Updates! {a rambling}

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Hello beautiful people!

It’s been a while since I’ve just dropped a hello and updated what was going on the the blog and other projects. So here’s a little heads up for you all if you wanted to know.

The Blog

You may have noticed I have actually gotten a decent and regular posting schedule again. It’s every Monday, roughly around 10 AM (pst), which so far seems to be working out well. Alas I’d love to go back to posting twice a week, but with working full time M-F I only have a handful of free hours to also dedicate to my other projects and the rest of life. So for now it’ll stay on this schedule, with an occasional double weekly post if I have the time to do so! I know I’ve been doing a lot of game posts lately, so I’m hitting the library this week to try and find some novels to throw in here to for my book lovers.

Youtube

A few of you may have noticed a little post about a small video I posted on my Youtube Channel. In the past I’ve talked about doing a review channel to reach a different type of audience and to see if I can get more constructive feedback from viewers. I love this blog and community, but alas the feedback is almost non-existant which doesn’t help me grow and improve. Well it’s finally coming together! It took a lot longer than I would have liked to, but that’s no ones fault but my own. I kept waiting for ‘the right time’ and ‘the right equipment’ until finally I just jumped right in. At the moment, it only sports a few videos of short ‘Let’s Play’s’ of games on the PS4. Alas, my headset is not the best and therefore my speaking in those videos vs no speaking is about half and half. Next week I will have a new proper headset so that I can do these a lot better. Also starting next week (hopefully) I will begin filming reviews. What type of reviews? you may be asking? As much as I’d love to do visual reviews of all the genres I review on here, I decided it’s best to stick small and grow from there. So for now I’ll only be doing in depth reviews for games on the channel. I’ll also have a small section, much like I do here in Ramblings, for off base topics or breaking down my thoughts on related subjects. I’m still undecided if I shall continue to also do a full review or partial review on the Blog that then links to my Youtube channel, so we’ll have to see about that. I’ll still be posting once a week on the Blog though so don’t fret. I’ll just also be posting once a week on my channel (day of the week to be decided).

Writing

How long ago did I mention I was going to put together a short story collection and publish it? I can’t even remember at this point, it was shamefully that long ago! Well, again, I’ve kicked myself in the butt for not doing something about it because I was ‘waiting on better material’ and judging myself really hard on what I did have. Well no more! I actually have an editor for my short stores who will be working on them one at a time for me. She’s already working on one as we speak! Thus I’m finally putting this in the works, and when there is a significant update, such as I finished all rough drafts or moving on to the organizing of chapters, I’ll keep you posted! This will be an digital publishing only to begin with, but we’ll get to that more as it comes closer. I don’t have a schedule for this really, I just write in my few meager spare minutes at work and then at home in between things. This is on the lowest tier of my totem pole, but it’s still very important to me. No title for the book has been set yet either.

Other

Well there really isn’t much ‘other’ going on right now. I’m in the middle of moving, transferring to a new job, and trying to save up every penny I have to help purchase tools and support needed to further my creative projects. A big thank you to all you followers for sticking with me or just joining up! As always, please share your thoughts and opinions on any post that interests you! Have a quip about how to make the blog more user friendly, interesting, etc? Let me know that too! I’m always looking to grow and improve, and I can’t do that all alone. I need help from people like you who are interested in these topics to let me know if I should be doing something different or if I’m staying on the right track! If this Blog isn’t enough social media interaction with moi, then you can also find me at these other fabulous locations!

 

See you all in the next update, I have to finish writing the review for Monday!

~Jabberwocky Warrior

The Drowning Girl by: Caitlin Kiernan

The drowning girl

Quick Summary: Imp is a young woman who suffers from schizophrenia, as well as being an amazing artist. A bit of a loner, she has trouble shifting which memories appear in what order, as well as which are set in reality. This is a memoir of an important turning even in her life, of two loves, of two different versions of the same line of her life. Her words as she rights them contradict her own thoughts, argue back, and make her think of times and love past. Which memories are real, and in the end, how will she feel about herself?

I would put this book under an ‘artistic and indie feel’. At times it feels like it tries a little too hard to be original and angst, too convoluted in the different memories and thoughts of Imp. As a character Imp is a little hard to wrap around. She’s a functioning schizophrenic who loves artwork and tea, not much into electronics, and falls prey to her own mind. You want to feel sympathy for her, or empathy at least, as she is tossed about by trying to sort what memories are real and happened in the right order, and which are the ones her mind created for her. Yet at times she can come off as a bit too whiny and winded, a little too full of herself and the angst she brings out. Perhaps it is because she draws everything out just a little too long to be interesting where it fall over to annoying.

(Warning: Some possible minor spoilers ahead)

Her first love in the story Abalyn is a bit more interesting off the bat. Though it comes of a little cliché how she is nearly opposite of Imp. Abalyn plays video games, drinks coffee, is a bit more brash and ‘loud’ than Imp is. Honestly through a lot of this I feel worse for her than our main character. She is most understanding and patient with Imp, as anyone who is in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness has to be.

The second love Eva is just…I’m not sure how to explain her. Very enigmatic. Through a good chunk of the first part of the book you don’t really get to know who she is, or what she is, just the briefest descriptions from Imp who draws about her and thinks about her in a romantic, nearly obsessive way, while with Abalyn. Due to the nature of Imp’s mind you don’t know if she’s supernatural, or a strange human individual who is there to make Imp’s life more difficult.

As for the writing style, I can see how it is meant to be very artsy, fantasy like. It is written from the POV of Imp, and her being her, the story often drifts from one topic to another, backtracking on itself, changing what it states, etc. This makes sense when someone who is schizophrenic writes, sometimes the truth and “the truth” are different things. However, at times it veers so far from topic, or talks circles on itself, that I as a reader became bored at the overly confusing or ebb and flow of the story. Straying from topic here and there is fine, but when it is all over the place for most of the book, it comes off more as choppy and difficult then mysterious and dark. It tries to go a lot of places such as Imp’s past and the events that affected her life so much. Sometimes it reminded me of a moody teenager writing about how awful life is and no one understands her. Again, it wasn’t exactly bad…but it didn’t fully draw me in. I had to put the book down a good number of times because my own mind began to drift and I had to re-read some sections.

If you like this style of book, poetic with plenty of questions left in its wake, moody characters who talk about love and loss a lot, and narrative styles that don’t go a straight line, then this may be for you. Sadly, this could not hook me long enough to want to re-read it again.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

The Little Giant of Aberdeen by: Tiffany Baker

[credit: Goodreads.com]

       [credit: Goodreads.com]

Quick Summary: Truly is a big fish in a small pond, a woman of enormous proportions in her tiny hometown of Aberdeen. Since birth she has been of unusual size, a polar opposite of her petite pretty perfect older sister. A curiosity and mostly ignored person, Truly spends her time with what very few friends she has and managing her dismal life with her unwanted housemate, a doctor who pricks and prods at Truly’s body and self esteem for his own amusement . Her few solaces of his torment go to her eight year old nephew and a strange quilt made by a gifted medicine woman years ago, its twisted herbs and patterns fascinating it lies over her large body. Truly tries to figure out the reason for her abnormal size as well as the mysteries of the family quilt left just as forgotten by the town as she is.

I’m still not sure about how I feel about this novel. It was an easy read, with a lot of interesting quirk to it. Overall I actually a really like it. It was strange, and I couldn’t quite figure out where it was going with it’s sub-story. It had a main story of course, but there was about a sub and a half story as well beneath all that. Quirky is really the best I can use to describe this book. Truly was a sad character, picked on and ostracized her entire life main because of her appearance, though her financial state was also a bit of a play as well.

Alas the character development is not as in depth as I would have hoped for, but there is enough there to get a sense of who these people are and what they want, or don’t want, at least. Perhaps it was just because of the location (and maybe time period) and the novel, but certain aspects of the story are glazed over more than I anticipated. Events and emotional moments don’t go into depth or have as much as an impact as I a reader would have liked. I as a read felt like they should have gone further, but per the story maybe they really didn’t have to. It is true it wouldn’t have made a deep impact on the story itself, but I feel that it could have added more to the characters. Alas I cannot say too much what these events are without giving away larger chunks of the story.

There is a lot to this book about accepting ones self, how society view each other on appearance and beauty, and the prescription medication vs the natural medication. Due to the fact that I’m still not sure if how I feel about this book, the review won’t be as long as I would like. Perhaps I am just a little rusty as well. I do love how Truly tries to stay true to herself, how a few see her for more than just her massive size, how her perfect beautiful sister had deep trouble of her own as well. It’s quite the mix of society, personal acceptance, and a bit of mysticism as well. I wouldn’t call it a quick or simple read, but it wades you in gently so that you don’t even realize that you’re halfway through the book and set it down for a moment in realization that a couple hours have gone by. It’s a sneaker novel, not totally enveloping you, but holding you long enough to see where this is exactly going to keep your fingers turning pages.

Rating: 4/5

Dirty Little Secrets by: Cynthia Omololu

[credit: Goodreads.com]

[credit: Goodreads.com]

 

Quick Summary: Lucy is sixteen year old girl who lives at home with her mother. Both siblings, much older then herself, have moved out years before and have a ‘touch & go’ relationship with her. Like most teenagers Lucy worries about boys, friends, and her mother. However, the worry stems from something deeper and sadder then the average teenager. Lucy’s mother is a hoarder and has been since she could recall. With carefully scripted conversations and excuses, she has avoided anyone from finding out her secret. How long can she hold out though before it all comes tumbling down around her?

Overall the book was-OK. It wasn’t fabulous but it wasn’t awful. It is a rather short book (clocking a little over 200 pages in the paperback) so it wasn’t difficult to get through. Lucy is a character you feel sympathetic for because of her situation. She has to carefully construct her life outside of the house so no one discovers the trash she lives in, this leads to low self esteem and a very small social circle. Her siblings only advice is to stick it out for two more years till she graduates, just like they did. Her father is out of the picture, so there is really no one for her to turn to. If she called the police about it, they’d just send her to a home. So it’s a mix of pride, loyalty, and fear that Lucy stays in her home with her mother. 

Lucy’s mother has a different life and personality outside of the home. She works at a hospital as a nurse where she is loved and revered, everyone thinking she is a hard working normal single mother. At home she is very different, obviously, with her saving ‘treasures’ and blowing up at anyone who thinks of moving them around or heaven forbid throwing it out. I felt a mix of disgust (in her parental duties) and sadness (for her issue). Like many in her situation they refuse to see they have a problem and become emotionally attached to all items because of something tragic that occurred in their life. Sadly, this all falls down onto Lucy’s shoulders. 

Her friend (what seems like only friend) is peppy and truly likes Lucy, thinking her mother has an illness which is why no one is allowed over. She just wasn’t told the exact truth of the illness. She looks out for Lucy trying to break her out of her quiet solitude shell by taking her out to the movies and trying to hook her up with boys. Overall not a wholly developed character, but well enough to show how Lucy acts outside of the house. 

The small romance in the book is well paced and believable, the awkward teenage situations really coming to life. It wasn’t overblown and it actually fit into the story well. It just added another thing/person for Lucy to ponder and stress on with her home life. Another aspect of her world outside the house she doesn’t want to lose.

I think the overall plot is an interesting idea, but the story itself felt a little stagnant. I found myself more then a few times skimming over a few paragraphs. The flashbacks are a nice touch and show a bit how things got to the point that they are at, and just how bad they have gotten in the past. The whole pace of the book is a little slow, the climaxes not really peaking all that much, just kind of rolling on in. It does cover only a short amount of time though, so perhaps that is the cause. I do like how descriptive Lucy gets when she tries to see her house as an outsider would. It really gives a good mental image of how gross the entire home is, and makes you feel even sadder for the though of children growing up in that environment.  

The ending was a little bit of a surprise, more of just a ‘huh, I guess that’s one way to go about it.’ I’m not sure exactly how I feel towards Lucy about the whole thing. I can see why she did it after all the work she went through and what she would of had to go through had she not. Her dignity as well as her family’s (mother & siblings) were on the line. It was a lot of pressure for a sixteen year old to handle for herself. It was nice that it had a definitive ending, though one does wonder what will happen to Lucy when everything would eventually settle down. Had she gone a different route, a slightly more realistic one, things could have gone totally differently. Yet, maybe for a sixteen year old who feels there is no way out, this could seem plausible?

An interesting book on a topic most only get to know about due to a TV show, (which I am not in favor of, it seems to me it shames the people it shows too much). Quick read, not too shabby, not often spoken about topic.

3.5/5 rating. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane By: Neil Gaiman

[credit: Amazon.com]

[credit: Amazon.com]

First off, love that cover. Just screams awesome fantasy no? Moving along, I’ve heard about this novel for AGES, and finally decided to pick it up. It was smaller then I was expecting, but that doesn’t mean it was lacking in content. I really enjoyed this quick read. It was face paced, curious, and made the reader think-which is always good.

Quick Summary: Returning to his hometown for a funeral, our protagonist (whose name is never mentioned, only a childhood nickname is in reference to him), finds himself travelling down a road to an old farmhouse. This is where he met a most unusual girl named Lettie who lived with her mother and grandmother. Lettie was not like other girls sounding and acting much more grown up then her eleven years, and our solitary protagonist is drawn into a strange friendship. Upon walking to the pond, forgotten memories bubble up and his time with Lettie is once again remember-the good and the bad.

In the beginning of the story we are introduced the the main protagonist as an adult, where he goes to visit his childhood friend’s home after attending a funeral, avoiding the reception for a moment. The rest of the book is pretty much of the memories he had of his childhood during the time he met the strange older girl who said her pond was an ocean. I didn’t even notice till halfway through the book that the protagonists name had yet to be mentioned. I think it is a cool concept, since it is from his memory he recalls it without his own name-how often do we refer to our name when thinking of ourselves? Through this story you wonder if he is a little boy with an overactive imagination, as well as Lettie, or if the strange things that occur really is fantasy come to life.

Many times the choices and thoughts of the boy truly come off as something a seven year old would think. For example: Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. (The Ocean at the End of the Lane)

If you stop and think about it, how often is this true. Adults stick to the easy and direct path while walking through a wood or field. Such things don’t always occur to children who find the short route, the shortcuts not caring if it is between dirty bushes or long grass. I love phrases like this that are all through the book. Lettie has some good ones too, though hers are adult and mysterious wisdom, of things strange and larger then the protagonist normally thinks about. Sometimes it made me nostalgic after a certain passage remembering my own childhood and missing parts of it.

The most developed characters are the protag., Lettie, her family, and Ursula who you meet later and I won’t spoil. His parents and sisters have some personality and character, but they are not the focus of the story, more like extras or background characters that add to the story but don’t fully make it.  You learn of the protags hopes, dreams, fears, and how he grew after his friendship with Lettie.

The ending was well wrapped up too, not leaving too many loose ends but definitely a few questions. It flows back into the present of his adulthood and how he feels about the memories he had forgotten for so long. It leaves you with a bit of magick and mystery, feeling sad and hopeful for the protag. Overall a good book for a nice quick read, at times feeling more YA then adult fiction, but I’m not so picky to complain about that.

5/5 rating.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dryer By: Michelle Hodkin

[credit: Goodreads.com]

[credit: Goodreads.com]

I had seen this cover many times as I browsed my library and the bookstores. The cover was interesting, following a kind of trend of pretty girls in floaty dresses. So I thought I’d give it a chance, though it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

Quick Summary: Mara wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there, barley a scratch on her. She later learns that her best friend, her boyfriend, and his sister were all killed in a building collapse where she was found. Moving away to begin a fresh start with her family, Mara believes she suffers from PTSD. Hallucinations of her dead friends, of voices that aren’t there, begin to haunt her as well as the missing memory of what happened that night. At her new private school, thing begin to change. She meets a dashing British boy who seems to have a strange fascination with Mara, but even more strange-people begin to die around her. Mara begins to doubt her sanity as well as what all these strange events mean.

So, even as a teenager I got a little tired of book with this premise. Ordinary girl who feels like an outcast, extraordinarily  handsome boy takes an interest in her-but he has a secret, and it turns out she isn’t ordinary at all! But wait, there’s more-she also can’t do anything on her own as soon as she figures she isn’t special. I digress, onto the specifics.

I enjoyed the book at first, intrigued by the paranormal aspect, curious to see what Mara couldn’t remember about the night her friends died. Is she really killing people, or is it all just in her head? It began to get a little boring though with the introduction of Noah. He is a wealthy playboy with good looks and a snarky attitude. Mara is inexplicably drawn to him even though she doesn’t want to be. Mara seems like a strong independent person, though insecure dealing with the deaths of her friends and the PTSD. Yet once romance is involved she always claims not to need saving but in the end she does. It’s…a little disappointing. This is why I go back and forth with Mara. Sometimes she’s in your face, throwing comments back, and trying to discover things on her own while dealing with an overbearing mother with a degree in psychology. Yay Mara! Now let us turn boy obsessive hate/love thing going on while also failing in some cases of common sense and giving in to things when she already decided against them. Maybe it is just that Mara, or her peers and siblings, never really come of as teenagers. More like abstracts and cliche’s.

I did like that you slowly find out about what exactly happened that night, what is going on with Mara and her blackouts, her visions, and PTSD. Her elder brother does come off as caring, concerned, and helping her out with the overbearing mom. He is a little too perfect  but you can get a sense that he really seems to be the only one who actually cares about his sister. There are some good one liners or conversation bits between Mara and her brother or Noah that made me chuckle out loud. The writing style wasn’t bad either, it didn’t have too much prose and flowed easily for an easy read.

So overall, nothing really special here, nothing that really stuck with me. It seems to be a book you either really love or just feel blase about the whole thing. One thing that I had an issue with that made me feel disappointing in the author is a blog post (that I believe has since been removed thank heavens) about people giving bad reviews about her book. She felt that some of them were too rude, too harsh, and untruthful or overly aggressive. She rants, swears, and is generally unbecoming and childish. I am glad it has since been removed because it makes her look bad as an author. Putting anything out there you are going to get trolls and bad reviews, some with merit and some not. Keep it to yourself in the future to save face and look like you are above it all.

Beyond that, I am not going to finish the series, but I may try some other books by her if they come out. Like I said, the concepts and writing styles are something I like, and perhaps with a different novel I will enjoy it more.

2.5\5 stars.

The Boy Who Could See Demons by: Carylon Jess-Cooke

[credit: Goodreads]

[credit: Goodreads]

I admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for novels that deal with mental illness. I think it is a topic not discussed openly enough or taken seriously enough. Too many times I’ve seen it used as a poor novel writing device, however when I find a good, such as Finding Alice one I snatch it up and devour it quickly.

This particular book just happened to catch my eye as I was browsing the library, finally. It only took a month to finally pay off my fees and walk back in there. I hope this means I can do more reviews now. Anyways, I had skimmed over the title of this book sometime ago when I was trying to find novels on mental illness. Time later, I stumble upon it happily, the back jacket instantly catching my interest with its topic. I’ll move on to the summary now for you.

Quick Summary: Dr. Anya Molokova moves back to Northern Ireland to help as a child psychologist at the MacNeice house, a mental health facility for adolescents. One special case she is assigned shortly after her arrival, ten year old Alex Connolly. Alex is a bright young man who has dealt with his depressive mother who has once again attempted suicide. Besides needing help dealing with this sensitive situation, Alex has another problem about him. He claims that he can see and speak to demons, specifically his best friend Ruen who only he can see, as well as acts of violence and anxiety. Anya is instantly pulled emotionally into the case, because it hits so close to home. Her own daughter suffered some similar delusions and behavior, her condition was early onset schizophrenia. The doctor is determined to help out this young boy with his mental illness, however something strange begins to happen as she works with Alex. Strange occurrences and disturbing coincidences have made Anya question the reality of her own perceptions. Is Alex really suffering from a mental illness, or is Ruen a bit more real then Anya would like to believe?

Onto my thoughts about this wonderful book that I blew through in a couple hours. I enjoyed it quite a lot. The chapters alternate between Alex and Anya, each told in their point of view. At first I was unsure if I would like this type of writing, it can sometimes come across as disjointed or confusing. However, it is done quite well and the differences between the characters points of view blend together really well. An example of this is Alex writes his demons name as ‘Ruen’, while on the other hand Anya who has only heard the name writes it down as ‘Ruin’. Little things like these makes the characters really stand out as individuals. I found all the important characters very well rounded and unique, they come across as real people in a very stressful real situation. Besides just the main two characters, the secondary ones such as Alex’s mom Cindy and the Child Services man Michael each have a distinctive personality and reactions to situations. It made the book seem more intense, this writing is dealing with a tender and complex issue that will get varied responses and reactions. The characters show this well. Even the demon Ruen has his own personality and place in this book, and is actually one of my favorite characters.

One large question you think of through the book is of course, “are the demons real?”. However, there is so much more to this book then just trying to find out that answer. It’s about how violence can affect children even if they were not directly the subject of it (the book mentions a lot of the riots and civil distress in N. Ireland.) How do people perceive a child with a mental illness and what is the best course of action for them? Stay with the family, be removed, medication, no medication? There is a lot of questions with just that. Not to mention it is about pain and internal demons as well. Anya’s guilt over the loss of her daughter, Cindy’s depression and suicidal tendencies, Michael the social workers desire to save all these kids from bad places, and of course Alex’s feelings on his mothers condition as well as his own. It is a well layered novel in my opinion.

The story sort of comes off as a mystery thriller, figuring out who Ruen and and Alex’s condition. However, it didn’t really feel like one to me, or at least have the depth of one. It was still a good read, but still didn’t feel like it fell into that genre. I do like trying to figure out ‘who done it’ or what is going to happen next, and usually am pretty spot on. This book kept me guessing through its entirety, I thought I had it, but then something would come up and I had to second guess myself. It wasn’t till almost the end of the book that I had a small feeling of what the answer could be, and was right, but still pleasantly surprised by what is revealed. On that note I was happy and felt satisfied, I like being wrong sometimes! Once a big reveal comes about though, I feel like the rest of the book suddenly changes pace and goes too quickly. It felt a bit rushed, a little disjointed, and I wasn’t totally happy with it. Personally, I felt the author could have taken another chapter or maybe two to really wrap up the end completely so it doesn’t have that afterthought or just wanting to finish the novel type feeling . I would have given it a higher rating if the ending wasn’t quite so lacking.

So, in the end, a good book dealing with one specific type of schizophrenia, a bit of mystery, and an interesting demon named Ruen. I give it a 4\5.