Fame, Money and What it Costs to Keep it: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 stars

Evelyn Hugo

There are some books that you just know, after only a few pages, are going to be magical. For me, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of these books. Like any bookworm, I read a lot of novels that I describe as being great, enjoyable, well-written, or exciting. The word ‘love’, however, I reserve only for a select few.

I loved this book.

Who, What, Where?

In 2017 NYC, journalist Monique Grant is surprised to learn that she has been specifically requested by legendary actress, Evelyn Hugo, to conduct the star’s first interview in several years. Monique just hopes to get a few personal details beyond the upcoming charity auction. Instead, she’s shocked to find that Evelyn has called her there to begin work on a tell-all biography in which she plans to finally put everything on the table – her rise to fame, efforts to stay in the limelight, all seven husbands, and the true love of her life.

Rich & Real Characters

Evelyn Hugo is a very people-centric story and its success is due in large part to Reid’s fabulously written characters. As you’d expect, Evelyn, herself, is the heart of this novel. In creating Evelyn and her story, Reid has incorporated characteristics of many famous starlets – Marilyn Monroe’s sex symbol status, Elizabeth Taylor’s marriages and friendship with Monty Clift, Rita Hayworth’s immigrant roots, and Ava Gardiner’s desire to write a tell-all biography. She is a fantastic representation of women in the film industry – the struggles they experience to stay relevant and be taken seriously. Yet, at the same time, Evelyn is so clearly her own person.

“I’m cynical and I’m bossy, and most people would consider me vaguely immoral.” 

Evelyn is vain, not particularly kind, and often selfish in her relentless pursuit of fame and acclaim, but at the same time she’s a very complex, strong and, dare I say it, feminist character. She knows what she wants in life and despite numerous setbacks, refuses to let others stop her from achieving it. You can’t help but love her and watching Evelyn evolve over the course of the book is one of its most compelling components.

While Monique may start off TSHOEH, once the ball gets rolling, she mostly fades into the background and doesn’t return as a strong presence until the climax. Despite this, Reid still manages to make her relatable and give her a good degree of depth, making the most of her limited page time.

Aside from our two leads, Evelyn’s world is filled with an array of interesting and diverse characters. With seven husbands, there was always the risk of these men blending together but each manages to feel distinct from one another, particularly with regards to the roles they play in Evelyn’s life and the effect they have on her character.

Sexual Diversity & Representation

TSHOEH features not one, not two, but three non-heterosexual major characters, as well as several others in smaller roles. The love and care given to these individuals is evident from start to finish and it’s truly wonderful to see queer individuals as dramatic and romantic leads. Evelyn, herself, is bisexual. Living in the public eye as she does, and during the decades she has, this plays a huge part in the trajectory of her story. Despite the time difference, many of the issues Evelyn experiences connected to her sexuality are still faced by bisexuals in today’s world – how she can possibly be attracted to both genders, the jealousy and insecurity of romantic partners regarding her bisexuality, and of course, the fear of being completely misunderstood.

“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”

Romance

Evelyn’s romantic relationship with her great love, actress Celia St James, is another wonderful addition to the novel. This relationship is far from easy but it’s also sweet, bitter, intimate, and beautifully crafted. Their story is a rollercoaster of emotion and it’s simply impossible to look away. Yet, the fact that so many of their troubles stem from a need to hide who they are, and their love for one another, is what makes it truly heartbreaking.

“I love you more than anything else in the entire world.”

“It’s not wrong,” Celia said. “It shouldn’t be wrong, to love you. How can it be wrong?”

“It’s not wrong, sweetheart. It’s not,” I said. “They’re wrong.”

Old Hollywood Glamour

“You should know this about the rich: they always want to get richer. It is never boring, getting your hands on more money.”

Despite the rampant sexism, racism, homophobia and a whole host of other issues, there’s always been something glamorous about old-school Hollywood. The beauty, romance, youth, freedom – we can’t help being dazzled by it, but at the same time, we’re very aware of Tinseltown’s darker, seedier and more twisted undertones. TSHOEH embraces this contrast completely and Reid handles it wonderfully. The decision to start Evelyn’s story in the 1940s and progress right through to the 80s suited the themes and natural progression of the book perfectly, and I was hooked from the start right til the very end.

Successful Structure & Style

POV:  The novel is technically written from Monique’s perspective, however, the majority of it consists of what Evelyn is verbally describing, largely uninterrupted, to Monique about her life. Except for the brief segments in which Monique voices a question or the two women stop for the day (and we spend some time in Monique’s head), the story feels like Evelyn’s POV. It makes sense from a narrative standpoint but also ensures an intimate connection with both women.

Parts: Evelyn’s story is broken up into seven parts, each named after one of her many husbands. It’s a choice that works very well as each man represents the start and end of a particular stage in Evelyn’s life. The descriptors for each husband in the section titles also act as a fun teaser for what’s to come next.

Style: Along with the traditional narrative, Reid also incorporates numerous “news articles” in between chapters to showcase public perceptions of Evelyn and her loved ones, and to mark big moments in her life. These were great inclusions as they served to enhance elements of the story but also really drove home one of the ideas of the novel which is that what the public sees of people in the limelight is rarely ever the true or full picture.

“But of course, they got it wrong. They never did care about getting it right. The media are going to tell whatever story they want to tell. They always have. They always will.”

Twist Ending with Emotional Impact

I won’t say too much because of spoilers but using a dramatic twist, Reid is able to link Monique and Evelyn’s stories in an emotional and engaging way. Beyond this twist, there isn’t much of a happy ending but it feels exactly right for the story told and I can’t imagine the novel finishing any other way.

Divider 2

Summing up the absolute brilliance of this novel seems impossible. So, I’ll simply say, that if you enjoy historical fiction with raw and real characters, fantastic writing, and intense emotion, pick this one up. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

I’ll just be over here recommending this new favourite to pretty much everyone I know.

5 Stars

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday | 19.09.18

It’s time for another  WWW Wednesday or as it should be titled, ‘Ashley has yet to upload anything to her blog this week and this is an easy, last minute post’. Successful blogger, that is clearly (not) me. This meme, hosted by Taking on a World of Words, requires you to answer three simple questions: 1) What did you just finish? 2) What are you currently reading? and 3) What will you read next?

Recently Finished

35820405My Oxford Year – Julia Whelan | Goodreads

I picked this one expecting it to be some light, fluffy chick-lit featuring a romantic Oxford setting and a sexy literature professor as the love interest. Tick to the setting and double tick to the hot professor but NOOOOOOO to the light and fluffy. About half way through, the book flips in tone with the reveal of a big secret about the male lead.  I quite liked both Ella, our American protagonist, and Jamie, her British romantic interest, and the chemistry between the two is great. BUT man, this book broke my heart a little. The ending isn’t exactly sad in and of itself but thinking about what will happen after it definitely leaves a bit of a hole in the chest. Still, I liked that the book encourages you to pursue your passions, and reinforced the idea that while not all things last forever, it’s important to make the most of them while you can.

Currently Reading

30653853The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli | Goodreads

Yep, after putting it off for ages, I’m finally doing it. After missing out on my light and fluffy with My Oxford Year, I definitely needed it going into this one. As in Becky’s other books, the characters feel realistic and there’s a lot of diversity but I’m not as in love with them as I was with those in Simon. There are a few things about the plot that are bugging me but a lot of it I can narrow down to teenagers thinking and acting like teenagers – things that seem so important at that age, really aren’t in the overall scheme of things. I definitely relate to Molly a lot though and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in a lot of the self-confidence issues I have. Even some of her thoughts feel like somebody secretly copied and pasted them straight from my head. I’m almost finished, should be done tonight. Here’s hoping for a cute ending.

Up Next

29386918Wildcard (Warcross 2#) – Marie Lu | Goodreads

Yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to be following my sister’s TBR list for this month and I promise I’ll go back to it but I just can’t resist reading this book. It’s FINALLY out! YAYYYYYYYYY! I’m a little excited, can you tell? I almost jumped for joy when I found it a few days earlier than expected at the book store. I’ve seen some mixed reviews from those with ARCs so far, so I’m slighty concerned but hopefully it’s for nothing. I really enjoyed Warcross when I read it earlier this year so fingers crossed this one lives up to it. It’ll be good to spend some more time with my gal Emika again. Looking forward to seeing her kick some more virtual ass.

Divider 2

What’s your current read & what’s up next?

Ash

Let’s Talk: Picking Books to Review

As book bloggers, one of the biggest components of what we do is writing reviews. However, also being book lovers, we tend to read a substantial number of books every year. Writing lengthy reviews for each and every one just isn’t possible (especially when you’re as slow as I am) – we’d go grey before we even made a dent. So how is it that we pick which books we want to spend several hours discussing with our computer screen?

It’s Absolutely Fantastic (Five Star that Baby)

There’s nothing like finishing a ridiculously amazing book to send you running for your keyboard. When a book has completely rocked your world, the first thing you want to do is tell the world about it (well, after jumping up and down, and searching the internet for fan art, of course). You want everybody else to see just how much of a gem this book is so that they can enjoy it, too.

You’d think these reviews would be easy to write but sometimes they end up being even harder than those for books you don’t like. I find that this is usually because, while I know I enjoyed the hell out of a book, the struggle is breaking down the exact reasons why. Why did I fall so completely in love with the MC, what was it about the plot that shocked me so much, why is this couple my new OTP? Still, these are definitely the most heavily featured types of reviews on my blog because they’re just so much fun to write.

You Hated It (1 Star that Sucker)

In much the same way as an overly positive reaction can push you to write a review, so too can a particularly strong negative reaction. Anger, disgust, frustration, disappointment – these are motivators behind many reviews, especially where the book is something you were led by others to believe was great. I find that I rarely run out of things to say with these types of reviews but the problem is ensuring you don’t cross the line from constructive to cruel. Critiques are a natural part of any art form but we need to be mindful that we’re criticising the work, not the person.

It’s an ARC

Yes, yes, I know this is an obvious one and pretty self-explanatory. The majority of the time when you have an ARC, you’ve been given it by the publisher for the express purpose of writing a review. Therefore, these books are almost guaranteed review picks. If it’s a book people are looking forward to, you’d be silly not to use the opportunity to get extra traffic to your blog. People want to know about this book and you get to read it before everyone else! Use it!

It’s Hyped/Popular

I can’t be the only one who sometimes chooses books to review on this basis (can I?). This reason only really applies, for me, to books that have just come out. If I’m reviewing a popular book that’s a little older, it’s probably for reasons 1 or 2 above. However, if the book is a new release and people have been waiting around for it, much like with an ARC, I’ll review it because I know it’s what people are interested in. Not everyone reads hyped books right on release, some people wait a few months. At least this way people know whether to bump it further up their TBR or perhaps let it linger on the bottom for longer.

Good but Flying Under the Radar

I have to say, I don’t read a lot of not so well known books and that’s a weakness of mine. There’s just so many popular ones that I constantly feel like I’m catching up! However, when I do read something that’s not as well-known and actually a pretty solid read, I’ll usually write a review.

There are so many big name books out there which have ended up being mediocre that I feel it’s important to get the word out when you find something good (or even great) flying under the radar. Give a less known author/book the credit they’re due, you may just help someone find a new favourite read.

Divider 2

I’m sure there are book bloggers and reviewers out there with very different motivations behind their review picks. I mean, for all I know, there are some crazy superheroes out there that manage to write legible and amazing reviews for most of the things they read (HOW?? I spend like five hours on just one damn review). Still, this is at least an accurate summary of mine and I feel like they’re pretty reasonable. Recently I’ve been trying to increase my reviewing frequency so perhaps new motivations will arise as time goes on.

Why do you review the specific books you review? And what motivates you to read some else’s review?

 

The 80s Movie Tag (Original Tag)

While looking at book tags last month, I came across one labelled the 90s movie tag. I thought it was a really great idea for a tag, and it got me thinking about other movies I consider classics worthy of many, many rewatches. As it turned out, a bunch of the ones that came to mind were 80s movies, and so this tag was born!

There are so many popular movies from 80s. However, finding prompts for them that wouldn’t be ridiculously difficult to answer and hadn’t been done a million times already was very difficult. So if I haven’t included one of your favourites, it’s probably because my silly brain couldn’t come up with a decent prompt for it (You have no idea how sorry I am to skip The Breakfast Club, GhostbustersThe Terminator, and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).


80s 1A Book That Kept You Up All Night

93124

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J. K. Rowling)

When I first got into Harry Potter, I was about four years old. My mum and I would read the books together and we did this until about book four. By the time Half-Blood Prince came out, I was in my teen years, a very competent and quick reader, and just dying to get my hands on it. I read it during school lunch break, in between netball quarters, in the car, and late into the night. I just couldn’t put it down, I needed to know what happened next! I definitely gave myself a headache from eye strain but it was so worth it.


80s 2A Wonderfully Quotable Book

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

While I definitely quote Harry Potter A LOT, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has some really lovely lines about life, growing up, friendship, and love. Many of them actually made their way into the movie which is wonderful. Here are some of my favourites:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

_

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” 

“I just want you to know that you’re very special… and the only reason I’m telling you is that I don’t know if anyone else ever has.”

_

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”


80s 3A Character Who Loves Breaking the Rules

Kady

Kady Grant (The Illuminae Files – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman)

With Kady, if you tell her one thing, you can pretty much guarantee she’s going to do the exact opposite. Kady purposefully fails the testing to place refugees from Kerenza into service and then spends the rest of Illuminae hacking into whatever the hell takes her fancy as well as running around parts of ships she probably shouldn’t. Told to get rid of the crazy AI? Nah, let’s just save it to a datapad. You can also be sure that no matter what’s happening, she’ll be putting her two cents in.

(P.S. How cool is the Illuminae character art by Kira Knight??)


80s 4A Book Couple That Took An Eternity To Get Together

Image result for the captive prince series

Damen & Laurent (The Captive Prince Trilogy  – C. S. Pacat)

So, you start this series and get a general idea of the kind of books they are – it’s fantasy but mostly romance involving a lot of questionable content (don’t say I didn’t warn you). It also happens to involve a great deal of banter, sexual tension, and loads of sexual references. For this reason, you’d expect the two leads to get down to it some point soon, right? NOOOOPPPE. You’ve got to make it through the whole of book one AND THEN about two-thirds of book two before you get just about anything. This series redefines slow burn romance. If you’re into these kinds of books (book 2 is a lot better than book one and with far more substance, just sayin’), be prepared for a long wait.


80s 5A Book Involving Time Travel

10644930

11.22.63 (Stephen King)

I read this book after watching the mini-series across a few international flights. It’s a bit of a change of pace for Mr King but it’s very well done. Time travel is key to the plot in that it revolves around an English teacher travelling back to the early 60s in an attempt to stop the assassination of JFK. The characters are good, there’s some mystery and romance, and as usual for King, the writing is great.


80s 6A Character With Unique Style

16303287

Magnus Bane (Shadowhunters Books – Cassandra Clare)

If there are two things we can say about Magnus Bane, it’s that he’s (a) sassy and (b) got some interesting fashion sense  (or perhaps ‘flamboyant’ would be a better word). Glitter, shiny fabrics, bright makeup, leather, crazy prints, Magnus does it all and somehow makes it work, even when he’s running around to help save the world. It’s definitely out there but it’s also an essential component of his character.


80s 8Your Favourite Book involving the Training/Mentoring Trope

See the source image

Eragon (Christopher Paolini)

I was definitely not short on choices for this one – you guys know how much I love this trope. So I’ve gone with Eragon. I really love this book. It’s so tropey in general but I don’t care. I enjoy Brom teaching Eragon how to fight, use magic and just generally be a decent dragon rider. Eragon’s a bit of a rash idiot at the beginning but he gets there eventually and this relationship has a big impact on him for books to come.

Special mentions: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson) & Nevernight (Jay Kristoff)


80s 9A Book with a Trip that Doesn’t Go to Plan

29283884

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzie Lee)

Poor Monty, Percy and Felicity. All they wanted was to see a bit of Europe and get away from their stuffy parents for a while. Next thing you know, they’re being held up by bandits and on the run from a very angry French aristocrat whilst trying to protect the work of a famous alchemist. Boy, travel is stressful.


IndianaA Book with the Central Character’s Name in the Title

33160963

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

I’m going with my most recent read for this one, which I loved immensely. Evelyn is the heart of this story and the book details the events of her life from her teen years up until her 80s. She’s not perfect but she’s certainly interesting.


80s 11A Female Character who Comes out of her Shell

7736182

Piper McLean (The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan)

Piper was my favourite of the newly introduced demi-gods in Riordan’s The Lost Hero. For large parts of the book, Piper’s quite down on herself. She doesn’t realise the full potential of her abilities, chastises herself for not being able to do more in bad situations, and lets herself get pushed around by others. By the end, she realises her value and power, and finds a new sense of confidence. She plays a crucial rule in saving the day, stands up to a bully, takes leadership of the Aphrodite cabin, and convinces herself she’ll win “back” her guy. Go Piper.


80s 10A Death That Took You By Surprise

29748925

XXX (Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor)

Avert your eyes if you don’t want to be spoiled. Sarai’s death is actually disclosed in the first few pages of Strange the Dreamer but for some reason, my brain just didn’t process it as being real. I was like, maybe it’s the past or a dream? Even when I got to the scene in context later in the book, I was like…nahhhhhh, Sarai can’t be dead. Later: Wait, she’s actually dead? Now she’s a GHOST. WHAT THE HELL? Let’s say I wasn’t expecting the story to take the direction it did going into book two.


80s 12An Ending that Left you Both Happy & Sad

See the source image

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

THUG was such a fantastic and yet gut-wrenchingly real book. The conclusion to the main storyline isn’t satisfying but it’s sure as hell realistic. The fact that this was the way things turned out made me feel absolutely awful for the characters, especially Starr, but worse still because this is what actually happens to African-Americans in the United States. At the same time, Starr’s final pages of monologue are extremely empowering and positive – she’s found her voice and won’t let anyone stop her from standing up for what’s right. She’ll keep fighting. The fact that it’s necessary is terrible but it’s a really strong and wonderful way to end the novel.

Divider 2

And that makes an even dozen. There are actually two movies on this list that I haven’t seen, Nightmare on Elm St and Pretty in Pink. The first is because I don’t do scary movies and the second, I just haven’t got around to it. Perhaps in the near future?

How many of these 80s classic films have you seen? What’s your favourite 80s movie? 

I Tag 2

I know I actually tagged a list of people when I created my Six of Crows tag a while back but this time around I’m sticking to my usual practice and not tagging anyone. If you’d like to give my 80s Movie Book tag a go for yourself, please do! I would love to see your answers so make sure to tag me!!

Ash.jpg

Never Forget, Never Give Up, Never Be Quiet: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5 stars

THUG.jpg

Now that’s how you write an author debut.

Over the years, I’ve seen quite a lot of books raved about online, but there are only a few that reach the level of The Hate U Give. This book deserves all the love it receives and more.

I confess, I spend most of my time buried in books that don’t really deal with very heavy, real-world issues. I usually read books to get away from the real world, which is why it’s taken me so long to finally read THUG – I just wasn’t sure whether it’d be something I’d actually enjoy. As usual, I shouldn’t have worried, because this book is fantastic and, above all, eye-opening.

I’m not going to write an extremely lengthy review because it’s been done thousands of times before and probably far better than I’d ever manage. So let’s keep it short and sweet.

Who, What, Where?

The Hate U Give is YA contemporary novel set in the poverty affected, crime-ridden, and heavily African-American populated area of Garden Heights. This is the home of our protagonist, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter and her family. After attending a house party, Starr gets a ride home with an old friend, Khalil. On the way, they’re pulled over by a police officer who, shortly after, shoots and kills Khalil. As the only witness, Starr is placed in a terrifying position – does she speak up, risking the wrath of not only the police but the local gangs, or stay silent, even if it means sacrificing justice for her friend?

Thoughts

One of the most basic pieces of advice people give to young writers is ‘write what you know’ and that’s exactly what Angie Thomas has done. Thomas grew up in an area of Mississippi not too different from Garden Heights and because of this she has intimate knowledge of the poverty, crime, domestic abuse, drug issues, prejudice, education barriers, fear, and violence African-Americans face in parts of the US. But instead of just preaching to us about these issues, Angie places us smack bang in the middle of it so that we can experience them through the eyes of someone who sees it all every day.

When Starr sits in the passenger’s seat of Khalil’s car, her mind running over every piece of advice her parents have given her for dealing with police, we actually feel her terror. The idea that this is what people of colour experience when they come in contact with those who are supposed to protect them horrifies me. I don’t think I have ever been more aware of my privilege than I was in that moment and that is the power of Angie Thomas’ writing.

However, the most wonderful thing about THUG is that it’s not just about the negatives. As outsiders, we look at neighbourhoods like Garden Heights and all we see are the problems. In this book, Angie helps us realise that despite these issues, this is still someone’s home and there’s so much good we don’t see – loving families, kids playing on the street, thriving local businesses, and a tight-knit community.

THUG’s success isn’t just about its subject matter, it’s also well written, engaging and filled with memorable characters. The plot itself is very multilayered – Starr dealing with issues of race in her friendships and romantic relationship, community issues in Garden Heights, particularly in relation to drug lord, King, and then the treatment of black people by law enforcement and the media. Because of this, the plot has a lot of room to move which allows Thomas to address some intense topics with a character heavy and personal focus

Each of the characters in the novel, even the smaller ones, leave an impression, whether it be good or bad. They’re developed, distinct and actually feel like real people. As a protagonist, I found Starr to be very strong. She’s brave and possesses great emotional complexity. I sympathised with her, felt concern for her, rooted for her, and raged with her.

I wish I could explain just how big an impact this book has but even with thousands of words, I don’t think I’d succeed. Instead, all I can say is, read this book – it’s educational, emotional, and an important reminder of just how far we all have to go to achieve equality.

5 Stars

Top 10 Tuesday: Binge-Worthy TV Shows

It’s been a while since I last did a Top 10 Tuesday post so I thought it was about time I dive back in. This week’s topic is actually a non-bookish one for a change and relates to movies or TV. Like anyone, I love a good binge-worthy series – the ones that are so consuming you just have to watch the next episode, and the next, and the next, to find out what’ll happen. You know it’s good when you’ve watched so much that Netflix is checking whether it should play the next episode or not. TV tastes vary quite a lot so this is a hard list to create and still appeal to everyone. For that reason, here are ten shows that I, personally, binge-watched like a fiend (of which there are MANYYYYYY).

Stranger Things

stranger things netflix GIF

Gotta love a bit of 80s nostalgia. Stranger Things feels like if Spielberg and Stephen King had produced a TV baby. This is a binge watch for me every time I see it, especially since each season is only 8 episodes long. I love the characters (Dustin and STEVE!) and I’m a big fan of shows involving supernatural elements. For those few people who haven’t seen it, Stranger Things is set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. After 12-year-old Will Buyers goes missing, Will’s friends and family launch an investigation which suggests the explanation may be otherworldly in nature.

TV 2

david fincher GIF by NETFLIX

There’s just something about twisted crime pieces that sucks me in. It’s a mood, okay? Don’t judge me. Mindhunter follows two FBI agents as they interview serial killers in an attempt to learn more about the way these individuals think in the hopes it will allow them to develop better profiling techniques. The acting is great and the show just has this gritty and dark atmosphere that’s so addicting. It’s also produced by director, David Fincher & actress, Charlize Theron. It’s not an action-packed kind of show but if you’re into slower, more subtle entertainment, it’s a solid pick.

TV 3

Image result for daredevil gif

I had to include at least one Marvel show on the list. I really loved Jessica Jones‘s first season but because I’m behind on season 2, I’ve gone with Daredevil. The action sequences are amazing, the characters are well done, and Charlie Cox is some serious eye candy. A blind superhero who’s not really blind is also a very cool concept. When the second season came out, only work was able to drag me away from my Netflix account.

TV 4

Image result for unreal tv show gif

This one is a major guilty pleasure binge. I’ll admit, I enjoy watching The Bachelor when it’s on (however, the Australian version is a little less insane than the US) and Unreal was created by a former producer on the US Bachelor & Bachelorette. The show is set behind the scenes of a very similar fictional tv series called Everlasting in which we witness the antics on set and the absolute crazy lengths creators will go to in order to keep making high rating TV. It’s got strong female leads and some of it is just hilarious (if a bit dark)

TV 5

Related image

Yes, this is a controversial one but having seen the first season twice and the second season once, I’ve binge-watched each time. If you weren’t already aware (where have you been??), the premise of the show is that following the suicide of student Hannah Baker, 13 cassette tapes she made are sent around to a group of people whom Hannah claims to be the reasons behind her decision to take her own life. I powered through season one because I had to know why Clay, the show’s protagonist, was included on the tapes and even then, I needed to see how it’d end. It’s a tough show to watch at times and definitely DO NOT if you have experienced depression or suicidal thoughts before. Otherwise, it’s deeply emotional, well acted and has some nice underlying messages about how we treat others.

TV 6

Image result for the end of the f***ing world gif

This show is so British, it hurts (in a good way, of course). It’s a very quirky, dark-comedy – a little bit Wes Craven, a tad Quentin Tarantino, and massively odd, but it’s also really funny and a hell of a ride. There’s only one season so far (greenlit for a second) and it’s 8 episodes long, perfect for binging. The show revolves around two teens –  angsty Alyssa, who wants to escape her home life, and James, who thinks himself a psychopath and is set on murdering Alyssa. The two decide to run away and end up on a road trip full of crazy stuff including a paedophile, exploding car, and petrol station attendant called Frodo. I wasn’t sure how I felt at the start but it really does grow on you in a way you don’t expect.

TV 7

Image result for broadchurch gif

Another crime series. I don’t watch many mass season crime shows these days, with every episode a different case. However, I do enjoy limited episode series with confined season long investigations. And because of the need to find out who did it and how, I tend to binge them. Broadchurch is a great watch. David Tenant (LOVE) and Olivia Coleman are absolutely fantastic and each of the three seasons is well written and fabulously filmed. The first season deals with the murder of an eleven-year-old boy and showcases the investigation, the impact the death has on his family, and the various personalities of people living in the small coast-side town.

TV 8

Lifetime Telly GIF

Oh, man. Now, this is guilty pleasure town. Netflix recently put a few older seasons of this up and I’m addicted. I will honestly sit for hours and just watch episode after episode of people frantically sewing clothes into the late hours of the morning and bitching about each other behind their backs. Reality tv at it’s most mind-numbingly enjoyable.

TV 9

Image result for buffy title gif

BtVS is one of my favourite tv series of all time. Easy. I could watch this thing through 1000 times and still not be sick of it. Yes, it can be a little campy and the special effects are definitely on the dated side, but it’s such a great show and one of Joss Whedon’s best productions. The characters are wonderful and the show itself perfectly straddles action, horror and comedy with some romance thrown in. Watching Buffy and friends kick ass and save the world from vampires, demons and everything else creepy-crawly is one of the best ways to spend a night in.

TV 10

Related image

While the revival is certainly questionable, the first five or so seasons of Gilmore Girls are one of my favourite things to binge. Every time I watch, I feel like I’m teen again, watching with my mum. It’s such a comforting, heartwarming and fun show that never ceases to make me smile. Watching mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory go about their lives and witnessing the crazy hijinks of the tiny town they live in is definitely my idea of bingeable entertainment. It’s also funny and ridiculously quotable. Oy, with the poodles already!

What are your favourite TV shows to binge watch?

September TBR: My Sister Picks My TBR

I always have a bit of a hard time picking books from the mounds of things I have to read in my bookcase. So, for something different this month, I’ve taken the decision out of my hands and given it to someone else: my sister, Chloe.

Chloe does like to read but unless she’s on holiday, her pace tends to be more in line with a snail or a tortoise. I think she’s been a third of the way through Crooked Kingdom for the past four months. However, she’s got a good idea of the kind of things I like because I tend to talk about them with her. I gave her a list of sixteen of my books (none of which she’s read and some she hasn’t even heard of) and asked her to pick seven. This is what she came up with (using a little help from Goodreads):

Seven Husbands

Chloe says: The concept of this book seems really interesting and I’m partial to a 1950s setting. Also, I like the idea of the contrast between Evelyn and Monique.

Ashley says: I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book and I’m kind of looking forward to something a bit different from my usual YA and fantasy. Plus the cover is gorgeous.

Upside

Chloe says: Becky Albertalli is really good at creating relatable YA characters with contemporary issues that readers can relate to. If this is anything like her other two books, then I’m sure it’ll be good.

Ashley says: I’ve been putting this one off for months now – I keep adding it to the TBR and then not reading it. It’s only a short YA contemporary and I’ve loved both of Becky’s other books so it’s probably a good thing that Chlo’s picked this one.

The Poppy War

Chloe says: I like the idea of the historical setting and the specific aspects of history included in the plot itself. I love an underdog and Rin seems like the best kind of underdog. Screw the elitists. This book also kind of makes me think of Mulan, and I love Mulan.

Ashley says: I haven’t read a lot of Asian inspired fantasy and this one seems really interesting. Chloe and I both love history so it’ll be cool to see how those elements are woven into the narrative. And yes, underdogs are great.

My Oxford Year

Chloe says: Who doesn’t love a good romantic comedy in book form? Also, Oxford. I don’t know why we romanticise high-ranking universities like Harvard, or Cambridge, but I like the idea anyway.

Ashley says: Can’t go wrong with some good chick-lit. I’m hoping this will be a cute one and like Chlo, I kind of like the idea of the British university setting. They are pretty romantic looking old buildings, I guess?

Howl

Chloe says: HELL FUCKIN’ YEAH!

Ashley says: Chloe and I both love the anime adaptation of this book. We quote it constantly so I’m not at all surprised she’s picked this one. I’ve been interested in reading the book for a while so I’m looking forward to seeing how it differs.

stormdancer

Chloe says: You love Jay Kristoff so it makes sense that you’d like this book. Also, I like the title and Australians represent.

Ashley says: I do love Jay Kristoff and I’ve been delaying reading this one for forever. It’s another one I keep adding to my monthly TBRs and then losing motivation for. Time to finally do it.

Children

Chloe says: I’m going to be honest, I love the cover and that’s the main reason I chose this, but having read the description I think it fits the list well, too. I chose quite a few light-hearted ones and I think this adds a little more intensity to the list. Plus, the name Zélie is pretty sounding.

Ashley says: It’s definitely an awesome cover – super badass looking. This is another one I’ve heard rave reviews about and you know I can never resist a popular YA-fantasy. I think it’ll be nice to read another book with non-white leads as well.

Divider 2

That’s seven! Hopefully Chloe’s picked a few winners but only time will tell.

What’s on your September TBR?