#5Books: Book recs and Hustlers review


For the first in forever, a movie attendant came into the cinema asking the younger looking crowd for ID bc of the age restriction of the movie. While yes, there’s a lot of flesh on display, and yes it’s about strippers, the movie is more about women owning their sexuality and their bodies — though yes drugging and robbing rich Wall Street types are part of their story.

JLo stalks across the screen in the movie owning any woman or man in her path. She is sexual when the men need her to be or mothering to Destiny (Constance Wu) and the other strippers who she takes under her wing and into her plan of drugging and robbing the rich men who come into their club. And she and Destiny’s Grandmother are spirit sisters, I swear.

Constance Wu transforms Destiny from a woman wanting to make money into someone world weary across the movie, but more than anything, she wants a family — and Ramona and her fellow strippers give her that.

The story revolves around their relationship and how tempestuous it is — as their plans slowly grows more and more complex and dangerous — and their relationship begins to fracture. Worth noting that none of the male characters get names in this movie.

For a movie about strippers, beautiful is the last adjective I’d used to describe them. These women are intelligent, ruthless and fascinating women trying to survive in a world that thinks of them disposable.

It’s utterly and completely worth your time.

And in keeping with actually reading something, here’s the article on which the movie was based. 

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro

In the vein of Amelie and The Little Paris Bookshop, a modern fairytale about a French woman whose life is turned upside down when she meets a reclusive bookseller and his young daughter.

Juliette leads a perfectly ordinary life in Paris, working a slow office job, dating a string of not-quite-right men, and fighting off melancholy. The only bright spots in her day are her metro rides across the city and the stories she dreams up about the strangers reading books across from her: the old lady, the math student, the amateur ornithologist, the woman in love, the girl who always tears up at page 247.

One morning, avoiding the office for as long as she can, Juliette finds herself on a new block, in front of a rusty gate wedged open with a book. Unable to resist, Juliette walks through, into the bizarre and enchanting lives of Soliman and his young daughter, Zaide. Before she realizes entirely what is happening, Juliette agrees to become a passeur, Soliman’s name for the booksellers he hires to take stacks of used books out of his store and into the world, using their imagination and intuition to match books with readers. Suddenly, Juliette’s daydreaming becomes her reality, and when Soliman asks her to move in to their store to take care of Zaide while he goes away, she has to decide if she is ready to throw herself headfirst into this new life.

Big-hearted, funny, and gloriously zany, The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is a delayed coming-of-age story about a young woman who dares to change her life, and a celebration of the power of books to unite us all.

Juliette is me. Reading on the train — and now the bus — my commute remains my much treasured reading time. So everything about this book? Is just perfect. And honestly, don’t you long for the day your daydream can be your reality? 

And now for something completely different…

Little Secrets

From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him. Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.

Oh hell, I did not expect the ending to this blurb at all what the hell did Derek do to his and Marin’s son?

Blues in the Dark

From the New York Times bestselling and internationally acclaimed author comes a Hollywood crime drama set in the 1940s and present day that tackles racism, sexism, and murder.

Karissa Glover is a movie producer who moves into a decrepit but functional old mansion in the West Adams Heights area of Los Angeles, where black celebrities of yesteryear—Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, and others—once resided. The former owner was a white actress, Blair Kendrick, who often starred as the “bad girl”—a femme fatale—in films noirof the 1940s. However, Blair’s career was cut short when she was tragically killed by the mob after allegedly witnessing the slaying of a corrupt studio head in 1949.

As Karissa and her producing partner decide to develop a modern film noir about Blair Kendrick, malevolent forces from the past attempt to stop them—first with intimidation, and then with the thread of murder.

Is this because Karissa has learned that Blair was involved in a then-taboo interracial relationship with jazz musician Hank Marley? What really happened on the night that death struck in a dimly lit studio mogul’s office? The consequences of Blair and Hank’s doomed love affair still resonate in the present day as Karissa attempts to unravel Blair’s secrets.

Seeping with mystery, intrigue, Hollywood history, and forbidden romance, Blues in the Dark is Raymond Benson at his most insightful and page-turning best.

That cover. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, and it’s reminded me of old vintage movie posters (that come to think of it Greg usually posts — check out his blog seriously) but back to the book — I didn’t expect such modern setting for this mystery to be as important as the past — and what are the consequences of Blair’s affair that still resonate in the present? Besides: mystery, intrigue, Hollywood history and forbidden romance? I couldn’t resist that at all.

Nothing Important Happened Today

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller from the critically acclaimed author of Good Samaritans.

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

I freely admit to making the weirdest jumps when it comes to books, that sometimes only have the slightest similarities to the actual book, but it’s really all I need to grab my attention. Like this: the X-Files episode, the Red and the Black — why I hear you ask? Well because Scully was on a bridge with other abductees and someone was setting them on fire. Cut to the next scene of Mulder coming to the bridge looking for her… and yeah, I told you I was weird. But it’s that feeling of impending … something that sticks in my mind: Scully not knowing why she was on the bridge and these people not knowing why they’re on the bridge and killing themselves. Who is controlling them? … and who is doing the stopping? Where is the main character in this?

The Burning Land 

‘It was never meant to be like this. Sabotage, yes. Propaganda, yes. All of that and more – but not this. Not murder.’ As greed and corruption taint the optimism of a nation, the political becomes deeply personal for former childhood friends, Lindi and Kagiso. Their beloved home country, South Africa, is rapidly turning into a powder keg, as nations fight for ownership of its land and resources. With the murder of one of the nation’s bright young hopes, the fuse is well and truly lit. As the hunt for his killer intensifies, Lindi and Kagiso come together to protect the land and people they love; even as events are set in motion that no one – least of all they – can control

South Africa. Home. I’ve lived in Australia longer than I did in South Africa, but there’s still a part of me that thinks home when I see books like this. It’s fundamentally changed from the country I knew though, so books like this offer me a different kind of insight into the country, the culture and the art that exist there now. (But also, this is me we’re talking about and I have never been able to resist a good mystery) 

That’s it for now. What are you looking forward to this week?


  • Some great books featured here today. I’m definitely adding a few to my TBR. I really want to see Hustlers as well. I think it looks like it was done really well and personally, I’m kind of in awe of JLo anyway. I don’t think someone should be that gorgeous.

  • Lark says:

    Just the title of The Girl Who Reads on the Metro makes me want to read that one.

  • Jen Mullen says:

    The Girl who Read on the Metro sounds good! Jar of Hearts was intense, but I wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion–still, I’m really curious about Little Secrets.

    • Verushka says:

      I hear you about the conclusion to Jar of Hearts — hopefully she does better endings in this one. The Girl who reads on the Metro? God, I lvoe that title and that premise and everrtyhing!

  • Ethan says:

    I was on the fence about seeing Hustlers, but it seems too good to pass up! My boyfriend recommended it and now you have too, so I’ll have to make a point to see it this week.

  • I’m gonna have to give Hustlers a try, it sounds good. And you have some great recommendations this week too!

  • Kelly says:

    I seen Jennifer Lopez a few weeks ago in the recreation of the dress she wore almost twenty years ago and she looks even younger now than she did then, she’s barely aged at all and she’s so damn fit. Really looking forward to seeing Hustlers as well, I love films with strong women owning it. The Girl that Rad on the Metro sounds so incredibly charming, I love anything reading or book related within a narrative, that cover is super cute as well!

    • Verushka says:

      OMG, YES. How is it even possible that she wore that dress better than she did the first time? Only JLo, Kelly, only she could pull that off. What I liked about this movie is that they’re all flawed as well — as much as this is about how good their relationship is, it’s about how they break down as well, and how they’re so much more than cookie cutter BFFs. The last third of the movie still plays in my head lol And yes, Girl on the Metro is just so wonderfully charming! I can’t wait to get into it!

  • The Girl Who Reads on the Metro sounds like my kind of read! I hadn’t heard much about the film Hustlers prior to reading your comments but it sounds like a good one. I really like both JLo and Constance Wu.

    • Verushka says:

      I am raving about Hustlers — they’re all messy flawed women, but when they come together they find family, before it all breaks apart. I left the movie wondering if they’d (Jlo and Constance Wu’s characters in RL) found each other in the end in real life after their friendship broke up, and I needed them to, Suzanne. I was thoroughly invested in that.

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