August 29, 2020

Emma. 2020


Hello, my lovelies! So yeah, I have finally watched the newest version of Emma. I actually first watched it several weeks ago and after a rewatch or three I decided I should really get my thoughts down in print. :)

So here's the deal. I was excited for a new Jane Austen adaptation, I really was! But I was a whole lot uncertain. As I've been pondering that uncertainty since, I've decided there were several things that played into it:
  • I read the book for the very first time only a couple years ago and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it like I expected to. So I think my disappointment was affecting me even this long while later. (Incidentally, now that I've watched the film, I really want to reread the book!)
  • I tried watching both the Gwyneth Paltrow version and the Kate Beckinsale version years upon years ago and rather disliked them both. It wasn't until I saw the Romola Garai version that I fell in love with the story. And I haven't even watched that one for a couple years. So perhaps I was fearful of more disappointment...? Or maybe even that I might like this one better...? I don't know. (Side note: SO many of my reader friends LOVE the Paltrow version! I'm thinking I should really give it another chance as I can't even remember what it was that I didn't like about it...)
  • I LOVE Jonny Lee Miller's Mr. Knightley. So much so, I think I just didn't want to even imagine someone else in the role...
  • SO much talk about the bloody nose scene. And I will have more to say on that later, but all I heard about this scene before watching it simply put me off.
  • And lastly, I read and listened to a lot of reviews once the film officially came out. There was a mixed bag of thoughts. Some loved it, some hated it, some couldn't stand the bloody nose scene but liked everything else, some liked this or that part better or this over here was awful. Suffice it to say, I think I overdid it on reviews and just should've watched it for myself.
One weekend I decided it was now or never and bit the bullet. And what do you know but that I really loved it! All my silly worries and here I ended up really enjoying myself. :D I'm not sure it overtakes the Garai version as my very favorite, but it certainly stands tall right next to it!

What I loved:
  • The humor. This version is hilarious! I was not expecting to laugh quite so much. The Garai version is funny, but I think the length of it means that we get a mix of light and serious moments (as is appropriate!). This one has its serious moments to be sure, but there is simply a general feel of lightheartedness about it that I felt right from the beginning all the way through to the end.
  • Since I liked the humor, I ended up LOVING the bloody nose scene! Go figure, right? :D (I know, I laugh at myself. ;) Once I was into the flow of the story, by the time we get to that scene I figured out just what it was going for. As a reviewer I listened to stated it, in every other version that scene is played for romance. The great romantic moment, the climax so to speak. But in this one, the great romantic moment comes later, so this scene just flows hilariously onward and after numerous rewatches of it (yes, I rewound just that scene multiple times, I confess it) I still laugh at Emma's messy and real portrayal. As another reviewer stated, it showcases just how much of a mess she is and yet why we love her by this point of the story. And certainly why Knightley loves her because if he can deal with Emma and her dramatics, bloody nose and all, then he's truly in love! :D
  • The Emma and Harriet friendship. I confess to having struggles with all the different versions of actually liking Harriet all that much. But Mia Goth did an excellent job of walking the fine line between naive (rather than idiotic) and just simply being a good friend to Emma. One of the reviews I read said the focus of this one is really the love story between Emma and Harriet and I have to agree. It was beautifully played out between those two actresses.
  • Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley. I already admitted that I LOVED Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal, so I really wasn't expecting to love this new guy. But it worked. I'm pretty sure I love them both equally now. The way they each play their interactions with Emma herself and watching as they figure out they're in love with her...they each work perfectly in their particular versions. So I am happy to rewatch either and both again and again and again. :D
  • All the actors and actresses actually. I thought they all did a fantastic job with each of their characters. Not going too over the top, but yet keeping with the lighthearted and real feel of the story.
  • Okay, I also admit Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse was fabulous! He was a lot more nimble than I usually picture Mr. Woodhouse but it worked. There are two scenes where I absolutely loved him the most: 
    • when Emma is crying right after the Box Hill scene and the tenderness and fatherly-ness of his clear desire to comfort her yet he awkwardly doesn't quite know how so he ends up simply sitting with her in her sorrow. SUCH a beautiful moment!
    • the big romantic scene at the end when he remarks about the "draft" and then totally sets up the moment for Emma and Knightley. :D His sly looks at the beginning of the scene just crack me up! He knows precisely what's going on, even if he pretends he doesn't.
  • The colors and the costumes! SO much color and glorious costumes! There are several of Emma's outfits that are just gorgeous.

What I could've done without:
  • The particular scene with Mr Knightley at the very beginning. Luckily, it is easily skip-over-able.
  • The awful relationship between Emma's sister and her husband. It did make for some funny moments, but I definitely prefer the way the Garai version portrayed them!
  • This isn't really a thing I wished for less of, I actually wish there were even more scenes with Ms Taylor/Mrs. Weston. The first scene between her and Emma is so sweet and then she's barely in the film from there on out. I get that there were likely time constraints and all sorts of things that played into that decision, but still. I wish she'd showed up a bit more. And Mr. Weston too!
So there you have it. I laugh at all my worries about what I imagined this version would be like. Because clearly I rather enjoyed myself overall based on the lengthiness of my thoughts! :D Now. I am off to do another rewatch. (My birthday was this past week, so I can still celebrate with Jane Awesomeness, right?? I agree completely! ;)

August 28, 2020

Review: Start With Me by Kara Isaac

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Where does one begin with describing a Kara Isaac novel? The smiles that are guaranteed to come? The swooniness of the hero? The female protagonist who always seems to find her way into our hearts?  Or! What about the raw emotions which resonate with our own? Truly it's a combination of all of the above, isn't it? 

I should confess that I wasn't sure how I would feel about Victor himself. It's not that I doubted Ms. Isaac's skills, but I wasn't yet convinced that I could believe his redemption. Even though I'm almost always a fan of that storyline! I wasn't too doubtful though, because it didn't take him as long as I first imagined to convince me. (And I'm a sucker for a great redemption arc, did I mention? :) Victor began to tug at my heartstrings and that's not even counting what all Lacey did to my heart! Watching these two slowly figure out their attraction, the growth they both needed, and just what sort of future they each truly wanted was such a wonderful ride. Their story isn't perfect, but that's why I loved them. I could understand their uncertainties and flaws, even as I was pushing for them to reach beyond them into their truer selves.

The lives of these characters are messy, yet beautiful. It was a joy to walk beside them, witnessing their hilarious banter, their frustrations with their current lives, even their frustrations with themselves. The point of it all is to walk the journey, the destination (i.e. their happy ever after) is just the bonus! So do I think you should read it? If any of the above intrigued you, then I say yes! One rarely goes wrong with a Kara Isaac novel, trust me on that. :)

**I received a complimentary copy via JustRead Tours. All opinions are my own.

July 15, 2020

Review: The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

In the midst of all the crazy of the world, I wanted something lighthearted and fun to read. This arrived perfectly timed on my kindle! :) It made me laugh a few places, swoon quite a few others, and left me with a smile by the time I finished the final pages. Kudos to Ms. Vetsch!

Now I should clarify that the plot isn’t all happiness and rainbows, there are mysteries upon mysteries to solve amongst all the sweetness. I could never quite put my finger on exactly what would happen to whom although I surely spent quite a bit of time trying to figure it all out. I got close, but still had a few surprises left for me to discover at the climax. And at the heart of all the goings on is the super adorable (and sometimes frustrating) marriage of convenience! That, naturally, was my favorite bit of them all. :D Evan and Diana have splendid chemistry together, their scenes were always snapping with energy. Even as they frustrated me with their inability to just be honest with each other already, I could still appreciate their reasons why they each held things so close. And! The fact that they completely acknowledge the ridiculousness of their refusal to communicate towards the end redeemed all that for me.

The added detail of having the Prince Regent play such a large role in the story was unexpected but I actually rather enjoyed his outrageous way of going about things. (Not so sure I’d enjoy it in real life, but in fiction? Absolutely! :) Combine that with all the swooniness of the romance and the utter sweetness of Cian and you simply have the makings of a wonderful few hours of reading. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and if you like a bit of mystery with your romance then you just might do the same.

**I received a complimentary copy via JustRead Tours. All opinions are my own.

June 1, 2020

Review: Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay

Yay for a new Katherine Reay story! I anticipate the next one just as soon as I finish the last one and this time was no different. I love all the literary references she casually (and not so casually) weaves into her plot. I love how her writing flows along and draws me in immediately (especially when I’m “only going to read a couple chapters right now” and suddenly two hours have flown by ;). I love how her characters are always complex and real, they feel like friends by the end. In short? I just really love Katherine Reay books!

This one drew me in like her previous ones. I was intrigued by Alyssa’s problems and wanting so badly to make her relationship with her mother all better. After growing to know and love Janet dearly in The Printed Letter Bookshop, I was hoping for everyone else around her to be witness to her awesomeness and growth. However, it is perfectly understandable that a fraught relationship is rarely healed overnight. Thus no matter my impatience at times, I truly appreciated the nuanced and natural feel of how they began to slowly understand one another again. I do think their relationship was my favorite among all the possibilities within the story! I also rather enjoyed Jeremy’s relationship with his daughter, Becca. I was not expecting things to end up the way they did and my heart ached for all the emotions he had to process through. But what a beautiful lesson that came out of it! Seriously. Like I said, I love how Ms. Reay so skillfully handles complex characters and gives their story arcs such depth and feeling.

I will have to confess to feeling some slight disappointment, however. As much as I have adored all of Ms. Reay’s books thus far, this is the first one which I closed with a tinge of bittersweetness. This has nothing to do with her writing, more it has to do with where a couple plots ended up going. Ms. Reay has beautifully written a story in which choices were made which I did not enjoy as much as I wanted. Also, while I liked getting several different perspectives on scenes, the multiple points of view got a tad overwhelming at times, since I never knew when I'd jump into someone else's head suddenly. However! These choices are not enough to make me wish I hadn’t read it. To the contrary, I especially loved a certain conversation between Luke and Chris which just made me grin. The fact that they had this same basic conversation again at the end of the book only made my grin bigger! (On that note, Ms. Reay. I’d REALLY love to see the results of those convos played out in an epilogue of sorts! Pretty please? ;)

So! The bottom line? Katherine Reay is quite skilled with the pen and I think you should absolutely read her books! Though this one isn’t perfect, it still has some good lessons to be learned and imperfect characters with whom to fall in love. And! Did I mention all the literary references? You should be intrigued for those alone. What are you waiting for? Go read her books and be entranced as much as I!

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.


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