What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week:

How Hollywood Taught Rebel Wilson to Lie About Her Age (Buzzfeed)

If you’ve been following the news of a source “revealing” that Rebel Wilson has lied about her age, then this is an interesting piece worth reading.  Anne Helen Peterson is great and I will read anything with her byline.  This piece takes a critical look at Hollywood’s expectations on women throughout history:

Our expectation for total transparency when it comes to celebrities’ histories is a relatively new phenomenon, borne of the ease with which anyone can play amateur archaeologist with another’s past. “Authenticity” is no longer judged by a star’s commitment to her art, or an ability to portray the truth of an experience through that art, but the absolute fidelity with which she has represented every aspect of herself.

It’s a really, really interesting piece and well worth your time.

Why Does Being Single Still Feel so Pathetic? (Dame Magazine)

This thoughtful piece about a new book by Kate Bolick, called Spinster, asks some interesting questions about the identities of women in the modern age, namely: are women people yet?

Which is to say: Are women able to develop identities that are independent of their relationship status—wife, mother, singleton, etc.—or are we still primarily defined this way?

There’s a lot of really good criticism here, as well as links to other super smart women exploring the topic.  The article ends with this thought:

It’s not Bolick’s fault that male desire shelters women from scorn. But until women writing about singleness no longer feel compelled to set themselves up as the cool girl who either has a man—or could get one at any time—I’d say the answer to her question is no, we’re not people yet.

Book Review: The List by Joanna Bolouri

Phoebe Henderson decides that because it’s the new year, it’s time for her to try something new.  Determined to get over her loser ex-boyfriend after mooning over him for close to a year, she comes up with a list of 10 things she wants to try over the course of a year.  The 10 things are all sex-related things she’s always been interested in but has never had the guts to attempt.  Over the course of the year, Phoebe embarks on a journey of self-discovery, learning things about herself and her friends she never dreamed possible.

An impulse grab just before checking out at the library, Joanna Bolouri’s The List was a delight from start to finish.  Funny, frank, and absolutely unafraid to go to weird places, this is a laugh-out-loud trip through one woman’s quest of sexual discovery.  It’s compulsively readable, smart, and wholly entertaining.

Phoebe’s voice is well-developed, and the repartee she shares with her best friend (and friend-with-benefits) Oliver is pitch perfect.  Her other friendships are well-defined, and the interactions she shares with them throughout the course of the book lend the story a warmth and authenticity that helps make the entire plot all the more believable.  There’s quick, witty banter in these pages, guaranteed to entertain readers looking for whip-smart dialogue.

Although the novel hews fairly closely to the tropes of rom-coms the world over, it does so in a fresh way.  There are few actual surprises to be found here, but there are a lot of genuinely funny one-liners and observations about sex, dating, and life in your thirties.  This is pure reading pleasure, and readers looking for fun summer escapism won’t be disappointed.  I loved this one.

Recommended.

The List by Joanna Bolouri. Quercus: 2015. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Expected Release Date: June 16, 2015

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

(summary via Goodreads)

This looks like a cute little romance read for the summer.  Although some sources compare it to Susane Colasanti and Sarah Dessen (I’m not sure those are readalike authors, even), I think this is probably going to skew closer to the Colasanti side of things.  At any rate, I’m sure it will be a quick read, good for an afternoon escape.

What are you waiting on this week?

My Weekend in Pop Culture

It’s been more than a while since I did one of these.  These are the pop culture goodies I consumed this weekend.

babadookThe Babadook: After several weeks of cajoling J. into watching this with me, I finally got him to sit down with me (because I was too scared to watch it alone).  I’m not sure that it was actually as scary as I anticipated, but it was an interesting, smart little horror movie.  I love that it was written and directed by a woman (Jennifer Kent), but that kid was ANNOYING.

john belushiJohn Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles: This book has been on my radar for a few years, but I finally grabbed a copy at the library and couldn’t put it down.  It was so, so good.  Smart, sad, and achingly real.  This is gritty YA at its best.  Highly recommended.  I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while yet.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

Movie News and Randomness

It’s been a while since I talked about movie news that’s got me interested or angry.  Without further ado, here are five tidbits that caught my eye this week:

1. Magic Mike XXL Trailer 

I’m sure I linked to the original teaser trailer when it basically broke the internet months ago, but here’s another, longer trailer.  The movie looks ridiculous, which is fine–and I can’t wait to see it.  I don’t think it’s going to be as (actually) good as the first movie was, but that’s also ok.  It looks like it’s going to be a metric ton of fun, and definitely one worth seeing in a theater with an audience.

2. A Remake of The Craft is in the works

And I’ll see it, even though I’m not sure it’s necessary (although with all the focus on witchcraft lately, I’m surprised this didn’t get thrown into production earlier).  For the time being, a woman is attached to write and direct the movie, which helps. (THR)

3. Paper Towns Trailer

Manic! Pixie! Dream! Girl! This one might as well be called The Fault in Our Stars 2 because that is what the studio is hoping for.  I will probably eventually see this one, but it won’t be in the theater.  UGH.  UGH.  UGH.

4. The Wolfpack (finally has a) trailer

I’ve been hearing amazing buzz about this documentary for a long time, and I can’t wait to see it. So the fact that the trailer is everything I was hoping for is really heartening.  I can’t wait to see this one–the trailer is absolutely riveting and haunting.  Watch it.

5. Crimson Peak Trailer

The film is done by Guillermo del Toro, so it’s going to be visually stunning, and it looks like a pretty creepy ghost story, which I’m always up for.  It’s got a great cast and looks like it’s going to be fun.  I can’t wait.

Waiting on Wednesday: Like it Never Happened by Emily Adrian

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Like it Never Happened by Emily Adrian

Expected Release Date: June 2, 2015

When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.

Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.

(summary via Goodreads)

This looks like it’s going to be a fun, light summer read.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to be ground-breaking, but it does look like it’s going to be entertaining.  The perfect way to waste an afternoon on a hot summer day, in my opinion.  Plus, theater nerds always make for the best ramped up self important drama.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Now that Peyton, Sydney’s older brother has gone to prison for a drunk driving accident, her parents finally have to deal with the fact that he’s not the charismatic golden boy they’ve always thought he was.  Always playing second fiddle to Peyton, Sydney has to deal with the fact that the attention is on her for the first time, but she also struggles with her place within her own family.  When she meets the Chatham family and starts spending time at their family pizza parlor, she finds a family so unlike her own.

There’s a reason why Sarah Dessen is one of the biggest names in YA, and it is on display here in her latest offering.  Saint Anything offers readers so much of what they love when it comes to the world of Dessen: sweet, thoughtful prose, authentic characters, and gentle exploration of growing up.  The result is a compelling novel about a girl trying to find her place in her family while also dealing with the harsh realities of life.  It’s a satisfying, sweet read, guaranteed to satiate seasoned Dessen fans as well as win her new ones.

Sharp, unique details bring each of the book’s characters into focus.  Sydney is well drawn, as is Mac, the brother of her new best friend Layla, and their tentative romance is plentiful when it comes to chemistry.  Her burgeoning friendship with Layla is as real as can be, and all of this helps make the book work on multiple levels.  Dessen’s only missteps are with Sydney’s mother, who feels a little one-note at times (though Sydney’s frustration with her mother’s inability to really hear her is achingly real), and with Ames, Peyton’s friend from rehab.  There are moments where it’s hard to figure out what Ames’s end-game is, which is Dessen’s point, but there are other moments where his behavior is so over-the-top he might as well be twirling his mustache mischievously.  Luckily, these minor missteps don’t derail the book, and the overall result is satisfying and emotionally resonant.

A rich novel with memorable characters and emotional resonance.  This is guaranteed to be a hit with teens, and won’t stay on shelves for long.  Highly recommended.  This is Dessen at her best.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. Viking Juvenile: 2015. Purchased copy.