<![CDATA[book squad goals - Blog]]>Sat, 01 Jun 2019 06:31:37 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Featured Bookstore: Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA]]>Wed, 14 Mar 2018 23:32:07 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/featured-bookstore-little-shop-of-stories-decatur-gaPicture

Local independent bookstores help foster a sense of community, and that's what drew me to Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia. The first time I walked through their doors during the Decatur Book Festival many years ago, I could see that this bookstore was doing more than selling Children's and Young Adult books. They were promoting a literary community in Decatur for children, adults, and even dogs (more on the dogs later). Little Shop of Stories is the type of bookstore that I walk into knowing I'm going to end up finding at least one or two things I have to buy. It's the type of place I recommend to friends whenever they're visiting from out of town and looking for something fun to do. Because, as corny as this might sound, it's more than a bookstore. It's a fun place to be.

This past weekend while I was in Atlanta visiting friends and family, I had an opportunity to sit down with Justin Colussy-Estes to talk more about Little Shop of Stories, what makes this store so awesome, and its connection to the Decatur community.

I stealthily snapped this photo of Diane (left) and Justin (right) standing behind this Black Panther display.
When I mentioned to Justin that I first discovered Little Shop of Stories when I wandered in during the Decatur Book Festival, he explained to me that, "the book festival is here [in Decatur] in part because the guys that started it did all this research and this is one of the highest concentrations of reading populations, certainly in Atlanta, but also in Georgia and regionally." And yet despite that, there were no bookstores to speak of in downtown Decatur before Little Shop of Stories. That's where store owners Dave and Diane came in to open this shop, a store that appeals to kids, young adults, and adults, despite being first and foremost a children's bookstore. 

"Most bookstores are 80% adult books and 20% kids books, I’m guessing, but we flip that," Justin told me. "
So we do have adult books, but only probably about 20%. But that means that we don’t have to be everything to anybody. We select our books based on what we think our customers will want." I have certainly never had difficulty finding a title I want at Little Shop of Stories, and I think a lot of that has to do with the carefully selected and displayed books. All of them seem personally curated, so I never have to wade through a stack of boring books to get to the fun stuff. Everything on their shelves looks good.

Justin explained to me why this 80/20 model works so well for them: "
Customers trust us in terms of books for their kids, so that carries over and they trust us for our adult selections as well. We don’t have to have everything. We just have to try to make sure the books we have are things we’re passionate about and that we serve the community in that way.”
Little Shop of Stories also serves the community through constantly hosting events such as author signings, book clubs, story times, sleepovers, and summer camps (just to name a few). On the left, you can see their line-up of 2018 Summer Camps, starting with Camp Be the Change, a summer camp for young political activists, on May 29-June 1, and ending with Camp Hogwarts (if you can't figure out what that camp is about, then we're not friends), July 30-August 3. 

If your kids can't hold out for summer camps to get in on the Little Shop of Stories Action, there's a Little Shop Slumber Party April 27-28 for girls currently in the 3rd-5th grade. All proceeds will benefit On The Same Page, a community-wide reading initiative, bringing families together around the same book. ​So there's a lot of super cool kids-only events happening in the store basically all the time. 

But grown-ups, there's plenty of fun stuff for you to get involved in at the shop as well. They have five book groups that are exclusively for adults. There's a Not So YA Book Club for those of us who are grown ups but still enjoy a good YA book every now and then. There's also a Poetry & Wine Club, which they describe as a very "non-pretentious" group of adults getting together to drink wine and talk about poetry.

On Thursday, March 29, the guys at Little Shop of Stories are hosting an evening of conversation with Leslie Odom, Jr., Tony/Grammy award winner and now author of the book Failing Up, at Gaines Auditorium in Presser Hall of Agnes Scott College. Tickets are still available, and tickets come with a pre-signed copy of the book. For more information on this and other upcoming events, check out their event page here

If you're more of a chill type person who doesn't want to get involved in big ticket events and just wants to hang out at a pretty bookstore, Little Shop of Stories has you covered there too. "We had two customers in here an hour ago. Today’s their anniversary," Justin said. "They were able to take time off from work, and they were like, ‘We just wanted to hang out so we came here to buy books.’ They come here, and they know that they’ll get a breather, and the book they saw out of the corner of their eye while they were chasing their toddler around the store will be here." And really, is there anything more romantic than shopping for books with the person you love most?

Speaking of special someones, Little Shop of Stories has even hosted a wedding in their event space before for a couple who met at one of their book clubs. And here's where the dogs come back into the picture. On the day of the Royal Wedding, Little Shop of Stories hosted a Royal Dog Wedding for two of their lovely canine customers. Justin informed me they'll actually be renewing their vows soon, so look out for more information on that, animal lovers.

I absolutely love everything about Little Shop of Stories: the general aesthetics of the store that make it so fun to browse, their activism for both children and adults, their connection to the community, and their connection to the schools. Justin told me, ​“We have a tight connection to the schools [in Decatur] because we know that community is why we thrive.” In solidarity with students around the country today, they opened at 10:18am rather than their regular time at 10am to stand outside for one minute for every life lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

After my visit to Little Shop of Stories this past weekend, I left the store the way I always leave it, a little bit happier, with a little bit more faith in the community, and obviously with a couple new books as well. This time, I bought The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Warcross by Marie Lu. You can buy these two titles and much more in store or in their new online store (click the links above). 

I'd like to thank Little Shop of Stories for being so great, and special thanks to Justin Colussy-Estes for taking the time to speak with me. 

<![CDATA[Riverdale Recap! S2E14: The Hills Have Eyes]]>Sun, 11 Mar 2018 22:46:45 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/riverdale-recap-s2e14-the-hills-have-eyes
RIVERDALE IS BACK, BABY, and the BSG team is back on it again. Well, Mary and Kelli are back, anyway, recapping this trash show until the cows come home.

Riverdale’s 27th chapter is entitled “The Hills Have Eyes.” If we’re to believe that this entire show is actually the novel Jughead is writing, does that mean he’s naming all of his chapters titles after movies? In that case, it’s even more of a gimmick than we thought. Here at BSG, we’ve been referring to this episode by a much different name — Chapter 27: “Sex Weekend.” Feel free to steal that for the second draft of your manuscript, Juggy.

Part I: Mary

In his standard dramatic narration, Jughead says that Betty’s home is becoming her personal prison because of Chic. We get a montage of her walking around her house, being followed by Chic, encountering him as he uses her shower, drinks juice from the bottle, etc.. This “prison” that betty finds herself in is **gasp** normal sibling behavior. Chic is being annoying, but he’s not doing anything sinister…yet!

Cheryl is still displeased with her mother’s new occupation (which is sex work, if you missed that plot point). Penelope says that she was in love with Hal, which doesn’t seem entirely true but allows Penelope to verbally abuse Cheryl. All is not well in Thistle House.

Now we get to the meat of the episode, **cracks knuckles** SEX WEEKEND. Hiram Lodge tells Archie and Veronica that he and Hermione are going out of town on mob business and that the gang should go to the Lodge vacation cabin to get away and be safe (just in case). André, the ever present butler/hireling, will be nearby in case anything goes amiss, but Veronica isn’t to know that little detail.

This is clearly part of Archie’s grooming to be in The Family, but it’s ridiculous. What parent—even an incredibly sex positive parent—sends their child away with their partner for a romantic cabin weekend? Like, really? Shouldn’t they at least have some sort of sex talk before they go? I wanted to be pleasantly surprised that this was NOT a sex weekend, but of course, most of the humor of this episode comes from the couples hearing squeaking beds in the room next door. UGH.
witness archie being a massive hypocrite
Jughead and FP are still trying to figure out how to save the trailer park. In another context, this could be a heartwarming Disney flick. It’s not, though.

Poor Kevin. He just wants someone to go with him to see the totally-not-endorsed-movie Love, Simon. Riverdale is known for its slightly-off, but totally on point references (like The Matchelor, which stands in for The Bachelor), so hearing a real movie title felt surprising. Then I did the shallowest bit of digging. Greg Berlanti, who acts as an executive producer on many a CW show and is particularly beloved for his work on the DC comics suite of shows on the CW, directed Love, Simon, and, yes, also produces Riverdale. Mentioning the upcoming movie on a Berlanti show feels…cheap. Not only the mention inconsistent with how Riverdale typically does things, but it seems greedy, like Berlanti is trying to market himself any way he can, even on his own show. All this isn’t to discredit Berlanti or suggest his work is bad. Instead, I’m merely pointing out, in so many words, it feels icky. Moving on.

Moose tells Kevin that Midge “knows all about” their previous relationship, but viewer, she most certainly does not. I don’t even need to wait to know that one.
same, kev
No one’s parents are opposed to sex weekend, so the gang heads out, leaving a very angry Cheryl behind. Jughead wants to go on sex weekend so he can get the scoop on the Lodges from Veronica, but Betty tells him she just wants to relax and have fun. Chic CREEPILY confronts Jughead at the Cooper residence and tells him that if he tells anyone about the murder that happened in the Cooper house, “it’ll be bad for Betty and Alice.” Sure. That’s not weird or anything.

For me, this is where Riverdale is at its most Twin Peaks. We get a vaguely threatening comment from a creepy character, shots of trees and trees and trees, and some great atmospheric music (that doesn’t TOUCH the Twin Peaks soundtrack, but I’ll take what I can get).

The gang settles in for sex weekend to commence, and all is well! Veronica calls the cabin “Lodge Lodge,” which is very cute. Everyone gets comfy until Cheryl calls Jughead to quickly tell him that Betty and Archie kissed in front of her house. YIKES.

Back on Cheryl’s end, Toni confronts Cheryl about telling Jughead about the kiss. Cheryl, in typical QUEEN fashion, tells Toni that she needs no reasons, she simply “is.” Cheryl seems angrier at Toni’s kind words than she should. That, paired with Madelaine Petsch’s recent comments that there are TWO bisexual characters on the show, make me believe (if I didn’t already), Cheryl will be coming out soon!

Jughead and Betty have a heart to heart about The Kiss, and Jughead says he is TOTALLY COOL with it. Bughead overhears a squeaking bed in Archie and Veronica’s room and have my favorite moment of the episode, where the couple says, Is that how they handle everything? Can’t they just have a conversation?
"why are our teenage friends so obsessed with sex??"
Jughead tries to get nosy with Veronica, but she misinterprets it as “tension,” so the gang grabs their margaritas and heads to the hot tub. For some reason, Veronica thinks it’ll be a good idea for her and Jughead to kiss in order to get even. WHO WOULD THINK THAT IS A GOOD IDEA?! Everyone is jealous. Everyone.
Later, Betty has the wonderful idea that out of everyone, Jughead and Archie are the only ones who haven’t kissed (at least outside of the fanfic, let’s be real). Betty decides to go Dark Betty and threaten to “punish” Jughead, but like, you know, sexy punishing. It’s legitimately sexy.

Meanwhile, Archie tells Veronica he’s “tired,” and becomes the dark cloud that rains all over Ronnie’s sex weekend.

The next morning, Archie sexily chops wood (I guess? Is that what we’re supposed to think?) before going into the woods to meet with André. Veronica finds them because OF COURSE SHE DOES. She’s mad and tells André to leave and tells Archie to give her some space. YEAH! She also says, “Try not to choke on your own testosterone while you’re at it.” AW YEAH.

Josie (remember Josie) throws shade at her mom and Sheriff Keller. Josie’s parents are getting a divorce and Josie thinks IT’S JUST SO UNFAIR. It’s kind of amazing to me how many couples aren’t divorced on this show.

Jughead and Archie have a heart to heart and Archie does not choke on his own testosterone, unfortunately. Jughead notes that the situation is complicated because they’re all best friends. OK, sure.
cool apology, bro

Part II: Kelli

Betty and Veronica go into town because Veronica wants to be away from Archie/throw her money at people. In a shop that sells candles AND scones, the cashier starts flirting with Veronica. She flirts back because she’s pissed off at Archie, and goes so far as to call this person “handsome,” which is SUCH a stretch. He’s not handsome, and his name is Cassidy, which honestly makes him even worse.

Once the girls return to the cabin, Veronica immediately forgives Archie, despite the fact that he’s done nothing to warrant her forgiveness. She makes him promise for the umpteenth time that he won’t keep secrets from her, and he’s like, ‘yeah, sure babe,’ and then they make out.

Jughead gets a phone call from a very excited FP, who informs him that the eviction notices are gone from the trailer park because Hiram has paid for everyone’s rent in full! Obviously, FP’s very adult response to this is to have a wild trailer party, which we can see raging in the background. I’m 120% sure that someone in that trailer was doing a kegstand, and I feel sad that we didn’t get to see it. It was probably Sweet Pea.

Jughead tells the other three about what just happened, and says that Hiram is “gobbling up the Southside piece by piece.” He’s horrified to discover that his friends seem to think he’s overreacting. He claims the entire thing is a smokescreen and that Hiram is trying to buy his silence, and Archie essentially tells him to chill with the conspiracy theories. I’m not surprised Archie doesn’t see what Hiram is doing, but I would think Betty and Veronica would know better.  
important filler image of betty struggling with her toxic sludge margarita
Meanwhile in the ‘excuse to rabidly promote Love, Simon’ subplot, Josie and Kevin meet up at Pop’s so that Josie can tell Kevin about what’s going on between their parents. It was news to me in this episode that Josie even knew about what was happening with her mom and the sheriff, but things move fast in Riverdale. Kevin is furious at his father, they fight, and then Josie and her mom fight about the fact that Josie told Kevin what was happening when it wasn’t her place. It’s just a lot of fighting and all of it feels undeserved when none of these characters have been fleshed out enough (McCoy and Sheriff Keller, mostly) for me to feel emotionally invested in their happiness. 

Kevin is eating a burger and milkshake alone at Pop’s (respect, Kev) when Midge and Moose waltz in. They’re like, ‘Kevin, you’re eating alone? Why would anyone ever do such a thing?’ and then basically force him to sit at a booth with them. This whole scene is basically here to emphasize Kevin’s singleness: he’s on one side of the booth while Moose and Midge are on the other, and when they ask him who he’s going to the movie with, he says, “I’m going to this gay romcom alone.” Midge suggests he date the gay Southsider, and Kevin delivers another great line: “If it’s Fangs Fogarty, I don’t think I can date someone named Fangs.” Moose is all, ‘he’s a good looking dude,’ and Midge says, ‘what do you know, you big lug?’ 

Guess what, Mary? You were right! Moose didn’t tell Midge anything!
kevin is yet again disappointed by everyone around him
Later at the movie theatre, Kevin runs into Josie, who is also there by herself to see Love, Simon. She apologizes to him for telling him about their parents instead of letting his dad talk to him about it first.

Toni and Cheryl are ALSO there to see Love, Simon, because every high schooler in Riverdale is seeing Love, Simon this weekend. Also, all of the high schoolers in Riverdale are somehow confident enough to go to the movies alone, which is one of the most unrealistic things about this episode. I go to the movies by myself all the time now that I’m an adult, but as an insecure 16-year-old? Fuck no.

Anyway, Toni asks Cheryl if she’s okay, and Cheryl responds with a negative. Toni has been ditched by the aforementioned Fangs Fogarty (what else could he possibly be doing when everyone else in the entire town is at this theatre). She suggests they sit together. We get a cut to inside the theatre, where we see an ACTUAL SCENE from Love, Simon, because this episode still hasn’t gone far enough with the tie-in advertising. Oh hey, Jennifer Garner.

Back at the Sex Cabin, our favorite foursome is playing monopoly and drinking red wine. They’re such sophisticated high school sophomores. Betty gets a phone call from Alice, and it turns out Hiram Lodge just bought the Riverdale Register! Cue massive fight! This is Sex Weekend and it’s couple vs. couple, y’all!

Jug and Betty are staunchly on the anti-Hiram side of this fight, saying that Hiram is trying to silence the free press (which he clearly is) and that Archie and Veronica need to stop defending Hiram. Honestly, there are so many sick burns during this argument. Jughead tells Archie that Veronica has him wrapped around her little finger, and Betty adds, “and other parts of her body.” Veronica’s amazing rebuttal: “Sorry we don’t spend our time being tragic and moping and holding hands while watching serial killer documentaries.”
how dare u? HOW DARE U
I could have watched these four yell at each other forever, but unfortunately, the throwdown is interrupted by the sound of glass breaking. As it turns out, Cassidy from the candle/scone store is actually a robber in his spare time. He and some other dude are there wearing ski masks and holding axes, and they’re going to take what they want, or else! Veronica insists on taking Cassidy upstairs herself to retrieve her wallet from her purse, which pissed me off until I realized it was so that she could press the Bond-esque security button at the back of the bedroom nightstand.

Once they return downstairs, Cassidy tells the four of them drop to their knees and makes like he’s going to chop them up with his dull axe, but then the alarm sounds. Veronica’s like, ‘y’all bitches better run because in 30 seconds my security guards are going to murder you in cold blood.’ “Screw you, rich bitch,” Cassidy says, and rips the necklace off of Veronica’s neck before he follows his partner out the door.

In the episode’s least surprising moment, Archie decides to chase after them. In the woods, he tackles one of the dudes and rips the mask off of his face, but at this point I can’t tell which nondescript white dude it is. André shows up to take care of things, and as Archie heads back to the cabin, he hears a gunshot in the woods.  

Back in Riverdale, everyone is at Pop’s after the mandatory Love, Simon screening. Josie and Kevin have a group meeting with their parents, and I think we’re supposed to believe that seeing the movie inspired them to have this conversation. Ugh. At Pop’s counter, Toni tells Cheryl that she saw her crying during the movie. Cheryl says she never cries during movies, but something about this movie (Love, Simon, in case you forgot) made her get emotional.

This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Cheryl’s coming out! It’s kind of a bummer that this moment got tied into an advertising campaign, but I’ll take what I can get. Cheryl reveals that she is not the loveless monster everyone thinks she is, and that she was in love once: with her best friend from junior high, a girl named Heather. When Penelope caught the two of them sharing a bed, she called Cheryl “deviant” (THE IRONY!). Toni listens, her eyes wide with trademark Toni empathy. She tells Cheryl that she isn’t loveless or deviant — she’s “sensational.” Then… THEY HOLD HANDS.
my. emotions
This is my new favorite ship. Goodbye everyone else. Also, I bet you a million dollars Heather is going to show up at some point to challenge this budding relationship.

After yet another emotional talk with the crew at Pop’s, Archie goes to talk to Hiram. How Archie managed to have a meeting with Hiram in Veronica’s house without Veronica’s knowledge is not something I am here to explain. All I know is that Archie’s promise to Veronica was a lie, AGAIN. Archie assures Hiram that André killing the ski mask dude doesn’t bother him, and Hiram hands Archie the stolen locket. So, I guess it was Cassidy that Andre killed… in which case, I give zero fucks.

We close out the episode with Bughead at the Cooper house. Jughead finally tells Betty that he thinks Chic is sketch, and he tells her to be careful. Betty looks at him like, ‘fuckin duh,’ and then he leaves. Jughead’s narration reminds us that Betty is just a girl in a house, “far from sweet, and perhaps far from safe.” Incidentally, my eyes just rolled so far into the back of my head that I fear I may never see again.

Final Thoughts

Mary: This episode was very meh for me, and I’m starting to think that drawing out the season this much was a mistake. It seems the writers have forgotten plotlines they set up at the beginning of the season and are starting new ones just for kicks. Is the Black Hood not a thing anymore? Are we sure? OK. I’m really hanging on for the musical episode at this point.

Mostly, it was difficult to suspend my disbelief for sex weekend. I mean, I know these are some progressive parents, but the premise is a little out there, isn’t it? IDK, what did everyone else think?

​Kelli: All I really care about from this episode was the revelation about Cheryl. I’ve been hoping Toni/Cheryl would be a thing since the Southsiders ended up at Riverdale, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with this relationship. Also hoping that this ‘lonely Kevin’ plot is going to lead to the reappearance of Joaquin: the finest man this show has ever seen. 

I totally agree with Mary about the Love, Simon ickiness. I’m sure the movie is sweet and great, but the prevalence of it in this episode was way over the top. However, when it comes to Sex Weekend, I’m willing to suspend disbelief, if only because all of these parents (except for Fred) are either in the mob, in a gang, murderers, or a winning combination of all three.

See you next time, y’all, and don’t forget to check out Love, Simon in a theatre near you! 

Mary & Kelli 
<![CDATA[ANTM Recap - C24/E9: Beauty is Movement]]>Fri, 09 Mar 2018 22:09:48 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/antm-recap-c24e9-beauty-is-movement"If I need to sell a noodle, cast me."
Selfie Mail arrives and Tyra says, “It’s time to make some moves.” Everyone’s like, “We’re dancing.” Shanice is feeling good about it because she danced in high school. Kyla is feeling like that scared face emoji about it because she can’t dance.
but does she tho? read more 2 find out
This episode focuses a lot on the cliques in the house among the remaining six women. The basic breakdown is: Jeana and Rio in one clique and everyone else in another. This is the episode where Shanice comes right out and says she doesn’t like or trust Jeana or Rio because they’re both cocky and arrogant and they talk shit about the other models.  

Ashley Graham introduces movement coach Jermaine Browne, choreographer for the Victoria’s Secret runway. I’ve been legit impressed with the people they’ve brought on this season, and Jermaine did not disappoint.

First he asks the ladies to show their natural movement, and the results are all over the place. Jeana does an actual dance but doesn’t really model. I mean, she does the splits at the end, which is impressive, but not what this is about. Brendi looks like she’s chewing gum, and when Jermaine points this out twice, she gets all upset and Brendi about it. Shanice is the accidental breakout star of this part because she does some crazy ass arm movement that looks funny, but in true Shanice style, she owns that shit and laughs about it too. Witness:
what is happening
Jermaine teaches the models a short a routine that they’ll have to perform alongside him and their photos will be captured in motion. There’s a little lift involved. Khrystyana is like “I’m kind of a heavy girl. You don’t lift me.” Lol. Winner gets to keep her outfit and pick a friend to have a spa day. Everyone gets one take. Go!

Ashley tells Shanice that Shanasty has to come out, and she does! Shanasty is back, y’all!
this nickname is only acceptable when you are a beautiful model
Jeana kills it. Brendi forgot to pose at all and starts pouting AGAIN. Kyla was super uncoordinated. Her take on her own movement: “My legs look like two noodles. My arms look like two noodles. And now I know iff there’s like, a ballet casting, I just shouldn’t go. But if I need to sell a noodle, sign cast me.” Lol.

Jeana and Shanice were the standouts, but Jeana wins. She of course picks Rio to join her for the spa day. Everyone’s annoyed.
When they come back in the house from their cryotherapy spa day, Rio and Jeana walk into the other girls playing a game. Jeana says hi and asks what the others are doing. And Brendi says, “None of your business.” It’s clear there’s a lot of tension between the two groups, but Rio and Jeana handle the shade pretty well and just go outside and sit in the hot tub.

Brendi is really focused on how the competition is too much for her and says she wants to go home. Erin tries to give her some tough love and tells her to focus on the positive, but Brendi says she doesn’t even know how to do that because most of her life has been negative experiences. They all hug her while she cries, which is super sweet, but she still wants to go home.

They go out to the desert for their photoshoot. Drew explains that the models be working with a parachute while a ton of wind blows on them. All I can think about is how much sand would be in my eyes and everywhere else. Nah thanks.
u ready for sand in your vag?
While the models are getting hair and makeup done, the wind kicks up and some of the tents get tossed in the air. Jeana got hit in the back of the head and has sand in her eye (I think she said she scratched her cornea?). Shanice thinks this is all bullshit and says the tent didn’t even hit Jeana but that “she deserves an Oscar after that performance.” When the footage is played back, it doesn’t look like Jeana was hit, but that would be a weird thing to make up.

Once again, the wardrobe for this shoot is amazing. All the clothes look so fantastic in the wind and against the backdrop of the parachute.

Highlights: Drew sings Shanice’s praises the entire time and said she was doing everything right. Jeana asked if she could take off the heels they put her in so she could move better. Drew’s like, “Ok, but you have to be tall.” She wasn’t very tall. BUT her dress is giving me Divine vibes from Pink Flamingos. That’s enough for me, but Drew said she looked like a pageant mom.

Tyra looks fantastic in this episode. Get it, girl. Now let’s judge some thangs.

Shanice: Drew loves it. Tyra says, “You’re Cinderella. This is stunning. This is supermodel quality posing.” I’m so proud of Shanice and I want to be her friend.

Kyla:  Ashley doesn’t like her positioning. Law says she looks amazing. Tyra doesn’t like it much either.
Shanice, Susan's bff
Erin: Ashley wants it to be more elevated. Tyra likes her body though.

Rio: Law said it’s “absolutely gorgeous as a long shot” but doesn’t like her face because you can tell she’s uncomfortable. Tyra said she didn’t know Rio was capable of being so feminine.
Khrystyana: Ashley says, “You look fantastic. You’re in command of that dress and the parachute at the same time.” Drew says, “You have a unique ability to bring clothes to life.”

Jeana: Law said, “I don’t really like it.” Drew explains that she looks short because of the shoe situation. They said her pose was very “flamenco emoji” and seems like the obvious thing to do in that dress. Drew says, “This look is worth millions, but if you cheapen it, it’s worth nothing.”
Brendi: Before anyone can even look at her photo, she tells them she needs to leave to take care of herself. They tell her they’re proud of her for putting her health first, and everyone says goodbye. Then Tyra’s like “Ha we’re still eliminating someone so don’t get comfy” (paraphrasing).

Best photo: SHANICE! Finally!
Runner up: Khrystyana. Still killing it.

Bottom 2: Kyla and Jeana. Uh oh.

Tyra to Jeana: “Your beauty is one thing, but your execution of your beauty is another.”
Tyra to Kyla: Your posing has a heaviness and “every now and then you come alive.”

Tyra is a little trickster because THEY’RE BOTH STAYING. Whew. That was mildly stressful, but I’m glad we’re all ok.

See you next week for an episode that will definitely be titled “Beauty is ________.” Let’s end on this gif of Khrystyana looking amazing:
Yours in #nextlevelfierceness,

<![CDATA[Late to the Game: Mary Talks About Horizon Zero Dawn]]>Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:12:30 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/late-to-the-game-mary-talks-about-horizon-zero-dawnTo continue the trend of me not getting into games until they’ve been out for a year or so, I’ve been playing Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games’s adventure for the PS4 that follows Aloy, a young woman tasked with discovering why the dangerous machines near her home are going crazy and murdering people. When I looked into what this game was about, I felt sold immediately. It has everything I like: a strong female protagonist, robot animals, beautiful settings, and lots and lots of sidequests. The A.V. Club’s Clayton Purdom calls Horizon Zero Dawn a “map game,” which isn’t completely fair. Yes, it’s a game where the player is invited to explore a map and complete quests in different areas of the map, but it also does a good job of building a complex world full of robots and intricate social hierarchies.

I named these little robots Terrence.
There are many things that make this game worth discussing, and many reasons why it creeped on to many Best of 2017 lists, but for the purpose of this blog post, I want to focus on Aloy, the main character of the game, and totally badass young woman.

2017 was a huge year for women speaking out against inequality and sexual harassment (and I hope we continue that trend in 2018 as well), and Horizon Zero Dawn attempts to channel some of that energy into video game form by featuring a protagonist that refuses to take crap from men. Many other games, like the Witcher series or any fighting game ever, work to oversexualize women by featuring them in skimpy outfits and posing provocatively while simultaneously underdeveloping their role in the plot or personal motivations. In the Witcher series specifically, the player can bed women and collect sexy pictures of them on playing cards. This depiction of sexuality portrays women as being implicit in a misogynistic system that codes their bodies as commodities. Women often offer Geralt (the protagonist and player character of The Witcher series) their bodies as payment for saving them, or for performing some other task.

The Witcher 3 lets you have sex on a unicorn. *insert eyeroll* And yes, this lady is magically disappearing her lingerie.
Horizon Zero Dawn departs from this model of simultaneously commodifying and shaming women for engaging in sexual relationships. Aloy is beautiful, even in her tribal gear and while jumping around the wilderness. Maybe she’s even more beautiful because she can conquer huge robot animals and leap across a canyon gracefully. Non-player Characters (NPCs) take notice of Aloy and sometimes make comments on her body, or how she should go on a date with them. Aloy frequently rejects these come-ons, arguing back against whoever is trying to pick her up and standing her ground. Where many other games have their female characters passively accept sexual comments from NPCs, Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t give the player the chance to stay silent. Instead, the game makes a comment on misogynistic trends in video games by having Aloy talk back. Additionally, the game’s plot itself lacks any romance at all, which can at times be frustrating, but also opens up the game to address women’s issues directly without worrying about an additional element of the plot. (As a side note, Mark Serrels has written a great piece about realizing how he has treated women in the past after playing as Aloy.)

"Look at how cute we are!"--Something I would frequently exclaim while playing.
Sometimes, the lack of romance frustrated me, and I (and the folks I played the game with) began constructing an imaginary harem of NPCs we would like to seduce. Some of these characters, like Petra the blacksmith, openly flirt with Aloy--and Aloy flirts back!--but the game has bigger fish to fry, like, you know, saving the world or whatever.
My favorite forge wife, Petra.
An interesting observation (made by my friend Jenni--thanks, Jenni!) that changes the way we view Aloy is that she comes from a matriarchal society. Early in the game, Aloy’s tribe, the Nora, explain that she has been outcast because she does not have a mother. Mothers are important. The Nora trace their ancestry through their mothers, their goddess is the All-Mother. Because she comes from a culture that reveres and respects women, Aloy is more empowered to be the adventurer she is. Horizon Zero Dawn is a post apocalyptic world, but it contrasts with the MRA fantasy that is the Mad Max universe. Instead of women being traded like slaves or forced to birth children for a despotic ruler, the women of the Nora are viewed as sacred. The people of the world worship goddesses and many, many female NPCs in the game are hunters. I feel good about the representation of women in the game, and while the racial diversity of the main characters leaves something to be desired, in general the population of this new America seems varied.

But there’s one big problem with race that hasn’t been addressed much.

Dia Lacia talks about this issue much more eloquently and with more authority than I can, but this blog post wouldn’t be complete without mention of the shortcomings of Horizon Zero Dawn. The premise of the game is that the world has essentially started over, and humans have reverted back to a time before technology. Unfortunately, that means that the developers have relied on using racially charged words associated with Native peoples, like brave, savage, tribe, etc.. While I don’t want to defend the developers, and this is an issue that should definitely be discussed more in the discourse surrounding Horizon Zero Dawn, the decision does make sense, even if it’s the wrong decision. If the devs were imagining a world shoved back into the past (with the addition of robo dinos), it makes some sense that people would live in the tribe-like systems of the past as well. That being said, it would have been remarkable to see what a completely new system of living would look like.

There's nothing like climbing a sweet, sweet Tallneck.
As usual, I'm behind on what games are hot. Being a grad student, I have limited time and resources to really dive into games the way I like to, and I've been fortunate to have the time to dedicate to Horizon Zero Dawn--even if it is a year late.

If, like me, you are also perpetually late to the game, make sure you check out Horizon Zero Dawn, available on PS4!
<![CDATA[Bad Dates, Bachelor Gossip and the Big Apple: A Review of Andi Dorfman’s Single State of Mind]]>Mon, 05 Mar 2018 21:40:52 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/bad-dates-bachelor-gossip-and-the-big-apple-a-review-of-andi-dorfmans-single-state-of-mind
Of all the recent leads from the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, Andi Dorfman has perhaps done the best job at capitalizing on her fifteen minutes and making a real career for herself out of it. She is, after all, a New York Times bestselling author. Whether you like her books or not, that’s impressive.
Andi’s second book, Single State of Mind, picks up right where the first, It’s Not Okay, left off – with Andi on her way to New York City with a one-way ticket and two suitcases. It’s Not Okay chronicled the end of Andi’s engagement to Josh Murry, but it ended on an empowering note when Andi decided to leave her hometown of Atlanta behind and find herself in New York City as a newly single 28-year-old. When she arrives there in this book, however, things get off to a slow start. 
​If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to apartment hunt in NYC, this book is for you. There’s a section of the book which, though it has a few funny moments, is way too long and detailed about Andi’s search for a place to live. (Also, I imagine that most other people who are not Andi Dorfman couldn't just pick up and move to NYC with no job and afford an apartment without a roommate.)
​Then we get to the good stuff: the dating. Let’s be serious – this is why people are reading this book. Once Andi is settled into her tiny apartment, she starts going out with guys through set-ups from friends and dating apps. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but let’s just say her first real date is kind of a hilarious disaster. (And it’s oddly comforting to know that someone has smoking hot as Andi also has bad dates like the rest of us.) 
​It’s interesting to watch her navigate the NYC dating world after coming off of such a public breakup, and I applaud her for not 1) hiding away, or 2) going on another reality show like her ex did (two, actually). She just goes and lives her best life, and that’s commendable.
We get to hear her thoughts as she has her first good date after the breakup, her first NYC kiss, her first time in bed with a new guy, the first time she feels love again, and even her very first one-night stand (again, no spoilers, but this story is almost out of a movie). She’s unblinkingly honest in these stories, even when it comes to sex details, which gives the book the vibe of talking to your friend and sharing dating experiences over red wine (another favorite of Andi’s).
There’s also a hint of Bachelor Nation gossip. At Jade and Tanner’s wedding, Andi catches some serious shade for going dateless, and it’s an odd glimpse into the bubble that is Bachelor World.
Speaking of singlehood (is that a word?), the parts of the book I enjoyed the most and found the most fascinating as a single 30-year-old reader were the parts that questioned the way people view single women in their late twenties and thirties. In an interview on Here to Make Friends, HuffPost’s podcast about the Bachelor, Andi talks about how she feels great being single in NYC and not-so-great about it when she visits Atlanta because the attitude toward unmarried women is totally different there.
It’s clear in a few instances that Andi has internalized some of this southern view of single women and the roles men play in women’s lives. For example, at one point, she says, “Maybe I should find a man soon to help me change a few lightbulbs and hang the rest of my pictures on the walls.” (Cue eye roll.)
​Later in the book, she worries that her enjoyment of her independence could be a problem in the future: “What if year after year I find myself still content with being single?” When I heard this question (because I listened to the audiobook), I answered her out loud in my car, “Then you’d be content, so what’s the problem?” I wish she’d answered her own question like this, but she didn’t. She seemed genuinely concerned that liking the single life would lead to some kind of lifelong lonely-girl syndrome.
She does make a good point after enduring a particularly painful breakup that the only person you can ever truly know or truly trust is yourself. Here again, I wish she’d gone further and taken a more empowering angle. I wanted her to say something like, “So always choose your relationship with yourself over any of these fools.” But it doesn’t quite go there. This was the angle I wanted the book to have, but I’m not sure it ever really gets there.
It’s Not Okay was a fun read/listen in that Bachelor-tell-all way, but Single State of Mind is going for something else. It’s Not Okay seemed to know what it was and embraced that. This book felt like it had several threads (NYC life, dating stories, views of singlehood) that didn’t really come together in a way that was satisfying for me. 
If you like Andi and know her from the Bachelorette, you’ll probably enjoy the book because you’re already somewhat invested in her story. If you’re just a single gal in her late twenties/early thirties looking for a book on dating, this might not be the one. I’m not fully convinced this book can stand on its own without Andi’s history (and other book) behind it to prop it up.
Rating: 3/5 Stars

<![CDATA[ANTM Recap-Cycle 24/E8 - Beauty is Social]]>Sun, 04 Mar 2018 02:08:36 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/antm-recap-cycle-24e8-beauty-is-social
​Honestly I’m just glad to have a break from Bachelor programming to be here for some #nextlevelfierce models. Let’s do this. Episode 8. Go!
Rio is the topic of discussion at the model house. Shanice calls her “the biggest hater.” (Remember when she attacked Sandra for being pretty? Apparently she says other mean shit too.) Kyla says that she overheard Rio call her “stupid,” which upsets her because she’s struggled with this particular put-down after suffering a traumatic brain injury in high school.
Jeana, Rio’s BFF in the house and all-around badass bitch, overhears this conversation and tells Rio. Rio acts really confused and seems to not remember calling Kyla stupid. I wouldn’t even recap these silly discussions if they didn’t come up later, so hold tight. 
​Tyra Mail Selfie Mail! Surprise. This week is social media week.
Sandra thinks she’ll be amazing because she is, after all, an Instagram model. Erin, our resident “older model” is like “Yo, idk shit about social media. I’m worried.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
Tyra is very upset with how everyone in the world takes mirror selfies. WE’VE ALL BEEN DOING IT WRONG, LADIES. No fear. Tyra is here with RULES and the RULES are ACRONYMS.
1. Do not look at the damn camera. You need to be looking at your own fine self in the mirror. This rule is: SLAY: So Look At Yourself. Eye contact with your own eyes, y’all. 
2. It looks dumb af when the camera is IN the photo. So the second rule is: CIAO: Crop It All Out.
Make it look like a ghost took your photo. Not yourself! That’s lame!

3. It’s also dumb to have the camera up by your duck face because then people see the camera before your outfit when you’re trying to be all #OOTD. The final rule: Dip it Low. Hold the camera at an unnatural angle by your hip and tilt it up so we can see your ho ass outfit. 
Special guest time! Jourdan Dunn is here and I’ve never heard of her but she has 2 million Instagram followers. The models are very excited about also getting more followers.
Jourdan has a company called Lon Dunn, which is a super annoying name, but everyone pretends they know what it is. They challenge: take mirror selfies for the brand as if you’re an “influencer” and the winner’s selfie goes on Jourdan’s page.
Then we have to watch like five mins of hot girls taking mirror selfies. Also, we hear Rio call Kyla “stupid” in her confessional because she doesn’t know how to take a proper selfie. Kyla, this is not something to be ashamed of. This is all ridiculous. Also, Rio CLEARLY did say Kyla was stupid. Just saying.
Erin also struggles, as she predicted. Sweet baby Khrystyana tries to help her, but Erin is like huh?!
Sandra (duh) and Jeana do well, but Jeana wins and gets to keep her selfie outfit from the fashion line they pretended to know about.
Selfie Mail hints that there is a body positive shoot involving men! Khrystyana is so excited because body positivity is her THANG and she rocks it.
But Rio is like “Oh we’re posing with fat ass men.” (Not paraphrasing.) When Khrystyana tries to explain body positivity for men, Rio’s like “Oh jk I’m not actually a bitch.” (Yes paraphrasing.)
Another special guest! Zach Miko is the first “brawny” male supermodel in the world. (This episode made me realize I might have misunderstood the definition of “brawny.”) Tyra says the photoshoot will be celebrating “big, thick, sexy, delicious, brawny men.” (Not paraphrasing a single word. That’s what she said, and she was super into it.) Jeana gets to shoot with Zach because she won the challenge earlier. This is also Zach’s first shirtless shoot. Woop woop!
​The rest of the women are going to be shooting with men who have to audition for them. Most women are exciting, but Rio is, again, not. Direct quote:  “To be honest with you, overweight guys like that are not cute.” DAMN, girl.  
Some quick highlights:
Erin is feeling herself, and rightfully so. She looks amazing.
Khrystyana is worried that the model will touch her, and she’s not about that life. (I feel you girl. Men As Props 2020.)
Kyla is killing it. Tyra has her and her male model partner yell the names of movies to…get them fierce(?) and Kyla yells, “When is Life Size 2 coming out?!” and Tyra loves it because it’s about Tyra. (But also, I would 100% watch it, especially if adult, kind-of-high Lindsay Lohan is in it. Bring me that movie.)
PANEL. Let’s judge stuff.
Jeana – Tyra loves the photo and the chemistry between Jeana and Zach. She says, “There’s something about it that feels like you guys are in love.”
Jeana & Zach
Brendi – Jourdan says her body looks stiff, but Drew thinks she looks like an expert.

Shanice – Ashley says, “You like FINE, Shanice!” They praise her body movement and her face.

Khrystyana – Ashley says she looks scared. Tyra says she needs to put her emotional experiences into the photo instead of letting them take over her fierceness. Paraphrasing.
Erin – Erin looks fucking fabulous. Her best photo yet.

Sandra – The judges say she’s good at beauty but doesn’t quite have it for editorial and high fashion yet.
Rio – Drew says about the male model: “He beat you in this photo.” And follows that up with a harsh “you are slipping in this competition.” Tyra thinks it looks good, but says the guy still outshines her.

Kyla – They tell her she looks like a supermodel. Tyra says, “This rocked my world.” She does look crazy good.
Best photo: Kyla, obviously
Fuck. The bottom two are Khrystyana and Sandra. I’m very scared for Khrystyana because I’m having flashbacks of when Leila went home in the “College Edition” season even though she was clearly WAY BETTER than everyone else, so I know shit can happen here. Please don’t take Khrystyana from me.
They’re both sobbing. Tyra says that Sandra is stunning, but that’s not enough to make her a high-fashion model. She says the judges worry that Khrystyana is inconsistent, which is BULLSHIT because this is literally the one thing she’s ever done poorly.
The girl. Who is still in the running. Toward becoming. America’s. Next. Top. Model. Is.
KHRYSTYANA. Thank god. I would have quit recapping.
I need a glass of wine now. I’ll see y’all next week.
Yours in #nextlevelfierceness,
<![CDATA[YA Book Club Winter Games: Little & Lion]]>Fri, 02 Mar 2018 01:34:43 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/ya-book-club-winter-games-little-lionPicture
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert is the third novel in our YA Book Club Winter Games Series. We previously reviewed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and There's Someone Inside Your HouseFor our final installment, we'll be discussing They Both Die at the End at the end of March. But for now, let's get into Little & Lion!

Emily: Little and Lion was, surprise surprise, a Book of the Month pick. As we have mentioned in past blog posts and podcast episodes, a lot of contemporary lit (especially thrillers) seems to get mental health issues completely wrong. When I saw that this was a novel that had a main character with bipolar disorder, I was really intrigued to read it because my experience with YA novels is that, generally speaking, they are a lot better at handling the topic of mental health than, say, The Couple Next Door. Just as a for instance.  

So for a quick summary, Little & Lion is the story of Suzette (Little) who is sent away to boarding school after her brother Lionel (Lion) is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While Little is away at school, she has her first relationship with a girl, causing her to question her sexual identity. Little comes home for the summer, and those issues of identity are exacerbated when she gets a crush on two different people, her childhood friend Emil and a girl named Rafaela, who her brother Lion ALSO HAS A CRUSH ON. DUN DUN DUUUUN.

Mary: Which I found WILD. I started reading before looking at a summary and was blown away. There are so many great issues at work in this novel.
Emily: Oh yeah I should add I just gave Mary a copy of this book and was like here read this.
Mary: Yes! And read it I did. And I wasn't disappointed.
Emily: GOOD. I like that positive affirmation. It makes me want to give you more things.
Mary: Yes please. 
Emily: So how did you feel about this book? Where should we start?
Mary:  The two big themes in the novel are mental health and sexual identity. But also family!
Emily: And family loyalties! And flowers!
Mary: Yes and flowers! I say maybe let's start with mental health?
Emily: Yes, lets.
Mary: So as you said, Wow! This does such a better job than many other books.
Yes, definitely. Lion is not defined by his mental illness. 
Mary: He feels like he is sometimes, but his whole support system is there to say otherwise.
Emily: And people who try to define him through his disorder are heavily critiqued for doing so. Looking at u, Catie u bitch.
Mary: Ugh Catie.
Emily: Catie was the worst, but maybe almost like so awful she was not a real person. Like why would you hang out with anyone that terrible?
Mary: You shouldn’t for sure. She felt like a movie bully.
Emily: Yes, very one note.
Mary: One thing I was really impressed by is that medicine is depicted as a positive thing.
Emily: Yes. Not like OMG HE IS ON MEDS. But like hey you're sick and you take medicine when you don't feel well.
Mary: It’s not something to make Lion feel worse, even though he initially sees it as that. They help him FEEL LIKE HIMSELF.
Emily: Yes. You know what else is great? Lion didn't accidentally kill someone during his hypomania and then FORGET ABOUT IT (Hi, Couple Next Door). Instead, he did something totally believable like... he tried to buy a 20,000 dollar book.
Mary: Yes!! Which is an, oh idk, ACTUAL THING PEOPLE WITH BPD DO, trying to make extravagant purchases, because your brain says to do so.
Emily: Oh yeah, when he said, "I felt like I needed it" I was like yep, because, like many people, I know someone with bipolar disorder. And I've been with this person when she was going through a manic episode, and so a lot of what happened with him, I was like, yep, that seems real.
Mary: It seems very scary, just the unpredictability of it, and Lion seemed caught in that balance in a way that was heartbreaking.
Emily: He wanted to believe he wasn't as bad off as he was, and I know that is a disappointing feeling, when you don't have control and you disappoint yourself. And you feel like you've disappointed all of the people around you. All of that felt very real and relatable. 
Mary: Exactly, and the book does a good job of showing how even though someone suffering from a mental disability may FEEL that way, it’s the distorted thinking. Because little and the rest of the family VERY MUCH wanted him to be well and did not feel disappointed, or blame him. It’s just really great to see such a supportive family—and a non traditional one too!
Emily: Yeah so Little and her mother are black and Lion and his father are Jewish. Lion and Little are step-siblings, but they grew up together, so they're basically real siblings. And their parents have built a life together but have decided not to get married. Yet they still very much work as a family and have taken on each other's traditions and are responsible for one another. I love how Saul and Little have father daughter days together. Like everyone in the family seems equally connected.
Mary: It's really great. ​I love when step siblings feel that way in books because I very much feel that way about my siblings, who are steps I grew up with!
Emily: ​Aw that's amazing. I didn't grow up with my step-siblings at all And even though my step-brothers are great, I forget they exist most of the time.
Mary: It’s a very different experience, for sure. Because you already have other lives, but when you live together through middle school like my sisters and I did, you’re forced to bond.

So... Sort of the crux of the novel is the intersection of family and mental health and identity, because when Lion goes off his meds, he threatens to basically disown and out Little if she tells their parents.
And it becomes a huge deal, understandably.
Emily: Right. Little is not really out to her parents or herself at the beginning of the novel. We see her come to the decision that she identifies as bi.
Mary: She’s really trying to work it out, for herself especially.
Emily: Which was great, I thought, because I feel like a lot more often we see characters who pretty much already know.
Mary: Yes definitely!
Emily: So it was great to read her figure herself out and what she wanted and what that meant in this really understandable way.
Mary: And she actually has to sit with her feelings and think on it.
Emily: Yes.
Mary: There also is decidedly a lack of bisexual characters in pop culture.
Emily: Oh absolutely. Or they're depicted as sluts. Or polyamorous. At the very least.
Mary: And Little is a good one—not tragic or tormented, just figuring normal teen stuff out.
Emily: Or just confused about what they want. And she very much knows, look, I can't be with this person until I figure out what's going on with this other person. She's not like, I NEED A BOY AND A GIRL.
Mary: ​She struggles with having feelings for two people but she is very honest about it when given the chance.
When you can't choose between two people...
Emily: Yes. So like. Speaking of the two people she's into. I'd like to talk about Emil and Rafaela, her two love interests for the majority of the book. And Iris, the girl she had a relationship with back at school.
Mary: ​Yeah! We never see Iris, really. And only get an idea of her through Little’s memories.
Emily: In the flashback "THEN" scenes.
Mary: But Iris seems comfortable with who she is and is fine telling everyone she’s a lesbian.
Emily: Which, just for like... a quick workshop corner...I didn't like that the flashback scenes were in present tense.
Mary: Oh yeah, me neither. That’s such a YA novel thing to do though.
Emily: Yeah but I'm getting pretty burnt out of the first person present tense narratives. Just in general. I'm ready for a new trend. Anyway, back on track. We were talking about Iris.
Mary: Me too me tooIris seemed ok, I guess? Which is kind of how i felt about a lot of characters in this book.
Emily: I think the guilt Little has surrounding what happened with Iris is very central to everything she is feeling about her sexuality and what kind of person she sees herself as. And when Lionel asks Little to be loyal to him and not tell anyone he's off his meds, I think obviously part of the reason she says yes is her history with Lion and how they've always stuck up for each other. But also she feels guilt about not being loyal to Iris, and she's conscious of not doing that to someone again. Cause she does feel like she threw Iris under the bus.
Mary: Right right, that’s all a good analysis of it.
Emily: Oh man. Thanks.
Mary: Iris is central, but not because of anything she did, more how Little reacts to her.
Emily: Yes exactly. Iris could be any lesbian.
Mary: And she kind of is! What do we even know except she lives in Michigan?
Emily: And yo, you realize Iris means RAINBOW right?
An actual photo of Iris.
Mary: OH MAN. I didn’t even realize. I feel like a dumbo now.
Emily: Nah I just realized that. But seriously. Gayest name ever.
Mary: Hahahaha. I’m more interested in Rafaela because she is “bad” for Lion.
Emily: Personally I think she's terrible.
Mary: Ooooh how do you think she’s terrible??
Emily: I thought she was bad news bears.
Mary: She’s a trash person but I’m not sure how she’s bad for Lion just by being her.
Emily: Well she's a shit-stirrer. There's this lame-o stalking her basically, and knowing this, and knowing how he feels, she tells him she's going to be at this party with Lion. Basically because she just wants to see what will happen. AND THEN AT THAT SAME PARTY SHE HITS ON LITTLE IN THE BATHROOM! A dude you're dating's sister is off limits. I'm sorry. It's really not cool.
Mary: That was the worst.
Emily: Seriously if she did that to me, I would be like "crush officially over." Because I'm sorry, you don't treat my brother like that. 
Mary: And she’s a total edgelord about hitting on Little, saying, I don’t cheat, I don’t cheat. Like, no one said you did?
Emily: Oh for real. She just wants Little to make the move. Even Little is like, I know I could kiss her right now.
Mary: Also, she comes and GETS IN THE BED with little while Lion is missing!
Rafaela is bad news bears like the bear in Annihilation... shameless plug for our upcoming Annihilation podcast.
Emily: Yes. I think she sucks.
Mary: She does she does. But Lion should see she sucks too, right?
Emily: It seems like she's pretty hot though, so you know how boys are. Emil was a sweet baby though.
Mary: Emil was very tender. I liked him a lot.
Emily: I feel like Emil made the choice really easy. Like obviously you pick Emil between Rafaela and Emil.
Mary: It was also great—as with everything else!—to see someone with hearing aids! Not a big deal, just thrown in.
Emily: Also I was visiting my nephew Emil while I was reading this. So I might be biased, because obviously my Emil is a perfect human.
Mary: Awwww yes! That’s very true. Overall, I couldn’t help feeling like this was a best case scenario world of identities. Other than a few scenes where random folks gave a weird look, all the disabilities and sexual identities are very accepted.
Emily: Yeah well they're in LA, so that felt believable.
This is us rooting for Emil!
Mary: I really like this book. But like a lot of YA books, I’m not sure how much I’ll remember it. It’s a good read though! I would give it 4/5!
Emily: I also gave it a 4/5. It was really sweet and I felt like the way it dealt with a lot of issues was very well done, and it was a super fast read.
Mary: Yes! I agree. It just doesn’t get to that classic sort of YA status for me. That’s not a bad thing though.
Emily:  I had a few issues with it, as far as character development and fucking 1st person present.
Mary: Definitely. Those are valid problems to have This was a good pick overall!
Emily: Yay!

Come back at the end of March for They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera! We're so excited!

​Mary & Emily
<![CDATA[In Australia, We Ride Kangaroos, Not Mountains - Bachelor Winter Games Week 2]]>Thu, 01 Mar 2018 04:38:20 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/in-australia-we-ride-kangaroos-not-mountains-bachelor-winter-games-week-2
Apologies for my belated post. I was having my own Winter Games in Denver this week. And by Winter Games, I mean I was playing board games with my nephews in Denver and it was snowing outside, but that still counts. Anyway, it meant I didn't get to watch this treasure of a show until several days later, but I still have thoughts and opinions. And I have an extra hour worth of this bananas show to cover, so I'd better just get into it. 

This seems early to have a "read more" cut, but like I said last week, the structure of this post is going to mirror the structure of this show, so, like, it's non-existent. 

Episode 3

Episode 3 begins with Ben and Yuki palling around in the snow because apparently they're best friends now. I didn't really get a chance to talk about Yuki last week, so let me just delve into it briefly now. I'm very appalled by the way Yuki is being treated as basically the house pet rather than an actual human being. Sure, she doesn't speak English very well, but you guys could've given her a translator. And, you know, not make fun of her for not speaking English very well. I can guarantee you her English is better than your Japanese. I speak a little Japanese, and I still think her English is better than my Japanese. Though I was pretty proud of myself when I could read (in Japanese) that she voted for Kevin last week. What do you mean that's not impressive? Let me have this. 
Anyway, Ben and Yuki are best friends now and nothing can possibly go wrong. 

For the next little bit, Luke is talking a whole lot and I can't make sense of what exactly was happening because I hate Luke so much that all of my notes are generally just, "Luke is an asshole" and variations of that theme. I really hate him. I don't like to make a point of hating people I don't know personally, but I'm not sure Luke is a people.

So their Winter Game of the episode is skiing. This is stressing me out watching this, not because these people suck at skiing but because I also suck at skiing. Watching this is giving me flashbacks. I have Ski-TSD. Ashley skiing is pretty much what I would look like skiing, so I could not laugh at her, which made me sad because I feel like laughing at Ashley is a huge part of what the spirit of this show is all about. 

Apparently it doesn't snow in Australia at all, and Courtney announces that in Australia, they ride kangaroos and not mountains. I'm pretty sure that's not true. Way to play into unfair stereotypes about your country, Courtney. If any Australians are reading this, please correct me if I'm wrong. 
Clare knows she's not going to win at skiing, but she desperately wants to go on a date with Christian after Jacuzzi-Gate 2017. She asks the camera, "What does the mediocre person get? I’m the mediocre person. Do I get a prize?" Typical millennial. Wait. Is Clare even a millennial? Well she acts like one.

As I predicted, Dean and Lesley both win the skiing competition which means they have a date card to give away. I thought for sure Lesley was going to give the date card to Clare after their romantic evening in the tub together last week, but no, they give it to Ashley and Kevin. Everyone is just really invested in Ashley finally losing her virginity, I guess. 

On their date, Ashley wears the weirdest outfit I've ever seen. It left me speechless but also explained a lot about why this girl might still be a virgin. She spends most of this dinner talking about being a virgin, and Kevin is finally like, "Hey girl, it's fine that you're a virgin and all, but if we keep dating, you're going to have to put out."

After their romantic dinner, they go to make some pottery or something where they have the AUDACITY to break the "Zero Ghost Tolerance Policy" rule...
It's been a while since I've mentioned him, so I just want to say that I miss Benoit. A lot. 

​So Ben Higgins is the most special boy in the house. Like many before him, Ben decides he's ready to leave the Bachelor Cabin. Unlike those before him, Ben gets a special visit from Chris Harrison. My fiancé Ben M. says that Ben H. is to Winter Games what Nick Viall was to Paradise. This makes me very nervous because I have zero interest in watching Ben H. be the bachelor again. Please God no.

So anyway Big Brother Ben is leaving the cabin. Yuki is sobbing because she's losing her best friend. I don't know who is going to take care of the children now.

Suddenly Michael appears out of nowhere and Ben M. remarks, "This random Michael guy is outlasting everyone. He’s going to be crowned king." As if on queue, Michael also bows out. "I guess Michael was here for Ben," Ben M. says. "The first Winter Games just ends with most people leaving because it’s not a tropical island so hell no I’m not staying here." My fiancé is wise.
The mass exodus of Winter Games continues as Chris Harrison basically forces Yuki to go home because she has "no boy." He speaks a lot of really badly pronounced Japanese to her, but I mean I guess he's trying?

Courtney is like, “Now I have somewhere to stay in Japan.” And Yuki’s like, “Who are you again?”

​Ashley’s like, “I may never see Yuki again,” so I guess she’s not planning on going to visit Yuki in Japan.

So the first elimination of the season was voting off. The second elimination was men giving the women roses. So obviously tonight's elimination is a kissing contest because WHY NOT? THERE ARE NO RULES. To make matters worse, these assholes are the ones judging the contest:
Don't get me wrong. I still love Rachel with all my heart, but it's weird that she's here judging a kissing contest with a lot of dudes she once kissed. It's all very demeaning. I mean, yeah, I know that's the premise of this whole show, but this is a whole new level of demeaning. I'm thinking Ben Higgins probably actually left so that he wouldn't have to kiss some rando girl in front of JoJo. That would be embarrassing.

Josiah and Ally have a whole bunch of anxiety about kissing, and I'm really confused. They were making out in the first episode and now they can’t kiss at all? I feel like they’re here for the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, the Clare and Christian drama continues to make zero sense. It basically goes down like this. 
Clare’s like, “I want you to kiss me.” And Christian’s like, “I want to kiss you,” and Clare’s like, “Awesome, any time now.” And Christian’s like, “Well, good talk. I guess this is goodbye.” And Christian’s like, “I think Clare’s the woman for me. I’m sad to see her go.” And then they both leave the Bachelor Cabin for good. What the fuck just happened?

And now for the kissing competition. Dean and Lesley come up with a whole dance routine because they're extra AF. Honestly, I think it's kinda cute, but Rachel is not impressed.
Apparently Ashley and Kevin are the best kissers, and JoJo is really excited for them. JoJo’s like, “I’ve been waiting for this girl [Ashley] to find somebody” but like… do they know each other? I've never seen them interact before in my life. Sure, they probably tweet each other offscreen or whatever, but I need a consistent onscreen Bachelor narrative, editors!

Ally almost throws up in Josiah's mouth, and so they're sent home. I feel really bad for Josiah. 

Episode 3 is over and they've officially gotten rid of all of the people of color. 

Episode 4

The mess continues on Thursday. The Bachelor warns us ahead of time that this is going to be 3 hours of our life we’re about to waste.

Chris Harrison stumbles into the house, trying to endear himself to the viewers with how bad he is at snow. Chris is like, "I know you guys have known each other for 5 days, but clearly you’re all in love and now you need to decide if you’re going to get married and die together." Now they will ice dance to win the crown of the best couple of Bachelor World. The winners will be forced to buy burial plots next to each other to ensure that they will never be parted. It's all very romantic. Chris Harrison lives for this stuff. 
In this episode, we finally meet Courtney (Australia) and Lily (New Zealand), who allegedly have been there the whole time, but I can't confirm that with video footage. Either way, I have decided they're cute together. They make snow angels in their swimsuits because they're just two crazy kids in love. At least now we know for a fact that Kiwis and Australians can fall in love with one another. So take that, Flight of the Conchords. 
The next 45 minutes of this episode are just me yelling at my TV because Bibiana won't go away and she won't stop crying, all because Jordan wants to know if they're going to be able to date after this. This seems like a valid question. She lives in Miami. He lives in an undisclosed location in New Zealand. Somehow he ends up apologizing to her for even deigning to ask if they can make this relationship work outside of the show. HOW DARE HE?

After this fight, I come to a realization about toxic masculinity. Dudes need to be able to talk to each other when they’re upset. Bibiana goes to Ashley and Jordan just stews because he doesn’t have anyone to talk to. This is why our ideas of masculinity are fucked up (reason #200).

Finally Bibiana leaves and we can move on to the figure skating. Nancy Kerrigan is here to help them learn how to skate, and so are two other people who are way before my time and who haven't been on Dancing with the Stars recently (see the picture at the beginning of this post if you really feel like identifying them).  

Finally, Chris lets these couples go on Fantasy Suite dates, because nothing solidifies a relationship like ABC-sanctioned sex. Lesley and Dean are so cute together on their date that I don't even know how to deal. What's wrong with me? I'm rooting for Dean? Why? 

Luke and Stassi seem to have like zero chemistry. And really that’s all on Luke because he’s basically a robot. I feel like Stassi would be so pretty with normal lips, but who knows. Stassi and Luke don’t sleep together. So this answers the question about whether or not robots and humans can copulate.

In other news, Courtney and Lily are still super cute together. He says she’s made him feel things he’s never felt before and she says, “I’m sorry.”
I hate that Ashley’s virginity has become such a plot point for this show over the course of so many seasons. I’m relieved she’s going to the fantasy suite just so I can stop hearing about it. So now Ashley has vowed not to talk about her sex life anymore, and the world rejoices 
Finally, it's time for the figure skating competition. For some reason, Lily and Ashley are given really dumpy unflattering outfits while Lesley and Stassi actually look pretty cute. I wonder who decides who has to wear what costume. I wonder how I can get that job because that sounds fun. So here are my quick takes on each routine: 

Dean & Lesley - Dean is a MUCH BETTER SKATER than Lesley, but he’s not very good at lifting her. Time to work on those arm muscles, Dean. 

Courtney & Lily - Their lifts are much better. The little kangaroo hop was cute.

Luke & Stassi - Stassi is pretty good! And she has the best outfit which is really what this is all about.

Ashley & Kevin - Kevin is the best at the lifts so far, and they do have good chemistry. Of course, Chris Harrison is like, “they’re probably performing so well because they did it last night.” Stay classy, Chris Harrison.

For arbitrary reasons, Kevin and Ashley win the figure skating competition and therefore the entire show. Their reward is a couple of golden roses, and I don't know if they really get anything else. So wait... did Kevin and Ashley win The Bachelor Winter Games because Ashley finally lost her virginity? Has this whole show been a ploy to help Ashley lose her virginity?

The End... or is it?

The World Tells All

Yes, the name of this episode is "The World Tells All," because as I've said in the past, The Bachelor is nothing if not extra. Here's a really quick rundown of what happens so that you don't have to watch it: 

1. Bibiana is still the worst. She tells Jordan, "I saw that he was on Chapter 10 of our book when I was just reading the title." Sit down, Bibiana. We'll see you in Paradise probably.

2. Dean proposes to Lesley... that she have a key to his house. Deanie baby steps. 

3. I've been saying this whole time that Luke is a terrible human, and guess what? He's a terrible human. He didn't even give Stassi his number. 
Luke’s like, "As soon as the Bachelor is over, I’m a different person. Duh. I thought you knew that." Also Clare accusing Luke of coming onto the show for *GASP* the wrong reasons. Luke's chances of ever being The Bachelor are officially over. Thank goodness.

4. The best thing about this tell-all is... CLENOIT IS BACK TOGETHER (that's Clare and Benoit). Baby Benoit reached out to Clare after the filming of the show, and you know Chris Harrison is like, how dare you fall in love offscreen. But Benoit is here to make it all right with Chris Harrison because guess what? HE HAS A RING. HE IS PROPOSING TO CLARE. ALL IS RIGHT IN BACHELOR NATION. 

At this point, even Christian is crying because Clare and Benoit are so lovely and perfect together.

And... that's a wrap on the first ever Winter Games. What did we just watch?

- Emily

<![CDATA[The Official #BSG Guide to the 2018 Oscars]]>Mon, 26 Feb 2018 00:34:29 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/the-official-bsg-guide-to-the-2018-oscars
I will readily admit that I am one of those people who loves to watch the Oscars almost as much as I love to talk trash about the Oscars. I’ve heard many like-minded people equate the Oscars to “the Super Bowl for movies,” and after some thought, I can pretty much get on-board with this comparison. Sure, there are some huge differences — the Super Bowl is an event where teams are playing live to win something they actually deserve, whereas the Oscars are an arbitrary set of awards determined by a bunch of rich old white people — but when it comes to the excitement of the viewing experience, the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the ceremony, and the excessive pettiness of my Twitter timeline during the show and in the days to follow, I honestly can’t think of two more similar events.

A week from tonight, the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will air on ABC. Despite the fact that I’ve watched the Oscars every year for as long as I can remember, this will be the first time I officially make my predictions in a public forum (and what could be more public than this, our extremely famous and well-known blog?). I want to do my best to be correct, but I also want to give some love to the films I actually liked, so I’m going to format this post the way a lot of writers do: for each category, I’ll give my official prediction, and then I’ll give the film that would win it if were up to me.

This intro is starting to run about as long as I expect Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue will, so let’s get into it, shall we?
Before I get into the categories, I have a few disclaimers to note.

  1. Every year, I do my best to catch up with as many of the nominees as I can, even if that means sitting through some extremely boring contenders (I’m looking at you, The Post). That being said, I did not manage to get to every single film I would have liked to see before writing this list, and I will make note of that as we go through the nominees. From this point forward, any film in dark red text is a film I haven’t seen.
  2. I am not going to go through every single category, because it would be ridiculous to pretend I know anything about what merits, for example, “good sound mixing.” In addition, I didn’t manage to catch up with any of the foreign contenders (though without having seen it yet I’m already pulling for A Fantastic Woman), animated/documentary shorts, or feature-length documentary nominees (yes, I’m terrible, shut up). I also have yet to see Coco (yes, I’m terrible, SHUT UP), but we all know it’s going to win for Best Animated Feature because Pixar, so I’m not going to bother going through that category either.​​

​Okay. For real this time.

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049 - John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island - Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
War for the Planet of the Apes - Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

Here are some things I immediately notice about this category: 1) Every one of these films is either a reboot, a sequel, or both, and 2) With a total of 20 names listed here, it’s really quite remarkable that not a single one of them is a woman! That’s cool though. Everyone knows women don’t know how to use computers.

Will Win: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This is a prediction I’m kind of uncertain about, but I’m going to go ahead and make it because I think the Academy will award Star Wars when it can reasonably do so. I won’t be upset if this wins, because if this wins for visual effects, it basically means that porgs just won an Academy Award.
Should Win: Blade Runner 2049
Whether you think the original Blade Runner is simply untouchable or you found this film’s nearly three-hour-long run time to be a bit of a slog, it’s hard to deny that Blade Runner 2049 is spectacular from top to bottom. Seamlessly-integrated flying cars, giant holographic AI women, and oh my god, that memory-building sequence… come on, y’all. This movie deserves this win.

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast - Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour - Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread - Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water - Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul - Consolata Boyle

Will Win: Jacqueline Durran for Beauty and the Beast 
First of all, Jacqueline Durran is up for two awards in this category, so the odds are in her favor. Second, she has already won FOUR academy awards for Best Costume Design, beginning with her win for Pride and Prejudice in 2005. Third, the Academy loves to give this award to the movie with the floofiest costumes. Fourth: Disney.

Should Win: Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread
I present the following image without comment.
Seriously though. This movie is ABOUT a fashion designer - which means the costume designer not only had to think about making beautiful things, but he had to think about making them from the perspective of a very specific character. I think that fact in itself deserves extra accolades.

Music (Original Song)

“Mighty River” from Mudbound - Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name - Music and Lyric by Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco - Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Stand Up For Something” from Marshall - Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman - Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Will Win & Should Win: “Remember Me” from Coco
Usually, if a song from Disney/Pixar is up for this award, it will win — even if it doesn’t deserve to. I think “Remember Me” does deserve the award — and this year I don’t see any other movie stealing the win from Disney like La La Land managed to last year. I’m still bitter. #Moana

Honorable Should Win: “Mystery Of Love” from Call Me By Your Name
I just have to quickly note how cool it is that Sufjan Stevens is nominated for an Oscar. Also, he’s the only musician on the list who is the sole songwriter of his track, which is oddly rare in this category. And the song itself? It’s perfect, obviously.

Music (Original Score)

Dunkirk - Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread - Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water - Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Carter Burwell

Will Win: Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk
This is a hard category to predict when you’ve got the likes of Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, and John Williams competing for the win. I’m not totally sure about this prediction, but I’m going to go with Hans Zimmer because he’s won this award the last two times he scored a non-Batman Nolan film (Inception in 2010 and Interstellar in 2014).

Should Win: Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread
This score is fucking GORGEOUS. It’s as elegant and refined as every element of the film, but it’s also a huge part of what gives Phantom Thread its creeping sense of dread. It serves an important function without beating the audience over the head with what we’re supposed to feel. Also, I just want to put it on and cook an egg scramble for my demanding lover without getting any butter on my perfect silk dress, you know?


Blade Runner 2049 - Roger A. Deakins
Darkest Hour - Bruno Delbonnel

Dunkirk - Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound - Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water - Dan Laustsen

Will Win & Should Win: Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water

If the Golden Globes were any indication, The Shape of Water is going to run away with a lot of the awards in these upper categories. I really enjoyed this film, and though I wouldn’t necessarily put it at the caliber of some of the other films nominated alongside it, I do think the cinematography here is really stunning, and completely deserving of a win - with the caveat that I haven’t seen Mudbound, and have heard great things about the look and feel of that film as well.

I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Dunkirk took this one, nor would I be angry about it, but I’m sticking with my gut instinct here.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Call Me By Your Name - Screenplay by James Ivory
The Disaster Artist - Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan - Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
Molly’s Game - Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound - Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Will & Should Win: James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name
Again: I have not seen Mudbound, and it’s hard for me to really say what ‘should’ win when there’s a movie I haven’t seen (and know that I’m probably going to love). However, Call Me By Your Name is my favorite film of last year, and I’d love to see it win in this category. From what I’ve heard, the book this film is adapted from is not exactly dialogue-heavy. Though the movie isn’t either, it manages to convey an incredible amount of emotion in the words it does choose to put on screen, from the coded conversations between Elio and Oliver to the monologue delivered by Elio’s father towards the end of the film. The main reason I think the Academy might actually choose this one is because I don’t think this film going to win much else, despite its standing as a critical favorite.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Big Sick - Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out - Written by Jordan Peele
Lady Bird - Written by Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water - Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Written by Martin McDonagh

Will Win: Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards is one of only two Best Picture nominees I haven’t seen — and it’s not for lack of trying. I do plan to catch up with it before next week, because it’s a film everyone seems to have an opinion about, and many of those opinions are negative. I have chosen this as my prediction because I know that if it does win, it’s going to piss people off. I could see Lady Bird winning in this category, but I am always inclined to assume the Academy is going to make what many consider to be the “wrong” choice. Also, Martin McDonagh is a well-established playwright, and I do think that puts him at an advantage here in the eyes of Academy voters.

Should Win: Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani for The Big Sick
As much as I love Lady Bird and Get Out and as thrilled as I would be to see Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele take home the gold, The Big Sick is a film I just caught up with and one that deserves way more attention than it’s getting in the ‘best of 2017’ conversation. I find it so impressive that Gordon and Nanjiani were able to take their real-life story and make it into a romantic comedy when, situationally, it very easily could have been a drama. The balance they strike here between hilarity and tragedy is truly something to behold.

Actor in a Supporting Role

​Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer - All The Money In The World
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
My main reason for this pick is, again, the outcome at the Golden Globes. I don’t have much to say about it since I haven’t seen the film, but I’m going to be annoyed if I’m right.

Should Win: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
The Florida Project is another of my favorite films of 2017, and it is one of the most criminally under-represented films at the Oscars this year. This is the only nomination for the film, and for that reason alone I want Willem Dafoe to win — but also, he gives a genuinely wonderful performance, one unlike anything I’ve watched him do before. We’re used to seeing Dafoe in the role of ‘sinewy bad guy,’ but here, his portrayal of motel manager Bobby is unexpectedly subtle and empathetic.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Mary J. Blige - Mudbound
Allison Janney - I, Tonya
Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water

Will Win & Should Win: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
Although Allison Janney scored best supporting at the Golden Globes (and I do think she’s wonderful in I, Tonya), my optimistic prediction is that Laurie Metcalf will take best supporting actress this year for her incredible performance in Lady Bird. Metcalf plays a difficult character in Lady Bird’s mother Marion, a woman described by one of the characters as “warm, but also kind of scary.” She manages to perfectly convey the frustration, disappointment, and deep love that Marion experiences as a mother, and some of her scenes towards the end of the film are absolutely devastating, providing an efficient guilt-trip for daughters everywhere.   

Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet - Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out
Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
This is another case wherein I take the person I least want to win and assume this is who the Academy will choose. No, I didn’t see Darkest Hour, but I did see the trailer, and I think that’s probably enough for me to get the gist of what this performance is going to be like. Gary Oldman, aside from making a multitude of anti-semitic and racist comments in the past, has also been accused of abuse by his ex-wife. However, in Darkest Hour he undergoes a physical transformation and plays a historical figure, which means the Academy is going to eat it up, because everyone knows that the better your impressions of historical figures are, the better you are at acting.

Should Win: Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name
I already talked about how much I love this film, and a huge reason for that is Chalamet’s performance. As I said before, this film is not heavy on the dialogue, but you can see every single thing Elio is feeling writ clear across his face. Elio’s hopefulness and his heartbreak are beautifully rendered by Chalamet, and in a year where he plays two incredibly different teenage boys (the other in Lady Bird, where he basically plays every girl's worst high school boyfriend), his performance is made even more impressive given the proof of his range.

Actress in a Lead Role

Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird
Meryl Streep - The Post

Will Win: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Again, I didn’t see this film, so I can’t speak to the quality of the performance, though I’m sure it’s very good. Frances McDormand always delivers. However…

Should Win: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
Margot Robbie’s performance in this movie blew my goddamn mind. I wrote a whole blog post about I, Tonya which you can find here, but basically, I think Robbie does something remarkable here. She plays a character without playing a caricature, and creates a version of Tonya Harding that has less to do with imitation than it has to do with empathy. I think she’s unbelievable here, and I am really hoping this performance gives her the chance to take on more of the kind of roles she deserves.


Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan
Get Out - Jordan Peele
Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
I am not totally against this, because I love Guillermo del Toro and I think this is a well-directed movie, but at this point, the reason I’m predicting it is because it seems like a safe choice. Del Toro won at the Golden Globes, and I think the Academy likes to give this award to whichever film they think is the most visually stunning — last year it went to Damien Chazelle for La La Land. Basically, it’s usually a boring choice, and that’s what this feels like… despite the fact that when you get right down to it, The Shape of Water is a movie about a woman fucking a fish.

Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread
Okay, so this is a boring choice, and I’m torn between quite a few of these options (Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, mostly), but in the end I have to go for PTA. Everything about this movie is impeccably directed, from the movement of the camera to the two lead performances. I can’t imagine a more precise filmmaker than Paul Thomas Anderson, and though I sometimes have issues with the content of his films, I do think he’s one of the best directors working today.

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win: Lady Bird
I’m going to make a kind of bold prediction here and guess that Lady Bird is going to take this award. It’s been almost universally praised, and would be a relatively uncontroversial choice for the Academy in spite of the smallness of the film. When I started making this list, I was going to predict Three Billboards, but I’m starting to think that maybe the backlash it's been receiving might actually be heard and listened to. If Lady Bird wins, I’ll be pleased, because I loved it, and I think it’s a wonderful film.

Should Win: Get Out
When I think about all of the films I saw last year, if I had to choose one that would most represent the cultural climate of 2017, Get Out would be my pick. If I had to choose a film from this list that I think will have the most lasting impact on the world of cinema, Get Out would be my pick. If I had to choose the movie I had the most fun watching, the one that excited and surprised me the most, the one with the best blend of genres, the one that made me laugh the most, disgusted me the most, made me squirm in my seat the most, Get Out would be my pick. So, yeah. Get Out is my pick.

If you’re still here, I commend you for reading to the end of this very long post, and if you just scrolled down to the bottom to see what I picked for Best Picture, I don’t blame you. Make sure you watch the Oscars next Sunday, and please think of me every time one of my predictions is wrong.

With love,
bonus pic of the only Oscar that actually matters
<![CDATA[ANTM Recap–Cycle 24/E7: Beauty is Raw]]>Sat, 24 Feb 2018 16:08:49 GMThttp://booksquad.ink/blog/antm-recap-cycle-24e7-beauty-is-raw
Episode Subtitle: “You disrespected Tyra Banks, baby.”
I’m back from a brief recapping hiatus to bring you these highlights and lowlights of the past week’s episode. Here’s most of what you need to know about Episode 6 (Beauty is Pride) from the previous week: Jeana and Khrystyana were standouts. Liberty went home. Moving on now.

As if we couldn’t tell from that episode title (and yeah, they really are sticking with that format for the whole season), it’s clear this is going to be an emotional episode from the opening scenes. Brendi K. talks to camera about her unsupportive mother. And Jeana, Erin and Rio have a really tough conversation in the hot tub where Erin shares that her son’s father passed away from cancer. She left him while he was sick and he died a year later, and she is carrying a lot of guilt for that.

Last week after panel, Tyra hinted at a “raw” photoshoot. Everyone assumes this means nude.
Tyra sends in nail technicians to give them manicures and then comes to the house to join them. Christina gets emotional talking about her dad’s heart issue, and some of the girls soften toward her a bit. (Watch out girls – this whole thing is fluke. Christina is still kind of awful.)

Tyra tells them how important vulnerability is and the best way to be vulnerable is to talk to your younger self. As weird as this sounds, this actually made me want to write a letter to my younger self. Am I under Tyra’s spell? Am I #nextlevelfierce?

Khrystyana shares in confessional that was molested at age 11. She felt disgusted with herself because of it, even though she knows it isn’t her fault. I feel so terrible for her because I can see how much it still hurts her. I’m so proud of her for sharing this though.

Tyra breaks the news to everyone that the photos aren’t nude. They’re just no makeup. Which you could call a nude face, but only if you want to be laughed at.

Casually she throws in, “Oh and I’m your photographer.”
They all take off their makeup together and the shoot is outside at the house on a bed of white sheets. Each model is photographed being vulnerable and tender, while the other models’ hands are on their bodies representing support and love. It’s quite lovely, actually.

It looks like most of the models do really well, and they all seem to feel really close to one another from this experience. Several of them get emotional.
such raw
But wait, there’s more rawness to come.

Drew and Director X are back. The models are going to use their voices to fight back against bullying in a video for the National Crime Prevention Council’s digital campaign. In groups of three, the models have to write a short voiceover script and a tagline. In the video, they will do a little acting and a lot o’ screaming. They’re told to pick people they want to know more about, and Brendi K. immediately picks Christina so that they can get to know each other and bury the hatchet. This was kind of surprising from Brendi K., but I’m all for it. Be the bigger person, babe.

Right away Christina is kind of awful though, so this warm fuzzy feeling is short lived. Stacey McKenzie talks to the models about their particular vulnerabilities and experiences with bullying, and Christina immediately says she’s been bullied in the model house. She’s clearly just saying this so Brendi can overhear it, which makes me roll my eyes. I can’t with this person.

Brendi and Stacey share an emotional moment where they relate over not feeling good enough for their mothers. I’m a little proud of Brendi for not engaging in the Christina stuff, especially on set. Brendi 2, Christina 0.

These videos are really emotional and clearly take a toll on the models. A lot of them are crying before/during/after their shoots.
Sandra, Kyla and Khrystyana’s voiceover script (read by Tyra, by the way!) tells their personal stories of struggle (Islamophobia, struggling with a stutter, and body shaming, respectively). It looks pretty great, but Khrystyana seems like a clear standout to me. She can channel that emotion into a very real performance. Her face just makes me want to cry too.

Erin, Rio and Jeana’s video was based around the tagline “Make it stop.” Drew says it was powerful.

Brendi, Shanice and Christina showed some actual bullying in their, but it didn’t end in a message of hope, according to the NCPC representative.

The winners of the challenge are Sandra, Kyla and Khrystyana! Their video will be featured as part of the NCPC’s digital campaign and shared on social channels.  

We go back to the house for five seconds so we can see a Tyra Mail – aka Selfie Mail – telling the models panel is coming up. Why do we need a formal Tyra Mail for this? It’s the same every week. Ugh.


Kyla - Her outfit is very Lara Croft meets light BDSM. Drew says, “Every piece of you is activated in this image.”

Sandra: Drew calls it “fantastic.”

Shanice: Drew says, “You’re a rising star.” 

Brendi: Ashley says, “I’ve never seen you look this beautiful before.” True. The photo is gorgeous.
Rio: Ashley says, “This photo is everything.”

Erin: It’s not great. Law says, “It should have been tender and it turned out tortured.”

Jeana : Tyra says, “This takes my breath away. Gorgeous.”

Khrystyana, aka THE QUEEN OF MY HEART: Tells her story to the panel, and this is the first time she’s really told people this much about it. The last time she saw her dad before he left their family, he left her alone in a hotel room with a business associate who molested her. Everyone is crying. She said she didn’t know what to do so she never told her mom. Ashley thanks her for being open and vulnerable and helping other girls.

The photo. Holy shit. It’s so stunning.

Ashley says, “Every time you come to set, you bring something completely different. You have such a story to tell in every photo as well.”
Christina: Drew says she looks nervous. Ashley says it’s not her best photo. Tyra tells her that “a no makeup thing is not your thing.” Cue Christina’s excuses and defensiveness: She says she never wears makeup so it is actually her thing.

Tyra has to explain to her like she’s talking to a fucking child that feedback isn’t cutting her down. It’s helping her grow as a model and person. Christina soaks in absolutely zero of this.
Call out order
Best photo – Brendi
But wait. She tells Brendi to stay right where she is and not walk over to the side as usual. Then she calls out:
Jeana, Khrystyana, Kyla, Rio, Sandra and Shanice
ALL 7 TIED FOR BEST PHOTO. First time in ANTM history.

Erin and Christina are the bottom two, obviously. They’re the only ones that got any negative feedback. Tyra tells Erin that she was so beautiful on set but got in her own head, which led to a subpar photo compared to the rest of the models. She tells Christina they’ve seen better from her and that she’s also in her own way.

Tyra is ready to throw some shade at Christina, so here it comes. “Erin, your photo was not strong, but you’re staying in this competition.” Tyra tells her she listens and she is moldable and “that’s what this competition is about.” (Yes, she said it in italics.)

To Christina: “Erin’s photo is weaker than your photo, but we looked at her body of work and her body of self.” It gets worse: “We feel that you are here for exposure and not to be molded. So we’re freeing you.”  

Christina’s exit interview still blames everyone else. The only thing she got out of this whole thing was green hair, and she still doesn’t have an ounce of self-awareness.

Until next time.

Yours in #nextlevelfierceness,