Flashback Friday: Bonnets At Dawn Podcast (2017 to Present)

Books have a way of bringing us together and creating conversations that will hopefully reveal our common humanity.

The literary podcast, Bonnets At Dawn, premiered in 2017. When the original episodes focused on the works, lives, and fandoms of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen, later seasons expanded to other women writers from the 19th and 20th centuries who deserve equal time in the limelight.

Bonnets At Dawn is one of my favorite podcasts. I appreciate the intelligent conversations and the approach that is fan-based with an academic angle.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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RIP Tina Turner

The strongest of us have very often, been forced down to the deepest of depths before rising to the surface triumphantly.

Tina Turner passed away yesterday at the age of 83. If you were to look up the definition of a survivor in the dictionary, the image you may see is a picture of the late musician. Born into poverty, she shot to fame as the front woman of the most popular bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

But Turner’s life when the cameras were not rolling was not all sunshine and roses. Her late ex-husband, Ike Turner, abused his wife and tried to control her. She would finally break free in the late 1970s and would have a second career as a solo artist that is legendary in its own right.

On stage, she was a dynamo who outperformed younger artists who looked to her as an inspiration.

Though she was just one person, her struggles are a reminder that there is a light in the darkness, if you are willing to fight for that light.

RIP Tina Turner. May your spirit live on and encourage us all to fight for what we want.

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Glamour: Women, History, Feminism Book Review

There is a perception when it comes to women and fashion. We are nothing more than empty-headed clothes horses who love nothing more than spending our husband’s or father’s money.

Carol Dyhouse‘s 2010 book, Glamour: Women, History, Feminism explores the dynamic between women, fashion, and our changing roles in society during the 20th century. Basing the narrative on an assortment of sources, she explains how the various components of women’s clothing can be representative of our struggles for independence and personhood on our own terms.

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I enjoyed this book. I am not exactly one to follow the latest trends, I am more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of person. What I found interesting was the fact that as the decades wore on, the clothes became representative of the slow walk toward equality.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Glamour: Women, History, Feminism is available wherever books are sold.

Throwback Thursday: Up (2009)

Childhood dreams have a way of staying with us long after our youth has disappeared into the rearview mirror.

In the 2009 Disney/Pixar film Up, Carl Fredricksen (the late Ed Asner) is 87 years old and mourning his late wife. He is also still enamored with his childhood idol, Charles Muntz (the late Christopher Plummer).

When a young scout, Russell (Jordan Nagai) enters his life, they go on an unexpected journey to South America and the fictional Paradise Falls, a location that Carl dreamed of as a young boy.

If I were to create a list of Pixar films, Up would be close to the top. It’s a story of change and realizing that the ideas that populated our youth may be more fantasy than reality.

My only gripe (which is very common) is that the only female with any decent amount of screen time is Ellie, Carl’s wife. It is the one black mark on an otherwise brilliant cinematic creation.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Kiss Me, Catalina Book Review

Sometimes, the person we end up loving is the one we start out hating.

Kiss Me, Catalina, by Priscilla Oliveras was published last fall.

Catalina “Cat” Capuleta is an up-and-coming performer who gets the career boost of a lifetime. She is being paired with Patricio Galán, a fellow mariachi singer whose sex appeal and string of hits have propelled him to the top of the charts.

The problem is that Patricio is not the easiest person to work with. Cat is determined to not let him get to her. She has one goal: to see her dreams become a reality. The only thing that stands in her way is an unnerving attraction to the man.

Though Patricio is no stranger to the female sex, Cat is the one woman who can get under his skin. She is the total package and unknowingly opens an old wound that he would prefer to remain hidden.

When they go on tour, their chemistry is nothing short of volcanic. But love on the road and on stage is a different animal than a long-term relationship.

I wanted to like this book. The author blends Romeo and Juliet and Taming of the Shrew with Mexican culture and mariachi music. That element of the narrative I liked.

The problem is that I was not feeling the chemistry between the leads. I wanted to feel the slow burn of the will they or won’t they. But it just was not there.

Do I recommend it? No.

Kiss Me, Catalina is available wherever books are sold.

The German Wife: A Novel Book Review

War forces us to hate one another based on outside characteristics such as the nation of origin. But that does not mean, that we can see each other as human beings once the conflict ends.

The German Wife, by Kelly Rimmer, was published last year. The book follows two women as their fates are intertwined in post-war Huntsville.

Lizzie Miller experienced unimaginable loss during The Great Depression. After the war is over, she is appalled that Operation Paperclip has allowed former Nazi scientists into the country and into the most sensitive scientific work of the era. While other women in the community are eager to welcome the wives and children of these scientists, Lizzie is completely against the idea and is not silent about it.

In 1930 in Berlin, Sofie von Meyer Rhodes, whose husband is a respected academic, does not agree with the politics of the new government. But his status gives them a leg up. For this alone, she is willing to make some compromises. It slowly becomes clear that that are difficult decisions to be made. After the war, Sofie arrives in America, expecting some sort of hostility. But she has no idea that the secrets from the past are going to catch up with her.

This is an amazing book. Both Lizzie and Sofie are in a tough position. Due to circumstances forced upon them by history, they have to make choices that would otherwise not exist.

I wanted to be on Lizzie’s side. She has every right to be angry. But I also understand that Sofie is caught in an impossible position. She has two young children to take care of. But she also has her own moral compass that goes against everything she is seeing and hearing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The German Wife: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire Book Review

In popular culture, a heartthrob is a male entertainer whose fanbase mostly consists of young(ish) females who squeal at the very thought of this man.

Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire by Carol Dyhouse, was published in 2017. In this fascinating and unique take on media and popular culture, Dyhouse examines how heartthrobs from all different genres and eras have liberated women from the conundrum of being sexual and appealing without “going over the line”. Starting with Lord Byron in the 19th century and ending with our modern era, she dives into the various figures over the decades who have made young girls scream and turned grown women turn into squealing teenagers.

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This is a good read. Though it would be easy to peg these females as brainless, this reaction is actually a natural one. Like our male counterparts, we are human beings and react in a certain way when we see an attractive person. The highlight of the narrative is the female gaze, which has been overlooked and underappreciated for far too long.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire is available wherever books are sold.

Bookish and the Beast Book Review

When it comes to romance, the partner whom we end up with may be the person we least expect.

Bookish and the Beast, by Ashley Poston is the 3rd book in the Once Upon a Con trilogy. It was published in 2020.

Rosie Thorne is stuck in her small town and hates it with a passion. With her mother recently deceased, she and her now-widowed father are drowning in medical bills. The only way to reduce the debt was to sell her mother’s beloved collection of rare Starfield books. In addition to dealing with the stress that applying for college, Rosie cannot get the mysterious Starfield cosplayer that she met at the previous Excelsicon out of her head.

Vance Reigns is your classic Hollywood bad boy and nepo baby. Though fame and money have provided avenues that are not open to other young men, there is a downside to this lifestyle. After one too many run-ins with the paparazzi, he is shipped off to a small town to let the fervor cool down. The only upshot is that the house he is staying in has a library. But just because it’s there does not mean he will use it.

In their first meeting, Rosie and Vance get along like oil and water. But as they are forced into each other’s company, they begin to see that there is more beneath the surface.

I loved this book. Out of all the books in this series, this is my favorite. I loved the cultural references that Poston sprinkles throughout the stories and the easter eggs related to the Disney adaptation.

Rosie and Vance’s relationship has a nice pace to it. Both are initially so caught up in their own worlds and drama that they are unable to see the value in the other. By the time they get together, it feels right.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Bookish and the Beast is available wherever books are sold.

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The Princess and the Fangirl Book Review

Others who are older and wiser than us will sometimes say that we cannot understand another person until we walk a mile in their shoes.

The Princess and the Fan Girl, by Ashley Poston, was published in 2020 and is the second book in the Once Upon a Con trilogy. Based on the Mark Twain fable/fairy tale The Prince and the Pauper, the book follows two young women who look remarkably alike.

Imogen Lovelace loves the television series turned film adaption of Starfield with a passion. Her goal at this year’s ExcelsiCon is to get the keeper of the proverbial keys to revive the IP’s now-dead female lead, Princess Amara.

The actor playing Amara, Jessica Stone, would like nothing more than to leave the character behind in the rearview mirror. While she wants to be respected for her work, she loathes fame and constant attention.

When the script for the next film is released, Jess believes that she is responsible for the leak. The only way to find out the truth is to switch places with Imogen. While both believe that this plan will be simple to execute, they have no idea what they are in store for.

Though the narrative starts out a little slow, it picks up at about the halfway point. Instead of putting it down and moving on to the next book, I am glad I pushed through. It is a lovely story that just because we think we know someone does not mean that we actually know them.

My favorite part of the tale was that Jessica is out and proud. Moreover, her romance proves once more that love knows no bounds.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Princess and the Fangirl is available wherever books are sold.

Flashback Friday: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

One of the classic stories of childhood is thinking that there is a monster under our bed or in our closet.

The 2001 Disney/Pixar film Monsters, Inc, follows the lives of two titular monsters, Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sullivan (John Goodman). Their job is to scare children and get them to scream. Those collective screams power their city.

The one hitch, however, is that the young ones are toxic. When a toddler nicknamed Boo (Mary Gibbs) somehow escapes into their world, Mike and Sully have to keep her safe and get her back to bed. While doing so, they discover a secret plan that could destroy everything that they hold dear.

This movie is really cute. It is funny, charming, and speaks to the former child in all of us. I very much appreciated the adult humor that younger audiences may not have understood.

My only problem (which is standard) is the lack of female representation. Other than Boo, the only characters with the proverbial womb and a decent amount of screen time are Celia (Jennifer Tilly) and Flint (Bonnie Hunt).

Other than that, do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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