So I bought this:
And now I need to watch Gigi:
So I bought this:
And now I need to watch Gigi:
I joke about my anxiety and depression and OCD here quite a bit, because most of the time I’m in the right frame of mind to view those diagnoses as just another part of me, like being ridiculously near-sighted or having hay fever. When the meds and therapy and the planets are aligned, I can just shrug off my, um, quirks and make it through each day without dreading the next.
Last Thanksgiving, nothing was aligned. This Thanksgiving, I’m on an even keel because I finally did something I was terrified to do before.
And I got the help I needed — new meds, new therapist, support from my family. And that led to an infinitely better day job and a fantastic part-time gig that are finally resolving the financial problems that dragged me down in the first place.
But part of me is still resentful that I had to ask for help. Why didn’t anyone around me notice what was happening? All I wanted was someone to care enough to see my distress.
Logically, I know that no one else can see my anxiety and depression — because I work so, so hard at trying to hide it. That doesn’t make the bitter berries taste any better. The woe-is-me voice keeps saying “I shouldn’t have to ask.”
So. Here’s where I’m going with this.
(1) If you’re overwhelmed, send out the SOS. No one will think less of you. There is nothing wrong with taking meds. There is no shame in talking to a professional. Trust me on this — and trust your family and friends enough to be honest about your fucked-up brain.
(2) If you’re concerned about someone, don’t take “I’m fine” as the final answer. Ask questions. Be nosy. Please.
(3) If you’re an author, for the LOVE OF GOD, do your homework before using any kind of mental illness as a plot device or character trait. OCD is much more than being a neat freak. There is no Magical Orgasm Cure for agoraphobia. Panic attacks do not require a Tragic Past. Put your characters on meds and in therapy.
Thus endeth the lesson. Now, on to the Literary Analogies! Because this is a book blog, after all, not a whiny “let me dump my angst all over you” blog.
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
That one was easy, right? Not quite. The real dementors of depression are invisible. They’re always there, hovering, waiting to infiltrate your brain and take hold. The coldness comes on so gradually you don’t even realize it. Chocolate does help, but the demons are never the “it’s all in your head” boggarts that can be laughed away.
However…there is a Patronus charm: “I need help.” It takes courage and practice, but it’s there. Sometimes you just need someone to teach you how to use it.
Hermione screamed in pain, and Harry turned his wand on her in time to see a jeweled goblet tumbling from her grip. But as it fell, it split, became a shower of goblets, so that a second later, with a great clatter, the floor was covered in identical cups rolling in every direction, the original impossible to discern amongst them.
…”They have added Gemino and Flagrante curses! Everything you touch will burn and multiply, but the copies are worthless — And if you continue to handle the treasure you will eventually be crushed to death by the weight of expanding gold!”
It took me a long time to figure this one out. Everyone knows the “black cloud” depiction of depression. We’ve all seen the TV commercials with blank-faced people huddled on the couch hugging a pillow. Every bit of that is true.
There is no universal metaphor for anxiety — because there are at least eleventy thousand different ways to be anxious and eight kajillion thing to be anxious about.
Yeah, everyone worries. Everyone gets anxious once in a while. But an anxiety disorder makes it impossible (and I am not exaggerating here) to turn off those thoughts. It makes your brain expand all those horrible thoughts and explode them all over the place and heat them up until you’re buried under a smoldering pile of what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-me-why-can’t-I-be-normal that will inevitably reignite and start the whole damn process over again.
Anxiety disorder also causes run-on sentences. There is no medical proof of this, but in some cases anecdotal evidence is enough.
And maybe next year, I’ll be thankful for my hard-won ability to make a simple phone call without Xanax.
He tasted like peppermint candy canes and kissed like a bad boy.
Or, in Snarkese, the Official BDSM-Lite Checklist:
✔ Heroine = Sexually Inexperienced Submissive, with obligatory:
✔ Hero = Uber-Dom with a penchant for infantilizing pet names (“kitten” x 95) turned on by heroine’s Sweet Innocence, with obligatory Lifestyle Lectures:
✔ Villain = Evil Abusive Ex, with obligatory:
I want this story re-gendered. I want a kick-ass female cop putting the moves on a non-white teacher hero who thinks wearing silk boxers is kinky.
I suppose that’s too much to ask for. A girl can dream.
I am now wishlisting books by narrator. I am officially addicted.
That would be “highly recommended” as in “read this NOW, dammit, your life is meaningless without this book.”
Narrated by Allan Corduner
I avoided this for years because it’s told from Death’s point of view. I was a dumbass. It’s stunning. From start to finish. I can’t even begin to count how many times I nearly drove off the road trying to bookmark a “holy SHIT, that was good” passage.
It’s one of those books that uses language in an entirely unique way. I kept thinking the title should be “The Word Thief” instead, because Zusak somehow manages to turn seemingly simple words and phrases into characters in their own right. Just read the prologue in the sample, you’ll see what I mean.
The narration was perfect, especially Mama’s epic profanity. I can’t wait to see the movie, but I’m not sure it could live up to the audio experience.
Narrated by Jonathan Davis
I avoided this one because it sounded awfully pretentious. I was a dumbass. It’s enthralling. It’s one of the few “layered” literary thrillers that actually lives up to the hype, never getting bogged down in its own cleverness.
The world-building is flawless, Daniel’s coming-of-age character arc is spot-on and Fermin…. Oh, Fermin. You will never forget Fermin.
Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
Camden is now one of my favorite inspie authors, and while this title isn’t as brilliant as Against the Tide, it’s got the character-driven story in a unique setting that pushes every one of my buttons.
Camden is really good at giving her characters compelling backstories that are gradually revealed throughout the story, creating believable spiritual conflicts that never devolve into any of my hated inspie tropes like Licensed to Judge, God Is My BFF or the ever-popular Magical Bible Verse.
Rosenblat is on my approved narrator list — anyone who can pull off Romanian accents like that is worth listening to again.
Narrated by Christina Moore
The narration was unintrusive and forgettable, but I’m frustrated by my frustration with this book because I can’t really define why it didn’t fully work for me.
Elizabeth is a sympathetic narrator, showing us how Mary Todd Lincoln came to be so misunderstood and reviled. But she was almost too sympathetic; so much of the focus is on Mrs. Lincoln and the world-shattering historical events, we never really get to know Elizabeth as a person beyond her observations of what’s going on around her.
I think the best way to describe my reaction is being cheated out of the real story — or at least the story I was anticipating.
Narrated by Josephine Bailey
Again with the indefinable frustrations. I just never really connected with this book, most likely because I was expecting a coming-of-age story about a sheltered Victorian virgin becoming an army nurse. What I got was an angst-ridden love triangle with more than a tinge of melodrama.
It was unusual enough to be memorable, and I’m hoping the other McMahon titles in my TBR are worth reading.
Narrated by Jennifer Ehle
Brooks’ People of the Book is one of my all-time favorites, and I assumed that her story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard — narrated by an notable actress — would be equally marvelous. I’m wondering where my Book Anxiety went on this one.
The title is misleading — this is the story of Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of Caleb’s tutor, and it’s rather…odd. It’s a disconcerting mix of narrative and journal entries that never really achieves cohesion, and the flat and over-enunciated retelling by Ehle felt more like a reading than a performance.
Narrated by Ali Ahn
Mitchell is hit-or-miss for me, and this one from early in her backlist landed at the bottom of the “miss” pile.
The narration was serviceable, but the village full of unlikeable characters sniping at each other wasn’t entertaining enough to make me feel anything other than annoyance with the lifeless heroine.
Narrated by Bianca Amato
I keep telling myself I’m giving up on Gregory, or at least this series, and this is another reminder why. As with The Kingmaker’s Daughter, the repetitive exposition killed my interest. I’ve read way too much Tudor history to put up with being hit over the head with things we’ve already been told, and shown, and told again.
And I know Richard III wasn’t really a mentally deficient hunchback, but I just cannot handle him as a love interest. Even in flashbacks. Especially with his niece, for god sake. Gross.
I’m back. Did you miss me? Don’t answer that.
“I looked out my window,” he choked out. “I looked out my window at half bloody three in the morning, and there you were, gliding across the grass like some sort of erotic specter.”
Rolling along with a B-level grade — totally predictable with all the usual fluff and banter and light angst — and that lovely first kiss, and then… What the HELL happened? A ridiculously drawn-out Big Reveal sent the whole thing veering off the rails into a bad gothic melodrama like one written by Quinn’s fake-novelist creation Mrs. Gorely. I half-expected death by pigeon. Yeesh.
Yes, I’m still here. More or less.
I’ve been struggling with the anxiety and depression stuff the past few weeks, for which I prescribed myself a LOT of comfort reads, but I did manage to knock down a bit of my TBR. I’m too scatterbrained right now to do anything more coherent than ratings and drive-by comments, so here goes….
I finally read Butterfly Swords and The Dragon and the Pearl, so then I had to read My Fair Concubine and all her novellas again. After that, I read Sword Dancer, and now I’m deep into The Lotus Palace.
My author crush continues. Lin’s historical world-building is completely immersive, the action scenes are awesome and the relationship-building and chemistry are incredible — every single time. A few minor howevers…the pacing seemed a bit off in Butterfly (strong opening, then flagged) and Dragon (slow to start), and Sword Dancer was much more plot-heavy than I was expecting.
I really enjoyed them all — but Concubine is still my favorite.
Grades: B for all three (Butterfly Swords, The Dragon and the Pearl and Sword Dancer)
Source: NetGalley, purchased
As you can guess from the title, it’s more than a little Downton Abbey-esque. Edwardian/WW1-era, with some vaguely interesting main characters, but too many predictable and derivative plot bits and secondary characters. And even worse, the historical world-building was incredibly bland, relying on long paragraphs listing what they ate for dinner and random bits of period-appropriate slang.
I got so bored halfway through the last book I almost gave up.
Source: Edelweiss, public library
If their last name isn’t Redmond or Eversea, Long’s heroines are damsels in near-distress — orphaned/widowed/outcast, struggling alone, longing for a family. Phoebe from Marquess, Madeleine from Perils, Rosalind from Surrender, Evie from Countess, Cynthia from Like No Other Lover, Lily from To Love a Thief, two out of three Holt Sisters…all a step or two away from sliding into the Regency netherworld. In Long’s upcoming book, we get an orphaned heiress. WHY do none of these women have families of their own?
Overall, Midnight had some good bits, but I doubt I’ll ever read it again.
Coming soon: More audiobooks adventures and my first forays into Georgette Heyer
He rose and looked down into her eyes. “Sadie….”
Her name was a gruff plea from his constricted throat – her answer a barely heard whisper. Time was lost in his need to comfort her, to protect her, to love her forever. He sucked in a breath, fighting his heart with every bit of strength he possessed and hating himself for winning the battle. “I’ll see you safe to the house.”
I struggled with Sadie’s overwrought, baseless accusations in the first third of the book, but as Cole slowly wins her over, we get the backstory details we need to root for their HEA.
Apparently, she had a thing for the whole menacing gunslinger look.
Yeah, I might have that same “thing” too after reading this book. Considering it’s a romance between an ex-con and a brothel madam’s daughter, it was a bit lacking in actual conflict. But as with Falling for the Teacher, the surprisingly steamy chemistry kept me reading.
Unfortunately, she thought she stood a better chance of gaining his attention by dipping herself in whale oil and lighting herself on fire.
The romance seemed like a bit of an afterthought, but this book worked great for me as a “governess/master” story – I loved the “natural philosophy” science theme and the suitably creepy, but not over-the-top, villainous villains.
Did she just call him a fusspot? And did she really expect the two of them to walk through town with mud-plastered backsides? He wasn’t sure which offense he found the more egregious.
The hero describes the heroine as “relentlessly cheerful.” She was. I’m surprised I actually finished it.
He caught her hand. “Wait.” He slid his hands to the back of her neck, fumbling for the necklace’s clasp. He undid it and held the chain of rubies up, red and gold in the flickering candlelight. “No shackles for us,” he said, “no matter how rich.”
Loved the characters and premise, and Fraser managed to get a lot of emotion into less than 100 pages. But this story deserves more than a novella to avoid the rushed romance and resolution.
The truth would not destory them. He wouldn’t let it.
One of those “not painful, but not much there” stories – the lack of relationship-building made for a pretty boring read, and the over-the-top villains turned an angsty setup into a bit of superficial fluff.
He continued to arouse her with his fingers, while agitating her clitoris with his thumb.
I made it halfway, and didn’t really care what happened to anyone, most likely because of the intrusive use of cliches and Regency slang. I also didn’t have much patience for the flighty ingenue heroine or the supposedly brilliant barrister who seemed rather clueless about his profession, and I think the quote above speaks for itself regarding the cringe-inducing sexytimes.
Herpyllis says when a man is at ease his testicles are tender, but when he’s excited they go wizened and tight. I don’t know if she’s trying to give me the world or take it away.
This short book attempts to tell a big story with tragedy and treachery and sinister deities (and yes, magical man parts are involved), and it isn’t very successful.
The modern YA voice, combined with the Fancy Allegorical Lit-Fic Pretensions, had me disconnected from beginning to end. Just because you CAN use first-person present-tense and anachronistic language to show off your textbook-level grasp of Greek history and mythology doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
As with The Pianist in the Dark, I want this story told by a different author. I’m not the right reader for this book — and I have no clue who the intended audience is.
Especially this first one. IT’S FABULOUSLY GOOD AND IT WON THE RITA AND IT’S FREE.
Did I mention the part about it being FREE?
Just read it already.