60 Books In 2019 #29: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

I missed reading, “The Book,” for a few years because after I stopped commuting into Manhattan but before I started writing about my reading here, I didn’t read much except for series that I was already invested in.

Where’d You Go Bernadette was the book in 2012, but it didn’t seem like something that I’d like. (I don’t know, there were no vampires in it, I guess?) I’m sorry for putting this book off because it’s a sheer delight.

Bernadette Fox is the kind of bohemian genius that gets pushed a lot in fiction. She’s utterly brilliant, completely unconventional and as an old friend puts it, due to her mental illness causing her to stop working, “a menace to society.”

Where’d You Go Bernadette? is focused through the eyes of the people around the woman herself, mainly her adoring daughter Bee.

In addition to being a traditional, crazy brilliant artist story, Where’d You Go Bernadette? has a sharp sense of humor about the city of Seattle, the tech industry and social striving. There’s also this whole thing about Antarctica.

I don’t want to talk to much about the plot, which unfolds quickly and is actually important to the impact of the book. I will note that lots of the story comes through emails and notes, which makes this technically! YES! EPISTOLARY! I love epistolary novels! You all know this, I’ve talked about it before.

Anyway, the movie of Bernadette comes out in a few months and I hope it’s good. Because this book made me so very happy. Just deeply joyful for the way writing and stories work.

Up next is Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles. I’ve liked Bareiles’s music since the first time I heard “Love Song,” in college. I’ve only grown to admire her more, and you know there’s the Waitress of it all. Where’

Nerd Homework: Supernatural Seasons 13 & 14

Well, reader, we’re finished.

For the moment. I’m nervous and excited for season 15. But first let’s talk about seasons 13 and 14.

We need to talk about Jack. My god, I love Jack. I love the whole whacky “My 3 (4) Dads” dynamic. He’s a precious baby who needs to be protected from everything. Especially himself. And his biological father, who is the literal devil, but you know…mostly himself and his powers.

And then there’s the shipping. While it should never, even for a second, be denied that I am shiptastic garbage, I was surprised by the depth and intensity that I fell for Destiel. Slash has never particularly been my thing,. (Save StormPilot, OBVIOUSLY.) And in fact, I often found Slash Shippers frustrating. Not because I didn’t also thirst for representation,(There’s a reason why Sara Lance and Rosa Diaz jumped to the top of the fave list, y’all.) but because it often felt like something of a reach.

But here’s the about seasons 13 & 14 of Supernatural. If Dean and Castiel aren’t a couple, the seasons don’t really make a lot of sense. They act like a couple, fight like a couple, co parent like a couple…it’s just, there. But never said outloud. It’s frustrating, but also, like so so so obvious.

I’m also shipping Rowena and Sam, but that’s more because my brain has a pathological need to pair people off, and also because I love a good doomed love story. Remember, Sam is fated to kill her. IT’S JON AND DANY ALL OVER AGAIN EXCEPT WITHOUT THE INCEST AND DRAGONS. (Also not shitty) (I would not be surprised if Rowena did have a dragon though…tbh…)

Gabriel’s return was a welcome surprise, as was Nick (Lucifer’s Vessel) turning serial killer as revenge. And then there’s the 300th episode which is mostly just an excuse to sit rocking back and forth while sobbing saying, “Why Chuck? WHYYYY?????”

From John’s return, to Mary’s devestation as they realize they can’t keep him with them, to John and Sam making peace, finally, to Dean having to kill Cas, there’s just so much that’s happening and I love it very much, but also, well, it hurts, you know, the feelings?

Mary’s death is the worst, and I hate it, and I’m in denial. But I’m sure she’ll come back next season. (I’m hoping for Crowley to, to be honest.)

And speaking of “Why, Chuck? Why?” Guess who’s going to be the biggest of the big bads? I mean it makes sense. Dean and Sam have killed just about everything else, so they might as well kill God too. Like in His Dark Materials! Only with more feelings. Somehow. Those books also have a lot of feelings. And gayer. Definitely, definitely gayer.

I’m excited for the final season, which I will do my level best to watch in real time, but will probably end up like all of the DC CW shows where I watch until the first hiatus, forget to check when it’s coming back and then decide to just wait until the end of the season to binge the whole thing. (See also, Girlfriend, Crazy Ex) But I am going to try. Because damnit, over the past six months I’ve grown to love this dumb monster show and it’s stupid pretty boys, and their insufferable feelings.

I didn’t even talk about the Scooby Doo episode which is delightful, but that’s about all there is to say about that.

So what’s next? I’ve got about 20 episodes of Clone Wars left, so we’ve got that to push through. Then I’m going to invest in some anime. Aless and I started My Hero Academia, so I’ll go with that. I’ve got Rebels on the horizon as well, plus the aformentioned CW DC shows.

There’s stuff coming is the point. So crank some tunes, and shut your cakehole. This one’s done.


60 Books In 2019 #28: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella provides two things that I love more than anything, love letters to fandom, and specifically cosplay, and a take on the Cinderella story which I love so much.

Our Ella this time around is Danielle Wittimer, Elle to her friends, of whom she has few since her father died and her step mother’s parenting ranges from neglectful to outright abusive and her step sisters, twins Chloe and Calliope, keep her peers socially isolated from her. (Poston choosing the name Calliope made me happy. Rodgers and Hammerstein use it too!)

Elle works at a vegan food truck, and she otherwise spends time online writing about Starfield a 70s Sci-Fi show she used to watch with her father. When a reboot is announced Elle is sceptical, but she eventually finds herself rengaging with fandom IRL because of our Prince.

Our Prince is Darien Freeman, a teen soap newbie who is cast as Prince Carmindor in said reboot. He’s a Starfield superfan,  but the fandom’s decided he’s a clueless noob who’s not worthy of the part. (Elle is in fact spearheading the internet campaign against him.) Due to some shenanigans, the two wind up texting anonymously and quickly fall in nerdy adorable love.

The ball in question is a Cosplay Masquerade at Excelsicon, the nerd con founded by Elle’s father. And the pair finally meet in person and also get their act together regarding their dysfunctional families. (Darien’s intense manager father has also been making his life more difficult than necessary.)

Elle’s fairy godmother is her queer LOTR obsessed coworker, Sage, who I adored. (natch) Darien has a great assistant, and his snotty costars, a pair of indie darling actors who I’m pretty sure Poston modeled on a certain vampire soon to be Dark Knight and his blank faced mumbly paramour. (Well, actually, Jessica, the female lead seems to be a mix of Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence, but, Calvin, the other dude is very clearly Pattinson and it’s kind of great.)

I really enjoyed this book. It hit the Cinderella beats well. (It’s my favorite story, so you know, I’m critical.) It presents the best and worst of fandom clearly, with a serious focus on con culture and the silliness of some of it. Darien and Elle are both great. (Though I prefer Darien, a rarity for me to like the male lead of this kind of book better.) There’s a second book in this series, and I’m looking forward to it.

But first! Up next is Where’d You Go Bernadette? which I’ve already gotten a good chunk into and is utterly charming. 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3

If Season 2 is about complicity and begining to fill in shades of grey, Season 3 is about living in that grey.

It’s also about how Anakin categorically rejects his chances at turning away from the dark side, over and over again. It’s about Ahsoka beginning to see she doesn’t quite fit with the way the Jedi do things. It’s about Obi-Wan seeing the world he knows collapsing around him. It’s about Padme realizing that she might be on the wrong side.

And it’s just so good. The weird wrinkles that form because of those themes make for some of the most compelling episode arcs. Ventress’s origins, as a Night Sister, and their relationship to Darth Maul, (And Savage Oppress, which, like Star Wars names are always a little on the nose but that’s a real doozy) which leads into an exploration of the Dark Side and The Force outside of the Jedi/Sith binary. (Something that I think will probably be vitally important moving forward in the series after The Rise Of Skywalker.) 

This also leads into The Father/Daughter/Son trilogy, and Anakin’s confirmation as the chosen one and his rejection of the responsibility of maintaining balance.

It’s just so good you guys. The physical embodiments of the Force are shouting at him to get it together, and he just. can’t. let. go.

He can’t let go of his grief and guilt about Shimi. He can’t let go of Padme. He can’t let go of Ahsoka and Obi-Wan. He can’t let go of his own identity as a Jedi. He can’t do it. The inevitability of the whole thing is part of what makes these episodes great, but it’s just such good character work.

Anyway, there’s a lot to think about with that. And there’s also just the deepening of the mythology around Force paving the way for Ahsoka finding her “other path” later in her life. And how stunning and amazing that is.

Next week is Season 4, Darth Maul’s actual return, and just more and more escalation. Plus! Admiral Ackbar! Yay!

60 Books In 2019 #27: Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

So it’s time to say good bye to Lara Jean and Peter and their adorable dorky notes based love story.

It’s the end of senior year, and Lara Jean and Peter are doing well. They’re planning on going to UVA together in the fall, Lara Jean’s dad is getting remarried and everything is hunky dory and totally sweet and covered in vintage lace and flowers.

Until Lara Jean gets rejected from UVA and their plans skid out. What folllows is a quick and agnsty journey down the rabbit whole of insecurity and possibly. John Ambrose McLaren returns (briefly) as does Geneveive, but luckily neither poses a threat at this point. Rather than relive old drama the problems are new and a bit more grown up.

Second half of senior year landmarks make for good YA. College acceptances, prom, graduation, senior trips, it’s all prime set up from drama. And Always And Forever delivers. There’s a few fights, an aborted attempt at virginity loss, and a sweet as the perfect chocolate chip cookies that Lara Jean is trying to bake throughout the book.

I’m glad I picked up this series. Really. And thanks to Maggie and Ali for pushing it on me. (Also congrats on your wedding Maggie! So happy for you!)

Up next is Geekerella by Ashley Poston. YA Romance set at a Comic Con. YES PLEASE!

Nerd Homework Supernatural Seasons 11 & 12

God. This show has a lot of feelings.

Just like, all the feelings.

Season 12 might be my favorite season of the show? Certainly since Eric Kripke quit, although season 11 is also good.

So, let’s start with the fact that God has a sister. (Sure,.) Her name is Amara, she’s the Darkness. She and Dean have a bond. Crowley tries to raise her to be ya know, loyal to him. It doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, Dean and Sam are mostly on the same side these days. I don’t recall any secrets. Castiel is doing well too. And Rowena pops up a few times. (I’m very meh on Rowena.) Anyway, in order to defeat his sister, God shows up to talk to Metatron. And SURPRISE turns out that God is Chuck.

You know, the guy who wrote The Supernatural books. No one believes him until he proves it, which he does. In a moment that made me burst right into tears, by making Kevin Tran appear in the Bunker and tell the boys to trust him.

The only way this could have hurt more would have been if Kevin were immediately backed up by Bobby and Jo. (Well, maybe not Bobby, who’s back like three times a season, so his appearances don’t quite pack the emotional punch they once did.) So they defeat Amara with God and Lucifer’s help, and also they get Cas back.

Oh also, Castiel becomes Lucifer’s new vessel, which is fun, because it gives Misha Collins a whole other character to play around with and it’s wonderful. (There’s an episode where he’s playing Lucifer pretending to be Cas, and it’s different from what he does when he’s just playing Cas and it’s amazing. And I love him.)

And as a reward for reuniting them, God and his sister (I mean, sure…show, whatever.) they reunite the Winchesters.

Not John. God no. They bring Mary back to life.

Enter Season 12. Enter the wonderfulness. Sam and Dean are so excited to have their Mommy around, especially Sam. The problem is Mary is kinda weirded out by being alive again. Also Lucifer is running around in a hair metal frontman, so they’ve got to get that under control. Oh, and The British Arm of The Men Of Letters who are basically The Initiative from Buffy without the boring Frankenstein riff, are trying to take over the loose association that is American Hunter Culture. Mary joins them.

Cas and Crawley are hunting Lucifer. And that’s amazing. Sam and Dean are popping in and out of both of these storylines. Oh, also Lucifer possesses the president and gets a girl pregnant and Cas decides it’s his job to protect her and the baby. And then Lucifer goes back to his original vessel. (Jacob, from Lost.) 

Meanwhile, Sam and Dean run around a lot, not getting a lot accomplished, Mary gets brainwasheded, Claire turns into a wearwolf (maybe?), I shout at my TV because The British Men Of Letters order her to kill Jodie and Alex. (Jodie, of course, just punches Mary in the face and ties her to a chair. Bless her.)

So Lucifer’s son. (Jack) He opens a thinny, which takes Dean and Sam and Castiel to a world where the boys weren’t born and Bobby’s there. Then Cas sacrifices himself and I guess it was his turn. (I’ve lost track of who’s turn it is…) It’s very sad, and Lucifer and Mary get stuck in the alternate dimension, and the baby is a teenager now.

Look, a lot of stuff happens in this season but I loved it a lot and I watched it pretty quickly and I’m also almost done with season 13 now too, and I’m going to miss this show a lot and I’m not ready to be done and I want it to go on forever and I’m going to watch it over and over again.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2

I find myself sighing in happiness a lot while I watch this show.

The writing is just so good. The characters are so strong, the storylines so absorbing. I really enjoy myself.

Season 2 starts to muddy the waters a bit more and that’s a very good thing. It’s an important and strange thing to remember as we watch any prequel material, we’re not following the heroes. Not really. This is the setting republic and the rising empire. It’s bad. WE’RE FOLLOWING THE BAD GUYS.

Well, it’s not like the Separtists are good, or anything, after all, Palpatine is playing both sides, but it’s still unsettling when you see it. It’s also important to note how spectacularly bad at running a war the Jedi are. They lose. A lot. When they win it’s usually because Anakin, you know, the guy who’s eventually consumed by evil? does something brutal or impulsive.

It’s some heavy, heavy shit, especially for a children’s cartoon based on the silly movies about space wizards.

Star Wars is profoundly silly, and that’s part of why I love it. Clone Wars is oddly, one of the least silly facets of the universe. And again, that’s for a few reasons, but a big one, is Obi-Wan’s arc this season.

Obi-Wan’s big moment in season 2 is centered around Duchess Satine of Mandalore (the delight I get from Obi-Wan’s secret love being named Satine is not small, you guys.) who leads the neutral alliance of planets. Yes, she rules Space Switzerland. She’s a determined pacifist and is in no way going to let the Jedi get away from knowing that they’re complicit in some terrible things.

It’s pretty great. It’s also such a difference between Obi-Wan and Anakin, really highlighting the two sides of a coin that they are. When faced with betraying his vows and chosen way of life back when he was Anakin’s age, Obi-Wan chose duty. (It helps that Satine also chose his duty, where as Padme…well…we’re talking about complicity right?) Anakin, meanwhile, didn’t. He married Padme, but didn’t leave the order.

And speaking of the Galaxy’s Most Annoying Secret Couple! This is the season which has the weirdest pair of episodes, where Padme reunites with her ex boyfriend, who is a skeezy finance guy and Anakin gets jealous and then the skeezy ex boyfriend poisons her. 

First of all: OF COURSE Padme dated the equivalent of a shitty Wall Street Bro before she reconnected with that weird kid who was obsessed with her. And of course it makes the most powerful person to ever live so far insanely jealous, because he is not an emotionally stable dude. Like at all.

We also get to see Boba Fett, being kind of a shit. He’s joined up with some bounty hunters, and wants revenge for his dad’s death by Mace Windu, which is completely fair.

Ahsoka doesn’t have as much going on this season, but she does get some cool episodes, takes command of her own squad at one point and manages to put Anakin in his place a lot.

I just love her you guys, I love her so much.

Onto Season 3, where the shades only get more grey and also Darth Maul comes back. You know how like, Filoni really likes Darth Maul?

60 Books in 2019 #26: Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The thing that struck me the most when I read Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda was how very very close to my actual high school experience the book felt.

What struck me reading it’s sequel, Leah On The Offbeat was how, well, how very very close to my actual high school experience it felt. 

I would have hung out with these kids. These rowdy nerds going to see their friends in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor every night that it’s open, and planning prom in a way that completely implodes due to unavoidable but mostly petty drama.

But this one hit even harder, because Leah, who seems outwardly confident and nonchalant, is actually deeply insecure, terrified and figuring out her sexuality.

Yes, believe it or not I deeply related to the book about the chubby nerdy bisexual girl who can’t say that out loud and has a crush on the perfect girlfriend of her childhood bestie. (Not that this ever happened…*ahem*) Leah’s story resonated to the point that I was sitting in my car before work, getting a few more pages in before heading inside, and also trying to keep myself from crying.

These books have just been hitting me, and I’m glad, because it’s a spectrum of feeling that I haven’t been in touch with much lately. This one in particular.

Happy Pride, y’all. Be who you are!

Up next is Always And Forever, Lara Jean, I’m not ready to say goodbye to her yet, but well, here we are.

60 Books In 2019 #25: Park Avenue Summer By Renee Rosen

I’ve never been a Cosmo girl. I’m a little too conservative for their particular brand of out there sexuality and a little too progressive for the regressive ideas about gender dynamics.

That doesn’t mean that as a writer, historical enthusiast and scholar of women’s movements, I didn’t appreciate what Helen Gurley Brown did with the magazine. (Even if I’ve always been more in line with Diana Vreeland) And what she did for women with that.

Park Avenue Summer doesn’t shy away from the fact that Brown was a strange mix of feminist empowerment and pre war conservatism. She was all for sexual liberation but still saw relationships and marriage as the end goal of a woman’s life. She was a necessary and  Park Avenue Summer revolves around the first three issues of Cosmopolitan that Brown published, centered around her bright young assistant Alice Weiss, a fictional but delightful creation.

Alice is smart, a little shy, and very competent. She dates the wrong guy (who she knows is wrong) while she waits for the right one to come to his senses. She has some family secrets. (Which are deeply unnecessary. B-Plots in these sorts of books are usually so disposable. Reading all the YA I have lately has made me deeply appreciative of the lean storytelling style of those books.)

This was another quick read, which was sort of the point of June (so far) for me reading wise. I need to get my goal numbers. (I mean, I don’t, but you know.) But it’s also been refreshing to just breeze through books again. This is partially because I’m back in the habit of reading, but by being back in the habit, it doesn’t take as long for me to read.

I was out of practice. But  I’m getting back in shape.

If only I could do the same for running…

Up next is Leah On The Offbeat, which is the sequel to Love, Simon and it’s just…I love it so much…

60 Books In 2019 #24: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

Lauren Weisberger’s books had a profound influence on my life. At least, The Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing did, after that I kind of cooled on Weisberger.

But I knew I wanted to work in the fancy pants entertainment world because of her, but I never wanted to be an actress, I wanted to be the people behind the people. I’m now a very popular entertainment blogger because of it!

OK, not really, but, I have always liked Weisberger’s take on the lives of the rich, fabulous and crazy, and When Life Gives You Lululemons, which picks up a few years after Revenge Wears Prada, with Emily, the best part of both previous books bar none. (And certainly the best part of the movie!) Emily now works as a Hollywood fixer, putting her Miranda Priestly honed talent for no bullshit and doing whatever it takes to work. She’s good at her job, but also, largely starting to feel a bit out of touch.

Miriam Hapag is an old friend of Emily’s trying to adjust to life as a stay at home mom rather than the high powered lawyer she’d been previously. An old friend of Miriam’s Katalina sees her perfect life (married to a senator, loving relationship with her stepson.) go belly up due to some bogus DUI charges. The three women band together to get Katalina the justice she deserves.

Like most of what works best in Weisberger’s books, when the stakes are personal, her characters shine. I think she tends to get in over her head with soapy subplots, so the conspiracy around Lina’s divorce is a little much for me. (I feel similarly about Andie’s friend Lilly getting black out drunk and nearly dying and Andie flying off to Paris anyway. A subplot mercifully excised from the film.) But these three women working together and navigating the unfamiliar but still insane world of the chi-chi suburbs.

Emily’s perfect but odd marriage to the bro-ey Miles (my favorite aspect of Revenge.) is a great detail. Miriam’s desire to be a stay at home mom, and her joy at realizing carbs are not the enemy is my favorite part. And Karalina is just a sweetheart and a half, and you’re never not rooting for her.

Weisberger’s prose is clean and pithy and easy to read. I might revist the books of hers I’ve skipped now, because I greatly enjoyed this one. (I stopped after Chasing Harry Winston and Revenge did little to tempt me back.)

Up next is Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen. More New York fab-ness, just this time with some period gloss.