Browse Tag by Trauma

Any Day That Ends In YA – Savage Delight by Sara Wolf

Savage DelightWhat is more beautiful than a sunset over the ocean or the early blooms of summer? Well some people might say the smile of their child and others might say the ruins of Angkor Wat… for me it’s the defeat of Jack Hunter. To watch the Ice Man fall is a truly a stunning thing and Sara Wolf, I give you two thumbs up and then I will find you more thumbs because you deserve a sea of them. It tickles my tickles that Savage Delight was the delightful inner feelies of a thawing Ice Prince.

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Weekend Pick Me Up – The Daddy Pact by Kristy K. James

The Daddy PactAhhh weekends. They are like chocolate but less fattening. They are like the movie Grease but without the singing. Well, who am I to say that? Perhaps John Travolta serenades you all weekend long. If he doesn’t, maybe he should. Let me start this out right… Just. For. You.

Close your eyes (But keep them open). Imagine Danny Zuko’s voice (But really it would be me singing to you and I sing best when I sing in Korean). Ahem…

~~Why, this book could be systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic, why, it could be greased lightning!~~

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Tongue Wagger – Shattered by Nicole Banks

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00014] I’m really excited about this Tongue Wagger. I’m reviewing the first book by the first author in my Weekly Indie Word Slinger project. Nicole Banks debut novel Shattered was first published in February 2013, the first book in the Shattered Hearts series. I sort of lucked out when I posted the call for indie authors on Goodreads and Nicole responded–I replied to her before I looked at her profile and was rather happy when I found I had had Shattered in my TBR shelf already. I think the stars aligned and we were fated all that stuff. Kismet. =)

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Tongue Wagger – No One’s Angel by Kelly Walker

Camera 360I will preface this review with the statement that maybe if you are a gamer No One’s Angel will be a more be a higher star book for you. As a gamer in reformation this book touched a lot of my feelies and I spent a lot of time going, “Oh, I totally get this! Been there, done that.” And also shaking my head and cringing because in the back of my head I could hear a very old internet catcheism about females–they are either fat, ugly or psycho. Not my words, but a general comment thrown around about girls who spent a great deal of time playing online games. I fell on the farside of psycho just for your information–Let’s promote stereotyping and assumptions. =P Of  course I was reading this thinking Angel was in my category too.

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Makin’ the Love Monday – Stay by Kelly Mooney

Camera 360 Makin’ this Lovin’ Twice as Nice… This is sort of like the mini-series of Monday book reviews since I’m doing two today. This is the second. I babbled in the first one so I can dive right into this one.

Stay by Kelly Mooney is a very depressing love story. I think I want to say I read it and it’s a bad book because it made me feel bad–but it is really really not a bad book, it’s a good book about a bad relationship. It’s horribly realistic and in being so it takes the shine and glory off of romance and love and makes you feel really uncomfortable because this isn’t the kind of love you dream about and want, it’s the kind of love story you have.

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Any Day that Ends in YA – Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

IMG_9391OMG I am in LURVE and even if it might be skeevy AND even if it might mean serious legal issues I am going to say that I am all about asshat extraordinaire: Jack Hunter. He is the three magic things that make my tingly spots tingle in a book boyfriend. Number One: He’s a raging prick. Number Two: he’s devious. Number Three: under all the hardness and unapproachability something lives within that that tough shell that is worth a hundred Tom, Dick and whatever name is popular this year.

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Breaking Someone the Right Way

Break'em and Buy'em
Break’em and Buy’em

I write this sharing my lap desk with a big uncaring white fluff ball named Frankie. He likes to push the keys and sit on top of the computer so we stage laptop wars. So far we are about 50/50. I’m not really the one in authority here.

This week I read a truly incredible book by one of those authors that no one knows but really should be on the lips of everyone. Fallen Crest High by Tijan was a look outside the box in a way that killed the memory of the many formulaic books I have read lately. It bled dysfunction, unlikely alliances, the value of friendships and perceptions. This book was written very well, the characters were engaging and the power struggling and backstabbing feed my hunger for angst and trouble. I have not read any of Tijan’s other books but I did go right to Amazon and downloaded Broken and Screwed and the Jaded series as soon as I finished Fallen Crest High. When a book as good as this comes around it literally rocks your entire world and the impression left by this sort of story demands to be shared with anyone who will listen. I hope you are listening. Tijan’s Facebook page, Tijan’s Books, posts updates of the novels she is in the process of writing. I love authors who are so accessible and generous.

But how does one go about writing broken and ruined characters successfully?

So many authors try so hard to play the broken and tragic tales of one of their characters they meet with defeat. They are so hung up on the triggering event that the symptoms and aftermath get lost in the plot. Or they get so lost in the dark emotions and troubled behavior of a damaged hero or heroine that the ultimate reveal comes across as insignificant. It’s hard to write something real if you have never experienced or witnessed it yourself. Writing fiction about painful and difficult times resulting in horrific personal crises isn’t as simple as making up a tale of woe and prescribing cliched motives and villainous villains to milk a response. You have to actually make your reader feel like they have never felt so much pain, confusion, terror, distress, hopeful hopelessness and vulnerability from a narrative of this type before.

Trauma effects people in different ways but it almost always comes with a desperate anger and a feeling of hollowness or emptiness that removes the victim from the world of all the people around them. The isolation that a troubled person goes through may be of their own making or by being stigmatised as different from others in regards to the incident. Sometimes life is simple. You are made or broken and from that you grow into a stronger person. Most people aren’t really that lucky and pain, anger, helplessness win. That feeling of being other in a broken world can’t be solved with a chat with a therapist or pill. When you can’t talk it out and it just plows through your life the experience can live in your mind playing over and over again. When you come out on the other end it’s incredible. For others, luck doesn’t bless you that way and destroying who you are seems like the only option. When that happens you know you are going down and you no longer care who you bring with you. The injuries you have pull you into your own small world where you hurt so much you fail to see anyone else’s pain. And the feelings you have create a place all it’s own where people have to pay for what has been to you. Even the ones who are innocent.

That is reality. This is how people respond to abuse, tragedy and trauma. Knowing this happens in life makes for great writing. Assuming something like this from TV dramas, thriller movies and other books which address trauma, stress and tragedy isn’t enough. Writing a good story comes from writing what you know.

In fiction of this vein the author is creating a character that has suffered something monumental and that character’s story isn’t necessarily the only one that is being told. Authors say lot about themselves by showing how human nature works in their own minds by what they write. The violation or unjustice, how the world around the victim reacts and what the result of those actions are; All of that is a product of an author’s ability to see the inner turmoil and the greater gift of interaction. Topics such as cancer, suicide, rape, child or domestic abuse, assault, mental illness, family dysfunction, social or unspecified anxiety, and death (this list could really go on into infinity), mold characters just as they mold real people. Knowledge is a powerful thing and authors with knowledge can play God in the written sense.

I have been reading all sorts of books for most of my life and I have probably read thousands of books which have a life lesson contained within the wrappings of personal tragedy. I can remember the first book of this sort that really left a mark on me. A teenage author by the name of Cyn-Forshay Lunsford wrote a book in 1986 called Walk Through Cold Fire. It was a great story of a girl who had a pretty shitty life moving to stay with other family for a summer. The events which occur impact her life in pretty horrible way. As you can see from that Amazon link the book isn’t available in e-book format and it’s out of print. So unless you can find it in a used bookstore, like I did about ten years ago, the likelyhood of you getting to read this great piece of fiction is probably pretty slim.

Still I give the author props because the way she commanded that these characters matter in a world where it didn’t seem that people did was impressive. Walk Through Cold Fire was written with a rawness and truth that left me feeling every one of Desiree’s crushing burdens at the end of the book. I think it was the first book I read that didn’t have a happy ending. It felt real. To my youthful mind fantasy was so much more fun. But as I read and read and read during my pre-teens and teen years, the only book that really sticks out is Cyn-Forshay Lunsford’s. I can’t tell you the plot of too many of the Silhouette Young Adult Books I read. And I can tell you that the only thing I remember from the first couple of Sweet Valley High books is that one of the characters names was Fiona. And I only remember that because from that point on I wanted to change my name to that. I think as a young girl of twelve Walk Through Cold Fire actually changed something in me. It made me see the world differently.

By no means is that the only title that I recommend that would illicit a telling reaction. There are the classic S.E. Hinton books The Outsiders and Rumble fish. Both powerful stories about life on hard times. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which told the tale of a jaded and lost generation in the middle of the 1980’s. The memoir of Susanna Keyson, Girl Interrupted, which I remember made me fear the possibility of something similar happening to me. All those were published before a time that really is remembered by the younger readers who are reading now. I don’t think they can relate with the times or culture before 2000, which is just unfortunate because the message that was being made at that particular times of those novels spoke volumes.

Of current books that I have read this past year, my tastes have run the gamut from terminal illness to incest and almost everything in between. Some to mention would be Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, a book set in Great Britain about a truly broken family in which a brother and sister find themselves in a taboo relationship. The Fault in Our Stars by the incredible John Green. His book is being adapted into a movie. If the film impacts viewers half as much as the book did me no one will leave that theater with a dry eye.

A very dark and disturbing view into sex trafficking with the Dark Duet books by C.J. Roberts will leave you wondering how the hell something like this exists. Incredible and frightening. Jeffery Euginedes debut novel The Virgin Suicides was a little of everything. You know, I laughed, I cried, I read it multiple times. Nicole Reed’s Ruining Series was a road through a dark hell of a young girl just plagued with trauma and tragedy. Colleen Hoover hit on some very touchy subjects in Hopeless. Honestly the end of her book left me a bit shocked, Sky’s reunion with her father was so disquieting and I remember the pivotal part where I just shook my head and said, “What in hell did I just read?”. Jessica Sorensen left me speechless with her book The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. The violation of Callie was just beyond what one would assume and Kayden’s family life was sickening but so often reality. Just the idea that they could get past their issues in any small way made this book pure gold. And I can’t forget Alice Sebold with her compelling story The Lovely Bones. I had read her memoir which told of her own rape and fight for justice in Lucky. She is a strong woman for making it through that. And writing what happened one time was a lot to admire, writing the horror a second time takes fortitude and courage.

I recommend every book that I have mentioned above. Read them once for me and then again for you. It takes a special author to develop stories that stage horrific and hopeless events in a way that pulls you out of your comfort zone but allows you to think that somewhere in all that hell something more might exist. Sometimes the ending is vicious and as a reader, even you feel violated. Personally, I see that as a great accomplishment on the writer’s behalf. I have always been fond of saying, “good or bad, at least you aren’t indifferent.” Give me a story that makes my heart hurt, my gut wrench and my mind feel like I just survived something most people can’t live through.

I congratulate the authors who attempt and succeed to touch on issues that make readers ill at ease. Sometimes you need to be shaken up. Life isn’t just hot guys and girls, living haphazardly, and fighting with parents, siblings and best pals. Sometimes living is hard. And surviving is near impossible. There is crime, hate, impossible odds, terror, heartbreak, pain and shame that make it so hard to breathe that you just suffocate on the thought of the next moment. Awful and alarming things happen to people you know all the time. Maybe they don’t talk about it. Maybe they can’t. Books that pull you away from your own safety, leading you through someone else’s bottomless pit, give you a better sense of humanity.  Sometimes having your world flip upside down can make everything around you mean a little more.

Thanks for reading this.

Edited because I mistyped Jessica Sorensen’s name as Jennifer. My apologies.



Are we all a little crazy?

AliMental health care… This is a topic close to my heart. Being a somewhat stable bipolar person, I just have to have it, but many people just don’t. With tragedies happening everyday it’s something that really needs to be addressed. Those who suffer any kind of mental illness need affordable and competent health care but insurance companies and the payment policies work against the very people who fight desperately to overcome their disabilities. Why? It’s a good question and I don’t know if there is a truly GOOD answer to be found. There were more deaths by suicide in the Military this year than there were deaths by combat. And the suicide of 15 year old Amanda Todd remains fresh in the minds of many.

But suicide isn’t the only issue at stake with those who suffer mental illness, there are those who, for whatever reason, just spiral and become a harm to not only themselves but others as well. There is the story from Missouri where the mother of three killed her daughters before killing herself. Or the mentally ill man found not guilty by reasons of insanity after killing two men with a hatchet in Seattle. And then the tragedies in both Sandy Hook, CT and Aurora, CO, men who suffered and commited the unthinkable. And then the beating death of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, CA. A schizophrenic man who was killed by six police man.

I have been at the bottom of my own illness, Axis 1 Bipolar Disorder. I was diagnosed in 2005, after years of being misdiagnosised and mismedicated. I’ve been in the mental health system since 1985 when I was only 12. In school I had trouble concentrating because of crippling anxiety, I had a hard time maintaining relationships because I would be extroverted at times and behave erratically and then at other points I would miss weeks of school because I was too afraid of going to school or just couldn’t get out of bed. My senior year of school I missed 91 days of a 180 day school year. Doctor’s notes were my best friend. I have harmed myself by means of drug abuse, cutting and hitting myself until I bruised myself far worse than anyone else could have beat me. As I got older I would swing from working 2 jobs and going to college for 21 units to being so ill that I would miss classes, just as I did as a child, weeks on end. I have always suffered from terrible insomnia and as I got older it only got worse. It wasn’t unusual for me to go days without sleep, causing my body to crash and making me delusional. Even today I rely on Ambien a few times a week to get some sleep at night.

In 2005 I had my first true crisis. I woke up one day after having a semester of emotional trouble to mind crippling anxiety. I believed that I was dying and that my birth control was sending messages to the government. I went to a mental health clinic where they diagnosed me as being depressed and gave me Zoloft. Two days later I woke in the night convinced I either had to kill myself or my boyfriend. I was out of control and despite all my boyfriend’s attempts to settle me I couldn’t come back down to earth. The clinic wouldn’t see me again because I had failed to see the County Mental Health Services as I had been directed to. Weeks later I had quit school, refused to leave the house and my doctor and social worker would just ask me over and over if I wanted to end up on disability. They couldn’t understand that it wasn’t that I wouldn’t do the things they wanted me to do. I mentally wasn’t capable.

I went in and out of health care until I was diagnosed. From there I got a psychiatrist who didn’t agree with the previous diagnosis because I couldn’t come out of my depression and she medicated me with Risperdal, 20 mg a day, Zoloft and Adderall. Adderall is a great medication for someone suffering Bipolar (this is sarcasm). I was cutting so badly I was visiting the Emergency room and I developed an obsession so severe that I began to stalk a member of the group counseling session I was forced to attend. My mood was fluctuating so badly that I would suffer from debilitating crying fits to moments of such euphoria that I couldn’t sit still. I found myself in the Psych Ward twice in August 2007.

Things were horrible for the next three years, I couldn’t leave the house to go anywhere but doctor’s appointments and my husband had to attend those appointments with me. I couldn’t speak to strangers and my fear of people in general meant that I could barely handle being in the same space as another person. It all crescendoed in August of 2010 when I decided that for my birthday, October 9th, I would kill myself. The cutting got worse, I was cutting more than 20 times a day. The beginning of September I entered the hospital and my first day there I attempted to slit my wrist with a plastic knife. I was desperate to just not be sick anymore.

I spent three weeks in Thalians Hospital in Los Angeles. I spent time in isolation and had a “baby sitter” because I was a risk to myself. It was rough and when I got out of the hospital I was terrified of myself. I went to work with my husband because I believed I would kill myself if I were left alone. Things were so bad that I was taking 18 pills of all differnt medications a day just to manage. It took months to even out and start to function, but when I did it was finally better for the first time in years.

The last two years have been relatively good. I have my good times and my bad times. I know that I HAVE to take my meds because if I don’t I can’t survive without them, and I WANT to live. It was the middle of last year that I had the epiphany that quite possibly for the first time in my life, I liked myself. I have a psychiatrist I see every 2-3 weeks and a psychologist that I see every week and because being ill is so hard on my marriage my husband and I attend marriage counseling. I know what to look for in my own behaviors and symptoms and what to do before it gets bad. It’s been a real battle for me. Everyday I fight just to get myself to deal and everytime I have to leave the house I actually have to make myself do it because I still feel anxious and frightened by people. The whole saying of “faking ’til you make it” is a motto that I live by now.

So when I see these stories on the news of these people who lose the fight. Who don’t stay medicated. Who fail to get the care they need, whether it is their own choice or for lack of opportunity, my heart feels a kinship. I read the stories and I know what it is like to lose it. I almost lost it all. When I see the heartbreak, I can’t help but think, that could be me. I could be that person who gives up or let’s go. I could wreak that damage.

Health care in America is at a catastrophic state. It is almost normal for those who are ill to be at not just the mental disadvantage, but to also be at the disadvantage of politics and beauracracy. Insurance companies instead of doctors are determining what is necessary care and what is the responsibilty of the patient. Doctor’s visits and medication is so expensive and many patients take 4-5 different medications to get by. If you want to know how bad just look at the headlines. Help those who can’t help themselves and help those who try to get what they need. Write your congressmen and senators and tell them that something MUST be done. People can’t rely on the goodness of companies to do what is right, we unfortunately need legislature to help those in need. How many more tragedies do we have to face? And isn’t losing one more person to something that can be managed a misfortune?