Big Little Lies HBO TV Series – Review Without Pity

Big Little Lies is an book-to-TV adaptation made for the HBO network which in Australia is exclusive only to Foxtel or Apple iTunes. If you haven’t read the book or watched the TV show, you should probably read this review of the book first.

I would like to start this review by saying that on a whole I enjoyed this TV series. I binge-watched it on my day off work a week ago and I enjoyed it after I got through the first episode where Nicole Kidman has noisy/violent/weird sex with Alexander Skarsgaard. It is also important to note that I enjoy watching Real Housewives of Sydney and I have been known to dabble in an episode of the Kardashians or other such spin offs.

In addition, I think Game of Thrones is boring, so… my recommendation should really come to you with a grain of salt or little-to-zero trust.

Disclaimer aside; I would like to say that the casting was strange.

I can’t really take Reese Witherspoon all that seriously since I’ve seen her bend and snap and act like a giant bimbo in the movie about her chihauha and pink clothes blond hair and law, or whatever it was. Or that one movie where Selma Hyak and her brother Ryan Phillipe got it on. She was cast as Madeline, the most highly strung of the three mothers. In the book Madeline comes across as about as old as Nicole Kidman — a bit of a wise mother-bear who takes Jane under her wing. She is slightly annoying at times, but is overall a very likeable.

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Reese Witherspoon as Madeline made me want to shove a fork in my eye. How’s that for irony!? (C’mon, you have to be able to see what I did there). She was rude, obnoxious, reactive, spoiled, selfish and had absolutely no self-awareness. She played a comical version of the serious Madeline from the book — a little annoying.

Aaaaand Nicole Kidman — choose an accent and stick to it, woman — you’re either pretending to be American or you’re Australian. She plays the role of Celeste. Celeste is painted out to be a young and effortlessly beautiful woman. I’m not saying that Nicole Kidman is not beautiful, because she is… in that same kind of way that Tilda Swinton is. Her husband Perry is played by Alexander Skarsgaard who’s last performance I can remember was in True Blood where I saw his naked arse more times than I’ve seen my own. So, you have two very fair people having very very pasty white, violent, weird, loud, is-she-in-pain-is-she-enjoying-this sex.

Together their scenes caused so much glare that I picked up new radio signals.

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Weird match. Oh, and also, she played a cougar.

Shailene Woodley played Jane and I have nothing snarky to say about that, she was probably a perfect pick.

The guy that played Madeline’s husband was a guy who I have only ever seen playing obnoxious comical characters in Will Ferral movies, so there is that.

The show itself was very good and while it may not have been minute-by-minute accurate to the book, it was still quite enjoyable. Madeline’s daughter Chloe was played by a cute little girl who had a lot of attitude. The character was precocious and I would probably take an instant dislike to her if she existed in real life.

Ziggy, Jane’s daughter was adorable and he played his role very, very well.

The opening credits of the show are weird and comical with all the women dressed up as different versions of Audrey Hepburns — it seemed like it was the opening for a satire show.

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My biggest annoyance was the way it ended. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was completely rewritten. A revelation occurred that changed the way the truth came out. The way it was written in the book made much, much more sense than the way it played out on the show. I believe if you have watched the show for the first time and aren’t paying complete and utter full attention, you won’t pick up the realisation that registers with one of the characters and for me that was the entire crux of the book.

What I think was the best thing about the entire TV show is actually the sound track. To download/buy/stream, the soundtrack comprises of about 12 mediocre songs, when if you search a couple of articles that last all the songs by order of episode, you can put together a very, very cool sound track.

That’s what I did!

I still recommend this show — but I recommend the book first. I’m not the sort of person that cant disassociate one from the other, but I feel like if you read the book you can get the broader picture of the story but still enjoy them both.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

Big Little Lies placed #1 on the New York Times best seller list.

big little lies

I have to admit, that I am not the kind of person that takes notice of hype — I think I have mentioned before, I am kind of a hype-avoider as a general rule.

However, Big Little Lies interested me based on the title alone. When I read the blurb, I thought it would be an easy read that would interest me based on the stupidity of school mums– that competitive nature of women who all seem to judge each others choices. As a childless woman in her 30s, I always marvel at how ridiculous and unrealistic that world seems to be (however, I have been assured that it is very, very much a ‘thing’).

Big Little Lies is about the blooming friendship between three women who are lead very different lives but who come together by chance and sheer luck of where their children go to school. Jane is new to town and is mistaken instantly as a nanny by one of the working mothers. Madeline is the comical breath of fresh air — the kind of mother bear who will look out for others and who really takes pride in stopping at nothing to defend those that she aligns herself with. Celeste is portrayed as a trophy wife who is the mother of twin boys with a husband that is enviable to those around her.

The story unfolds after Jane’s son is accused of hurting another child — the ramifications of the accusation and the defence of Jane’s son divide the parents at the school, escalating to an untimely murder.

Each chapter shares a different view of each of the three mother’s lives — unraveling their secrets and lies right up until the death of a parent who is not identified.

The book is written in chapter form with experts of police interviews with all of the mothers and father’s present at the time the death took place. Everyone’s interpretation of the event varies from comical to ridiculous, magnifying the kinds of stereotypes of judgmental mothers that exist in the day-to-day politics of the school Mum0sphere.

loved this book.

I couldn’t get enough of it. It did take me a little while to get through but I was so happy with the ending — it wrapped up nicely without feeling like another ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Imagine my surprise when I realise that there is a Big Little Lies HBO series on Foxtel that has brought this book to life?!

If you want to know how the two compare, brace yourself for my ‘Big Little Lies without pity’ post at the end of the week. It will be part of my book vs movie/tv show blogs once a week (or as often as time allows).

Did you read this book? How did you feel about it?

The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster-Blake Review

wrong girl

Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster-Blake is your average enjoyable rom-com chick-lit book for those who aren’t looking too hard to find purpose in a very, very fictional story.

I’m by no means a book snob. Sometimes I want to read the way I watch TV: without having to think too hard.

What I mean by this, is that sometimes I enjoy watching the Kardashians or The Vanderpump rules show – not because the people are likeable or that the story or characters are incredibly thrilling, but because it serves it’s cheap purpose: entertainment.

wrong girl

Chick-lit books are all similar in storyline and purpose and The Wrong Girl was really no different.

Girl is self-deprecating. Girl has model-looking girlfriends and is considered the odd one out in a circle full of otherwise carbon copies. Girl is quirky, clumsy but apparently also adorable in her awkwardness that is supposed to be the one thing that sets her apart.

Hot, strapping, beautiful species of male turns up and crazily enough has the personality and perfect amount of mature communication skills to boot.

Man sees the beauty in girl and takes on her annoying emotional self-loathe and turns saves the day and turns her in to some strong, independent (lols) take-no-shit woman that because of the way her man builds her up, manages to overcome subplot; this could be kicking away the dead weight friends that make her feel so bad about herself, give up drugs, shopping or other “cute” addiction or even a career advancement.

I pretty much summed up The Wrong Girl in this summary which happens to be the same formula for most chick-lit books. This is written in a characteristically Australian way which sometimes made me cringe and other times made me feel like I was proud of Foster-Blake. It was a cute story that I struggled for a short while to get in to which may have not been due to the writing, but perhaps more to do with personal circumstance.

I liked the characters in The Wrong Girl but couldn’t help but to wonder why her best friend (from the first few chapters) was just long-forgotten after the plot began to unfold. Did the author forget him? Given that they were supposed to be friends for 10 or so years, I was surprised by how quickly the MC gave him the heave-ho. Seemed odd.

This Wrong Girl has been transformed to an Australian TV show that was vastly different to the novel. Given that most books far outweigh the TV/Movie adaptation, I was pretty happy with the TV show. I have to admit I liked it better than the book; perhaps the beautiful hunk that is Jack was played by a stunning indigenous man which doesn’t happen to often on Australian TV.

Overall, I enjoyed the light-hearted book. It wasn’t my favourite read of 2016, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at another book by Zoë Foster-Blake in the future.

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Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose Tainted Skies is a unfiltered look at a life consumed by the rigours of mental health issues.

Norah has OCD and agoraphobia. This book chronicles her daily struggles and turmoils of dealing with invisible medical issues.

This book resonated with me for two main reasons:

This is not an overly-dramatic, tragedy-on-top-of-tragedy style novel.

Mental health issues aren’t always caused by a specific trauma or event that you can connect right back to the first time you encounter anxiety (not saying it doesn’t, but its not even nearly always the case). I hate to read books where 62 thousand awful things have happened to the main character that has led them to the point where they’re dealing with issues only when the author can be bothered delving in to them.

In Under Rose Tainted Skies, Norah’s initial mental health issues were not brought on by some kind of tragedy. Even during the small positive moments that run through her subconscious, she is ruled by her illnesses. They never fleet far from the story and are written so acutely and finely that I found myself crying within the first few pages. I have never read myself so accurately before.

“I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes and try to make my mind go blank.

Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back.”

and then,

I march back to my room, push the book in to its rightful position and then hate myself.”

I have written, in great detail, what my brain goes through on a very, very tough day — but maybe the passage written above is probably jus the tl;dr version.

It is very hard to find some kind of ‘entertainment’ medium that I find relatable to what I’m going through so when I come across it, I take hold and clutch it close to my chest and treasure it. Maybe it’s the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe its the relief of finally being understood — either way, Under Rose Tainted Skies hits that chord with perfect precision. Louise Gornall is genius.

And, I’m not talking like, one of those flimsy Apple Fake Geniuses either…

the other main reason I loved Under Rose Tainted Skies so much;

Norah, the character of this book is not saved by a boy/man. 

I read one book about agoraphobia and anxiety recently (I won’t mention titles, you can read it and work it out if you like) and I wrote what I felt like, was a very kind review when I actually wanted to convey sheer irritation.

Boys cannot solve our fucking world of mental health illness. If anything, they generally bumble for the right thing to say and end up making it worse – much less, teenage boys. In the other book I read a boy came along and pretty much resolved the main character’s entire worldly issues including the deeper issue (the mother) as a subplot.

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The boy that comes in to Norah’s life doesn’t serve as her saviour. He serves as her friend; someone to speak to, someone to inspire her to take very tiny baby steps toward recovery. Luke is awkward, Luke says a couple of stupid things and he even does a couple of stupid things — but at least it’s realistic and Norah doesn’t suddenly seem to shed her OCD or agoraphobia the second she sets her sights on him.

Even touching hands with Luke for the first time proves to be traumatic and true to someone who suffers all of the issues that encumber Norah.

Impressively, Luke isn’t a means to an end of Norah’s mental health issues, he is helpful in terms of showing her that she is still worthy of being loved and proves to her that not everybody is going to label her or judge her for what she is going through.

I think what I loved the best about this story is that perhaps recovery is possible for some; but usually not for everyone and this story holds true to that. Norah does not magically get better. There is no skipping to the future to see her running outdoors with Luke to fly a kite or some shit, but the reader is left with a tiny grain of hope that the main character is taking all the positive steps forward to get along with life and cope with her illnesses the very best that she can.

This is what we all hope to be able to do when we feel debilitated by our very, very bad days — to just be able to cope.

Under Rose Tainted Skies is going to get a five out of five for me. Louise Gornall is my new hero.

View all my reviews

Amy Schumer – Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer – I wasn’t even sure how I felt about her before I read this book. In truth, my most instant thought association was her appearance on Lena Dunham’s stupid podcast or whatever it is. In that podcast, Lena Dunham talked shit out of her asshole again and made offensive, self-serving comment about an NFL player that didn’t make googly eyes at her and went on to ascribe her own feelings of sexism upon him – when he, an innocent party, had no idea that he’d even done anything wrong.

Anyway, that aside, I felt like Amy Schumer has been a little hypocritical in the past.

That being said, haven’t we all? We’re human, we’ve all got our short-falls, and Amy Schumer is not an exception; so if something she has said in present, conflicts with something she said off-the-cuff a zillion years ago, is it really fair to judge her solely upon that?

No.

So I bought the book from my trusty, fun friends over at K-Mart (Goodness me, I love Kmart). I decided to give it a go.

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I was not sorry. 

Amy Schumer opens the book stating that if one is to look for advice, they will not find it stuck inside the pages of her book.

I felt like she was selling herself short dramatically; especially when I read things like this;

“There are a lot of firsts like this in life, little flashpoints here and there when you’re unknowingly becoming a woman. And it’s not the cliched shit, like when you have your first kiss or drive your first care. You become a woman for the first time when you stand up for yourself when they get your order wrong at dinner, or when you realise your parents are full of shit.

You become a woman the first time you get fitted for a bra and realise you’ve been wearing a very wrong size your whole fucking life. You become a woman the first time you fart in front of a boyfriend. The first time a heart breaks. The first time you break someone else’s heart.

Throughout this book, Amy made me both laugh and cry. She talked about her childhood, her lessons in trust, her relationship issues – coming from abuse and breaking the pattern of behaviours that can be too hard to shake.

Amy shared excerpts from her diary with footnotes (and one or two that, I am not shitting you, I laughed so hard I could breathe and had to call my best friend and share it with her so that she could hear me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe) which show that she too, had a dramatic teenage and young-adult life just the same as any other girl reading the book.

Her self-deprecating humour really appeals to me because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how I joke about life too. Her funny-yet-tragically sad chapters about her father’s batter with MS made me cry and also laugh.

Over-all, I feel like on paper she’s incredibly witty, smart and just like me, she is an introvert and basically that makes me like her.

In all seriousness, I judged unfairly. I loved this book and I read it very quickly.

And after this book I watched some stand up, she is brutal — but hilarious. I have a newfound respect for her. I might even go to see her stand up over Christmas! Who knows!

September Book Haul & Wizard of Oz Creeper

september

Oh, September, I promised I wouldn’t buy anymore books while you were visiting…

But oh well, I lied.

September

Really though, I have no reason to purchase anymore books for as at least the month of October and November … unless they’re at a bargain price…

I’m not the kind of person who reads to a schedule. A lot of book bloggers have their month mapped out in terms of what they plan on reading — but that’s not me, I’m not the ordered and organised type. My blog schedule is a mess, I don’t stick to my own plans, my social media is always in shambles — quite frankly, I’m surprised I can put my pants on the right way round in the morning.

And yet, somehow I manage to.

For that, I think we can all be thankful.

For the past few months I’ve been actively reading two books at a time – ask me a year ago and this would have been unheard of! Mixing characters and plots, sounds so… dirty. And yet, there is a method to my madness.

I use an e-Reader (Kindle, actually) when I read in bed at night so as not to keep company awake (my dog hates it when I leave the lamp on, she can’t sleep) and my vision in dim-light becomes even more impaired (and really, have you ever tried to wear your glasses laying down? Its actually not even an option, ridiculous!) and in the harsh light of day (hisssss!), I read my hardcopy book so as not to annoy anyone or destroy my vision.

I’ll tell you what, though, I bought “When The Moon Is Low” by Nadia Hashimi despite the fact that I’ve already read it (it is a beautiful story regarding Afghani refugees)… but all of these books here cost me well under $100.

So, fact about me; I am a really big fan of anything Wizard of Oz related. I mean, I liked the movie as a kid, but as an adult I’ve really appreciated the simplicity of it. We recently watched it and my boyfriend made fun of how ‘stupid’ it was and I had to point out that 1939 was a much different time – the Wizard of Oz was considered incredible for its time as was Judy Garland. I pointed out that he’s been ruined by movies full of blood, guts, sex and debauchery. Aside from that, I also love any other sub-stories that have been spun from the Wizard of Oz alternate universe.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire is my #1 favourite book. It was one of the first books that allowed me to understand that awful feeling of book grief that many people complain about.

So… imagine how I felt today when I had a quick browse through a local bargain bookshop and saw these three books for FIVE DOLLARS EACH.

september

september

While I said that I don’t read to a monthly / September schedule or a pre-determined TBR list, I will probably read these three books next (maybe with something in between each, I am a glutton for everything that I love, I need to learn to pace myself).

I really, really hope that these will be wonderful books. I have read mixed reviews over at Goodreads, but those reviewers also tried to tell me that Irvine Welsh’s, Sex Lives of Siamese Twins was bad and that John Green’s Looking for Alaska was ah-may-zah-hing, so heh, I know not to trust most of them.

So I’ve read three books already this September and right now I’m in the middle of reading the Amy Schumer biography, Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. On paper she’s witty, intelligent and interesting – but I find her sometimes to be quite hypocritical in terms of her feminist views and practical approaches to certain issues. However, thankfully that’s not currently distracting from the book. On the kindle, I am reading The Time Travellers Wife finally after it has been recommended to me for years.

While I was on my bargain book shop, I also picked up this coffee table book for my Mum. She loves these comics and she doesn’t use the internet as much as she used to, so I figured a hardcopy version might give her a laugh or two.

September

After all that, I suppose more than posting about my book haul for September, I really probably just wanted to talk about how much I love Wizard of Oz alternate universe-based books/media.

Fun fact: I went through a stage where I was so obsessed with the Wicked Soundtrack, I made my fantasy Broadway actor cast for it in my head every day as I drove to work and of course I’d be the leading role of Elphaba and would choose the beautiful Fiyero to be played by the one and only Rent / Law & Order / The Flash broadway sensation, Jesse L Martin, and we’d sing the entire soundtrack together over and over and over — and ultimately fall in love on set and fly away on a broomstick together… and I’d stay home raising our children while he went back to the Central City precinct to help catch more Meta Humans with The Flash (yes, reality and Oz universe collided, made love and then took a giant dump here, I honestly don’t make a lot of sense of the fantasy either…).

September

Jesse L Martin

What I am basically saying, is that I sang the soundtrack to an audience of no one on a daily basis as I readied myself for work, drove to work, drove home from work and ultimately cried tears of, my life is so very, very small.

jkjkjkjk.

Sort of.

So yeah, there’s my September book haul that got kind of weird toward the end.

#sorrynotsorry.

What you got on the cards for September, baby?

September

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall-Kelly [REVIEW]

lilac girls

I read a really important book this week: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and I recommend it to anyone who has the will to learn about history and to become engulfed by some purely wonderful reading.

Three girls from three different lifestyles from three different countries cross paths during the rigours of World War II.

From Goodreads:

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten

Review:

I could not put this book down – I read 350 pages of it in one Sunday afternoon sitting (it did help that I have been sick and almost bed-ridden). I am a sucker for a good historical fiction any day of the week, but Martha Hall Kelly smashed this one right out of the park.

This book was written beautifully and from the perspective of all three women throughout important and poignant stages of their lives. As I read this book, I began to realise, without knowing too much, that this story was built on true events and actual people. I began to read some, research some and so on … I was so excited to realise that socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person!

I felt so connected to each character and so entranced by each of their stories and felt the heart break of both Caroline and especially Kasia. I had to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next, as well as cross referencing the actual historical version of events.

Martha Hall Kelly wrote the horrors of what the Nazi’s had subjected the Lilac Girls to, how the healthy young body’s were defiled and violated. She added colour and tone to facts and events that took place at Ravensbrück concentration camp as well as the Neuremberg Trials where Herta Oberheuser met her fate for the crimes that she had committed against humanity.

The portrayal of Caroline Ferriday was beautiful and easily imaginable. At first her chapters felt a bit dry, but as her plight began to unravel, I fell in love with her heart – the way she used her social standing for her cause and her unrelenting loyalty to those who were in need. I learned the most about Caroline Ferriday while researching for myself and saw that who she really was, is very accurate to how the author of Lilac Girls portrayed her.

lilac girls

The real Caroline Ferriday with the real Lilac Girls

I feel like this book was so cleverly put together and have an immense respect for the commitment and research that Martha Hall Kelly put in to make this book as beautiful and as brilliant as it is. Not only did I become engrossed in the story, but I also learned things about World War II that I didn’t know without it feeling like an overwhelming block of wordy information.

Over all, this has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. I was so grateful to receive an advanced readers copy from the legends over at Penguin Random House Australia – probably my most favourite book that I’ve received since beginning this blog. I don’t generally give books 5 stars, but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have read what have been two consecutive five star books.

I am going to recommend this book to everyone starting right here! Thank you Martha Hall Kelly for bringing the story of Caroline Ferriday and the Lilac Girls to light — another important story of devastation, bravery and heroism from the past that really needs to have more of a spotlight.

Sexism Everyday – written by the Good Girl

I am not a trail-blazing feminist the way I felt like I was in my early/mid twenties, but I still like to call out sexism as it is when I see it or when I am the subject of it– in that case it is especially hard to ignore. This post is going to be about the daily sexism I have encountered in the past few months.

Sometimes I go to sleep early — around 8-9pm if I’m tired enough. As a result I can be up as early as 5:30, but usually at least just after 6am. I like to work out before I go to work because I find it helps my moods and my anxiety for the day. Last week, I woke up at 5:40am, ate breakfast and put my work out clothes on to go do forty on the treadmill and then my circuit work out. Sometimes after a work out, I am absolutely ravenous. On this particular day, I spent a further 30 minutes making my lunch for the day and faffing about on the internet before work. I realised when it was too late that I needed to eat something before work.

I got to work and found that I had a packet of potato chips sitting on my desk from the day before that I had bought and forgotten to eat. With no other food options, I opened the bag and began to eat them. I know, I know — a lady of my age and my size (14), I could probably have stood to go without, or at least eat something that would allow me to be more of a proper lady.

sexism

I opened the door to someone and was met with a funny look from an older gentleman. He said, “are you eating chips?” (gasp, shock horror!)

Cheerfully, I said, “Yep! Want one?” offered. He declined. He said, “It’s a bit early, don’t you think?” (It was after 9am).

Still cheerful, I said, “I’ve been up for almost 5 hours now! I’m starving!”

Then, I got a lecture on how unhealthy it was to be eating potato chips at ‘this time of morning’ (or at all) and that I should try a piece of fruit.

Fuck off. Firstly, I’m sure he wouldn’t have commented on my dietary condition if I was a guy. Also, if I chose to eat chips at 9:30 or fucking 8pm, it would still be unhealthy. If I had a fucking piece of fruit handy, I still probably would have unapologetically enjoyed the salty snack.

sexism

And all that aside? How about you just mind your fucking business, mate?

I usually find that men who are roughly the same age as my father don’t understand just how smarmy and patronising their comments and remarks can be.

I try not to be too hard on people, sometimes they may not even realise how or why what they’ve said can be taken the wrong way, but if no one ever tells them, then how can they correct their behaviour?

One that I hear almost often – in every job I’ve ever worked and also outside of any job I’ve ever worked; “good girl”.

How arrogant, how patronising — how fucking insulting. I am not a dog. I am not your pet (I’ve been called pet, it burns me right fucking up!) do not praise me as if I am one. I am also not a girl, I am almost 33 years old. All you need to do is say thank you, that will be enough. No pet names, no back-handed insults. Oh, and no I don’t want to call you fucking Adonis (yes, that was something that happened on another occasion) at all — ever.

sexism

I opened a door for someone the other day while the woman struggled to leave the shop where I was coming in from and once she was out, she said, “good girl!” — and honestly I wanted to let the door slam on her. I understand the intention is not cruel or patronising and in fact, its probably just gratitude, but it feels condescending and when it comes from a man, it feels like sexism at it’s finest.

In another situation outside of work, a man I knew continually referred to my friend as “the bitch”, based on a stupid misunderstanding on both their parts — both had spoken politely to one another since the occasion and it was only behind her back that he continued to call her a ‘bitch’ until I finally spoke up. What makes a person think that it is actually okay to continually refer to a person in an insulting way after a situation had been resolved?

Next time someone calls me a “good girl”, it’s going to go down like this;

“Good girl!”
“Yes, I am a good girl, may I have a treat?”
“Huh? A treat?”
“You said I was a good girl like I’m a fucking obedient animal, now where is my fucking treat!”

Because honestly, if I hear it one more time I’m going to lose my shit.

sexism

My Secret Life Inside Scientology – Jenna Miscavige Hill

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing EscapeBeyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR THIS IS JUICY AS SHIT.

scientology

…. Actually not really. See what I did there? I totally excited you for a moment and you thought you were going to read something that would shatter everything you know and thought about scientology right here in this review right?

Wrong.

And that’s kind of how I felt about this book. Got me all excited to read things that I didn’t already know about scientology and how exposing this would be– and don’t get me wrong, there were things that I read in this book that made me furious and confused and frustrated — but never shocked.

I feel a little bit bad saying negative things about someone’s biography because you’re basically bitching about their experience. What you’re saying is, “your life experience is boring, make it more interesting!” so I’m not going to do that. This book is not boring by any means, but given the title, I think I expected to be shocked.

The thing is, what we as a collective community already know about Scientology is this;
L Ron Hubbard is a fraud.
Scientology is a giant pyramid scheme whereby the people at the top are the only ones seeing the money.
Celebrities buy in to Scientology because they have entirely way too much money and didn’t spend enough time at school discerning shit from clay.
Tom Cruise is an idiot.
L Ron Hubbard reckons that some Xenu from the planet he made up in one of his books is going to come back and help them all out.
They don’t believe in psychiatry (I know this because Tom Cruise said so, lol).

The rest of it seems far less ridiculous in comparison.

Jenna Miscavige is the neice of Dave Miscavige who had the job of taking over when L Ron Hubbard died. This book is the account of her moving with her family to become a part of the secretive “Sea Org”. Jenna and her brother were split from their parents from a young age and were forced to do manual labor as part of their contribution to the sea org and in most ways become responsible for themselves.

Children were give adult jobs and responsibilities and no real compassion was afforded to them from the higher up members.

This was probably the most alarming part of the book for me — children forced to grow up like little robots without all the things that children require to become well-adjusted adults. Given that Jenna and I are the same age, I was especially angry and frustrated reading how atypical her upbringing was from mine.

The clear and most evident thing from this book is how the church of scientology play divide and conquer among people who are not complying to their every whim and rule. The self esteems of those who didn’t follow the rules were entirely eroded until they had no choice but to ‘recognise’ the error of their own ways.

Given that I have grown up from my late teens and in to my adulthood as a mostly practicing Christian, I find it strange that this church is so secretive. If something is so wonderful and so good, why are the members so unwilling to speak loudly and proudly about the church? I don’t necessarily like get-in-your-face-preaching Christians, but I am not ashamed of my faith nor have I ever been unopen to critisism where it is due.

Jenna Miscavige was an incredibly strong-minded individual who had to be such in order to endure and accept the treatment that she was given within the church. She was equally lucky to meet someone within the confines of the divisive walls of the church who was able to see it for the fraud that it was.

I admired her will and her ability to stand up to those in charge in times of turmoil and solitude.

If you are looking for explosive stories, this probably isn’t the book for it, but if you are looking to read about whole the secretive sea org functions and are interested in learning about the church, then it’s a good read.

I liked it, but I felt at times it was a little tedious — as I said though, this is someone’s experience and it’s not really my right to critique that.

And lastly, can we revisit that scientologists think psychiatry and medicine is not a real thing? And that they know better? That they know that more than what we do when it comes to mental health? (And by we, I mean scientists who dedicate decades to their work on helping those live with mental health illness?)

scientology

Also, Tom Cruise is a dick.

Dane Cobain on Indie Authors & Why it’s a tough gig

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Hi, folks!

My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m an indie author, poet and musician from the UK. I’m here today to talk about indie authors, money, and how the two of them rarely come together. The truth is, it’s almost (almost, but not quite!) impossible for an indie author to make any money from their work, and I think that’s a shame.

And the problem isn’t really down to the readers – after all, there are a lot of keen readers out there who are buying, sharing and supporting the work of indie authors. The problem is with the process itself – you see, it’s not easy to release a book. You might think that the hard work ends after you’ve spent a couple of years planning and writing the damn thing, but that’s not true at all.

For a book to be ready to go to market, you need to work with a professional editor to make sure that your manuscript is perfectly polished, and you also need to find a good cover designer to make the book stand out. Both of these require a cash investment, unless you’re lucky and you’re able to cut a deal with someone. But you can’t cut corners and edit your own work – even if you’re an editor yourself. You need that level of objectivity, and you need to get a second pair of eyes to look at it.

Cover designs also cost a little extra because you need to cover the usage rights for the images. And then once that’s done, you have to think about the cost of ISBNs etc., as well as some of the other little bits and bobs that are associated with publishing costs.

And then there are marketing costs – for example, if you send your books out to bloggers, you need to cover the basic cost of the book and then the postage, which all adds up. If you run competitions then you need to worry about the prizes. Even paying for web hosting and a domain name can add up, over time.

Oh, you make a little money back, of course. You earn a percentage back from each sale, and you can sell physical copies at events for a profit. I’d estimate that I make somewhere in the region of £30-50 per month in profit from royalties and sales, but I spend around £50-75 on sales and marketing.

And it’s not just me, either – I’m friends with literally dozens (if not hundreds!) of authors, and I only know one or two who are able to support themselves through their writing alone. Even then, they’re supplementing the income that they make from book sales with freelance writing work and other consultancy services.

The fact is, unless you already have a huge social media following – YouTubers, I’m looking at you – then you’re always going to struggle to sell enough books to make a living from it. And unfortunately, new publishers are starting to focus on marketing potential rather than on the ability of the author when they sign new people to the books (no pun intended).

It’s capitalism in action, and it’s just the way that the world works, but it does make it more difficult for indie authors. As for myself, I work from 9-5:30 at a marketing agency, and work from 6:30 until midnight most evenings, as well as 14-16 hours a day at the weekend, if I’ve got nothing planned.

It’s hard work being an author, and it’s often financially unrewarding. But we don’t write for the money. We write because we’re compelled to write. That’s just how it is.

But it’s okay, because you can do your bit – buy a book from an indie author. The royalties will almost give them enough money to buy half a pint of beer, and you’ll get a book out of it, too!

You can check out Dane’s social media and website by clicking on the following links:

Dane Cobain – Website
@DaneCobain
Facebook Page