It’s finally here! After a great collection of behind-the-scenes looks, set pictures, and a resounding approval by John Green, the Fault In Our Stars trailer arrived on Wednesday.

As much as I enjoyed all of the excitement (the name of the book/film was a top trending topic on Twitter), I was also reminded of the book itself: not as something to recommend or promote, as I’ve been happy to do, but as a story.

When I first got my hands on The Fault In Our Stars (TFiOS), I knew it was special. It made me laugh, it made think, it made me question, wonder, and re-define my views on death. A book like that doesn’t come along every day. I soaked it in as long as I could, discussing and suggesting and rereading. But there’s nothing quite like that first experience of reading a book, as all book lovers know. That experience, that wonderful, thoughtful, perspective-changing experience, is guaranteed only once per book.

Luckily for us, cultural phenomenons like The Fault in Our Stars don’t have a monopoly on the book business. The New York Times bestseller list (and many others!) hold many wonderful books. I’ve done my fair share of reading, and I found a few that helped me fill the TFiOS void with thoughtful commentary on the heavy topics of life and death.

1. ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’


This one’s been on the “must-read” shelf in nearly every bookstore I’ve been in for years. For a while, I refused to pick it up, mistaking it for a breakup story. My eventual insight into the book’s true content (i.e. reading the display at the library) pushed me to give it a try, and I’m so very glad I did.

The book is narrated by Clay, a teenage boy, but its true main character is his friend and classmate, Hannah Baker. When the story begins, Hannah is dead; she committed suicide weeks before. But she left something behind: Thirteen audio tapes that Clay one day finds at his door. Thirteen reasons why she died.

The reader sees the night Clay listens to the tapes. It alternates between Clay’s voice and that of a disembodied Hannah’s. This mode of storytelling is both clever and incredibly interesting. It allows for multiple perspectives on Hannah’s experience, but also gives the reader the strange experience of listening to a story along with an in-canon character. Often, I found myself reacting one way while Clay, holding previous knowledge, reacted another.

As I read, I felt like I was benefiting from two different sides of the book: the engaging and clever storytelling, and the thoughts and questions it had to offer. Hannah tells the story having already given up, and Clay listens to it carrying the burden of knowing that he can do nothing about it. He finds out more and more about the people he thought he knew, and discovers just the impact you can have on another person. Hannah describes her own example of the domino effect of others actions, giving a new perspective to both Clay and the reader. It brings up a lot of important questions. How do we know people? Do we really know them at all? Many of Clays reactions were insightful. As is the book on the whole: insightful, poignant, shocking, and sad.

(Purchase on Amazon)

2. ‘Before I Fall’


This book is another combination of unique storytelling and an underlying theme of death. Written by Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium series, the novel adheres to a Groundhog Day style of storyline. After the death of the narrator, Sam, she wakes up again, shocked not only to find herself alive, but in the previous morning. As time passes, she realizes that she is stuck in a loop, and the resulting decisions make for a thrill of a story. Each time her day is relived, she changes in successive subtle ways, until I could look back at a few days of story and find an incredible character arc.

That’s the true power of this novel: the characters. The way Sam reacts to each of them and the ways in which those reactions develop are incredibly powerful. As she finds out more and more about what people were thinking and doing on that day, she begins to get the full story, and uses that knowledge to her advantage. This frustrating cycle makes for a very complex internal struggle. How she wants to act changes, but the events of the day (and her death) don’t.

Though not an original plot device, Oliver utilizes it in the best of ways. The day stays the same, but the girl changes. Her experience with, and desire to avoid death pervade her thoughts in the novel, and it’s that fact, rather than the fact of the repetition, that lead her to act the way she does. It’s an infuriating loop, trying to change things when they will inevitably repeat. As the story went on, I kept wanting to chime in with my own ideas of how the story should go. By the time it got to the end, I too, had learned a thing or two.

(Purchase on Amazon)

3. John Green’s other books


If you find yourself more attracted to John Green’s style than the themes of TFiOS, this will be a pretty obvious choice. If you can separate your associations from TFiOS, I suggest Looking for Alaska (Amazon). It’s somewhat similar in the depth of the questions it tackles, but the story itself is wildly different.

Paper Towns (Amazon) is less similar, and brings up insightful questions while challenging storytelling tropes and ideas about teenagers in a very self-aware way. He also wrote An Abundance of Katherines (Amazon), one of my favorites, and co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Amazon). I can whole-heartedly recommend them all.

So there you have it, folks! Read away. By no means can you ever replicate that first TFiOS experience, but the power of all books still remains. Check them out while you wait to see the story on the big screen.

Dan Aykroyd loves the new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie

As the "originator of the original," let's listen to him.

6:31 am EDT, May 31, 2016

Dan Aykroyd, star and creator of the original Ghostbusters, has seen the 2016 reboot. And he liked it.

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!”

This is what Dan Aykroyd wrote on his Facebook page. Evidently, he is very pleased with Paul Feig’s re-imagining of his 1980s comedy classic.

And this isn’t the first time he’s offered endorsement of the contentious reboot (which Aykroyd is also producing and cameoing in). Earlier this year, he wrote on Twitter:

Despite everyone and their father already having made up their minds about this particular reboot, all we’ve actually had to go on so far have been a few trailers, Paul Feig and the cast’s infectious enthusiasm, and generalized opinions about Hollywood reboots/the cast.

But now that test screenings are beginning to roll out, we can finally begin to get a real sense of what this movie is actually gonna be like.

And if anyone’s opinion should hold some clout, it’s Dan Aykroyd’s. He not only starred as one of the original Ghostbusters, but came up with the concept and co-wrote both of the previous films.

Of course his comments haven’t gone over well with everyone. When he says it has “more laughs and more scares” than Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 combined, many people have taken that to mean that he thinks the new one is better than the original — but it’s worth noting that that’s not actually what he said.

Related: New Ghostbusters trailer updates the title to Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

The original Ghostbusters (if not its sequel) was a masterpiece, and Aykroyd isn’t suggesting anything different. He’s merely suggesting that there’s a higher quantity of funny and scary scenes in the reboot. Which, knowing Paul Feig (who blew us away with Bridesmaids and Spy), makes a lot of sense.

The important takeaway here is that Aykroyd seems to genuinely enjoy the new Ghostbusters movie. Regardless of your feelings on the original, the new one can still be fantastic, and if anyone would know, it’d be Aykroyd.

At the end of the day, the new movie really is a win-win for fans — it’s an excuse to dust off our old merchandise, and we’ll get to see an exciting new team take on the iconic monsters. July can’t come soon enough!

‘Ghostbusters’ premieres July 15, 2016

Major changes coming to ‘Sense8’ season 2

And I'm excited about what happens next.

11:00 am EDT, May 30, 2016

Sense8 is currently in production for their second season, and they’ve gotten pretty far. Here are some important things you need to know about what’s to come for your favorite cluster!

Ever since Sense8 debuted on Netflix a year ago I’ve been obsessed. Not only because it was such a fantastic premise of connecting eight people, but because it was so immensely diverse and represented so many people from all over the world. Now that we’ve got a season 2, it’s about time to start learning what it’ll be about.

There’s some major things about Sense8 season 2 that are going to be dramatically different, and we’ve gotten an update on what our favorite characters will be up to this season thanks to BuzzFeed.

There’s only 1 Wachowski left

One of the biggest draws of Sense8 was the fact that it was a Wachowski sister production. These sisters have brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas so we knew when we heard that last name that this was going to be an epic series.

This year, only Lana Wachowski is staying on to direct the show. Lilly Wachowski is taking the much-deserved time off after having just come out as transgender in March, and is using the time to focus on herself. Should the show return to Netflix for a third season then she’ll probably return.

The return of only one sister isn’t something that should affect the show too much, and I’m sure if it does then any changes will be welcome and give the show a fresh vibe — not that it needs it.

Sense8 Nomi Amanita

Capheus has been re-cast

For those who enjoyed Capheus’ story in Kenya the most prepare yourselves for a major change. Due to disagreements between Lana and Aml Ameen, who portrays Capheus in season 1, Ameen left the show before production began.

Capheus’ story isn’t one you can just replace and end so suddenly, so instead of writing him out Wachowski opted instead to re-cast him. Toby Onwumere will now play the part.

For those of you concerned with any disagreement between Ameen and Wachowski being over her being transgender, Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi, was adamant about stopping that rumor.

The good news is that Onwumere has been completely welcomed by the cast and he felt immediately connected to them upon meeting them at dinner for the first time. This makes me more confident that his chemistry with the actors will show on screen, which is one of the reasons I love Sense8 so much – the chemistry has been fantastic in every episode with all 8 actors.

But these changes can be amazing!

Even though they’re major changes from how the show operated last year, I feel like the new single director and the new actor is going to bring a welcome fresh take for the new season.

Every show can use something new in each season they come back just to keep it interesting and unique every year. I feel like, thanks to these changes made to the cast and crew, the story isn’t going to have to change too drastically just for the sake of change. Obviously it’s going to probably take to places we don’t expect, but that will be because the story is naturally progressing, instead of them trying to change actors and plots already set.

Are you excited for season 2 of ‘Sense8’

Hollywood reacts to ‘Begin Again’ director’s candid criticism of Keira Knightley’s acting skills

Should the trust between actors and directors ever be broken?

10:33 am EDT, May 30, 2016

After Begin Again director John Carney’s candid comments about Keira Knightley’s acting went viral, Hollywood has taken to Twitter to defend the British actress.

In case you’ve somehow not heard the story, here’s the sitch:

Over the weekend, The Independent released an interview with Irish director John Carney, in which he had some harsh words for former colleague Keira Knightley.

The pair worked together on the 2013 musical rom-com Begin Again, where Knightley starred opposite Mark Ruffalo as a promising young folk singer recovering from a broken heart.

Carney evidently wasn’t satisfied with Knightley’s performance, claiming she “always has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done.”

Related: Exclusive: Keira Knightley, Joe Wright talk Anna Karenina and the choice to set it in the world of theater

Going on to praise both Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s performances, Carney said, “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that.”

“I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”

Carney concluded, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”

Now, Carney clearly had a frustrating experience working with Knightley on this film, and his distinction between ‘proper film actors’ and ‘movie stars’ may be legitimate in theory. Begin Again certainly wasn’t the great critical hit that Carney’s Once had been, and at the time of the movie’s release, Keira Knightley herself admitted that she struggled with the material, not being a singer-songwriter herself and having no great appreciation for music.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she told The Guardian. “I was always more into reading and drama. I was such a geek. … There’s often a huge link between music and memory. And I’ve got such a bad memory.”

But the issue Hollywood professionals have with Carney’s comments seem to have less to do with Knightley’s specific performance, and more about the fact that Carney made these comments at all.

Ava DuVernay certainly makes a great point about why Carney should have stayed silent:

Both industry professionals and notable journalists have joined DuVernay in speaking out against Carney. Here are some of their reactions:

All the same, there are some that find Carney’s candidness refreshing.

What do you think? Should John Carney have held back his criticism of Keira Knightley out of professional courtesy? Or was he right to share his negative experience?

John Carney rose to international fame with Once in 2007, and this year he’s coming out with a musical drama titled Sing Street.