THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART (February 8, 2019)

Hey, Lego Movie Mom! If your fourteen year old kid – that kid is at least fourteen, right? – is playing with Lego instead of virtually killing other kids on his phone, don’t take away his Lego. Seriously. That is probably the most ludicrous part of this movie. And it’s a movie about talking Lego. As sequels go, this one does everything it should: expands the world, calls back to the original occasionally, and amps up the drama. There are some catchy musical numbers, some very funny throwaway lines, pop culture references (the time travel references are PERFECT) and fourth-wall breaking, and the special best friendship of Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) has some good lessons about relationships for the youngsters. One relationship that does not have good lessons, however, is Batman (Will Arnett) and the Queen of Systar (Tiffany Haddish), who kidnaps him and then tricks him into proposing by negging the hell out of him. Not cool, Queen of Systar! And not cool, Lego Movie. Clever satire, sure, but the junior audience of this film won’t know that. They won’t get the pointed (and, let’s face it, outdated) Twilight reference, either. It’s all pretty fun, though.

4 stars.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Story by Michelle Morgan and Dominic Russo
Written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and Matthew Fogel and Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Directed by Mike Mitchell and Trisha Gum
Wide Release | 106 minutes | February 8, 2019

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TOP 10 SCIENCE FICTION FILM ROMANCES — #6

Much time and space have been given in the annals of film production to tales of romance that cross, well, time and space. From the early B-movies through to latter-day sci-fi extravaganzas, filmmakers and audiences alike clearly adore some inter-stellar, even occasionally inter-species lovin’. Here, ten of the best:

6. HAN SOLO AND PRINCESS LEIA

Star Wars Trilogy (1977, 1981, 1983)
Played by Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher
Subgenre: Space Opera

Few cinematic affairs encapsulate the Hating Their Way to Love motif better than that of brash, irrepressible spaceship pilot Han and poised, opinionated princess, Leia. Through the assorted perils imposed by Imperial garbage compressors, mixed up almost-incest, kidnapping and freezing in carbonite, this mismatched pair of rebels made an art out of longing looks, snide backbiting and sizzling chemistry—added to which is probably the best declaration of love scene ever:

LEIA: I love you.
HAN: [pause; significant look] I know.

And no, unsurprisingly enough, Anakin and Padme do not make it onto this list.

GO TO NUMBER 10

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CRAZY HOT BY TARA JANZEN (2005)

BOOK REC: SUSPENSE

In Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen, old meets very, very new as a paleontologist goes missing and his daughter seeks the help of a Special Ops badass to protect her from the bad guys on her tail (for what reason, she isn’t sure) and track down her brilliant father, all while foiling a terrorist plot. With more twists and turns than the quiet roads they ride so fast – in super-hot, super-fast cars – the whole Steele Street series is thrilling, breakneck romantic suspense at its very finest.

Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen
Steele Street #1
Dell | 432 pages | September 27, 2005

LISTEN! My Dad Wrote a Porno

Now in its fourth series, My Dad Wrote a Porno is an uproarious podcast in which twenty-somethings Jamie Morton, Alice Levine and James Cooper read and discuss Jamie’s dad’s self-published (under the pseudonym “Rocky Flintstone”) attempt at “erotic literature,” Belinda Blinked. While not connoisseurs of the genre, and occasionally dismissive of it, the three are hilarious as they delve into the high-flying world of pots and pans sales and light bondage, with our heroine Belinda “up for anything” as she takes on clients, superiors and regional sales managers with equal passivity. The million-download podcast has taken the world by storm, enough that there are live shows and a book of scripts – and Belinda Blinked has actually sold pretty well, too. The full title, by the way? Belinda Blinked; 1 A modern story of sex, erotica and passion. How the sexiest sales girl in business earns her huge bonus by being the best at removing her high heels. Hot.

Find it on iTunes, GooglePlay or your favorite podcast service.

COMICS WILL BREAK YOUR HEART BY FAITH ERIN HICKS (February 12, 2019)

Their families hate each other. Mir’s grandfather drew The TomorrowMen, superheroes on their way to big screen success, but Weldon’s grandfather reaped all the profits. When Weldon is sent to stay with his aunt in small town Canada after a series of bad decisions, he and Mir meet in the comic book store where she works, and they feel an instant connection. But as old resentments stir and new ones fester, can Mir and Weldon get past the past, and heal some old wounds? Fun and funny, with a deep appreciation of comic book culture and fandom, as well as building up a cast of well-rounded secondary characters to either love or hate, Comics Will Break Your Heart is a very enjoyable YA read, especially for the comic geeks among us. – Rachel Hyland

4 1/2 stars.

Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
Roaring Brook | YA | February 12, 2019

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TOP 10 SCIENCE FICTION FILM ROMANCES — #7

Much time and space have been given in the annals of film production to tales of romance that cross, well, time and space. From the early B-movies through to latter-day sci-fi extravaganzas, filmmakers and audiences alike clearly adore some inter-stellar, even occasionally inter-species lovin’. Here, ten of the best:

7. SPOCK AND UHURA

Star Trek (2009)
Played by Zachary Quinto and Zoë Saldana
Subgenre: Space Opera

In the long history of things Trek-ian, at no time had a romance between that very logical son of Vulcan, Spock, and that very capable-of-placing-long-distance-calls, Uhura, passed into lore. Sure, the occasional fanfic or licensed tie-in novel would hint at a certain fondness between them. Sure, they both professed an interest in music and jammed with those space hippies that time. Sure, Uhura was part of the cabal that saved Spock’s life again and again, and damn the consequences to her long and distinguished career (mostly of placing long distance calls). But that was about it. Then came J. J. Abrams’s rebooted Star Trek film, and suddenly a feverish phalanx of re-energized shippers emerged, at last no longer doomed to endlessly troll TOS for snippets of Kirk/Rand or Spock/Chapel, and instead gifted with an alternate reality version of events in which two of the Enterprise’s most intriguing officers were more than mere colleagues… though, if the creators had been really brave, they’d have gone with that original topic of slash fiction, Kirk/Spock.

GO TO NUMBER 10 | GO TO NUMBER 6

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ESCAPING HIS GRACE BY KRISTIN VAYDEN (January 29, 2019)

Second in the series, this is not one of Kristin Vayden’s best. Heathcliff, Viscount Kilpatrick, was betrayed by his first wife and is determined to never let love rule his life again.  However, he is drawn to his new governess, Miranda, not realizing that she is in fact, Lady Samantha, posing as a governess in remote Scotland to escape her tyrannical father. Heathcliff is quite comfortable coming close to the line in forcing his attentions on Miranda, the governess, but once he realizes her true standing, he takes a big step back.  If that’s not enough to make you close this book, the general unlikability of both romantic leads might push you over the edge. Of course, they are unable to resist their pull to one another, despite Heathcliff’s reluctance to marry. Will they overcome their self-made obstacles to reach happiness? Of course—and it’s not particularly enjoyable to find out how. – Megan Osmond

2 stars.

Escaping His Grace by Kristin Vayden
Gentlemen of Temptation #2
Lyrical | Historical | January 29, 2019

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POLAR (2019)

A mess of a movie about a soon-to-retire assassin (Mads Mikkelsen) whose boss sends a troupe of much younger – and trashier – assassins after him, to save on paying out his pension plan. An early contender for worst movie of the year, the most impressive thing about it is how they manage to make Vanessa Hudgens look frumpy. The ludicrous scene in which Mads teaches elementary schoolers some of his assassin moves and answers the question “How do they bury dead people in India?” with the false and frankly race-baiting “They burn them. And if the man dies first, they will burn the wife as well. Alive.” is among the film’s worst transgressions (Sati has long been illegal, and was never widely practiced anyway), but is far from its only one. “This is so fucking boring,” says one of the young assassins on the hunt for Mads (whose handle, if you please, is the Black Kaiser). You said it, sister. A good turn from Hudgens and Katheryn Winnick, as the assassin boss’s sultry, stylish and sarcastic sidekick, and who clearly has a history with our badass not-at-all-hero, are the only bright spots in this otherwise appalling affair. And okay, sure, Matt Lucas and Johnny Knoxville, that makes sense—but what the hell are you doing in this movie, Richard Dreyfuss?

1 star.

Polar
Based on the comic book Polar: Came from the Cold by Victor Santos
Written by Jayson Rothwell | Directed by Jonas Åkerlund
Netflix | 96 minutes | January 25, 2019

TEMPT ME WITH DIAMONDS BY JANE FEATHER (January 29, 2019)

Rupert Lacey and Diana Somerville give as good as they get in this Battle of the Wills Edwardian romance. Brought back together after a broken engagement as a final act by Diana’s recently deceased brother, Rupert and Diana must navigate their way through the barriers of pride and misunderstanding, fuelled by lust and love, to reach their HEA. Unusual but excellent! – Megan Osmond

4 stars.

Tempt me with Diamonds by Jane Feather
London Jewels #1
Zebra | Historical | January 29, 2019

DUCHESS BY DECEPTION BY MARIE FORCE (January 29, 2019)

In her first attempt at historical romance, contemporary writer Marie Force gets a lot of things right. Setting her scene in 1902 is nicely unusual, and it gives her great scope to talk about technological advances of the day, which is all very interesting. Her Duke in Disguise plot is also quite enjoyable (though WHY does he lose his Dukedom if he doesn’t marry by the deadline? And also HOW?), and her On the Run heroine is a treat. But the rapidity with which the two fall for each other – not to mention the beta couple, who do likewise – and the odd sense of anachronism here and there (it’s like the book was originally written as a Regency, and then brought forward in time but the attitudes weren’t fully updated), mar the experience all out of proportion, making it a disjointed and not entirely satisfactory read. Which is a shame, because in many ways this is an excellent story well told. Still, there are flashes of burgeoning talent in the genre to be seen here, and it will be worth sticking with her, should Force continue to try her hand at it. – Rachel Hyland

3 stars.

Duchess by Deception by Marie Force
Zebra | Historical | January 29, 2019

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