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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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Music Edition (and bonus picks!)

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Hello Fangirls and welcome to part 3 of the Fangirls Fall Guide by yours truly and Miss Julie Kushner author of TV Recappers Anonymous (where you will also find this series cross-posted).

Speaking of recaps – so far we’ve talked about TV we love and movies that excite us and today we’re pleased to present our top picks in music for your listening enjoyment. In the words of Billy on the Street Billy Eichner: And away – we – go!

Amy’s Picks

Music you should listen to: I watch a show online called Out of Ireland. I like to save a few episodes and then put them on while I’m puttering around my kitchen on a weekend morning. I pretend I’m in my house that happens to be in Dublin! An episode this summer featured a video by the band Walking on Cars. I didn’t pay too much attention to the visuals as I was doing something domestic, but the song “Speeding Cars” sent tingles along my spine. Then I watched the video which is gorgeous and mystical (although not the visuals you expect for a song about an affair!) Finding their debut CD Everything This Way was difficult stateside and I ended up with an import. But this is the kind of music that gets me in the heart and soul. Driving, majestic, U2-esque melodies and emotional lyrics. I don’t think I singlehandedly am going to make Walking on Cars “happen” in the US, but I highly recommend checking them out on Spotify. Some really beautiful and energetic songs perfectly suited for being heard in a stadium full of chanting voices.

 

Music I am beside myself excited for: America I will never forgive you for not embracing Robbie Williams. The English mega pop star sells out stadiums throughout Europe, yet I saw him in a club venue in Boston in 1999 which, is likely the last time he ever toured here. Robbie is cheeky and outrageous. His music is often bombastic and ridiculous and he delivers it with such smirk on his face and sparkle in his eye you can’t help but get into it. Plus it’s catchy as HELL. I don’t think anyone captures the ups and downs of fame better in contemporary pop music: the love/hate of adulation, the dangers of temptation and the thrills of celebrity. On one track he’ll tell you, “I am scum”(Come Undone) and the next he’s proclaiming “I’m the one who put the Brit in celebrity” (Handsome Man) He has a new album called The Heavy Entertainment Show coming out on my birthday although sadly, I won’t be in England to get it so I’ll have to patiently wait for my lovely friend Felicity to supply me with a copy which I will play endlessly while proclaiming, “DAMN YOU AMERICA!!!”

Julie’s Picks

Music you should listen to: Meghan Trainor. For those of you out there who may have wrote off this young ingénue as a teeny bopping pop star after her first album, which, most notably, included the catchy ear worm “All About That Bass“, and the 50’s nostalgic “Dear Future Husband,” take another look. Meghan’s second album, Thank You is edgy, sassy, mature, and will make you dance uncontrollably, even when you are in places you shouldn’t be dancing (like at work, or on the NYC subway). And the song lyrics are just great. Are you having an off day? Feeling down on yourself? Check out “Me Too” (“If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.”), and your confidence will resurge in no time. Heading for a night out with the girls, you need to be playing “No,” while you are getting ready. It will make you laugh and put you in a great mood just in time to hit the dance floor. (“My name is No. My sign is No. My number is No. You need to let it go.”) Indeed!

 

Music I am excited to hear: The Weeknd – Starboy  It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict that this is going to be the album blowing up everybody’s Spotify this winter. Every song these guys put out there almost automatically seems like chart topping gold. And their range is so diverse. The sultry “Earned It” feels like it comes from a completely different universe from the haunting “The Hills,” and the bass thumping, booty shaking “Can’t Feel My Face.” Need more evidence? The first single off the album came out on September 28th, less than three days later it had 19 million hits on YouTube. That’s insane! Out: November 25

Bonus! Our fave podcasts for your listening enjoyment!

Amy’s Pick

I have a very particular taste in podcasts. I don’t like anything of the genre I call “Two Guys Pontificating” in which two dudes like hearing themselves talk for over an hour. This is not sexist as I also don’t like “Two Girls Pontificating” either. I prefer my podcasts to have a narrative and structure. I don’t want to spend an hour with two people of any gender basically having an often tedious personal conversation that they somehow believe should be shared with a larger audience. That is why I am such a huge fan of You Must Remember This, which “explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I LOVE The Golden Age of Hollywood and all the stars and scandals so already I was sold on this concept.

But creator Karina Longworth does the work. Every episode is meticulously researched and when she does series, such as “MGM Stories” or the recent “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford” each episode is a chapter that builds on the last and prepares you for the next. Not only is the material fascinating but it is one of the best constructed podcasts I’ve ever heard. If you think the Brangelina divorce is explosive, you should hear what some of the original movie stars were up to behind closed doors in our supposedly “more innocent” history. Recommend: Star Wars Episode III Hedy Lamarr, Frank Sinatra in Outer Space.

Julie’s Pick

Serial, Season 1: Before Making of a Murderer gained a cult following, and took Netflix by storm…before True Crime became as mainstream as reality talent shows, there was a much beloved, but little known by the general public podcast called This American Life, produced by an enterprising woman named Sarah Koenig, who introduced us to the obsession we now know as SerialIn 1999, 18-year old Hae Min Lee, then a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, was murdered. Her body was found in the nearby Leakin Park, hastily buried in a shallow grave. The cause of death: manual strangulation. The chief suspect: Adnan Sayed, also a senior at Woodlawn High School, and Hae Min’s former boyfriend.

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There were a number of “bad facts” that pointed to Adnan as Hae Min’s killer. Cell phone towers pinged his location to be close to the murder site around the time the murder was said to have occurred. Witnesses saw Adnan offer Hae Min a ride home from school in his car that day. And, perhaps most damning of all, an associate of Adnan’s Jay Wilds admitted to helping Adnan bury Hae Min’s body.

Adnan was eventually arrested, tried and convicted of Hae Min Lee’s murder. But did he actually do it? Was the trial against him fair? Did he receive adequate counsel from his lawyer, who was disbarred shortly thereafter? Throughout this binge-worthy series that has spawned thousands of obsessive fansites to catalog and extensively discuss each aspect of the case, Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of exploring and unpacking, what, up until this point was a locally known “cold case” mystery. Without taking sides or placing blame, Sarah, through her investigations raises some very important questions, about the reliability of eyewitness testimony, particularly when most of those witnesses are teenagers, the accuracy of cell phone records, particularly in 1999, when the technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, and the necessity of a good defense attorney, and whether the lack of one prevents an accused person from receiving a fair trial. Sarah even interviews Adnan himself from jail numerous times, allowing viewers to judge for themselves whether he is, in fact, guilty.

The popularity of Serial (to date the podcasts have received over 80 million downloads) and its reinvigoration of interest in Adnan’s case, actually turned the tide of justice, resulting in Adnan receiving a new trial, nearly a decade after his initial conviction. So, if you aren’t one of those 80 million downloads, I highly recommend you jump on this bandwagon and enter the cult that is Series 1 of Serial. I promise you, you won’t sleep until you’ve heard the entire series from start to finish…

Get your tablets and smartphones ready because next time we tackle websites and apps!

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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Let him entertain me!!

I finally watched my DVR’d Royal Jubilee shows and was cautiously hopeful that ABC would actually let me see “Mayor of Britain” Robbie Williams who opened the show with a lively version of his classic “Let Me Entertain You.” But because ABC is American Broadcasting Corporation and America does not GET HOW BRILLIANT ROBBIE WILLIAMS IS, instead I had to curse my way through f’ing will.i.am who, BTW is not even English!!

So thank you to my darling Candy Soulmate Felicity (who IS English, so there will.i.am!) who found me a lovely clip of Robbie’s performance that had everything you could hope for in an English concert: a Royal Guards drum corps, regal fanfare, bouncing Londoners along the Mall, a string section, a sea of  Union Jacks and an English superstar in a monogrammed “uniform” giving a quick crotch grab in front of two future Kings of England:

When he came on I’m not even kidding when I say I fist pumped! “Hell! YEAH! Robbie!” So listen up ABC – when this man asks to entertain you – YOU LET HIM.


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Robbie is Trouble

I’ve recently been renewing my love affair with cheeky monkey Robbie Williams and his fabulous catalog of catchy, clever poptastic tunes. It never ceases to annoy me that he’s not famous here and therefore hasn’t bothered touring the US again. When I was in England I bought his latest CD because it felt like a proper British thing to do 😉

Last night I found this video which made me love Robbie even more:

This of course is a homage to The One, The Only, The King:

Robbie is such a fun and charismatic performer, it’s fabulous to see him take on an iconic performance like this one. The lyrics of this song Handsome Man are an entertaining notion of fame as a combination of cockiness and vulnerability that he does so very well. And this line in particular never ceases to make me giggle:

You can’t argue with popularity

Well you could

But you’d be wrong

It’s funny because it’s true!


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Why I love my blog

These are the kind of searches I get here:

I LOVE YOU PEOPLE!!!!

 


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25 Days / Day 4 / Robbie Williams

WHAT IS THIS?

Who: Robbie Williams, former boybander, solo British singing superstar, the definition of “cheeky monkey”

Why: Love his voice. Love his poptastic music. Love his clever lyrics. Love his naughty sense of humor. Love that he may be kind of insane

When: Late 90’s-present

Level of Obsession: A co-worker was going to England a few years ago and I begged her to get me his album that was out then because you couldn’t get it in the states (it was a pre-iTunes world). She also brought me back a book!

“Ahhhh!” Moment(s): When heard I first the first few notes of No Regrets off The Ego Has Landed I said “I love this song. I love this guy. It sounds like London. I want it.” The sly, sassy, winking take on James Bond in the Millennium video

Robbie is a huge star in the rest of the world. HUGE! He was a boybander, he got fat and drug addicted, he got lean and sober, he sells out massive football stadiums in Europe several times over. Yet America does not get him at all. I saw him in a club in Boston and it was a phenomenal show. He’s an ultimate showman and when he sings Let Me Entertain You he’s not fucking around. He has brilliant lyrics that run the gamut from rude and hilarious, “What’s the point in hating me / You can’t argue with popularity / Well you could / But you’d be wrong” (Handsome Man), to the tender and poignant, “You see the trouble with you / Is you’re in love with me / What a strange thing to do / What a brave place to be” (The Trouble With Me). And the audience sing-alongs for his redemption song Angels will give you shivers.