Tag: happy ever after

June 23, 2014

Book vs Broadway | Gregory Maguire’s Wicked

My newest feature! In Book vs. Broadway, I pit the original story against the newest stage interpretation. 

 A few weeks ago, M’s work offered tickets to the local Broadway stop of Wicked. M is horrible about keeping secrets (the tickets were supposed to be a surprise), so I picked up my copy of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (you’ve got to read the story before the show!). 

In short, I fell in love with the show. It was brilliant, well-done, and one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. We both fell in love with the story, but I couldn’t help noticing the differences between the two versions of the story. 

The Broadway Show:
I loved the inclusion of the lion, the tin man, and scarecrow. I didn’t expect that this would be added into the story, but it created a connection for me to the movie. At first, I didn’t like this addition, but as the story grew (especially Nessa’s), I loved the inclusion. 

The Broadway show was a very romanticized version of the novel. This isn’t necessarily bad; doing so makes the book much more palatable to different viewers, especially because of the somewhat darker nature of the novel (see below). I liked that the adjustments didn’t take away from the story – the same themes were still present and addressed – but in more tame terms.

The love story was totally different. That being said, I loved the romance in the Broadway show. It was engaging, incredible, and reminded us to not judge a book by its cover. 

The ending blew me away. I can’t say more than that, just in case you haven’t seen it yet. 

The Book:
(Want to go deeper? Check out my review!)

When I first started reading this book, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew the basic story premise: a retelling of the Wicked Witch of the West. What I actually got at the end of this book was something completely different.

To start with, the book is much darker than I expected. The overall atmosphere of the novel is dense and mysterious. More often than not, I imagined the scenes in a dark, overcast day, muted colors, and an overall grey. Although the show addresses some of the themes of difference and acceptance, the book has more room to explore and expand on these dark adult themes hidden within Oz’s candy colored coating.

Maguire’s original novel delves deeper into Elphaba and Nessa’s childhood, explaining a lot more of their motivations, attitudes, and psyches. Elphaba and Nessa, so integral to the story of Dorothy we all know and love, have huge roles in shaping not only the future story, but the entire history of Oz. 

Elphaba’s transition from good to wicked isn’t quite as pronounced, nor intentional. I loved reading her motives, thoughts, and actions in the novel. Although the show did a great job of showing her motives behind her actions, be able to see through her eyes and narration changed my entire perception of Oz. 

In the end:

The show’s portrayal of Glinda (GAL-linda!) and Elphaba’s relationship was much more enjoyable. Both women, although somewhat unrelatable in the beginning, quickly became some of the most memorable characters I’ve read and seen in a long time. I loved the emphasis on the novel’s original themes, either in the darker original or the more romanticized Broadway version. After reading and watching, there is no clear winner in this showdown. I loved them both. 



Posted June 23, 2014 by Ellen in the canon talks / 2 Comments
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July 1, 2013

Review: Coming Home by Christine Feldman

Title: Coming Home
Author: Christine S. Feldman
Publishing Date: 
Source: Provided by author
Links: GoodReads | Amazon
My Rating: Four Stars

No woman ever really forgets her first love. Callie Sorenson is no exception. Hers was tall, tanned, and—as her older brother’s best friend—completely off limits.

Danny McCutcheon.

It’s a name that Callie hasn’t spoken in years, even if the man to whom it belongs has never really been all that far from her thoughts. Or her heart. But now a twist of fate will bring her back to the childhood home she left behind years ago, and to the hometown boy for whom she secretly longed.

When her mother takes a bad fall and breaks her hip, Callie leaves the bright lights of New York City to fly back west and help with the rehabilitation. It’s a tense homecoming due to a long time estrangement between mother and daughter, and it drives Callie to confront both a painful personal loss and her unanswered questions about the father who abandoned her when she was just a child. 

It also brings her face to face with Danny again, and Callie quickly realizes that old feelings die hard.

But for Danny, it’s new feelings that are a problem. Callie is not the young girl he remembers but a woman now, and a very desirable one. They both have reasons to fight the growing attraction between them, but the temptation may just prove to be too much to resist, despite some very real risk to their hearts. The past casts a long shadow over the future, though, and Callie will have to overcome it or else face losing the one man who means the most to her.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

There’s really nothing like old history between two people to spark a romance. In Coming Home, Callie and Danny face down quite a few different ghosts. I have been really into tensions lately in my posts (I have no idea where that’s coming from…maybe a Freudian slip? In writing? Sorry. Haven’t had enough coffee yet) and the tensions in Coming Home add so much to the novel. I loved how the side plots evolved around the main conflict, adding interesting little tidbits to keep me engaged.

I found the metaphor of journey to be really interesting in this novel. Callie takes a journey home, then a journey to meet her father, constantly thinks about her journey back to the big city, but all the while she’s on a trip of her own: all these journeys and travels represent her growth, which was a pleasant surprise hidden inside this novel. 

Callie was interesting and engaging, the kind of take-charge girl we all love (I laughed when she barrels over her mother’s resisting assistant in the store, immediately changing all sorts of things). I felt that her own personal tensions and conflicts added to the story instead of dragging the attention away from the main point, the romance between Callie and Danny.

Personally, I liked the tension between Callie and Danny – they resist acknowledging their attraction for a good part of the book. It’s all the anticipation that makes it fun to read!

Final Thoughts: Callie and Danny go into a special spot on my ereader, the one I go to when I want something short and sweet. Coming Home was a lovely read, one I look forward to reading again!

Posted July 1, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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June 20, 2013

Review: Homeport by Nora Roberts

Title: Homeport
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: January 1998
Source: Library
Links: GoodReads | Amazon
My Rating: Three Stars

Where passion lives…The Maine air was bitter cold and frigid as Dr. Miranda Jones returned to the family home after a busy lecture tour. But her blood turned to ice when, out of nowhere, she felt a knife held against her throat. The unseen assailant stole her bags, slashed her tires . . . and disappeared. Shaken and bruised, Miranda was nonetheless determined to put the assault quickly out of her mind. Then comes a distraction in the form of a summons to Italy to verify the authenticity of a valuable Renaissance bronze of a Medici courtesan known as “The Dark Lady.” However, instead of cementing Miranda’s position as the leading expert in her field, the job unexpectedly nearly destroys it when her professional judgment is called into question. Emotionally estranged from her mother, her brother immersed in his own troubles-and a bottle-Miranda, desperate to restore her reputation, has no one to turn to . . . except Ryan Boldari, a seductive art thief whose own agenda forces them into a reluctant and uneasy alliance. Now, it has become frighteningly clear that the incident that day in Maine was not a simple mugging, and that “The Dark Lady” may possess as many secrets as its beautiful namesake once did. For Miranda, forced to rely on herself-and an enigmatic partner who offers her suspicion and an intoxicating passion-the only way home is filled with treachery, deception, and a danger that threatens them all.

Ryan is my new favorite romantic hero. Holy smokes, Batman! Ryan Boldari is a constant contradiction: a man with morals, a solid family life, a good job and, to top it off, is delicious! The contraction comes in his job: a thief. To be honest, the scene where he breaks into Miranda’s Institution is absolutely priceless (yes, you must read it to find out!). I found Ryan to be the redeeming quality of a book I might have otherwise put back in my library bag to return on my next trip back.

The plot wasn’t anything new, but I felt the suspense was well-done; at least, when we were discussing it. There were a few points where I utterly forgot that Roberts had written a thriller alongside the fictional story of Miranda and Ryan. 

The relationship between Miranda and her mother Elizabeth was heart-wrenching, emotional and incredibly well-written, so much so that it was hard for me to read at times. I also loved Andrew and Annie’s side story – it added so much dimension, not only to the family dynamic, but also to the entire novel because it put everything in perspective: Andrew’s drinking, Miranda’s feelings, and their entire family.

Final Thoughts: In the end, I had some pretty big problems with this book, but I’m glad I chugged through them to finish. I loved learning about the work of art historians and the romance between the science-oriented historian and the romantic art thief was lovely. 

Posted June 20, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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June 12, 2013

Review: Welcome to Paradise by Rosalind James

Title: Welcome to Paradise
Author: Rosalind James
Publication Date: April 2013
Series: The Kincaids {Book 1}
Source: Provided for review by RABT Book Tours
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Five Stars

They’re going to party like it’s 1885.

Mira Walker is hoping that competing on a “living history” reality show will give her what’s missing from her real life. Maybe she’ll get closer to her boyfriend, who hasn’t been all that nice to her lately. Get fired up about her job again. Who knows, she might even win a million dollars.

Gabe Kincaid and his brother Alec are after that million too, though. Mira and Scott are no threat at all, not when everybody involved is going to want to kill Scott after the first day. And there’s no bond stronger than a twin’s. What could possibly go wrong?

I truly thought it was illegal to have a romantic hero be this gorgeous. Once Scott takes to mockingly call Gabe “Dr. McDreamy,” I was sold (the image of Derek Shepard in my mind was too good to resist). I fell in love with James’s novel because her characters are so extraordinarily deep. I cared about each and every one of those people, except the ones we are supposed to hate (and boy, do you hate them). 

I loved the chemistry between Mira and Gabe. Mira has lived with Scott (her evil boyfriend who convinces her to accompany him on the show) for a while, although we don’t find out exactly how long. Scott is comfortable constantly putting Mira down about her looks, her family, her own flaws (which his far outnumber hers). Gabe, the gorgeous hunkahunk (real word) swoops in and blows her mind with his kindness, thoughtfulness and simple wow. Gabe and Mira are one of those romantic couples that I just knew would get together, but how on earth they would manage it? 

A little note (some might find this a spoiler but I did my best to keep it spoiler free) : I loved how James made the plot center around something outside of their relationship. That didn’t make a lot of sense….in a lot of a romantic novels, the plot turns when the heroine thinks she can’t live with the hero, that all of these outside factors will prevent her from being happy with him…you get it. In Welcome to Paradise, Mira and Gabe’s relationship stays strong throughout the entire novel, even into the epilogue. They face the problems of the plot together instead of battling each other throughout. 

Final Thoughts: The plot was well thought-out and meticulously executed, making me fall straight into the reality show world of 1885 with Mira and Gabe. I loved it so much that I didn’t want to leave Paradise.

Posted June 12, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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April 27, 2013

Review: The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title: The Great Escape 
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publication Date: July 2012
Source: Library 
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Four Stars

Where do you run to when your life has fallen apart?

Lucy Jorik is a champ at never embarrassing the family she adores–not surprising since her mother is one of the most famous women in the world. But now Lucy has done just that. And on her wedding day, no less, to the most perfect man she’s ever known.

Instead of saying “I do” to Mr. Irresistible, Lucy flees the church in an ill-fitting blue choir robe and hitches a ride on the back of a beat-up motorcycle plastered with offensive bumper stickers. She’s flying into the unknown with a rough-looking, bad-tempered stranger who couldn’t be more foreign to her privileged existence.

While the world searches for her, Lucy must search for herself, and she quickly realizes that her customary good manners are no defense against a man who’s raised rudeness to an art form. Lucy needs to toughen up–and fast.

Her great escape takes her to his rambling beach house on a Great Lakes island. Here, she hopes to find a new direction . . . and unlock the secrets of this man who knows so much about her but reveals nothing about himself. As the hot summer days unfold amid scented breezes and sudden storms, she’ll also encounter a beautiful, troubled beekeeper; a frightened young boy; a modern-day evil queen; and a passion that could change her life forever.

For me, Ms. Phillips’s works are a hit or miss. Some I absolutely adore and The Great Escape is one of them. When I cracked open the cover, I thought I had Lucy Jorik all figured out: a cross between Julia Roberts from Runaway Bride and Mandy Moore’s character in Chasing Liberty, someone flighty and carrying a lot of emotional baggage. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are some elements of those two heroines in Lucy, but she is so much more than that. I enjoyed how Phillips didn’t just tell us how wonderful Lucy is – throughout the novel, even after we fell in love with her, Phillips continues to show us.

The hero is named Panda. Enough said. I laughed myself silly until I could control myself to keep reading. Panda is almost a parody of tall, dark and handsome that is seen in so many romance novels, but I truly enjoyed his character; another stubborn personality to match wits with Lucy’s.

As always, the characters bicker/insult/snap at each other, breaking down icy barriers until you can’t help but love them (I realize this sentence made little sense, but if you’ve read Phillips’s work before, you know exactly what I mean!). 

I love romance novels because I know there is a happy-ever-after at the end of the plot. Phillips’s give us one heck of a ride, especially considering the main plot point is the runaway bride is the daughter of America’s first female president! No, I won’t say more, because I have a big mouth when it comes to books I love, and I really want you to read this!

The Great Escape is one of my guilty pleasure novels. It’s on the shelf I reach for when I had a bad day, need a pickmeup, or just a little happiness. 🙂

Posted April 27, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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April 22, 2013

Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Title: Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publication Date: September 2010
Source: Owned
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Three Stars

Love hurts. There is nothing as painful as heartbreak. But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again. 

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

To be honest, I both loved and hated this book. Which one do you want first?

Okay, loved. I loved the story itself. Katie’s story of perseverance and bravery against her abusive husband was amazing. I couldn’t imagine living the life she did – the constant horror of punishment because she cut the tomatoes wrong for his salad or left her sunglasses behind. I loved how Sparks let us in, little by little, into her mind until her entire story tumbled out. I loved the close relationship with Alex, the general respect he had for her space, especially considering his former position with CID in the military. 

The action scenes in the last half of the book are what made me stay up until two in the morning last night to finish it. Sparks constantly alluded to Kevin’s insanity, his alcoholism and his general instability throughout the novel, but the references and cut scenes begin to pick up in pace, bringing the tension with it. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book so quickly once the intensity picked up.

My problems with this book basically stem from one thing: information overload. It felt as if Sparks was telling me how wonderful Alex was, how strong Katie’s resolve was, instead of me seeing it, feeling it, reading it. It took a long time to sink into this book (about halfway through, to be honest). At points, I felt like I was reading their files instead of reading their actions…but on the other side of the coin, my co-worker who recommended this to me adored that aspect of the story. She said it made her feel as through she was getting to know the characters before their story began.

Maybe she’s got a point.

Posted April 22, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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April 15, 2013

Review: The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot

Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Meg Cabot
Publication Date: October 2005
Source: Owned
Links: GoodReads – Amazon
My Rating: Five Stars

Gossip columnist and single New York City girl Mel lives lives in the most exciting place in the world, yet she’s bored with her love life. But things get interesting fast when the old lady next door is nearly murdered. Mel starts paying closer attention to her neighbors—what exactly is going on with the cute boy next door? Has Mel found the love of her life—or a killer?

Mel’s story is written entirely in email format, which initially I found a bit odd, but as I kept reading, I fell in love. It was a type of direct dialogue, and  I got a better feeling of Mel and her friends then  I feel I would have with the tradition format. 

Each character is entirely charming in their own way, casting a type of fairy tale light over New York. I loved Mel – she is my favorite type of character. Charming, a little insecure and completely unaware of the hilarity of her own situation. As much as her romantic relationship is emphasized in this example of ultimate chick-lit, Cabot focuses on her relationship with her friends, a detail often missed in the grand scheme of the romance novel.

I have had The Boy Next Door on my shelf since I was a senior in high school. It’s got a safe place there for a long, long time. 🙂

Posted April 15, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 29, 2012

Review: The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood

Title: The Ideal Man
Author: Julie Garwood
Publication Date: August 2011
Source: Library
Links: GoodReadsAmazon

My Rating: Three Stars
Dr. Ellie Sullivan has just completed her residency at a large urban hospital. While jogging in a park nearby, she witnesses the shooting of an FBI agent in pursuit of wanted criminals, a couple identified as the Landrys. The only person to see the shooter’s face, Ellie is suddenly at the center of a criminal investigation.

Agent Max Daniels takes over the Landry case. A no-nonsense lawman, he’s definitely not the ideal man that Ellie has always imagined, yet she’s attracted to him in a way she can’t explain.

Ellie heads home to Winston Falls, South Carolina, to attend her sister’s wedding. Shortly after she arrives, though, she receives a surprise visitor: Max Daniels. The Landrys have been captured, and she’ll be called to testify. But they’ve been captured before, and each time the witnesses are scared into silence-or disappear before they can take the stand. Max vows to be Ellie’s shadow until the trial, and it isn’t long before sparks fly.

Big gruff man working to save a pretty young doctor? What’s not to love?

I’m really tempted to leave the review at that because honestly, that’s the gist of this book. Garwood’s work is like hot cocoa – sweet and familiar. Her romance novels are some of my favorites and my more consistent re-reads. Her FBI series are becoming my favorites.

Max Daniels fits the gruff romantic hero with a soft interior. In this novel, however, the plot focuses upon the troubles of Dr. Ellie Sullivan instead of Daniels. I really enjoyed the constantly-moving plot. I had trouble putting this book down to make dinner (this happens more often than I am willing to admit…) and, even though the plot is predictable, I enjoyed the ride to the end. I felt there was much more chemistry in the villains vs Ellie/Max relationship than between the two main characters themselves, but that’s up for you to decide. Ellie reminds me a bit of Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy – brilliant yet dorky and clumsy at the same time. 

It wasn’t a bodice-ripper or extreme thriller, but it was a nice little vacation.

Posted December 29, 2012 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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