By: Robin McKinley


There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her…


I was at the library recently with a list of books touted as being similar to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Sunshine was on several lists, and it had people I trust raving about it. The library also had it on the shelves. I’m not a huge fan of vampires, but I really, really want to find a new urban fantasy author. So I checked it out.

The book is written from Sunshine’s point of view. She is the narrator of the story and not very reliable. She’s prone to long info dumps, and when action is going on, she gets overwhelmed and doesn’t explain what’s happening very well. It was a stylistic choice that I couldn’t get behind. Things would get exciting, and then there would be pages of world-building. The world created was interesting, but I needed more interaction with people and less mopping around.

Sunshine had a long-term boyfriend that was not super serious, but they would hook up, and it was comfortable. So I hoped that there wouldn’t be any romance between her and the vampire. When she described him as having gray skin and swamp water eyes, I figured I was safe. It also helped that she had to force herself not to pass out in terror for most of the book anytime she was near him. And yet—there was a moment where they almost had sex. It was so random and annoying and nearly had me putting down the book. I have no idea what the point of that scene was, and it felt so out of place.

The world was interesting, and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more, but this isn’t a series. It ends with an obvious opening for more books and more than a few questions unanswered, but there isn’t anything currently published. I was able to find mention of a book possibly being written, but McKinley’s website is under construction, and I have no idea if or when it will be coming out. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d read it even if it did come out.


Commando (1985)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Commando (1985)


Mark L. Lester


Jeph Loeb

Matthew Weisman

Steven E. de Souza


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Rae Dawn Chong

Dan Hedaya

Vernon Wells

Alyssa Milano


A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.


Commando wastes exactly zero time getting into things. It starts with bad guys killing people, then moves right into John Matrix, Arnold Schwarzenegger, carrying a tree trunk over his shoulder while also holding a chainsaw. There is no wasted time or bloat, and at a 90 minute running time, it’s the perfect length.

Whether they realize it or not, this is the movie most people think of when they think of 80s action movies. You’ve got the over-the-top hero who has a high body count and is virtually unstoppable. A clear bad guy that is, in this case, more than a little unhinged. Multiple one-liners and a basic plotline. It’s uncomplicated, and when the main goal is completed, the movie stops, no matter what else is up in the air.

One of my favorite parts of Commando is Rae Dawn Chong’s character. I love the way she handles herself around first the scummy henchman and then later Matrix. She doesn’t let either man push her around, well, Matrix to a degree, but when he isn’t around her, she immediately goes to the cops. Then she decides for herself to help him. When he’s bossy, she answers back. She doesn’t come off as a pushover. She’s not forceful and in your face, but she’s a survivor and has a say in what happens to her. I like her.

What is even better than all of that, Matrix and Chong’s character do not kiss. I love it! So many action movies put a couple in constant peril, with the male hero a lot of the time being a total dick to the woman while he’s saving the day, and then it ends with them kissing. I hateeeee that. Good for you for saving the day but after the way you treated her, why the fuck would she kiss you??? It’s such a male power fantasy trip at the woman’s expense, and it always bothers me.

Bennett, Vernon Wells, is wearing a crochet vest that is supposed to look like chainmail, and I will never be able to take him seriously or find him threatening. Every time he appears on the screen, I’m just looking at his vest and wondering if his grandma gave it to him and if he kills people who bring it up. There’s also the clear, nearly orgasmic faces he makes when facing off with Matrix at the end. Dude clearly has some more than homicidal feelings toward Matrix. It explains his hatred of Matrix’s daughter too. She has come between them.

I like Commando. It’s one of my husband’s movies, but I appreciate it for what it is. I like the idea of 80s action movies. There are several elements to them that I enjoy, but then there are several elements that I don’t. I like the action. I like how over the top they can be. I could use a little bit more thought put into the script, just a little bit. I’m not asking for a ton. I just want there to be something there. Even if it’s basic, I want it to make some sense. I also really do not like how they treat women. Commando is tipped more into the positive side of my list than the negative.

The Trouble with Loving You

The Trouble with Loving You

By: Sajni Patel


Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?


***Trigger Warning for sexual assault***

The Trouble with Loving You put me through the wringer. I cried a lot at the end. I love it when a loving family embraces someone not from one. It always gets me.

Liya is a driven woman. She’s earned her MBA and has just been given a promotion that puts her very high up in her company. She has a group of female friends that are supportive and loving. Her family, on the other hand, is a different story. Her father is emotionally and verbally abusive, and her mother is so beaten down that she’s unable to stand up to it. I feel for Liya, her situation is complicated, and you can tell she feels like she’s being torn apart.

Jay has his own issues, but he’s also got the support system of a very loving family. They’ve been through the traumatic death of their father years before and come out stronger on the other side. It’s heartwarming. The way he pursues Liya does at times fight with my enjoyment of making sure consent is acknowledged and that a woman’s answer is taken at her word, but it doesn’t go too far. He’s never domineering, and I only noticed it because most of the newer books I’ve read have been leaning very clear on no being no. Part of that was Liya wanting him to keep asking, even though she would never have admitted it. She had high walls built up, and his methods helped bring them down and open her to love.

This was a kind of enemies to lovers romance. Often, the enemies part is too heavy, and it’s difficult to believe that they could overcome their issues and fall in love. That did not happen in The Trouble with Loving You. Liya and Jay had a rough start and didn’t like each other at first. However, they never went hard into the bitter, loathing enemy territory. It made the romance believable and that much sweeter.

The Trouble with Romance was the first book in a series, but I don’t know the series’s name. Goodreads has been pretty poor about getting that information updated, though that might be an issue with the publishers, not with Goodreads. The next book in the series comes out in September, and it’s about a character I’m eager to read. A few of the book characters were married, but there are at least a couple that I hope get their own stories.


The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)


Lewis Teague


Mark Rosenthal

Lawrence Konner

Diane Thomas


Kathleen Turner

Michael Douglas

Danny DeVito


When Joan Wilder is abducted while on a trip along the Nile, her boyfriend, Jack Colton, and pal Ralph rush to rescue her and retrieve a fabled jewel.


There are many things wrong with The Jewel of the Nile. One of the biggest things is Michael Douglas. Not just his character, either. Kathleen Turner was right to fight not to be in this film. I own it, I know, but it’s because it came with Romancing the Stone in a collection.

I always forget just how bad Jewel is. I’ll be high off of how much I love Romancing the Stone and decide to pop it in, and I get completely deflated. The story doesn’t make sense. It’s wildly racist and sexist and not fun to watch. Unless you’re watching with a friend and making fun of it the entire time.

Jack, Douglas, is such a giant dick in this movie. He’s low-key abusive. He can’t handle Joan’s fame or that everything he ever wanted is because of her. He resents her and lashes out a few times when he feels threatened. He blames her for his problems, implies that she was sleeping with a dude, and is just an all-around douche bag.

What’s worse, the movie focuses as much on him as it does on Joan. I don’t care about him! I loved the first movie despite him. I loved it because of Joan. Focusing more on Jack made a bad story worse. They should have never wound up together. She should have spent her six months with him, realized she deserved more and left him. She could have had a different love in this movie. They do it all the time for male leads. What’s the issue with doing it here?

I don’t typically want a reboot of an older movie, but I would love to see a reboot of this series. As long as the female character was the lead and the man wasn’t a sexist dick. Maybe don’t even have a dude. Just give me an adventure movie with a female lead who’s a famous romance novelist. Is that too much to ask for???

And now it’s time for Random Facts I learned from the Wikipedia Article!

-Kathleen Turner did not want to make this movie, she thought the scripted sucked, but she was contractually obligated to and was threatened with a $25m lawsuit.

-Multiple crew members died in a tragic plane crash.

-The crew got sick while filming in Morocco and were told it was hepatitis, but then told if they paid a bribe, everything would be okay.

-After hours of setting up an intense night shoot, it was discovered there was no film in the cameras, and they had to scrap the day entirely.

And that’s been another edition of Random Facts I learned from the Wikipedia Article!

After all I learned about Romancing the Stone, I thought that the writer for it, Diane Thomas, had died before Jewel came out, and that’s why she didn’t write it. Come to find out, she was alive and well and could have written the movie, but Douglas felt she wanted too much money. They ended up bringing her in to help with re-writes, but who knows how much she actually did.

It’s a miracle Jewel of the Nile got made. Sadly, it’s a miracle I wish we hadn’t been given.

Currently Reading 02-25-21

Well, I finished reading Ready Player Two. Obviously not a fan if you read my review. I’m moving on to The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel. Based on the blurb it sounds not quite an enemies to lovers, but definitely not a love at first sight. I like the prospect of some witty banter. I’d love witty right now.