Posted in 2018, Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I read this book because it was the 2018 Sept/Oct book of the month(s) for Our Shared Shelf. I didn’t read the synopsis, I was just told it would tackle feminist subjects and contain some horror related theme.

Out of all the selections OSS had, this was probably the most disappointing so far. Our narrator was such a doormat! At least in The Handmaid’s Tale, our narrator was willing to rebel. But let’s continue with the review before I get into this.

The Story

The Introduction is overdone in my opinion. It starts out with her having a dream about Manderley. That sets up the mystery behind our setting. It also potentially foreshadows the story. However, once we get to Chapter 2, the author spends more time trying to sound mysterious than actually developing characters or storyline for that matter. It just feels like an abrupt stop of motion. I understand the purpose behind it, I just felt like it wasn’t necessary, or it could have been written more effectively.

By Chapter 3 we get into a background story. This is where the story begins. We are introduced to Mrs. Van Hopper and Mr. de Winter. The author spends more time trying to foreshadow an event than focusing on the characters. It’s written in First Person Past Participle and the narrator keeps remembering how “young” she was (no real age was given for how old she really is when she is recalling the tale. We are just to assume that she is much older).

Eventually, Mr. De Winter proposes to our narrator (a first name is never mentioned but she is eventually addressed as Mrs. de Winter or the Second Mrs. de Winter) and they set off to live in Manderley. Mr. de Winter used to be married to a Rebecca (that’s where the title of the book originates). Rumor has it, “she was drowned […] in the bay near Manderley”. The beginning of the marriage consists of our narrator trying to survive the ghost (figuratively) of her (Rebecca).

Before our narrator (since saying Mrs. de Winter is too formal, we will now call her Thelma…like from Thelma and Louise since although they never met, and one of them is dead, they seem inseparable)  leaves with Mr. de Winter (from this point on, I will refer to him by his first name: Maxim), Mrs. Van Hopper tells her “You know why he is marrying you, don’t you? You haven’t flattered yourself he’s in love with you? The fact is that empty house got on his nerves to such an extent he nearly went off his head.” That little statement stayed with her for the duration of the marriage, well up until the plot twist (more on that later).

Thelma (see, it’s better than just saying our narrator, isn’t it?) is constantly questioning whether she belongs in Manderley, with Maxim (the dream man. He’s rich, non-abusive and non-controlling….to a degree). After the first few chapters, it gets annoying. She spends most of the time daydreaming and thinking what others of thinking about her. She also spends more time comparing herself to Rebecca (You can’t compete with a dead person!).

We didn’t get to any real action until 66% of the book. I continued reading because many comments on Goodreads suggested it got better, but, it didn’t. The action itself was dragged along to the point where towards the end, I didn’t care about any of the characters. You know it’s bad when you think “maybe I should just watch the movie instead.”

In the defense of Du Maurier, if I were to have read before the millennium, I might have considered this book brilliant. She does have the attributes of a good book (character development, a plethora of rhetorical devices, drama). Rebecca is scattered throughout the book so much that you do get the sense that at any moment, she’s just going to walk through the doors. And, just like The Great Gatsby, we come to understand that our narrator isn’t our protagonist.

Our protagonist is supposed to be Maxim (because of course, for its time, it would revolve around a man. Although, what might constitute this as a “feminist” book is the fact that the most important people were women. Maxim is often treated as an afterthought since Rebecca is so much more…desired. But, it is Maxim’s story and Thelma is just the witness to see how it unfolds). Our antagonist is supposed to be Rebecca. Rebecca is out to destroy Maxim’s life and Thelma’s marriage. We’re supposed to hate her but we (or at least, I) don’t. That’s the point. She is such a threat! She gains the favor of both men and women. Everyone who meets her loves her (with the exception of Maxim and his sister).

The remaining paragraphs have spoilers

The Secret

The story goes that Rebecca was drowned while sailing during heavy waters. When I first read the sentence “she was drowned,” for some reason, my brain read “he drowned her.” Therefore, when Maxim confessed that he killed his wife…I wasn’t surprised.

What did annoy is me is that as Maxim was explaining how he did it to his new wife (you now know her as Thelma) he kept saying “If only I knew what she [Rebecca] was before I married her” or “I didn’t know what she was then.” or “if only you knew what she was.” The what was never clarified. It could be that she was a monster (he referred to her as a monster. He hated her. She controlled everything and manipulated everyone. He didn’t love her, ever.) It could be that she was possibly bisexual (Mrs. Danvers, her caretaker, hinted that women favored Rebecca as well).  Or it could be that she was transgender (Mrs. Danvers kept telling her she should have been born a boy since she acted like one — the acts were of determination and power, this was to be a compliment to her composure and abilities to get by in the world).

The Conflict

The conflict of the story is when the body of Rebecca is found in the boat. This leads us to the plot. Did she die by unlucky navigation decisions, or by suicide? Eventually, her cousin blamed Maxim for murder.

During this time, we get to strip Rebecca of her other secrets. This also brings Thelma and Maxim closer in their relationship. The most horrifying thing about this book is how little fear Thelma has over the fact that Maxim killed his former wife. She was just disillusioned by Maxim’s admission of love. Now I wouldn’t consider that love. Mrs. Van Hopper was right on the nose when she said Maxim only wanted to marry her because he was lonely. Maxim told Thelma that she helped him get out of his head. She was like a plaything. There were many instances where he called her a little girl. But what Maxim loved was the lack of judgment. How innocent Thelma was. He would then manipulate her into listening to him by saying how can she love someone like him…therefore sealing her loyalty.

Symbolisms

Name
Earlier I compared our narrator with The Handmaid’s Tale. I would like to address how powerful having narrators without names is. Firstly, it removes their identity. As humankind, our identity is everything! Especially in Western civilization where a community isn’t as valued. Much like taming a horse, you have to break their spirit first. Anyone who has been bullied or abused knows how hard it is to separate your self from your circumstances. Not giving them a proper name other than that related to the man they were “property” of, reveals the gravity of their situation. However, our narrator for The Handmaid’s Tale struggled to remember her identity while trying to survive, whereas our narrator from Rebecca was already surviving and the challenge came when she was given the opportunity to develop an identity.

Flowers
The garden and its flowers felt like the symbolism of Rebecca. The day after the ball, when Thelma thought that Maxim was mad at her, the author wrote “The rhododendrons were all over now. They would not bloom again for another year. The tall shrubs looked dark and dab now that the color had gone. A fog was rolling up from the sea, and I could not see the woods beyond the bank. It was very hot, very oppressive.” This was when Thelma thought that Rebecca had finally won and that she could now forget about her because there was no more competition. Her life was already over but Rebecca’s presence would rise again.

Before the Inquisition, the author wrote: “I noticed for the first time how the hydrangeas were coming into bloom.” That was foreshadowing how Rebecca would come again and instigate Maxim’s and Thelma’s life.

A few times Thelma talked about how she could smell the azaleas. Azaleas symbolize feminity. She was haunted by the smell of and that is what made me think of Rebecca. Rebecca is the woman that Thelma always wanted to be. That is why she is obsessed with her. Another mention of the azalea is when she saw the dead azaleas on her way back to Manderley.

After everyone returned from seeing Doctor Baker, the song that Thelma heard as they were leaving was “Roses in Picardy.” The Rose is Rebecca and Picardy is Manderley. That is why after the whole case was “solved”, everything was burnt. You can’t have Manderley without Rebecca.

Rope
There was a dream that Thelma had where Maxim was brushing Rebecca’s hair, he wound it into a thick rope, he smiled at Rebecca as he put it round his neck. This would foreshadow how broken Maxim would be after everything was done.

Overall Recommendation?

Now I would not recommend this book. It’s considered a classic but I feel like some classics are best left in the past. We have books now that are more gripping for our new desynthesized society. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, for instance, has better drama and crazier characters. I will say this though, this book was definitely fun to write about.

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I read The Hate U Give because, not only was it constantly being advertised, it was the book of the month for the Our Shared Shelf virtual book club.

I was really excited to read it because one of my friends mentioned that it was an influential book for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Now, in my opinion, if I didn’t already believe that black lives do matter, this book wouldn’t have convinced me otherwise.

The problem was that there was no connection to the main character. It’s not that she wasn’t relatable, because she was, at least for me. I can relate to not wanting to sound ghetto around white people due to the fear of judgment. I can relate to needing to separate parts of your world with different people. I can relate to constantly having the pressure of “which identity do I need to be right now” in the back of my mind that disconnects me from the moment and my reality. Very relatable, no connection though. That probably has to do with the fact that she is emotionally unavailable. She had to get hard because, well, her life has been horrible. Her family, as odd as it is (which I won’t go into detail as to why since it has little to do with my argument here, but it is rather interesting and is beneficial to the character dynamic of the book), is probably the only thing keeping her sane. (The rest of this blog contains spoilers) She watched two of her best friends getting killed….heck she watched one of her best friend getting killed when she was too young to process death, let alone murder. I can only imagine the emotional impact it can have on her. That’s probably a good cause as to why she had to shut down. She didn’t shut down in the angry teenage angst kind of way, more or less, she just stopped expressing herself. She expressed her thoughts constantly, sure. She expressed how she felt, or how she felt she needed to feel. But the majority of the time, she just felt like a narrator rather than a protagonist.

I get it. She has a painful story to tell, and if I were in her situation, I probably wouldn’t have had the magnitude to tell it. Maybe if she made Khalil more of a person rather than a memory, things might have felt different. I know that he technically was a memory…but the thing about the mind is that it can make memories feel real. She could have written him to be somewhat present. The way her aftermath occurred made it seem like she just underwent a very traumatic experience….if I didn’t know that he was her best friend, I wouldn’t assume that he was. It was too…detached. Or maybe she’s just more grown up than I am, but if my best friend was wrongly killed, I’d be broken to the point of dysfunction. That is why I couldn’t connect with her. If her emotions were a little more extreme it might have changed the whole story. If she were angrier, or more fearful, or even completely dead inside (this is a teenager we are talking about, after all…I’ve been there….it’s crazy) and she is acting all responsible. But, I guess the end result is that it got the message across. No matter how well you cooperate and follow the laws, black people still have injustice brought upon them. No matter how many right things she did, in the end, she still lost the war. So I would say that the protagonist here isn’t really Starr, but the black lives matter movement itself….leaving the antagonist to be the system.

“‘Pac rapped ’bout that stuff too, yeah, but he also cared ’bout uplifting black people,” says Daddy. “Like he took the word ‘[n-word]’ and gave it a whole new meaning–Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished. And he said Thug Life meant–”
“The Hate U Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

I didn’t grow up listening to Tupac. I only really know a few songs from him but I always knew he was a big deal….kind of like Elvis, Michael Jackson and The Beatles…although I didn’t grow up listening to them either. Suffice to say, I might not have the best music taste.

Regardless, I never knew this about Tupac. I asked a friend who loves him if this is true (because part of me thought this was just a theory from the author…kind of like the gang theory from Harry Potter [also mentioned in the book…which makes total sense and that’s somewhat the reason I liked the series]) and she said it’s true (even if it weren’t true, that wouldn’t take away from the book. It’s a cool saying). Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because, since it is true (according to my one source, so don’t take my word for it), I feel like all his work in the progression of black people has gotten lost somewhere. I don’t mean black people in general. I mostly mean the hip hop artists, whom, instead of using the N word as an empowerment tool, they use it to bring other’s down. The usage of it in the songs these days is similar to using the B word. There is no grace to it. So it’s sad that Tupac made it meaningful, and that these new artists, whom claim to be inspired by Tupac, are shattering that legacy.

Now thug is an appropriate acronym. I do believe that, even though we try to act otherwise, we are affected by how others view us and treat us. We become the product of our environment. It’s why we love stories with underdogs, and going against all odds and other unreal things that don’t normally happen to the average person. We are amazed by the unordinary because we are prone to become numb to our surroundings. People settle. It happens. We let our dreams die. When our dreams die, it affects the world. Think of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There was a plan for your existence, and if, for whatever reason you stop honoring that path, it affect the world…directly or indirectly.

“This neighborhood makes young men deaf to their elders”

The truth to this statement caused me to pause and digest. Sometimes, when the situation seems overwhelming, we stop listening to wisdom and start listening to the fastest way out. I don’t blame Khalil for needing to sell drugs (before we knew the real reason). When people are taught to believe that you won’t accomplish much, you look for a way out. You think you will be an exception. You think you’ll figure it out the way no one else has done so before. Life is extremely personal and it’s hard to believe that you are just a vulnerable piece in the game of life. Elders are wise from their experiences and obseravations. Youth blinds us to time because the pressure of it feels deathly.

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

One of the reasons I loved reading this book is because the family had strong moral values…well….to an extent. It’s hopeful to read about people continually trying to do good regardless of the circumstances. It’s easy to give in to the darkness, and this family kept trying to be better…to do better even after they’ve already made countless mistakes. George W. Bush made a speech where he said “Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and genius for renwal.” That’s essentially what the characters in this book embraced. It’s refreshing. I’m always reading books where characters are trying to justify their actions but here….they face the truth, as ugly as it is and learn from it.

I also liked that the main family had to fight off racism…not just from the cops…but internally as well. Starr had to face dating her white boyfriend after a white cop shot her best friend. She knew it was wrong to judge him by his color, but…it is what it is. There is this invisible line when two cultures (whether ethnic or religious) merge of what’s appropriate and not appropriate. Starr refused to let any of her white friends in on her personal life…and she doesn’t introduce her black friends to her white friends. She is certain they wouldn’t understand (and there is truth to that) but she doesn’t even give them a chance. She, without realizing it, judged them. It happens. The question though is whether or not you let arrogance rule your thoughts. She learned to try and see the best in people regardless of the exterior. Great character development.

Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.

As a minority, I often find myself livid about the injustices of the past and the present. I can’t really explain why that happens, or why it feels so strong….but this works as a possible explanation.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book. It wouldn’t be for everyone. I would recommend watching the movie though. Although it hasn’t been released yet, the trailer pretty much gives the story away. Frankly though, I’m displeased at the direction they took of Khalil’s last moments…with him reaching for the brush. The way it was written in the book was so much more…intimate. His last moments were of him worrying about Starr…whereas in the trailer, it seemed he care more about impressing her, or showing off. Won’t know until the movie comes out, obviously.

Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

This book was the official March-April book of Our Shared Shelf (a Goodreads book club started by Emma Watson).

Emma picked it because she fell in love with the sentences of the book. I was confused because this book had little to do with feminism, and Our Shared Shelf is a feminist book club.

Although the sentences did read like poetry, the content was about an emotionally abusive relationship. In other words, easy to read, hard to digest.

Out of all the books I’ve read this year, this is probably one I would not recommend. If you can handle mature content, then maybe it’ll be worth the read since it probably won’t last more than one or two days. (I read the e-book version so I can’t tell you page counts). All in all, it was not life-changing in anyway.

According to the Goodread threads though, it helped a lot of people reflect. Since I read many books regarding mature content and self-help, this book didn’t stand out in any way. Not to mention, I have friends who go to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous who always tell me what an unhealthy vs a healthy relationship looks like.  So given my background knowledge and information, clearly this book was not intended for me as the audience. It’s also hard to judge a biography since the whole point was that she was trying to release her memories in order to heal and recover, it wasn’t necessarily to change my life or to act the way a good book acts.

I don’t regret reading the book, it’s just not one that I really cared to be engrossed in, or to talk about or to even think about after I was done. In retrospect, I didn’t really emphasized with the protagonist.  She lead us into some really dark trails but failed to expose herself to the audience. She told us all the dark details of her relationships but none of the dark details of her heart (well, maybe like one or two). She completely revolved her life on this relationship that I don’t think she has an identity outside of it. Maybe that was the point of the book, to find herself. Still, she described herself in forms of relationships. She was either a mom, or an ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, student, daughter, grand-daughter. She was a mix of every person she has become attached to that I don’t think I know anything about Terese Marie Mailhot other than she has a misfortunate life when it comes to love. I know she’s been published a couple of times, but none of that seemed more important than whether or not Casey loved her back.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite quotes from this book (these quotes are more feelings inspired than thinking inspired so I will not be commenting on them. Also, I combined a few of them together since some were of similar topics) :

It’s too ugly–to speak this story. It sounds like a beggar. How could misfortune follow me so well, and why did I choose it every time?

I learned how to make a honey reduction of the ugly sentences. Still, my voice cracks.

My professor told me that the human condition was misery. I’m a river widened by misery, and the potency of my language is more than human.

Time seems measured by grief and anticipatory grief. I don’t think she even measured time.

I know the math of regret and nostalgia.

Empties are a cliché–the sound of them is so familiar.

He knew something was wrong, and that’s when I wondered if maybe falling in love looked like a crisis to an observer.

You ruined me with touch. It was a different exploitation.

He fell asleep and spun a restlessness that comes when people are waiting to die. Sometimes grief is a nothing feeling.

I learned that any power asks you to dedicate your life to its expansion.

If my security depends on a man’s words or action, I’ve lost sight of my power.

Observation is a skill. Observation isn’t easy, and the right eyes can make me feel like a deer, while the wrong ones make me feel like a monster.

I think self-esteem is a white invention to further separate one person from another. It asks people to access their values and implies people have worth. It seems like identity capitalism.

I don’t think that I am lonely. I think that I am starved and maybe ravenous for the very thing you withhold from me.

I thought unseeing would be a cruel game to play with myself. But now I am reading the dark and knowing how my feet drag on every inch–feeling monstrous and tired. I’d like to have familiarity back.

I was polite enough, and considerate enough, to hurt myself like a secret.

Romanticism requires bravery and risk. The obsessive thoughts ruined things. Good news was met with a numb feeling. The voice I heard was practical. It noted every opportunity to die and then noted how I refused to jump out of a moving car.

I was not right to want to die. I didn’t want to leave my family. I liked my mind and its potential. I knew the type of burden I was. I was like my mother.

She taught me that I didn’t own things. I really liked the idea of possession. We don’t own our mothers. We don’t own our bodies or our land–maybe I’m unsure.

I remember that motherhood is mostly bearing shame to dress my children, to feed them, and to spare them the things I wasn’t spared.

The knowledge proposes I either start each day as new and take you for your word, or I tear the walls down to illustrate my pain. I feel pregnant with burden, and I chose it. I want to take it back.

That pain didn’t burden me. Trying to forget damaged me the most.

Pain is faster than light, and I wish people would not fault me for things I can’t forget or explain.

We’ve become too symbolic and never real enough.

When a man’s hands become a ghost, there is no way to strip them from a body. Haunting, what a mother does not see.

There is some stillness, even in my history–a good secret in so much bad. It almost feels like a betrayal to have good thoughts.

Things were created by story. The words were conjurers, and ideas were our mothers.
Thunder is contrary. Thunder can intuit, and her action is the music caused by lightning. She comes because we ask, and that’s why falling apart is holy.

I felt the sticky notes of my lips pull apart from his. The right love is an adhesive. I realized that I had a singular mind with Casey. Even with my duplicity and my rambling. I felt unworthy of that kind of love and ready for it.

The rest of the year was a practice in language. Every new word became more horrific. I can say full sentences. In the shower, before I knew how to be scared or protect myself, I disappeared. Ten minutes of my life were enough to kill me. Every day I negotiate the minutes of my life, remembering that I can’t remember enough.

We tried to be explicit with each other. Some knowledge can only be a song or a symbol. Language fails you and me. Some things are too large.

My people cultivated pain. In the way that god cultivated his garden, with the foresight that he could not contain or protect the life within it. Humanity was born out of pain.

God foreordained Eve’s transgression. He didn’t see you though. You were stealthier than Eve. So stealthy, there is no text for you–until now. You were folklore and rumor, and there is a myth a man took, like the apple, but of your person.

Both of your mouths, weapons. That’s how love works for a spirit like you: a determined torture. Who could fault you? Did you come from misery?

 

 

(Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35840657-heart-berries)

Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction, Ramsey's Book Club

The Good Fight by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

This will be my first book review regarding a Non-Fiction book. Not only that, but a non-fiction book that can be considered a self-help book. Well technically, it’s categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Love and Marriage.

I read this book because I am part of Dave Ramsey’s Book Club and this was the book for February 2018. This book teaches you how conflict can bring you and your partner closer. This book is about 184 pages long and all of it informative. I’ve written some of the basic information and how they have related to me.

This is a book I recommend everyone to read. EVERYONE! Whether you get anything out of it or not, it will plant a seed in your mind about fighting. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, it provides great insight on yourself and others. I found ways to utilize some of these methods to use on co-workers. It’s a great read.

Dr Les and Dr Leslie Parrot have concluded that a good fight has four elements:

Cooperation
Ownership
Respect
Empathy

The Benefits of A Good Fight

Authenticity: A Good Fight Keeps Us Real
“Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse, as to confront you with yourself.”
-Tim Keller
“We bear witness to nearly everything the other says or does. We begin seeing, in both the other and ourselves, our behaviors, attitudes, and motivations like never before. We give and receive feedback, invited or not, that can rub us the wrong way.”
“Authenticity occurs when our thoughts, words, feelings and actions come into alignment.”

I cannot speak on this as a married person (since I am not married). The closest thing I have come to this (besides family drama) is when I travel with friends. Being together with someone for longer than my typical 2-4 hour hangouts can cause a lot of tension (especially when the both of you enjoy free time alone). I remember cranky arguments that could have been avoided altogether if we were both willing to talk about what was really bothering us. Instead, we hid it from each other and it came out eventually one way or another.

Luckily, being willing to forgive each other for our differences allowed us to make up rather quickly and have the argument we were trying not to have.

Clarity: A Good Fight Sheds Light
“A good fight is often like a searchlight that zeroes in on an issue that has been quietly lurking around the landscape of our relationship. Once we discover that issue–often through the illuminating blaze of a good fight–we’re able to see it and define it, which puts us in a position to do something about it.”

I once had a friend ask me “why do you think you’re better than everyone else?” She didn’t mean it as in that I literally thought I was better than everyone else, but rather, that I am incapable of being nice to myself. That I have this need for perfection. Chasing perfection is chasing an impossibility, therefore, by thinking I can be perfect, makes me “better than everyone else.” I didn’t realize perfectionism was a problem until she broke it down to me. “Your perfectionistic tendencies is ruining your ability to enjoy life.”

For the longest, I felt like having fun was child’s play. “If you were having fun, you weren’t hard enough. In order to get anywhere in life, you have to work hard.” There’s no time for playing. That was my mentality. Build your house with bricks mentality. Why? Because I desperately needed security. And being perfect meant safety. Because if I wasn’t making mistakes, I couldn’t get in trouble. If I didn’t get in trouble, you’d like me more. But my perfectionism got in the way of all my relationships. I was unable to forgive myself for even the slightest of mistakes. Consequently, I would feel like how could they ever forgive me and leave before they even had a choice.

It wasn’t until after that conversation that I started really opening up to people. That I gave people the opportunity to make their own decisions based on our relationship. Most importantly, I allowed myself the opportunity to be real. Not a facade of the perfect person I feel I should be.

Fresh Start: A Good Fight Clears The Air
“The Pollutants of emotional tension, bitterness, stress, strain, woundedness, bad feelings, pressure, animosity, resentments, and walking on eggshells can choke loving feelings right out of the relationship. Collectively, these irritants become a kind of smog that shrouds your marriage in a malaise of discontent.”

I have done my share of resentments and I can attest to it ruining my relationships. One of my biggest resentments was when my best friend started dating and stopped talking to me as much. I remember being upset and not knowing how to talk about it and started being mean to her instead whenever she did reach out. It was…uncalled for. But as a teenager, I didn’t have the tools or emotional intelligence to understand that I was missing my best friend. And as a teenager with hormones, she didn’t have the light of knowing that I was affected by her disappearance (I have abandonment issues).

Eventually, after some much-needed distance, we had an honest conversation about what sparks the change and we both came to an agreement that, no matter what, we will always make time for each other. She lives in a different state now, and we don’t talk like we used to, but because of that agreement, I don’t feel remotely deserted. I know that she will always be there for me, and I, her.

Security: A Good Fight Makes You Stronger
“An African proverb says, ‘Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.’ It takes a little turmoil to spur any of us to become really good at something–including our relationship. As we weather tough times together and come out on the other side, we build trust and confidence in our relationship. We find security.
This sounds counterintuitive, but a good fight, as opposed to a bad one, actually makes a couple’s relationship more solid. it empowers us. We begin to realize we don’t have to be afraid of troubles and tension. We can work it out. We’re strong. With new confidence, we say to ourselves, Our love can stand up when it gets knocked around.

Reason’s We Fight
According to the book, there are 2 bases for fighting: perceived threat, and perceived neglect. We feel threatened when we perceive someone being critical, judgemental, controlling, demanding or attacking. We feel neglected when we perceive someone being uncaring, uncommitted, neglectful, selfish or disengaged. At work,  I feel more threatened, whereas, in my personal relationships, I feel more neglected. The former made total sense when I first read it. However, it was illuminating to read that neglect is more than just not being there. It can also be, not being on the same page. The author shared a story where he said he felt abandoned by his wife when she shut down from a conversation they were having (she shut down because she was feeling threatened by his comment, even though his comment had nothing to do with her parenting skills, but rather his own baggage).

The Cutest Story Ever
That might be an exaggeration but, it made my heart happy. The story goes that a man by the name of Johnny Lingo lived in the South Pacific. he wanted to marry one of the Islanders but, according to Islander customs, he would have to present the father with a cow. The highest price was typically four to six cows. He fancied a timid, skinny, plain, shy girl. The girl was worth very few cows. However, Johhny decided to give her father ten cows. That is more than the highest price! This transformed the girl into a confident woman. His reasoning was “I wanted a ten-cow woman, and when I paid that for her and treated her in that fashion, she began to believe that she was a ten-cow woman. She discovered she was worth more than any other woman in the islands. What matters most is what a woman thinks about herself.”

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(I just did a quick Google search to see if Johnny Lingo was a real person, it turns out that it’s a short film produced by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints..and that in the movie, he actually gave 8 cows. Either way, being treated as more than the highest price makes my inner romantic happy)

Rules for Fighting
The book mentions a few rules for fighting (which I will elaborate more on shortly) but it set an example of a couple who decided to have a discussion, on stage, with a live audience, about a real-life issue just so the audience can see a healthy versus unhealthy way to fight. They had the audience act as buzzers in case one of them broke a rule. The rules they set were: have open body posture (I never considered this to affect how I argue, until reading this), stay clear of blaming each other or trying to show the other person is wrong (this is how trainwrecks happen), lean in while talking (interesting), repeat back what they heard the other person saying before making a new point (I actually heard a therapist say this is useful, because oftentimes, we translate something very different than what was actually said), stay on topic and maintain eye contact. But of course, this couple has been doing that for years…it will feel very awkward when you first try it. I can’t even imagine a time where I had a discussion where I leaned in. A conversation, yes. An uncomfortable discussion….never. Quite the opposite, I want to run away. Or change the subject. Or roll my eyes and blame them. I get why they set these guidelines.

So the rules the authors suggested is to: share withholds (information you are withholding from your partner because you either didn’t have time, are afraid of confronting them or got distracted. It can be positive or negative. They suggest to write two things that you like that your partner did, then write only one thing that they’ve done that has irritated you. Make it a weekly habit to share) rate the depth of your disagreement (one person might find the issue extremely important while the other might not even register it as a problem. This will cause a change in cooperation and lead to tension), agree to disagree when necessary (you won’t always agree and maybe, sometimes, you can use your differences to your advantages in compromising for a more effective solution), apologize when you mean it (half-ass apologies are insulting, and not meaning it doesn’t lead to change in behaviors), practice the XYZ formula (it’s basically a formula they created to get your message accross. X stands for “In Situation”, Y stands for “When you do” and Z stands for “I Feel”. So one that I’ve used with my friends is: when we go out to eat, and you are on your phone, I feel like our time together isn’t as meaningful and that you’d rather do something else.) don’t be cruel, take a time-out if needed (taking a break will cause you to relax and not act on instinct and hurt), read your partner’s mind (They have a good exercise mentioned), and send up a prayer. They created these rules with the CORE attributes in mind. The book goes into further explanation, examples, and details on how to follow each rule.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when they had us identify our fighting method. There are 4 possible fighters: competitive fighter, collaborate fighter, cautious fighter, and conciliatory fighter. They define all 4 and why you are that kind of fighter. They then go into detail on how to understand your partner and his/her fighting personality. What more you need to bring to the table if your partner is, let’s say, a collaborate fighter. It’s really neat! I won’t go too much into this because this is really something you have to read on your own to fully understand your methods and why they work for you. But I will say this, based on my own personal experience, I almost cried when they wrote what my personality type wants out of my relationships (because it was 100% true!). The book also talks about how you and your partner can help each other heal based on the deeper rooted issues of why we fight. It also tackles a chapter on anger.

Seriously, if you’ve enjoyed my blog post so far, you will love the book even more. If you buy the actual book, they have a code so you can get the app which is supposed to help you and your partner with certain tools. I didn’t download it since I’m not married and don’t have a partner to test it out with. They also have a page of reflections after each chapter, just to keep you thinking about what you’ve learned in each chapter.

Favorite Quotes

Contempt is so lethal to love that it ought to be outlawed.

“Contempt is any belittling remark that makes your spouse feel about an inch time.”

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I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.
-Dave Barry

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Marriage is the closest bond possible between two people. Legally, socially, emotionally, and physically, there is no other means of getting closer to another human being. It is the desire for this extraordinary closeness that propels us into matrimony. we long to belong to another person who knows us and loves us like nobody else in the world. This kind of imtimacy is the rocket fuel of marriage. Without intimacy, life becomes horribly cold and lonely. So we plunge ourselves into marriage and give our heart in exchange for the heart of another to discover the deepest and most radical experssion of human connection possible.

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When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
-Karl Menninger

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What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
-C.S Lewis

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Our life is what our thoughts make it.
-Marcus Aurelius

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The tone of our truth-telling can build a wall or a bridge.
-Ed Waltz

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“That’s not why I pray, Harry,” Lewis responded. “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

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Loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.
-Colin Powell

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Money doesn’t talk, it swears obscenity.
-Bob Dylan

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According to Hendrix, intesne and recurring arguments are a good indcator that one or both partners have unresolved childhood pain such as abandonment, rejection, smothering, shame, or helpnessness.

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Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.
-David Richo

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When you’re not aware of how the pain from your childhood gets replayed and exacerbated in conflicts as a married adult, those childhood scenarios inevitably repeat themselves with the same devastating consequences. The trauma you experienced gets reignited, whether it’s your fear of abandonment, rejection, shame, helplessness, or whatever. Heated conflict ensues, and you resort to defensive childish tactics. But once you face facts and recognize how these early unment needs play into your current relationship, you start to grow. You mature. “It’s crucual to accept the hard truth that incompatibility is the norm for relationships,” says Harville Hendrix. “Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, to heal by stretching out of its defenses.”

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The single biggest problem in communication is the illusions that it has taken place.
-George Bernard Shaw

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Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25440140-the-good-fight

Posted in Our Shared Shelf

The Power By Naomi Alderman

NON-SPOILER REVIEW

The Power by Naomi Alderman has an interesting set-up that confused me at first. It starts out with a letter from a gentleman named Neil writing to a Naomi. So naturally, my first thought was that Neil was writing to our author and she just liked the letter and decided to include it. When, in the letter, he said he included a manuscript, and then it went from “The Power: A Novel by Naomi Alderman” to “The Power: A historical novel by Neil Adam Armon” I realized it that he was a fictional character himself, and this was his book.

Quite creative! Except that the way he wrote it didn’t feel historical at all. With the exception of the few diagrams here and there…it felt like a novel. But maybe he’s on to something. If history teachers thought like this, maybe we’d learn our history better.

The story then takes on 4 characters point of view (with later additions of 2 more characters but I won’t mention whom).

Roxy is the first character we’re introduced to. She was one of the first to gain the power, and she was one of the strongest with the power. Her story was quite incredible and overwhelming that it was unrelatable. She is the daughter of one of the most feared gangsters. Her story lies mostly within the “business” which actually, weirdly enough, makes her seem quite normal. Although she was the most powerful girl with the power, she didn’t abuse it. She used it for her day to day life, but it never went over her head. She was the most responsible with her power and used it wisely. She was mostly always in control. This could be because she has complete confidence in herself and/or she has strong values.

Tunde is our male character point of view. He first discovers it exists when a girl he likes…um…I guess electrocutes him playfully and he doesn’t know if she should be scared or turned on. He wasn’t able to talk about it with anyone and it was driving him crazy. Then, finally, he realized another girl was about to shock someone and he caught it on film. When CNN asked to buy his rights, he realized he could make a living as a reporter. He found his purpose. Throughout his story, we get an insight of all he saw in 3rd world countries regarding The Power and we get an insight of the male perspective and his feelings towards The Power’s existence and usage.

Margot was perhaps my least favorite character. If you like her, great, please leave a comment as to why. I’d be curious to see your point of view on her. I tried liking her at first. She’s a politician and she had to make a decision on whether or not to close down the school since little girls were bullying little boys. She was in a tough position, I get it. I can respect that. When her daughter (which I thought would make an even more interesting point of view character…she was one of my favorite characters) was caught shocking a boy, her mom asked her to do it to her. When she did, that little spark reminded Margot that she had it within her all along as well. That’s when they realized that girls can awaken the skein (that’s what they called the part in the collarbone where it is said The Power lies) of their mothers and grandmothers. At first, I was excited about this because I thought this would be a mother-daughter relationship discovering The Power together. Nope. Margot cared more about her position than her own daughter. Yes, she cared…but she cared more about work. Margot was the person to whom we get to see how greed and fear really affects a person. Which I guess makes sense that she’s a politician. It’s satirical. However, for the sake of interest, I believe it would have been better if she was a regular mom (because how cute would it be having to discover the power together?), a scientist (because it would be interesting to find out more detail about the skein and the power instead of just the blurbs here and there), or even a teacher witnessing the change of behaviors (but I guess there would be no use if the school shuts down….oh! Maybe a police officer seeing all the different crimes or a doctor seeing all the different victims. Seriously her parts were so boring that I would rather read about gory barbecue cases than about her power-hungry driven thoughts). For the most part, she just seemed pointless to the progression of the story. At least with Tunde, who had no power, served as eyes to the story.

Allie was my favorite character…up until she became Mother Eve. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the transition of Mother Eve, but after a while, she just became a symbol rather than a person. But Allie herself was really cool. She is a foster kid who had the misfortunes of the system. She winds up running away and in her adventure, she finds an aquarium with an eel and learns that eels have the power to control the nerves of they prey to do whatever they wish. That’s when Allie gets the idea that maybe, she can do it too. Allie is the only one who experiments with her power to that extent. What Roxy has in energy, Allie has in intelligence. What also makes Allie interesting is that she hears a voice. What that voice represents is up for debate (I included my thoughts in the In-Depth section of my review but it does contain spoilers so I didn’t want to include it here).

The momentum of the story was really slow. I started reading this book on Dec 29, which was the first annual Book Fairies Day of Reading. The rules are simple, read all day (or for the majority of the day) and don’t go online. Because I didn’t have the distraction of my phone, I was able to gain some distance in the book but the first half was brutal when it came to transitioning. There is a pleasurable way to do multiple person points of view, and then there’s a rough way. This one was the latter. Because the characters were spread in different parts of the world going through different things, and for the most part, their only correlation was The Power…there was no real connection. The second half was a little easier with the character change although the story was more gruesome.

I would recommend this book if you like to challenge your thoughts, beliefs and if you generally love contemplating a world where women take over. It’s  I would not recommend it though if you don’t have reading discipline. The subject matter gets repulsive and there is a lot of controversial topics.  Contrary to the storyline, it’s not a fun book. I felt physically tired reading it (but I have an overactive imagination).

IN-DEPTH REVIEW (CONTAINS SPOILERS)
(if you are an Our Shared Shelf member and you read the blog threads, some of the content might seem familiar because I posted it there as well)

I don’t even know where to begin. This book was so much. SO MUCH!

I’m still questioning whether or not I like this book. On the one hand, women being walking tasers is pretty great. Women having power is pretty great. But calling it a feminist book when it basically represents gender inequality doesn’t seem fitting. It’s gender reversal. It’s still the “patriarchy” as we perceive it now, but now vaginas are in charge. That’s why Naomi (from the book, not the author) asked if Neil would believe that the world would be better if men ran it since they are gentler. It’s satirical. It’s supposed to be “eye-opening” but I find it hopeless. Yeah, an overwhelming amount of power would become easily corrupt. I get that. I agree with her decision.

My thoughts on “The Voice”
It could be a mental disorder activated as a coping mechanism to survive all the trauma. It could be a way of her separating herself from herself in order to get comfort, especially since she didn’t have a trustworthy adult figure. Which would imply that Allie is extremely intuitive, which she was since she was able to sense fake people. So when she met Roxy and her voice was silent, she found a companion to trust. That’s why she was surprised she had a friend. Another evidence is that she, at first, thought it was her Mom. Whom do we turn to when we’re afraid? Our parents (well…if they were loving anyway).

I eventually believed that it was the skein. And Allie just happened to be more in tune with her inner self. She didn’t always have that voice, and by the time she had the voice, she was aware of her powers. She was also the only one who was able to manipulate her powers to do as she wanted….the power led her to that information. The Power needs a strong host to get stronger. But then again, the book reference Allie speaking to her heart a lot. So it could be her heart and not her skein.

But towards the end, it just felt too Godlike. I could believe that the skein was able to sense the coming of Roxy since like I said earlier, she seems to be more intuitive than most, and Roxy tends to be the strongest. But then wouldn’t she sense the skein alive when she was speaking to Darrell? Unless the skein changes DNA to match, which is possible and that’s why people have died from the operation. But then why would Allie’s skein bring up Samuel? And how did the skein know that Jos was supposed to get in trouble? And why would the skein be so opposed to her reconnecting with Eve unless of course, the skein is still recovering from the trauma of the past? But would skeins even have emotions? Allie’s seemed sympathetic, especially to her needs and desires. Which makes sense because a skein needs a host. But doesn’t anger help it become stronger? And didn’t that realization help her come to grips with what the skein wanted her to do all along? And why would the skein say I’ll see you on the other side? Is the skein a spirit? Was the skein being funny? Was that God saying she would have to face death (like Jesus, maybe? Or in war…we never did hear what happened, we just know the women won). But if it were God, why would God be surprised when Tatiana goes crazy and has her servant lick the liquid from the floor?

My thoughts on Jocelyn
I liked Jocelyn from the moment we were introduced to her. She is the daughter of Margot. On page 231, we finally got to read her own POV chapter. What made her interesting were that her powers weren’t as powerful as others.  Different is interesting. At first, I thought it was due to self-esteem. That the power was connected to your energy. Her’s sounded more bi-polar. Sometimes it was strong, sometimes it was non-existent, and pills tend to help balance it. Also, Roxy’s power failed at first. Roxy. The most powerful woman with the Power. Yet, when she was scared that her mom was being kidnapped, it failed her. That’s why I associated with esteem.

But then Ryan (her soon to be boyfriend) e-mailed her about gender-bending confusion. Turned out he had a skein as well. I started thinking it could be about identity. It could be gender-identity and she is not sure about hers and her skein works when she feels more feminine. Then on page 171, the author writes “Jo quite likes girls. She quite likes boys who are a bit like girls” meaning that Ryan kind of looks like a girl. So then maybe that’s why Ryan had a skein too. But looks are different than identity. But if that’s accurate, it would make sense why when men were trying to get their skeins implanted, it would fail. Because it didn’t register with the masculine mentality. It could be a symbolism of how out of place LGBTQ people feel even when the power shifts. Or it could just be that Alderman wanted to have an imperfect character because statistically speaking, some things do fail and not everyone can be so fortunate. Genetics doesn’t always get it right.

Or maybe it’s the stress of her mom. Having a family that is being under watch. The pressure she has on not getting to be a reckless teenage girl. That perfectionism taking hold and limiting her abilities.

There was a comment on page 235, after Jos accidentally overcharged the man that was trespassing that said: “She has the sense that if she starts to think about it she’ll tumble down into the deep, dark water; there’s a black ocean waiting for her now, it will always be waiting.” I wish Alderman would have elaborated on what the deep, dark water represented to Jos. I feel like it could be depression. Or it could be an inescapable truth.

My thoughts on the Newscasters and Urbandox
From time to time, Alderman squeezed these newscasters in the story. It was weird at first because 1) I wasn’t expecting it and 2) it wasn’t part of the setting. It was quite well accomplished. The newscasters represented the thoughts and gossip of the community at large. Basically, they were voicing the questions we would be asking if we were part of that society. It’s a perfect way to get answers and to feel involved in the story.

Urbandox is a conspiracy website. Just like every huge moment, there are the conspiracy theorists. Although I personally disliked the leader, I appreciated his presence in the story. They represented the resistance. They represented the people who were not okay with life-changing without their consent. The people who are scared and unable to accept that they are not in control anymore. But given at how fast-paced the change seemed, I don’t blame them. I think I’d like the leader more if he weren’t an entitled prick. This is the quote that just rubbed me the wrong way:

“They’ll only keep the most genetically healthy of us alive. See, this is why God meant men to be the ones with the power. However bad we treat a woman–well, it’s like a slave.
See, people got slavery wrong. If you have a slave, that slave’s your property, you don’t want damage to come to it. However bad any man treated a woman, he needs her in a fit condition to carry a child. But now…one genetically perfect man can sire a thousand–five thousand–children. And what do they need the rest of us for? They’re going to kill us all.”

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Eye roll after eye roll. Then he says that men need laws to protect them (which I agree) and that women need to have curfews (right, because historically speaking, the people in charge are the ones with curfews…usually it’s the minorities that have the curfew for their own protection, not the other way around. The exception: criminals have “curfews” when on house arrest. But these women haven’t broken the law…yet) and that the government should try to find a cure (because it’s a sickness? It’s a genetic trait. They just don’t understand it so they treat it as a disease or illness. Well, given that it is somewhat “contagious” I can see his confusion. Well, that’s the wrong word. He is not confused, he does not like it).

I am totally against killing all men. But if someone were to execute this guy, I wouldn’t be heartbroken. I might actually cheer. This guy is making slavery seem like the owners did the slaves a favor! Abusing a situation doesn’t make you a hero, bro!

Day of the Girls
In the book club I’m in, someone made a very important observation, that the “Day of the Girls changed the power structure but not individuals” (see the thread discussion here). My argument to this was that The Day of the Girls was a global acknowledgment that the power exists…and in girls. They weren’t aware that it can happen to all women (well, the majority of the women, and some men). I don’t think it would have a huge change in character.

Think of it as Women History Month. We still go to work. We still do the same things we normally do on a regular basis, we just celebrate that we have more freedom now than we did then. Then over time, we make our dreams come true if we’re lucky. But rarely does a person do a complete 180 because of a day, unless that day happened to be rock bottom.

My Thoughts on Mother Eve
Firstly, I love the symbolism of Eve. I may not like the character because she’s boring, but I liked her significance. I thought it was funny that she chose the name of her former foster mom (and how later that backfired on her). But also thought it was cool that it was the name of the first biblical lady and how she turned the Bible into respecting and celebrating women. I really liked that Mother Eve used her electric eel knowledge to help heal and cause “miracles.” Although she was going after what she wanted, so she was a very selfish selfless person. But I will say this, she sure is patient. Unlike all the other women with power, she took her time establishing her plan. She did so well, no one saw it coming. I knew Allie would be special when the grey fox accompanied her for 3 days. I took the fox as a foreshadowing of her future leadership. It’s interesting that it’s a fox because, in some cultures, a fox represents wisdom…in others, it represents a trickster. So her role is perfect. I don’t know if I should take symbolism in the 3 days aspect.

Favorite Quotes
e347628b-985f-422c-ad22-d45f36805c74-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“She listens at doors and around corners. She has always had this habit. A child in danger must learn to pay more attention to the adults than a child loved and cherished.”

“There is a noise that is different to grief. Sadness wails and cries out and lets loose a sound to the heavens like a baby calling for its mother. That kind of noisy grief is hopeful. It believes that things can be put right, or that help can come. There is a different kind of sound to that. Babies left alone too long do not even cry. They become very still and quiet. They know no one is coming. 

“It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.”

“‘They have said to you that man rules over woman as Jesus rules over the Church. But I say unto you that woman rules over man as Mary guided her infant son, with kindness and with love.'”

“‘The day someone else knows where your money’s going better than you do, that’s the day you’ve lost.’ It’s like a magic trick, money. You can turn money into anything.”

“They’re waiting for something to happen. We’re only pretending everything is normal because we don’t know what else to do.”

“She shouts out, ‘Don’t you fucking touch me!’ and pulls at the thing on her head. And blood and iron bloom at the back of her skull because someone’s hit her as hard as she’s ever been hit and her last thought is ‘A leopard, as a pet’ as she goes down into night.”
I know this quote seems very messed up, and it is…but I like it because it’s Roxy’s own version of “Et tu, Brutus? Then fall Ceasar.”

“He has written in the scribbled notes for his book: ‘At first we did not speak our hurt because it was not manly. Now we do not speak it because we are afraid and ashamed and alone without hope, each of us alone. It is hard to know when the first became the second.'”

“This is the magic by daylight; tricks and cruelty. The magic is in the belief in magic. All this is, is people with an insane idea. The only horror in it is imagining oneself into their minds. And that their insanity might have some consequences on the body.”

“The kind of face her dad would have said was a bad bet for business. Never keep someone on a job who likes it too much. She knows when she sees the single flash of that gleeful and hungry face that they’re not here to raid for what they can find.”

“When did he get so jumpy? And he knows when. It wasn’t this last thing that made it happen. This fear has been building up in him. The terror put its roots down into his chest years ago and every month and every hour has driven the tendrils a little deeper into the flesh.” 
Welcome to rape culture, Tunde.

If there’s anything you want to talk about from the book, please leave a comment. I wish I could post all my thoughts but I don’t want to take any more of your time. It’s long enough as it is.

P.S. Did your heart hurt when Naomi asked Neil if he considered publishing his book in a woman’s name instead? Ouch

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(Featured Image was taken from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751398-the-power?from_search=true)

Posted in LGBTQ

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I read this book because it was this month’s reading in one of my bookclubs. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but this was a fun read. It was simple. The characters were lovable. The love interests didn’t feel forced. It was a fast read too. Mostly dialogue and train of thoughts. Nothing major.

This book has two different multiple character points of view while they experience the wonders of SupaCon.

The first character, Taylor, is a blogger. She is autistic. Being in her mind is quite interesting and we get to see her grow confident within the story. I really liked how she explained how her mind works.

Our second character, Charlie, started out as a YouTube star who is now promoting her first movie. She is bisexual and we see her struggle trying to recover from her cheating ex-boyfriend while trying to find new love in one of her YouTube idols.

The storyline had no real meaning other than stop worrying what everyone else thinks of you. I would recommend this story if you want to read something that doesn’t make you think too much. It’s not a romance novel, it’s a learning coming to terms with yourself novel…that happens to have romance in it. It does have LGBT characters so if you are not okay with that, don’t bother picking it up.

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Favorite Quotes 
(might contain spoilers)

“Anxiety isn’t an attack that explodes out of me; it’s not a volcano that lies dormant until it’s triggered by an earth-shattering event. It’s a constant companion. Like a blowfly that gets into the house in the middle of summer, flying around and around. you can hear it buzzing, but you can’t see it, can’t capture it, can’t let it out. My anxiety is invisible to others, but often it’s the focal point of my mind. Everything that happens on a day-to-day basis is filtered through a lens colored by anxiety. That nervousness that makes your palms sweat and your heart race before you get up and make a speech in front of an audience? That’s what I feel in a normal conversation at a dinner table. Or just thinking about having a conversation at a dinner table. “
That’s a really long quote, I know. I just like how descriptive it is. If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, this is pretty much accurate. The simple step feels like a mountain to climb for someone with anxiety. It’s irritating. It’s hard to control. It ruins a lot of events. Even if you try to push the thought aside, your body will react. You can’t really escape it. It’ll form, one way or another. If it’s really bad, it can be paralyzing. If it’s not, then deep breaths might help. Forming relationships when you have anxiety is a challenge. So it’s really cool to read that Taylor has two best friends who don’t judge her.

8e146a0d-841e-47f2-b745-9b1e4f2fc6d3-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“Everything feels like I’m on stage, spotlight on me, all eyes on me, watching, judging. Like I’m one second away from total disaster. It’s invisible, it’s irrational, it’s never-ending. I could be standing there, smiling and chatting like everything is totally fine, while secretly wanting to scream and cry and run away. No one would ever know. In my mind,no one can hear me scream. I hide it because I know it’s not understood or acceptable–because I’m not understood or acceptable.”
This is just another awesome quote about living with anxiety. I’m kind of obsessed with mental disorders.

e03b8e0f-a5ea-4e06-a739-aaf8e3b69e46-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“I’m sure she’s flirting with me. At least, I hope she is. It excites and terrifies me all at the same time. I love everything about crushes. The butterflies, the possibilities, the giddy wonder of it all.”
One thing you might now figure about me is that I’m a hopeless romantic. As a hopeless romantic, I like books where love works. It’s strange because I don’t really like romantic novels. I don’t like romance novels because the conflict is the love. I love books like this one, where there is romance but it is not about the romance. Then I get to enjoy the romance aspect of it without rolling my eyes after every time a character “wishes” they can be with someone whom we all know they will end up with anyway. Optimism in a doomed world is nice to read every now and then. It’s no surprise that I found myself smiling after reading this. (Might have been blushing a little…just a little….don’t tell anyone)

aa6607d6-7ab6-4a5a-80d0-ceba370bf3f0-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1“Sometimes it feels like I’m allergic to the world, like I’m allergic to my own species. Being here, it’s an assault on my senses.”
I found that hilarious. I’m not laughing at the fact that people actually feel this way. I’m laughing because I feel our species is an assault to our senses. We make no sense. We are disagreeable about any important issue.

“I felt like my whole future was dependent on it, and now I’m lost.”
I like this quote because it’s extremely relatable. I have done the error of placing an event on a pedestal. Of making something seem more important than it is. Why? Because it’s easy. It makes more sense than being introspective and continually work on yourself. So we place these moments as milestones of growth, or success. The downside is that if it’s disappointing, we crash hard. It will affect our esteem and our plans. So I understand why Taylor felt lost. She made meeting her idol her medicine if you will. The fixer-uppper. The “if I can do this, everything will be okay.” Accepting life on life’s term is the hardest thing to do and having these little goals help us feel a little more in control.

“You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”
I just feel like this should be a bumper sticker.

“When making friends is the hardest thing in the world for you, you don’t risk it all by telling one of them that you’re in love with him.”
It’s just devastating to be in a position where you have to choose. Where you feel like expressing yourself will ruin everything. It makes you feel invaluable. Or that you don’t deserve love. You’re already hard to tolerate and on top of that you want to mix feeling with it and how dare you make things complicated and put people in an uncomfortable position. It’s  best to just keep your mouth shut and let everyone be happy with the ways things are. But you’re not happy….but what makes you important? What gives you the right to ask someone to love you? They don’t owe you anything, they’re already doing more than enough by just being your friend. (This may or may not be a conversation I have with myself from time to time.)

The following are just more awesome quotes on anxiety, self-esteem and love:
“We’re the ones who get up and face our worst fears every day. We keep fighting.”

“Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak.”

“No. It’s not pathetic. I can relate. My ex-girlfriend wasn’t a movie star, but to me she was…everything. Everyone wanted to be with her, too. But she chose me. I didn’t like myself much back then, and having her look at me the way she did made me feel like I was worth something.”

“I didn’t see how much of my self-worth had been tied into that relationship until it was over. The hardest part wasn’t  leaving her behind; it was feeling like I’d left pieces of myself behind. The only pieces I liked.” (raise your hand if you can relate)

7b571e18-7246-4a8b-88aa-c954bc711d7a-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1

“Love is intense. You break down all your walls to let someone in. But if they’re not good for you, they can tear you up from the inside. And you think what you have together is love, so you let them.”

 

(Featured image was taken from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28245707-queens-of-geek)