60 Books In 2019: #37 The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

One of my favorite things about my reading challenge this year is the reminder of how quickly and thoroughly I can read when I get into the groove of it. I spent so much time reading during my formative years (for school and pleasure) that these past few years as I’ve started really committing to it again, it feels like falling into something super duper comfy and easy. I sped through several books on Sunday night and afternoon as I watched Star Wars: Rebels Season 4!

Another one of my favorite things is that because of the commitment to not rereading this year, I’m finding new things that relate to the things I used to read over and over again when I’m in that mood. If I were letting myself reread, when I was in the mood for something kind of silly and sexy and light, I wouldn’t have done some light googling and found The Wedding Date, I would have just reached for Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series or Queen of Babble and Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot.

Instead, I found The Wedding Date, a delightful little romance novel about Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols, two strangers who get stuck in an elevator together a The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and have instant chemistry. In the wake of that Drew invites her to be his date to his ex girfriend’s wedding to his best friend. (oof) They have a great night, and better sex that night, and then start a long distance relationship. (He’s in LA and she’s in Berkley.)

There are some typical light romance pitfalls, he’s a commitment-phobe, she’s a workaholic. There are miscommunications and fights that almost derail them but then don’t, and so so so much sexy times.

loved this book and have just put the rest of Jasmine Guillory’s books on my library request list, which again, I would not have done without my weird “no rereads this year” policy. (Granted, I have It and The Shining in my current TBR pile, so I might give The Dark Tower a dispensation…again…tis the season for me and that one, apparently. Those five books won’t count towards my goal of 60 though.) Because I never would have found this book.

Up next is Check Please: Book 1: Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu, I am way behind on this. It was a web comic everyone was going bonkers over, and then a GN everyone was going bonkers over for like the past five years, and I just never got around to it.

This is me.

Getting around to it. (Also GN’s are a quick easy way to pump up the numbers. Especially when there’s a 1000 page Stephen King doorstop staring me in the face.)

60 Books In 2019 #36: Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng

I’ve lived 26 of my 32 years on this planet in the suburbs. (The 6 years are college and my year in Brooklyn) But, the suburbs where I grew up and still live are the towns that grew up around commuter train lines to New York City, rather than planned communities. (When I was young the town I grew up in got a few planned neighborhoods, and the town went so bonkers about it they voted the mayor out of office and he’d run unopposed for like 20 years or something) So Planned and Gated communites more common in the midwest and down south have always kind of freaked me out.

Little Fires Everywhere which is focused on Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of the earliest planned suburbs, in 1997, doesn’t not help with how alien this kind of town feels to me. Centered on the lifer Richardson family and their rental tenants, Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, the book is equally concerned with Mia’s mysterious past, an adoption case involving an abandoned infant, and the romantic shenanigans of the teen cast.

That undersells the book which deals with race and class in some interesting ways, as well as the ways teenagers view the world around them, and the way the Richardson kids (wealthy white teens) are kind of full of shit. The way Pearl rebels against her mother’s unconventional artist’s life to the more conventional world she’s now a part of.

I don’t want to get spoilery, because the book twists in some interesting if predictable ways. It’s also a slow starter but worth the stick out. It’s a book about siblings and motherhood in some big ways and that’s pretty cool.

I’m looking forward to the mini series because I think this book is going to make a kick ass mini series.

Up next is The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory because it’s time to get some romance into my life.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Solo: A Star Wars Story

I really love Solo, as I noted in my review of the movie. It has a lot of things I like in a movie generally, cover up in neat Star Wars wrapping paper, so there’s a lot to love. I get into internet arguments about this movie a lot, because I think it’s wonderful and I know a lot of people think it sucks. But those people are wrong because it’s great.

I’ve watched it several times now, and each time I am delighted. The action is clean, the characters are clear, the performances are wonderful. Do I wonder what it would have been like in it’s initial incarnation, sure, do I like Paul Bettany fine, but wonder if Michael K. William’s version of Dryden Voss was more interesting (it probably wasn’t, they’re both great actors, with similar placid with darkness boiling under the surface energy. But the representation boost would have been great, and I love Williams.)

I have to be honest though, I came to this movie for one thing and that thing delivered. From the moment of this movie’s conception I was saying I didn’t care what went on around it, I wanted Lando in this movie, and I wanted Donald Glover to play him and I would accept nothing else. As I’ve watched and rewatched Star Wars since things got moving again in the past few years Lando has become my OT favorite. (Obi-Wan is my prequel and overall story fave, Poe is my NT fave) I’m thrilled that Billy Dee Williams is reprising his role in The Rise of Skywalker. 

Donald Glover was the only choice for Lando and Lando’s role in this screen play was perfect. Or whoever shot whatever got shot. Part of the tragedy of the internet (which I mostly love, because I wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t an internet) is that this movie got so burried. In an earlier time where only weirdos like my parents knew that Larry David was no longer running Seinfeld, (this is real. My parents were incensed when David left. They came around on the later seasons because they featured George and Elaine better and Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss are brilliant, but it took time. Again, I come by my shit naturally) it wouldn’t have been turned over that and over that Lord and Miller were fired off the movie.

There’s a subtle sexism to the way this decision is talked about on the internet. As if it was a capricious and unnecessary decision on Kathleen Kennedy’s part. As if she isn’t a savvy, experienced producer who know what she wants. As if by clashing with the anarchic genius of these two men, she is somehow wrong, the thief of art.

There’s truth there, but it’s not a narrative attached to say, Joss Whedon’s departure from The MCU after clashing with Kevin Fiege. No, that was two visionaries with contrasting views of a film.

I told myself this post wasn’t going to be about the metanarrative and yet here we are. (To be fair, I couldn’t rightly spill 500 words on what I like about the movie, since part of what I like is how light and kind of shallow and silly it is.)

Next week we get into Rebels, with season 1. Rebels has grown on me as a show in general. It’s not as good as Clone Wars, but you will see this journey in Real Time.

We Used To Be Friends

Spoilers ahead for Veronica Mars Season 4

It’s been a week, so I think we’re fine to chat about it now, don’t you?

A few weeks ahead of time Hulu dropped the new 8 episode season of Veronica Mars. I’m a Marshmallow from not the beginning, but earlier than many. Crystan was always a big fan and I borrowed her DVDs of the show in college to watch.

So the way Hulu, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell have made the new season happen excited me. From rumor to execution it was quick, clean and done.

We need to talk about the ending though. I’ve watched the show a bunch of times. And as the last ten minutes approached, and Veronica, Keith and Wallace waited for Logan at the courthouse, my heart was in my throat. I knew someone was going to die, and since Keith had been given a clean bill of health, I knew it was going to be Logan.

But then he didn’t. And I exhaled. But then of course, he did.

I’m not as angry about this twist as others. It’s hella lazy on Thomas’s part, but I don’t think it’s this massive betrayal that other people made it out to be. Thomas and his team gave Jason Dohring a hell of a swan song to go out on. Logan was fantastic the whole season long. (So was Max Greenfield’s Leo, who I’ve always liked second best of Veronica’s love interests, due to him having a distinct personality. Troy, Duncan and Piz kinda run together in a bland mix of blah) (Also Veronica’s sex dream about him is how I imagine Fifty Shades would have been had Greenfield gotten the role of Christian. IE VERY HOT and INTERESTING)

The mystery was good, nothing will ever hit the highs of “Who killed Lily?” which has always been the show’s post season 1 problem. I’m watching season 2 now and OH BOY is the bus crash tedious. I don’t remember how it all comes together either. What’s the deal with Kendall and the Fitzpatrick’s? Beaver did it because Woody molested him, but there’s a lot of other shit floating around in the story that I think doesn’t mean anything.

The new characters are the best new characters since Gia Goodman came in in season 2, so that’s nice. Patton Oswalt’s true crime nut turned big bad Penn was a good deal of fun. JK Simmons was unsurprisingly wonderful as Clyde, an ex con with ambiguous motivation who bonds with Keith. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is fun as club owner Nicole who bonds with Veronica and Izabel Vidovic is fun as Veronica’s new protege Matty.

I think the most unfortunate thing about the ending, which again, is in my opinion, lazy but fine, is that like so many “eh” endings it’s going to overshadow what was a pretty great season of TV, with excellent work by it’s main cast. But as I said on facebook back at the last episode of Game Of Thrones, I might just like shitty endings? I like the Lost ending, the Dark Tower ending, and I like the Game Of Thrones ending (in concept, the execution I agree, was underwhelming). Those are three pretty reviled conclusions, y’all.

Anyway, I enjoyed the season. I hope as everyone’s emotions cool, we can discuss the rest of it that worked well, and not just the ending. Also, I hope we get more Veronica Mars down the line, if only because I want Weevil and Veronica to make up, and I want to see more of Wallace shaking is head at Matty during school hours. (He’s her physics teacher!)

Also, now I’m shipping Leo and Veronica, and again, don’t mind LoVe being the kind of deep epic tragic story it was always meant to be.

60 Books In 2019 #35: Dune Road By Jane Green

I love a good sudsy potboiler. Obscure relatives coming out of the woodwork, half baked con jobs, the golden gilding coming off of the glossy lives of the rich and bored.

Can you tell that kind of story in 400 or so pages though? There’s a reason this sort of thing does best on TV with long episodes to get to know the characters. Dune Road has all of the ingredients of something that I’d love and instead it’s just pedestrian and dull and predictable, and not in the fun, “Oh boy the formula is clicking,” kind of way.

From the third person present tense to the dull and bland characters with duller and blander sex lives, to the undercooked abuse sub plot, there’s just nothing much going on in Dune Road, and it’s a shame because someone who knew how to deal with the elements could have made this story sing.

A newly divorced woman moves to the border of the tony Connecticut town she and her Wall Street husband called home. She makes some new friends and gets a job working for a reclusive local celeb. And then, her long lost sister shows up. And her friend seduces her boss! And there’s some sort of con happening? I think? The pieces never quite come together, but I couldn’t help but think as I read it, “with a dark sense of humor and 22 episodes this would be my favorite show. Instead this is a really, really shitty book.”

I don’t even have much to say about it, it’s short, I guess? There’s that. I liked that the ladies in the book all hung out at nice restaurants which is a thing having grown up and still living in the chi chi suburbs. Nice to see that gotten accurate.

The other thing that bugged me, that often bugs me, is that the author is British and puts British idioms and turns of phrase in her American character’s names. No angry man from Connecticut, who just learned that his ex wife’s long lost sister who he’s sleeping with is planning on stealing money from him declare he’s “going to phone” is ex. He’d be calling her. It’s a big big pet peeve of mine.

Up next is Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I think is in the same vein, but probably better because Reese Witherspoon optioned it for a mini series and after Big Little Lies I trust Reese’s taste implicitly.


Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

It was kind of a relief to fall into one of the Star Wars movies even if it was one that’s kind of garbage but that I also love a lot.

Unlike when I watched Episode II nearly a month ago, where I had to really zero in on the elements of the movie that I liked because I love so many things about Episode III, it’s a mess of a film but it’s a damn fun mess, and it’s my mess, and I love it very much and will defend it until I die.

It’s overwrought, poorly plotted and for the most part indifferently acted. Though Ian McDirmind and Ewan McGregor excepted, they are both CHEWING SCENERY UP RIGHT AND LEFT and that makes the whole thing a worthy endeavor to me. But especially McGregor who has to sell the breaking of a man as his world comes crashing around him.

Coming to this so soon after finishing Clone Wars also adds a lot of Pathos to Yoda’s stuff too. I mentioned how what’s interesting about the last arc there is it lends a sadness and resignation to his plot. He knows the Jedi have to fall, but he’s also not ready to let the Sith take over. There’s a lot more weight to his decisions when you know that he knows they’re inevitable.

What strikes me everytime I watch this movie though is how quickly it moves. It’s not short. It’s not like MCU long either, but it’s not short. It does move though, and I really love all of the action sequences. If the acting were better and someone fixed the horrible, horrible George Lucas dialog, it would be a really really good movie. Instead it’s kind of a trash fire but I love it so, so so much.

Next week we talk about Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is an actually good movie that people think is a bad one and I want to fight those people.

In Other Star Wars News: 

There wasn’t a lot of Star Wars stuff out of San Deigo at least not that tracked with me. But Natalie Portman’s back in Thor: Love And Thunder, and Jane’s picking up the hammer like she did in the comics, so that’ll be fun.

60 Books In 2019 #34: The Princess And The Fangirl By Ashley Poston

If I had one complaint about the adorable and great Geekerella it was that it was about a very specific branch of fandom, and glorified gatekeeping a little too hard. (I’m not a big fan of “the actors playing a nerd role has to be a fan of the franchise” as a casting ethos.) Which is why it’s really fun that Ashley Poston dug into the dirtier side of things for The Princess And The Fangirl.

Jessica Stone is sick of Starfield, which she took as a job, not a lifestyle choice, and Imogen is a true blue nerd girl. Their passing resemblance and their accidental crossing paths at Excelsicon leads to a scheme that will give Jess the weekend off, and Imogen the chance to save the character of Princess Amara from an epic fridging. (The conversation around fridging in this book was fabulous.)

Jess learns to see the lighter side of fandom, as she spends time with fans, rather than just hearing the voices that have harassed and criticized her for a year, and Imogen realizes that she and her friends have been very unfair to another human being who just isn’t as into their thing as they are.

There’s a touching take on Carrie Fisher’s story here (Jess’s interactions with her predecessor, who’s moved on from acting to be a quirky Hollywood insider and script doctor) tons of nerd references, and two super fun love stories (One of them queer!). Dare and Elle show up too, though this isn’t about them. (Imogen barely cares about The Magic Pumpkin though all of her friends are really really into the vegan tacos.)

I’m really enjoying the Once Upon A Con series, and look forward to the third, whenever it comes. Goodreads tells me it will be Beauty And The Beast, and I’m guessing it will center on Calvin, the last of the Starflight trio.

Up next is Dune Road by Jane Green, because I think I need some sad white lady at the beach reading. It’s been a while.

The Original Gods

I’m in the minority of people who actually really enjoyed Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, it’s not a good movie, but it’s a watchable one and the Godzilla parts are great. The human parts are terrible. Just terrible.

That trend continues in it’s sequel, the deeply silly compulsively fun Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Since Godzilla emerged from the sea in 2014, Monarch, the secret military group, has been hunting other “titans,” in hopes of studying and controlling them. Vera Farmiga plays their top scientist who has invented a doohickey that emits sonic freqeuncies that calm the beasts. She’s married to Kyle Chandler who is also a Godzilla scientist. Their son was killed in the 2014 attack and their daughter, Millie Bobby Brown, now follows her mom around learning all about Kaiju.

Charles Dance plays an eco terrorist who wants to destroy human kind with Kaiju, I think? Vera Farmiga’s team is made up of Ken Wattanabe, Bradley Witford, Thomas Middleditch and Zhang Zhiyi. Their military arm includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Anthony Ramos. Senator CCH Pounder wants to shut them down.

I am obsessed with this cast and they were in way too much of this movie. This is a movie about Godzilla and King Ghedera fighting. And also Mothra and Rodan fighting. I really don’t care about Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s marital problems when there is monster fighting to see.

The monster fighting is glorious. It’s also hella dumb. But in the best way. I haven’t watched Kong: Skull Island, but I understand it’s in the same vein.

Just, like, Americans are bad the people part of Godzilla, maybe we should stop trying and just watch the monsters fight now.


  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu
  5. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters


Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: God, it looks good, I’m really really looking forward to it.

The Kitchen: *exhale* I hope they ALL GET ALL THE NOMINATIONS for that movie, it looks spectacular. (And I have every intention of reading the GN)


60 Books in 2019 #33: I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through The TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I feel deeply priviledged to have come of age the same time as an art form. Television began hitting it’s brilliant artistic stride as I entered my teens, and since I was raised in a TV house I was able to witness much of it. (Not all, my mother’s strictures against the “inappropriate” barred much material until I got to college) My dad once smiled wryly at my siblings and I, “You all feel about your shows how we felt about our bands.”

I only made the connection this weekend as I read Emily Nussbaum’s essay collection I Like To Watch that of course we do. We came of age with TV as my parents did with Rock and Roll. We’re defensive of the things we like. (Mary jokes that I “get yelly” when people try to claim Lost as the beginning of something. It was the breakthrough but Buffy and Alias did the hard work.) (Also X-Files) Like TV: The Book last year, I couldn’t wait to get this one in my hand. I was less familiar with Nussbaum’s work than Sepinwall and Zoeler-Seitz, (Both name checked here) because she writes for the hoity toity New Yorker, rather than the rabbly Vulture and AV Club where I go for my TV coverage, but I still know her work. She’s also not a recapper, which is what I knew the guys from.

Her defense of Sex And The City is actually my favorite piece of criticism ever, so there’s that. (It’s included in the book and was rapturously wonderful to read again.) I’m also just trying, with the limited dollars and time that I have to support the idea of TV criticism as valid. I love television. I love that it’s being taken as seriously as film now. (I love movies too, but not like I love TV.) Nussbaum’s essays are stunning in their clarity and research. I disagree with her on several points, she’s far too dismissive of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Aaron Sorkin for me, and thinks that the changes in Weeds post season 3 were “bold” and “reinvigorating,” rather than “absurd” and “ultimately fruitless.” (my preferred adjectives.)

I knew I’d be engrossed in the book though when she opened it with a spirited discussion of getting hooked on Buffy through the largely execrable season 1 episode “The Pack.” (It is a truly odious one, some of the worst, “High School Is Hell” pandering of the first few seasons. You know how I hate those WB genre puberty metaphors.) But the main section could have been expanded to a book on it’s own.

A nearly 50 page essay about grappling with her love for Woody Allen’s movies and Louis CK’s TV shows in the wake of Me Too, is a staggeringly personal look at separating art from artist, the way art gets inside of you and how to separate it out when it’s revealed as filthy or wrong in retrospect (it felt trenchant for me this weekend having rewatched Gone With The Wind on Friday and being enraptured all over again despite my woker instincts shouting “IT’S BAD! WITH THE SLAVERY! AND THE MARITAL RAPE! AND THE LIONIZING OF THE KLAN!”) is a beautiful piece of writing. She grapples with Cosby as well, but admits he was never inside of her the way Woody and Louis were, so it’s more of a footnote.

The three profiles she includes are also interesting, Kenya Barris (black-ish) Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange Is The New Black) and Ryan Murphy (RYAN MURPHY) deep dives into three very different artists using the medium in fabulously different ways. (Can one even compare Dre Johnson to Nancy Botwin to Andrew Cunahan?) For a work about TV by a female critic, I think there’s woefully little talk about Shonda, she covers Scandal in comparison to House of Cards (Hey! I did that) (Twice in fact) and Shonda is mentioned in all three profiles.

I did adore the book though. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of serious conversation about TV. It’s just a deeply unlikely think to happen.

Up next is The Princess And The Fangirl which is the companion book to Geekerella. Back into the YA breach, at least temporarily.

60 Books in 2019 #32: The Bird King By G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson was one of those amazing women who I found smiling with their arms wide open as I allowed myself to pass through gates of fandom. She and Sana Amanat gave us Kamala Khan, and thank God for it. So when I noticed The Bird King sitting casually in the New Releases section of my library I snatched it quickly off the shelf.

The first hundred or so pages of the book play out as an engrossing bit of historical fiction (with hints at magical realism), Fatima is a concubine in the household of the last Sultan of Grenada, as Queen Isabella’s armies close in on the city. Fatima is beautiful, willful, a bit naive and very sad. She’s friend with Hassan, the royal mapmaker, who’s talents are possibly more than they seem, and who enjoys the company of men.

When Isabella sends diplomats to treat for peace, Fatima and Hassan find themselves in the crosshairs of Baronesa Luz, who’s the representative of The Inquisition. (As a Catholic, the Inquisition always makes me shudder, one of the darkest of the dark chapters of the faith I love so much. And there are a lot of them.) She learns of Hassan and part of the peace treaty is handing him over as a sorcerer, Fatima risks her own life and comfort to get him out of the palace, and on their way out, they encounter Vikram, a jinn, and then the world cracks wide open.

As the pair run for their lives, they remember a legend of a hidden island, where the King Of Birds lives, and make that their destination. Hassan draws the map and their quest begins.

Hidden magical islands are a wonderful dreamy part of mythology that seem to always persist, and as it turns out, Fatima and Hassan’s island is all of them at once. And the legends that surround it are all true, and the ending twist is such a wonder that I can’t give it away here.

I’ve reiterated a hundred times that I love stories about stories, and I love religious discussion about why faith is how it is even more than that. Wilson is a Muslim and everytime I read her writing about devotion it touches my heart. The Bird King often reads like a love letter to God, to the God who I’ve felt wrap me up in warmth and love more times than I can remember. But it’s also about stories and the ways that cultures take the same stories and change them, and the way that truth and fact aren’t always the same.

I really, really liked this book, but it’s a slow starter, be warned. But once it opens up, it’s beautiful.

Up next is I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through The TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum. More television criticism! I’m going to pick up these books whenever I find them. That’s for sure.