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Review: Revenge

Revenge
Revenge by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well… That’s over…. I was kind of hoping for some sort of magical plot twist or something. I was happy to discover that for once I was completely wrong about who the killer was, so yay for that. Either I’m losing my touch or some actual intrigue was employed. Honestly I haven’t read about such two dimensional and not-really-believable characters since Fifty Shades of Grey. Although that said, the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon makes more sense to me now than it did before. I guess this is jut the kind of writing that a lot of folks prefer. I just didn’t feel like there was any depth to it at all. I get to read my new Lev Grossman novel now though. I’m actually salivating at the thought.



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Review: Murder

Murder
Murder by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I made a booboo in my last review. I referred to this series as the “LA Confessions” series. It’s “LA Connections”. My apologies. Otherwise it seems I’m flying through these which is great because I need to move on but I can’t move on until I’m done so at least it’s quick. Still not much happening to thrill me much. I don’t believe anything anyone says. It could be that I’m in a mood and just find anything anyone says to be disingenuous, or maybe that’s just how it is. I don’t know. On to the last instalment though. So maybe I’ll be surprised? I think I don’t know who the killer is so far so yay for that. Unless it turns out to be who I think it is. In which case I’ll be annoyed. I always guess. Every single time. It’s not the writer’s fault. Apparently I have really loud spoilery spirit guides.



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Review: Obsession

Obsession
Obsession by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Meh. This instalment of the LA Confessions series seems even more insignificant than the last one. And I keep thinking….this can’t be how Hollywood people are! And if this really is how they are…. Can we rather just pretend otherwise? There was ONE redeeming (ok that’s not quite the right word) part where the *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* high class call girl gets busted in the middle of sex with the guy she has unwisely started dating. That gave me a small giggle. Although I am also one of those people who doesn’t think that prostitution is an unseemly profession so I don’t see why the guy shouldn’t just get over it and accept the fact that sex with random strangers is her job. And then just be grateful that she doesn’t charge him!



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Review: Power

Power
Power by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m probably going to regret writing this review. Kind of how I regret writing my Fifty Shades reviews or the Fear and Loathing review. Sometimes indignant honesty feels good at the time, but later you re-read yourself and you have to admit that maybe you’re just a cow.

I decided to pick up this little series for one main reason: it consists of four very short books. I’m super behind on my reading goal for the year and when we had our yearly Larter “What Are Your Goals For The Year” meeting, I insisted that my only goal for the year was to read 100 books (I’m tired of writing goals falling way short of my expectations) – I have to admit to myself that children need to come first for a little while because I am incapable of juggling. But I am super failing at this most minuscule of goals! And now I’m even cheating because seriously I don’t think reading these books counts. Anyway – I chose them because they were short (I bought them at a by-weight book sale about 2 months ago) and because I needed something “easier’ to read. The last book I read made me feel super unintelligent – it was out of my league. And then when I actually did start understanding it, it wrecked me a little. So I needed something to unwreck me. I expected this to be a cheap trashy romance novel. With some fun sex scenes and a murder or two thrown in just for fun. Yay!

I also thought to myself that I could probably “learn” something from these books. I read a lot of different types of books and I like to have an idea of what the contemporary masses are consuming. Jackie Collins sounds like that sort of writer. Surely. I can learn something! I can’t “learn” from books like Toni Morrison’s or Margaret Atwood’s or King or Irving or any of those folks because they are too out of my reach. I can only gawk at them in awe. I won’t ever write like that, and that’s fine.

So I picked up this book. And? Well I’m still scratching my head. I am so confused. None of these characters seem to possess any sort of logic. The entire thing is filled with cliches – though I wonder if they were perhaps not so cliche in 1996 when it was set? So fine. It’s not “timeless” – not many folks can pull that off. Totally forgivable. But still… I kind of felt a bit eye roll-y throughout the whole thing. And I can’t figure out why this is divided into four books when the first one doesn’t really stand alone in any way. It’s sort of a nothing story about nothing people. But not in that profound where where nothing happens but you still feel like something has happened. More like stuff happens but you really just don’t care. Then again: that’s exactly what I was looking for in the wake of my Morrison devastation.

I’m very confused. But I AM learning. I am learning that I think maybe I write this way. And I am worried I won’t be able to change that. Because even if this is something that folks really like to read (Collins has many fans – though she may not be to my taste) I don’t want to write this way. I worry that I will write in this way that does so very little for me. And I know just how pompous that sounds but I do. I want to write the kind of books that make me happy. These sort of books don’t make me happy. They’re way too much like fat-free yogurt.




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Review: Love

Love
Love by Toni Morrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy hell. I did not enjoy this book. This book is not entertainment. At all. It is a gut wrenching piece of pure raw honesty about how life is. My insides are sour. I can feel the blood in my veins. My heart is pounding. Be warned that it is full of triggers. It might be best to keep that in mind for those who are sensitive to them. Shit. I can’t even get my words out. Nothing made sense. And then it all made sense. And now I feel sick. I didn’t enjoy reading this book. It wasn’t like my favourites, the sweet magical stories about abnormally bad circumstances being overcome by average, but secretly special, people. There’s no feel-good. But it is also not Virginia Andrews-y or Picoult-y where all these crazy unbelievable bad things happen and you are able to remain sane because “that’s crazy”. This was not crazy. This was real. And I cannot escape the truth that Toni Morrison’s work is incredibly important.



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Colourful Evenings

untitledA bizarre turn of events lead to the husband and I going out on Saturday night. I suppose for most there is nothing unusual about that, but to be honest I have been slowly slipping into extreme hermithood of late (thanks, but no, I don’t need “fixing”) so a bout of spontaneity, prompted by yours truly no less, can be considered quite miraculous. I kept seeing an event popup on my FB feed that told me that a bunch of my friends were going to “Dessa – Live in Concert“. Of course I had no idea who that was so I YouTubed her and discovered that she has kind of cool music. The event was free (this counts as something because we could not be more broke) so we figured we might as well go. We could, after all, skip dinner and afford a beer or two.

I am SO glad we did it. Being the hermit that I am I hadn’t actually been to Chapel Street Studios before and I couldn’t have been more delighted by the vibe of the place. It’s weird I guess but I walked in and immediately was “happy” to be there. This doesn’t happen to me a lot. I used to blame this on myself being uptight, which I am, but the thing is that I tend to be exceptionally sensitive to energy. Some energy flows with you though, like you’re floating in a calm sea, bobbing up and down as gentle waves move towards the shore. Other energies bash up against you, the suffocate you, they drag you down to the ocean bed and twirl you around a couple of times before they let you even think  about which way could possibly be up. On Saturday night, Chapel Street Studios  had a with you energy. It was pretty damn lovely.

We were treated to a bunch of incredible local performance artists (forgive me for not remembering any names – I had a bit too much wine – it was cheap) as well as the beautiful and enigmatic Dessa, from Minneapolis and all-in-all we just had a great evening. The event was put together by Creative X (if I’m not mistaken – forgive me if I am) and I must admit I am very curious to find out more about what they do. They seem to have gathered around them this beautiful sense of community, and with it a positivity that is electric. And my favourite part? There was enough colour in that room to paint a canvas. And maybe I just usually hang out in all the wrong places, but I found that kind of special. I looked around that room and thought, “this is how my heart knows South Africa to be”.

And the lesson? There are like-minded people out there. I won’t find them in the comments section of media outlets on Facebook. But they are in my back yard. Live in the flesh. And that’s fucking awesome.

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Review: The Imaginary

The Imaginary
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My mind is being torn in two about this book. You see, I think children will like it. But I kind of like it when I like the children’s books as well. I like it when it is written in a language that is kind of ageless, perhaps. I think that might be what it is. This is a truly wonderful story with some excellent imagination happening all over the place. I just didn’t like the way it sounded in my head, which was a bit of a pity. Of course that’s just me though. the illustrations are lovely, the idea is lovely, and honestly if a movie is ever made of this story I will gleefully take my children to go and watch it, and I will be more excited than they will be.



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Review: Horseradish

Horseradish
Horseradish by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I completely forgot to mention that I re-read this little gem of wisdom over the weekend. Funny enough it actually did quite a bit to uplift an otherwise dreary mood. I think it might be one of those books I should read yearly, like Love That Dog (Actually maybe I should go and re-read that one now!) as it is one of those that gives far more than it takes. Thanks Mr. Snicket, sir. You have served me well once more.



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Where do all the spoons go?

20150511_180458I have come to the realisation that we have only three teaspoons in our house. This is not long after buying new teaspoons because of the dwindling stock. Is this a thing? Like the thing where socks go missing because some sort of magical force is trying to free all the house elves? Or like where your underwear goes missing because you have dodgy neighbours? Because unless I have the old “it happens to everyone” explanation, then I really just can’t come to terms with this spoon thing. It’s weird. I cannot for the life of me imagine a scenario in which it makes sense for spoons to keep getting lost. Of course, I do have three children, so that usually explains everything. But seriously: where the hell did all the spoons go?!

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Temporary Tribes and the Curse of Being Too Nadine

1551885851When it comes to writing on my blog, and writing in general I guess, I tend to be pretty honest. I’m kind of crap at making stuff up really, which I guess makes me a bad writer. Pretty much anything I write is a kind of truth for me. Even if it is made up and not based on any particular thing. Even if it is only a temporary truth.  But if I can put out some real raw honesty right now, then the truth would be this: I’m kind of fucking sad. I have this general cloud of unease that I can’t seem to shake, a permanent lump in my throat that threatens to spill over during almost all interactions with other people – or books, or television. At the moment I’m not even sure if I have actual flu or if my body is having a physical reaction to an increasingly dire emotional state.

Every now and then I sort of slip into a bit of a PTSD funk. I feel stupid even saying that because it doesn’t feel like I should be allowed to claim something quite so legitimate as my own, but I don’t really know what else to call it. It hits me every couple of years and then it takes a couple of months to talk myself down from it. I shared a very watered down and vague version of the cause of it with someone only once, because only once has someone ever noticed, and to this day I regret it. Sharing it doesn’t fix it. It only makes me feel stupid. (more…)

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The Tampon Terrorist

untitledSo my cat – Jonny Lee Mewler – has a new favourite game: Tampon Tennis. My tampons are kept in a basket next to the loo in my bathroom with the toilet paper. They are in reach for when I have need of them, obviously. But of course, Mr Mewler has discovered that if he jumps inside the basket and opens up the little blue box next to all the toilet paper (ok fine – the empty toilet paper rolls) a whole bunch of wonderful little toys fall out and he gets to have a grand old time chasing them all around the house. Of course this inevitably led to me finding a tampon in the kitchen and I was having a little giggle about it with my 14 year old stepson when my 12 year old stepdaughter noted how “embarrassing” it would be if someone were to come and visit. And suddenly I found myself grateful to my tampon thieving cat because I was given a perfect opening to casually chat to my kids about girl stuff and how there is no shame in it. You see, I’m a little tired of living in a world where the workings of the female body are considered taboo. If you walk into my house and there’s a tampon in the kitchen it is because, I as a female human being, have a normally functioning body. For you to find the evidence that I use tampons to be at all distasteful makes you a bit of a tool – whether you are male or female. I’m so sick of the cliched male (and sometimes female) specimen who is revolted by the workings of the female anatomy, that idiot who slips into his dramatic gestures of revulsion at the mere mention of anything to do with procreation, barring the expelling of his own semen. I can’t help but be tempted to fall into a lecture laced with obvious scorn. I spoke to my children nicely though. Pointing out the silliness of feeling shamed by the humble tampon, and even going so far as to mention that the person who buys my tampons is, after all, their dad. Their dad does all the grocery shopping, so he buys all the tampons. Why? Because the grocery store is right there where he works and his dutiful housewife generally has zero money and quite likes to get out as little as possible if she can help it (don’t bother making the hermit jokes…really…way too easy!). I was then conveniently able to point out how silly it would be if my big burly husband refused to buy my tampons. We would then have to spend more money on petrol going to the shops, wasting  more our most precious commodity – time – and for what? Embarrassment over the purchasing of a tampon? I don’t think so. This made all the sense in the world to my son, but he’s always been quite receptive to my somewhat not-always-the-norm ideas on things. Sadly my daughter is a little more prone to the worldly conditioning that we’re trying so hard to iron out. But maybe she’ll come around. She’s going to have to if she ever wants to invite her friends around here. I don’t see this tampon tennis stopping any time soon. And what kind of catmother would I be to deny my precious Jonny his fun?

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A post about…um…Black Widow…

download*WARNING: possible spoilers for a movie that I have not seen yet so I can’t be sure that they’re spoilers but they might be and there’s a Grey’s Anatomy spoiler thrown in just for kicks so if you’ve been living under a bridge I’m so sorry*

Greetings fellow humans! It seems that today the topic on my mind is none other than the currently controversial Black Widow. Why, you ask? Well…I have to admit that it is because I am confused.

I am not a comic book reader by any means. I am not nearly cool enough to fit into the geeky world of The Big Bang Theory boys or to hang out with those folks who play Dungeons & Dragons in storefront windows. I am a story lover, yes, and it is possible that I have read every single comic book about Casper the Friendly Ghost as well as all of those dorky Archie Digests, but those things count for naught as far as this particular topic is concerned so I admit that today I come to you from a place of not knowing at all what I am talking about. (more…)

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Watching Black Box

MV5BMTkyMDQ1ODMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDkwNjU2NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_I’m currently watching a series called Black Box and I’m finding that it has me a little out of sorts. It kind of makes me think of that saying that goes something like art seeks to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I think I might be being disturbed. The show is a medical drama about a woman, Dr. Catherine Black, who is a neuroscientist with bipolar disorder. Now I know nothing about mental disorders – I have a few friends who suffer from various mental ailments from anxiety, to depression, and bipolar itself, and to be honest I even sometimes wonder if I don’t suffer from a disorder or two myself – but I most certainly do  think it is important to try and understand these issues. I certainly have learned very little from personal experience (knowing someone with a disorder – even if you are close – does not mean you understand it) and so I find myself wondering if this effort into the complicated playground of mental issues should not be highly commended. Of course I can’t say for sure that accurate portrayals of anything are happening here, but I think sometimes that even if when television “gets it wrong” it at least plays a huge role in getting us to wake up and pay attention. I wish I could say that I was empathetic enough to understand these things simply by having an open dialogue with friends and loved ones, but we all know that honesty when it comes to the real ins and outs of such things is a rare commodity. So few feel comfortable enough expressing themselves honestly without fear of shame, and rightly so considering how few are willing to step up and truly try to understand. Getting a true understanding from personal experience is seldom possible. I may be alone here, but I find that I am constantly learning really interesting things from this storytelling marvel that we so love to refer to as “the idiot box”. I don’t know. I think it’s kind of cool. Stories are such a great way to begin to understand things, and though stories are seldom able to give an entire picture, they certainly offer a place from which to start. Or is that just me?

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Finding Happiness Apps

Photo on 2015-05-04 at 6.01 PM

So I’m a little over-stressed and run down these days, which is kind of a ridiculous observation because I think I am probably always over-stressed and always run down. I seem to have a bit of residual flu that I can’t get rid of, a persistent ache in my bones which is not too bothersome except for the fact that it has me in a kind of perpetual blah  mood. It could be flu. It could just be my body protesting all of the stuff that is out of sorts around me. The stupid thing tends to do that to me a lot.

Anyway, I need to find something that is kind of nice. For me. Before the damage becomes irreversible.

I can’t afford a therapist – especially not since I would probably have to go through at least ten of them before finding one I like –  or any lovely life-altering weed, so my only alternative is to find a costless solution that is not too time-consuming since my three children and their never ending education needs take up all my time these days.

So? YOU app. My husband introduced me to the thing a couple of weeks ago and it had him all warm and fuzzy, so it’s worth a try, right? It kind of works around making and then sharing micro changes in your life. It kind of makes sense to me, but what mostly makes sense is that I am sucking at keeping all this shit sane myself, so why not hand the reigns over to my phone which already half-rules my life anyway and let it tell me what to do. Right?

A happiness app. Seems like a couple of us could use that these days.

Of course today’s little “micro action” is a bit depressing, which strikes me as mildly counter-productive, but let’s leave it to the professionals, right? And stop trying to micro manage every little thing…

That seems like a good place to start… Maybe.

Ah fuck knows.

What do you think?

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A few completely disjointed thoughts on embracing my own humanity…

Photo on 2015-04-01 at 11.50 AM #3I’ve just finished reading this article which I found so exceptionally spot on when it comes to human nature that I kind of feel like I need to talk about it even though I barely know what the hell to even say. I think about stuff like this a lot, and I’ve been thinking about it even more in the wake of the drama over Trevor Noah’s questionable tweets. I must admit that when I read them I kind of facepalmed a bit, and shook my head and went  oh no dude, but I didn’t find myself wanting to hate him. Which I suppose made me question myself. Nadine! You can’t excuse such things!  Except that I can, and I kind of have to. Because you know what? The writer of the aforementioned article is right: We’ve all done it. And we’ve done and continue to do worse! I’ve been flippant about rape culture and rolled my eyes at those trying so hard to negate it. I’ve perpetuated misogynistic stereotypes at the expense of others as well as myself. I’ve said “that’s so gay”! We all do it. Does that make it ok? Of course not! Acknowledging that maybe it isn’t ok (when we are the perpetrators) makes it a bit more ok though. It means we get to remind ourselves to grow and learn. Getting a little honest and introspective can go a long way to developing our own humility and to progressing as a good human being.  (more…)