52 Films by Women ~ April, May and June

My attempt to watch 52 Films By Women (in writing or directing roles), isn’t going entirely well – by halfway through the year, I had only chalked up 18, which is far fewer than half of 52. Here’s what I watched in the second quarter of the year.

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Love Simon – Co-written by Elizabeth Berger

Girls Trip – Co-written by Tracy Oliver

Everything, Everything – Directed by Stella Meghie

Heartburn – Written by Nora Ephron

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Romancing the Stone – Written by Diane Thomas

District 9 – Co-written by Terri Tatchell

Halloween – Co-written by Debra Hill

Ocean’s 8 – Co-written by Olivia Milch

There’s clearly a huge bias towards female writers in this bunch, rather than directors, which is a shame, so I need to be a little more active with searching those out. I am determined to get to 52, it just means fitting another 34 into the remaining months of the year (spoiler, since the end of June, I’ve managed just one!).

June 2018 Books

June-2018-Books

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
I mentioned in my last books roundup that I had picked up the first two books in this series in a charity shop, and I’m so glad I did, because as soon as I had finished reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I was able to crack straight on with the next in the series! Following the events of the first novel, in which Lara Jean’s love letters to all the boys she loved were posted without her knowledge, things have settled down a little, and Lara Jean is in a proper relationship with one of the boys, Peter. However, things are still complicated with Peter’s ex, Genevieve, and get even further confused when John Ambrose McLaren, one of the letter recipients, arrives back on the scene and cause Lara Jean to question her feelings.

Things are lot more teenage-angsty in this story; one of the reasons I loved the first book was that the relationships of the three sisters was an important part of the story, and that is less the case here. But it’s still a hugely enjoyable YA romance, and now I have to get the last in the series to see how it all turns out.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
I reviewed Love and Ruin as part of a blog tour, you can read my full review here. The long and short of it is that this is the story of Martha Gellhorn, celebrated war correspondent whose career spanned six decades. The period covered in this novel coincides with her marriage to one of the most famous American writers of the 20th Century, Ernest Hemingway. It’s a fine line to tread between focusing solely on her time as the third of Hemingway’s four wives, and portraying her as what she was; a female war writer at a time when women weren’t expected to be amongst the conflict. I really loved this story; McLain conjured up the hazy paradise of Cuba in the 30s as wonderfully as she evoked the terrifying scenes of war in Spain and France.

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger
My full review of The Wives goes into detail about my problems with the book; it’s not offensive, and it’s an enjoyable enough read, but I feel as though as a reader, I’ve moved on a lot since when I read The Devil Wears Prada, of which this is a sequel. I didn’t actually realise it was a sequel, until I noticed Miranda Priestly’s name being mentioned, and then later remembered that Emily was the name of a character in that book, and she’s one of our main characters here. As I mentioned in my review, I want and need to read much more diversely, and books like this, that feel like totally empty calories, are a bit of a waste of my reading time. of which I don’t have that much. My feelings a couple of weeks after reading it are actually seeming a lot harsher than they did when I finished it – I wanted to get to the end, and finish off the story, and in that respect, it was enjoyable enough. But I won’t be troubling myself to read any more in the series if they come along.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack, parts 3 & 4
I’ve decided to lump these two books into one, because in all honesty, I probably should have put all eight issues in one in the first place – they are kind of hard to review individually! I am really enjoying the story though; it’s delightfully dark, and I can’t wait to see how it’s adapted for television. I’m going to resist too much of a review/plot synopsis until I have read all eight instalments!

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Whenever I’m asked what my favourite book is, I say American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s been ten years since it was published, and probably seven years since I last read it (I should probably remedy that), but I just remember loving it so much. And now a new release by Sittenfeld is something to be celebrated, though this collection of short stories has been out for a while, and I’ve only just managed to get my hands on it to read. I’m not really clever enough to suggest why she’s so awesome, but all I know is that I love her characters, who always feel so intensely real to me, and when it’s time to walk away from them, at the end of a book, I always feel a sense of loss.

The fact that she manages to do this with short stories is just further evidence of her genius. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read these stories, but the people are still with me. I’m still thinking about the young journalist who leaves her breastfeeding baby behind while she heads to interview a young startlet, and about the high-flying lawyer who happens upon her old high school enemy on her honeymoon and can’t get past the idea of exacting petty revenge. These women (and occasionally, men), are all totally individual and distinct characters, who live and breathe in the pages of the book.

Books so far in 2018 – 26

Book Review ~ The Wives by Lauren Weisberger

The-WivesEmily Charlton, ex-assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly, does not do the suburbs. She’s a successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood’s stars but – thanks to the Snapchatting millennials stealing precious business – her career’s under threat. When Graham Hartwell, a senator with presidential ambitions, frames and publicly dumps her old friend Karolina, Emily winds up in Greenwich – with the client of a lifetime.

He couldn’t have known what’s coming. He’s reckoned without the wives…

The Wives was published as When Life Gives You Lululemons in America, and though I had no idea at the time I downloaded it from Netgalley, it’s a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada (though there has been another sequel in between). At first, when Miranda Priestly’s name was mentioned, I thought it was just inhabiting the same world as that book, but as I read on, it became clear that the Emily Charlton, one of the protagonists here, is the Emily that worked for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine.

I read The Devil Wears Prada way back when, and I don’t remember having a huge problem with it at the time. I also quite enjoyed the film, though it has been years since I saw it. This book picks up some years later; Emily is now working as a professional problem solver for various celebrity clients, and living in California, with her partner. The chapters alternate between her story, and that of two other women; Karolina, wife of an ambitious senator, and Miriam, a former New York City lawyer who has moved to the suburbs with her family. The women are linked by Miriam, who are friends with them both, and who brings them together when Karolina faces a crisis with her husband that Emily steps in to help solve.

The one major problem that I have with The Wives is not something that I can talk about in a review, because it would be a very late spoiler for the plot. I’ll just say that I don’t think the character of Emily is served particularly well, and I think that it would have been good for her to have been able to stand by her convictions in a stronger way that she ended up doing. Overall, I enjoyed the story well enough, though there’s absolutely no substance whatsoever beyond the searing insight into life in the US suburbs is a hotbed of plastic surgery, extra-marital sex, and far too much money. The link to The Devil Wears Prada comes in thick and fast by the end of the novel, meaning that we get to be around the hateful character of Miranda Priestly for a few pages.

I read it on a plane, and it was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, but as I look to diversify my reading habits, I have to say that the likes of this – a story about three white, rich women – won’t be troubling my TBR lists going forward.

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger (Published as When Life Gives You Lululemons elsewhere)
Publication Date: 12th July 2018
HarperCollins
Provided by publisher via Netgalley

Photo an Hour #51 ~ October 2017

I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll now with getting up to date with Photo an Hour, though obviously these are famous last words. Last October’s Photo an Hour saw me in Bedford, seeing my brother and his family for my niece’s birthday. I really like the photos from this day!

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8am ~ I slept in my nephew’s bed, and woke up to realise Superman had been keeping watch over me while I slept.

9am ~ Admiring Molly’s amazing autumnal dress.

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11am ~ After a stop for breakfast which I failed to photograph, Molly and I headed into town for some birthday shopping. It’s so spending time with my nieces and nephews and watching them grow up; they are so cute as babies but I really cherish the relationship I get to have with them as they get older and develop their personalities. My grown up nieces and nephews are amongst my very favourite people in all the world.

1pm ~ Shopping is tough work, and I missed a few photos! Mollly was deliberating over whether or not to buy this keyring, so she asked me to attach it to her bag and take a photo so she could make a decision. She decided against it in the end.

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2pm ~ As Molly and I have birthdays that are six days apart, in return for me taking her shopping, she wanted to take me for coffee, so we had a pitstop in Costa.

4pm ~ Another missed hour, but by four o’clock we were back at my brother’s house and Harry, my nephew, was playing with his cars.

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5pm ~ A quick stop at the park before I had to go and get my train, and Harry displayed his extraordinary climbing, swinging, and general monkey-like skills. Seriously, this boy is fearless.

6pm ~ Waiting for my train. How odd, as I write this at 9pm on a sunny summer evening, to imagine that it was this dark at 6pm in the evening. Aren’t seasons funny?

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7pm ~ St Pancras – halfway home! And that’s where the photos stop; no doubt my battery was very much dead by this point in the day!

And because I took an uneven number of photos, please enjoy this one, that my sister-in-law took of me and the children, playing with leaves in the park. There’s a few that she took that I absolutely love; these children are beautiful and very photogenic!

In case you’d like to play next time around, June’s day is set for 28th July. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post. Once I’m up to date, I’ll start rounding up who joins in, but in the meantime, Louisa at Duck in a Dress is a lot more organised than me, and actually does the round up post!