Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: "Love Only Once" Chapter 32 to End

Reminder: This is a book club, so there will be spoilers!

Synopsis of Chapter 32 to the end

So Nicholas is woken up because Thomas is hungry and he doesn't want to wake up Regina to feed him. He takes the baby and feeds him without waking Reggie up. Unfortunately, though, Reggie believes that her passionate sex with Nicholas was a dream of some kind and doesn't believe that he actually loves her.

They get to Silverley, and Miriam tells Nicholas that she's planning a party. And what a party it is ... she invites all of Nicholas' ex-lovers! Reggie is (understandably) jealous and Reggie and Nicholas snipe at each other and just generally don't get along. At one point, Reggie catches Nicholas with Selena (from the beginning of the book) together ... Nicholas was ambushed and has no interest in anyone but Reggie, but Reggie doesn't believe that.

Then, Reggie's friend George Fowler comes to visit, and it's Nicholas' turn to get jealous. Reggie tells Nicholas she's going to leave, but as they argue, Nicholas throws Reggie on the bed and she realizes that she really wants him (remember, consent is important, kids!). They have passionate sex again, but the next morning Reggie is back to being jealous when she goes downstairs to get breakfast and sees Nicholas talking to Selena.

Reggie and Nicholas talk, and Reggie finally discovers what Nicholas' big hangup is ... that he's a bastard. Reggie is like, "Whatevs." And, as an extra special bonus, Nicholas gets to discover who his biological mother is ... his favorite aunt, Eleanor (who is going to go get married). Nicholas thanks Miriam for helping him rekindle his love with his wife and then kicks her out of Silverley. Then the Malory boys come to visit, and everybody lives happily ever after. THE END.

Jen's Thoughts:

FINALLY! That's the big thing I got out of this. Reggie and Nicholas FINALLY talked and they FINALLY worked out their issues. It was waaaaay past time. I was so frustrated when Reggie got mad at Nicholas yet again over stuff, and when Nicholas wouldn't just tell Reggie that he was worried about his parentage. I mean, seriously.

I did love the party with all of Nicholas' ex-lovers. That was extremely diabolical on Miriam's part, and I loved it. It was a good way for them to rekindle their romance, too ... the jealousy was finally enough to drive them both crazy. However, it was just overall a little annoying how long it took them to figure this all out.

And then their coming-together again was a little sketchy. I was glad that Reggie suddenly realized that she really wanted Nicholas, but if she hadn't, I would be worried that Nicholas would have barreled on ahead anyway, and that's not cool.

And then the end was just so ... neat and tidy. I liked that everybody lived happily ever after, and Miriam got her comeuppance for being a bitch, and Eleanor finally got to tell Nicholas she was his mother, but it was a little abrupt and a little too good to be true. I did, however, like the Malory brothers coming to visit and annoying Nicholas. I will probably read more Malory books, and I look forward to meeting those guys again.

Jen's Overall Opinion: While I had high hopes for Reggie as a female character and really enjoyed the Malory brothers, "Love Only Once" was just OK.

Kel's Thoughts:

The end finally got a little bit good. But I will go chronologically. Nicholas feeding Thomas without Reggie waking up...kind of weird. Reggie thinking the sexytimes with Nicholas was just a dream...frustrating. Miriam's party...very entertaining concept. Nicholas and Reggie yelling at each other...way overdue. Nicholas chasing Reggie around her bedroom...could have gone badly. Reggie's reaction to Nicholas when he tells her he's a bastard...my favorite thing ever. The ending...happily ever after.

I really did enjoy when Reggie and Nicholas kept yelling at each other. It seemed very therapeutic and long overdue. Nicholas obviously had a bad childhood and therefore doesn't handle his emotions very well. And Reggie grew up with the Malory uncles so she is no stranger to fighting. They seem like a couple whose passions run high and yelling is a good way to deal with problems. I was highly amused when Reggie told Nicholas he was being a bastard and he got overly upset about it. He says something to the effect of "See, I knew my birth would come up in all of this" and she responds along the lines of "I am calling you a bastard as in you are being an ass. Your birth has nothing to do with it". She also had the reaction that I knew she would have with finding out he was a bastard...not an issue at all, since as she pointed out to Nicholas, the Malory family already has bastards in it.

I liked the Malory's coming to visit at the end, especially when Tony and James started to gang up on Nicholas. They will continue to do so throughout the series until they meet the Andersons...who they hate more than Nicholas (something to look forward to in future books). But my favorite thing was that James and Tony never got around to really giving Nicholas a hard time because they got distracted by fighting with each other. And as a special teaser...in future books they comment upon the fact that Reggie really takes her uncles and her husband fighting. If she catches the uncles bating Nicholas, she yells at them. If Nicholas fights with the uncles, she makes him sleep on the couch. Excellent.

Kel's Overall Opinion:

I think that you can definitely tell that this was Johanna Lindsey's first book. It is a bit inconsistent and the sex scenes tend toward being a bit too forceful for my likes. I really do like Reggie, but I almost wish she was slightly older and more mature. Though then I suppose that a lot of the problems would have been solved way easier, making it a short and boring book. I think what Love Only Once did was really set up the Malory family well which does make me want to read more of the books (I've read Gentle Rogue, book 3 and No Choice But Seducation, book 9). Not my favorite novel, but definitely not the worst I've read.

Don't forget! The next Pop Tarts Book Club selection will be "Just Like Heaven" by Julia Quinn. We are both already reading it, so we will be reviewing it soon! We will be reading the entire thing at one time and writing just one recap of it, unlike what we did with "Love Only Once." We hope you join us!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars" - Half-Baked? You bet.

As our three or so faithful blog readers know, I've been recapping "Dancing With the Stars: All Stars" for several weeks now. But I must confess, I am epically bored with that shit. The dancers are too good this season, and without Kel to tell me how the dances are actually supposed to go, I am lost.

But there's another all-stars show that is running on Monday nights, starting this week, that does feature something I know a little more about ... drag queens! That's right, bitches ... it's time for "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars," and I'm going to recap it! You don't have to worry about me dropping out halfway through the season, because RPDR is the most perfect reality competition in the history of the world, and I obsessively watch it. So let's start the show!

(OK, the show was several days ago. I know this. I wrote notes on Monday night. And then, BOOM, it was Thursday night and I still hadn't blogged it. Shame.)

After each queen came astruttin' into the room, RuPaul gave us the BIG TWIST. In addition to Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent, the girls also have to have Synergy ... because they have partners! AND, when they sashay away, BOTH people have to sashay away.

I like the partner aspect, because there are many chances for great drama there. But I don't like them both sashaying away, because that means this is going to be a hella-short season of "Drag Race." WTF, Ru? I want drag queen realness for more than a month!

The partners were:

Raven & Jujubee
Chad Michaels & Shannel
Tammie Brown & Nina Flowers
Manila Luzon & Latrice Royale
Yara Sofia & Alexis Mateo
Pandora Boxx & Mimi Imfurst

Immediately, I felt bad for Pandora Boxx. She's one of my favorite queens (even though I want Latrice Mutherfuckin' Royale to win, because she's LATRICE. MUTHERFUCKIN'. ROYALE.) Mimi Imfurst, meanwhile, is totally cannon fodder, and is there simply to cause controversy. She was the one who picked up another queen during a Lip Sync For Your Life. Why, oh why, did she have to get paired with sweet Pandora Boxx? I immediately felt some dread.

Anyway, they had to produce a high-fashion photo spread with two photos - one where they were partly put together with no wigs, then a wet & wild photo that shows how the pairs are dynamically different. Also, they had to do each other's makeup.

I'll just go ahead and spoil it right now - the partially put together photos were pretty much all stunning and cool, and the wet & wild was a hot mess. The concepts were vague and kind of dumb (naughty & nice, trashy & classy) ... although I really, really, REALLY admired Jujubee & Raven for their dressed & undressed shoot, where Raven posed naked. That takes some, well, balls.

I was kind of underwhelmed by the photo shoot challenge, overall, because it's not really the super fun challenges I've come to expect from RuPaul's Drag Race. I like the campy, funny stuff like the Snatch Game. It seemed a bit serious, especially for the first episode.

Then it was runway time, with judges Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, Ross Mathews and special guest judge Rachel Hunter, a supermodel.

The runway is always fun, because I LOVE the outfits.

First was Yara & Alexis, who wore their faces on their chests. Feh. I don't like them very well so whatever.

Latrice & Manila were Teletubbies, which was hilarious and fun. They were put together well and pretty, but they were totally fun and campy too. That's what I love!

Mimi & Pandora wore neon & fur, which was a little amateur but fun, since they're campy queens.

Raven & Jujubee wore Chicago-esque burlesque outfits, which showed off the fact that they're body queens.

Tammie Brown and Nina Flowers wore basic black, but they looked fierce. (Also, side note, I missed season 1 of RPDR because I didn't know it existed, and I am VERY sad because Tammie Brown is cray-cray to the max and I LOVES IT.)

Shannel & Chad Michaels wore crazy outfits with big headdresses. LOVE. IT. Shannel called it "Birds of a feather flock together meets Dungeons & Dragons."

Rujubee & Latrila were the best of the week, and Latrice & Manila won. (They got gowns as a prize.)

In the bottom were Mandora - they loved the half-baked photo, but not the other one, and they didn't love the lime-green fur, especially since Mimi wore some around her waist in a weird, unflattering way - and Shad (WHAT!?) because they overthought their photos even though their runway presentation was FAB-U-LOUS. (WHAT!?)

One queen from each team had to lipsync, so they made it Mimi vs. Chad. Ru explained the Shemergency button, where they can tag out during the first minute of the lipsync. It can only be used once in the competition.

Well, if you've been every paying attention to this show, you know who won. Mimi reeked of desperation, Pandora didn't press the Shemergency button, and Miss Chad Michaels kicked ass in her own fabulous way because she is a classy professional, and so Mimi & poor, sweet Pandora sashayed away.

Poo. This episode was a bit of a let down. Let's make it better next week, shall we?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: "Love Only Once" Chapters 23-31

Reminder: This is a book club, so there will be spoilers!

Synopsis of Chapters 23-31

A pregnant Reggie is living at Silverley, Nicholas' estate, with Nicholas' stepmother, Miriam. She's a little bored, but she also loves the solitude and general tranquility. She goes down to the lake to sketch, but decides it's too cold, but before she can get back to the house, she gets kidnapped and taken to the port city of Southampton. The kidnappers talk of using her to "catch a bigger fish." It turns out, she's been kidnapped on the orders of a captain, but she doesn't allow her captors to see her worry. Eventually, the captain walks in ... and it's her Uncle James! He has kidnapped Reggie before to take her for a little pirate adventure (much to the dismay of her other uncles), but this time he has kidnapped her for a much darker reason. He didn't realize that Reggie has married Nicholas, who is James' old nemesis. Turns out, James "thrashed" Nicholas for insults, ended up in jail and was nearly hanged for being a pirate. James escaped and arranged his death, and now he wants revenge on Nicholas and thought he'd lure Nicholas out by kidnapping his wife. Reggie also finds out that she has a cousin, Jeremy - James' son. Tony and Jason find them, and they all sort of reunite over Reggie and her plight and their mutual dislike of her husband.

Meanwhile, Nicholas is on his plantation in the West Indies. He is getting ready to go back home and try to smooth things over with Reggie, but before he can, James and his first mate, Connie, find him and take him back to England to see Reggie. They tell Nicholas who James really is (he's been going under the pseudonym Captain Hawke), but don't tell him about Reggie's pregnancy.

Nicholas comes back to his home in London to find that Reggie has redecorated and, oh yeah, had a baby named Thomas. Nicholas doubts the parentage, of course, but is also immediately attracted to Reggie once again. He also discovers that Reggie has been getting along quite well with Eleanor, his aunt, and Eleanor begs Nicholas to try to fix his marriage.

Nicholas sees Reggie and Thomas playing together and voices his suspicions, pissing Reggie off even more. They get bitchy with each other, but early the next morning Thomas is awakened by Thomas' crying and he walks in on Reggie nursing Thomas. He knows that it's his son, but he feels horrible for leaving his pregnant wife.

He decides to pack up Reggie, Thomas and himself and take them all back to Silverley, and Reggie convinces Eleanor to go, too. Nicholas realizes he needs to woo his wife again, but knows that when they get to Silverley they'll be able to sleep in separate beds. So, before they get to Silverley he makes them stop at an inn for a night, forcing Reggie and Nicholas to sleep in the same bed. He climbs into bed naked and pretends to be asleep when he throws his arm and leg over Reggie. Reggie is turned on by the contact, and, even though she thinks he's half-asleep and doesn't realize what he's doing, they have passionate sex, then fall asleep in each other's arms.

Jen's Thoughts

There are some major pluses to these last few chapters, which is nice because this book has been a bit of a slog at times, due to the idiocy of Reggie and Nicholas and their complete and utter inability to tell each other what they're feeling or be nice to each other.

As it was in the last group of chapters, the biggest plus was PIRATES! I loved finally getting to meet James Malory, his first mate and his son. Who doesn't love pirates!? I liked their talk with Reggie, but I really liked James screwing with Nicholas by not telling him about the baby.

I was also genuinely touched by Nicholas & Reggie in the nursery, when Thomas woke Nicholas up. I liked that little bit of family time, and I think it was a real step in the right direction for them. Yeah, Nicholas left his bedroom because he wanted to watch Reggie sleep (kinda creepy, dude), but I was really glad to see that genuine love for Thomas and Reggie, and his dismay at leaving his pregnant wife (even though he didn't know she was pregnant when he left). I thought that was some maturity for Nicholas.

However, Nicholas' maturity was short-lived, because then he uprooted everyone and made them go to Silverley on a whim (mostly because he was whiny about Reggie doing her thang after he LEFT HER ON THEIR WEDDING DAY), and then his trickery in getting them to have sex. I am really divided on this sex scene. On one hand, Reggie thought she was taking initiative while he was half-conscious, which is a little rapey (how often do you have women getting rapey in romance novels?). On the other hand, Nicholas was being awfully manipulative, feeling her up in bed and getting her all hot 'n' bothered. I guess that makes it OK, in a way ... especially since we know they were both secretly jonesing for each other. But still, it wasn't quite the wonderful romantic rejoining that I wanted!

Kel's Thoughts:

First, big reveal that the pirate who beat up Nicholas is James Malory! I already knew that since I read James' book (much better than this one, fyi), but still a fun reveal. Jeremy may be my favorite Malory ever due to his charm and cheek. I also thought reuniting Reggie with her family made everything better. Anytime the Malory men are fighting, I am interested.

 And I agree with Jen that it was super fun that though James went and found Nicholas like his older brother told him, he did not tell him about Reggie giving birth all so he could see Nicholas' face when he found out. Mean, but come on...Nicholas totally deserved that.

I also liked the scene in the nursery though pretty much since the wedding Nicholas has acted like a child. He keeps just doing random things (going to the West Indies, moving the family to Silverly) on a whim and is just generally mopey that things are not falling into his lap.

What I will say about this section of chapters is that Reggie has finally grown on me. I still got annoyed when she once again was playing the "I'm sad because Nicholas didn't want to marry me" since she knew that all along! However, she seems to have decided that Nicholas can be as grumpy as he wants and she is not going to worry about it. I think that speaks to a maturity that we haven't seen from her before.

I agree with Jen that the great "romantic rejoining" was not romantic at all. I'm not sure it was really rapey since Nicholas planned the whole thing...even though Reggie didn't know that. If I'm remembering correctly (from this morning when I read it...apparently I didn't pay too close attention), Nicholas was obviously awake before anything really happened. And even as inappropriate as it was, it really made me laugh when Reggie thought how she wished she were the guy so she could just straddle Nicholas and relieve her tension. She has been hanging out with the Malory men too much!

Note on book club: 

We are going to be doing the next book club differently since this hasn't really worked out as planned. We haven't been reading very fast and there isn't enough in each book to really break it down this much, so for our next book we are going to read it all and then do one book club post. Our next book is Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn. We encourage you to grab a copy and read it so you can add to our discussion which will be happening within the next few weeks. You don't want to miss it! (Again, Kel has a slight advantage because she has read the sequel...why does she read series out of order? No one is sure...including her.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Series Review: Arrow, Vegas, The Last Resort

I promise I have not been slacking off on blogging...I have been slacking off on watching tv! Seriously, I got two weeks behind on my DVR due to being busy and then reading instead of watching tv when I had spare time (what a librarian nerd, I know!). However, I am finally starting to catch up on the new premieres, mostly hour long dramas. My only problem is that I forgot to record one show (Beauty and the Beast), so I will have to try to find it online. But that is beside the point. Onward with today's reviews!


Arrow is a super hero show based on the Green Arrow by DC comics. I know absolutely nothing about the Green Arrow, so it is all new to me and so far in the show nothing much has been revealed about why or how Oliver Queen is a super hero. I think he has super hero powers (like...not being able to be killed by bullets? Ninja like fighting skills? Excellent Aim?), but is also just generally bad ass. He was shipwrecked on an island for 5 years, right before which his father told him a dark secret that now motivates him to clean up the scum of the city.

I liked it. A lot. Apparently (according to my brother-in-law) the dialog is bad, but I've been watching CW shows since they were the WB so I think I am immune to it. The fighting was excellent and the show was exciting. I want to know more. I want to find out what Oliver knows and how the island made him so bad ass. I want to know if his best friend (who's name I don't remember at all) is good or bad. This is going on series record for me. It probably should for you, too. Also...John Barrowman is going to be on it at some point for some number of episodes. That makes it all worth it.

The Last Resort

This is going to sound slightly strange, but though I really liked The Last Resort, I'm definitely not going to watch it again. It was a really good show. It was exciting and has intrigue. There seems like there is a lot going on and will be exciting throughout the season. However, military and political intrigue are just so not my thing. It also is a show that if you miss an episode, you are totally going to be lost forever. I just can't handle that kind of pressure. But seriously, it was a great pilot. If it were a movie, I would really enjoy it. I want to know why the American's fired on their own ship and made it seem like it was Pakistan who shot at them. I want to know what the other branch of the military who the sub picked up know and did. I want to find out what the government is trying to convince Scott Speedman's wife that he did wrong. However, I don't care enough to watch the show again. But if military/political dramas are your thing, you should totally watch.


I'm torn. I really liked Vegas. It is a western, set in the 1960s. It has violence and drama and fighting and awesome people. It seems like it is going to be a crime of the week show, but also have a good over arching storyline. It has all sorts of elements that I like in a show. But I have already missed the second episode and I'm not sure that I liked it enough to search it down online. With the little time I dedicate to tv viewing, I'm not sure Vegas is going to make the cut. However, you should watch it. Michael Chiklis plays the best mob-style villain ever. He so looks the part it is ridiculous. And Dennis Quaid was made to play the role of an ex-military, now rancher, now sheriff. He was so wonder and I want to see more. And Jason O'Mara is in it. And I love him so much. Again, if this were a movie, I'd buy it on DVD, but it is a tv show that will take some dedication and I'm just not sure I have the time to give. But I do feel like this is a show that deserves to stay on. I may watch it just for that reason. It is good enough that it deserves to have a chance of survival. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dancing With the Stars: But What I Really Wanna Do Is Direct!

So apparently, "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" is becoming a season of twists. This week, the so-called celebrities were the art directors of their dances. Also, there's a double-elimination tomorrow. Also, apparently they got the ideas for the dances from other "Dancing With the Stars" dances, but I missed that until about halfway through the show so there are no mentions of that in my actual recaps. Because, really? I don't think I can name one dance on "Dancing With the Stars" that made an impression on me past about two weeks.

But, anyway, they danced their little hearts out, and it was a pretty good night. Everyone did very well, with good art direction and a lot of fun dances. However, there was just something about the show that was a little flat for almost all the dances. The judges went crazy for pretty much everything, but I felt like many of the "Stars" were dragging a bit. Maybe I'm just cranky today.

Anyway, without further ado ... here are the dances!

98 Degrees member Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya danced a chacha to "Crazy In Love." It was a fast, energetic dance, but it was so fast and sharp, and Anna was so energetic, that I felt like Drew was dragging a little bit. They just didn't seem terribly together, and even though it was a fine dance with a fine concept, I was underwhelmed by Drew. The judges, however, really seemed to like them, with Carrie Ann even going so far as to say that it was "tight" and "precise." I'm not sure what she was watching.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8; Len - 8; Bruno - 8. Total: 24.

Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd danced a tango to "Sweet Dreams." The dance had a really strong feel to it, with Gilles starting out in a harness and soaring over the dance floor. OK, so a ballroom purist might not be impressed *cough*Kel*cough* ... but it was neat. And I liked the whole dreamy look of the dance floor, combined with the strong, clean, powerful dancing. It was a fast tango, without the sensual beauty that makes a tango, but it was a nice, well-done dance. The judges loved the performance, but Len thought the dance could have been cleaner, and Gilles had a few problems in hold.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8.5; Len - 8.5; Bruno - 8.5. Total: 25.5

Reality TV star Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani danced something latin (I missed which kind of dance) to "Conga." The costumes and feel were very, very appropriate, and overall it was a cute dance, but I felt like Melissa was a little bit skippy - like she was skipping around with Tony instead of dancing like she should have been. However, the judges were falling all over themselves for Melissa this week, with Len calling it "satisfying" and Carrie Ann calling the technique "fantastic." I think the judges might have borrowed a little crack from Heidi & the gang over at "Project Runway.
Score: Carrie Ann - 9; Len - 9; Bruno - 9. Total: 27.

Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff danced a foxtrot to "Fever." This was one of my favorite dances of the night. Apolo looked dapper. Karina looked sexy. The dance was smooth and passionate. Yeah, it wasn't as exciting as all of Melissa's skipping during "Conga," but it oozed sex appeal. The judges really liked the classy sensuality of the dance - Carrie Ann even declared it "stunning" - but both Len and Bruno thought they needed to clean it up just a little.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 9; Len - 8; Bruno - 8.5. Total: 25.5.

Soap opera actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy danced a paso doble to something very traditional. I'm really not a big fan of Kelly Monaco, but it was a very, very clean, very sexy dance. (It didn't hurt that Val had his chest out - I love it when those Chmerkovskiy brothers dance in open vests!) It wasn't a terribly creative dance, but it was very solid and powerful. The judges really loved it, too.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 9; Len - 9; Bruno - 9. Total: 27.

Actress Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced a chahca to "Moves Like Jagger," which I did catch was inspired by Carson Kressley's chacha to the same dance in his season. This dance was just plain fun! Maks portrayed Mick Jagger, complete with open vest; tight, low-cut pants; and a terrible wig. It was just silly. But you know what? It was also sexy, because Kirstie and Maks have fantastic chemistry - the best of any couple on the show. Carrie Ann thought it was their best dance so far, and Len said it was "great" and that they had the "whole package." Must have been watching Maks! *roguish wink*
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8; Len - 8; Bruno - 8. Total: 24.

"Cheetah Girls" member Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel danced a paso doble to "Free Your Mind." It was a super quick, intense, strong dance, but I have to admit that I was distracted by alternately watching Sabrina for a wardrobe malfunction and wincing in sympathetic pain as her boobs bounced everywhere. I didn't even get a chance to really watch Louis van Amstel, which is a shame, because he is fantastic. The judges liked the dance a lot, and len even praised their technique (always a good sign).
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5. Total: 25.5.

Football player Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke danced a paso doble to something traditional. It was a nice dance with good choreography, but I felt like Emmitt was kind of plodding through. Yes, his face and upper body did have some sex appeal, but in his feet - plod, plod, plod! He did redeem himself somewhat, though, at the end of the dance when he started charging toward Cheryl and slid under her legs. Who doesn't love a good floor slide? The judges praised Emmitt for his strength and how he dominated the floor, but Len said he would like more "finesse" when he dances.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8.5; Len - 8; Bruno - 8.5. Total: 25.

Indy 500 Champion Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower danced a quickstep to "Mr. Pinstripe Suit." This was another of my favorite dances - I think I was feeling the classic jazz feel this week. It was a super fun dance, and I thought Helio looked absolutely thrilled to be there - more than anybody else in the whole show. The judges were a bit mixed on Helio, on opinions if not on the score. Carrie Ann and Len thought it was really good, and Len said they deserved to be back next week. However, Bruno said that while they started with a blast, they lost sight of some of their steps.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 8.5; Len - 8.5; Bruno - 8.5. Total: 25.5.

Conservative activist Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas danced a paso doble on a chessboard. BUT FIRST ... there was drama on Wednesday when Bristol told Mark that she feels like he wants someone like Sabrina or Shawn to be his partner instead of her, and that he wants to get eliminated. Mark said that definitely wasn't true, and I tend to believe him - he is a professional dancer, after all, and I can't imagine he would want to not be on TV. However, I understand where Bristol is coming from. She is in a tough spot, because she is a polarizing person on "Dancing With the Stars," and she's not super skinny and conservative in a place that focuses a lot on being skinny and has a lot of liberals. I'm not saying she's right - it seemed a bit whiny - but I can see where she could feel self-conscious. However, Bristol did the right thing and channeled her emotions into her paso doble, because it was, far and away, the best dance she's ever done on either season of "Dancing With the Stars." She had a lot of intensity, but she didn't seem too tense. She knew her steps, and she had a great concept. The judges praised her highly for dancing her best dance ever and really attacking the dance, though Carrie Ann told her that she needs more dimension in her expression. Still, that's a quibble - much better than Miss Bristol usually does!
Scores: Carrie Ann - 7.5; Len - 7.5; Bruno - 7.5. Total: 22.5.

Olympian Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough danced a quickstep to "Hey Pachuco," and it was fantastically fun to watch. They bounced on trampolines, did the splits, jumped around and had more energy than a couple of overcaffeinated flying squirrels on crack. It was a lot of fun to watch, but I knew immediately what would be the problem ... it didn't really have a lot of quickstep in it. Two of the judges loved it. Bruno called it "Incredible! Spectacular! Unforgettable!" and declared it the best dance he'd seen in 15 seasons. Carrie Ann agreed that it was the best dance on "Dancing With the Stars." Crotchety old man Len did bring the love-fest down a bit, thankfully, admonishing them for breaking the rules like Bristol & Mark did last week.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 9; Len - 8; Bruno - 9.5. Total: 26.5.

So, who goes home? Who the hell knows, honestly! The scores are extremely close ... it really depends, I think, on who the people love. My least favorites, surprisingly, were Drew (draggy), Melissa (skippy), Emmitt (ploddy) and Sabrina (bouncy). My favorite was Kirstie, as usual ... but I was also incredibly impressed with Bristol. We'll just see ... it's a double elimination, which means that there will be major heartbreak.

But don't worry too much, because next week will be DELIGHTFUL. Not only will the so-called stars get to pick the dance styles for each other next week, but Paula "You Made It Your Own!" Abdul is the guest judge. IT'S ON.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: Love Only Once Ch. 13-22

Reminder: This is book club, so there will be spoilers!

Highlights From Chapters 13-22

Jason, the oldest of the Malory's, shows up and approves of the marriage between Nicholas and Reggie.

They all go to a party, where in the garden Reggie and Nicholas get it on in the gazebo.

Charlotte and Edward Malory throw an engagement party, where Nicholas and Reggie fight (a common occurrence). Reggie and Nicholas go to a musical performance, where Tony also is. Everything goes to hell and Reggie ends up leaving with George Fowler. Which causes Tony to gloat to Nicholas.

Cut to a shady bar where a man and a boy are meeting with a shady sort to decide that if Nicholas leaves alone from the performance alone, the shady man is going to grab him. Per the request of a man in the other room (very mysterious).

Nicholas leaves the performance alone (as Reggie already left with George), gets grabbed, and then has the snot beat out of him by Hawke, a gentleman pirate that Nicholas beat years ago on the high seas.

After recovering from the beating (Reggie is told he is just ill), Nicholas tells Reggie she should break off the engagement, Reggie gets pissed that he still doesn't want to marry her nor seem to like her anymore.

They end up married, Nicholas takes Reggie to his home, where his mother lives, and drops her off. Reggie doesn't get along with Nicholas' mother (who we know isn't really his mother, even though Reggie doesn't know that yet), but they decide to just ignore each other.

Tony comes to visit and can tell that Reggie is really unhappy and also mentions that she seems to be gaining weight. She admits that she is pregnant, but hasn't told Nicholas, who she hasn't seen since the wedding. Tony tells Reggie that she should come back home, but she decides to stay.

Kel's Thoughts:

This was a bit of a rollercoaster section, no? We have sex, marriage, fighting, and isolation. Right now, I am not sure that I like Nicholas or Reggie. Reggie is still a bit bipolar in her dealings with Nicholas. She has known since the beginning that Nicholas did not want to marry her, but then I hurt that he really doesn't want to marry her. Nicholas, for his part, obviously likes Reggie, but instead of being nice to her, he turns into a third grader and is mean to her instead. These two are the epitome of "if you would just talk to each other, all these problems could be solved!"

I did, however, like the stuff with Hawke, gentleman pirate. Nothing is better than a good kidnapping and beating to make a novel more exciting. It is especially good if you have, like me, read other books in the series and know more about Hawke. And speaking of exciting...sex in the gazebo during a party? Kind of hot, though I actually found the entire scene a bit middling. I kept thinking someone (probably Tony) would find them and bad things would happen. But it all turned out fine. Except that Reggie got pregnant.

Speaking of...why won't she tell Nicholas? It isn't like he won't notice when she pops a kid out. There is absolutely no point to not telling him.

It may be that I have been reading other, really really good, romances along with this one, but I find Nicholas and Reggie annoying and the story to be dragging. This could all be taken care of with "Oh hey, btw, I'm a bastard" -- Nicholas. "Oh, ok. Well, I really don't care because...have you met my family?" -- Reggie. "Fair point, well made. I love you." -- Nicholas. See? Done. But now they are both going to be pissed at each other when they find out the respective secrets. They are making everything harder on each other and themselves!

Jen's Thoughts:

OK, so for the good thing first: PIRATES! I love pirates! And pirates that kick the crap out of Nicholas, who, let's face it, kind of deserves it.

Because Nicholas? Is kind of a dick. So it Reggie, come to think of it.

I kind of like the whole, "If you'd just FREAKING TALK TO EACH OTHER, this would ALL BE SOLVED," which is good because it's a pretty common romance trope. But I am a little lost as to Reggie's motivations. Nicholas, I get - he doesn't want to get married but he agreed to marry, so his honor doesn't let him break it off. Although, his honor doesn't stop him from deflowering her in the gazebo and then abandoning her immediately after their marriage. But, then again, I suspect it's less honor that keeps him from breaking it off, and more fear of Reggie's Uncle Tony, which is understandable.

However, when we found out that Reggie was pregnant, I could find literally no reason for her not to tell Nicholas. Since she insists on being married to him knowing that they are horrifically incompatible, she might as well give him a piece of information that will keep him from being a complete rat-bastard to her. And, what she doesn't know, of course, is that telling Nicholas that she's pregnant would have guaranteed that he marry her willingly, because he wouldn't want to have his own child be a bastard, because he's so ashamed of being a bastard.

I don't really mind the trajectory of this novel as much as Kel does - one of my all-time favorite novels is "Gone With the Wind," which has a lot of "JUST FREAKING TELL EACH OTHER THAT YOU LOVE EACH OTHER, YOU MORONS!" in it - but it does seem to be going a little slow. I can't even put my finger on why - every scene seems to have a purpose - but I'm just ready for some big revelation to come out somehow. In this next couple of chapters, Reggie needs to find out that Nicholas is a bastard or Nicholas needs to find out that Reggie is pregnant, or else I'm going to be frustrated!!! Also, they should stop acting like 10-year-olds. Just saying.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Series Review: Elementary and 666 Park Avenue

It is that time of the year now that I hate...when I have to watch hour long dramas. Not that I am opposed to hour long dramas, per say, I just find that they take up way too much time. Especially if they are bad. But alas, for the good of the blog, I will soldier on!

666 Park Avenue

While I was watching, I enjoyed 666 Park Avenue, but it apparently didn't stick with me since I could not for the life of me remember that I had watched it. Not a great sign. However, I did enjoy it. Overall, it reminds me of a Stephen King novel. Creepy, not sure where it is exactly headed, don't want to get attached to any characters since it is a good possibility that everyone will end up dead. You know...that old thing! I am not sure how exactly the premise will be able to expand into a show with multiple seasons. Kind of like Heroes, how it was amazing for season 1 and then had no where else to go in season 2 because they had saved the cheerleader and saved the world.

The good with 666 Park Avenue is the cast. Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams are so fantastic it is just sickening. And while most people were probably like "Oooo it is that guy off of lost", I was like "Oooo it is Joe from Hawaii 5-0". O'Quinn plays the best baddie who seems fairly benign at first and the best good guy who seems like a baddie. And his role in 666 Park Avenue exactly utilizes that skill. The audience knows that he is bad, but you can totally believe that the main characters would miss that. I am planning on tuning in for at least one more episode (if I remember it exists), but I'm not sure it will get a DVR record from me.


The one thing that Elementary has working against it is Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is the best Sherlock ever and Martin Freeman's Watson is also unmatched. As much as possible, I recommend pretending that Sherlock doesn't exist while watching Elementary. That being said, I found that the shows are different enough that I wasn't really drawing comparisons. Jonny Lee Miller plays Sherlock Holmes while Lucy Lui plays Dr. Joan Watson. Both are really great. (Random Fun Fact: Miller and Cumberbatch starred together in Frankenstein last year at the National Theatre, where they alternated who played Dr. Frankenstein and who played the monster).

Elementary is a pretty standard procedural crime show, where Sherlock with the help of Watson will solve a case a week. I look forward to trying to solve the crime before them as I try to do with any mystery I read or crime show I watch (because I am a nerd). I like the dynamic between Miller and Lui and I look forward to seeing where it goes, as the creators claim they will not be doing any romance between them. I think that as long as the stories are good, the show will do well. I think that Miller especially will be a great Sherlock as he definitely looks more like a villain to me (particularly he looks a lot like Moriarity from Sherlock). Elementary has received a series record on my DVR.

Did you watch 666 Park Avenue and/or Elementary? Did you remember watching Park Avenue? Did watching Elementary make you want to run to NetFlix and rewatch Sherlock?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dancing With the Stars: All Stars recap: Jive Turkeys

"Dancing With the Stars" is back, and it is FABULOUS! I kind of regret missing the first episode, but I was busy last Monday, and tonight was all fast bouncy dances, so it was a total win!

This year, the judges are being marginally more picky (but not really, since the lowest scores were 6s), and they can give half-points, which means that Brooke-bot has to add more complicated numbers. (She failed at least once tonight.) Other than that, it's the same D-list Sparklefest as last time! And we LOVE IT!

Reality TV star Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani danced a bouncy, fun jive to "Shout." Their footwork was very together, and it was nice to see dancers interacting well right out of the gate. It was definitely Melissa's type of dance, because she looked like she was having a blast. The judges loved the dance, and they were impressed with her technique, although Bruno (who was a little nitpicky all night) pointed out a couple of little problems.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 23.5.

Conservative activist Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas danced a quickstep to "Redneck Woman." She definitely looks and dances better than last time, and although there were a few footwork problems, Bristol seemed competent. She still doesn't have a great presence, looks like she's trying too hard and is kind of stiff on the dance floor. The judges were impressed with how far she's come and her enthusiasm, but they said her technique wasn't up to snuff. Len and Carrie Ann also dinged Mark for taking them out of hold in the middle of the dance, which is apparently a no-no.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6. Total: 18.

Indy 500 Champion Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower danced a jive to "Everybody Talks." It's a cute dance, and Helio has tons of personality. Their technique is really good, too, but the best part by far is the exuberance and personality of Helio and Chelsie! The judges all really enjoyed it, praises Helio's charm and style. Bruno did say that Helio pumps his legs a little high and had a few problems with his footwork, but enjoyed the "spark."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 23.

Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff danced a quickstep to a big band-sounding song that I believe was called "Hurry Home." It's a very classic dance and very cute. The footwork was good, and it kept getting better because by the end of the dance, they were doing some fancy moves. Apolo, who I love, also has a great personality when he dances. The judges enjoyed his dance, with Len calling it a "gold medal" and Bruno praising Apolo's determination and hard work. Carrie Ann also praised him for leading his partner - something they are looking for in the all-star season, apparently.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8; Bruno: 8. Total: 24.5.

"Cheetah Girls" member Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel danced a quickstep to "Black Betty." Sabrina apparently has a tendency to overdance, but she had a perfect amount of control on this dance. In fact, I felt like she was a little bit constrained at times. However, Sabrina did a nice job and I enjoyed their dance. (Not gonna lie, some of that is that I LOVE Louis van Amstel.) The judges loved it, with Bruno calling the dance "a dazzler." Len praised the way that her upper body was under control even as her legs were going.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5. Total: 26.

Actress Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced a jive to a song that was in French. She had a few little problems with her footwork, but she has SUCH great personality on the dance floor, and Kirstie and Maks have fantastic chemistry. Kirstie was working the floor like it owed her money! (I also enjoyed watching Kirstie dance around in practice with her knees tied together in order to get the jive steps right - she called it "50 Shades of Maks." Tee hee!) The judges were impressed with Kirstie's hot, naughty dance, and Len, after calling her "dirty, dirty Kirstie," praised her neat, precise dance.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7. Total: 21.

Football player Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke danced a quickstep to a song that had something to do with being a "cool cat." He had pretty good footwork and did a good job with the dance, and although Emmitt and Cheryl had decent chemistry, they seemed kind of flat after Kirstie and Maks. The judges enjoyed their dance, but said Emmitt's frame wasn't good and he lost his timing a few times.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 22.5.

98 Degrees member Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya danced a jive to "Dance Dance." They did a great job together, with good chemistry and a lot of strength and power in the dance. I really enjoyed watching their dance, even though the song was distractingly slow. The judges enjoyed the dance, but told Drew he needed to get on the balls of his feet and watch the beat.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 22.5.

*NSYNC member Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson danced a quickstep to a bouncy version of Radiohead's "Creep." Joey Fatone was dressed up as Charlie Chaplin, and the whole thing had a great old-school feel to it. They had a great personality, and Joey just completely went for it. The dancing was pretty good, but the character more than made up for it. That's what the judges said too - there were some problems but they loved the personality.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 22.5.

Olympian Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough danced a jive to "Nicest Kids in Town" from "Hairspray." It was a super perky, fun dance, and Shawn actually kept up with Derek's insane energy. They were crazy and fun, and did a great job. What a cute dance! The judges loved the dance, though Len cautioned them to make sure they have plenty of dance content and technique in their dances.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8; Bruno: 8.5. Total: 25.

Soap opera actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy danced a quickstep to some song with a lot of "nananananas" in it. It was a nice dance, but not great. I felt like it was kind of flat after all the great dances we had seen, and she was a little bit off on her footwork. The judges warned that she needs to watch herself with she's in hold, and Len liked it better when she was out of hold.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7; Bruno: 7.5. Total: 22.

Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd danced a jive to "Don't Stop Me Now." Beside the fact that I kept kind of expecting someone to come out and start killing zombies (yay, "Shaun of the Dead!"), it was a great jive. Very quick and crazy, and Gilles moves incredibly well. It was one of the best dances of the night, by far! The judges agreed, with Carrie Ann calling it the best of the night. Bruno praised his man-cleavage as well.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5. Total: 25.5.

For me, the most boring by far was Kelly Monaco. However, I think Bristol could be in trouble if she doesn't have the legions of conservative fans who voted for her last time. Overall, though ... what a great night of dancing!!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Series Review: Animal Practice, Men with Kids, The Neighbors

I am finally done watching all the new sitcoms, with the final three being Animal Practice (which actually aired the pilot of back in August), Men with Kids, and The Neighbors. If you don't feel like reading the entire post, I will give you the short reviews first...
Animal Practice: Shit and not funny at all
Men with Kids: Fine, a bit funny, a bit sweet, a bit blah
The Neighbors: Weird and funny and too high concept to really last

Men with Kids

I enjoyed Men with Kids. Way more than I thought I would. It really isn't a show about men raising kids and the hilarity that ensues. It is more about the friendships and relationships of three guys who have kids, two who are married and one who is divorced. I wanted to really like this show because I really love Jesse Bradford (Romeo + Juliet, Swimfan, Bring It On). And it was a decent show. It had a few laughs and everyone in it was pleasant. But that is kind of all I can think to say about it. It was fine. Everyone was good. The jokes made me laugh internally a bit, but nothing about it really made me want to watch again. It was very middle of the road and non-offensive in any way. I'm not sure I'm really the target demographic.

Animal Practice

I have actually now watched two episodes of this (the pilot and the premiere) and they were both terrible. While watching the premiere I almost turned it off because it was not any better than the pilot. I want it to be good. The only good thing in it is Tyler Labine who I find likable in everything I've seen him in (Reaper, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil). Nothing about the show makes me laugh. Nothing is funny. I feel the same way about Animal Practice that I feel about Family Guy...I actually feel dumber after watching it, like I literally lost some IQ points by association. And the frustrating part is that it seems like a show that wants to be good. It has good people in it and it even has a monkey as a character! But the "jokes" aren't funny. The "sweet" seems overly contrived. The plots are dumb. I just don't get it at all. It is just all together shit. Don't bother watching.

The Neighbors

I really liked the Neighbors. Probably more than most people. Jen and I were discussing it and I liked it way more than her, even though she enjoyed it. It is a high concept show about a human family who moves into a subdivision that has only aliens living there. It is a weird-ass show. I can't even pinpoint what it is about it that I really like. It just had a good rhythm. I liked that it kind of gives a new way to look at culture from an outside perspective and what comes across to someone who is unfamiliar with humans. It also brought up male/female dynamics, which was interesting to see done in a comedy. And most importantly, it was weirdly funny. Aliens get nutrition through their eyes, so instead of eating they read cook books. And to have sex, it is no contact and done all through looks...which was a really really funny scene. I am fairly sure that this is one of those shows that will not even make it through the season, which is a shame because I think it a unique concept and a fun show.

Overall Sitcom Ranking

Things I will be DVRing:
Ben & Kate
The Neighbors

Things I will be watching at least another episode of:
The Mindy Project
The New Normal (I watched like...3 episodes and am now out)

Things I enjoyed but won't be watching again:
Guys with Kids

Things you couldn't pay me to watch again:
Go On
Animal Practice

What were your thoughts on the sitcoms that premiered this season? Which ones are you keeping on your schedule? Which made you want to throw things at your tv?

Stay tuned this week for my reviews of Vegas, The Last Resort, Elementary, Made in Jersey, and 666 Park Avenue (all of which are on my DVR waiting to be watched).