Jennifer Stevenson writes fluffy yet digestible romance, fantasy, and romantic fantasy set in Chicago. She feeds crows, bicycles, speed skates, gardens, and taunts cats for the exercise. Her first sex-demon series was Hinky Chicago, her current series is Slacker Demons, and her upcoming series will be Coed Demon Sluts. For sex-demon-free Jennifernalia, try her Backstage Boys series about stagehands and the women who prefer them to the skinny, painted, self-centered guys in front of the curtain. These are her good things.
Good things to read.
Valya Lupescu wrote a sort-of memoir sort-of about her grandmother, who left the rural Ukraine during WWII and spent some time in the German prison camps. The Silence of Trees is powerful and authentic. Lupescu has a really strong feeling for nature. Subversive element: a happy ending!
Nalo Hopkinson’s The New Moon’s Arms, a gorgeous, literary account of one Caribbean woman’s menopause and how it goes magically pear-shaped. It’s funny, it’s beautiful, it’s fantastical. Some of my favorite scenes take place in an abandoned cashew ghost-orchard, a wonderfully squishy, wild, fragrant place. Subversive element: the sekrit power of hot flashes.
Chris Dolley always excites my admiration, whether writing steampunk PG Wodehouse pastiche or one of his quirky fantasy-mystery-romance mashups…or memoir. When he bought an abandoned French village in Brittany, he moved there with his wife, his mother-in-law, and “a ridiculous number of animals.” En route his identity and his life savings were stolen. The French police wouldn’t help because he was British. The British police wouldn’t help because it happened in France. Chris went after the thief, caught him, got his money back, and wrote it all up in a witty memoir called French Fried. Deservedly a bestseller.
Good things to watch.
D.E.B.S. is Angela Robinson’s brainchild, one of those conceived-written-directed-produced films that can be great or they can go terribly wrong in an interesting way. D.E.B.S is terrific. A fluffy teen girl gang flick about college kids at a secret school for spies. The heroine falls in love with the school’s arch-nemesis, a reclusive criminal mastermind. This movie goes down the hatch like shiny hard candy. Subtext? The student spy and the arch-criminal are both girls. Look for Holland Taylor and Michael Clarke Duncan as professors at the spy college.
America’s Sweethearts is another written-produced job, this one by Billy Crystal. Anything with Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts, John Cusack, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is bound to be fluffy. In this one the subtext is about how it looks to the audience, how Hollywood eats people, and how professionalism can warp your personal life. Alan Arkin and Stanley Tucci steal the show; Arkin as Cusack’s new age shrink (again–this is, what, his third or fourth turn as Cusack’s shrink?) and Tucci as a completely conscience-free movie producer.
1 900 Sensitive Men is written and produced by two crazy women doing some very good “comedymercials.” If I had the money, I’d hire them to pimp my books! In fact, search for anything by Quiet Duke. For some reason, Adarable also uploads their work.
Good things to use.
For athletes who tend to overdo the quad work, I recommend this cheap, ultra-portable alternative to the $25 styro roller or the $30 “magic stick”–the dollar store rolling pin. Every roller derby girl knows that you need to crush the kinks out of your bunchy quads and loosen your IT bands. Bicyclists, ball players, anybody who does a lot of fast-twitch work, throw this $1.00 solution in the gym bag and use it right after your workout. Cheap, and it spares you a knee injury down the line.
Guaranteed 100% moneyback method for ending winter at your house! Buy 10.27 lbs. of suet. (Slabs of raw beef fat.) Spend an hour slicing it into small cubes. Pack the cubes up in quart freezer bags, and bring the first quart out to the crow feeder and sprinkle it over 5 lbs. of cheap dry dog food pellets which have been soaked in hot water and bacon grease. Since crows will come to your feeder only if it is either snowing heavily or below 5 degrees fahrenheit or both, your winter blues are officially over! Because the weather will warm up immediately, the crows will ignore the feeder, and all that suet will sit in your freezer until next winter. PS, squirrels will eat the dog food. An easier way to end winter is to put a spare shovel in your car.
Phone compartment in your bag too loose? Does the phone go flying when you put the bag down? Slip in a piece of felt, cut to the size of the compartment, adding layers until the phone is a snug fit. Glue the layers together into a rigid pad. This will keep the felt lining from bunching up.
Connect with Jennifer on Twitter, @JenStevenson.