Our Stop

What if you almost missed the love of your life?

Romantic books aren’t really my go to but I should probably give them more of a chance if Our Stop is anything to go by.

Nadia is a bright, dazzling woman who just can’t seem to get herself together in the morning, vowing every week to start afresh (How hard do we all feel that?). One Monday on the 7.30 from Angel, ragged but on time, Nadia’s BFF texts a copy of the paper’s Missed Connections page which seemingly has a message in it – meant for her:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

Is she the cute girl? And if so, then who is the guy?

The guy as it happens is sensitive (and fit) Daniel, whose dad has just died. Daniel finds himself seeking comfort in the idea of Nadia and, at the suggestion of his flatmate, decides one day to do something about it. So begins a back and forth of epic proportion as the pair communicate via Missed Connections.

But when they try to meet IRL, they seem to keep missing each other. Is it really meant to be after all? Well, you’ll have to read to find out but… I think you have an inkling.

Our Stop really is delightful. Sure, it’s corny but as Iris is The Holiday says, and I often quote:

I like corny. I’m looking for corny in my life.

The central characters are likeable and I’ve a lot of time for the detail and ‘padding’ out that Williams’ has done with the supporting acts. I’ve a real soft spot for Daniel’s recently widowed mother, who has a meltdown over a stolen Henry the hoover – and Daniel’s new best friend, security guard Romeo. In addition to the will-they-won’t-they, we examine grief, the idea that we’re not grown up enough, new same-sex love, consent and toxic masculinity. You can tell it’s written by an intelligent and socially engaged author – and in places I really recognised her writing style from the posts I enjoy on Instagram.

There a couple of sections that stand out to me – Daniel comforting his mum when the hoover disappears (though we all know it’s not about the hoover), a chat about grief between two dudes at a Romeo & Juliet Secret Cinema event – Nadia educating Eddie on the brilliance of Nora Efron.

There’s a lot to like here and it’s a lovely Saturday afternoon, back in bed read.
Sure, as with most romance you have to suspend a little disbelief but isn’t that the point? Sometimes you have to be open to the idea of hope and that is what this is. Open your heart, put yourself out there and great things can happen.

I’m very much looking forward to the next novel from the same author.

Book details:

Our Stop
Publisher: Avon (8 Aug. 2019)
ISBN-10: 0008320527
ISBN-13: 978-0008320522
Bought new paperback for myself

What are you reading?

Falling Inn Love, or: See What They Did There?

Free for all month is back thank God. I don’t think I can deal with another 2 hour+ melodrama, even if it does have good costuming and spunky musical numbers. Not for a little while, anyway.

To counterbalance the seriousness/worthiness of last week, I’ve chosen Netflix’s latest romantic offering – and it does exactly what it says in the tin. Lovely.

Falling Inn Love

When city girl Gabriela spontaneously enters a contest and wins a rustic New Zealand inn, she teams up with big-hearted contractor Jake Taylor to fix and flip it.

*Spoilers*

My Review

City gal Gabriela (Milian) is having a time of it. Keen to do well at her job in property development, she’s overlooked constantly by her douchey male counterparts, who – shocker – do not take her seriously at all. Even though she’s got some kick ass environmental ideas that could change the game forever. She’s also struggling with her boyfriend Dean (Bowyer-Chapman), who’s dragging his heels commitment-wise.

Then she’s made redundant and her relationship ultimatum backfires on her. So, one evening, pissed up and feeling melancholy in her PJs, she enters a competition to win a gorgeous little inn in picturesque New Zealand. All she has to do is write a little something about why she should win.

Well, Gab’s something of a dreamer and her piece easily secures her the prize and just like that, she leases out her San Fran apartment and hits the airport. (This movie absolutely taps into my secret fantasy of skipping town and starting over somewhere quaint and peaceful).

Gabriela finally arrives at her destination after a comedy of errors, during which she meets pretty boy Jake (Demos). The pair don’t exactly hit it off right away, Jake is bemused at how unprepared she is for the countryside, while she thinks he’s a smart arse.

When she claps eyes on the Bellbird Valley Farm Inn, she’s gutted to learn how rundown it really is. A shell of its former self and nothing like the glorious property she was promised. It does come with pet goat Gilbert though. And with a little help from her accommodating new friends; including a same-sex cafe owning couple, Norm from the hardware store and the delightful Shelley (Claire Chitham), our Gabs is about to turn it all around.

Jake turns out to be a shit hot handyman too which comes in er, handy when Gabriela reluctantly accepts his help. But could they be falling in(n) love? What do you think?!

Of course there are complications, rival B&B owner Charlotte (Anna Jullienne) wants to get her hands on the inn and have Gabs return to the USA as soon as possible. Meanwhile, she’s scheming to get Dean back in Gabriela’s life to ensure that happens. Which could throw a spanner in the new couple’s blossoming romance, to say the least.

And what of this incredible job she’s just been offered back in San Francisco? Oh it is all such a mess and it’s such a shame when Gabi was doing so well, learning valuable life lessons and making fresh plans! What’s a girl to do?

My Comments

If you’re looking for romantic comedy clichés then, baby you’ve come to the right place. In fact this movie would make the ideal drinking game companion. Suitcase rolling down a hill and getting run over by a car, driven by our romantic lead? Check. Inappropriate footwear resulting in a broken high heel? Check. Reckless but hilarious driving through town for the first time? Yeppers.

Oh, and Jake isn’t a dickhead, he’s actually a widower and therefore twenty times more sympathetic (aka attractive)? Hell yeah.

There’s also a romantic subplot about the previous owner of the inn and a pile of old love letters that helps Jake and Gab on their way to Lurvesville. FIL really reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie and that is its strength in my eyes. I just love them so much. We’re not here for gritty realism after all, this is all about escapism.

Milian is adorable while Demos isn’t exactly hard on the eyeballs, if you like that sort of thing. I love the supporting characters. Gab’s GBFFs Peter and Anaaki bring the lols and the fresh baked goods, while Shelley feels like a woman you’d genuinely go for a pint with.

The scenery too is breathtaking and this is the first Netflix original movie shot entirely on location in NZ, which is cool. Maybe running a B&B is my calling in life too?

Film details:

Starring: Christina Milian, Adam Demos, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
Director: Roger Kumble
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my heroine think of Falling Inn Love? Would she fly half way around the world to give it a makeover or leave it to crumble? Find out here.

No Big Deal

It would have been nice to have had a heroine like Emily growing up. Even if she is 75 times cooler than I’ve ever been. 

Navigating all your normal rites of passage in a fat body can be a minefield – friendship, school, the future, shagging, ROMANCE – but Emily doesn’t see why she should change. She’s well aware she’s one of the smartest in her year at school. She’s also cute, funny and ‘good at music’. While she still has all the normal teenage insecurities, she’s coming to realise it’s not her body holding her back, it’s the people around her and their attitudes toward it. 

RELATEABLE, MUCH?!

Emily worries about being left behind by her friendship group – and as the last to lose her virginity and get a boyfriend, she wonders if it’s the way she looks that’s the problem. Her mother is on a constant diet, imparting her own health wisdom on her daughter which kind of puts a dampener on their relationship. It also doesn’t help when she meets Joe, to whom she has an instant attraction. Could he possibly like her too?

Well of course he does because contrary to popular opinion, fat babes gets action to. But Joe’s not without his own problems and Emily has enough to contend with without wondering that she’s enough. Like where to go to university, a newly-slim best pal and general life stuff.

I read this in a day and mostly in the bath. Each chapter begins with a suitable song title which is cool. Given Emily is a some time DJ (and so is the author), it’s a nice touch. It also personalises it, reminding me of the feelings that went with the music I listened as I grew up.

Honestly, it’s refreshing to read about a fat protagonist, one that doesn’t have a makeover at the end. One that knows her worth despite societal pressure, one not willing to settle for anything less that the very best.

I enjoyed the last few chapters so much. As Emily works out Joe’s deal and subsequently refuses to accept it, I whooped. I also like the advice Emily gives to her friends. It’s completely balanced and wise beyond its years. There are flourishes that really suit the character and remind me too of all the reasons I’ve followed Bethany on Twitter for so long. Particularly the moment she asks her crush if he ever consumes art by women.

Emily is a role model for the age and I would love to spend more time in her world.

Book details:

No Big Deal
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books; Main Market edition (8 Aug. 2019)
ISBN-10: 1509870059
ISBN-13: 978-1509870059
Bought new paperback for myself

What are you reading?

Destination Wedding

The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

Winona RyderKeanu Reeves

Director: Victor Levin • Year: 2018
IMDB Rating: 6/10 • My Rating: 3/5

Lindsay: Don’t you believe there is someone for everyone?

Frank: Close. I believe that there is nobody for anyone.

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

In many ways this was better than expected as it offers up two pretty awful people to actually root for, despite it all. Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Ryder) meet at the airport and soon start bickering. To their dismay, on the light aircraft to their destination, they learn they’re going to the same wedding.

Frank is the estranged half-brother of the groom, while Lindsay used to be engaged to him – but was dumped five weeks before their own  wedding, six years previously. They’re both there out of a twisted sense of duty and Lindsay figures this might give her the closure she needs. While the pair are both cynical and pessimistic – and seem incapable of not roasting one another – they form an odd bond against the rest of the wedding party.

One thing inevitably leads to another and our caustic couple live happily ever after. Well, not really but there’s a sniff of hope and that’s all this is saying. Sure, be negative but maybe try to be open to the possibility of something meaningful too?

When Lindsay suggests that they take their one-nighter further, Frank is reluctant for all his reasons. Will he change his mind? This is a short review because, well action wise we’re a little light on the ground. This is more a study of human expectation and disappointment – with the two coolest leads on the planet.

Lindsay: Do you wanna have children?

Frank: I’d rather be dead in a ditch.

My Comments

I really liked the blend of cynicism and hope but there’s a stiffness to it and – much as I adore him with every fiber of my being – I think this is down to how much dialog there is for KR to process. However, in a way this works towards building his character, who’s awkward and unpleasant – but seriously hot. The sarcasm almost suits him and it’s a role we seldom see him in, so it’s worth relishing.

I loved seeing this golden couple back on the screen together – so they could have been doing or saying anything and I’d be satisfied. As is happens there a few stand out scenes that really tickled me – the scene in which they decide to do it (and Lindsay shouts “No no no!” at the point of climax because she’s a negative person) – and when they’re tearing down the wedding guests one by one.

Frank: Why would anyone have my mother as their maid of honor?

Lindsay: I know, it’s like having the Grim Reaper at your CAT scan.

Winona is wonderful of course, her facial expressions are a dream and I love her even more since Joyce Byers came into my life. She brings a realness to Lindsay that I can really identify with and honestly, can someone just find a new film for her to star in with the man of the moment?

What are you watching?

Yes or No?

 

A slice of Thai LGBTQ dramarama this week, courtesy of Netflix, which boasts an impressive selection of gay world cinema if you ever fancy it. The main thing I have taken from this viewing experience is the fact I have little to no patience and should probably take a step back and try to enjoy the sloooooooow burn. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out, loves.

Yes or No? (2010) Yes or No: Yaak Rak Gaw Rak Loey (original title)

Pie is a sweet girl who moves into a new college dorm room where she finds out that her new roommate Kim, is a tomboy who looks and dress like a boy. As their friendship develops, Pie and Kim begin to wonder if the feeling they feel for one another is just an ordinary friendship…

Starring: Sushar Manaying • Supanart Jittaleela • Arisara Thongborisut

*Spoilers*

Uh despite what the synopsis above says, Pie (Sushar Manaying) ain’t that sweet. Not to begin with anyway. She changes dorm rooms at university because she can’t handle the drama from her friend Jane (Arisara Thongborisut), a pretty lesbian who falls in love more often than she changes her knickers.

So, full of excitement for her new start in a new room, she’s peeved to learn her new roommate is a ‘tomboy’. That’s a girl who lacks femininity, dresses like a dude and dates girls if you’re not au fait. Kim (Supanart Jittaleela) isn’t so sure this is what she really is, given that she’s never fancied a boy or a girl but Pie has already taken against her. She quickly sets out clear boundaries, instructing Kim to keep to ‘her side’ (in case dyke germs are contagious) and screaming at her not to make any noise.

A mood

Like I said, kind of a twat. You see, Pie is influenced heavily by what her mother thinks and unfortunately ma is a monster with a very narrow mindset. Kim is a cutie and doesn’t deserve the shit she keeps getting thrown at her so it’s nice when Jane develops a crush on her. But, love is complicated and you’ll never guess who she really has heart eyes for… really, you’ll never see it coming.

Slowly but surely Pie and Kim begin to bond much to Jane’s dismay. Pie also has an on-off love interest skulking around in the shape of mum-approved Van, a dude who constantly turns up unannounced with flowers and tells everyone that he’s Pie’s man.

Honestly, there isn’t an awful lot to this story. Pie and Kim are attracted to each other but Pie is scared and confused by her feelings because of her bitchy mother and her friends, who might take the piss. Kim seems pretty comfortable in her own skin to be honest, as she wraps her head around her feelings for Pie. And she’s forever bringing her slices of cake so she’s definitely a keeper.

“How much can you bench?”

When it all becomes too much and the two lover/friends reach the point where they need to make a decision – yes or no FFS? – will they both have the courage to see it through?

Well, this is the angstiest film I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like an extra, extra long episode of Home and Away from my teen years. I’m not against it for this at all, in fact once I’d got into the groove with the main characters I was enjoying myself. It’s just that it took us nearly two hours to reach any sort of conclusion – and there’s only so much will they/won’t they I can stand. You’re not Tim and Dawn from The Office, guys (UK edition).

I also really hated half the secondary characters. While I wasn’t supposed to agree with anything Pie’s mum had to say – about sexual abomination and going against nature – I expected her to come around for the love of her daughter. Perhaps she did off camera or will in the sequels (of which there are two on Netflix, no less) but I stayed mad at her as the credits rolled.

Pie and Jane’s crew include a grouchy girl named Nerd and the token boy called… Boy. Boy is a highly-sexed oddball who propositions every man or boy within spitting distance and I kind of love him for it. He also sports the exact same haircut that I had in secondary school.

Justice for Jane

My main beef though, pace not included, was that Kim never tells Jane she’s not interested and I feel she deserved better. I mean, yes she falls for a new love every other week but she’s a romantic, give her a break. Also, there’s a really unfortunate rape joke thrown in about two thirds in and a clunky attempted suicide scene which isn’t very sensitive. Don’t play these two things for laughs guys.

I’m here for lesbian love stories though and it’s always refreshing to enter an almost entirely female space so I’m not mad. It’s not very good, the acting is shaky at best and it’s so OTT I felt like throwing my own tantrum just so I didn’t feel left out – but at least it isn’t Peppermint.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What did my lady love Jill think of this angst-fest? Would she banish it to the other side of the room or push their beds together? Find out here.

A Star is Born

A Star is Born (2018)

 

UGH. This movie, I loved it so much. Don’t even get me started on the climactic scene – it nearly destroyed me.

Charting the rise of singer Ally’s (Gaga) success following a chance meeting with seasoned rock/country legend Jack (Cooper), the fourth version of A Star is Born is gorgeous with a heavenly soundtrack.

If you’re wondering how Gaga could possibly keep her end up in place of the Garlands and Streisands of this world, just fucking watch her. She’s mesmerising at the best of times but in this role she is next level. If Oscar doesn’t come knocking in the Spring, then there is no God. Or there is but he’s a man with no taste.

I think if you aren’t familiar with the story, you might still have an inkling of how this might play out but the ending is very sad and the heartbreak is palpable. It’s one of those story lines you wish you could change for the better, even as you watch it veer dramatically off course.

I don’t want to give anything else away but I will say this is one of my favourite movies of this year so far and I can’t stop thinking about some of the songs. They’re outrageously good.

Oh, and the surprise appearance of Shangela and Willam was fun. God, I want to watch it over and over again.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Adrift

Adrift (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A true story of survival, as a young couple’s chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Yikes – this is not an easy watch if you’re terrified of water like me. That it is based on the true story of Tami Ashcraft and her fiance, Richard Sharp makes me all the more determined to always stay on dry land. 

When Tami and Richard (Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin) meet they quickly bond over a love of the ocean. Richard has built his own boat from scratch, while Tami claims not to be a sailor but does pretty well regardless. 

adrift-2018-movie-poster-and-stills-11

The pair plan to sail around the world together and get engaged quite quickly but things take a turn when Richard is offered a lot of cash to sail his friends’ boat back to America. He wangles two first class tickets back to their island paradise once the task is done and Tami agrees to sail with him because they’re young and in love – and why not, eh?

The trip starts well but when the pair get caught in the eye of a crazy storm, their idyllic adventure quickly turns into a fight to the death. With Richard badly injured, it falls to Tami to get them to Hawaii and safety – can she keep them fed and sheltered at the same time as keeping them on course?

Adrift-DI-1

Adrift was a lot better than I’d expected. I found the experience incredibly stressful and it was lucky there were only a handful of people watching in our theater because I couldn’t stop fidgeting and shaking my fists/head at the screen. The film is played in flashback and starts with the aftermath of the accident so you’re always aware of how shit things get – but the getting to know you stuff between the couple is sweet.

Shailene Woodley is amazing as Tami and has a presence on-screen that is really something to behold. Sam Claflin is okay but there’s something about him that irritates me and I’m not sure it’s him or the way he plays Richard.

It doesn’t really matter though because this is Woodley’s film and she commands the attention, bringing this story to life almost single-handedly. It also makes you wonder how you’d do in the same situation.

My Rating

3.5/5.