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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Update: Wow! Roommates, Advice and More!

Hey all,

   I have a TON of stuff on my plate, so I apologize for the slight lull in postings. My personal life has just blown up (in a good way, promise). I recently started a website, and it's pretty cool if I say so myself. It's called OMGroommates, and it's all about bad roommates of all different types. You can submit stories, pictures, and even ask advice about your own situations. So far the website is doing well (no submissions yet :-( ), but I'm hopeful since we just barely launched it the other day. Check it out (and submit!!!) at www.OMGroommates.weebly.com , or you can submit stories, pictures or advice directly to our e-mail at OMGroommates@yahoo.com . We are also currently accepting links to YouTube videos, so anything roommate related, we'd love to see it!

On a really personal note, I've finally convinced my own personal roommates that I should get a kitten! So Operation Kitty Search is officially underway!

Reading List:

 I am currently reading a book about an ER Psychiatrist, and it's mildly interesting so far (I haven't gotten too far), I also have a book about sexing the body (as in gender), and a bunch of other books. I also got myself into a children's book reviewing "gig", so I'll be posting and linking from here to that website shortly. I am a busy busy person. So, hopefully, I haven't bit off more than I can chew!

 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An African American Family Drama (Fiction)


Excerpt from Amazon review:

"What better way to learn about her than through her own, halting dialect. That is the device deployed in the first novel by poet and singer Sapphire. "Sometimes I wish I was not alive," Precious says. "But I don't know how to die. Ain' no plug to pull out. 'N no matter how bad I feel my heart don't stop beating and my eyes open in the morning." An intense story of adversity and the mechanisms to cope with it."









Push

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (June 11, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0679446265
ISBN-13: 978-0679446262



       “Push” is the first novel written by Sapphire in 1996. “Push” is written from the viewpoint of Claireece Precious Jones, an illiterate 16 year old African American girl from Harlem. She tells the painful story of having two children (the first when she was 12), and living with an abusive mother and father. Don’t think that these are Precious’s only stories, however. Sapphire writes a tale of a troubled girl who grows and develops in many different ways throughout the entire novel. If you are racist, and have no plans to change, this novel is NOT for you. If, however, you’d truly like to understand how this girl thinks, lives and breathes, be prepared for some shocking information you may not be ready for. This book is not for the faint of heart, there are plenty of occurrences within this book that will shock many of its readers, so be prepared, but do not let it stop you from seeking out a copy of “Push.”  
       While “Push” is a hopeful story, I feel that Sapphire leaves much to be desired with this novel. I feel that the reader never really understands Precious. I understand that “Push” is meant to be left open-ended, but that can be achieved without leaving out the fundamentals of Precious. When I first bought the book, I did not know much about it, other than it interested me. I actually thought Precious was a story about a girl from Harlem with an abusive mother who wanted to be a singer (I was almost right, but not quite. Precious references many different singers, but never really says what she wants to do with life other than “get a job.”) “Push” is so much more than just a story about a “16 year old girl with an abusive past”, but if this book is a rose, it has yet to bloom. As I neared the end of “Push”, I fully expected to see Precious blossom before my eyes, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. I also felt that as the story progressed, and Precious learned more, I would see a big difference in “her” writing- I did, but in weird ways. It’s somewhat difficult to determine Precious’s progress, as it’s unclear when most of her writing samples were written (particularly at the end of the novel)
       Sapphire has done a very good job with “Push”, she really speaks from not just the viewpoint of Precious Jones, but as Precious Jones. It is easily believable that Precious is a real person, and not just a fictional girl who Sapphire has created. It must be said that Precious is a real person, she lives in plenty of real woman and girls everywhere. A reader would be foolish to think that scenarios like those in “Push” aren’t unlike those that happen every day all over the world. Precious is the struggling African American woman, the single mother, the girl whose childhood was stolen from her, the victim of incest and abuse, the girl who could do amazing things if she was only given a push. “Push” speaks to any person who can understand pain and loss. I’d say that it’s a good thing that my main complaint is that I want to know more. After all, when a bad writer creates a character like Precious, who cares what happens to her?
     
       Bottom Line: Definitely read this book. At the very least, you will gain insight on what it is like to live in a body that is not yours. I felt from the start to finish of “Push“, “All I want to do, is find this poor girl and help her.” I feel success at her accomplishments, shame when she feels shame, anger when she is angry, and a deep yearning to reach out to her. This book courageously takes on many topics and actions that many would rather ignore (incest, illiteracy, failings within the welfare system, etc). 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Next Book: Push

       
Hello! I have just finished reviewing two books: No Need For Weed, and Toxic Parents.  Next on my list: Push! This book has been turned into a major motion picture entitled "Precious",  and has won some pretty prestigious awards.  (I will also review the movie in a later post).  


      According to the NY Times, online"Mo’Nique won for best supporting actress for her portrait of a terrifying mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire", and Geoffrey Fletcher won the award for best adapted screenplay for “Precious.” ("Precious" also won at film festivals.)


     As for the book itself (Push), it stands well on its own (According to Randomhouse) :  "Push won the Book-of-the-Month Club Stephen Crane award for First Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's First Novelist Award, and, in Great Britain, the Mind Book of the Year Award. Push was named by the Village Voice and Time Out New York as one of the top ten books of 1996. Push was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work of Fiction."


    I am very excited to finish reading it, I have heard some wonderful things about it, and I am eager to compare the book to the movie. 


This is what the book originally looks like (the one linked from Amazon.com is the movie tie-in version)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review 2: Toxic Parents, A Book About Changing Your Life For The Better






General: This book is about overcoming the obstacles of hurtful parents as an adult.                                                                                



  Amazon.com review:


"All parents fall short from time to time. But Susan Forward pulls no punches when it comes to those whose deficiencies cripple their children emotionally. Her brisk, unreserved guide to overcoming the stultifying agony of parental manipulation--from power trips to guilt trips and all other killers of self worth--will help deal with the pain of childhood and move beyond the frustrating relationship patterns learned at home."

    
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381405


      Toxic Parents is a book written by PhD., Susan Forward with Craig Buck. Susan is a therapist, and has helped many people through group therapy, individual therapy, as well as through an ABC radio show. In Toxic Parents is written to help adults deal with "inadequate" parents. Susan and Craig help guide the reader through identifying toxic parents, dealing with adult emotions, confronting toxic parents and overcoming the emotional burdens in order to achieve a sense of wellbeing. 
      
      Susan begins her book by identifying what exactly the term "toxic parents" means. Susan describes on page 5 that while not every parent is perfect, but, there are certain types of parents who, through their behavior and attitude, cause considerable damage to a child, ". . .there are many parents whose negative patterns of behavior are consistent and dominant in a child's life. These are the parents who do the harm." These are the  parents who Susan labels as "toxic" parents. Susan sets her book up by examining many of the common types of "toxic parents": "perfect" parents, inadequate parents, controlling parents, alcoholic (or drug addicted) parents, verbally abusive parents, physically abusive parents, and sexually abusive parents. Susan goes into great detail, and also cites examples from her many previous clients. This shows the reader that others have gone through similar situations, and gives the audience a sense of familiarity. 
       
      Susan develops her advice further, by offering plenty of examples of how patients described their own feelings (often of guilt, shame, worthlessness, and depression), and how the reader as well as the patient can deal with these emotions. Susan also allows you to feel better about yourself: she stresses that there is no need for you to forgive your abusers, and there is no need for you to feel guilty about it. 

      In Toxic Parents, Susan stresses that it is important that you confront your abusers, whether it be in a letter (which you can choose to mail, or keep for yourself), or in person. There is also a wonderful section of this book that discusses dealing with deceased parents. Susan truly understands the apprehension and anxiety suffered by patients as they prepare to confront their parents, and she walks you through the steps of overcoming those emotions. It is also not a hidden secret that some parents do not react well to confrontation, and Susan is ready to handle these types of responses. In Toxic Parents, Susan discusses all different types of reactions, as well as gives plenty of examples from patients who received those exact responses from their own parents. 
     
      Susan truly leads the reader through a journey that allows them to create self-confidence, and a healthy viewpoint of their world. By the end of the book, (assuming you read it slowly, and work through each scenario she offers) the reader should be able to move on with their life, and reflect on the future choices they want to make. Readers can chose to seek out additional therapy, to continue working on emotions that Toxic Parents helped them explore, or, if they feel ready, they can begin to decide how to deal with their parents. Many choose to maintain contact with their parents, regardless of how minimal, while some patients choose to separate themselves from their parents entirely. Whatever your choice, Susan helps the reader come to a healthy place where they can rationally decide their live course. 
      
      Toxic Parents can group so many different types of abuse together in one book because the products of abuse are very similar, no matter what type of abuse you suffered. No matter what the type of "toxic parent" you grew up with, you can learn from each section of this book. Susan offers many different ways to work out each problem and emotion. Also, the amount of personal accounts collected within this book creates a perfect balance of teacher and student opinions. No matter how your "toxic parent" made you feel as a child, this book creates a positive path to healthy thinking. 


Dear Abby Review:  "A dynamic, powerful, hard-hitting book. It offers tremendous hope as well as understanding. It could truly be a lifesaver." ~ Abigail Van Buren, Dear Abby

Book Review 1: No Need for Weed: Understanding and Breaking Cannabis Dependency

Buying information for 
No Need for Weed


No Need for Weed is a book about understanding and overcoming your cannabis dependency. Product description  from Amazon website:



"Tens of millions of people smoke cannabis every day, it would be unrealistic to think that nobody has problems when they try to quit or simply want to take a break for a while. One reason cannabis is such a popular drug is that it is incredibly versatile. Most users say they smoke to relax; others accept that it simply makes life less boring or helps them sleep. Another reason for cannabis's popularity is simply its addictive nature. This is despite the fact many users believe it to be non-habit forming, until they themselves try and quit. This book is designed to let you consider your relationship with weed openly and honestly. For the first time, here is a book that offers a real understanding of how cannabis interacts with all areas of life - from sleep, work and relaxation to our emotions, our senses, and our creativity, as well as our relationships. Using his own experience - and that of other people that he has worked with - James Langton offers a step-by-step guide to letting go of cannabis dependency, through the adjustment period and into recovery, helping you make the most of this positive life change and move forward to a place where you can clearly see that there really is No Need for Weed."




No Need for Weed: 
Understanding and  Breaking Cannabis Dependency





Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Hindsight Publishing (January 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095576260X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955762604
  • James Langton (Author)
  • Angela Jullings (Contributor)


I read this book, because somebody I know suffers from a dependency to cannabis, and their family wanted to "stage an intervention" of sorts. I volunteered to read it to get a feel for the book, and whether it is fitting for the intervention.

Langton himself had a self-proclaimed dependence upon cannabis. Langton used weed on a daily basis for many years, and cites many different types of users within his book, daily users, however, are the main focus. Langton also focuses mostly on the "older generation" of smokers, meaning, those who have smoked for a long time, or picked it up as teenagers. This book is helpful to anybody regardless of amount smoked, or length of dependency, however. 

If you are not keen on the notion of 12 step programs, the use of God so predominately within the 12 step programs, or, you're not sure about the severity of your dependence, this book is for you. Langton writes as a friend giving advice, and does not demean, or control the reader. As a former addict, he writes from experience, and makes a point to make suggestions without claiming that they WILL work for everyone. 

This book does have some UK slang within it, but is still highly readable for the American audience. Be aware, however, that if you are looking for references (such as groups), they will be based within the UK. 
 
  Overall, No Need For Weed guides the reader through the basics of cannabis dependency, from emotions, to the actual process of smoking, as well as physical changes to the body. The book then begins to delve into the reasons for quitting. Langton really allows the reader to create his or her own decisions, and even says it is "okay" if you decide to continue smoking weed. (Even if you decide to forgo quitting altogether and just cut back). Langton then takes the reader through a gently led journey into quitting, stressing the whole time that it is okay to fail. Langton really cares about his readers, and creates a very comforting atmosphere within No Need For Weed. This book is readable by just about anyone, and is truly interesting to anybody, even those with just a casual interest in the subject matter.

Check out some excerpts from the book, here





Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ambition

In the spirit of summer goals


So, last night, I was laying down to go to sleep, and I began to think about all of the books I own (a LOT). I knew that I should log them somehow, so that I knew what books I had, if I had read them, and if I liked them. I decided that I am going to begin logging all of the books I read over the summer, by adding them on here, and using this blog to create a review of every book I read. That way, I can possibly be helpful to both any readers, as well as myself. It will also allow me to read critically, and give me a goal to set over the summer (and into the school year). I just bought a lot of books, and I am already started on one. Can't wait to start reviewing!

Ps. I will also review textbooks as I get them and use them! Look for some movie reviews as well!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Welcome





Well, Hello.

I am starting this journey off alone, I suppose.

Let's start with the definition of "fool", shall we? I found this definition here.

Pronunciation: \ˈfül\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French fol, from Late Latin follis, from Latin, bellows, bag; akin to Old High German bolla blister, balg bag
Date: 13th century
1 : a person lacking in judgment or prudence 2 a : a retainer formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and commonly dressed in motley with cap, bells, and bauble
2 b : one who is victimized or made to appear foolish : Dupe 3 a : a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding
3 b : one with a marked propensity or fondness for something "a dancing fool" or "a fool for candy"
4 : a cold dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard

So, for the sake of common sense, it's pretty obvious that this blog isn't "notes from a cold dessert of pureed fruit". I mean, I don't think I have the personality, OR appearance of pureed fruit, but I suppose that's debatable. Regardless, I'd say the other 3 definitions fit pretty well, assuming I adorn myself with bells. But, that's certainly beside the point.
I'm writing this in the hopes that others read it, yes, but also because I wish to accomplish something. What that "something" is, exactly, I'm not quite sure. Maybe it's to merely to finish what I start, or maybe to learn something about myself.
Let's assume I am interesting. Let's assume I am a fool.

For now:
Your fool