Bek and Char Review: Magic Mike XXL

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REVIEW: MAGIC MIKE XXL

Char: So MMXXL was a bit like my first manuscript – weird, uneven, and in need of a good edit. But! It was also a shiny diamond amongst all those rough dialogue scenes, and like the first one, weirdly (dare I say) feminist. I don’t know if I should say such things.

Bek: There sure are a lot of interesting reviews out there, pointing out the feminist angle and that’s kind of amazing for a film about a group of men. Directed by Gregory Jacobs, this is basically a road movie starring male entertainers who like to talk about their issues (entrepreneurial frustrations) and are secure in their sexuality (drag-queen vogue-off!). Now, I’ve read a lot about the feminist angle of this movie, which is all very interesting. But something else struck me: the movie is totally body positive. The bigger sized women weren’t being laughed at. Some were used as pommel-horses, sure, but so were the regular sized women and hey, who wouldn’t bend over for Channing Tatum. Um… you know what I mean.

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Char: Good point. It was all about the ladies, really, and feeling sexy because you know what you like, not because you’re size whatever.

Bek: Yeah. Curvy chicks rule. Because we all know the health dangers associated with thigh gaps: they’re bad for your balance and your pussy gets cold.

Keep Calm

Char: And let’s face it, what I want is Joe Man-I-Mean-Hello! who asks about my fantasy, which is clearly watching him S&M strip-tease to NIN’s Closer. Well-read, sir!

Bek: I’d say this movie is a cure for anyone who saw the Entourage movie. Or Mel Gibson in What Women Want. In Magic Mike XXL, the men discuss how women just want to be listened to, how they deserve to have the bedroom light on when their husband makes love to them. The men call the women in this movie ‘queens’ and ‘goddesses’. And there is sweet, sweet poetry.

Char: Yeah, though that was the bit I think should have been on the editing room floor. Waaay off track at that point.

Bek: And then there was Joe Manganiello humping a fridge of bottled water to make a bored cashier smile.

Joe

Char: True. All is forgiven then. Andie McDowell would certainly agree with me, after all, she gets the Joe. Another random road-trip scene that oddly worked.

Bek: I mean, sure, the narrative was a little loose, but I had to cross my legs a few times as I laughed and laughed. This movie treated people of different shapes, sizes and colour as they should be, like regular people, and not a punch line because they look a little different from the Hollywood norm.

Char: And when they’re high on Molly (I had to look it up – basically ecstasy, I think) and behaving like teenagers? I totally bought it. And having said all those positive things about the portrayal of women, I did like how Tates and gang were given additional dimensions. They’re not just strippers, ladies, they’re real people, too. Tates gets a history, and that tiny bit with Tarzan? The glimpse of vulnerability? That was—okay, wait, stop. It’s not going to win an Oscar, but you get the point.

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Char: Overall, it feels like a respectful sequel, and I’d go so far as to say it’s a truly ensemble cast – Channing isn’t the only thing going on. They neatly cut out Tates’ fiancé and McConaughey’s characters from the first movie in practically one-liners at the start (code: there’s no movie if Tates is a douche, and we can’t afford McConaughey).

Bek: I thought Jada Pinkett’s character kind of filled the ‘over-the-top’, dangerous, wicked (-ly awesome) shoes that McConaughey left behind. Even though she wasn’t really playing the villain, just someone not to be trifled with (girl crush alert!).

Char: Yes! I spent a long time trying to work out what her job was, but, whatever, I want her house! Also, while we’re on the sets, I have to say that Tates’ workshop is very dimly lit at the start. How he gets any work done in there at night, I don’t know. But full credit for the bench grinding. Get it? Get it?

Bek: Cue music.

youre welcome

Bek’s Grade: 9 pommel-horses out of 10

Char’s Grade: 9 self-empowering strip routines out of 10

THE RED SILK CLOAK – A tale of Unrequited Love

by Alison Stuart

This is a sad story… and as you know, we like happy ever afters, but for the Honourable Orlando Bridgeman, that HEA was not to be…

I came across Orlando’s story in the Guards Museum in London (well worth a visit). With the National Army Museum being closed, the smaller museums around the UK were hosting different aspects of the Waterloo story and, of course, the Guards are inextricably tied up with the action at Hougemont Farm so there was quite a display about Waterloo. Tucked away in a glass case, and looking completely out of place in a military museum was a full length, woman’s red silk cloak and this is the story that accompanied it.

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Born in 1794, the third son of the Earl of Bradford, Orlando, as all third sons did, joined the Army and the age of 17 found himself as a young Ensign at the siege of Cadiz in Spain. Here young Orlando succumbed to a fever and was left behind by his regiment. Hurrying north to rejoin his regiment, he found himself caught up in action at the capture of Seville in August 1812. After the action he encountered a French Sergeant of Chasseurs who implored the honourable young man to help a wounded (and dying) French officer by the name of Marbet. Marbet, Orlando was told, had left his fiancee, Mademoiselle de Casteja, in Madrid and now with the English army moving north, Mlle de Casteja was alone and friendless in the midst of enemies. “Please,” Marbet begged, “Tell her of my fate and help her procure a pass through the British lines so she can return to Paris.” Orlando gave his word and as soon as he reached Madrid he sought out Mlle de Casteja.

Mlle de Casteja enchanted the young man and a ‘tendresse’ formed between the two. The safe pass was arranged and Mlle de Casteja left for Paris, leaving her red silk travelling cloak with Orlando as a keepsake, along with a request that he seek her out in Paris when the war was ended.

Three long years of war followed and with Napoleon’s return from Elba, the allies and French met once more at the decisive battle of Waterloo. Now Captain Orlando Bridgeman was there, as Aide de Camp to Sir Rowland Hill. Although wounded (not badly) he hastened with the allied forces to Paris, anxious to keep his promise to Mlle de Casteja only to find that not only had Marbet inconsiderately survived his wounds, he had been reunited with his love and married her.

It is said that Orlando had kept the red silk cloak with him for those three long years and had even worn it at Waterloo (the latter is dubious as not only was it impractical but showed little sign of having been in a battle of such magnitude).

Broken hearted, Orlando left the army and returned to England where, two years later he married an old friend, Lady Selina Needham. They had four children but sadly Orlando died at the age of 33.

Many of his letters survived and are contained in a book, A YOUNG GENTLEMAN AT WAR edited by Gareth Glover. For more about Orlando’s life, click here


20836 (1)Can the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?


Alison-web smallABOUT ALISON

Escape author, Alison Stuart is an award winning Australian writer of cross genre historical romances. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes and men in uniform. If your taste is for duelling cavaliers, wayward ghosts, time travel and murder mysteries – sometimes all in the same book – Alison’s stories are for you. The second book in Alison’s GUARDIANS OF THE CROWN series for Escape, THE KING’S MAN will be released in September.

First Loves (the real, slightly embarrassing kind)

by Charmaine Ross

I’m going to be honest. I have compiled a list of my first loves – the very first – that more or less, I fell in love with in Primary School. Yes, I had eyes in my head even then, even if my tastes were somewhat to be desired.

I guess being a girl of about ten or so and having no-idea-whatsover about men and anything that they entailed, I relied on my first point of call. The television screen. Yes, these ‘real-life men’ taught me a lot about what to expect when I started dating.

For one thing, I thought that all dates would consist of flying around the world in a super-sonic jet (at least), if not defeating a world-class villain or two. There might even be an inter-dimensional restaurant we might have stopped in for some refreshments during life-and-death duels because you have to be practical – you will get hungry doing all that stuff.

The ‘men’ that could accommodate me in said adventures were the following:

  1. Mark, from the five-member superhero team called G-Force from Battle of the Planets, who defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of planet Spectra. I would settle for no less than being called on as the sixth member of the team and having the chance to also defend Earth shoulder to shoulder with Mark. I loved his big blue eyes that would see into my soul. Unfortunately, he was also a cartoon character. And before you judge, one of my friends also confided that she also fell in love with Mark, so I wasn’t the only one.mark
  2. Buck Rogers from the eighties television series. On a date with him, which I now know could last a while, I would sleep the next five hundred years, run about in a skin-tight white body-suit, (because didn’t everyone from the future wear clothes like that?), and go on big adventures in space and defeat the criminals of the future with good ol’ fashioned thinking and wit.Buck Rogers
  3. I also fell in love with Indiana Jones, and I will also mention his alter-ego Han Solo. Or did I just fall in love with the young Harrison Ford? Not sure. Adventure would also be on the cards on these dates and if I was lucky I might discover an ancient artefact or a remote village that had never seen white people before. Either one could happen; I didn’t care which. indianajoneshansolo4. Oh, there was also Flash Gordon from the movie in the eighties played by Sam J Jones. I just loved his washboard abs and blank eyes. Not much going on up top, but with a bod like his, who cares! Content of our date? Adventure. Space. Defeating villains. The same old spiel. flash-gordon

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t have any crushes on real life boys at school. They were dirty and a little bit too smelly for my sophisticated tastes. No footy players (they were a bit muddy as well), no sports heroes, no real-life individuals at all. I was a girl with selective tastes and any boy who took me out on a date had to at least have a jet or a wormhole though time and space to entertain me.

Why did I crush on characters? Maybe because they were really, really safe for me to fall in love with. I could day-dream about all the things I could do to them, and they can do to me from the comfort of my couch.

The modern day me still reaches for the same safety my ten-year-old self did. There are dozens of characters in books and movies I go on adventures with nearly every day.

For example Aidan Turner from his role in ‘Poldark’ – quite frankly, have you seen that man without a shirt on?! And yes, that was the sound of me scooping up my jaw from the floor.poldarkI can devour him with my eyes open, dream about him with my eyes shut, and travel the depths of the world and beyond. It all happens inside my head. Dating this way is also extremely safe. I can stretch my boundaries in any way I want and it all remains private. I stay in my safe place. If my daughter wants to date this way until she’s thirty, I will be more than obliging.

I’m not saying that if Aidan Turner turned up on my doorstep with a space-craft and a star-chart I wouldn’t go in real-life, but I’m older than ten now. I’m allowed to go on real adventures. It’s my daughter’s turn to mind-play and day-dream from a safe distance. I’d like to think she’ll have her safe place for years to come and enjoy future books and movies, like her mother. After all, it’s the best way to date!

And the truth is I’m not the only woman who does this. Millions of women around the world get a little buzz from the characters they discover and read in romances of all categories. Don’t deny it!

That’s the reason these books exist and grow in popularity each and every day. So enjoy these characters. Do things to them you wouldn’t do in real-life. Go on adventures, claim your dreams. You’re allowed to. After all, it’s the safest thing you can do!

(editor: this was mine! Though I’ve since turned from my childish crush to a more *ahem* adult crush on Captain Picard ;) )MTS_MistyBlue-730654-riker3


20830A sexy, sugar-laden David vs Goliath story about a local bakery, a national chain, and what really matters.

Clover Loveday has worked hard to get her café Four-Leaf Clover up and running — her ticket out of an increasingly alarming financial situation and her dream come true. When she literally falls off her ladder into the arms of sexy-as-sin Liam Sinclair. The same Liam Sinclair who owns the new bakery being built just across the road…the new store by bakery chain Upper Crust owner! Clover decides then that no matter how nauseated she is about the idea, it is best keep your enemies close, rather than leave things to fate.

Liam has never put too much thought into the competition when he opens a new outlet, other than taking their customers and strengthening the Upper Crust brand. But here in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, Clover Loveday’s cafe is a little too close for comfort, and Clover herself a little too good-looking. So Liam asks his PA to put together a ’fact sheet’ about his new competition. He has a business to run, a father to please, and hundreds of people to keep in jobs. Surely information can keep an unwanted strong sexual pull at bay…

A sweet, caffeinated, satisfying story about unexpected temptations, forgiveness, and putting love before money.

Feed Your Readers: New Stories! New Releases!

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The final instalment in Viveka Portman’s sexy, sinful Regency Diaries sees an unhappy wife desperately seeking love—and her taciturn husband who doesn’t know how to reach her.


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Have you taken a night shift at St Mary’s yet? She’s been offered her perfect job, but it means working with the only man she’s ever loved, and the one man she can never keep.

Happy Ever Afters

 by Elsa Winckler

I love books and I love reading. I still have fond memories of the library in the little town of Upington where I grew up. I remember walking through the library, just touching the covers, smelling the books – it always made me happy. Books transported me to places I’ve never been and, at the time, places I thought I’d never see.

But I’ve always had a problem – I like happy endings. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that most books don’t have those. So I got into the habit of turning the pages right to the end (I know, terrible) to find out whether the two were kissing or at least holding hands. Only then would I take it home, secure in the knowledge that whatever trials and tribulations these two would have, they’d ended up together!

During my studies I read all the classics – Dickens, Jane Austen, Mrs Gaskell, the Brontë sisters, Henry James, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy. I loved the latter’s Far from the madding crowd but Jude, the obscure left me depressed for months. In short – I loved the books with happy endings but didn’t enjoy the never-ending sad, sad stories! I read James Joyce’s Ulysses and had the privilege to study the book under Prof Michiel Heyns, nowadays a renowned South African author, but I can’t use the word ‘enjoy’ to describe the way I felt after reading the book.

This had me thinking – how absolutely lovely would it be if you could walk into a bookshop where you would only find books with happy endings? You wouldn’t have to worry that you’d pick a book that would end where someone walks away or, horror of horrors – dies! To my romance-loving, happy-ever-after disposition this sounded very close to Heaven.

So when I was thinking about writing my first English romance (I also write in Afrikaans) this idea simply wouldn’t let go and I started on Love, in writing. That’s why the heroine in my story, Margaret Parker, ended up as a romance writer who owns a bookshop with the name, Happy Ever After, written in pink letters, no less where you’ll only find books with happy endings!

She met Graham Connelly, a hardcore, cynical science fiction author in a lift and sparks fly …

And I discovered that the thrill of determining how two opposites manage to find their way to a happy-ever-after is even more exciting when the story literary unfolds under your fingertips!


19575A hardcore Science Fiction writer and a soft-hearted romance novelist clash on the sunny South African coast…

Margaret Parker is a hopeless romantic whose fantasies fuel her writing. For Graham Connelly, science fiction is the perfect genre to express his cynical world view. A chance meeting in a lift leaves them both interested and aroused — with no clue as to the other’s identity.

Margaret has been looking for a face to match her new fictional hero — and Graham’s is it. Graham has been looking for proof that innocence and optimism still exist — and he’s found it in Margaret. But fantasy isn’t reality, and both Margaret and Graham are used to controlling their fictional worlds. Can they step off the pages long enough to find their own happy-ever-after?

About Reading

by Kate Loveday

Reading enriches our lives. I once heard a man say proudly, “I haven’t read a book since I left school.” I felt sorry for him, for he had missed out on one of the simplest, most easily achievable experiences in life – something that not only gives hours of enjoyment but also helps to broaden our outlook on life.

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, even as a child I can remember reading everything I could lay my hands on. I must admit I can’t remember having been read to as a child, and, as one among a family of seven, my mother probably hadn’t time for such activities. But someone must have read to me at sometime, for I can remember starting school and having an elementary knowledge of letters and being able to read the simple primers that were in the first grade.

The things we read as children have a way of shaping our actions as we grow into adulthood, and I credit the National Geographic magazine for forming my insatiable desire for travel. My father was a reader and we always had the Readers Digest and National Geographic magazines in the house, which I devoured. An article in the National Geographic on the Great Barrier Reef, complete with colour photos, made a lasting impression on me and I grew up with a strong desire to visit and experience its wonders for myself. I kept that magazine for many years, but I was in my twenties before I finally made a visit to Cairns. I was so excited, still seeing those beautiful colour plates in my mind’s eye, and was horribly disappointed to find that the Crown of Thorns starfish had eaten most of the coral that year, leaving only bare, grey skeletons. It took many years for the reef to recover, and another yet before I was able to fulfil my dream to see it, snorkelling in the beautiful clear waters of the Outer reef on a day that I will never forget. But it had stayed with me for more than half my lifetime, by which time I had been fortunate enough to be able to visit many of the places I had read about as a child in my Dad’s magazines.

Of course I read novels too, going the full gamut of adventure stories at school (ah! how I worshipped Sydney Carlton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities –so noble in his sacrifice!) Regency romances as a teen, along with mysteries (I read every Agatha Christie published) and through the old authors like Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, and Leon Uris.

I have also dipped into English history with Jean Plaidy and into Australia’s early days with that old but wonderful series ‘The Australians’ by Vivian Stuart Long , and explored our Colonial days with Patricia Shaw.

And so to our present day Australian authors such as Kate Grenville, Judy Nunn, Peter Watt, Colleen McCullough, Fiona McIntosh and Kerry Greenwood, to name but a few. Great storytellers, all.

Of course, as well as fiction, libraries and the internet are full of books about every subject under the sun. Whatever you want to read, it’s all there for you, the product of some writer who dedicated their talent and part of their life to putting their knowledge or artistry into words for you. My life is richer because of them, and I thank them all for the hours of pleasure they have given me and their insights into life.

When my children were young, a bedtime story was mandatory, and something I enjoyed as much as they did. It was a special way of bonding, and they all grew up as inveterate readers. Now I have two grand-daughters and bedtime stories are part of their bedtime ritual too. If I am visiting at bedtime, it gives me pleasure to take part. Now they have access to their IPads and can enjoy stories via the wonder of ebooks, reading for themselves. But I am still happy when the youngest brings me a book and asks, “Read me a story, Nanna.”

I am sure they will grow up with the love of reading that is passed down from one generation of family to the next. Whether we read printed books or enjoy our stories on an e-reader or tablet doesn’t matter. It is the reading, that transporting us into a different life for a few hours, to view life from different perspectives, that is so enriching.


19722An Australian rural romance about an unexpected inheritance that sends a city girl down deep into the country…

When Cassie Taylor inherits Yallandoo, a cattle station near Cairns in Far North Queensland, she is shocked. What does she know about running cattle? But the property has been in her family for generations, and Cassie is not a quitter. She leaves behind her Sydney life and heads to the station, determined to make a go of it.

But a long drought and falling prices mean challenges Cassie doesn’t expect. To save her heritage, she’s going to have to come up with some new ideas — and fast. Then the threatening letters start to arrive.

Someone doesn’t want Cassie to succeed, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to stop her…

Breaking the Rules of Romance

by Viveka Portman

You may or may have seen this tweet from BookThingo’s ever awesome Kat Mayo.

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and possibly thought WTF.

For those who have read any of The Regency Diaries, you’d be less surprised to see the word adultery, but the biblical seduction may have thrown you.

That’s because I tend to challenge some of the romance writing norms in my books. Honestly I don’t do it on purpose, it just happens that way. I tend to get an idea, and run with it. Thus, my heroes may be sexy, but aren’t always heroic… And my heroines can be anything from pregnant and bisexual to innocent and curious governesses.

In my July 22nd release the final Regency Diary, The Journal of Vicar’s Wife, the reader will meet the very troubled wife of Stanton’s Vicar, Mrs Maria Reeves (hence the bible readings!)

During ARRC 2015, I read an excerpt from this upcoming book which was very pleasantly received… (I do recommend reading a sex scene aloud to an audience of 50+, it’s nerve wracking, but strangely liberating.)

Still I wasn’t sure how the book would be received by reviewers. After all, it contains *gasp* adultery and *gasp* bible readings and *even more hot panting gasps* sex.

Again, I sense you thinking WTF?

It challenges several rules generally held by romance writers. Adultery is a highly taboo subject in romance. I understand that totally, but I like the issues my character face to be real, and sometimes, oh so unfortunately, real means infidelity.

Mrs Reeves is terribly unhappy in her marriage. Her husband is very unloving and pious, preferring self denial to pleasure, or so it seems. The story is one of exploration, as Maria explores and breaks the boundaries of her unhappy marriage and follows her journey to understanding her husband, and achieving a marriage that will work–for both of them.

I can’t deny that this was a challenging write. Making Maria’s story sexy and steamy as well as poignant and moving wasn’t always smooth sailing, but then nothing ever is.

The Journal of A Vicar’s Wife, the final instalment of The Regency Diaries, is due for release 22nd July. 

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The final instalment in Viveka Portman’s sexy, sinful Regency Diaries sees an unhappy wife desperately seeking love—and her taciturn husband who doesn’t know how to reach her.

My husband, though I do not doubt his goodness, does not love nor want me. He married me for pure convenience. He needed a bride and I was the one offered to him. Thus I find my pleasures where I may…

Mrs Maria Reeves has been married for six years. Six long, lonely years. She craves love and affection, but married to a handsome but pious vicar she receives little in the way of earthly pleasures. The Reverend Vicar Frederick Reeves is a man of principle and morals, and is more likely to provide his wife with suggested Bible readings than carnal knowledge.

 If her husband will not please her, then she will find a man who will.

But infidelity doesn’t come naturally to the vicar’s wife. Though Maria finds herself getting the sexual pleasure she desires, she also finds herself emotionally frayed and unhappy. To make matters worse, in the small village of Stanton there are always people watching, and Maria discovers that some secrets are impossible to keep. What will her upright husband do when he discovers that Maria has broken not only one of the commandments, but her vows to him?

Bek and Char Review: Chris Pratt…errr…Jurassic World

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REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD

Bek: Directed by Colin Trevorrow (who?), Jurassic World stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, snotty kids and a Franken-saurus. I had heaps of fun watching this, even with the wobbly elements. For example, I found the ‘up-tight’ character of Claire boring, along with the clichéd suggestion she just needs a romp with Owen to work the kinks out (call me). I felt this subplot either needed more beef, or dropped altogether (see “Mad Max: Fury Road” for plot with male and female characters not hooking up but still being awesome *GASP*). I also wondered what the movie would have looked like if the gender roles had been reversed.

Char: Right, so Joss Whedon sorta asked the same question in a tweet, and you know, it’s Joss (all HAIL JOSS). So a gender reversal would be a stuffy dude with a military haircut heartlessly protects “assets” (which now I’m writing it here, sort of feels dirty) while a free-spirited yet brilliant safari lady bonds with the raptors? I think they did that with the T-rex in “The Lost World”. Or it could be the pitch line for some kinky erotica (makes mental note).

Bek: Someone already went there. It wasn’t pretty.

Char: Ah-hem. What we should really be talking about is what type of motorbike said role-reversed lady would ride, as Owen bad-ass Pratt rides a Triumph Scrambler (helloo, product placement). Actually she’d probably have saddles on the raptors. Now, there’s an image. I see the 1980s soft porn jungle flick Sheena, but with dinos. Someone please stop me.

Bek: No, no. I can see it now…

sheena-promo-pictures-not-in-the-movieBek: It was very interesting to note the film’s marketing featured Pratt’s character, but turns out this is Claire’s story. But because of the Ice Princess routine, I found it hard to care. You saw her in a different light, didn’t you?

Char: Yeah, so … Claire has a busy, demanding job. She’s basically the embodiment of the corporate goddess (plus I like Bryce Dallas Howard – she’s the chick from the M.Night Shyamalan movie that everyone hates but me). Then, she gets the nephews in free as VIPs and the parents are still down her neck? What gives. Why are the kids’ parents so keen to paste the guilt on Claire? She’s their AUNT. It was the kind of plot I expected from the classic divorced parent trope. You know, Jim Carey runs Jurassic World, and that chick from ER is like, dude, you never see your son. I don’t care how critical your job is you’re taking him THIS WEEKEND. Then, hijinks ensue. It’s one of the reasons I wonder if the script was originally for a male character, and they changed it up and had to bandaid over it. It honestly bothered me the whole movie.

Also, if the kids have passes to save them lining up for anything, then why are they lining up for the giant hamster balls? But let us not venture into the land of inconsistencies. There’s tall grass down there, and worse things than raptors.

Bek: Damn you, movie logic! And no one runs in HEELS. I’ll only accept ONE woman in the world able to do this.

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Char: Ah, Scully. Yeah, that bothered me too. But then, Chris Pratt! Also, there was a bit of the funny in this movie. It was actually hilarious. People laughed at the jokes in the cinema. And not the pained kind you get in an Adam Sandler flick. Some competent person wrote those jokes. And did you spot the dude fleeing with two frozen margaritas? That’s classy.

Bek: Yes! And I loved the cynical Jake Johnson character in the Jurassic World control room, with his collection of toy dinosaurs. I wish he had featured more in the movie. He’s the meta voice of reason, and when he tries to hook up with his co-worker before his great sacrifice, her reaction is priceless.

Char: Ah, yes, that dude. He was responsible for a few funnies, including the old Jurassic Park t-shirt purchased from ebay. He reminded me of the character Wash, from Firefly. I even expected him to play with his toy dinos. He didn’t. But the evil dude from CSI did sweep them aside dramatically. That’s called a metaphor, kids.

Bek: And there was a blink or you’ll miss it shot of the Goldblum’s Jurassic Park character’s book on his desk, in one of the many nods to previous movies. I blinked and missed it, but in my defense, Pratt was onscreen. The internet assures me it was there.

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Char: Yeah, that was nicely done. And I really enjoyed the vision of the park actually open. Seemed totally right. I’m curious too … so Jeff Goldblum was in Jurassic 1 and 2. Sam Neill was in Jurassic 1 and 3. Neither of them are in this movie. If you were going to cast them, who would they play in this film?

Bek: Maybe Sam Neill could play an absent minded engineer who’s got a bad feeling about this or is only one day away from retirement before becoming a dino-entree. My husband (a rabid fan of all Jurassics) has informed me you can never have too much Goldblum, in any shape or form.

Jeff Gold

Char: Gah! Looking away! But honestly, I had every reason to dislike this – I’ve never really liked the others (because I’m precious about the mucking they did with the novels, sniff). But this entertained me. It was weird and wibbly with all these subplots hanging off all over the place (divorcing parents! flying lessons! teenage girlfriends!), and it took a leaf out of George RR in topping characters at unexpected moments. But I say a hearty, well done big faceless studio, this one’s a keeper.

Bek: Agreed. Even with Pratt’s shirt firmly buttoned up all through movie (sad face). I will have to be content with a strange Chris Pratt Boot Scoot.

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Bek’s Grade: 7 Goldblum Nipples out of 10
Char’s Grade: There’s an image I’m not losing … 9 Triumph Scramblers out of 10

 

July New Releases: Feed Your Readers!

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When faced with the choice between the life she’s built and the duty she’s left behind—what’s a reluctant princess to do?


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From SE Gilchrist comes the next big thing: The Starburst Rock Band – coming to a galaxy near you…


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What is all the fuss about the Battle of Waterloo?

by Alison Stuart

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo fell on June 18th this year, and the occasion was marked at the battle site itself with a weekend of re-enactments, presentations and memorial unveilings attended by 100,000 people. Church services and commemorations were held in London and Brussels (but in France it passed with barely a murmur. In fact, I suspect, the French probably think they won the battle.)

Not this Waterloo...

Not this Waterloo…

And I was there… or nearly! My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit the Battle Site the week before the commemoration. The new Visitor’s Centre (which is AMAZING!) had just opened and workmen were frantically laying paths and putting up the bleachers… and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves on a very warm, sunny day.

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After a longish bus ride in a stuffy local bus from central Brussels, we had a whole day on our hands and we took the time to visit the Wellington Museum in Waterloo itself (the inn where Wellington stayed the night of the battle and from which he wrote his famous Waterloo despatch). At the site of the battle, we spent ages in the Visitors Centre, climbed the 200 steps to the top of Butte de Lion and walked the line of the ridge to Hougemont Farm with its brand new English Oak gate. Sadly without a car, time did not permit a visit to Napoleon’s headquarters.

Alison at Wellington's HQ 2015 Jun

Back in London we visited the Guards Museum which hosted an exhibit on Hougemont Farm (where the Guards regiments distinguished themselves), the National Portrait Gallery which had a whole exhibition devoted to Wellington, Apsley House on Waterloo Day and in Paris… at the Hotel de Ville (the military museum), there are galleries devoted to Napoleon’s glory years but blink and you miss any mention of Waterloo!

So… Waterloo is very much on my mind and I am thrilled that in honour of Waterloo, my ‘Waterloo’ story Lord Somerton’s Heir will be 99c (on Amazon and iBooks) from 4 -13 July only.

As I picked up a few little bits and pieces on my travels, I will be offering a Waterloo Commemoration prize as part of a Rafflecopter contest that will run all week (details are on my website at www.alisonstuart.com). But wait… there’s more… sign up to my Readers’ Group newsletter and not only do you get extra points in the contest, you will receive a short story, the ‘prequel’ to Lord Somerton’s Heir… SEBASTIAN’S WATERLOO.

Enough preamble… there is something about Waterloo that captured and held public attention like very few other battles in history. Why? I would be interested in your comments…

In the meantime, here are some facts about Waterloo…

  • It is the only battle in the long Napoleonic campaigns in which both Napoleon and Wellington faced each other.
  • The Prussians wanted to call the battle Belle Alliance after the village where Napoleon had his headquarters. Wellington’s practice was to name battles after the village in which he spent the night before the battle… hence Waterloo. 
  • The casualties numbered 200 000 men, 60 000 horses (apologies to horse lovers!), and 537 guns were in action, contributing havoc and destruction on an enormous scale. The action was fought in a relatively small space (5 square miles) and at 2291 casualties per square mile, Wellington’s losses were greater than the 234 casualties per square mile over the 120 days of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
  • Tourists flocked to the battlefield from the day after the battle and are still flocking.
  • Napoleon blamed General Grouchy for his defeat. Grouchy had misinterpreted an order from his commander. Napoleon’s Chief of Staff had scribbled ‘The battle is commenced’, intending for Grouchy to join in. Grouchy read the word ‘engagée’ (commenced) as ‘gagné’ (won)and stayed put. 
  • A good trade in false teeth went on for years after the battle – with the teeth of the dead being set in hippo bone and used as dentures.
  • Three days after the battle, in Paris, Napoleon attempted to commit suicide by swallowing poison. His doctors saved him but it is possible it hastened his death on St. Helena only a few years later.

And was it such a splendid victory? Well in the opinion of two old army officers (self and husband) it was indeed, as Wellington said, a ‘near run thing’.

  • IF Grouchy had not misunderstood his orders…
  • IF Ney had not led his cavalry off on a wild charge unsupported by artillery and infantry…

And, most importantly,

  • IF the Prussians had not turned up when they did, the outcome would have been totally different!

So please take a moment to enter the Rafflecopter contest. Details of the prize, which includes a reproduction of The Times with the Waterloo despatch, are on my website

And don’t forget to join up to my reader’s list and find out how the hero of Lord Somerton’s Heir, Sebastian Alder, passed the day of 18th June 1815.


20836Can the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?