Crush of the Week: Helen Fielding Creator of Bridget Jones…Ramble

I attended the BookExpoAmerica (BEA) last week at the Jacob Javits Center. It was a whirlwind of activity with arms and elbows flying as readers grabbed for free books. Well, before that frenzy which left me seeking the santity of the Harlequin booth, I had the enormous pleasure of attending the Author Breakfest hosted by Chris Matthews where I got to hear Helen Fielding speak about her third Bridget Jones’ book “Mad About A Boy.” 

I’m going to give you the gist from my notes of what she said. Imagine a fabulous dry British accent that sounds like champagne and you’ll enjoy it even more. Disclaimer: I said gist and yes some is verbatim, but don’t (literally) quote me or Helen on that!

I want to thank everyone for coming here today. It’s nice to see all of you. The first time I had a public speaking engagement like this only two people showed up. One of them I had dated. Afterwards we went to lunch where he told me he was gay. — grrlgenius: transported to Bridget heaven!) I never thought I’d write another one (Bridget Jones novel) after the first two because I lost my voice. But last year, some things started to strike me as funny again and I started writing without telling anyone so that took the pressure off and reclaimed my privacy which allowed me creative freedom.

When the first Bridget Jones book came out there wasn’t any of the online things around that are around today like Twitter. I signed up for Twitter to do some research as Bridget Jones. Twitter is like a popularity contest. I kept checking the account for followers: naught. Again: naught. Then I got suspended from Twitter for checking 150 times in an hour how many followers I had. (grrlgenius: crowd was roaring laughing). Women come up to me all the time to tell me how much they relate to Bridget. I feel like I’m the Pope, confess child confess. One woman told me she went on an Internet Date and they had kissed a bit. A few days later she’d received a mass email from the fellow announcing his wife had just given birth to a girl. 

No matter where I go though women tell me they relate to Bridget even in Japan where they are so fabulous and tiny and eat small amounts of fish! I think she is so appealing because she represents the gap between how you feel you should be and how you are inside. When I was a kid I thought middle-aged woman were sagging and not very attractive with gray hair and you know today’s middle-aged women are very glam. This book sort of rebrands the older woman of today. Now there’s young children and you have so many priorities the to-do list might have find cheese, finish novel on it. Look at David Cameron, the PM of Britain. He was in the car on the phone and his kids were acting up. He finally had to say to them “shut up I’m on the phone with the Prime Minister of Israel.” So, see all of us are juggling a lot of things today and we try to act like we’re glamourous when we are a mess on the other end. I’ve been wearing sweatpants and didn’t brush my hair looking quite feral while I wrote this book. So now I’m going to go on a huge diet (grrlgenius: she is so tiny!) and have massive amounts of plastic surgery before the book comes out. 

Love & Hate: People Have Strong Feelings for Gwyneth Paltrow…Ramble

As a Gwyneth fan I am glad that one of my most read posts to date has been “In Defense of Gwyneth…”. I was really excited when her new, healthy cook book It’s All Good came out April 9th and even more so, when I went to the book signing at William-Sonoma. There were no haters with bitchforks waiting to throw quinoa pies at the golden goddess, in fact it was the best dressed crowd I have ever seen at a book signing and there was so much love and appreciation for the Oscar winning actress I felt I had found my people.

It is kind of amusing just how polarizing the media is in their portrayal of Gwyneth. Last week she was named by Us Magazine the number one most hated celebrity – now this is  a list with Kim Kardashian at number ten and Chris Brown at number twenty. Should GP choose to assault someone with a large ass she will apparently slide off that list. Note: this was also two weeks after her new book made the NY Times Best Seller list.

Today People Magazine named Gwyneth “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World”. So is it because she is so beautiful that she is so hated? Wow even the ‘Mean Girls’ were less transparent! When Gwyneth visited Dr. Oz he asked her if it bothered her journalists had taken sentences out of her book to twist and call her a bad mother, the good natured health fanantic had to laugh and say no, because those people obviously don’t know her personally. That’s a pretty healthy outlook.

I view GOOP as GP’s outlet for sharing tidbits and giving insight and access to her contacts. I thanked her for sharing her recipes and yep, believe it or not folks there are items in the newsletter you can make yourself for under five dollars like a sugar scrub. Last week’s newsletter had tips from the butler at the Four Seasons who uses such dollar store products like ammonia and the Mr. Clean erasers to keep things shiny. You could say the elitist part is getting cleaning tips from him, but the solutions are quite cost effective.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletters filled with tips on clean eating and juiciing and recipes have helped me take a whole new outlook to food and the way I consume it. As a result I’ve lost thirty pounds. So thank you Gwyneth for your guidance. I needed someone to point me in the right direction.


Book Suggestions for Gifts This Holiday Season…Ramble

As Christmas and the holiday season is upon us, the gifting has commenced! If you shopped like millions of Americans on Black Friday yesterday, then got home, realized you hitting the book store was the last thing you wanted to do and half the stuff you bought is of no use to anyone, well it’s time to buy, buy again. Here are some great books for your holiday gifting:

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub is about the life of a small town Midwest girl who gets into the Hollywood Machine in her early 20’s driven by the loss of her sister. Taking place in the 1940’s-60’s it is an interesting tale which will draw the reader in whether you are 15 or 55. I really had to stop myself from finishing the last fifty or sixty pages because I didn’t want my time with Ms. Lamont to be finished. 

I picked up this gem when Emma had a co-book signing event with the ever amazing, Molly Ringwald, who is just as cool as you thought she’d be and then some. Molly’s book When It Happens To You is also a great read especially for fans who are literary lovers. Her intelligent insights to human behaviour facing everyday challenges of life and betrayal are so vivid I wondered if she knew all these people in real life. 

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway was one of my favorite suprise reads of the year. Her main character, Gal Garner is so different than most  women’s fiction works. Gal isn’t on a man hunt, oh no, she wants something bigger- to breed a new and original type of rose. I learned so much in the most fascinating way about rose breeding through Gal’s voice. A wonderful story that is far from typical fare. 

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin is now in paperback. Snap this one up for the Downton Abbey fan you know immediately. I read online there is a potential movie for Downton which will depict the evolution of Robert & Cora Crawley (aka the parents!). I say, why wait? Scoop up The American Heiress now which cannot be too far off since it is about that exact subject- a rich American who is married off for a title to pump some much needed money back into an English estate. 

For Your Best Friend:
50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. What? I know how much I’ve complained about my struggle to get through this book. In fact I’ve 7 books while trying to get through 50 Shades, however, my friend who insisted I read it says you can’t read ‘high brow’ all the time. And yesterday I was discussing it with another friend, also a working mother, who has read the series 9 times.

Caveat: I’m still trying to get through the first book which I want to read with a Sharpie to vehemently cross out the words “inner goddess” which would never come out of a 21 year old’s subconscious on a regular basis. Another friend found the sex closer to forced than on the consensual side of on the border.

Teens: So, you’re teen likes series? If they haven’t already tried the Switched novels  by Amanda Hocking, it’s time to be the cool relative and call this one…. a wrap. Bwahaha. 

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Great Cause: Anti-Bullying

I think most of us has been through some kind of bullying- mild or otherwise in this life. It happens to kids but it also happens at work– and don’t try to deny it. Standing up for one’s self can come at great cost so here’s a way to support an anti-bullying cause at very little cost and you get a great book out of it to enjoy. See the details below:

This is a lovely book and perfect for Fall or Holiday gift giving for the book lover on your list. Today only, we’re donating money to “I Choose” Anti-bullying organization for those who buy The Salt God’s Daughter by Ilie Ruby. This book was inspired by 17 young women who were bullied enough to take their own lives. It’s a tragedy that this happens. I hope you’ll take a moment and support this campaign – buy the book, read it, give it as a gift, it’s a beautiful and magical novel about the love between mothers and daughters, sisters, and how we can survive and be resilient amidst adversity. I hope you’ll support us today and stand up against bullying! If you are able to buy and send your receipt to (or simply email me and let me know!), we’re donating a portion of the sales to I Choose!  Thank you!!

Girl Crush: Author Liza Palmer…Ramble

Liza is one of those people who’s writing creates new friends. Friends that fulfill the Girl Scout song “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.” I’ve been able to connect online with Liza and interview her for some outlets, including this blog. She just pretty much kicks ass. Funny, honest and bubbling over with talent, she even has a French bulldog named Poet. Could she be any cooler? 

My favorite book of Liza’s is Seeing Me Naked. It’s a powerful and intrigueing facing the hard stuff in life with your family and finally creating a life for yourself regardless of what everyone expects you to do. Her last book A Field Guide To Burying Your Parents completely book my heart. It was so powerfully emotional and really hit a raw part of my experience in life. Let’s not forget her first book Conversations With The Fat Girl which was both hilarious and amazing.

Palmer fans already excited for her latest book More Like Her out on April 17th, which I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of to read. I’ve been discussing this issue of lifestyle over career ambitions and how that changes with age with a lot of my friends in the last couple of years. It’s like Liza was part of those conversations or at least her characters in “More Like Her” were. There are times when it’s hard for us to understand the end of a relationship, romanticize it and grieve for it while admiring someone else who seems to have “more” than us in one or several ways. 

“More Like Her” captures the feeling of being in your 30’s wondering why life still hasn’t resolved those career and relationship issues, but really addresses the need to actual realize you deserve someone who appreciates you as you are and the first person to fall in love with you should be you. This book is a little bit of a lighter emotional tugging than Liza’s first three books, but have no fear she will still take you over that edge and in that way I wish I was ….more like her. :) 

Face-off: The Girl With The Dragon Tat vs. The Hunger Games Trilogy War…Ramble

Hype can completely come attached to any media. People hear and see things and they want it, especially on repeated exposure. It’s how marketing works, it’s how careers rise and we consume media. Mass transit in the publishing capital of America allows for extra ‘impressions’ every time you see a person reading a book with a colorful cover it leaves another impression, the feeling that ‘oh I keep seeing people with that book, it must be good’ creating a sense of urgency the way teens catch on to what their peers are into and adopt it.

Here, we face off two triologys- one that has been hyped to adults and one aimed at teens. Both have sold millions of copies and are being translated onto the cinematic screen. Now, their heroines must FACE-OFF!

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Lisbeth Salander vs. The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen

Lisbeth is a twin but estranged from her sister. Her father is a powerful government figure who savagely beat her mother so hard it caused brain damage. Lisbeth tried to protect her mother by setting her father on fire, although it did not kill him.

Katniss is the oldest of two girls. Her father died in a coal mining explosion, sending her mother also off into a land of delusion and a fog descended upon the house. Katniss was left to fend for the food as they live in the poorest District (12 of 13).

Winner: ick, both have Father/Mother/Sister issues. If you want to go in terms of more severe suffering, Lisbeth is the ‘winner’.

Lisbeth is a genius hacker. The book’s author Stieg Larsson spends a ridiculous amount of time discussing the computer equipment (now of course completely outdated) she uses in the most boring way possible. Lisbeth has had to fend for herself being institutionalized herself and often sexually assaulted. She is stronger than her fragile malnourished appearance, great with a blade, fast and not afraid of hand-to-hand combat. She is also cunning and will use any weapon at her disposal to achieve her goal including sex.

Katniss is a huntress. She learned basic hunting skills from her beloved father before he died. He taught her to find the herb she is named after in the woods ‘you’ll never starve if you can find yourself.’ She is brave as she volunteered to take her young sister Prim’s place in The Hunger Games, where a boy and girl from each District annually face off in a death match. That’s right a death match. Katniss is also street smart and doesn’t full trust anyone even her best friend potential boyfriend Gale who refined her hunting skills and teams up with her to provide both their families with illegal game they find in the woods.

Winner: Each one’s skill set helps them survive and foil killers to the best of their abilities, and not without injury. This one is another hard category to pick. Lisbeth has skills that help her navigate the modern world, while Katniss’ skills are also include putting on a show and being an actress to win the crowd to her side. I’m going to go with Katniss.

Lisbeth dabbles in the lady pond but she also manages to fascinate men. Men who sexually assault her but also the unlikely journalist Mikael Blomkvist *played by Daniel Craig (hello James Bond) in the US Film Version out 12/21/11. Reading the books I found it highly bizarre. Blomkvist is a notorious ladies man and will shag just about anyone. It’s odd because Lisbeth is so private and when they first meet her partner is a woman.

Katniss has undeveloped feelings toward her best friend Gale. They are undefined but no matter how many girls throw themselves at Gale *played by Miley Cyrus’ man Liam Helmsworth, he only has eyes for Katniss. Of course, Katniss has a bit of a love triangle (well let’s face it both Lisbeth & Blomkvist have more than two partners in the first book) of her own due to the baker’s son, Peeta being pretty much in love with her. He is someone who gave her bread after her father died and got a beating for it. In fact, he is also the boy selected at random from District 12 to face off in The Hunger Games.

Winner: Personally I’m into amazing guys vying for my attention and since this is my blog I’m going to go with Katniss. Lisbeth doesn’t have the love of anyone, she can’t trust anyone so how can love blossom for her? It can’t.



Winner: Woah, those are some great trailers but having not liked the Millenium series (yes that’s what they call The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series), seeing the trailer made me intrigued to see the movie. Comparatively I already want to see The Hunger Games so the winner is “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Purists who saw the foreign import version will beg to differ but I’m sticking by my choice.

BOOK REPORT: I’ll admit the 2nd book “The Girl Who Played With Fire” ended in a much more intriguing cliffhanger than “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” yet I still couldn’t be bothered to read “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest”. I have a feeling if Mr. Larsson had lived he would have done edits for the US market, a map of Sweden might have been placed in the books for reference and he probably would’ve changed the second book from having multiple characters with names starting with ‘B’ (I stopped counting at 8!) including one of the main characters Blomkvist and his boss/lover.

To compare, I delayed beginning “Mockingjay” the last book in “The Hunger Games” series because I didn’t want it to be finished. I was so engrossed in the triology I will have to read it again. I can’t wait for the movies! I will go see all of them in the theater- something I don’t really do as much given the bed bug freakiness of New York.

WINNER: The Hunger Games

OVERALL VICTOR: While these two characters both struggle to survive one has a target placed on her back and the other one inserts herself into the middle of trouble constantly. My choice is Katniss Everdeen who is far more likeable and you root for her. I find Lisbeth’s story harsh but it’s the similarity she has to the The Assassin character (in the US “Point of No Return”) that makes me want root for something fresh.

UPDATE 12/14:
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – music by Trent Reznor and six of those songs are available for free download.

The Hunger Games: soundtrack not announced yet.

The Girl With The Dragon Tat: H&M fashion line is now in-stores this week so you can be, what my former intern, Julian would like ‘a badass’ without having to run from the law, be a victim of the system or rescue James Bond from getting killed.

The Hunger Games: Hard to judge here as the movie doesn’t come out until March and I can’t wait to see the clothing that Cinna, the costume designer played by another badass who will rock leather til the day he dies, Lenny Kravitz fills the screen with.

Winner: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on both accounts. While it’s too early to call on The Hunger Games, I’m guessing I’d rather rock the H&M line then the bodysuits the contestants in The Hunger Games have to sport.

NEW OVERALL WINNER: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Badass Cool points, but let’s not count out The Hunger Games (again books I clearly prefer) til it comes out in March.