Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer


Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

A New Prince Full of Beans – Jack the Giant Slayer

With fairy tales being de rigeur at the moment, this marks another big budget fantasy flick with a true romantic story thrown in. Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is as useless as the original fairy tale would have you believe; he prefers to loaf rather than do anything to help his struggling father make enough money to get them through the harsh winter. At the end of his tether, his father tells him to take the cow, Daisy and sell her at the market for some profit, but when he makes his way into town, he swaps his horse for a handful of beans, which he is told are ‘special, magic beans.’

When he gets back home, his dad is furious he made no profit, and scalds him for his actions. Jack, annoyed at being told off drops the beans and they grow almost immediately into a beanstalk that crushes their house. As the beanstalk grows, princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) gets caught up in it, and Jack, who she met at the market earlier decides to help rescue her. The beanstalk also comes complete with a race of giants and their minions, a harp, treasure and other things that are straight out of the fairy tale. The movie has an all star cast with Elmont (Ewan McGregor) a knight (not Jedi this time,) King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) and the dastardly Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci).

The romantic angle in this movie happens when Princess Isabelle is told she must marry in order to fulfill her role as a princess, and when she rebels, the king finds the most unsuitable man possible for her to marry. The princess isn’t a brat, though, she is an independent woman who doesn’t fit in with the ideal of being the perfect princess, and has already decided that she would rather be with Jack even though he is not a prince, or even a noble. But at least he isn’t dastardly. In this his heroism is what could make him a prince without him even knowing it.

There are changes to the original fairy tale and in this one, the beans are mentioned in a book that tells a different tale of their origins from the one we are used to, and a mysterious crown that was forged in order to keep the giants at bay. It’s an exciting romp and one that is great to watch with your other half on the couch.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Jack the Giant Slayer

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Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

when beauty tamed the beastReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: These days kissing a man isn’t anything to write home about, but back in Regency times, merely touching a man meant ruin for the lady in question? In When Beauty Tamed the Beast: A Regency Tale, Linnet Berry Thrynne has been caught kissing a prince of all things, and the ton thinks she has slept with him – the product of their union in her womb, a royal child. All she can do is agree to marry another man, or be a woman considered the worst marriage material around.

Review: The fleeting kiss she had was with Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex. He had courted her, but not asked for her hand in marriage. Linnet had, without realising it allowed herself to be kissed by a sinful womaniser (who had been married once, but a woman who wasn’t deemed good enough for him). As far as her parents are concerned, what’s done is done, and they order her to marry Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, an ill-tempered hulk of a man nicknamed the “Beast.” As she is to be wedded to him, what can she do to better her situation?

Linnet isn’t as naive as one would expect. She doesn’t know what impotence is, but she does know a beast of a man when she sees one, and she sees that in Piers. She soon finds he isn’t as nasty as she has been led to believe by the ton as he had had an accident when he was younger, it has since left him unable to father a child, something most men take for granted when they have the right working equipment. He has a right to be unhappy, and sad at his own predicament, but acts more grumpy than outright cruel, which isn’t in keeping with the books blurb on him being a “Beast.” By page 72, Piers is already being nice to her, so it is up to the reader whether they think he is going to be a beast or a pushover.

Good bits:

  • Prufrock, Piers’s butler – he always has something funny to say to his angst-ridden master.
  • Piers being unable to perform in bed – not for the want of trying though!
  • Everyone thinks that Linnet is with child, even though she only kissed the prince – hilarious.

Bad bits:

  • Spending too much time on minor characters.
  • Piers’ teaching session when he first meets Linnet.

It is written in a comical way, and still keeps the Regency theme through the story, and has lots of sensual scenes in it as well. Eloisa James is the author of such raucous hits as The Duke is Mine and A Kiss at Midnight, and this one is just as fun.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

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Review: The Cinderella Blues by Obren Bokich

Cinderella Blues Obren BokichReviewed by Sandra Scholes

We all daydream in varying degrees, but Kat Young daydreams her life away, remembering the most enchanting story of all, Cinderella. It is the most wonderful story a little girl ever hears, but not everyone dreams to become the heroine of the fairy tale – Kat however, does and she might be alone in her thoughts. Most women in their thirties know that Cinderella is a fairy tale, not supposed to happen in real life, but try telling that to her – she has a definite Cinderella complex where she thinks she needs to be rescued by a handsome prince/pirate/Bond type character, and she lies in wait, so to speak. Poor her.

One minute she will be thinking about swashbuckling pirates, the next a James Bond style scenario, and the next minute she is driving her car, and having an accident not concentrating on what she is doing. She doesn’t realize her daydreams get her into so much trouble, but they do. Her story begins with her daydreaming about being dangerously corseted and hung from a yardarm, Captain Jack, a ruthless, yet handsome pirate rescues her from her living hell, yet it isn’t him she wants to rescue her – there is someone else she wouldn’t mind being close to.

I found it comical, and strange that an otherwise intelligent woman could act so childish at her age – but here she is – our lovely heroine who has enough daydreams to fill a novel of her own. I got the impression that it was her imagination that got her through the bad times either in her private or work life. She wasn’t the sort that would daydream for no reason and there is no better way than escapism. Her tendency for getting into trouble while doing everyday activities is funny enough, but the general outcome of them is funnier when she still daydreams through the most dangerous things.

I thought it would be obvious that Kat would eventually need to find a man who could cope with her daydreaming nature, but the one she finds is even more interesting than I imagined. She believes that one day she will meet her Prince Charming, but along the way she will have to make do with men who aren’t trustworthy, safe to be with or faithful in any way. This for her is the ultimate hell on Earth, and she does wonder when the day will finally come when she will meet her prince.

I enjoyed the story, found it endearing in many places, and laughed out loud at the funny bits. Kat gets into so many problems from her daydreaming it makes her into a different kind of heroine – one everyone would like.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Cinderella Blues

Review: Susie White and the Right Hand Man by Lucy Felthouse

Susie White and the Right Hand ManReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The book starts off with a real hunk on the cover. He can be my right hand man anytime. This cover will tempt you to open the book and see what’s inside. Scott invites us to join him on a very sensual ride.

Susie is the owner of a confectionary company called “White Bites”. The story reads like a fairytale. Which one do you think it could be – keep in mind the cast of characters. She is seen participating in her father’s wedding when she sees him walking through the doorway. His name is Scott and he works for her new stepmother.

If you’re expecting an erotic tale, I’m afraid that you will be disappointed. But if you like to read a sweet romance with a smidge of suspense, than you will like this one. You’ll want to see what happens to Susie and Scott. If you don’t have a lot of time, this is a fast read and one that you can read over and over again.

Lucy also makes this a cliffhanger. Will this story continue? Will Lucy write another story based on a fairy tale? We’ll just have to watch to see what Lucy comes up with next.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Susie White and the Right Hand Man

Review: Pinch Me by Adena Halpern

Genre: Contemporary, Magic

Summary: Lily Burns has been raised to avoid handsome, strong, nice, intelligent men. Her mother (Selma) and grandmother (Dolly) have said over and over that she should only get involved with awful horrible men who treat her badly because they can’t get worse, but a nice guy, well there’s always something he’s hiding. It was a philosophy she subscribed to until she met Gogo.

He is everything they’ve warned her against – smart, gorgeous, successful, and completely wonderful. She agrees to marry him and on their wedding night the true reason Selma and Dolly drilled their philosophy in Lily’s head comes to light… the family curse is evoked and Lily wakes up in her old apartment alone and unmarried.

Now it’s a fight to regain her life – the life she led with Gogo and break the curse. Can Lily do it or will the fact that her beloved Gogo who is now married to his college sweetheart in this alternate universe going to throw her off her game? What would you do?

Review: The author came up with the idea for this story by wondering what she would do if she woke up one day back when she was single before meeting her husband. It’s a fun concept that adds a little magic to a contemporary story turning it into a modern day fairy tale.

Lily struggles to break a curse that has blighted the love lives of the women of her family for generations and juggles different advice along the way. There is one who is pro-cheating because the real version of history is Lily married to Gogo not Gogo to his college sweetheart, but Lily is conflicted about it.

Of course the other woman isn’t a very nice person and has spent her time with Gogo bringing the man down and keeping him low so you can’t really do anything but cheer Lily on in trying to spark Gogo’s memories of her… if he has them… if the curse works like amnesia… but does it? Can she turn other universe Gogo into the strong capable man he was before? If she does, will he relearn to love her?

It’s a fast read, clocking in around 230 pages. Once you pick it up you’re unlikely to put it down until you get to the end. It’s got humor, magic, and starcrossed (but hopefully not!) lovers.

Favorite Scene: When Selma, Dolly and Lily are sitting around the table after Lily’s told them she’s going to marry Gogo. The conversation is hilarious. I’d share but it’s too priceless to breakup piecemeal. I also like the part when she shares all the things that make Gogo human and not a fantasy man. That was cute too.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Pinch Me, Pinch Me (UK)

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Review: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt


I have wanted to read this book for a while. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I finally did read this book! As I closed the book, I was gushing. There were so many aspects of this story that I liked, it’s hard to find any to point out as negatives, but there are two side plot arcs that could have been left well enough alone and the story would have been tighter focused and undiminished.

As both arcs together make the bigger blackmail arc in the story, I’ll just detail them really quickly. One was the woman who slept with Anna’s late husband, and wanted that information hidden. The other was the lover of the woman who wanted his pockets lined. Of the two, the male lover blackmail arc was completely superfluous and unnecessary.

What I liked:

  • Anna working as Edward’s secretary.
  • Edward’s internal monologues.
  • Anna masquerading herself and claiming Edward at a “luxury” brothel.
  • Edward’s proposals.
  • The sex. Hot stuff, I tell you.

Anna is a respectable widow. Her late husband a complete scoundrel and adulterer. She can’t have kids, or so she thinks (as is the way with most romance novels – the heroes just have mightier seed – it’s a fact!).

Edward’s late wife died in childbirth. He found out after he married her just how much he disgusted her. He won’t make that mistake twice. He’s currently wooing a baron of an old family line for his daughter, and reassuring himself more than once that the daughter wants to be wed to him. This side arc makes sense for the time period, but it was just another unneeded obstacle in the story.

Meanwhile, Anna has gone to work for him. From the moment he meets her officially, he can’t take his mind off of Anna. She’s invaded his senses so much, he runs to London to seek release in a high end brothel so he won’t ruin her respectability. Little does he know… evil grin.

In parting I want to add just how much I loved the wren and raven symbolism and it’s correlation to the fairytale posted at the beginning of every chapter.

Review: 4 Stars

Buy: The Raven Prince

Movie Review: Beastly starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer

Summary: Kyle Kingsbury a spoiled pretty boy. He’s the undisputed king of high school and all the more arrogant for it. He mocks the ugly students and poor kids and promotes beauty as the highest standard. His politics antagonize the school’s witch, Kendra, and she calls him on it. He makes a fool of her at a school dance (which she is expecting) and gets cursed. He will now appear as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. His only hope to break it is to find someone to love and love him in return before a year is up. He discovers this chance is given to him because of one small kind act on his part with a rose for another student.

What worked: Alex Pettyfer is perfect for the part of Kyle/Hunter. He plays it very well. The makeup (scars/tattoos) for his beastly side is just superb and I love the magical aspect of the tattoos which change slightly with the seasons. The ending between him and Vanessa Hudgens who plays his romantic lead Lindy is well done and one of the better parts of the movie as a whole. I also liked the scenes where Kyle/Hunter tries to buy Lindy’s love with gifts and his attempts at building a green house on the roof. Cute and funny.

What didn’t work: I found portions of the movie stilted or awkward, a problem from a poor script, and sometimes the filming approach distance the viewer from the story itself. I didn’t particularly like Mary-Kate Olsen’s portrayal of Kendra, but then again I’m not overly fond of how the character was drawn in the book either.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Beastly

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Review: Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine

by Mandy Dougherty, guest reviewer

What little girl doesn’t secretly dream of becoming a Princess? For Jerramy those dreams are more real than reality itself and from a very young age she has become acutely aware that she is poised for a royal position.  Feeling as if her ‘average’ upbringing in the suburbs is all a mistake, Jerramy finds herself constantly drawn to the Royal Family of England and one handsome young man in particular, Peter Phillips.

For Jerramy her destiny is mapped as clear as the picture of Peter taped to her bedroom wall. As the years go by the picture remains and the feelings that she has for the ‘Prince’ intensify. As she graduates from high school Jerramy is faced with the decision of a lifetime.  Will she take fate into her own hands and find ‘Prince’ Peter Phillips on her own or will she let the cards fall where they will and continue to wait for her Prince to come?

A whirlwind adventure ensues when Jerramy decides fate has not been kind to her, after all it left her with this perfectly mundane existence for over eighteen years and she is not content with waiting for it to play in her favor. Europe is the ticket and royal love is the final destination as Jerramy jaunts throughout England in an attempt to catch the eye of Peter so that her future as a royal and his wife can begin.

Readers will love the fancy-free tale of author Jerramy Fine’s memoir Someday My Prince Will Come.  Jerramy’s tale of missed encounters and tempting the fates is humorous and at times leaves the reader shaking their hand in disbelief at the extent one would go.

While I enjoyed the book, I did find it difficult to muster through at times as the story, though based on the outlandish adventures of this ‘wanna be princess’, tended to drag.  I have to say I never expected the book to end the way that it did and the epilogue was an added dose of humor.  Jerramy Fine determination in nabbing her Prince plays into every woman’s dream of the castle, the Prince Charming, and the fairytale.  It takes you back to your childhood teaparties and may even have you looking in the mirror at your own crooked crown.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

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