monday Musings on Media: Beauty & the Beast

Yep, I saw Beauty and the Beast on its opening day. I had promised to take a granddaughter to see it on her birthday which just happened to be opening day, so it worked out well.

beauty-and-the-beast-2017I really enjoyed it. I think.

I want to see it again without a four-year-old and a six-year-old fidgeting on my lap and asking questions. I loved seeing it with them, but it was not the best viewing experience for being able to describe and review the story.

But I’ll give it a try.

The wolves are intense. Both of my girls were … not scared, but definitely uneasy about the stalking, slobbering creatures.

The story is familiar but there is more backstory about Belle’s parents and the enchantress and the Beast’s childhood. I really enjoyed that. Although I had to take a girl to the restroom and I missed the part about Belle’s parents. Another reason to see it a second time.

The “gay” scene that is causing boycott talks is soooo subtle and short, it’s easy to miss. In fact, I sort of did.

In the tavern scene when Gaston and his sidekick La Fou are singing about what a catch Gaston is, “No one fights like Gaston, douses lights like Gaston,” and so on, I wondered if La Fou was flirting with Gaston. He seemed to have a coquettish look on his face in a few shots, and the lyrics could have innuendo. I guess that’s the big scene people are objecting to, but as I said, I almost missed the subtext there, it was so subtle.

Later in the movie, when the villagers are storming the castle, the Wardrobe, voiced by Audra McDonald, spits out spools of ribbons, fabric, laces, scarves and arrays three lads in dresses. audraTwo of the guys dash away, humiliated, but one likes it. He winks at the camera and twirls away. When I saw that, I thought, “Oh, that’s the scene. I just imagined the flirting in the other scene.”

And in the ballroom finale, two men (La Fou and the dressed-but-not-humiliated man?) dance together, into and out of camera range in about half a second.

la fouMy young movie-goers absolutely missed all of that. They enjoyed a good story about a beautiful girl who loves books, an ugly beast with a good heart, and talking household items.

I thought Emma Watson was superb as Belle. Although one of my girls asked why Hermione was playing Belle, she soon forgot about Hermione as the story engaged her. Belle is plucky and smart and does nothing she doesn’t want to.

I had forgotten who played Beast, so was pleasantly surprised by the reveal at the end. The makeup is incredible, especially — and I don’t think this is my imagination — since the Beast got less ugly and more … maybe not attractive, but maybe cuddlier? as Belle got to know him and fell in love with him herself.

I recognized Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, but it was a Kevin Kline I had never seen before. He brought a tenderness to the role and left behind the befuddled-absent-minded inventor of the animated story.

Josh Gad as La Fou was simply amazing. Not just for the did-I-see-that-or-didn’t-I flirtiness, but his character has his eyes opened to Gaston’s true character and La Fou changes allegiances. He doesn’t consult anyone, he doesn’t agonize. He simply recognizes that what Gaston is doing is wrong and chooses the right path. I loved that!

The costumes are incredible. The songs, both the new and the familiar, are wonderful.

It seemed strangely full-circle that back in 1991, my sister-in-law and I took our four girls, all cousins, to see the animated version and in 2017, I took my granddaughter and grandniece, daughter of one of the cousins, to see the live action movie. I love both versions and I love all the girls. Like I said, strangely full circle.