Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bringing Back That Lovin' Feelin', or Rebooting the Seventies

When I was discussing this follow up blog hop with Caroline, what immediately came to mind was James Bond. Because what franchise has been more sensitive to the ebbs and flows of time and favor? In English: Dude, they’ve been making movies for 55 years, so obviously some of them are going to be better than others.

When Bond is good, he’s very good, and Sean Connery was a tough act for everyone after him to follow. When people think of Bond, his is the image that pops into their heads. And well it should.

I’ve already written about how Jack Lord stole the show in Dr. No, but only just barely. I have no problem publicly admitting that teenage me watched that whole movie wide-eyed (and maybe with my mouth slightly open). Connery’s Bond was smart, clever (unless he was up against Felix Leiter), tough, and, well, incredibly easy on the eyes.

Just hanging out
I lusted after the 1962 version of Connery in 1990. There, I said it. But he wasn’t the only thing that made Dr. No a really good movie. The plot was discernible (people, if you’ve seen Bond movies since then, you know what I’m talking about), the opening sequence (both the music and the action) was contemporary and even bordered on suspenseful, and Jamaica, while being both fun and cosmopolitan, made sense as a location for all kinds of nefarious activity in the ex-pat community.

ursula andress.jpg
The Bond Girl by which all others are measured
And...Ursula Andress did not suck as the Good Bond Girl. Yes, yes, yes, her character's name is Honey Ryder (get it???), she’s only half-dressed for the majority of the movie, and she’s one of Bond’s more naive companions. (And, as an aside, I’m probably not the only one who spent a couple of years comparing my body to hers.) But she could also take care of herself, beyond being willing to draw a knife on Bond when she met him. When she told him how she slowly killed her rapist with a poisonous spider, even he was taken aback.

Dr. No was an almost perfect Bond movie, so of course everything that followed suffered a little bit by comparison. And sadly, it must be said that the late Roger Moore changed Bond, and not for the better. His movies made Bond seem a hell of a lot more cerebral than he had been before, but not in the good way. And the camp factor was off the charts; I’m talking Adam West’s Batman campiness, you know? Having seen Moore in The Saint, I continue to scratch my head about the choices the writers and producers made: he had a proven ability to be suave, smart, and scrappy/street fighter tough. He could have been a really great Bond, but instead he’s the one we associate with the cringiness of the franchise.

So much potential
One of the worst Bonds ever made, on so many different levels
My enthusiasm for the two Bonds who followed was hampered as much by low expectations as it was by the times they were made in. Timothy Dalton is another actor who has done a really good job in many other things (if you haven’t already seen him in Hot Fuzz, stop reading this and go watch it right now), but the tone of his Bond was off; it was almost as if he was pushed a little bit to the background of the movies. And while I loved Pierce Brosnan on Remington Steele (when is someone going to revive that?), they also played him a little too campy and sarcastic. The fierce and deadly factor Connery brought to the screen was gone.

We are not screwing around anymore
And then it wasn’t. I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes when I heard that Daniel Craig was cast as the next Bond, but maybe that’s why I’ve been so happy with him. Let’s agree that while  they got rid of a lot of the camp they might have done it at the expense of the character’s humor; now let’s say that in the times we live in maybe we don’t have the luxury of laughing at messy world relations. Bond and the rest of MI6 are taking their jobs very seriously now, and Craig’s version of the character is deadly, haunted, and ready to pounce at any moment.

She almost can't be called a Bond Girl
This is the first time we’ve gotten a close look at the psyche of Bond, and it’s about as pretty as you’d expect for an assassin. And while this Bond sleeps around about as much as the others, his romantic entanglements are likelier to get under his skin. His affair with the doomed Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) was intense (and convincing) enough that we can understand why it took three more films to exorcise her.

This is also the first time I’ve been enthusiastic about his whole team. M (first Judi Dench, then Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whitshaw), and even Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are badass on their own, and they put Bond in his place a little more forcefully than their predecessors. Good. And even Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) is bringing more force and complexity to the role than we’ve seen since, well, Jack Lord’s version.

The films haven’t been perfect: there’s something a little too serious and dark about some of the last few, to the point where it feels like they’re trying to be “better” than a Bond film with all of the psychosis. Just be Bond, that’s all we want.

Bond’s an example of something that started strong out of the gate and then lost focus before it got it back. On the other hand, Battlestar Galactica is something that started out in the Seventies with silly written all over it and then found its footing decades later to be the great show we always believed it could be.

One big happy family...
The premise for both the Seventies and Aughts version is the same: a small group of pantheistic human beings have just barely escaped annihilation (dare we say, genocide?) at the hands of the Cylons, a race of robots or cyborgs that humans built but quickly lost control of, assisted by the treacherous Gaius Baltar. The best promise for what’s left of the human race is the mythical planet Earth, and Captain Adama is in charge of finding it while he evades Cylon attempts to finish their job.

The Seventies version made it one season, and it was foolish very quickly. There was a lot of emphasis on cute robots and pets, cameos (e.g., Fred Astaire!), and clunky standalone plots that were reminiscent of the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series. It was an example of something that showed a lot of promise and got a lot of buzz, but by the time it was canceled many viewers were already done.

but they might kill each other before the Cylons can
By contrast, the rebooted BSG was uncomfortable to watch from the first episode on, when newly installed President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) chose to abandon several ships so the rest of the fleet could escape. In this reboot, Gaius Baltar (James Callis) had no idea that he was dealing with the Cylons—in part because his contact was a gorgeous woman, Six (Tricia Helfer). Finding out that the Cylons now looked like humans added an element of suspense throughout the series, especially as we tried to figure out the identities of the last five “models”. Trying to figure out what the Cylons really wanted (“the plan”) was also a big hook, never mind that one of the executive producers recently admitted that they didn’t really have a master plan. The truth was that they wanted many things, and chief among them was to be able to create new models: i.e., have children.

You don’t run a compelling series strictly on the back of protagonist and antagonist. The humans were frequently at cross-purposes with each other, whether it was murky family dynamics (Captain Bill Adama was an absentee father to Commander Lee “Apollo” Adama), personal demons (the only person more screwed up than Colonel Saul Tigh was Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” (!) Thrace), and messy relationships (Callie loves Galen, who loves Sharon, who’s really a Cylon, and one of her copies, Athena, loves Helo; Kara and Lee have been fighting feelings for each other since she was his late brother’s fiancee; Gaius is so obsessed with Six that she comes to him in prophetic visions; Tigh’s wife Ellen frequently carouses with other men, in part because he’s always been more devoted to his job—and Bill—than he is to their marriage; etc.). And then there was the dizzying politics and philosophy: President Roslin and Captain Adama’s (Edward James Olmos) frequent clashes over the best course for their people; Roslin’s decision to fix an election to stop Baltar and then her subsequent confession; terrorist-turned-vice president-turned-terrorist Tom Zarek (the late Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the original version); the question of whether terrorism was justified when a colony was overrun by Cylons; and whether torture is justified when it’s a matter of life and death (watch the award-nominated episode "Pegasus" before you answer). And that’s just some of it.

It was a show that asked uncomfortable, timely questions, and that’s why so many of us couldn’t stop watching (Portlandia captured perfectly what happened to me and my husband one weekend). There were a lot of complaints about the ending, and maybe it was wrapped in too neat a bow, but it was still something I loved so much that I’ve forgotten how much the original disappointed me.

Thank you for reading! Please let me know in the comments what you think of old and new Bond and BSG in the comments, and then head on over to Jami for the last edition of the Bring Back That Lovin’ Feelin’ blog hop.

Friday, August 18, 2017

An American story

I can be critical of Boston, and especially critical of Boston politicians (you might have noticed that in The Golden Boy Returns). But when we're good, we're very good, and we are good this week.

You can head to this link to see what Massachusetts' Republican Governor and Boston's Democratic Mayor have to say about what happened last weekend in Charlottesville, but it's exactly what you'd expect: we are saddened, we stand in solidarity with another municipality that was thrown into chaos, and we're disappointed by the lack of moral leadership we've seen at the federal level.

Why am I putting this here? Because I write about a multi-ethnic group of friends and lovers who manage to be imperfect people without being racist. I titled my series The New Pioneers because they are young Americans trying to make it through the 21st century: new immigrants, old blue bloods, and many variations in between. They suffer through unique challenges, but the one thing that's true is that they are always better when they work together. That is the American story.

The Boston Common: it's been there and done that

Why else am I putting this here? Because saying you're disgusted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists should be the least controversial thing anyone can say.

Boston is not Shangri-La. The day after this is published, we're going to have a rally on the Boston Common that will feature some of the "luminaries" that came to speak in Charlottesville last week. Those speakers disgust me, but I'm glad they can speak: let the ugliness come out in a bright light so we don't have to worry about it festering in the dark. And because we watched what happened last weekend, we're taking precautions to make sure the same violence doesn't happen here. (Spoiler alert: you have the right to say horrible things without fear of being imprisoned, but you don't have the right to bring weapons with you when you do.)

It's not perfect, but it's the best we can do. And that's part of the American story too.
Devil's Run  Scandalous Miss Brightwell series
By Beverley Oakley

A rigged horse race and a marriage offer riding on the outcome. When Miss Eliza Montrose unexpectedly becomes legal owner of the horse tipped to win the East Anglia Cup, her future is finally in her hands – but at what cost?

George Bramley, nephew to the Earl of Quamby, will wager anything. Even his future bride.

Miss Eliza Montrose will accept any wager to be reunited with the child she was forced to relinquish after an indiscretion — even if it means marrying a man she does not love.

But when the handsome and charming Rufus Patmore buys a horse from her betrothed, George Bramley, whose household her son visits from the foundling home, her heart is captured and the outcome of the wager is suddenly fraught with peril.

**This is book 3 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwell series, though it can be read as a stand-alone.
Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here 

This excerpt begins after Eliza has just plunged into the lake to rescue three drowning children and their nanny. Having dragged them – and herself – to shore, she makes a shocking discovery.
Chapter Two
Eliza had forgotten what it felt like to enjoy a man’s attention. He’d started to dry her in a vigorous attempt to warm her but then his touch gentled and he simply stared down at her.
The wonder in his eye as he murmured words of praise was a rare sensation. Embarrassed, she turned away. Yes, turned away because she could not afford to be so obviously disquieted by another man when she was affianced to George Bramley who stood a few feet away from her. He was also staring but there was no softness in his countenance.
Hoping to avoid any more gestures of admiration or kindness from Mr Patmore, Eliza politely extricated herself and put out her hand to arrest the progress of the Foundling Home lad whom Nanny Brown was pursuing with a piece of dry linen.
 His impish grin reminded her of young Miss Katherine’s, Lady Fenton’s daughter. Clearly the two had had a great adventure unlike Young George who was lying on his stomach upon the grass, shaking with sobs.
“Did you drink a lot of water, Young George?” Eliza asked, looking down at the crying boy but he ignored her. “I said we shouldn’t go out! I said!” He pounded his fists. “No one ever listens to what I say!”
 Eliza shared a wry smile with the rather lovely Mr Patmore whom she found still staring at her but, as he looked about to approach her again, she turned her back on him and instead brought the Foundling Home boy to stand in front of her now that she’d succeeded in catching him. Eliza would not have Mr Bramley – or anyone else – accuse her of encouraging the attentions of a man not her betrothed.
 “Jack – that’s your name, isn’t it? Well, you’ll have something to tell them back at the Foundling Home.” She’d seen him only from a distance and now, mud bespattered and with his hair matted over his forehead it was difficult to make out his features though she knew from various anecdotes that young Jack distinguished himself for keeping Miss Katherine’s wilfulness in check and peace between Katherine and her cousin, Young George.
Jack stood obediently before her as he started to wring out his threadbare shirt. “Nah, I’m fine, m’lady,” he said, glancing up to reveal a pair of small white teeth in a freckled face. “But thanks for savin’ me, an’ all.”
Eliza was about to let him go. Releasing her grip a second later might have changed the course of her life, she thought later that evening, and perhaps it would have been better if she had. Why repeat the trauma she’d already experienced?
But for now she was acting on instinct and instead of letting him go when it would have seemed natural, her grip on his wrist tightened while the air in her lungs disappeared, and she had to open and close her eyes three times before she was ready to believe what she saw.
“Gideon?” There seemed still no air to say his name. A great pressure was building in her head. Finally she was able to gasp in a breath, forcing herself to resist the urge to draw him into her embrace and wail her joy.
And pain.
How many other boys of seven years sported a tiny extra claw on their left hand? Or had been thrust into the cold, unloving world of the Foundling Home, she thought bitterly.
He stopped what he was doing to look at her uncomprehendingly and she added faintly, “Though that’s not what they call you, of course.”
An amused look crossed his face, making him look older and wiser than his seven years. Nearby, the weeping and wailing George was a puling infant. Smiling at her was a little man.
He pushed out his chest and said in a tone that was neither boastful nor self pitying, “There’s some ‘at call me Devil’s Cub, or bastard, but at the manor here they call me Jack.”
Devil’s Cub? The sixth finger accounted for the nickname, of course.
“Miss Montrose?” In the distance, Lady Fenton was calling her. Eliza was suddenly shaking like one suffering the ague. “Jack,” she repeated in a whisper, still staring at him as she clenched her own fists. Was the child tormented by his deformity? It looked as if not much troubled him though Eliza couldn’t remember how many times Eliza had been told the sixth finger was God’s punishment upon her bastard babe.
“Miss Montrose! Come away! Susan is waiting in the house with a warm bath and blankets. You must be chilled to the bone!”
Vaguely, she could hear the sounds of concern all around her but all Eliza could focus on was the impish face before her: that of her lost child.


Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in touch with Beverley at:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Bringing Back That Lovin’ Feelin’ Blog Hop

Earlier this year, a couple of friends and I talked about old loves we needed to walk away from. As much as I'm a strong believer in moving on, I also love a good reunion story, so we're taking a stab at things we ultimately couldn't keep away from later in August.

Some things get better with age...after they get, you know, worse

Here's the schedule below. Watch this space for details, visit these guys and say hi, and let us know what you loved, lost, and then regained.

Morgan: 8/26
Kerrie: 8/27
Caroline: 8/28
Deb: 8/29
Jami: 8/30

Beyond the Shadows: Second Edition (The Shadow Series Book 1) by Anna Hub (Paranormal thriller/urban fantasy)

What if your shadow was the gateway to a sinister new world?

Selena Parker’s journey into the unknown begins in her dreams, but the consequences are carried back into her conscious life and she soon realises paranormal forces are at work. 

Her shadow has become more than just an image, it is a gateway to a sinister new world where mysterious creatures roam and she is confronted by danger that challenges her will to survive. 

She finds the man whose fate is linked inexplicably to her own but she knows nothing of him and doubts his true nature. Her only option is to place her life in his hands while they search for a way to stop the shadows claiming them forever.

Buy it today for 99 cents!

Anna Hub is a USA Today bestselling paranormal/thriller author from Perth, Western Australia. She qualified as a nurse in her early twenties but in 2007, decided to chase her childhood dream of becoming an author instead. Since then, she’s surrendered her heart and soul to writing.
Although terrified of horror movies, Anna loves to write on the dark side and explore uncharted mythologies. She believes the imagination is infinite and inside the pages of a book, there is no limit, no exact destination and our minds are free to exist in many worlds.

Connect with Anna
Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Little Grey Dress by Aimee Brown (Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy) Giveaway and Guest Post

Title: Little Gray Dress 
Author: Aimee Brown 
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017 
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books 
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit GoodReads: add Little Gray Dress to your to be read list  

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak. From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress. When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack! Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another when she least expects it?

AmazonUS: eBook – $2.99 | print – $9.99 AmazonUK: eBook – £1.99| print – £6.99
Barnes & Noble: print – $9.99

The unspoken truth from me…
I’m going to get really personal here. Which is something I don’t do often. This is a subject I don’t talk much about because it’s one of those things that is really hard to put on display. As a woman it’s already hard enough to fit into the world  if you have a visible imperfection, such as a handicap or even bad skin. But, when your problem is weight, it’s sometimes devastating to hear the things that come out of people’s mouths.

I have have been overweight since I was pregnant with my first son. I gained 60 pounds with that pregnancy, and 20 more pounds with each of my other two pregnancies. 20 years later, I’ve only just lost part of it. I’ve worked my ass off since January and have lost 60 pounds thus far. I still have 50 to go.  But, I’m getting there. And I’m so pleased with how far I’ve come. It’s a life change. It’s harder than anyone who’s never dealt with it can imagine and it’s an adjustment that is worth every single moment. I’m proud of me.

In Little Gray Dress I created main character Emi as a thicker woman. I didn’t want her to be picture perfect. I wanted to her be real and have the real struggles that so many normal women have.

Emi is a size 12. Which to me, doesn’t seem like a ‘larger’ girl. But, to America, it’s a plus size woman. When did this happen?

I’m always hearing about this ‘positive body image’ movement but yet, the same companies that are spouting this are the same ones that are putting our women who wear smaller double digit sizes and labeling them as ‘plus size’. How is that positive? When can we ever just be ‘women’ without being labeled for our appearance?

One of my favorite book titles is by Meg Cabot ‘Size 12 is not fat.’ I realize it’s not a size 2 but it’s also NOT fat. Sweet Jesus, America, come to your senses. Are we looking at our health or the superficial surface of woman around the country?

Did you know that despite the ‘positive body image’ movement than a woman size 12 and up is often looked at as lazy, fat, and unhealthy? None of those words are positive. When you see a woman on the street who might be over a size 8 and you automatically assume they are lazy, you’re probably not considering that she’s possibly just finally left her house for the first time after pushing a tiny human through the most sensitive part of her body. You might be overlooking the fact that she’s so busy with three toddlers that the only meal she gets at night, besides picking at the uneaten mac & cheese left over from her kids’ plate, is cold. You might not realize that the man who’s trying to hide his double chin with his beard, has been on prednisone for an unseen disease for months. You might not realize that when you judge my now size 16 figure that I’ve worked my ass off to lose 60 pounds.
Who are we to judge someone else by their appearance? Who are we to decide who’s healthy, lazy, or sick, by the size of their pants? Whether you are a size 0 or a size 28, you’re a human and I respect you the way you deserve to be respected. I will support you in anyway you need support. Your size doesn’t mean you’re a failure or less than anyone else.

My only advice is this – we can all overcome our obstacles in life with determination. We can help each other by supporting without judging. Nobody is perfect, even those with perfect exteriors have issues in life. Some of the most beautiful people on the planet are the ugliest people on the inside and visa verse.

Be the change in helping America’s self-esteem problem. Young, old, black, purple, white, thin, thick, male or female, we are all human and we all deserve support from our peers.
If you’ve something judgemental or negative to say to me (or anyone else for that matter) go and tell it to yourself in the mirror first and think about how that would make you feel coming from someone else. Think about how that statement would make you feel if someone said it to your parent, spouse, partner or child and think twice before you put that on someone else. Words matter, use yours wisely.

Aimee has the cutest Giveaway for the tour - pictured here <-- & opened worldwide.
Included is a 'create' coffee cup, some dark & handsome K-cup pods, a cute Life is Short, Eat Cake wall art, some tiny macaroons, a Little Gray Dress bookmark & postcard!
Enter here:

Aimee Brown – author bio: Aimee Brown is a writer and an avid reader. Little Gray Dress is her first published novel. My second novel is in the works now. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal. Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets. She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you’d like to chat with her she’s very active on social media. You can find her at any of the networks below. Stop by and say hello!


  Weds – August 2nd Blog on the Run – Book Review/Author Guest Post after 2nd Books and Photographs – Book Review Judging More Than Just the Cover – Book Review/Author Interview Nicole Evelina – Book Review/Guest Post The Novel Girl Reads – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A 
  Thurs – August 3rd Chick Lit Central – Author Interview NovelGossip – Book Review Hey Said Renee – Author Guest Post Romantic Reads and Such – Book Excerpt Steamy Book Mama – Book Review 
  Fri – August 4th BrizzleLass Books – Book Review O.D. Book Reviews – Book Excerpt He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post Corinne Desjardins – Book Spotlight Where Dragons Recide – Book Review/Author Q&A 
  Sat – August 5th JenaBooks – Book Review Sylv.net – Spotlight Post Got Books, Babe? – Author Guest Post The Writing Garnet – Book Review 
  Sun – August 6th I Read Novels – Book Review It's my Life – Book Excerpt RaeReads – Book Review Keelee Morris – Author Guest Post GrassMonster – Book Review 
  Mon – August 7th Living Life with Joy – Book Review/Giveaway/Author Q&A The Belgian Reviewer – Author Guest Post Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt Haddie’s Heaven – Spotlight Post Books in my Opinion – Book Review Literature Goals – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A 
  Tue – August 8th Reading to Unwind – Book Review Kristin's Novel CafĂ© – Book Excerpt & Giveaway/Book Review Key of Dee – Author Guest Post FrankyBrown – Book Excerpt Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Book Reviews (3) 
  Weds – August 9th Ink, Maps and Macarons – Giveaway/Author Q&A Heartalefix – Book Review Tea Party Princess – Author Guest Post/(possible) Review One Book at a Time – Book Excerpt/Spotlight/Book Review 
  Thurs – August 10th ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review/Excerpt Rosa Temple Writes – Author Guest Post Life at 17 – Spotlight Post Daily Waffle – Book Excerpt/Author Q&A 
  Fri – August 11th Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review Sparkly Word – Book Review Books and Readers – Book Review/Excerpt/Giveaway/Guest Post Ali the Dragon Slayer – Book Review Katie Lady Reads – Book Review Rambling Lisa's Book Reviews – Book Review/Book Excerpt 
  Sat – August 12th Life of a Simple Reader – Book Review/Excerpt Karlita – Goodreads/Social Media – Book Review KD Reads – Book Review/Giveaway/Guest Post D.K. Hamilton – Book Review/Author Q&A 20CC Reviews – Book Review TrashyBibloBlog – Book Review/Excerpt