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review 2017-03-21 19:20
Book 11/100: Poor Unfortunate Soul - a Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino
Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch - Disney Storybook Art Team,Serena Valentino

I love Ursula, but, alas, this was not the Ursula novel I desperately wanted it to be.

What annoyed me about the book was that it was not a "standalone," which I really feel like the books in this villain series should be in order to give each villain's potentially complex backstory and motives their full due. About half the book was focused on follow-up to events from the previous book in the series, The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince, which I wasn't really invested in. Overall, it felt more as if the author was more interested in continuing the story with the auxiliary characters that she had made up for the series than really delving into Ursula's story, which felt somewhat tangential to the story Valentino seemed to REALLY want to tell about the "odd sisters" machinations regarding the various villains in the Disney-verse. Overall, this gave the book a somewhat disjointed feel of two stories being told in parallel, one about Ursula's perspective of The Little Mermaid, one about Valentino's own characters that never appear in the Disney movies and thus don't garner a ton of investment from me.

Despite these issues, I still gave the book three stars because the parts that were focused on Ursula's backstory, especially her relationship with King Triton, were well done. The book was also a fun, quick read and an enjoyable bit of escapism. The writing is passable, and despite my disappointment with this series (and other Disney novel spinoffs overall), I know I will keep reading them because, well, Disney.

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review 2017-02-12 11:15
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride - Joe Layden,Cary Elwes,Rob Reiner

A fantastic, easy read that's a must for any fan of The Princess Bride. I loved Cary Elwes' anecdotes from behind the scenes and his sneak peeks at everyone involved in making the movie, which sounded like a blast. A wonderful reflection on one of my favourite movies.

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review 2017-02-09 18:31
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

Fisher has had an amazing career from appearing in a history-making film, to publishing a novel, and becoming known as a script doctor, having had unspeakably famous parents, and achieving a whole 'nother bout of fame as an amusing figure who's now beyond all of that, and more interested in everything than in her fame. I have loved her novels, and I've loved her in everything she's done.

All of her books are deeply personal, but this one made me so sad. I miss her, this woman I didn't know, with her dog, and her mother. I'm so sad for her family's double loss. I'm sad that she'll never write anything ever again, let alone share a few embarrassing lines from her teenage journals.

Library copy

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review 2017-01-30 12:23
Behind the scenes of B-movie's silver age
It Came from the 80s! Interviews with 124 Cult Filmmakers - Francesco Borseti

If the 1950s and 1960s were the golden era of the exploitationist "B-movie," the 1980s was its silver age. Thanks to the growth of both cable television and home VHS players, low-budget productions had new outlets for their films, and producers leaped at the opportunities that they provided. While many of these movies were forgettable, some have attracted followings by those who enjoy their charms or for whom the films are a nostalgic artifact of their lives back then.

 

It is this audience to whom Francesco Borseti's book is directed. It is a collection of interviews with the men and women involved in making 28 English-language films from the decade. The interviewees are a range of people from writers and directors to actors and technical personnel. The main criteria for their inclusion seems to be a willingness to speak with Borseti about their memories of working on the film, which offers a unique glimpse into the process of creating a B-movie back then. While the eclectic nature of interviewees and their responses (some of which tend more towards self-promotion than recollection) doesn't provide a systematic account of their production, fans of these films will find this an entertaining glimpse behind the scenes of the movies they enjoy.

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review 2017-01-09 18:13
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writin - Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writin - Jennifer Weiner

I've enjoyed a couple of Weiner's books, but more than her storytelling, I really admire her activism. I lost patience with people ragging on women's writing and writing for women a couple of decades ago. And don't get me started on genre snobbery. I READ POPULAR BOOKS. And so does every highbrow apologist, because the only writings that have survived from previous centuries, let alone millennia, were POPULAR. And it is my belief that writers who worked for pay on deadline, with quick turnaround, are the best.

So I remember many of Weiner's efforts to speak out against the quiet, systemic sexism that denigrates what women do as somehow less valuable than men's. Women young through old are responsible for most of the books read and sold in the U.S., but do they get the majority of the bylines, reviews, or awards? No, they don't even get half. VIDA's got the numbers and they're appalling, as is the fact that the worst offenders do not even have to apologize, because who cares? And the most prestige, the most coverage, the most work continues to go to het white men that no one enjoys reading.

Anyway, Weiner is funiest when writing of the worst times of her life. Her family is screwed up in mostly charming ways. She is always clear that writing is a job, and for anyone interested in following her advice, she presents a refreshingly clear-eyed training plan. So that's all great. But I love the bits when she is actively fighting for justice: I hope she's proud of that work. I hope her daughters are, too.

Library copy

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