Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wendy News Round-Up: Home, On the Road and Finally!

It's that time again: Update Time!  So what's going on in the world of Wendy?  Well, first off - I died a few thousand deaths Saturday night while taking a break from Downton Abbey binge watching to check Facebook - only to discover that my hometown had made the national news.

Most blog readers know I'm from Michigan, but may not necessarily know I'm from the Kalamazoo area.  My parents still live there.  My older sister lives there with her family.  Not to mention the friends I still have in the area.  Oh, and there's an active shooter driving around randomly shooting people on a Saturday night.  

I was a little freaked.

I was more freaked when I found out after the fact that my entire family (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-Law, the Two Kids) were all out that night taking in a show at Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium.  On the same side of town where I used to live.  On the same side of town as two of the crime scenes.  While the active shooter was driving around and randomly shooting people.  So....yeah.

My nearest and dearest are all safe and sound, but there's something very disconcerting about having your hometown make the national news.  To see people politicizing your hometown on Twitter and Facebook.  Kalamazoo is a city, but it's a small city.  Almost cozy.  Certainly Kalamazoo has crime, it's not perfect, bad things happen there just like anyplace else, but a guy driving around just randomly shooting people?!  Prior to this we were known for our funny name, a song (I got a gal in Kalamazoo...) and a tornado that ripped through downtown in 1980.

Now, like so many towns in this country, we're known for a mass shooting. And that's messed up.


I've had several blog posts and reviews go live over the last couple of months, and since I'm terrible about doing monthly recaps these days I thought I'd post them all now.

I've had two semi-recent reviews post over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread - both Harlequins.  Snowy Mountain Nights by Lindsay Evans (Kimani) and Holiday with the Millionaire by Scarlet Wilson (Harlequin Romance).

I've had two First Looks go live over at Heroes & Heartbreakers.  Countdown to Zero Hour by Nico Rosso (romantic suspense) and One More Night With You by Lisa Marie Perry (Kimani).

Also at H&H?  February's Unusual Historicals column.  Go forth!


So guess what?  I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


Look, it was OK.  The cast was good, but the storytelling was a lazy rehash.  Take two parts A New Hope, one part The Empire Strikes Back and add a dash of Return of the Jedi.  I spent the whole time watching it thinking, "Oh, so there's a cute droid wandering around the desert looking for someone - that's not familiar AT ALL ::cough cough:: and that's the new Luke and that's the new Han and that's the new Yoda..."  Then they completely skip the new villain's backstory entirely because OF COURSE!  They must have fodder for more movies which means we'll likely have to relive the whole prequel debacle again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's a solid popcorn movie but y'all who thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread?  I mean, why not just stay home and watch the original first three movies over again?

Oh yeah, money.  Disney wants to make money.

But cranky Wendy is being cranky.  I'd probably feel differently if I had kids and took them to see the movie on the big screen - to let them have their very own Star Wars experience like I did back in the day. But yeah, for me?

Meh.  It felt like a remake masquerading as a sequel.

And tomorrow I take away candy from babies and rain on more parades.  Probably a C+ for me (the casting WAS good and I liked how they utilized Han in the story).


Miss Bates said...

Hmmm, that's a generous review of the Wilson. I read one: something something Girl in New York. The cop-hero made a lot of what a nice girl the heroine was, not like those "loose" women, ahem, sluts, he'd been dating, but a girl to be serious about. This annoyed me to no end and I swore off reading another Wilson. Maybe I'll give her another try. (I'll probably be flailed for this, BUT I find Star Wars boring.)

azteclady said...

Star Wars: yeah. I would see it only because they cast a black man in a leading role, because the main protagonist is a woman, and because I keep hearing that there's an implied homosexual relationship between two of the male leads. Representation, finally! Other than that? Yeah, not particularly interested.

Kalamazoo: so glad everyone in your family is okay, very sad otherwise.

Phyl said...

I'm so glad your family is OK. These things are always terrifying, but even more so when those you love are near it.

In happier news, there looks to be some gold in those unusual historicals! Guess I'll be spending some money :)

A Library Girl said...

I felt the same way about the new Star Wars movie. And while I love how much people love the new characters, I think the stuff I've seen in people's fan art and comics was way better than what was in the movie.

cleo reader said...

I totally understand being meh about the new Star Wars - I thought it was a lot of fun, even though it was a bit too derivative for me.

But. I am glad they remade it because it's SO much better than the originals - yes, it's derivative, yes I was rolling my eyes during the cantina scene, but it's also a loving homage to a movie I loved and it's more like my *memory* of the first Star Wars movie than the actual 1977 movie. (Which I now find almost unwatchable because it's so bad, even though I can recite the entire dialog from memory because I was 7 when it came out).

I also enjoyed it because it provided a good topic for multi-generational conversation during Christmas, which is always good. It was a lot of fun to have my 17 yo nephew try to convince me that Kylo Ren was a more compelling bad guy than Darth Vador (I still think he was the weakest part of the movie and I almost laughed out loud when he took off his mask - he looks like he belongs in some Indy movie staring Michael Cera not Star Wars).

Wendy said...

Miss Bates: It's good, but not so good that I think you need to drop your whole life and buy a copy RIGHT NOW, RIGHT THIS SECOND, WHY AREN'T YOU BUYING A COPY RIGHT NOW?!?!?!? lol. It's more of a "This was a nice read if you've already got it in your TBR, run across it at a library book sale, Harlequin offers it on sale for $1.99 etc." Especially since you had a unpleasant experience with another book. With category romance I have a hard time trying an author again if my first experience is really unpleasant.

AL: So I'm kind of dense, so take this for what it's worth - but that implied homosexual relationship? I did not get that vibe. But again, I can be dense about such things so we shall see. I actually thought Finn (POC) had better chemistry with Rey (the female lead) and with Harrison Ford than with Poe - but what the heck does Wendy know?

Phyl: My first two UH posts of the year have been really, really solid. I feel like historical romance is finally getting to the place where I've always wanted it to be - and I totally attribute that to the rise of self-publishing.

Library Girl: For me it was "a good popcorn movie," but not much more. My favorite fan art so far has been the Rey and BB8 Calvin & Hobbes homage :)

Cleo: Yeah, that was another thing. Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader. Vader gets ticked off and he chokes you out with the force until you're dead. Kylo Ren gets ticked off and he uses his light saber to destroy some inanimate object a la a Jedi Temper Tantrum. So your nephew is SO wrong! LOL

azteclady said...

Wendy, I have not seen the movie, and have no plans to see it, but I saw twitter discussions (and perhaps an article/post somewhere else I can't remember now, too?) about an implied Poe/Finn thing--because dog forbid Disney actually portray any relationships than deviate from (what they perceive to be) the norm.

Bona Caballero said...

Sorry about your hometown, it must be frightening and disconcerting. I still remember what we call 'the lead years of terrorism' in the 80s and there was a day in which one of the victims was more or less the same age as my elder brother, was working in the same place and for some minutes we didn't know, we just didn't know if it was him. Could have been. It wasn't. But I was a teenager and I will always remember that feeling that anguish of not knowing.
In the following years I just accepted that terror was part of this society I live in and go on with my life, letting policemen and judges and public prosecutors do their job. Yours, as a citizen is not to allow them to make you change your life or your society. Until it ends.
On a happier note - I liked this Star Wars episode. So did my children. Not my husband, who was bored by the movie. Yes, what you say is probably right, but -I just loved the heroine, the adventure, I couldn't stand what happens with you know who -we went the first day to avoid spoilers.
Perhaps it's just that episodes I-III were so horrible that anything would have been better.

cleo reader said...

@Wendy - I KNOW! My nephew did make an interesting point about KR being more compelling because he's young and ordinary and is in the process of becoming evil - unlike Vader who's so completely evil he's not human. KR could be any of us and that's more scary than DV. - Yeah, no I still don't buy it but it's an interesting interpretation.

Wendy said...

Gah, I'm like the worst at replying to comments lately!

AL: Yeah, I read a lot of those same discussions and I'm still left scratching my head. I just did not pick up that vibe at all. But again, I can be kind of dense - so maybe I'm missing something?

Bona: I was so proud of myself - I really was able to avoid spoilers and it took us forever to finally go to the theater to see the movie. I did like the casting quite a bit, and I liked how they used Han in the story - although yes, I'm right there with you on the dramatic ending.

Cleo: That is an interesting theory. I still think he's wrong (LOL!) - but it's an interesting perspective.