Tag Archives: chick lit

Why It Pays To Be a Tweeting Author: Jennifer Weiner’s ‘Bachelorette’ Gig

For most of us, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are domains to express how we feel about, well, pretty much anything. Sometimes we’re funny. Most of the time we’re not. But we tweet anyway in the hopes that someone will read our 140 attempts at getting attention. If you’re a bestselling author and write for a living, you know people will see those tweets. But when In Her Shoes author Jennifer Weiner wrote a Facebook post about Jason Mesnick from The Bachelor a few seasons back, she was surprised at the response she got.

So began her weekly Bachelor/Bachelorette live-tweets, which have now led to a new gig at Entertainment Weekly, according to a post on her Facebook page last month. Though I’ve been unable to find out any more details about it, Weiner states “I am THRILLED to announce that, starting 5/14, I’m going to be live-blogging ‘The Bachelorette’ for the kind folks at Entertainment Weekly! Stay tuned for details…”

Coincidentally, EW wrote up this article on Weiner and other celebrity tweeters in January. In the reality world of The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Jennifer Weiner has become a favorite tweeter. In fact it earned her a spot on Time‘s list of 140 Best Twitter feeds last year. So it’s no surprise it would lead to an EW gig like this. Weiner is outspoken, hilarious, and seems like the best friend you’ve never met — all perfect attributes for a good live-tweeter.

So for all your Bachelorette fans, here’s Weiner’s Twitter handle, @jenniferweiner, if you’re looking for someone to gossip with about the drama that’s set to begin tomorrow night at 8pm on ABC. Will you tune in?

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Movie vs. Book: One Day

A sexless one-night-stand turns into a 20 year relationship of rocky romance in this decent novel and worse movie. One Day tells the epic, serendipitous love story of Em and Dex, who meet in college on July 15th, 1988. The story takes us through their decades-long relationship of love, fights, vacations, affairs, career struggles, and drug abuse.

The novel is told in a creative way — each chapter marking July 15th from 1988, 1989, 1990, and so forth. This device moves the story along, and gives insight into how much two adults and their friendship can change from year to year. The book does a decent job of building the relationship. Albeit frustrating — after all, it takes years for Dex and Em to finally get together, the book portrays the epic-ness of Em and Dex. Twenty years, after all, is a long time, and in the book, it feels that way.

But the movie is an entirely different story. The movie cuts a few things — namely the affair Em has with a professor — but otherwise it stays close to the story. The real problem is that the movie moves at a rapid speed. Fitting 20 years into a 2-hour movie is difficult, but the story moves so quickly, the characters are never fully developed. Not to mention Anne Hathaway (Em) and Jim Sturgess (Dex) have little to no onscreen chemistry. The importance of the date, July 15th, is also not made clear. The date pops up on the screen at the beginning of each new scene from a new year, but unless you read the book, I don’t think you would have picked up on that.

What was most upsetting is that I felt the exact opposite way about the book as I did about the movie. In the book, I loved the beginning, struggled through the middle, hated the end, but appreciated the last chapter. In the movie, I hated pretty much all of it until the end. The end is the first time real emotion comes across onscreen. It’s the first time throughout the two hours that I actually felt some sort of connection. It was somewhat redeeming, but let’s be honest. To feel no emotional connection until the end of the movie is not a good sign.

Though the book had its issues, I would still recommend it. But the movie can easily be left behind.

Get One Day on your Kindle for just $9.99.

Or get it in paperback with movie tie-in for $10.17.

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Male vs. Female Authors: The Double Standard

How likely is it that a man goes to a bookstore and purchases a pink book with a picture of a stiletto on it? Or a little girl on a farm? How likely is it that a woman goes to a bookstore and purchases a red book with bold, black typeface and some kind of faraway landscape? The fact of the matter is people really do judge books by their covers. And if that book seems remotely feminine and has a female author, a man will likely move on to the next shelf.

According to this important essay in The New York Times, “women’s fiction” consists of books that are written by women. But they’re not necessarily for women. And they certainly aren’t always “chick lit.” But many tend to lump women’s fiction and chick lit together — identifying these books as silly, quick reads about women and their romantic relationships with men as well as their friendships with other women. Essayist Meg Wolitzer uses Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot as an example of the exception to the rule — a book that has mainly feminine themes, but is written by a male. It’s been hugely successful, but women write books with similar content and themes all the time and don’t get nearly as much recognition. Is it simply because they’re women?

Furthermore, women’s fiction and chick lit are not the same. Women’s fiction can be as serious as any man’s book. And whereas a woman tends to be open to reading a book written by a man, men aren’t necessarily as inclined to read books written by women, as Meg Wolitzer explains.

Recently at a social gathering, when a guest found out I was a writer, he asked, “Would I have heard of you?” I dutifully told him my name — no recognition, fine, I’m not that famous — and then, at his request, I described my novels. “You know, contemporary, I guess,” I said. “Sometimes they’re about marriage. Families. Sex. Desire. Parents and children.” After a few uncomfortable moments he called his wife over, announcing that she, who “reads that kind of book,” was the one I ought to talk to. When I look back on that encounter, I see a lost opportunity. When someone asks, “Would I have heard of you?” many female novelists would be tempted to answer, “In a more just world.”

Wolitzer explains that women’s books are actually less reviewed, according to statistics gathered by a women’s literary organization called VIDA. She talks about the length of books, their covers, their jackets. But ultimately it all comes back to who has written the book. Wolitzer goes into incredible depth with this essay, and I urge you to read it in its entirety. While I often don’t think much about who wrote the book I’m reading, it’s something I’ll begin to consider now.


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The Outrage of “Chick Nonfiction”

Last month, a searing debate arose when one critic called Jodi Kantor’s newest book The Obamas a work of “chick nonfiction.” New York Times writer Douglas Brinkley used the phrase, saying The Obamas was “not about politics, it’s about marriage.”

And so began a heated debate about women’s writing — to whom does it appeal? Is it always about love? Can it ever be serious or liked by a man?

According to this article by Huffington Post, those two words — “chick nonfiction” — got female authors talking about their under-appreciation in the book industry. Author Jennifer Weiner took to Twitter and an email with TABLET magazine to say this:

“My suspicion is that if a male reporter had written a detailed, well-researched, revealing book about the First Marriage, it would have been praised as a serious work of journalism. However, when the old, pernicious double standards still apply, if it’s a lady doing the investigation, the personal can never be political … it can only be gossip, and the writer, however skilled a reporter, is still merely a chick.”

Weiner has a point. Why can’t a woman write a serious book without it being labeled as non-serious? If a man were to write a book about the Obamas, don’t you think it would have been necessary for him to include information about the marriage itself? No one would be calling it “chick nonfiction” then. It would just be nonfiction, truth, fact.

The double standard in the book industry is alive and well. Let’s hope female authors — particularly the ones with gusto like Jennifer Weiner — can stand up to that challenge and relieve women of the stereotypes they face.

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More Chick Lit Greatness from Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is one of the many chick lit princesses out there nowadays, often throwing women into laughing fits followed by sobbing in only the way chick lit and chick flicks can.

Best known for her novel — which was then turned into the movie starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine — In Her Shoes, Weiner is set to publish another book this coming July, according to this article by Chicklit Club.

This one, called The Next Best Thing, takes her typically funny, awkward female heroine to a new level. It tells the story of a girl who gets the green light for a TV series she’s been writing. She then heads out to LA to make it happen, as the synopsis explains.

At 23, Ruth Saunders headed west with her 70-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials. Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behaviour backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

With Weiner’s experience making In Her Shoes into a movie and debuting her series State of Georgia last fall, it’s fitting and understandable that Weiner would want to write a book about the Hollywood production process. I’ve been in the mood to read another Weiner novel lately, so with the new one coming out, maybe it’s time I dig into some of her other goodies. Have any of you read her books? Which is your favorite?
Pre-order The Next Best Thing in hardcover for just $17.

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Movie vs. Book: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed is not only a story about friendship versus love, but about fate versus decisions and desire versus expectations. Those concepts hold true in both the movie and book. The story follows Rachel — a sophisticated, but reserved 30-year-old — who’s spent her entire life in the shadow of her exciting, but self-centered best friend, Darcy. Darcy gets everything she wants. So when Rachel meets the man of her dreams in law school and introduces him to Darcy, that’s the end of Rachel’s dream. Or so she thought.

Flash forward a few years later. Now this man, Dex, and Darcy are about to get married. And in a sudden act of spontaneity, Rachel and Dex sleep together, after years of unspoken feelings. The relationship — or rather, affair — continues. Meanwhile, Darcy is off, having her own affair.

It’s soapy, yes. But it’s also romantic, enticing, and thrilling, and that’s what made Something Borrowed a bestseller. Statistically speaking, the popularity of the book did not translate in theaters.

For instance, the movie uses flashbacks to tell the story of Rachel and Dex, but the affair still feels rushed. First, they accidentally sleep together, and the next thing you know, they’re saying those three little words. However, the book goes deeper into the character’s thoughts, so we understand their feelings as they develop. Not to mention, it takes longer to read a book than to watch a movie. That being said, in the book, the affair between Rachel and Dex feels much longer than it does in the movie, thereby making the book more more believable.

The movie — starring Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel and Kate Hudson as Darcy — also made a few minor changes, like the role of Ethan. Ethan — played by John Krasinski — is Rachel’s other best friend. In the novel, Ethan doesn’t have a large role, but in the movie, he’s a major character. Despite the plot change, Ethan works well because he’s the comedic highlight of the film. (Though, the way the movie develops his relationship with Rachel is a little hard to believe.)

Despite its flaw and changes, I’m still shocked Something Borrowed did as poorly as it did in theaters.  Maybe it’s because we find ourselves rooting for the girl who’s sleeping with her best friend’s fiance. But it’s evident in both the novel and movie, that Darcy is a bad person, a not-so-great friend, and a horrible girlfriend. This is the story of the underdog finally standing up for herself. The movie version of Something Borrowed is still a fun, light chick flick. I found myself laughing and tearing up at all the right — and cliche — parts. If you read Something Borrowed and enjoyed it — which, let’s be honest; you probably did — it’s definitely worth checking out the movie.

Get Something Borrowed for less than $10.

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Review: Water for Elephants

Recap:  There’s nothing like a good love triangle. Put that triangle in an usual setting, and you’ve got yourself a story. Such is the case with Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants. Elephants follows the story of a Jacob Jankowski, a man in his 90s who lives in a nursing home. The circus comes to town, and the mere mention of the word “circus” brings Jacob back to his young in the 1930’s — a time when circuses were all the rage.

After Jacob’s parents died, Jacob drops out of vet school at Cornell University and joins the circus on a whim. It’s the time of the Great Depression, and with no money, no parents, and no college degree, he decides to stay with the traveling performers. But he soon learns there’s a difference between the entertainers and the working men. He joins the ranks as a working man, serving as the vet for the exotic animals in the show.

In due time, he not only falls in love with the new, untrained, seemingly dumb elephant, Rosie, but he also falls for the show’s star performer, Marlena. One small problem: Marlena happens to be married to one of the show’s directors, August.

Analysis: In some ways, Elephants is a story that’s been written many times over — a love triangle in which the woman is torn between two men with starkly different backgrounds. But it’s the setting and animal subplot that add flavor to this book.

The 1930’s setting deals with a lot of historical issues, including the Great Depression, prohibition, and the technological hindering in the world of medical treatment. For instance, a number of men in the circus suffer from Jake’s leg, a disease caused by drinking contaminated Jamaican ginger that often made its way into alcohol at the time. When one comes down with Jake’s leg, he becomes paralyzed and dies. Not to mention, August suffers from schizophrenia, a disease that was known back then, but not properly treated.

And the animal plot delves deep into animal treatment. In the book, the exotic animals were often times beat to a pulp — something that simply would not fly these days — especially if they were circus animals.

Gruen’s telling of the story also makes it appealing. It reminded me of The Notebook in that it flipped back and forth between a story from long ago and the present day — in which the storyteller is old and reflecting back on his or her life. Water for Elephants is an exciting, engaging page-turner.

MVP: Kinko/Walter, Jacob’s bunkmate. Initially, Kinko is a grouchy, condescending performer — a dwarf — who wants nothing to do with Jacob. But his character develops, and we learn that he may be a dwarf, but he has a giant heart.

Now you can buy Water for Elephants for less than $10.

Not to mention, check out the movie, starring Robert Pattinson (Jacob) and Reese Witherspoon (Marlena).


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Review: One Day

Recap: All it takes is one day to fall in love. And so begins the story of Dex and Em, Em and Dex, as they so coyly refer to themselves. Emma Morley is a self-conscious, brilliant beauty who’s not sure quite what she wants out of life. Dexter Mayhew is a lost puppy himself, but he’s got all the charm, looks, confidence, and sex drive of an 18-year-old frat boy.

The story begins when the two of them fall into bed together just after graduating from college in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s July 15, 1988. The book follows their rocky relationship over the next 20 years, each chapter marking where they are on July 15th of a particular year.

It takes us through Em’s loveless relationships, Dex’s rise to and fall from fame, Em’s struggle to start a career in writing, Dex’s alcoholism, Em’s affair, and Dex’s divorce. Fate and their disdain for loneliness is what keeps them coming back to each other.

Analysis: The rollercoaster ride of Em and Dex’s relationship made me feel up and down about this book overall. Initially, I couldn’t put it down. The flirtation, romance, and awkwardness between the two of them was relatable and funny. Despite their glaring flaws, these two characters maintained likeability.

But as the story progressed and they both had moments in which their lives spiraled out of control, I found myself hating them more and more. I had to force myself to read in the hopes they would get together. It was like watching the movie Serendipity 10 times in a row.

In the third act, it picks back up, and I fell back in love with the characters. But there’s the ending. A shocking, depressing, and very unnecessary one (for those who haven’t spoiled it for themselves like I did). It simply forced drama in an already dramatic relationship. The very last chapter was well done — sentimental, romantic, and beautiful. But the fact that I was able to imagine the story done differently and still have the same poetic last chapter is not a good sign.

However, bonus points for the cool formatting of the story. To follow them on the same day every year was a new way of storytelling I had not yet experienced.

MVP: Emma Morley. As unlikable as she is at parts, she’s real. She’s beautiful, but sleeps with all the wrong men. She’s brilliant, but can’t find work. She’s awkward and cynical and downright British. And as she continues to explore her relationship with Dexter, overanalyzing it and both hating and loving it simultaneously, we realize we’ve all been Emma Morley at one time or another.

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Kathryn Stockett Loves Writing About Southern Women

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seems to be Kathryn Stockett’s rule to live by. The bestselling author whose first novel, The Help, is about to hit theaters, is starting to put some thought into her next book.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Stockett will be focusing on Southern women in the 1920’s for her upcoming novel. Though she hasn’t begun to write it yet, it seems she’s already determined her focus and format, and it sounds pretty familiar. Historial fiction. Multiple storytellers. Focused on high-class women who must learn the ways of their lower-class companions.

In this article, Stockett explains that the 1920’s and Depression area were an interesting time for women, who had just gotten the opportunity to vote for the first time. But those women ultimately went from riches to rags.

So it’s about a group of women who were raised in a rather white privileged home and then the Depression hit and suddenly they have no support. They have absolutely no marketable skills. So they have to figure out how to work their way up into the world and figure out how to earn a living and support each other and take care of each other.

It sounds like Stockett has a niche. But it’s too soon to say if it’s a profitable genre, or if Stockett just lucked out with The Help.

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Jodi Picoult Loosens Up

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult is loosening up from her highly adult, controversial literature for something a little lighter: young adult fiction!

According to this article, the author — best known for My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, and Change of Heart — wrote the novel Between the Lines with her daughter, Sammy.

Picoult tends to tackle tough issues, like cancer, school shootings, and teen suicide. But according to her Facebook page, the new novel will be more light-hearted:

“Color me happy! My daughter Sammy and I JUST finished editing the young teen chapter book we co-wrote, BETWEEN THE LINES … it’s about a prince who wants to break free from his fairytale existence … and the girl who falls for him while she’s reading. It’s sweet and romantic and funny — and to celebrate, we’re going out for ribs!!”

So, here are a few things we have learned: 1) Picoult has a good relationship with her daughter, 2) she can write for teens (or so we expect), and 3) she loves ribs!

I’m a huge Jodi Picoult fan, and I think people who read her books quickly become fans as well. I would be interested in reading the new book and seeing how well it sells. I have to say though…it will be weird to read a Jodi Picoult book and laugh, rather than cry.

According to this article, publication for Between the Lines is set for June 2012.

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