You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott (Book Review)

Megan Abbott is a Goodreads fan-favourite so I picked up this book on a whim between another book that I’d been struggling with.

Megan Abbott

Devon is a teenaged Olympic Gymnastics hopeful. Her parents are heavily involved with a very tight-knight group of gymnastics community, but no other gymnast is as as talented as prodigy, Devon and Kate and Eric Knox have stopped at nothing to help pave her way to success.

The gymnastics community is rocked when the young, good looking boyfriend of an assistant coach meets a violent and mysterious death and suddenly Kate and Eric Knox are finding out things about each other, their friends and their children that they are shocked to learn.

Honestly, I didn’t even know what this book was about when I started to read – I actually thought it was going to be a young adult novel but I was wrong. It was a beautifully written mystery thriller that was from the perspective of Kate Knox, Devon’s mother. I wasn’t sure that I could keep track of the large circle of characters at first and it did take me some time to figure them all out — most become periphery characters and the main ones become quite clear very quickly.

You Will Know Me was a great little surprise and my introduction to Megan Abbott as an author. I have heard a lot of buzz around her work and have generally tried to keep low expectations when it comes to hype — but I feel like her writing style was fantastic and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. Even if I had all but figured out what was going on before it unraveled, I was still able to enjoy the wrap-up of the mystery.

This is a very short review, but there was really nothing bad that I had to say about it.

I would recommend this book to anyone except for maybe my friend, Belinda because her line of work would just leave her picking at plot holes that might not be obvious to anyone else reading 😉

Let it be known that I have since purchased three other Megan Abbott books.

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.

View all my reviews

Retail Counter Bitches, Calm Down!

I am going on a mini holiday next week that to be honest, I am very ready for.

We are going to Queensland to catch some sun and some water and probably to drown our sorrows and no doubt give myself the world’s worst bladder infection that I’ll be crying about for weeks to come – but the state of my bladder is another story for another day.

hate shopping. I am in that phase where my clothes are a tiny bit too tight and nothing feels like it looks good on me. Ordinarily, I’m not overly self-conscious, but I am about to turn 33 in less than a week’s time and I am starting to feel a bit … yech.

I think it’s important for me to establish a few things;

retailI do not look my age. Not to be confused with I don’t think I look my age. I don’t. I am around 4’8ft tall. I act young and I look young as evidenced by every second customer who seems shocked when I tell them that I’m well introduced to my thirties.

I may be short, but I am a curvy little somethin’ somethin’. Even when I was at my thinnest, I had wide hips, a bubble butt and boobs. And to be honest, I don’t detest those things.

In saying all of that, finding clothes at the moment feels incredibly difficult and every shopping endeavour turns in to a saga where I feel ugly, huge and overweight. I am only a size 14 in the leg/butt area which to my understanding is a u.s size 12. I also have a small waist which makes getting paints, shorts or skirts a little annoying (a lot annoying).

I am not fat nor am I unfit for my health situation – I work out with a trainer almost every single week and then a couple times a week on my own accord. I squat like f… I have worked hard to turn my ass flab in to a well-toned, well-rounded behind that would make Kim K’s fake arse look ridiculous. I’m pretty proud of it, tbh.

However, I don’t have that A-type body. I’m not between the age of 16-21. I am not tall, lean or so fresh-faced with the aroma of fruit-scented lipgloss following me around that for some odd reason store-clerks seem to gravitate toward.

Today I was looking for some skirts, shorts or some cute t-shirts/tops to take away with me that would last me all summer. I also wanted to head to the MAC store so I could buy some lipstick, primer and perhaps a couple of other things. For this reason, I went completely bare-faced without make up so that the store-clerk wouldn’t have to clean make up off my face to try something for me.

I know, I know — what was I thinking? For your reference, this is who I am — curves and all:

retail

 

This is my trying on a pencil skirt which somehow ended up looking like a pair of tights but anyway, that’s another story.

I make my first stop at the MAC store. I won’t name which one it is, because I’m not an asshole like that — but basically looking like the above, I walked right up to the counter and requested the primer that I needed. (Bare Canvas, Mac Paint). Without a word, the girl, staring through me with her blank expression walked over to the drawer, pulled the stock out and went to head over to the counter to ring it up.

She then thought to ask (and last thought), “Is there anything else?”

“Yes please, I am just wanting to look at some matte lipsticks.” she walks me over to the lipstick counter and asked me what colour. I offer that I have a large collection of heaps of different shades of red. Like red red. She starts pulling out random browns and nudes — I was a bit confused, so I took them commented that they were nice but I was looking for a red. She shows me one, super red. I say that I like it, I decide to take it.

A young girl less than half my age walks up to the counter and I almost got left on my own without my items being rung up so that she could run and test make up on her. I asked her more questions like, how long does the lipstick last? I have been used to very good, long lasting lipstick. The whole time this girl stared over me like she was better than me, like she couldn’t believe she had to be subjected to such dumb questions.

“Depends on the person who’s wearing it….”

I almost rolled my eyes. Like, settle down, you’re working in retail for probably less than $20 per hour, you touch people’s disgusting faces all day long and probably, going by your need to only stretch yourself to teenagers, don’t sell much product. You hardly have the right to make me feel like I’m a nothing girl.

And actually? The lasting of a lipstick doesn’t depend on the person who’s wearing it. It depends on quality and how often someone smacks their lips, touch or lick their lips.

I wanted to try liquid eyeline, I wanted to buy a new blending brush. I wanted to try a new pigment — but given her urgency to ring me up and move me along, I left feeling both transparent and awful about myself.

My next stop was a store called Cotton On — I am not going to lie, the clothes here aren’t incredible quality. They are made specifically for skinny girls but I am able to buy some tank tops and stuff — their jeans go up to a size 14 and no larger which is laughable considering their idea of a size 14 is probably more of a 12. I have a big butt and wide hips, those jeans can barely make it past my friggin’ knees — so I should have known I was setting myself up.

I am not kidding, I roamed that store for a better half of 45 minutes. I tried on more than 15 things. I tried to persevere because usually if I don’t fit the first two things, I have a tantrum, a cry about my stupid body and promptly leave in a bad mood. While I roamed that store, I watched dozens of young girls get asked if assistance was needed in the change rooms, even looking for clothes on the racks … not a single time did anyone ask me if I needed assistance, even when I struggled to carry all the clothes back to the racks (um, I’m doing your job for you, you could at least help).

I found four things out of about 15 which I guess counts as a win, but not before I started to feel a lot of self loathe.

(This is why I spend money on make up and less on clothes, at least I can make my face better…..).

Finally after paying the vapid staff member who spoke only to tell me the price, I left for the surf store.

Ahhh hallelujah. A store clerk that wasn’t a total twerp.

She came up to me as I entered; can she help? I was honest. “I have tried on about 52 things next door, I was given pretty shitty service at MAC, my self-esteem is a bit on the low side right now, I am just looking for some stuff I can take on a break that I could also wear through summer; some skirts, dresses — shorts as long as they don’t make me resemble a Russian weight lifter…..”

She was the best. She started pulling things from racks, took me to the change room, was incredibly nice about it if it didn’t fit or didn’t look good — eventually I spent almost $200…

And that’s the fucking difference in customer service. Honestly, I wanted to go home to bed and cry after my experience at Cotton On. I felt deflated and disgusting and then the sweetness and helpfulness of one person who recognised that I was pretty close to feeling like tears went out of her way, probably beyond the means of her job title to throw clothes at me and humour me each time I turned them down.

As a result of her service, I spent a fair bit of money that I wouldn’t normally spend on clothes.

Because she didn’t look through me, she didn’t write me off as someone who had couldn’t afford clothes (seriously, do I look like a hobo? Don’t answer that…).

My friend who is in her 40s and I often have this conversation — why store clerks continually look through older people especially in the cosmetics industry. Doesn’t it make more sense that we are the ones who actually have the will and the finances to spend big? Doesn’t it make better sense that someone my age has the actual need for make up rather than a 15 yr old who wants to wear foundation 3 shades too dark for her skin and trowel on layers upon layers of cheap Priceline make up? Sorry, but most MAC Cosmetics in Australia is not cheap. It’s on the price-y side and a teenager would have to save their pocket money for a few weeks to buy one or two things…. Maybe have a better idea of who can reasonably spend more money.

I will probably avoid MAC Cosmetics counters and stores in the future and instead, will just buy it online — that way I can get my products without feeling awful about myself in the meantime.

But like, get off your high horse, you work in retail – if you don’t want to deliver good customer service, don’t be there. Don’t make someone else feel bad just because you are on your feet all day long with your face caked looking like a snap chat filter because its a requisite of your job. You don’t know what someone else is going through in their daily life, you don’t know what words or what actions are going to send them away feeling like a piece of shit.

Just calm down, you may have made me feel shit today, but you are not better than me for any of those reasons.

Anyone would think this is how I turned up today.

img_1077

Thanks to the lovely lady in Ozmosis for making me feel better.

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.

rose

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.

amy

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.

Girl In Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow: Book Review

You can check over my reading history – you’ll see that it’s rare that I give anything a 5 star rating.

I don’t give things five star ratings in most cases because I am a no-shit, hard-to-please bitch.

I have so many things to say about this book and I’m not gonna lie to you, they’re mostly good and they’re real things and maybe it’s going to be personal, so if that’s gonna make you uncomfortable, stop reading now.

To quote the words of the only woman that I would ever truly turn officially gay for, Mariah Carey; Thank God, I found you I was lost without you. My feelings for Girl in Pieces are that real.

pieces

Kathleen Glasgow is amazing. She is amazing for a whole bunch of reasons, but I think we should celebrate the most important reason and it is this; she was brave enough to write something so raw and what would be so personally challenging and probably emotionally exhausting.

Girl In Pieces was about a young girl, not even an adult, who by circumstances, finds herself in situations that no person should have to endure; her coping strategies are self-harm which is where the book begins, 17 year old Charlie’s stay in a mental health facility, trying to deal cope with all of her issues and struggles.

This book reads like the mind of anyone going through a mental health illness and I have read similar books of the same nature that are written in the same way — it is pretty much an accuracy of dealing with mental health issues – it’s how the mind works; fleeting thoughts, repetitive feelings, anger, sadness, upset, calmness; rinse, wash, repeat.

I have read a few previous reviews for Girl in Pieces that angered me; I’m not looking to disrespect anyone, but all I’m saying is don’t do the book a disservice by rating it low because you don’t ‘connect’ with it. You’re not ‘connecting’ and you’re pulling it apart and saying that it’s too much bad stuff, because you haven’t dealt with real, debilitating and serious mental health issues because if you have/did, you would understand, that as Glasgow put it to me over twitter (yes, I know, I was a little fangirly about that) ‘some girls do not have an easy life.’

It’s true.

Girl in Pieces was realistic and an accurate portrayal of someone who is struggling with and who has struggled with mental health illness and still requires help after the hospital stay is over, after the doctors have concluded that you are no longer a threat to yourself. Girl in Pieces is about how sometimes we think we are going so well but can’t see the tiny bits of backsliding that are slowly but surely happening. This book is about the process of recovery – about how it isn’t and will never be perfect and that a cure is not within the realm of possibility.

Thank God for this book.

pieces

It brings truth and comfort to those who suffer mental health illness.

I have been on the search recently for fictional books that will accurately describe mental health issues and I have read a few that I didn’t bother reviewing based on how disappointed I was. Mental health isn’t a journey whereby the person is only sick until someone comes along and saves them and carries them off in to the fairytale sunset.

Whatever struggles encumber you, you will endure probably for a long time — it is just that with constant care and recovery, your coping skills become better and you live on the hope that all the things that you see in others will become a part of your life too; calmness, joy, happiness, laughter and a rational sadness that won’t spiral out of control.

As if it couldn’t get any better, I came across this quote and almost cried with relief;

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Charlie. Not one thing. Can’t you see that?”
But that’s a lie, isn’t it? Because there are so many things wrong with me, obviously and actually. What I want Mikey to say is: There are so many things wrong with you and it doesn’t matter.”

Fuck. Yes.

Sometimes this is the only reaction I want. For someone not to disregard flaws or fears or imperfections; to address them but to accept them unconditionally anyway. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is wrong; it’s truth, it’s not okay to pretend they’re not there to avoid discomfort.

This book had a realistic ending; not a fairytale ending.

And the personal authors note at the end of the book sealed the deal. Kathleen Glasgow was honest about her own experiences and offers hope and advice to those who are struggling.

Girl in Pieces is a hard read, its a dark read and it probably isn’t the book for some; it could even present as a trigger to someone going through something; but if you have mental health illness and you want to feel like you’ve been understood and fairly represented in terms of thoughts and feelings; I recommend this book to you. Maybe it won’t speak to you the way it spoke to me, but I hope that it will.

Five friggin’ stars.

Michael Jackson – Legends Never Die

Michael Jackson was everything to me from the time I became old enough to acknowledge him, right up until I was about 25 years old.

When I read posts about other people’s fandoms; of other people writing about someone or something as a ‘lifeline’, I cringe and feel embarrassed for them, so I’ll try not to do that.

However, being a fan of Michael brought very many special things to my life — the most important being friendship. Its no secret to most people that I had traveled to see him live (or at least, in person) on occasions — through those travels, I built friendships with other people who I had a lot in common with – the type of people that I wouldn’t/couldn’t encounter in my everyday life.

Aside from that, my experiences meeting Michael Jackson face-to-face are treasured memories that not a lot of people were able to experience. At that point in my life, I didn’t ever think anything could ever be more exciting than seeing the person that I had looked up to for decades right in front of me staring back at me welcoming, friendly, loving and kindly. And honestly? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such excitement since — I was right to revel in it.

Michael

Michael Jackson, as his son put it today, the day of his birthday, was to most a legend and myth– someone who became known more for the media’s portrayal of him — the target board of a playful game of darts over at the office — he ceased to be human to most; a personality rather than a person – and the kind of water-cooler fodder that most took glee in poking fun at.

Honestly, those reasons alone are probably one of the reasons why Michael Jackson died a very slow victimised death. From the rise of the top, to the fall that was carefully constructed at the hands of the media and those who sought to profit from the sincerity of his soul.

For me, personally, I will never forget the time in my life at 19 years old where I felt stuck and without confidence or plans for the rest of my life – where Michael Jackson took my hand in his, took the time to ask about my life, asked questions with interest before telling me that I had a brilliant future ahead of me and that all it takes is one person to tell you that they believe in you to give you the faith to move mountains. I will never forget the way he added that he truly believed in me. He told me that if I was going to be a writer, I was to do it well, to do it fairly and to always have heart in my work.

And again, he believed in me.

It seems so corny perhaps to some, but at 19 years old, I walked away holding the world in my hands.

He was special and people knew it — unfortunately even those who were unkind.

It is easy to forget that while he was not only a musical legend and entertainer, he was also, most importantly, someone’s father, someone’s brother and someone’s son, someone’s best friend – and none of those people deserved to lose someone so tragically – especially not his children who I will always remember watching him parent with love and kindness and good-humour.

michael-jackson

This is my birthday dedication to someone who became the king of my heart – who always remains there in a very special place with a love that feels unique that I couldn’t replicate for anyone else. It has been seven years since he’s been gone and while I have grown up and moved on from that part of my life – I have a life here planted in Australia with my partner and dog and a job, I still have my friendships that he left me with; I still have the music and most importantly, I have unique, special memories of my teenage years and early adulthood.

Along with his life, this also deserves to be celebrated.

Happy birthday, Michael Jackson. I always loved you more.

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