she liked Imaginary Men best of all


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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Books Edition

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Hello Fangirls and welcome to our fourth and final edition of the Fangirls Fall Guide presented by yours truly and TV Recappers Anonymous superstar Julie Kushner. So far this month we’ve dished about TV shows we’re into, movies we love, music (and podcasts) we can’t get enough of and the websites and apps that keep us merrily clicking our days away. We’re very excited to talk to you about the books we are into— for reasons that will become clear very soon! As always we’re cross-posting at TV Recappers so let’s get to it!

Amy’s Picks

Snarky Goes to Hollywood by Julie Kushner: Start with one caustic college student with a vengeful chip on her shoulder…Add a suddenly studly childhood friend with a secret agenda…Mix in a hot, flirty, sometimes shirtless veterinarian…Sprinkle with some fabulous drag queen neighbors…Toss with an estranged father and evil superstar stepmother… Combine with a computer genius sidekick…Fold in clever pop culture references and observations on celebrity worship culture…garnish with adorable little doggies…

This is the recipe Julie blends together for her seventh novel “Snarky Goes to Hollywood” the smart, sassy, funny story of Snarky Esther Silverberg a, you guessed it, snarky girl whose parents named her after a TV character from a cheesy sitcom in their youth. But that’s not the worst thing her parents did to her—they divorced when her father invoked the rules of “The List” when he met the real “Snarky”—the actress who played the character on the beloved sitcom, and had an affair with her after first getting her mother’s permission to have a one night stand (as anyone who has ever watched “Friends” knows – there is “The Freebie List” of celebrities you are allowed to sleep with should you ever be given the opportunity).

Now in her first summer after college, Snarky has decided to get retribution on the woman she blames not only for her name but for her ruining her childhood, her family and her life, so she moves to LA for the summer with her best childhood friend Moody planning to destroy the life and reputation of the former TV Snarky, her stepmother Stephanie Andrews.

snarkyWhat seems like just a crazy tale of a girl on a revenge spree is quickly turned on its head when Snarky and Moody’s formerly platonic relationship starts setting off sparks (which may have something to do with Moody’s recent development of a six-pack!) When she’s not sparring with her best friend/possible romantic partner Snarky is locking lips with her sexy new boss Dr. Max the local veterinarian and Moody’s nemesis (did somebody say “love triangle”?) All the while Snarky and her work buddy/retaliation expert Groot work to bring down the impeccably curated life of glamorous Stephanie and by extension, Snarky’s father who abandoned her.

Julie’s writing is deft and fun while weaving some serious issues among the twists and turns in her protagonist’s journey: family ties and disappointments, challenged friendships and sexual awakenings, making choices and living with consequences. “Snarky Goes to Hollywood” is more than just a revenge tale but a unique look at one girl’s journey from a broken childhood to a sardonic young adult with plenty of hot boys, cute dogs, covert plans and pop culture in-jokes that keep the reader entertained along the way. Since Julie has whipped together this delightful concoction you should really have a taste!

Party of One by Dave Holmes: In the late 90s I was bit by the Boy Band Bug and religiously watched TRL and voted for Backstreet Boys videos like my very life depended on it. Oh, and I was in my late 20s, decidedly NOT the target demo for TRL. I became a huge Fangirl for Dave Holmes who sometimes hosted the show and would make me laugh over his excitement over Kevin Richardson’s eyebrows and one particularly enthusiastic Britney Spears back-up dancer. So when I heard Dave wrote a memoir I couldn’t wait to read it because his humor and pop culture savvy are so in line with my own. “Party of One” did not disappoint starting with the very first paragraph of the intro:

Of all the epic stories, both factual and fictional, that we have passed down through history, I identify most strongly with the journey of the Bee Girl in Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video.

BOOM. I was in. Dave’s memoir is about growing up knowing he was different and his struggles to find his own place to fit. It wasn’t just that he was gay—but gay and arty in a sporty mid-western family. His fevered interest in music and knowledge of bands set him apart in the various communities he moved through. And of course, being gay didn’t help in the pre-gay-marriage-is-legal era.

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My actual much tagged copy

Each chapter is titled after a song to form a playlist of his life story which is a clever device that will make you run to your iTunes going “Oh I FORGOT about that one!” I laughed so many times reading this and marked so many pages that I loved. It reminded me that since his MTV days I would like to be Dave Holmes Best Friend—or at the very least a casual acquaintance who can chat with him about 90210 plots (Chapter 10: The Man Who Sold the World), our shared appreciation for Robbie Williams (Chapter 12: Wannabe) and the cheesy joy of 1970s entertainment (Interlude: Seven Pieces of Pop Culture That Prevented Me from Leading a Normal Life).

I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself by Jen Kirkman: I work in a library and part of my job involves flipping through each book to check pagination, illustrations, etc. When I worked on “I Know What I’m Doing…” I happened to land on Jen’s list of all the warning bells she ignored when she got married and soon after that she was divorced. It sounded so eerily like my own wedding day red flags that I also ignored that I had to check the cover that I hadjen-kirkman not somehow, mysteriously written this book.

Like Dave, Jen is in my age bracket so a lot of her issues, complaints and desires often mirrored my own which again, made me eager to befriend her so we could discuss dumb boys from our post-divorce dating lives (Chapter 16: The Relationship Remodeler), feeling immature teen girl feelings as a mature adult woman (Chapter 9: Jen Cougar Mellencamp) and the joys of New Year’s Eve at home (Chapter 15: Dropping the Ball).

Jen is a stand-up comedian, a feminist and good writer. She is funny without trying to shock you but sharp enough that you’ll punch your fist in the air when she lands a particularly satisfying smack-down about something. Her comedy is confessional which means she does not mind embarrassing herself which makes this book feel like you are giggling with a girlfriend over an after work glass of wine and a generous cheese platter.

Julie’s Picks

The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines by Amy H. Johnson: I already gushed a bit about how awesome and fun Amy’s memoir is at the beginning of this blog series. But for those of you who haven’t loaded it into your Kindle library yet, here are a few more tidbits that could make “The Fangirl Files” one of the coolest books you will read all year.amy-j-fangirl-cover-only

 – This woman has lived! Haven’t used all your vacation days yet this year? Travel the world with Amy as she waves her Fangirl flag proudly in pursuit of her favorite rock legend, movie stars, and television protagonists. So many of us imagine booking that trip, seeing that show, going back stage to get that coveted autograph. But Amy has done these things many times over and lived to tell the tale. Her dedication and fearlessness should be an inspiration to us all.

 – Nostalgia is a beautiful thing: Whatever your age, no matter what you are into, we tend to mark our lives by the things that surrounded us when we were engaged in what will eventually become our most memorable moments. What was the first movie you ever saw in theaters? What song was playing when you experienced your first kiss or when you lost your virginity? What television series finale did all of your middle school friends just have to watch and analyze obsessively the next day at school? What rock star headlined the first concert you attended?

Amy understands this phenomenon instinctively and uses it to tell her life story, a story punctuated by great music, excellent movies, moody musicians, and dreamy film and television stars. And whether or not her favorites are the same as yours, rest assured, her tales will bring you back to times that will remind you of the simple pleasures in life.

 – Feminism and Friendship: Ladies we are living in a great time. A time when opportunities to explore, experience and succeed are available to us in ways they have never been before. Through Fangirling, Amy found herself and her passion for life. It gave her confidence, independence and a sense of purpose. It also gave her a network of amazing friends to experience all of this awesomeness right alongside of her! And who couldn’t use a little bit of that right about now?

So, what are you waiting for? Get Amy’s memoir in paperback or Kindle right now, and see if you have what it takes to be a true Fangirl!

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda: I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not usually a big fan of mystery novels. I find that they often sacrifice strong character development for clichéd twists, artificial red herrings, and a surprise ending that is generally more hollow and derivative than shocking.  missing-girls

That is not at all how I felt about “All the Missing Girls” by Megan Miranda. The characters were complex and well developed.   The narrator was relatable and smart.   The dual timeline story kept me guessing from page 1 to page “Please tell your Kindle how much you liked this book.” Speaking of a dual timeline story, the chief narrative of “All the Missing Girls” travels from BACKWARDS TO FORWARDS, which is exactly how I like to read novels! Spoilers first, actual plot trajectory second! It’s like that movie Memento, only the main characters are younger, hotter, and ride way more small-town ferris wheels!

So, if you are looking for a fast, fun, multiple murder mystery, with great characters, a few twists you won’t guess ahead of time, and a unique, expertly executed, non-linear timeline, make this is the next addition to your Fall 2016 To Be Read book pile.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: As you might have already gleaned from some of my picks, I’m an unapologetic diehard fan of all things young adult: whether it’s books, television shows or movies, if they feature characters of high school age, navigating the wide world of high school and the unbearably frustrating journey toward adulthood, I’m in 100%. By this point in my life, I’ve read pretty much every type of young adult novel out there . . . which is weird, because I didn’t even particularly like high school all that much.

serpentBut whether you like young adult books or not, I’d recommend “The Serpent King”, because it’s just a damn good book. It’s well written. It’s poignant. It’s hopeful, but in a realistic and honest way that doesn’t undermine some of the harsher things it’s trying to say about small impoverished towns and the often limited opportunities available to people who grow up within them.

Nothing irks me more than a young adult book where all the teens sound like 55-year olds, or, worse, professional stand-up comedians / sitcom stars, custom tailored with zingy one-liners for every situation. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen here. Dill, Travis and Lydia are three very unique characters hailing from a wide range of different backgrounds, despite their neighboring addresses. But Zentner is able to make each of their narrative voices feel, not only distinct from one another, but genuine as three flawed teenagers struggling to overcome a small-minded town that, for one reason or another, has already written each of them off in some way. Reading narration from real likable teens who are just as awkward, at times inarticulate and bumbling as I was at that age (and sometimes still am) was just super refreshing.

Oh, and it will make you blubber like a baby, so keep that box of Kleenex handy.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer: Generally speaking, I tend to be a bit loath to pick up a memoir, because I often find them to be a bit self-aggrandizing and/or self-indulgent. Too many times I’ve been burned by a memoir where the author downplays his or her own flaws and portrays him or herself as a victim of others’ shortcomings. That said, I actually read two memoirs this year that I genuinely enjoyed, both of which went a long way toward altering, or at least softening, my anti-memoir stance.

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When I first heard Amy Schumer wrote a memoir, my first thought was, “300 pages of booze and penis jokes, with a smattering of awkward sexual experiences thrown in for good measure.” And though that’s not the type of book I typically rush to grab, at the time, I had just come down from reading a super dark and depressing novel, and booze and penis jokes seemed to me like a real nice change of pace.

And there are a lot of booze and penis jokes / hilariously awkward sexual experiences thrown into this book, I’m not going to lie. But what surprised me was how insightful, genuine, and honest Amy was throughout the memoir, and how much she reminded me of myself in some of the chapters…except, you know, I’m not famous or the least bit talented in the art of acting / standup comedy.

Like me, and, perhaps many of you bookworms out there, Amy is actually an introvert, a revelation that shocked me more than perhaps even the juicier personal tidbits she offers up in this tome. She also battles the same type of insecurities we all have toward her weight and personal appearance, despite appearing on television as this uber confident super woman. I liked that Amy is open and honest with herself about her flaws and shortcomings, throughout the novel. And I was genuinely touched by her recounting of some of her experiences with her father, who suffers from M.S.

I also feel like a lot of women can learn a thing or two from Amy’s experiences with rape and domestic abuse. The fact that a strong, confident and successful woman is being open about the fact that she found herself in an abusive relationship goes a long way toward fighting the stigmatization of domestic abuse victims as weak and passive people. And that may help others suffering in similar relationships seek the courage to remove themselves from these dangerous situations or at least seek help.

In short, even if, like me, you hate memoirs, read Amy Schumer’s. Come for the booze and penis jokes, stay for the honesty, humility and important insights.

And there you have it—all our picks for fans and Fangirls alike! We hope you enjoyed and found some things that you can’t wait to read/watch/listen to and let us know what you’re into this season in the comments!

For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.


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Band Dynamic Documentaries

Tonight VH1 is premiering the Backstreet Boys documentary Show em What You’re Made Of and I think you should watch it. I say this not as a BSB fan but as a fan of anything that involves uncovering the fascinating world of band dynamics.

I recently read Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac because for my money there is no band with more incredibly complex, deranged inter-band dynamics then Fleetwood Mac. Marriage between members? Check. Affairs between members? Check. Break-ups between members who then make the person they dumped sing songs about how awful their break-up was on-stage to thousands of fans? CHECK. Their episode of Behind the Music is well worth 45 minutes of your life.

Less romantically tangled but just as fascinating to this U2 fanatic is the near destruction of the band pre-Achtung Baby detailed in Bill Flanagan’s U2: At the End of the World and explored further in the band’s own documentary on the experience in From the Sky Down. Coming off of a decade of unparalleled success the members find themselves on opposing sides when it comes time to define themselves for the 90’s and nearly fall apart until they stumble into One.

And the king of all band dynamic documentaries is surely Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster which details abrupt departures, rehab stints, long buried animosities, and the band partaking in some of the craziest “group therapy” you’ll ever see. I am not a Metallica fan but I was enraptured by this film and the exploration of the complexities of being in a band and staying in a band, sharing your life, livelihood, emotions and talents with multiple other people who may not always have the same agenda or investment.

Which brings me back to the Backstreet Boys and their documentary detailing the making of their latest album In a World Like This and the subsequent tour. I watched it on VOD when it as released a few months ago and it hits all the sweet spots of a good band dynamic documentary: the camaraderie and frictions, the long-standing tensions and love for each other and the music. There was always a lot of backstage drama with BSB – the contract lawsuits, Brian’s heart problems, AJ’s addictions, Nick’s arrests – they were basically a documentary waiting to happen. The group visits to each member’s childhood home reveals a lot about each guy not just to the audience but to their other band members (the one to Nick Carter’s elementary school and his reunion with a teacher who supported him is heartbreaking as Nick’s very raw breakdown at the memory of what a lonely little boy he was and what kindness and faith this woman showed him is difficult to watch.)

So I don’t think you have to be a fan of a particular band to find their story and their relationships interesting. In some cases seeing the non-glossy, not-so-glamorous reality of what being in a band is actually like makes me appreciate them in a way I wouldn’t have if it was just about listening to their music. Check out any of these docs I’ve mentioned and you can start tonight on VH1 🙂


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“The Era of Boy Bands Never Ends”

Heaven knows I love Boy Bands and I especially love when Boy Bands mix it up to form Mega Boy Bands. Well now to add to the mix we have a new Boy Band duo Nick & Knight!:

I’m loving the album and also enjoying the PR Tour the boys have been doing this week. They’ve been pretty tireless on TV and even in fancypants Time Magazine! And I love this bit on CNN because presenter Lisa France knows her stuff and has a quote I want embroidered on a pillow:

The era of the Boy Band never ends – it just ebbs and flows

Hell yeah! (and BTW the dude interviewing her is such a dick. Don’t give me the dismissive, “they don’t play instruments” line – WHO CARES! They DANCE which takes a whole lot of talent and they have had far longer careers than many instrument players!)

I’m really excited to see them in October and the show should be awesome with the new songs which are great for dancing, some Backstreet and New Kids stuff and a whole lot of nifty dancing from two of the best dancers in their respective groups. Plus they seem to be having so much fun together and you can really see they have a great chemistry and are excited about doing something different. And they are really good sports about some of their less cool history!

You can follow the Boy here and the Kid here (and obviously they need no introduction if you’re reading this blog 😉 )


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Oh my god I’m back again!

Sooooo – long time, no blog yet apparently people are still coming here to read old posts which is pretty cool considering I haven’t posted anything in almost 15 months!

When I left you I was swooning about The World’s Best Boyfriend who, I’m happy to report is still fulfilling that role. I still love me some Imaginary Men but of course spending time with a Real Guy does take away from my sitting-up-all-night-blogging-time (so does a new wake-up call of 6AM – ACK!)

What else? Oh I just, you know – bought a house. Yes after several years of commitment phobia I went and got a relationship AND a mortgage within a year of each other. You would think I am a GROWN-UP or something!

Don't you love my new house?? (this is not my new house)

Don’t you love my new house?? (this is not my new house)

So plenty of energy that used to be dedicated to fantasizing about Pacey’s Pea Coats or Dreamy Vampire Brothers has been funneled into really sexy thoughts like bathroom remodels, caulking tools and home heating conversions (I know, I know – my life is VERY VERY COOL. Control yourself.)

And I guess some of my interests have changed and my need to write about them obsessively waned. I think that’s normal and I certainly still love a lot of things that are on this site (I’m looking at you Dowager Countess) and have discovered new interests because that’s what life is about – you grow and change and some things make the cut and some don’t.

I do have a confession to make and that is that I may now be less your Fun Sassy Girlfriend and more your Fun Sassy Grandma. The evidence: this winter I read two biographies of Frank Sinatra (speaking of obsessions – HOW could we not see Ronan Farrow is CLEARLY his kid?!) I got hooked on listening to the Cole Porter station on Pandora and when I saw The Fault in our Stars instead of getting all swoony for teen dream boat Augustus I kept thinking, “can we spend more time with Hazel’s parents? Because they seem really fun and awesome.” I’d like to think it was just residual feelings for Sam Trammell now that I’ve missed the last few seasons of True Blood – but I think it’s because I’m Your Grandma and Laura Dern seems really fun to hang out with (even when she’s pretending her daughter is dying of cancer so bravo for that specialized talent!)

But! I quoted the Backstreet Boys up above AND just saw them in concert (and got to keep my  Concert Bitch in check) and because Boy Bands are Never Not Awesome. I have some fun news coming up in the next week so I hope you’ll welcome me back into the big wide blogging world and that I remember how to link shit 🙂

 


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The way that you drop your cash gets me overwhelmed

A few weeks ago I was in NYC for the day and discovered that One Direction has their own store!

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Apparently it is a “pop-up store” which means it’s not permanent and is probably cashing in on the current 1D hysteria/Christmas shopping season. And while that’s lovely for all the One Directions fans I want to know how come we never had a Backstreet Boys Store?!?!? We had to make our own damn Christmas stockings and nesting dolls!

In related news I’ve decided that Pretty Boy Louis Tomlinson is who my Inner 14 YO girl would be writing “Mrs. Louis Tomlinson” all over her notebooks for. However, my actual grown-ass woman self wishes he’d do something about his hair:

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I just – what is happening up there Louis? Cut it and spike it and I’ll run out to your store and buy your doll!

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Oh and since every good Fangirl has to have a back-up I choose Liam Payne who looks kind of thuggish but still adorable:

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Long Live the Boy Band!!!!


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He’s real and he’s spectacular!

So the last few years I’ve had all this trouble with Stupid Real Life Boys. And of course I have a lot of Imaginary Boyfriends. But something funny happened recently – I got myself a Real Live Not At All Douchey and in Fact Totally Amazing Real Life Boyfriend!! I KNOW!! RIGHT?!??

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Just how amazing is he? Well he walked into my 16 Year Old Girl Bedroom home office which contains (among other things): an enormous Brandon Flowers poster, Backstreet Boys nesting dolls, Vampire Diaries paraphenalia, and a Wall of Men 3.0 – and instead of turning on his heels and running he exclaimed with utter enthusiasm:

This is awesome!

Did you hear that? It was my heart having joyful palpitations 😉

And he doesn’t bat an eye at my crazy shenanigans of chasing bands and obsessing on TV shows! He even offered to see Magic Mike with me! AND he said with absolutely no prompting whatsoever – that if a Backstreet Boys museum existed “I would go with you.” Did you get that part? How I didn’t even ask that?!? (and for the record – why doesn’t that exist goddamnit?!? I already have a date for it!)

I feel like anytime I talk about him I turn into a total gushing girlie. He’s a bit of a fanboy himself about movies and directors – breathlessly calling the night he got to meet one of his directing idols, “the best night of my life” which I took as one of the signs we were on the same wavelength about the stuff we love. He’s so great and he’s CUTE! Let me just say that his celebrity doppelganger is someone we like to call Jake Gyllenhaal:

Laugh it up Jake – you’ve been replaced!

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A friend of mine said, “you’ve obsessed so much on imaginary men that it’s almost like you dreamed him up!” And if it weren’t for the fact that she and other people have also seen/heard/observed that he is indeed a real guy and not one in my head – it makes this exchange from last week all the sweeter:

Setting: Save a Prayer by Duran Duran is on TV

Me: That’s my husband John Taylor

Him: Hi John Taylor!

Me: I mean, you don’t have to worry because I’ve been waiting for him to marry me since I was 13 – but if he WERE to show up – I would have to leave you

Him: OK. You should tweet him and tell him he’s your husband

Me: DON’T THINK I HAVEN’T TRIED!!!!

Even better – one found me that thinks I’m perfect the way I am – in all my Crazy Fangirl Glory and really, what more can one ask for?


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Back to Backstreet School!

Recently re-joined Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson posted this today – the fellas on their way to the studio in London to begin recording their new album!:

Looks like a First Day of School on the Bus picture and Nick is excited because this year he WILL be Teacher’s Pet! Good luck Boys!!!